From the misty mornings til dark the logging trucks blow by on two-lane Highway 99 outside my front door. They don't seem to downshift through town, despite the 40 mph speed limit.
And along the highway is evidence of their passing: squirrels, skunks, deer, snapping turtles, possums, raccoons and, especially, armadillos. My father says there is a reason for the latter: Armadillo eggs split into four and they give birth to quadruplets, thus upping the armadillo population very quickly. (I found myself surfing the web to find out whether armadillos could climb into my truck after the garbage. Answer: they can climb.)
Perhaps the saddest of the animals sharing roads with log trucks is the box turtle. In a certain month (I forget which now) they start getting frisky and crossing roads—very slowly—in search of some action. Public service advisories on the local radio stations suggest stopping, if it's safe, and placing the turtle on the roadside in the direction it's heading. Unfortunately, on these two-lane roads there usually no shoulders and no place to pull off the road without tipping over. So we slalom, and occasionally damage ourselves or other humans.


little meth lab on the prairie

This reminds me of how we used to do dishes at Hannah's Honeymoon Hideaway. There, we didn't have a sink; here, we don't have drains. Ah, pioneering!
So there has been a deluge last night and this morning. The buckets were all ready, but I was too comfy to get up and check what was happening. Nothing was happening. Not a drop has come into the house so far. But about six more worms did. I thought worms liked rain. Or maybe the birds are leaving them in thanks for the grass seed I spread.
Also in the pioneering spirit, 1/75th of the population of Thomasville will be turning off the lights for Earth Hour at 8:30 tonite. Of course, some of us here don't have power to shut off.


forecast: rain

This is the only gas station in about 15 miles, so Thomasville residents were understandably bummed when the pinochle-playing owner shut down two weeks ago, just as I took ownership of the Goose. Fortunately, there is said to be new ownership—"meth addicts," according to one resident. Of course, he calls everyone he doesn't like a meth addict, so I don't know that this is factual. We are happy to have hi-test available again.
And the forecast is for a lot of rain. Last night we had quite a bit, with the only result that I could see a mysterious small puddle in the middle of the kitchen floor and a large red worm. Maybe a red wriggler, or maybe just a blushing earthworm. It did not know what it was doing there. Given the prediction of an inch tonight and possible snow (!) tomorrow, I think I'll cook up some soup. I was planning to cook meth, but soup sounds better today.


about the roof

OK, I know. Yes, some of the sheets are actually by Martha Stewart. But keep in mind that my after pix are carefully styled and that the rest of the place is junk—like the roof.
I was putting the bed together ("Are you sure you want that bed? It's for a spare room, right?" Very spare. "Yes.") after the delivery guy and his girlfriend heaved it up over the parapet, when there was a thunderstorm. Now, I knew there was a leak, but the previous owner thought he had fixed it. And he did put on a new tin roof. Probably not such a good idea for a flat roof. So wherever he fixed it, the water just ran to another low point. When it started pouring in, it was coming down on my new bed. I heaved the bed out of the way and ran downstairs to get a pail and some towels. The downstairs was awash and it was raining through the light fixture on the ceiling and coming in under the door.
"Why didn't you take video?" asked Dianne. Video? I could barely keep my hair on. Almost two inches came down in a very short period of time, judging by the empty paint trays outside.
I slept soundly in my new bed.


bear's dream

Bear comes with the Goose. He lives across the street in the house where he was born, the youngest and smartest of some 12 kids. The house has no plumbing or electricity or heat, so Bear pretty much hibernates in the winter. "At least he doesn't have dirt floors," says Dale, the plumber who came out to dowse for my septic tank. "I went to school with a kid whose house had dirt floors. The plumber, 55, didn't have indoor plumbing or electricity himself until he was 11 years old.
Now Bear would like to go on a trip. At 45, he has never been out of his home woods. Maybe, he thinks, he could go with me when I leave, go visit a nephew in Maine. He has some money saved up from his job at a small sawmill. "How would you get back," I ask. "I could take a plane," he suggests. "I never been on a plane. Or a bus, or a train." It's about three-and-a-half hours to the Memphis or St. Louis airports.
I feel guilty now, that by blowing into town on a whim I have altered Bear's perception of reality. "You give him hope," says Elaine. But I'm not so sure that's a good thing. I may have made Bear (whose real name, alas, is Randy) dissatisfied with his life—especially since he met my beautiful friend Carly from Kansas City. He is a lonesome Bear, and he wanted me to tell her "hi." "I am afraid having me here has made for him a chemical reaction of longing for places and people he cannot have," I wrote her. "You inspire the same chemical reaction in me!" she wrote back. "How strange. . . Say hello to Bear."


why the ozarks?

The turnoff to Thomasville is just ahead. This is the main road, running roughly 20 miles north of the Arkansas border. Ever since I really bought the Goose, something I've been talking about for several years, people have been asking whether I have lost my mind. "Why Missouri?" they ask. They theorize that I've found a lover or taken up cooking meth. They propose other, more convenient or trendier rural areas I could settle in. No, I'm not coming here to write (as a former professional I know you can write anywhere)."Well, it just seems so weird."

Here are some of the reasons I like it.
Spring comes early.
Block Island, New York, Thomasville sounds good on my letterhead.
The sound of rain on a tin roof.
A halfway stopover to Santa Fe.
Childhood in the Ozarks
The only store in town is the beer store.
Heredity: My family is either building or renovating or dead.
My inner redneck.
No house guests.
Beautiful rivers.
Everybody waves if you're driving a truck.
Trying to break my media habit.
I like feeling slim.
It's a folly.

But mostly, I just like it. People live here, you know—I have a lot of friends who do—and they don't think it's odd at all.


another corner

We went from bachelor-pad boyish to by-golly girlie in just two days. Many ladybugs lost their lives. And I learned that, while I may be the world's worst painter, there are many others just as bad. One corner down, three more to go. Downstairs.


inscrutable woman

I really like this painting. It was done by a friend of mine and may be her first painting. She is usually a writer. She suggests this site to paint on line, but this painting is on paper. I wonder what this woman is hugging.



The atmosphere here at the Goose is already redolent of Raid and mildew and paint. Just imagine the addition of the tempting aroma of a nice old meal in a can.


far left?

Somehow I don't think so—not judging by the amount of camo in town. I myself bought a camo John Deere hat to wear while painting. How do you think this sign originally read? A mystery: Thomasville is not to the left of the sign.

in praise of symmetry

With the rotten exterior staircase stripped off, two loads of junk taken to the dump and much given away for free (why do people want this stuff? I discovered in Block island that they will take almost anything), the Goose is down almost to its bare bones, which were what I admired about it. I'm not saying they were necessarily good bones, but I liked them. What do you think?


historical perspective

The linoleum under the linoleum became Art. I think the wall is Art, too, as is. Not to mention the inspiration for my color palette. I am now available at 417-764-3083—and on line! Yes the phone line is majorly jury-rigged, flapping up the outside wall and through the window screen and into power strip central. Has to go with the rest of the place. . .


way cool

I have decided to think of residence here as a conceptual art piece. And you can tell from all the pictures that I’m excited about my Frigidaire. I mean, the cooler was working ok, but the refrigerator is better. Yes, like everything else here, it is marginal and needs work. And yes, Erin, it is far from green. It was $60 at the junk store . With a few carefully edited pieces of extant d├ęcor, it looks great. My thought is to create little corners that please me, like this one, and spread them out until they meet, Unfortunately, everything still requires a lot of mopping.


the fossil shell

The layers of past lives, lived poorly, were a little depressing. Buyer’s remorse? Or maybe it was just the mopping.
I felt like the shipwrecked sailor who couldn't figure out what to do first and wound up lying on the strand until he was saved. Before I could get a clean surface to even set down my bags, I had to vacuum, but there was only a leaky shop vac. So I had to mop. And I needed to paint a surface to put aerobed on. So I had to tear up old linoleum and carpet. To take that out I had to take out a closet that had been built on top of it. It may have been jury-rigged of shoddy materials (like everything else except the structure itself), but it was seriously built. And then there were the moldings and carpet tacks to come out. And then I had to mop some more.
I found some disused items: a single dangly earring, cat litter pan liners, five mugs from Hospice of Ozark Medical Center, two crayons, negatives of an unknown couple, an ice pick. A toilet (or “commode,” as Bear calls it) and an old truck that won’t start grace the great outdoors.
The snail fossil was found in the yard by Mike, the previous owner of two years, the day we signed the papers. “How great!” I said. He handed it to me. “You keep it,” I said. “You keep it,” he said. “It’s yours.”


spotted, at the goose

Thomasville's most famous former journalist was spotted moving into the Goose today. The Spotted Goose, better known to denizens of the pop. 100 (maybe) town as the former post office or, according to Woodrow Junior Parrott, "The Old Show House—you know, theater," was taken over by the lady from New York City who drinks imported beer yesterday. After the papers were signed, Mike, the former owner, neighbor Bear and Junior, who had come by to buy and try to start Mike's old truck, spent some quality time repairing the water pump at the Goose. That this involved driving three miles of dirt tracks out into the forest to Junior's hunting cabin to get some pipe glue was just a bonus. Water is still leaking, but at least it's also running out of the faucet. Word to the wise: communications are not even spotty at the Goose—no cell, no phone, no Internet—so if you need me, leave a message on my cell or in comments, and I'll get back to you. Maybe Monday.


done deed

I own it, flies and all.

not open

Yes, it's four in the morning here. Yes, I can't sleep. Perhaps it's the property I'm about to buy in this shutdown town. Twelve o'clock Eastern Daylight Time.



Check out the story on Erin O' the Green in today's Boston Globe—and comment!



Possibly the bingo capital of the world is just east of Jasper, Ala., for reasons I need to discover. Bypassed the bingo, headed through the best welcome stop ever in Mississippi (gas fireplace, pump organ, poster of Elvis Presley), blasted through Tupelo, Memphis and Jonesboro, Ark. Stopped at the cowboy boot store in Ravensden (anybody want a pair of beautiful ostrich Luccheses?) and still made it to TJ's in West Plains, Mo., by 6:00 to meet up with Dianne. Am at Frank and Dianne's now, contemplating the removal of items in the truck that might get snowed on.


rocket men

Every month the Phoenix missile works club gets together in the cotton fields south of Talladega to shoot off rockets they've crafted. Propelled by nitrates, sugar and who knows what else, some shoot thousands of feet into the air. It's fun for the whole family. When asked if he'd seen the movie Rocket Boys, one man said, "That there is the story of my life—except the NASA part of it."


sweet home alabama

So far, two mice have lost their lives, five dogs have been covered with mud, one sunburn acquired and one pork butt been sampled. And this is just day two. Much more fun to come! But very hard to post about. Right now the computer is resting on the windowsill of the driver's side of the truck in the parking lot of the Heritage Hill Museum. And, my Yankee brothers and sisters, it is hot!
The brake lines have been checked again, and Wylie's Brakes and Tires (doing me a favor on account of being the daughter of "Snake Doctor," above) says there is nothing whatsoever wrong with them bar a little mud. So I don't know what that tow truck guy was talking about.
The maginoshas are blooming, and I've gotta head back out the Rendalia Motorway through the red dirt cotton fields to the piney woods. Mo' later.


what's in the truck III

Hannah and Chris are now the risk-taking owners of 2 loft apartments, 2 storefronts, 2 artists' studios, 6 (?) toilets, 2 refrigerators, 2 dishwashers and a lot of other stuff. No, it's not all in the truck, although some of it was in the truck.
As for what is in the truck, let me start by asking you how many bags of Zabar's dark espresso and how many bananas it contains. From there, you're on your own. Obviously the people who helped me load have privileged knowledge.

leaving 98

Left New York about 10:45 and drove through New Jersey, Pannsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and down through the snowy Shenandoah Valley between the mountains of the same name and the Blue Ridge Mountains, stopping just north of the Tennessee border in Wytheville, Virginia. The red Roof Inn, to be precise, in case I go into the third dimension.

big day

Today at 11 o'clock Chris and Hannah take a big step. They close on their building.
By that time, I hope to be in New Jersey.


the hostess with the leastest

Welcome to The Apartment of No Regrets. And we'd like to keep it that way, right? There is someone sleeping in every room right now. I'm leaving tomorrow for a long time—which doesn't seem to deter the stream of visitors, which indicates that they're not really here to see me. But in case Kathleen wants to channel me while I'm gone, I thought I'd leave her a cheat sheet of houseguest guidelines.

Please water my plants, inside and outside the kitchen window. They need water almost every day.
Use the bathmat draped over the tub when you take a shower. Yes, people tell me the shower is very small.
Please leave the bathroom door open if you aren't in there. If you are staying in the guest room, please leave your toiletries in the half bath, except for shampoo and etc.
No sex without marriage. Just kidding! Please have lots of sex! I just don't want to stagger to the bathroom in the morning and have Deborah Lee or any other random person pop out of your room without warning.
Separate the trash. The garbage has a plate over it. The other wastebasket is for bottles, cans and plastics. I usually put newspapers in a stack on the floor. The trash goes out by the freight elevator.
You don't have to tiptoe around when I'm sleeping—I'm deaf and won't hear you. I'm not deeply into conversation first thing in the morning, however. And my neighbors don't appreciate loud chat in the kitchen (air shaft) after midnight.
About food: You may eat or drink anything you want from the fridge, except the last little bit of milk for coffee in the morning. Help yourself; don't ask me every time. Coffee filters in the cupboard top left of the dishwasher. You may cook anything you want anytime you want. If I cook, I will offer you whatever I'm making, but it will almost always be soup. Don't ask me to go out for meals; it is not a treat for me. I live here. The takeout menus are in the lower drawer of the endtable in the kitchen. Also, "What's for lunch?" is my least favorite phrase in the English language.
Re the dishwasher. It has to be attached to the faucet and the faucet turned on to work. If you don't know how to do this, don't turn it on. It will fry the heating element.
No, I don't have a TV. And I don't want to go to the movies with you, either.
There's wireless DSL. Piggyback away.
If you aren't coming home for the night, please let me know. Text or e mail me if it's late.
Please leave your pets at home—unless they are Havanese.
Your friends are welcome. Clean up the breakage and tip the doorman if it's a big party.
I don't want to come home and find rotten food in the refrigerator or trash can and a pile of dirty linens. There is a laundry card in the kitchen endtable top drawer.
If you get locked out or have a building question, Debby is in 4D and Toby is in 16D—or call me on my cell.
Please do not give me any gift certificates—I'll never use them. If you want to leave a token of your appreciation, cash is always acceptable. I'll have the place cleaned for the next gang.
Remember: I could show up at any time.
Your Hostess

PS Kathleen has her own list of suggestions, both for living with me and with her, but I'll let her share those. I'll give you one heads up: Don't ask her to sing.


not road trip weather

I am not sure that all the things I am planning to put in the truck will be able to fit in there with all the snow—nor that I can get out of this parking space to move in front of the building for lading tomorrow—so Jed helps me dig out with the dustpan.


home again



Ordinarily, I will blog on a Monday a Tuesday a Wednesday but never on a Sunday. However, today I am making an exception to let you know that Hannah and Chris have moved out of their loft and shop into their new home and studios. Huzzah!