Tag Archives: William

the past is prologue

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William moves on in the Berkeley Springs renovation, last weekend tearing down bedroom walls with the intent of putting up better ones. Soon.

There on the electrical box is a chunk of plaster from the demo — hidden under paint, wallpaper and paneling — that happens to match the bathrobe on the goose painting in the kitchen up there.

Coincidence? or just spooky?

photo by me, October 2015

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if all you have is a hammer, all the world is a nail — adapted for coffee beans

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In this case of “Oops — bought the beans, forgot the grinder,” the carpenter went for his hammer.  The coffee beans had a certain robust texture.

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It reminded me of our first outing together to the house in Chincoteague, also, with no real provisions.  Rustling about the cupboards, he saw that a cornmeal muffin mix might be just fine with a can of Mandarin oranges, with the syrup, and it was.  I saw a creative and functional man.

sharing your cake and eating it too

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I am married to a person who has decided (on his own, but after ten years of subtle, loving nagging) that he might lose a little of that extra girth around the equator by limiting himself to just one slice of cake per sitting.  Although, because of an extremely generous nature probably picked up from his mother, he feels it is only right that he offer a serving to his invisible friend, who stops by frequently.

may April showers bring June, July and August showers

William just had another one of those events that come around annually, and like most modern folks, said he didn’t really want or need anything in the birthday gift category.  You’re the same way, I know.

But I wanted to do something. So in the merger of cheap and creative, the result of looking at the catalogs that come to the house and my love of the Georgia Avenue Thrift Store, we have an outdoor shower in the well to the basement door under the deck.

I bought these little hooks, found the working outlet for the power drill (my birthday present to myself when I turned 40 just the other day decade), and screwed them into the inside of the deck.

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A showerhead on a hose will screw into the hose bib. Only William would have installed a hot water faucet for the outside water source, as you can see here by the red and blue knobs indicators.  That’s how he rolls.

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Thrift store curtains were pretty cheap, if a little too bright red.  I stitched little rings to the top to hang on the hooks, and weights to the bottom edge, so that Shepherd St. neighbors Leslie and Carrie won’t have to see to much of William if a little breeze were to blow the curtains around.

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He’s still dubious, thinking I wanted the shower more than he.  Well, maybe, but after biking, gardening, sweating on a construction site, or just because you can, an outdoor shower feels very nice.

Inaugural rinse is pending.

 

 

hungry? eat.

No need to bother the weary flight attendant to heat up William’s on-board snack.  A warmish 98.6 degrees will be fine.

ImageAfter a couple hours in the armpit…

Image…warm and tasty.

The model is wearing a t-shirt by John Beam of Chincoteague.  The Japanese letters say, “Where the air begins.” You can buy one at Anopheles Blues on North Main St.

For swimmable, drinkable, breathable. . .

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I admit that I’m not as intrepid as I’d like to be. But a whole lot of friends put out some money, so I pledged to put as much of my body as possible into the Potomac River Saturday morning at 10:30 am.

The cause for the leap is to raise money for a sound organization working on climate change and the environment specifically here in my watershed – CCAN, Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The forecast for that hour was 23 deg., 23 mph wind and snow showers, and those numbers represented a warm-up from the night before. Yikes. How do you train for that? I had been outside in Washington, DC’s subfreezing weather as much as possible, verified the fiber content of my long underwear for after emerging, and come up with a mantra/chant that essentially expresses my happiness about being a mammal at this time. I had decided to call the Channel 7 weather department to verify precisely what the water temperature would be (seeing the water fowl walking across the river’s surface should have been a clue, had I wanted to accept it) and Doug Hill himself, local on-air celebrity, called me back.  He said he also had made a “polar bear plunge” a few years ago, at Sandy Point, and it was the worst experience of his life.  But said I would be fine!  He said, “Your systems will shut down enough to direct all the blood to your heart, lungs and brain!”

Despite those best wishes, I had a moment of doubt.  There’s a little rush of panic you feel just at that start of a marathon, contemplating whether you have the stamina for the what will be the next  4+ hours, and you do; this would be only a 15-minute thing, but possibly more physically taxing. And with all these people are watching; I had to go in.

So we – William volunteered too – waded in to the gap of open water created by men in wetsuits just an hour earlier, and splashed around a bit, up to the neck in my case, all the way in for William. We didn’t stay long, and the only short-term damage was some frozen toes from the total time waiting for and then taking the dip, wearing Tevas, which I had thought would be the ideal dive-and-dash footwear, so don’t ever do that.

A hot shower, some food, a nap, and we feel restored.  CCAN is a thousand dollars richer — thank you generous friends and supporters — and I have bolstered my intrepid credentials a little.

Helen Hine 1

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Helen at our common table, telling about her life, septiembre 2013

This is not a cheery story even when it starts out, so maybe don’t read it. I just saw her about every day so want to note it.  (I moved out of the house described yesterday, as planned.)

Helen Hines was the first person to officially meet us here in Oaxaca.  Her house shares the courtyard with ours, the whole compound owed by her partner Agustino’s daughter, Cathy.  Agostino appeared earlier in these postings, sunning himself outside in a nice hat and a shawl.

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Helen at Mercado Sánchez Pascuas, septiembre 2013

She met us when we arrived in early September, gave us keys and a tour of the whole two-room house.

We have gotten small bits out of her, mostly practical information.  She informs where to hide the small plastic-wrapped 5-peso coin for the collector when putting out trash, which restaurants she likes (very similar menus at each of  a consommé, spaghetti, and one kind of meat or another, with a special fondness for fish, conclude with “and for only 40 pesos!”), and where I might find some special thing I have asked about, though maddeningly she can’t recall street names, and “it’s right past that other place” that I have never heard of either.  You know the type.

Helen is apparently quite old, but won’t talk numbers. (She said she once fired a lawyer who disclosed her age to someone.)  Also, every conversation starts with a lot of “What? What?” and a moment or two of firing up the hearing aid before proceeding.

Once in September, I asked her over to the table in the shared patio space, and offered a bit of the wine I had opened.

“Why not?” she said.  And in that quiet one-on-one I heard a bit of her life.  She has been in Mexico, specifically Oaxaca, a long time, more than twenty years, but other versions have put it much longer than that.

She must have been a bit of a seeker — after growing up in New York, there was time in San Francisco, then Guatemala, where she was asked to use her background as a librarian to start a library.  There was a marriage, which ended badly, and Helen has a son in New York City.  “But that was with another guy,” she said, waving her hand loosely at some dismissed relationship.

At some point, she met? fell in love with? hung on to? Agostino, Mexican, once an accomplished archaeologist in Mexico City.  He went to study in the United States, and somehow his career went awry.

So there’s searching, finding, scholarship, romance in the past, now making way for aging, immobility, dementia, deafness and other troubles. Who knows what else.  And you can see from the picture that she was beautiful, with fine features and gestures.

They live in the house behind the gate we share and now owned by Agostino’s daughter in New York.  Helen tries admirably to be the on-site caretaker, but the daily skills don’t come so easily any more.  To use the washing machine, we follow fairly straight-forward instructions, read to us over and over, with the warnings of the bad things that will ensue if we do it wrong.  When the water pump to our house suddenly went out, she yelled increasingly loudly to turn off the pump, ignoring William’s yelling back that it was never on.  And more like that.  Frustration and fear.  Shouting at Agostino and his shouting back.

Her joy remains the Oaxaca Lending Library, a part of her life for all these years.  Through the original and long-time librarian there, Ruth Gonzalez, came her attachment to this house.  Everyone at the OLL has great esteem for Helen, invariably grateful for her volunteer time there and praising her intelligence.  Until recent weeks, she has performed her job there organizing all the periodicals.

Sadly, in the short time we have been here, we cannot help but notice a huge decline.  Daily trips to market, just around the corner, are harder and she needs help with the small package and with clearing the obstructing stairway that’s always been here.

More later.