Sunday, August 26, 2007

As Robert Frost said....

I'm grateful for the wacky and weird. So much better than scary, so much more lively than bland.

So, last evening, Al happened to be looking out the window when the little girl made a dash for freedom. By his account, she was fashionably dressed in a fur hat that Laura from Dr. Zhivago would envy, hot pants, and cowboy boots. She was glimpsed running out the back gate of her house. Shortly afterward we were startled by someone shrieking in our driveway. I looked out and beheld the vision of an old woman in a bright pink house-dress shuffling along and periodically yelling over her shoulder, "Hyacinth!" At first I thought it was our neighbor Joy trying to corral her two Pomeranians and I went out to give her a hand. But as I got closer, I realized it was the little girl's grandmother, and then realized the little girl's name must be Hyacinth, and that Hyacinth was in big trouble. The old woman was just beside herself, shrieking for Hyacinth and then shuffling along muttering and grumbling and apparently trying to get a hold of something on the ground. The puppy! Sure enough the pup was blissfully rooting around the cat poo and making sure to keep away from the old lady's reach. I introduced myself to Phylis and volunteered to catch the wiggly mass of puppy bliss. As we walked back across the street, Phylis complained that Hyacinth had run out the back after being denied at the front door and the puppy had run out after her. Phylis was not happy, and as soon as the pup was safely in the yard, all but slammed the gate in my face. What is it with these people? The end result is that I am now officially a fan of Hyacinth, and an ally in her secret war against the oppressive dictatorship of Phylis.

Later in the evening, by now it is pitch dark, I heard a suspicious rustling and breaking of branches in the back yard. At first I thought it was Al, but no, he was inside the house with the dogs. So I wandered in back slightly worried that I was going to interrupt a break-in, when I discovered two collage girls pulling branches out of our trees. When I asked them what they were doing I was told that they were collecting wood for a fire they wanted to roast corn on since they didn't have any briquettes, and that's alright isn't it, I mean its just dead branches ya know, and we remembered seeing these trees earlier in the day, right? I was dumbfounded, and asked how much wood did they think they needed. They looked down and decided that the several branches they had collected was probably enough. By now I had gathered my wits and started asking them a little about college life (collecting data for a project I have in mind). After a little while we parted on friendly terms - them with the wood, me with food for thought. A fair exchange. And that was that, or so I thought.

But no, about an hour later I was alarmed to hear more branch breaking in the darkness. Could it be the girls back for more? Nah, they couldn't be that oblivious could they? Yes they very well could! Sure enough, they were back for more. Interestingly, when I asked them if they would be comfortable with me coming over to their house and pulling branches out their trees in the middle of the night, they actually paused and had to think about it. Fortunately the light somehow went on in their heads, and they said no and that they understood why I didn't think what they were doing was "cool." No more tree breaking for the rest of the night.

I am so designing fences.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Minty Fresh

So there's this little girl, about 8 years old I'd guess (based on way too many years in elementary education), who lives somewhere in our neighborhood. I suspect she is the daughter of the guy with the big scary dog and even scarier attitude: "Hi, I'm your new neighbor," smile and shuffle. "uh, yah," look me up and down and spit. She's the granddaughter of the scary man's mom who I couldn't help but overhear screaming at the little girl one evening for playing with her friends too long.

Anyway, this little girl comes by our house periodically. She came by one evening about two months ago to ask us if we wanted the puppy in her arms (a sweet little pit-bull). "No thanks, but where'd you get it?" "Oh just got it the other day, but its not working out. Ya sure you don't want it?" She came back a few weeks later to show us her new puppy, a pug. I guess that one worked out better.

She also comes by to play with the kids who don't live here anymore. I guess she gets lonely.

Well, tonight just as it was getting dark, I noticed her standing at the edge of the street holding a basket with both hands. "oh no," I thought, "not another puppy." But no. After we put Emma in the house, she walked up and asked, "Would you like some tea? I made it myself, from leaves in my yard, Minty Fresh!"

I looked over into her basket in the ugly orange glow of our too bright (that's another story) street light. She had rows of dixie cups (you know, the swirl and spit type from the dentist's) half-filled with what looked like overcooked spinach, snails included, barely covered in murky water. I immediately recoiled from the whole scene and gratefully redirected her to my "tea drinking pal." Clever no? Not only did I not have to look at the disgusting soup, but I didn't even need to lie about not having any money to buy it with. That's right, this gross concoction, which didn't even smell of mint, was for sale. Clever girl.

Poor Al. He doesn't even like tea. I watched with great curiosity. Would the girl prevail on my soft hearted pal? Would he actually pay her for her potion? Would he even go so far as to taste the yucky brew? Ah, but this is where Al is infinitely smarter than me. He asked, "How much is your tea?" And the little girl in a very sweet voice says, "Its just three dollars." At that point I noticed the substantial roll of bills clutched in her hand - she'd been making the rounds all evening. I suspect this was her second or third batch for the night!

Suffice it to say that little girl had met her match in Al. He smiled and dug around in his pockets (I was wearing PJ's, obviously no cash) and said, "I'm sorry, all I have is a penny." The little girl paused for a moment, and then asked, "Do you think your next-door neighbors would like some tea." We both smiled and assured her that indeed they loved tea, and ran inside.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Deflection redux

This is the renewed deflector shield standing tall on our front path. I particularly like the glass of water sitting in the crotch of the two stumps. Light moves through it. Eventually something a little more permanent will be constructed for this spot, or not. Who knows the mythic motion of this land's mind?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

gates and fences

And of course with a new puppy, there is the compelling need for containment. We have been very busy building fences and gates. This is the south side of the dog run:

I designed the gate, and Al designed the fence to go with it. It's particularly fun with light coming through it at night. Kinda like pumpkin carving at Halloween.

Al as Zeus:

And inside the dog run:
The dogs don't like it nearly as much as we do - just another place to poo and chew. Al created a little acequia to channel water from the downspout in back out to the the street. Fortunately, there's lots of rocks to work with.

The front yard needed some fencing, so we used the limbs trimmed out of the Elms to start a coyote fence along the south wall. This is just the beginning. The fence will drop down to about four feet high for the middle span.

Al created the gate for the archway. Inspired by the New Mexican Zia, it also has a bit of a catholic feel to it, very appropriate for a parsonage, though Al insists it's just a zia. Elmo's trying out his escape route.

This gate is also taking on some of the deflector shield's function. Here's the inside view:

I gotta say, it is so much nicer having some barrier from the street in front. These houses are so wacky they generate a lot of looky-loos driving by in their diesel powered gigantor trucks and trailers.
Although, Al's gate is so spectacular, I think we get even more traffic.

Well, I hope the picture show today catches folks up. This is pretty much all we've been doing for weeks and weeks. I do have some more stories to post, hopefully I will be able to organize my time a little better now that things are slowing down.

My best to one and all, may the dog days of summer be biteless and blissful.

More Elmo Pictures

Wonderfully, and somewhat surprisingly, Emma loves her new little brother. They wrestle nightly.

Introducing: Senor Elmo Esposito de Las Vegas Grandes

Oh My! Need I say more?