fell in love with the junkman

I promise to tell how I fell in love at the dump.
But having just swept myself out of the house, taken the 8:00 ferry, hauled ass to New York and found a parking place, I'm too wiped.



Brother. This house-prepping stuff sucks. Shelves. Dishes. Refrigerator. Laundry. Dishwasher. Laundry. Wastebaskets. Laundry. Mad rush cleaning, then cleaning up again after cleaning. Then visits from the infantry to disarrange what has been arranged. I'll be sleeping on the sofa tonight so as not to have to make beds at 6 ayem.
The remaining list: sink, coffee grinder, freezer, wastebasket, couch, papaer towels, dishwasher, washing machine, window sills, flowers, trash, flies.
Oh well. As long as the weather is good the renters will be happy.
The weather doesn't look so good.
Uh oh.


down to the wire

Pick up glass and straighten out lumber under house
Find new fin for sailboard
Put plastic on picnic table and set up cookout tools
Adjust rope handles on bathtub
Shelve books
Put away personal items
Wash linens and make beds
Clean out refrigerator
Clean everything
Final mowing
Go to dump
Pack truck
Note for tenants
Ferry reservation Thursday 8:15 am


summer people

The summer people are here now.
They have their bicycles and mopeds, their SUV's and surfboards, their Mercedes convertibles and kayaks.
They ain't goin' anywhere. Except out to dinner.
They don't have a tan yet, but they do have an attitude. And service personnel, increasingly from foreign countries. And, often, really bratty blond kids.
I was once a summer people, so I can't really revile them. I too made my money in the city and spent it on sand and sky. I too brought with me the things I couldn't live without, olive oil and Zabar's expresso (and, I confess, a Mercedes). I too found my piece of paradise and bought it. Maybe it didn't cost a million dollars, but it seemed like a lot of money to me and the other people already on the island.
It's the new summer people's turn now.
And now I rent my place to them.
And there's always another summer.


katie's rock

photograph by Peggy Purcell

legal hassles

Where the fuck is "my" lawyer? The guy won't even call me back, never mind move this zoning process forward. Waiting. Calling. Wishing. Hoping.
Looks like Dolores can close on her aerie in the Bronx, however. Mortgage came through, closing scheduled for Monday.
Dangerman is back at work.
Oceangurl has left the Island for another, that of Great Britain.
The Angelina Jolie of the Georgia Piedmont is still visiting.
The Artist known as Chang is back in New York.
And so will I be soon.



Still haven't painted the railings. But I did make a half-assed door for the outdoor shower. I figured what with BI Bro & family moving in next door, a little more privacy might be desirable (for my tenants--a confirmed nudist, I don't care). So I took some redwood left over from the porch building a couple years ago and made this arrangement of slats, put on some hinges and hung it. It was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. I made the door so that it would flatten inside the shower when someone like me didn't really want to use it. Unfortunately, that means you have to squeeze yourself in a corner under the faucet to close it, a problem I had not foreseen. Hefty types will have to shower en plein air.



If the day stays calm, I'm going to try a Tom Sawyer today with painting the railing. Don't tell my houseguests.


island life

The Pawley's Island hammock is swaying in a light, cool breeze from east northeast. The fleet of WASPs on the island for the Storm Trisail Race should be pleased. Soon their spinnakers will be billowing in a line across the horizon. The sun and sea are bright. The lawn is mowed. The house is reasonably clean. It's "master of all I survey" time.
That should last about a half-hour, and then there are the projects:
Install lighted mirror, towel rods and toilet-paper holder
Make shelves
Straighten up the lumber and pick up the glass underneath the house
Cut brambles and spray poison ivy
But for the moment: Ah.


summer in the city

Not really looking forward to it. I was ready to haul ass out of here and back to the island today when I woke up and it was beautiful out and knew I had to move the car and sit with it until danger of being towed had passed. However, it's Friday and the traffic north sucks, the Tennis Fan wasn't ready to leave and Dangerman, now back at work was muttering about Lunch.
The book signing was great, capped by a frame of The Artist Known as Chang dolefully holding a single broken-stemmed rose. La Otra rubia may still be bearing the chop mark she acquired on her bosom. Went out for oysters afterwards and didn't realize until later why the only East Coast offerings were from Prince Edward Island. Well, duh, red tide, Dork. I guess that's it for shellfish until the R months are back again.
And so I'm off tomorrow. But as of July, I'm back in the city with heat and roommates and houseguests (does no one but me take out the trash?). I'm sure I'll be lookin to get out of town again. Any ideas?


dragons flying

I seem to spend a lot of time taking dragonflies and birds out of the house.
I hope they're all out now, because I'm closing the storm doors and taking the 8:15 ferry off island. See you in the land of cabs and culture.


more about buildings and words

"I keep cutting it and it's still too short," says Railroad Man. He was talking about the molding I was putting in, but he could as well have been speaking about a story. That is, the writer always wants it longer, the editor always wants it shorter, and so it winds up way shorter than the craftsperson would like.
There's a moment when you're almost done with a story or a building project, just before everything comes together, when the whole thing looks like a mess. You have to fit this piece here, find a spot for that one, do a more graceful turn, apply a little polish, and then, suddenly, it's done, the veneer so perfect that the bits and pieces scattered around so shortly before become one.
In other words, I finished the bead board, down to the last coat of paint, and it looks, to me at any rate, swell.


blocks of wood and writers

I wonder if experienced carpenters pause superstitiously before they cut into a virgin board, questioning whether they've retained their skill and thinking that if that the first cut goes awry so will the rest of the project.
As a writer, I know that the whole of a story flows from the first sentence (my personal favorite from my personal oeuvre, about the Andes cannibals: "They ate them.") and if you change that sentence, the story changes. But I also know, due to experience, that I can make any number of different stories work. So I never have that clutching fear known as writer's block.
But faced with an actual block of wood, it's a different matter. I have to cut my way through with a deep breath, the right outfit (a bikini just won't work for me) and a kick-ass attitude. Perhaps more confidence will come with experience. Or wood to burn.


first cut

Doing it. Have to set the saw to the correct depth and turn on the little laser guide light—about as high tech as I get without the manual. Then it's into the shower with the ladder. Wind is gusting to about twenty-five. Don't forget the safety glasses. Nothing like sawdust-impaired vision. I'm beginning to hate the sight of plywood. May reconsider my plans for beadboard in the new place.
I think my orbital sander is possessed by the devil. It goes faster and faster and faster until it wrecks whatever surface I'm trying to improve. May have to borrow BI Bro's again.


the dilemma

I was planning to finish up this stupid bead board thing today, now that everyone is gone and I am all alone with the laundry, the sand on the floor and the leftovers in the refrigerator.
But it's nice out. I see my choices as:
1) sit on the back porch and read newspapers and drink beer all day
2) take measurements inside the shower stall


bead board

I have two 8' x 4' sheets of fako beadboard paneling and some scraps left. I have one roll and a twitch of insulation. I have a new Passload nail gun. I can't store the leftover supplies from finishing the guest bath, so might as well install them somewhere. Unfortunately the only place that could use that amount of material is over the shower in the master bath, in a peaked roof twelve feet up.
That means standing on the top of a stepladder in the shower stall, cutting out and detailing around collar ties and plumbing, and very possibly shooting myself in the foot with my nail gun.
Santa Fe Bro suggests that I drop the ceiling, but that raises other detailing issues. He's taking a shower right now, so maybe he'll emerge with an idea.
Maybe I should just take the extra stuff to the dump.
Two sheets of beadboard at $19 each.
What do you think?


suntan lotion

Everybody loves you when you have a beach house—or so the Angelina Jolie of the Piedmont and I are finding out. Somehow with places that sleep quite a few people there are still people sleeping on couches and futons. Somebody is always napping, showering, eating some meal or another, and dinner becomes a Busby Berkley production. But at least our beach houses feel like beach houses today. You wake to the ocean's sparkling reflections on the rafters and the seagulls screaming and it's actually warm outside. Some of us even have sunburns. Maybe I will get the lawn mower started today. I had a dream that involved spark plugs last night. Seems like an omen—or at least an explanation.



So what is it with a lawn mower that has sat too long? You could like break your arm trying to start the darn thing. Or maybe I don't have quite the right whip to my wrist. Anyway, the sun was out this afternoon for the first time in a while, and there was no wind. So everyone said, "Do you want to take a walk on the beach?"
"Not really." Just let me sit here with my nose in the sun and all the children playing far, far away and the lawn mower sitting, lonesome, in the middle of the yard.


blog island

OK, sorry. The DSL is hooked up (one month late), and I'm back.
In self promotion news, my story about MIT is on line now at Discover .
Also, if you're in New York on June 16, come to the book signing for Double Happiness, Magnum photographer Chien-Chi Chang's book with essay by me. The signing is at Aperture's new Chelsea space from 6:00 to 8:00 (547 W. 27th Street
4th Floor). I'm planning to be there.
In my other life as carpenter/landlady, I completed beadboard on the guest bath including window casements (cut with my shitty plastic mitre box) that may not be up to my bros' standards but are well beyond anything I've attempted before. I also scored a throwaway couch from the Peruvian Amanuensis and now have too many couches. I'm thinkling one in the bedroom, one on the porch and one in the living room. Or maybe, since they're all marginal, I should simply take them all to the dump and buy a new one. Nah.