Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To the whole world

Morning in the mountains. A sudden storm. Thunder and lightning, call and response.

Coffee on the porch. And a chocolate chip cookie.

Cheers.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The new house needs work

Every afternoon around 2:30, the Mystery Woman’s hammer goes off. Since I am usually napping about that time, I think of it as my alarm clock. Besides, when she starts hammering, she’s armed.

Time for me to get up.

Her project today: to hang a floating shelf over the kitchen sink to display her whimsical collection of hand-made pottery shakers from around the country. First, she watched two videos on-line on how-to drill through the fragile ceramic tile already in place. Then she trundled off to the hardware store to buy the proper drill bit. She took it on faith that the job required hollow wall anchors. She still doesn’t know what that is but we have two of ‘em over the sink.

If the hammer had not awakened me, the drill would have.

Her tool box is bigger than mine. Did I mention she has her own drill? And hammer, and saw, and level, and…

In every place we’ve lived, she has been inducted as an honorary handyman by the guys at the local hardware.

In the Minnesota house, her daughter would point to the fireplace and proudly proclaim: “My mother laid that hearth.”

It runs in the family. For decades, when her aging mother moved to a new city, she would haul a box of her favorite boards. I wrote about that years ago – but never told her.

I am convinced if she really wanted to, the Mystery Woman could build a house. From scratch. While wearing sensible shoes.

No job too big, no job too small. Just look at me. I’m her first successful re-model. And the job only took her six years.

So far.

Sometimes, she just lets me sleep. Like earlier this week when she painted the kitchen. Painting is quiet. But she’s never in a good mood painting. It’s because she looks for bargains and has yet to find a place where they sell used paint.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A mountain make-over might help

Somewhere just over the next mountain, a small airport snugs up in the valley. No passenger jets. Just cargo and private planes. From the porch, we can hear the piston engines practicing circles in the sky.

There’s something comforting about the drone of a prop job auguring it’s way through the air. Very different from the shrill whine of a 747 making screech marks all across America. They make awful sounds. Not a damn thing romantic at all. Not like it used to be.

Do you like airline travel? I hate it. Love to fly but hate the airplane and airport experience. Cattle trucks on wings and conveyor belts. No fun.

Here’s an idea: bring the airline big shots to N. Carolina, where flight began. Make ‘em sit down and shut up while they soak in the everyday pleasures, mountain-made. If anything can change the starch and the suits to smiles, it’s the Blue Ridge Mountains. And maybe a high lonesome song or two from Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys.

Bring ‘em. I'll even pick them up at the airport. The little one.









Sunday, July 22, 2012

Firm young bodies, Warren Buffett, fast cars

We take it in stride. But ever since we moved to this part of N. Carolina, the Mystery Woman and I have become nearly famous.

A story in the Sunday newspaper says the local economy is based upon (1) retirees, (2) manufacturing, (3) tourism, and (4) agriculture.

Not only are we a Leading Economic Indicator – we’re a draw!

Because of us, they sell lots of fiber. And doctors who were smart enough to read “The Age Wave” when it first came out twenty years ago, well those doctors are driving better cars than their colleagues who like dealing with firm, young bodies.

Back to the point: As far back as the 1800’s, people have been coming to these mountains to retire. The amazing thing – they’ve been welcome.

Seniors are not invisible hereabouts. They are welcome. Like in the olden days. The result is one of the more vibrant small towns I’ve ever seen. This ain’t Archer City, Texas. Uh-uh.

Imagine the results if the rest of the country followed suit. If they did, that fellow Buffett could afford to live somewhere other than Omaha.






Friday, July 20, 2012

 Rain on the roof, every afternoon

Did I tell you? Our little cottage in N. Carolina has a porch. And life is good. Now, I’m just waiting for something to happen. Yesterday, there were three cars. Today, rumor has it that FedEx may stop by.

Most mornings, I’m on the porch with the dog, the morning paper and the laptop.

Most evenings, it’s me, the lightning bugs, and the Mystery Woman. Plus two glasses of wine. At minimum.

This little porch is just about the same size as the one we left behind in Minneapolis. But this one is not screened. And the uneven flagstones make wine drinking tricky if you’re old.

Up here, they say you can spot the Florida people because their porch is screened. N. Carolina people don’t deem screens necessary. So far, I tend to think we can do without. Mosquitoes are not that bad.

So we’re going commando. Uhh. I meant going native. You believe me, don’t you?


Monday, July 16, 2012


Mountains are the best medicine

This will have to be quick. It’s almost time for my first nap.

We love this place. It’s Mayberry -- on Xanax. Nice and slow and friendly. With every modern convenience you might need. Seniors welcome. Early bird special served all day long.

Rain for three days straight has broken the heat wave. Storm clouds still tease the mountains. The thunder that rumbles around is like your cranky uncle talking about his lumbago.

I’ve gotten lost on these mountain roads a couple of times. Remember, I grew up in Lubbock where the grain elevator was the only skyscraper. If you could see it, you could find your way around.

Lots of big banks and big churches. But there’s a liberal presence, too. From here to Asheville, there are several practicing Democrats. We hope to have them over for supper.

The street in front of our house is only one lane wide. Seriously. Very little traffic. Most people think it’s an alley. On a busy day, we may get five cars. One week, we heard a siren.

But the town has a symphony, two playhouses, and a library with a full parking lot. Fireworks every Friday night, street dances on Mondays. And the mountains to add a little glory to the sunrise, sunset.

Plus this: Krispy Kreme, Blue Bell ice cream, and lightning bugs.

What more do you need?

Two naps, maybe.


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