Another day at home

hat
My neighborhood hat. My downtown hats are nicer, sexier.

ANOTHER DAY* in the Plague Year, hanging loose at home, chilling out or performing some necessary and overdue chores.

Watering potted plants in the downstairs veranda, shoving yard cuttings into a giant plastic bag to take to the dumpster, sweeping the terraza, thinking about what to make for lunch,** that sort of thing. Looking around, being grateful I’m not in sweat-drenched Houston or New Orleans in June though I do miss hot crawfish and cold Dixie Beer.

shelves
The crappy hat in the middle belonged to Al Kinnison, R.I.P.

On Friday I actually got down on the ground on my butt to cut, with hand clippers, a section of overgrown grass around the orange tree. For a person on the cusp of 76, getting down on your butt in the grass is no quick chore. Getting up is even less quick. Though we’ve had some rain to encourage the lawn, it’s still not high enough to warrant calling Abel the Deadpan Yardman for a complete mow.

I did get the mower serviced last week. It’s ready to mow! It’s a multicultural machine, Sears Craftsman down below, the body, and Briggs & Stratton above, the motor. Actually, more Frankenstein than multicultural.

tejas
Roof of downstairs veranda, home of bats.

I broke up my chores by sitting now and then on one of the rockers in the downstairs veranda. From there I took these photos. I think the roof tiles in that veranda will need to be renovated soon, maybe next year. They are 17 years old, some are broken or cracked, and raindrops fall through during a heavy downpour.

Not many but enough.

Here’s what will happen. My guys will remove each one, brush it off and replace it. If it’s broken, a new one will take its place. There are bats up there in some corners, so that will give my guys some interesting moments. Should I warn them in advance, or just let them discover the homesteaders on their own? Fun times.

In closing, here’s a bit of color to offset the dreary but emotive black and white.

potscolor
Veranda pots purchased long ago in San Miguel where we visit no longer.

* This was all yesterday, Saturday, not today.

** Lunch ended up being a plate of spaghetti covered with bottled tomato sauce mixed with canned tuna (packed in water, never oil). Atop that we sprinkled Parmesan cheese that comes in the green plastic bottle. All was served with jalapeño strips to provide razzmatazz.

The City of Angels adventure

(Note: It’s advisable to read the previous post, The New York City Adventure, before reading this one.)

* * * *

GETTING OFF the Greyhound bus from New York City, there I was in Nashville, Hillbilly Heaven, and where my parents had relocated three years earlier.

My father picked me up at the bus station, drove me back to their apartment, phoned my mother where she was working, and said: Brace yourself.

Those very words.

I soon had a job at a small firm that refurbished mattresses. I and another guy would drive a truck to homes and pick up tatty mattresses that would be cleaned and returned to the owners. I worked there just long enough to save money for another Greyhound ticket, back to California.

My parents were still bracing themselves when I headed west again.

The ride from Nashville was not quite so long as the earlier trip from Los Angeles to New York, but it was a long haul nonetheless. Only a few months had passed.

I got off the bus in downtown Los Angeles, and a friend from the Air Force met me. I quickly found a studio apartment in Santa Monica and a job parking cars in a Beverly Hills lot. Things went downhill fast, economically and emotionally.

Just a few weeks later, I was broke. And living in Los Angeles without a car ain’t no cakewalk. I phoned my parents and asked for bus fare. Soon I was back on a Greyhound heading east to Nashville.

Shortly after my return, I enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but that did not last long. Nothing lasted long for me in those times.

My parents were in Nashville because my father was working on The Tennessean newspaper. Within a year after my second return, my parents moved to New Orleans. I jumped into the Rambler’s back seat, going along for the ride.

New Orleans. Now that was a place where I felt at home.

For 18 years.

Two wives, one divorce, two (almost three) degrees, the newspaper business, bars, motorcycles, airplanes, raw oysters, Dixie Beer, crawfish and ketchup, hangovers, Mardi Gras … and even more Dixie Beer. It was a city that suited me.