Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Fitting Epitaph

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, May 25, 2015

The sun is out when I get up. Blessed sun. I get some coffee going, do a load of laundry in the sink, and hang half of it to dry while the other half still soaks. Then I take my coffee and go sit in the chair in the fresh air and sunshine. The birds are wild with delight. The ground squirrels are up and busy. The cat sits, sprawls, curls up in my lap. We stay there together for a long time. Then she wants to go for a walk so we do. Then back to the chair.

The bulk charge is running.

I go in and make an omelet and pan fried potatoes for my breakfast. Work a crossword puzzle.

The day invites me back out and I accept the invitation. The sun comes and goes. Drizzling showers pass over in the afternoon.

Up in the loft, I pack my things. There's a chance I'll need to move to another cabin if the loft beds are needed.

Michaela calls from Mexico. The connection is bad and she has to call multiple times. We get something of a conversation in somehow.

Then Porgy calls to see if there's any food he should bring in with him. With all the phone ringing it feels like a call center around here.

I look up some recipes online and make a cooking and baking game plan for tomorrow.

I finish my breakfast for lunch. Work a second crossword puzzle.

I keep the fire going warm all day to dry out my clothes.

I spend a good portion of the day outside with the cat. We alternate between sitting on the chairs and taking walks.

On one of our walks, I find a dead bird captured among the limbs of a willow. I don't know how it died. But it's beautiful there in its sadness, in its mortality. If I could die with that much elegance than going wouldn’t seem a bad thing.

I see the eagle. I see geese. The ground squirrels dart about excited with all the new yard obstacles. I bring in wood. I check things in the generator shed. I get some supplies out of the root cellar; eggs, the last of the onions, some tomato sauce.

I eat salmon, rice, salad, apples, and cheese for dinner. It's a feast.

The cat meows at me because her house has been moved to the barn. She sits on the rug in the sandblasted dust on her table in the screened in porch. She'll stay there all night. I can't stand it. I go get some of the blankets from her house and her food dish and make her up a soft bed on the table for one last night.

I pilfer the Myer’s Dark Rum from Willow cabin and send Kathy an email telling her I’ll buy her a new bottle. There are two shots left in this one. I make cocktails and eat the very last of the barbecue PopChips while I watch a show.

I fold up the clothes that have dried and take them upstairs.

It’s been a very pleasant day.

I go to bed thinking about my great uncle Paul. He was a sergeant in the Air Force in the 40th Air Rescue/Recovery Squadron and parachuted in to all kinds of dangerous areas to save soldiers. He reenlisted over and over again and said he did that so that my dad and uncle wouldn't have to go to war. He was killed in action during Vietnam on June 30, 1970, when his unit’s Jolly Green Giant helicopter was shot down over Laos. He was a hero. He's who I think about on Memorial Day.

Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I stay leisurely in bed until eight o'clock. I've got a list of things to do, but I'm going to take the morning easy. I take a cup of coffee and a crossword outside and sit with the cat in the sunshine. She's in a crazy mood, chasing things and sprawling over the chairs. She gives me a touch nose to nose—a kitty kiss.

We walk to the root cellar and get a few things. I check my email. I’ve just put my breakfast on the stove when a man walks past the window. I didn't hear any trucks.

It's the guys from JB. The gate was locked and they had to walk down. I thought Porgy would come in with them and hadn’t even thought about being sure the gate was open. It's only ten o'clock. The JB guys, Tim and Henry, take the ranch truck and the lock code and bring their truck down. They get right to work. Tim calls Porgy to have him bring a tool out.

I start making a batch of spaghetti and meatballs. Mix up some brownies and make some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

I serve up lunch at 1:10—it’s just the three of us.

I call my mom.

Porgy arrives. He spends a lot of time taking care of scheduling on the phone. Trying to get people and parts out here all at the same time and as soon as possible.

Whatever bad air was between us is gone. Thank goodness.

I feel like I've been cooking all day with little to show for it. That's bad since there might be ten guys here tomorrow for lunch and dinner.

I go outside and split some wood. I carry it over the dug and open trenches and put it on the front porch out of the rain. The cat is on the front porch. I pet her between trips. Without all the machine noise she's braver, staying closer to home.

Then I go in and make some spiced beef for tomorrow's lunch. It'll go in pita bread. I make a salad and rice for dinner. Porgy is going to grill shish-kebab meat. He has a time getting the fancy charcoal to light.

Phinehas calls and we have a few moments to chat.

Dinner isn’t served until 8:30. Arnie and Gerry had drunk most of my boxed wine the one night they stayed up talking in the lodge. And I don’t have any left. Gerry has a bottle in his truck that’d he’d meant to give me his last trip in. He tells me I don’t have to share. But Porgy wants a glass so I share. Tim and Henry seem satisfied with dinner. Gerry and Porgy do the dishes. I put away the food and prep the kitchen against the mice for the night.

After everyone has left the lodge, I sit at the desk in the front room checking things online when something scampers across my foot. I jerk it back and let out a little shriek. That impudent little mouse.

Caretaker’s Log, Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I'm awakened at 6:30 and downstairs by seven o'clock. Porgy has started coffee and steel cut oats. I get the other coffee going, stir the oats, set the table, and make a fruit syrup. The four guys eat and then I clean up the dishes.

I make ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. By the time I’ve finished that it's already time to set up for lunch.

Two new guys arrive. They’ve been hired to help fill the trenches and do other odd jobs.

I heat up the roast I made last week and serve it with the homemade barbecue sauce. I put out sandwich stuff, slice cheese, cut up an avocado, cut up a watermelon that Gerry brought, and heat up the tomato soup. When it's all ready to go, I ring the bell, but no one comes. Not for ten or fifteen minutes. I'm experienced enough to know not to put the warm food out until people head this way.

The guys settle around the table and eat. During lunch, the two propane guys arrive. They want to get right to work and don’t come in to eat.

After lunch, Tim puts some sealant around the pipe that has been leaking all winter long. That should fix it. I’m very happy. That will be one less thing for me to pay attention to every day. Then he and Henry pack up and leave.

Six for dinner is easier than eight.

I clean up the lunch dishes and have to get out of the kitchen. I go walk around, look for the cat, take pictures of the work. I grab some things from the root cellar and get some time alone in the house. I could use a nap. I'm feeling a little grouchy. Being around all this noise and all these people is tough.

I call my grandmother. Then I make myself tuna for dinner. I haven't eaten enough today and I'm starting to feel it. It should help to take away some of my grouch.

Michaela calls. It's Wednesday and I had wanted to talk. I've grown used to our weekly chatting habit. We catch up and laugh. We both needed that.

I eat my dinner alone. It's delightful. I wash and put away dishes. Then I start the dinner prep. My alarm goes off to remind me to record the weather. No precipitation in the precipitation bucket today.

One of the propane guys leaves. Five for dinner is easier than six.

I've got all but the meat out when the guys come in, beers in hand. Cocktail hour is more fun when I have wine to join in with. There’s a little left in the bottle Gerry brought for me. But I’m rationing it very carefully.

"It'll be about ten more minutes," I say. They haven't given me a warning about when they would come in and I feel like I had guessed pretty well.

"What's for dinner?" Porgy asks.

"Spiced beef to put in pita wraps with cheese and sour cream and guacamole and a homemade ranch dressing. Baked beans and watermelon."

He doesn't say a word. A simple "That sounds good" or even an "Oh" would be better than what feels like this disapproving silence. I tell myself that it doesn't matter. The food will be good and he doesn't have to like it. Then someone said something about hors d'oeuvres and I almost lose it. Ten minutes, guys, can't you just wait ten minutes?

Gerry comes in the kitchen and we pull out crackers and chips and salsa and cheese for them to snack on before dinner. "It's nice to have something to snack on with the beer," Gerry says.

I start to say something and then I shut my mouth. Instead I say, "Yes, it is nice." I don't need to be overly sensitive. It's not personal, it's mealtime.

The new guys seem to like the dinner.

While they're eating, I see the cat jump up on the outside table and start to eat her food so I go outside to chill with her.

After dinner, before bed, the two laborers go out and chop a lot of wood. I had told Porgy and Gerry that I wasn’t able to keep up with the increased demand (and the cooking and the cleanup) and they’d added this task to their guys’ list. And I’m thankful. Glad I spoke up.

Gerry goes off to bed.

Dinner has been served progressively later as the guys have been working longer days. This means that the cleanup takes up a better part of the evening and by the time I get things done it’s bedtime. It's nearly nine o'clock now, but I cut and boil up some potatoes so it’ll be easy to make homestyle potatoes for breakfast. I chop up an onion.

Porgy and Kelly finally leave the lodge and my plan is to watch a show while I take a bath. But then Porgy comes back and makes a phone call. I can't close things down and go upstairs until he's gone.

I adjust my plans and take a quick bath instead. By the time I’m done with that, Porgy has left the building. I run downstairs and put the potatoes in the fridge with the onions and shut things down for the night.

I wonder what it is about my personality that has such a hard time with so much socialization. I feel like someone someday will say, "Yeah, she was cool. So long as she was out in the wilderness all by herself." It's probably a very fitting epitaph.

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