Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oh, billiard parlor walls come a-tumblin' down!

Here are some pictures of the demolition of the County Building, and here's an explanation of why it's being demolished (thanks, Jimbo!). Michele, Ike, and I were walking downtown Tuesday morning after breakfast, and I took the pictures from the north side of the building. As of today, there's about a quarter of the building still standing.

Apparently the second floor of the building could have collapsed if there were an earthquake or sustained rhythmic dancing by County employees. Charleston marathons and civil trials are a dangerous cocktail.

I was peering through the fence at the equipment operators.

When you're at street level, Los 'Mos looks nice. From a satellite, the downtown area looks like one big parking lot.

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Almost done

The guys will probably be finished with the siding today. Here's what BobBie and I saw on the walkaround yesterday.

The back porch is almost done. They'll need to put end caps on the wall.

Here is the back of the house. They need to caulk around the windows. The doormat covers up the culvert that goes under the house. Julio, the forerman, said that as they were working, they kept hearing a soft thumping sound. The sound was caused by bees, apparently confused by the pink insulation and later by the siding. Some were going in and out as we did the walkaround, and BobBie immediately identified them as honeybees. There's a big colony under the house.

They put siding on Dad's concrete work in the back. Most of the major tweaking they did was on Dad's projects.

Here is the demarcation between Mom's side of the duplex and the neighbor's. The spruce tree disguises it from the street.

Freddy is hard at work with measurements.

The crew has only a little more siding to install.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Talkin' soffits, talkin' crops

Yesterday ChelBert took pictures of the progress on Mom's house. The crew was working on the soffits.

Soffit on the east side.

At the northeast corner.

The crew moved the signs, street numbers, and Monitor tube to a temporary location.

I planted two tomatoes, a cherry tomato and a regular slicing tomato. Here is the first fruit of my labor. It is a large, regular slicing tomato.

Next year any tomatoes will be in containers in the greenhouse.

The zucchini are doing great! Here's a huge blossom from Sunday. The vine is spitting on its hands and is ready to make inroads into the kitchen.

Casey likes to sack out on the back stoop in her cardboard box. There's no better place to soak up the rays.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The siding is up!

The siding crew worked far into the night to finish the job. Here's what Mom's house looks like now.

(The guys aren't working today, but I still wanted to give you a progress report. AH-hahahahahahaha!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Little masonry bit, we hardly knew ye.

I went over to Mom's this morning at 9:30, and the crew was hard at work. Julio, the foreman of the crew, gave me the grand tour and introduced me to all the guys. He said the foundation is marvelous and he has never seen concrete quite like it. "We already burned out one drill bit on it," he said, and showed me the blunt end. "That's good concrete. The house isn't going to move ever."

Here's the siding on the east side of the house.

They did a neat job framing in the openings to the crawl space. Julio said that there's an infestation of rodents under the house. Apparently the mice come charging out in fright as the crew works. I told him that Mom has been battling the mice for years, then told him about Dad vs. the Skunk.

Here is the interface between the insulation and the siding.

Ooooo! Ahhhhh! Woodgrain!

This is the remains of a bird's nest on the east side of the front porch. Julio said they removed the bodies of 12 to 15 desiccated birds that had fallen in there over the years.

They had to remove the plywood that Dad installed because it wasn't properly applied and wouldn't be able to hold the insultation and siding. How long has it been since we've seen the porch railing? Is that green paint from the Zia Company?

This is the staging area for the equipment, product, and machinery.

Lots of progress on the front! I took this picture this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Home, in one form or another, is the great object of life."—Josiah Gilbert Holland

I went over to Mom's this afternoon to see the progress on the siding project. Five workers were scrambling up ladders, attaching insulation, removing plywood, cutting, measuring, and swarming over the house. The insulation was almost installed when I left.

They seem to be a very nice crew, and Mom brought sodas, cookies, and snax for them so they could sustain the slender thread of life as they work. They laugh a lot.

The work is noisy. One guy was using a grinder, and of course there's a lot of pounding and thumping.

Here comes Mom. The house number, the Eutsler sign, and the Monitor tube are on the front of the house.

East side of the house. Who hosed down our childhood home with Pepto-Bismol?

Dining room work.

Dining room work from up the hill.

West side of the house.

The 3/4-inch insulation goes on right over the shingles.

When I left, the guys were tearing out the plywood walls on the front porch.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You gotta have art! All you really need is art!

Chuckbert, JerBear, Michele, and I were talking yesterday evening about the cool pieces that the guys had acquired during their visit, and the talk turned to whether I had acquired any new photographs. The most recent one is by Jack Spencer, "Yellowstone River, Montana, 2005," which we haven't hung because we need to reshuffle the wall space. I also have his "Sheldon Church Ruins, Sheldon, SC, 1998." I like the painterly feel and narrative sense of Spencer's images.

Yellowstone River, Montana

Sheldon Church Ruins, Sheldon, SC

I've been reading Larry McMurtry's memoir Books, and his reflections on collections. He collects travel writing written by women; the rest of his library, he says, is an accumulation. I have a collection of images of women by female photographers. The rest of the pieces are an accumulation. I love every photograph in my collection and accumulation.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Let me paint that skunk's stripe for you.

Michele and I work at the store on national holidays so the staff can have the day off, and yesterday was no exception. We had a lot of out-of-town visitors who wanted souvenirs and gifts.

One woman brought one of our little plush coyotes to the counter and wanted to know whether we had any more, because its whiskers were not straight. I rooted around in the bins and found all the coyotes we had on hand and lined them up on the counter; all of them had bent whiskers, which made them all look sort of like Salvador Dali. It seems to be the nature of the beast, both in the wild and in plush.

"If I were getting it for myself," she explained, "I wouldn't mind so much, but this is a gift, and the whiskers should be perfect." I suggested that she might like one of our plush scorpions or roadrunners instead--both are Southwestern critters and don't have whiskers. But it was a coyote or nothing. I suggested that she might apply gentle heat to the whiskers to get them to the angle she preferred, and she said that might work. She sighed heavily, bought the toy, and walked out working on its whiskers.

One of those dawgs lookin' up.
One of those artists lookin' right.

Another woman came in and picked up Spud, novel for young adults, about a prepubescent kid in South Africa who goes to a boys' boarding school. It's full of hi-jinx, adolescent angst, and raging hormones. She asked whether it was good, and I said I enjoyed it. I told her that it was a little edgy because of some sexual content. She said, "I don't want it then. It's dirty. [See also Wagner.] I read only clean books." I learned very early that customers who think Driving Miss Daisy is too sarcastic and who hate the mindless bloodletting of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek are best left to their own devices. She finally chose Cheaper by the Dozen, one of my all-time faves. I hope she doesn't think having 12 kids is dirty, because if she does, that book is pure porn.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy birthday to Mombert!

Our mom was born on this day. We have profited by her example and have learned to approach life with quiet dignity and decorum.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

But first, the scores. Ike: 14. Estate sale 1, P-doobie 0.

Today Ike is 14 years old! Here's a picture of my boy at the geographical center of the continental United States near Lebanon, Kansas. It was a beautiful moment, and afterwards I said the Pledge of Allegiance, with my right hand over my heart.

LAT. 39°50' LONG. 98°35'
NE 1/4 - SE 1/4 - S32 - T2S - R11W

I read a classified ad for a Santa Fe estate sale offering science and medical books, among other treasures from the office of an OB-GYN. So I went down in hopes of getting some cool used technical books for the store. The sale started at 9:00, and when I got there at 9:05, the cars were already lining both sides of a narrow dirt road and backed up to Old Santa Fe Trail.

For some reason I have romantic notions about estate sales. The word estate connotes to me wealth, dignity, brandy and cigars in the library, and the warm and mellow glow of clustered tapers at the dinner table. The buyers at an estate sale would be quiet, reserved, the kind who make literary or historical jokes ("The War of Jenkins's what?") and who appreciate rare first editions, fine linens, exquisite crystal, and porcelain from far Samarkand and exotic Ind.

What I attended was a giant garage sale with scores of people vying for plastic containers with lids, half-full bottles of cleaning spray, exercise balls, battered pie pans, self-help books, UFO books, a signed autobiography by Barbara Bush (I briefly considered buying it, but I decided against it, because this whole global mess is ultimately her fault), My Book of Poems, Poems I Love, Prayers and Poems for Tiny Tots, Seasons of Joy: a child's first book of poems, and other books of that ilk.

When P and I were using the subways in London and Mexico City, we initially were polite and let the elderly and infirm go ahead of us. It took only a couple missed trains to make us realize that if we were going to get anywhere, we'd better do as Londoners and Mexicanos do and start shoving and elbowing our way onto the cars. So it was at the estate sale. At first I let people pass. One woman walked purposefully straight at me and did not deviate a centimeter from her trajectory. I could either duck into the linen closet or be walked on. (Although the napkins were Ralph Lauren, they really didn't fit our taste or color scheme.) In no time I was pretty free with my elbows, and I used my backpack as protection and a weapon.

It was fun to watch people fight over premium items. While I was on line to pay for my purchases, two families were disputing the ownership of a Cuisinart and smearing each other with colorful and apparently highly accurate epithets.

One of the pi├Ęces de r├ęsistance was a gynecologist's examination table.

At your cervix. Ah-hahahahahahahahahah!

It put me in mind of a time in Maxwell when our first superintendent went to Santa Fe and bought some impressive looking stainless-steel equipment at bargain basement prices. He bought a hospital-grade tray warmer for the cafeteria ladies, who said they had no earthly use for it. So the janitors, by dint of intricate footwork and some of the senior boys, moved it up the stairs to the second floor of the grade school. They also had to carry up another of the superintendent's purchases, a huge stainless-steel cabinet; nobody could identify it. It had shelves. Water apparently circulated through it. Its use remained a mystery until Howard, P, and I went up to the second-floor storage area and wiped off the dirt-covered plaque on the bottom of the machine. It was a bedpan washer.

Back to the estate sale. I got The Geological Atlas of the Rocky Mountain Region for $50.00 (selling on ABEbooks for $250.00), a little bread pan, and an unusual copper bowl for Michele.

Elephant folio, about 2 ft. x 3 ft.

Now that I am an Estate Sale Virgin No More, I'll do better at the next one.