I will try composing a letter on lappy; he is a very devil and possessed of both evil spirits and unbecoming traits. I believe the values of the keys change in between times, so that an ‘a’ might next time come out as ‘g’. He tests the patience more than anything else. Unlike others, who are prone to yell “FMD!!!“ I am composed, attuned to the Zen of electronic life-forms. My tery existemece rebolbing around the inhinite I am clam.
A stroke of luck, I type. Lappy replies: We're broke, you fuck. Does he know something I don't? Does he speak meatphorically?
Other things happen, too, that are too complex to explain. I can only whisper that the cursor moves about the page like a stoned housefly, as if truly cursed and given to unholy cravings. Entire sections of text disappear and must be searched out with prayer and forbearance. It is almost a religious experience. Church of the Fat Fingers and Ill Equipped. I am baptized as if John had pushed me beneath the wave of electrons and held me down far too long.
This is Maine. I have been back for 5 days and am ‘getting things arranged‘. The meaning of that evasive phrase is that I have a cleaning crew arriving Monday to scrub the house out. Michael, next door, is going to do all the repairs and fix-ups; everything will count against the price of Chuckles, whom he has taken possession of happy as a boy in a mud puddle. He said he would do the work for $10/hr.; I told him $20/hr. was more appropriate. He actually is a carpenter and a hard worker; my generosity is not misplaced.
…it has begun - as I type in one place letters begin to appear elsewhere and then entire lines vanish… a blow, tho not fatal, to the creative spirit. The key is perseverance. I should not say 'key' in his presence.
Today appears to have decided what it will be; the choices were rain or snow, nasty grey either way, and snow has taken precedence. It is still April and too early to complain. Yesterday Z and Shannon rolled out in a freshly scrubbed and restocked Snooky for their great across-the-continent adventure. They had been here a couple of days keeping me company. It is quiet again and I don’t mind. I do think I see animals out of the corner of my eye and hear their noises. My hand searches the air beside my chair for warm fur.
It is quiet in Tacoma, too. The kids are in doggy ICU, spending the cost of a decent used car, recovering from a large - the bottle was new and full, overdose of one of Shay’s pain meds: Rimadyl. What counter-surfing depradator-dog could resist a bottle of liver flavor treats? Not Rose. And she apparently shared her good fortune with Old Shay. They will be in ICU for at least 48 hours while the vet waits to see if their livers fall out on the table gasping for untainted blood. If not they get to come home Monday. The vet suggests Shay’s liver panel indicates she should no longer take Rimadyl - how fortunate is that since we are currently out? Shay is a no-code and Rose a full code; the young get all the perks.
Pat had been talking about how she would like a new car. That may be out, especially as I didn’t pay taxes on the money I withdrew from my IRA for the house down payment but used the extra bucks to buy moving and a roof. Maybe she would settle for some faux-tiger (aka: brindle) seat covers in the old Honda. A real touch of class, that.
The neighborhood leech dropped by my first day back. He burst into the house while I was asleep on the living room floor on my inflatable queen-size bed, explaining to my dazed face - I had been up all noc on the redeye, that he was in pursuit of squatters. WHAT??!!?? We did not get into why squatters would have moved my truck over in front of the garage and left the door up to advertise their foul presence. “Oh, sleeping…..” he said to me, stretched out on the floor. I was damned for sloth from the beginning of that very short conversation. I fear he was damned for grossest insincerity.
In parting he promised to come back, and did twice more that day, only leaving me alone when it became abundantly clear that I was not going to give him anything, or even sell wonderful treasures at cents on the dollar. He wanted Chuckles badly and mentioned a figure of $4000 for starters. I told him I was giving the tractor to Michael-next-door but hadn’t really decided on a price yet; he mentioned the 4000 again, chumming the fiscal waters.
I had never dealt with him too much in the ten years we lived here; he is up the road a very short distance. He was always too prone to tell me how many important and powerful people he knew and how they, turnabout, thought him to be important, too. I think maybe he is someone who is simply more bored with his life than most. There will be similar characters in Tacoma. They come at us with hands out, as if full and offering, but in reality the hands are empty and grasping, clawing at whatever you have that they can disengage you from. Words slide out of their mouths in sideways fashion, waver in the air and seem to stick nowhere. An interesting, but tiresome, performance. Rather like being a politician.
A few days away from the news I hook up in Fourbux and find the world has just become a bit worse for wear. A tornado has hit the airport in St. Louis and the Thais are warring with the Cambodians. They never have liked one another all that much; when I walked across the small wooden bridge from one to the other on my way to see Angkor Wat in ‘66 I was warned by the Thai soldiers that the Cambodians would surely kill me. In each country the folk were generous to a fault, so long as you weren’t from next door.
And I see our third, and latest, war, Libya goes on with verve; the drones that have been tossed out of Pakistan now fly Mommar’s friendly skies. A few more conflicts and our sphere of engagement will extend in an endless arc from oil field to oil field. Why do I think that is almost a given?
“Fill it up with ethyl, Fred, I’ve a long way to go.” My future news will be limited to occasional visits to fourbux to go online for email, so I may miss some of the nuances of what we concern ourselves with, nationally, humanitarian principles being the catchphrase.
The chickens are all moved next door to live with Michael and Rebecca and the 3 boys. Michael built a really nice coop and fenced yard for them and got them a new rooster, a bold-looking Leghorn. LBJ, my buddy, died the night before we left in March. He had somehow not been inside when I shut the coop the evening before - on periphery patrol since Waldo is gone?, and I found him just before we pulled out. He had apparently fought a racoon the length of the garden and left the snow looking like a Kill Bill set. He was a fine lad and went down hard.
Cleaning ladies have come and gone, and while the house is definitely cleaner it is not quite what I call clean; beware of folk like me who were taught to clean by the military. A quick pass with a feather duster is not really equal to scrubbing. I will have to call the boss lady; she should instruct this crew as to what grease is and the proper approach to its removal. Only thing worse than no woman in the house - a nod to the west to the absent Pat who is my companion, abettor in overcoming life’s vicissitudes, moral compass, and rememberer of all the things I forget; that thing would be five women in the house. They even took my stepstool when they departed. I was out at the time purchasing pizza.
Michael is busy laying floor. He found enough light oak Pergo-like wood laminate flooring for a buck a ft2 to do the two rooms in need. Ellie arrives tomorrow to begin the spackle and paint dance. I have been in the barn; a horror story only relieved by giving lots of stuff to Michael. Had planned to dismantle the mortise and tenon oak bench with its 3” top and take it west. It is too damned heavy to mess with. It goes to a good home and can chat up Chuckles on long winter evenings.
I have been collecting, not really meaning to, geezer-watch observations. Here are three:
A tiny old woman in sweats, bowling shoes and an American flag stocking cap pushing a cart in Costco. It holds two cases of adult diapers, two different brands. I can only guess hubby is particular but just couldn’t make it out today.
I am standing at a urinal in a restaurant waiting for gravity to come to my aid - is it possible that as we age our output becomes less dense and begins to fall glacially? Might this then be true for our entire corporeal self, and are we then that much closer to a celestial destination, less tied to earth, being of lighter stuff? Urinals are a great spot for deeper meditations. Anyway a guy seeming rather older than me comes in and unzips in the next stall. The speed with which he finishes tells me he is no closer to heaven than I am; gravity has grabbed and emptied him with vigor. I watch as he goes to the sink, does NOT wash his hands, but takes a paper towel and dries them. I hope he is not the cook.
In Home Depot I exam peel-and-stick 12” vinyl tiles. I never did the floor under and behind the stove and now I see the old stuff showing a little. A codger in a PROUD VIETNAM VET ball cap examines other tiles nearby. Enter codger number two, balding codger, with wife; they also examine tiles nearby.
Hat codger to bald codger: “Those Levis fit you really good; where did you get them? Are they tailored? I can’t get any that fit.”
Bald codger: “No, they aren’t tailored; these are Levi 511s.”
Wife of BC: “They are 517s.”
HC: “I like them. They fit good. Where did you get them?”
BC to W: “Are you sure they aren’t 511s?”
HC takes out his cell phone and pulls up his LeviApp.
W: “They are antigun…”
HC: “Who? Levis? That doesn’t set well with me.” His voice has become gruff now.
BC: “Me either - but they fit.”
HC: “I don’t like that at all.” He looks at his app. “They do come in my size, and the price isn’t bad. 511s, huh?”
W: “No, no. These are the 517 stretch-to-fit.”
BC: “I was in the Mekong.”
HC: “Upcountry. Khe San.”
I watch them. It must be some unspoken warrior-thing, a recognition of the inner toughness. Except they seem to want to talk about it; I pick up my box of peel-and-stick vinyl tiles and steal quietly away.
Pat has joined the fray against the League of Shoddy Cleaners - be advised that this pseudo-group of faux-jobsmiths may soon be changed in title to L.of S. Workers; people of all trades and professions who by nature, will, wont or training cannot deliver what they charge for is one that encompasses all fields. You would think with the job market being so tight that the useless would by now have been cast aside in favor of the willing who will do a good job for less. It just ain't so.
Per Pat her call to the owner of the business, Diane, did not go well. Things rarely go well for others when Pat is incensed. Stricken by the glaring fact that the kitchen-lady obviously felt no need to look inside a fridge to pronounce it spic and span, never met a grease hood she could not ignore, and felt that the sides and drawer of a stove being of no definite consequence either dirty or clean were most quickly left in the first state the owner began to shout at Pat that ours was the 'dirtiest fucking house I ever saw!!!' Having exerted herself to this extent she was unable to explain why she had then bid the job and commenced to shriek and babble. Pat told her she demanded a refund of $150 or the company, Sun Bright Cleaning Services of Auburn, Maine, was going onto Angies List online as a nonperformer and stinker. Diane insisted that she had been in business for 25 years and had no complaints; it amazes me that Mainers are so easily tricked. I had not thought this of them.
I had myself spoken to Diane the night before, far more amicably as I never like to let go the way Pat can: I harbor a deep fear that if I let myself get that angry, appropriate or not, I might kill someone. It feels much safer to present the other cheek and perhaps just whisper 'kiss my ass...' Personal confrontation has as much to recommend it, for me, as bubonic plague. In Diane's defense, and true to her company motto *Satisfaction Guaranteed*, she did offer to send the kitchen lady back. I delclined as I do not like people in my house who can spend 2 days looking at a stove and fridge and not understand how many sides each has or that the drawers come out and stale old schmutz lives beneath them.
I have spent all day today working on the stove and fridge. They almost sparkle. Speaking of which, this company promises 'all chrome polished' - alas, they don't do brass. I will get to those fixtures soon. I note that they use a product referred to as 'soft scrub'. This might be just the thing for removing unsightly spots from ladies underthings, but I daresay it never met grime it could overcome without actually moving the hand that held the rag.. They might sometime want to ease in the stuff that actually attacks dirt - hard scrub? It is interesting that when something does not wipe off with a gentle polish it can be declared not-dirt.
What do I take away from this adventure? It is a Busby Berkeleyesque vision, in my mind's eye, of the Ladies of Sun Bright dancing like pixies throughout my house waving feather dusters like wands. It almost has the smell of a pagan blessing-event. The moon is rising and there is a whiff of oak smoke in the air. I cherish it. This is, at bottom, what happened on Marston Hill Road - I imagine, and it is far more ancient than just mundane old cleaning.
don solo tenuously in touch with the real world signing off.......