Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Surrogate Grandfather

Charlie also sells gravel. He wears plaid flannel shirts and drives a red dump truck filled with gravel—pea gravel, ¾ stone, sand, whatever you want. If you want more than what fits in the dump truck like we did, he can order you a tri-axle load. Those are big trucks almost as long as a tractor trailer. We got two of them. No one had replenished any of the gravel in this driveway probably for as long as the initial gravel was put down when the driveway was first built and it was bare in the middle and had grass poking through like sprouts of hair on a bald head. When it rained, it got muddy. You couldn’t walk on it in a pair of high heels. Heck, you couldn’t walk on it in regular shoes either so forget it if you had to go anywhere and stay clean. You still can’t walk on it in high heels. Gravel is bumpy. Luckily I don’t wear heels too often but if I did, we made a path from the deck to where I park the truck out of 12 X 12 pink patio blocks and I tiptoe from one to the other like I’m playing hopscotch.

I had to shop around for the gravel. I was relieved that Charlie’s price was competitive because I really wanted to buy it from him. I prefer to buy things local, especially really local as in right next door, if at all possible. You should patronize the people where you live, if you want your community to be strong and healthy. It’s the reason why I try to buy American-made products but that is really hard nowadays since our politicians practically sold us to China.

I got a tablet for Christmas. I read books on it. I love it but I feel frustrated because there are things I can’t figure out how to do and the owner’s manual is impossible to understand. It’s in English but it may as well be in Chinese. It is full of typos, slang, bad translations, and the print is too small to read even with my glasses. This is what it says when I get out the magnifying glass:

“If you long time don’t to use this Tablet, ,in order to avoid power consumption caused damage,pls charge/play the battery once a month.”

This is why I still don’t know how to use the thing.

Luckily I don’t have to buy gravel from China. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens soon. We already get our hardwood flooring from China. Get this. We log the trees here. (Lots of logging was going on in Virginia. People who had fallen on hard times when the economy crashed were bulldozing their land left and right in a desperate attempt to try to keep their heads above water a little longer.) We send the trees on a long boat to China where they turn them into hardwood floors. Then China sends the flooring back to us where we sell it in Lowe’s. Why are we allowing China to produce our goods and sell it back to us when we need the jobs? I can’t imagine what it costs to ship something that far, that heavy—trees! It’s cheaper to send trees halfway around the world than to pay someone here, who needs a job, to turn them into floors? Or dressers. Or cabinets. All the stuff that we used to make that China makes now. Oh, that’s right, slave wages over there. And tax breaks. Corporate America needs to get just a little bit richer. Filthy, obscenely rich with not enough time in a thousand lifetimes to spend all the money, is not quite enough. Of course they’re eating themselves alive. If this keeps up, we’re going to be too poor to buy the hardwood floors they send back to us.

But I’m off-topic now.

Between the gravel and the vegetable-buying, Charlie and I have become friends. Kurt says if I can’t find a surrogate grandmother, maybe I can have a grandfather. All these years I’ve been looking for a grandmother to adopt, someone to bring a casserole to and sit on the porch and have a cup of coffee with and talk about the neighbors, the flowers, where to get mulch, gravel, things like that, like I used to do with my nana.

Pearl came close. I thought she was going to be it. But then she got scared letting us ride our horses around their fields because we’re Yankees—I suspect someone down at the church told her we were up to something—and they put up that fence. That hurt my feelings so bad it was like I had a crack in my heart. She realizes now how off track she was. We’re gone now and we didn’t do anything, we were nothing but a plus in that neighborhood, everything is safe and sound, we left everything exactly as we found it. No, scratch that. We left it better. We fixed up that house and we adopted the road and regularly picked up all the litter the Chick-fil-A lady and the chewer and the Old Milwaukee drinker threw out the window on their way home and we even cut the long grass in the ditches in front of the neighbors’ properties and changed Pearl’s light bulbs because we were worried about Eldon falling off the ladder. No, we were nothing but a great addition to that neighborhood and now they are all crying because we are gone.

It makes me kind of sad. I miss them too. But I’ve got Charlie now. I made him that sign that he has on the side of the road to sell his produce.

I noticed that he mowed the long grass around my mailbox the other day. I don’t know if he’s a coffee drinker. But he does know where to get gravel.


Gilly said...

I do love reading your blogs! Life over where you are is so, well, different! Maybe its because we live in a town and you are country, but then we used to be in the country and was it like where you are? Absolutely not! Not better, not worse, just different!

And I really hope your back mends properly so you can get back on your horse!

Cynda said...

I am sorry you felt like that when they put up the fence. I am sure they are sorry now. I don't know whats in some people's heads. Any town would be lucky to have you! My cousin logged all his land two years ago. He had no choice. I hate knowing it went to China.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Charlie sounds like a wonderful guy. Your new gravel looks beautiful too.

I totally agree with you about all the imports from China. We need the jobs here. It's a shame corporations are run on greed. Im afraid China will own this country ...if it doesn't already!

Tammy Vasa said...

Really? About shipping the trees? OMG! The world has gone crazy.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Gilly, I imagine England would seem very different to me. When we moved to just a different part of the country here, it was so different and the people were so different. I was surprised at how the culture was different, even though we were in the same country. So I imagine England would seem different to me. Not better, not worse, like you said. Just different.

CountryDew said...

I'm glad you've found someone to adopt. It's important.

Christina said...

A good friend. I would love a Charlie.

Tony Conaway said...

You must have gotten some snow this winter. How is the gravel holding up? Sometimes you end up shoveling or plowing a lot of it away with the snow.

Anyway, that's a nice, evocative post. Well done!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Thanks Tony! The gravel is holding up well, especially considering we have gotten non-stop snow. Will I hold up? That is the question.