For three weeks I'm suspicious that we're living in Arizona not the Midwest. The dearth of rain makes my five acres of lawn mowing a simple and easy task. The carpet of crispy multi-colored leaves are easily mulched. I use the Cub Cadet which is old and slow to make a long windrow and then vacuum up the fine mulch to dump in the corn patch. Clouds of dust billow when I take the riding mower over bare patches of dirt. Farmers harvesting corn and soybeans around us leave tell- tale clouds of airborne topsoil.
Warm days are followed by nights thirty degrees cooler. The coldest of which is 26 degrees. Again, typical of a desert climate. Used to variable skies filled with menacing weather, there are no clouds-just endless blue filled with dispersing vapor jet trails. The drought ends on a Friday night. In the morning I open the breezeway door for Mandy. She looks at the wet sidewalk and turns back to the warm and dry house. The cat is undisturbed by the wet and fine mist. He walks the perimeter of buildings where overhangs offer cover. As I walk to the steel shed where I'd parked the truck filled with another load of firewood, he scampers behind me. Good dog.
When my youngest daughter asks about the picture of Arb Yardly I put up at Facebook, I tell her it's a representation of my current disguise. The full white bearded gnomes that Dawn creates from bottle gourds we've grown decorate high shelves around this old schoolhouse. I've been working on this beard nearly a year now. As Dawn and I sit at the China Inn waiting for takeout, she comments that with my Best fertilizer hat pulled down low, I look like a farmer.
My day started early Saturday. The phone rings. ___ the caller asks. My ears dulled from chain saws hears "Rob". "Yeah," I answer looking at the local phone number on the screen. "You think you can come up with that money you owe me?" the caller asks. "Uh, I think you have the wrong number," I tell him. I repeat my full first name. When he asks about ___, I realize he's looking for a local scofflaw, deer poacher, trouble maker, bon vivant. "Never heard of him," I reply. Ten minutes later the phone rings again. "You wouldn't happen to know____'s cell phone number? He doesn't answer his phone. "No," I answer curtly. It's about full moon time and I'm thinking the zombies are coming out of the woodwork. Since he may have my cell phone number written down by mistake, I don't answer with what I am really thinking. " Are you really that stupid, you'd depend upon this dickweed for payment and then ask me to volunteer as a phone directory?
The night before the Amish Patriarch calls me on our land line asking for dimensions of a window frame he's putting together for our new upstairs thermopane windows. He neglects to tell me he's calling from a neighbor's home phone. I ask to call him back after I take measurements. That's when another full moon inspired comedy exchange begins.
I hit the number of the neighbor's cell phone on my speed dial. The wife answers. "Can I speak to ____?" I ask. "He's not here," she says. Before I can explain, she adds,"He's Amish. The Amish don't have telephones." Confused because I usually picture her husband sitting next to the Amish Patriarch in their kitchen while Dad makes a number of business calls. I ask for her husband. "He's not here. He's in Illinois," she barks. "I'm watching a movie," she says with menace. Disgusted with her snotty temperament, I ask for the home phone number. I mention the witchy behavior to the Patriarch. Dawn offers that she's a FIB. "They're from Chicago," she says.
Looking back to when I first met the woman, like a bad odor, her opinionated, brassy demeanor permeated the house. She's in a wheelchair. Surprised to find her in a wheelchair, I ask if she had an accident. Rather than explain in a normal, simple way, she lifts her nightgown exposing a maimed stump on one of her legs. Momentarily taken aback by her gross display, I quickly put together the facts. She walks with a limp due to an artificial leg. Both she and her husband are overweight. He's missing teeth and smokes. The house is a mess. The garage smells of cat urine. Since these people are the closest neighbors to my Amish friends they overlook horribly offensive behavior to Amish principles for the convenience of using their phone. Hmm.
The Day of the Dead figure, you ask? Diego Rivera, two time husband to Frida Kahlo pictured the women of Paris as empty skeletons when the famous pair visited the City of Love. Dressed impeccably in stylish rags, the statue graces a dresser in an upstairs bedroom. I guess one would call them airheads in our time. The contrast is curious. Showing a symbolic reverence for ancestors on All Saints Day coupled with a political statement of the European women of a bygone era.
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