Monday, May 7, 2007

We Know Stuff


Kurt is not entirely happy with what I write. At least when it concerns him. He wishes I wouldn’t let on that we don’t know what we’re doing here. I’ve offered him anonymity. I told him I’d be willing to change his name but celebrity is more important to him than his pride. I suggested the name Jerry. Jerry is my friend’s Prozac cat. Jerry is so bad he attacks dogs, sharpens his claws on steel and prefers the company of wild foxes than the other cats in the household. For their protection, he has to be tranquilized. That’s why Micaela refers to him as the Prozac cat when she’s telling me about the latest commotion he’s caused.

Jerry is also the name of a middle class guy who wears Bermuda shorts, takes Viagra and mows his lawn in socks and sandals. I thought it would be a good name for Kurt. If he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, he can tell himself I modeled him after Jerry the Prozac cat. And if his sense of humor ever comes back, he could go into the Bermuda shorts-wearing Jerry character and give me some more writing material.

But that is neither here nor there since he thinks he has a better chance of being famous than being laughed at if I use his real name on my blog. I mean, who knows what rich and famous person might read about him and give us some money? You never know.
He said, "Just don’t make us look like dumbasses. We know shit."

Here is what we know:

We know what weed-whacker to buy. We’ve gone through a half dozen of them. I am the weed-whacking queen. I became adept at it when we moved to our last property, a farm on a mountain. I didn’t know when we bought that place that the hills would be a problem. I knew nothing about hills. I came from the Jersey shore and Oklahoma where everything was flat. All I knew is that the hills were pretty and it didn’t enter my head about how I was going to mow them. Now when I hear about that movie, "The Hills Have Eyes," I think of that place.

Turned out the hills required non-stop weed-whacking. I used three tanks of gas in that weed-whacker every single week just to keep that place tamed. The only thing that slowed me down was when the string broke and then I’d have to wait for Kurt to put it back in because I could not do it myself. Oh I tried. But refilling the string in weed-whackers requires super human dexterity and a basic knowledge of machinery. In other words, a child could do it. Not my area. So I just chose another piece of equipment and waited for him. The riding lawn mower, the push mower, the hedge trimmer—I had my pick. And then there was the weeding. The grass in Virginia grows like it’s on steroids. But if it’s a weed-whacker you want, string refilling problems aside, the blue ribbon choice goes to the orange and white Stihl.

We know how to burn wood for heat. Also the fault of that other house. The locals called it "the big ole farmhouse settin’ on the road." It was big and it was old. It had a pair of propane furnaces, one in the attic and one in the cellar, that ran non-stop in the winter time. They blew warm air out through all the cracks in the bead board walls to the yard outside. Oh, that original bead board was charming alright. And those windows! One-hundred-year old glass complete with waves and bubbles—it looked just like Country Living magazine! But when our first heating bill came and it was more than our mortgage and the truck payment put together, we decided to take advantage of the woodstove in the house and the outside wood furnace in the driveway.

Something was going to kill us. If it was not the hills or the bills, it was the wood-getting. It took two pick-up truck beds full of wood per week to heat that old farmhouse. It was not like what I had dreamed about, living in the country, chopping wood, stoking the fire, a cast iron pot of stew bubbling on the stove. No, there was nothing romantic about it at all. Since the property was so hilly, Kurt would back the pick-up truck as far as it would go up the hill until the hitch was poking into the earth. Then he’d climb to the top of it and cut a tree down. Then he would scoot back down and chop it into pieces, trying not to slide down the hill the rest of the way or slip onto his chainsaw.

Kelly and I would climb up and push the pieces down the hill and hope they rolled close to the truck. Sometimes they got hung up on stumps and we’d have to scoot down the hill, free them and push again. Then we’d throw it all into the truck. Chunks of wood are heavy. Sometimes it took two of us to haul a piece. Sometimes we dented the truck. This is why folks have farm trucks. Then we’d go home where Kurt would chop it. Then we’d stack it. Then we’d spend every waking minute keeping the fire going. And that house was still cold. Now when I hear about that movie, "The Amityville Horror," I think of that place.

We know that you can find just about anything in Wal-Mart and it’s usually junk but you buy it anyway because it’s not worth the time to go to Roanoke when you could be out riding your horses or chopping wood.

We know that you can sometimes find something good at the Dumpsters. There are Dumpsters all around here where people bring their trash instead of garbage trucks coming to your curb on Tuesdays and Fridays to get your cans like how it was done in Jersey. And sometimes someone will leave something in front of the Dumpsters instead of throwing it inside because even though she can’t use it, you might be able to. I got a nice barrel for my front porch that way. I painted it green to match the cushions on my wicker chairs, turned it upside down and wa-la, a table. I left some reindeer lawn ornaments for someone else. Brandy, who lives down by the Minute Market once got a whole set of encyclopedias and the young couple in the log cabin with the rottweiler dogs got an antique sideboard with the mirror in perfect condition.

Granted, there are signs up all over the place that you’re not supposed to take someone else’s trash or else you can be arrested and thrown in jail with the other law breakers. I don’t know why they care if people garbage-pick. I mean, there are whole books out now about Dumpster-diving and how you can furnish a whole house on it or at least a room or two. Garbage-picking has finally gotten the respect that it deserves. But the county says you’re not allowed to do it. It’s one of those dumb rules they have. They want you to recycle your glass and newspapers but they won’t let you recycle an old walnut dresser that Effie doesn’t want anymore.

So you have to be sneaky about it. Like the brothers Dewey and Fred who live down the road in the doublewide and who grow geraniums and ferns in a greenhouse they built themselves from a kit. They go at night. They take the farm truck so there’s no traceable tag and if they find something good, one looks out while the other throws it in, and then they hightail it home and examine it more carefully there. Sometimes they have to take it right back to the Dumpster because it turned out to be a piece of junk, a chair missing its rungs or a table missing a leg. But they didn’t have the time to look it over good. Sometimes they hit pay dirt and then they brag about it to the rest of us and all excited, high on a good find, they return to the scene of the crime the next night to see if there’s anything else good. This is the crime in my neighborhood.

We know about how to make money around here. Though we’ve never done it ourselves. At least never to benefit ourselves. You just have a fundraiser. Whatever is wrong, you have a fundraiser for it. Folks love to raise funds around here for good causes. They thrive on it. Spaghetti dinners, pancake suppers, antique car shows, bluegrass music festivals, donut sales on the corner of the highway, car washes in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart, seed sales, cookie sales, bulb sales and don’t let me get started on the fundraisers they come home with from school—Scholastic books, candles and candy and plastic junk you have to pressure your loved ones to buy or else your little girl will be the only one in the class who won’t win a UFO glow-in-the-dark spinning gadget that never works right. It’s all for a good cause.

I’m not against the spaghetti dinners and the bluegrass festivals because a person can walk in there of their own free will. And I’m not one to pass up either a good meal or some good music. It’s the fundraisers that require people to knock on my door and rope me into something I will never use, like the strawberry plants that are still sitting in my vegetable drawer rotting away because I don’t have the time, alright, I don’t have the no-how, to plant them. Or, even worse, the ones my daughter is forced to participate in, like the candy sales. I’m new around here. Not many people owe me favors. I don’t want my neighbors to cringe every time they see us walking up their walkway with a catalog in hand for things that cost triple what they cost in Wal-Mart. I don’t care if it’s a good cause. I’d rather just donate the money or pay for my daughter’s school trip to Monticello myself.

If someone is sick or the PTO needs something, I’d rather just give the money directly. But folks around here obviously make a ton of money for all the time and effort they put into these fundraisers because they keep doing it. And I don’t hear anyone else complaining. Maybe they just need a good excuse to get together for some pie buying and fiddle playing. Maybe I should tell them about the sad circumstances here regarding my lack of a hay shed and that ugly paneling in my living room. A nice bake sale might just do the trick.

4 comments:

House on the Glade Hill said...

omg (not holy cow) - we know stuff too! The grass in Florida is much worse. I am sure though that the front yard humor was easy to find yesterday when we were using the log splitter. We still aren't done. The tree we had cut down was MASSIVE. I think my whole spring could be dealing with it.

Debi said...

Maybe you need us to come over Amy. All that experience in the other place, we'll just look at that big old tree and it'll fall apart into logs for you!

Amy said...

Debi you are hilarious, and its so TRUE! You can't even order a McDonalds Happy Meal without the cashier asking you to donate a dollar for something!

Amy T

Debi said...

Thanks Amy!