Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fall Morning at the Beach

Morning on the Long Beach Peninsula was Fall dewy this morning. At the beach the dew can be heavy enough to make a stranger believe that it rained in the night. I wore my sloggers when I walked the dog just before daylight and could hear the surf which is about a mile away as the crow flies, but two miles to the nearest beach approach if you are not a crow.

Speaking of crows, we have a lot in my neighborhood at the beach. They help to keep the bug population of our yard down and pick up the junk sloppy people leave lying in the road. There’s a big Douglas fir beyond Viola’s house that is a crow apartment building. I have a friend in Kilpsan who hates crows and will shoot at them with a BB gun, but I like them. Here and in Gig Harbor I talk to them when I walk the dog.

Poor Viola. She’d be so unhappy if she could see her little cottage next door to our Victorian. Her parents built the cottage in 1912 and after they passed away she lived there until passed 90. She never married and relied on her nephews, of whom there are five, to help her with the yard and house. While she was alive they would let the grass grow to knee depth. They got better about cutting the grass after she died which made me madder than a hornet. One of these aging nephews actually lives in the community so his tardiness and thoughtlessness to his aunt is unforgiveable. She was an interesting old lady and I wish I’d made more of an effort to spend time with her when I was here while she was still alive.

The oaf who could never mow her yard painted the cottage the year before she died, but only on three sides. The side that faces up the hill and in a direction Viola never went was left unpainted. He did a bad job, too. He didn’t scrape or prime and the paint is flaking off like crazy. It’s been about 14 years since he made his attempt and now the side he didn’t paint actually is in better shape than the three he did. I know plenty of people who would like to buy that cottage, but the brothers won’t sell it because their mother was born there. Apparently their sentimentality doesn’t extend to preventing the place from falling down which is what will happen eventually. One of them has a son who has made a few attempts to shore up the foundation and for reasons unknown tried to cut down Viola’s lilac tree. That made me mad, too. Those lilacs were a deep beautiful purple and since the house is almost always empty I would go over and cut bouquets of the sweet smelling stuff for my mother in the Spring. There are plenty of blackberry bushes he could have hacked on. Why he chose the lilac is anyone’s guess. Well, the lilac is getting the last laugh. The stump sent up shoots last Spring and I predict that there will be flowers again by the next one. Viola loved her flowers and sometimes I prune her roses just to keep them going. I don’t know if the nephews notice that someone is tending them and frankly I don’t care. They are bunch of nimrods as far as I’m concerned.

Our barn is slap up against Viola’s property so we get a good look every time we go out the backdoor and head toward the barn which is also where our own little cottage is as well as the laundry facilities. This morning I trudged over there in the dewy grass to put the shirt I spilled chowder on last night in the washing machine. I travel light on these weekend beach runs and that shirt was supposed to go with the skirt I brought. When I rounded the corner of the barn to go down the walkway to the cottage and utility room two errant yellow flowers greeted me from the toilet/planter that sits by the side entrance to the barn. Dave and a friend talked me into using an old toilet from the big house as a planter. I wanted it where the whole town wouldn’t see it so it’s like a little secret garden. I have strawberries planted in the bowl which the deer think are salad and fuchsias in the tank since the spot doesn’t get much sun. Two little plants popped up on their own this summer so I just kept watering them and I have no clue what they are or where they came from, but they make me smile even though the side of Viola’s garage is just feet away and so sad.

Actually, I probably shouldn’t talk yang about Viola’s nephews. It’s not like our house is looking, too great paint-wise just now. It’s been even longer since we painted, but Dave scraped and primed so the paint has held up much better. Last year we had the Southside of the house reshingled and left them bare. Painting at the coast is problematic. Once the ocean mists and rains find a way under the paint you’re done for and the wood can rot quickly. Dave was a tough sell on the unpainted look, but finally came around when the thought about having to pay someone to paint as he gets older. So the Southside is bare. We had intended to have an addition put on the North side this Summer, but the recession put all home improvements on hold. Well, not all.

Dave got in frenzy and decided that the mold and moss on the North side didn’t look good and so he spent his vacation scrubbing, priming and painting the back of the house.

The other improvement we made this summer was the addition of three arbors at each of our three front yard gates. My middle son has built us three brick walkways, two from each street on our corner and one from the driveway, to the front porch so that my elderly mother and her sister can get into the house. They aren’t speaking just now so they won’t be coming over at the same time until maybe Thanksgiving. The walkways improved the look of our yard greatly and left an area that I’ve turned into a memory garden for the adults in my life who’ve passed away. Dave picked out the arbors and I have to admit that for someone who had no sense of aesthetic when we married nineteen years ago, he did a good job. I admired them once again when I walked back to the house from the barn this morning.

There’s always something that needs doing with a house that’s 128 years old so I guess it’s good that I am forced/have the excuse to come to it so often. My excuse for being here takes a long time to get ready to go anywhere anymore. I used to get all wound up and try to rush her, but the more you rush my mother the slower she gets. I think it’s a control thing, but I just breathe and go with the flow. If I say boo I will just get a tongue lashing anyway and then everyone’s upset so I listen to NPR on the radio or read until she’s finally dress and ready to go.

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