Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Small Town USA

What a happening sort of day here at Cranford-on-Sea. We have the constant bustle of people ferrying Mary's goods from next door, teetering piles of boxes piled all along the deck, then Mary came in to say there was a runaway dog in the garden - Buckley, Tom's dog. When I went after him he developed that little skip in the step and backward glance that told me I was going to have trouble, so I followed him into the marina just as Janey pulled up in her car and screeched,"CATCH THE DOG!!" Eventually I managed when he ran onto the gangway to one of the docks, but he looked so sad and stubborn, wouldn't get into the car, that I told Janey I would walk him since that was obviously what he wants - Tom has been bedridden for three weeks, on a bender. So off we set, all round the marina right to the very end at the lowest tide I have seen in a while - saw a fisherman catch a great big fish, Buckley found a great many good smells and was a gentle and happy companion, ran when I ran, stepped carefully over his leash when it got tangled and never tugged. When we got home I gave him a bath since he was filthy and matted: he is so fat I had trouble lifting him. He loved being brushed too, up to a point, and by the time I finished he was fluffy and gleaming. He is some kind of terrier with a coarse reddish coat - Norfolk? - but a lovely face very like my darling Clancy. If Tom drops off his perch I'd volunteer, and walk him every day so he got a waist back, and brush him til he shone. the dog that is.

So, I was draped happily on the deck under my favourite umbrella when Mary called with a cat emergency this time - both her cats had freaked at the move and were stuck inside her ornamental pottery elephant plant stand, could I come over with a hammer?
Born for it.
I whacked the trunk with a soft mallet and saw Lulu's head in the birth position, Lyle right behind. A bit of pushing got them both out, crazed and dehydrated, and they ran. I sat and stroked Lulu til she calmed down, but when I picked her up she slashed my hands, arm and neck so I look as if I have been attacked by a vampire. Lyle was much easier but in worse condition.

My chaise on the deck was very alluring by this time, but Dee had rung in the middle of this - she has found a house. So Stefan and I crammed into her bug and went to see the sweetest, smallest house nestled in trees in the very best district of San Rafael. She has to have it. We walked right round it, peered into the windows, solemnly inspected the shed, back to the car and it was locked with the keys inside.

So... we went off for my third long walk of the day, first to Zany and Kevin's house but no-one was home, so we left Stefan on the front porch and Dee and I walked to George and Cissy's office, and by the time we got back to the car the LockShock man was there. Picked up Stefan, introduced Dee and Kevin which is fortuitous as Kevin camps regularly on Angel Island, and rolled on home.

I could live like this every day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Almost Can't Bear to Say

I went downstairs to see what the carpet layers had uncovered, and it is beautiful Douglas fir, just like upstairs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Heavy Stuff

I have finished inside so have turned to the deck and the new gate, which is going together beautifully. Getting the old gate off has been the challenge - the screws have rusted in, and since the whole thing was whacked together with five inch nails and 6x2 timbers I feel Lilliputian. I managed only by doing it the wrong way and going for the weak points, so I have ended up with one hinge still on the post and the other completely off. I am praying that the post isn't rotted.

The screws and nails in this old work are so different, solid and heavy and real brass, not like the modern sharp little black screws I favour now. I wonder if I can re-use them - I haven't ruined the heads.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Cleaning

First off it strikes me that I have so many beautiful flowers in the house - Cissy brought daffodils and they are fully out now, Zany gave me great branches of blossom, Carolyn brought a bunch when she came to dinner, and so did Jamie and Kristen, and of course I still have my overflowing pot of freesias. This is the way to live!

Downstairs I have finished painting bar the second coat on the bathroom walls, I installed the new dryer duct and new rod in the closet, I tiled behind the loo in the master bath, and Steve has shampooed the carpets. Tomorrow I will finish boarding out the store room, already it looks so much better with all that scratchy pink insulation neatly sealed away. I particularly like the entrance where I used aromatic cedar boards I had been storing forever, the rest is plain ply and leftover bits and pieces. I have extended the platform over a uselessly narrow section and that side is for us, the larger part is for Mary. However in principle I am against storage, since most things get tucked away and forgotten, so what is the use? We have a tent, and suitcases, and stupid boxes I will try to persuade Stefan to chuck.

I carefully unscrewed the quite handsome copper stair treads and will see if they can be reused once stripped of paint, and will see if I can start power-washing the deck. I think I am over the flu.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Flavour of the Day

I went out in my kayak at high tide to make sure the new dryer vent would be between joists, quite tickled still that I have to take to the water to see the underside of my house, and thrilled to see that a swallow has built her nest there. The wind was blowing me backwards and the sun on the water was dazzling (my big hat is in Patagonia) but eventually I heard cries for help: Janie's beautiful big orchid had blown off her deck. When I got there I could just see the blooms about ten inches under the surface like some exotic new waterlily, and by pushing off the silt with my paddle I was able to slurp it out, and then the pot too, which was already settled well in. Put them both into my lap and paddled to Janie's dock to hand over, so I hope they survive.

I was mud all over, soaked to my shoulder, but felt so pleased with myself, and soo good after a hot shower, that I did precious little else all day apart from a little carpentry.

Tonight Cissy came over and saw the film and she likes it! She said all the right things! We were on tenterhooks as she is the first person not closely involved to see it (we showed Jamie and Kristen on Friday). Of course she is blood kin, but on the other hand is nothing if not straightforward.

I think I will need whisky to sleep.


Friday, March 20, 2009


Each morning I see my Vegemite disappearing at an alarming rate, and as it is now verboten here in Paranoid-land because it contains folates and the FDA has not approved, I have relied on passing friends from Oz to bring offerings. Even though the return fare now is an astounding $550 return, no kin are planning a visit, so I have posted an ad in the travel section of craigslist australia: "Will pick you up from airport in return for Vegemite!" I await results.

Walls, ceilings, doors, trim and front door are now painted downstairs, but I have yet to tackle the mammoth cupboards, which haven't been painted since the conversion fifteen (?) years ago and are a rich tobacco cream. The truck is full of debris, the deck is clear, and I am just waiting for a higher tide to kayak under the house to check for joists, so I can create a better vent for the dryer.

How can I get a steady supply of this into my life? I feel alive when I am busy, and it is all very well to say it is a crutch and I should find Inner Peace and I am co-dependent on activity, but it's my crutch and I'm happy with it. Might shed some weight while I'm at it.

We got a wonderfully descriptive email from Will in Buenes Aires, I'll ask him if I can post it. Don't want to inhibit him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Tick List

I feel younger and more energetic since starting on the painting downstairs, so maybe my winter malaise is inactivity. Anyway, I am going about it slowly, have covered the floors, removed all the door handles, filled the holes, washed the woodwork of many finger and dog prints plus the diarrhoeic fly residues, and have the first roller coating of wall paint up. I have decided to do the ceilings too, no hardship really as they are so low I can touch them, but I know it is going to be tiring so am pacing myself. I painted all the doors (six) and windows with a small roller, still need to do all the touch-ups but it is amazing how much you can do that way - obviously no cutting in but even mouldings came out smoothly.

All the while I dream about using the space myself, even though at the moment I just want the income. For a small space it has two big walk-in closets, plus a proper pantry, laundry room and storage room. I fantasise Stefan's workroom in the main bedroom, my workroom in the front bedroom/study, office in the living room and Stefan's current workspace reverting to a spare bedroom. Ah, sweet dreams.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dimi Mint Abba


I just spend a happy half hour listening to this, and to Taraf de Haidouks (band of outlaws/gypsies) on youtube. Miraculous that we can be there instantly!

Greetings and love to Siena and Norma, soon to be together in Vientiane.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Waters of March

Refreshed after an interesting and relaxing week at Esalen, but in the end the hot tub delusion got me and I am in bed with a streaming cold. Still, lying in bright sun and hot, sulphurous water, watching whales spout and kelp heads sway in the deep swell... and even better, walking on impossibly green, lush grass under towering trees, and chatter and wood fires and wine in the evening - deep things, too deep for tears. And constant, healthy, interesting food, like being babied.

We are now entered in twenty festivals. Stefan took his laptop and during lulls in shooting methodically worked his way through. I just observed the program, very interesting but not personally applicable. Does this mean I am Mature?