starrhill girl! in an adventure with buses!

A Story In A Few Parts Dedicated To Bionic On The Belated Occasion Of Her Birth.

“Is that you? Did you come in the front door right as I stepped out the back?” asked the roommate who used to be a monk from the front porch, where he had not been just a moment before.

“I did!” said Captain Starrhill Girl as she took off her boots, a little surprised, “How funny!”

“I am going to the very young roommate with a flute’s flute recital,” said the roommate who used to be a monk.

“Oh, no! Is that today?!” exclaimed Captain Starrhill Girl, alarmed and excited all at the same time. She had just trudged up what is locally known as Vinegar Hill with a backpack full of items from school and groceries from the health food store in a lovely new bag from the far-off Park Slope Food Co-op, and – obvs – she had forgotten about the very young roommate with a flute’s flute recital.

“It is; she mentioned it to me special this morning. Four o’clock! Do you want to go? Come on!” said the roommate who used to be a monk. “It will be an adventure!”*

“Ok!” said Captain Starrhill Girl and she threw down her bags and pulled her boots back on.

Off they went to the bus stop for an adventure!

******

The talk between Captain Starrhill Girl and the roommate who used to be a monk turned to the bus schedule, as it often did. They compared stories of early and late buses they had known and Captain Starrhill Girl pointed out various people she knew as they drove by while they waited at the bus stop on Main street across from the fancy market. At last a bus came into view and the adventure began!

*****

“I think we could get off this bus and get onto one of the university buses,” said the roommate who used to be a monk as they rode west along Main street, “then we wouldn’t have to wait while the bus has it’s idle time there at the stop by the hospital.” There had already been discussion about the stupidity of the length and frequency of the pauses the city buses took in order to get themselves, one assumes, back on schedule.

“Ok,” said Captain Starrhill Girl, who just assumed that the roommate who used to be a monk had a better grasp of the bus systems.

As the bus got closer to the stop by the hospital, the roommate who used to be a monk stepped down from his seat and stood, poised, at the back door of the bus, ready to hop off as soon as it stopped. Captain Starrhill Girl figured she ought to be ready, too,  and stood right behind him, willing and able to hop off the bus as soon as the roommate who used to be a monk did. The bus pulled up to the stop by the hospital, and the adventure continued!

*****

The roommate who used to be a monk nearly leapt out of the back door of the bus, with Captain Starrhill Girl close at his heals, where she decided not to remain because his legs were far longer than hers. The roommate who used to be a monk sped right through the line of people filing in the front door of the bus he had just exited from the rear, cleaving them into two groups as if they were the waters of the Red Sea and the roommate who used to be a monk were Moses, as he made his way with due haste to the university bus waiting just ahead. Captain Starrhill Girl opted to walk almost as quickly, artfully dodging around the final person in line, because she is a small town girl at heart and can’t really bring herself to cut in line, even if it is just in passing. The roommate who used to be a monk lived in New York City about a generation ago, and has many tales of adventure to tell about it; it could be assumed that this was where and when he learned his mad crowd-splicing skillz.

With all speed, the adventuresome duo stepped up and onto the waiting university bus and off they went – to adventure!

*****

Two blocks later (yes, 2 blocks), the university bus pulled up at the stop just past the hospital. “We made it!” cried the roommate who used to be a monk and Captain Starrhill Girl with delight as they passed their original bus which has just pulled up at the same stop** and hurried up the many sets of stairs that lead, swtichback style,  to the lawn of the local university. The very young roommate with a flute was lucky enough to be giving her recital in a hall with the best acoustics in the state, according to some.

The roommate who used to be a monk took his watch out of his pocket and checked the time; it was just a few minutes before four o’clock. “Sometimes I surprise even myself,” said the roommate who used to be a monk modestly.

“That was very well planned,” agreed Captain Starrhill Girl as they hurried up the final set of steps into the hall. They hesitated a moment, trying to decide if it was wiser to enter from the left side or the right side. “Ah ha!” said Captain Starrhill Girl to herself once she spied a music stand that looked as if it had been repurposed as a program holder and she lead them to the left on the final leg of the adventure, into the main and most famous room of the hall just in time to hear the very young roommate with the flute begin her sonatina.

THE END

* Some, not all, of the dialogue in this story is made up.

**It could be argued that Captain Starrhill Girl and the roommate who used to be a monk should have stayed on their original bus, but really, how were they to know it wasn’t going to have it’s usual idle time at the stop by the hospital?

(with apologies to Gideon Defoe)


these are things that happened.

The funeral was good, y’all. I love them. For a while, I tried to couch that love in more acceptable phrases like “it was as good as such things can be” and “it was lovely” and “it’s an important right of passage” but more recently, I just admit I love them. A little group-emotion-solidarity? Yes. Some ritual? Yes. Talking about the best parts of a person? Yes.

From an email to Bionic:

****’s dad is a preacher – it was his wife who died – and when everyone stands and greets each other with “peace be with you” he came over to the side of the church where a bunch of us were standing and only doing a little greeting and peace-ing and said, hanky (yes, hanky – I’d brought one of my grandma’s to give to **** and good thing I did because she gave it to her dad in the middle of the service) in hand, “for those of you are are not as familiar with our traditions, peace be with all of you” which was the most moving part of the whole deal. ****’s family really is delightful and I am so glad I went. Totally worth the 4 hour drive. Also, rural Virginia. Be still my heart.

It’s possible that one could just read my emails to Bionic (Did you really need a link again? I didn’t think so.) and Uberbutch and skip this blog entirely.

Friday I went to (another) birthday party that involved a viewing of the Topp Twins documentary and a spin in a sauna. I was exhausted from all the driving over the past couple days, and because I am a wimp, but it was an awfully nice birthday party. There was cake:

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Wow, that’s not such a good picture. Sorry. Now, I’ma be honest here, since it’s my blog and all, and tell you I don’t love the sentiment on the cake. However, the birthday recipient loved it as did the host who commissioned it and the cake itself was delicious, so I’ll call it a win. Plus, all the other pictures have people in them so this is what you get.

Then Saturday (y’all, this is just like a diary!) I went to a baby shower. Yes. For my dear friend M who worked long and hard to get this baby. I had sorted through a box of baby things that a friend gave me years ago (cho-girl hid it for me in her house for a long time and then it lived in the shed and then it was just time for it to go) and I gave the bulk of it to some other friends (who might have a girl), but I saved some plain and lovely shirts and a little pair of pants for M (who knows she is having a boy). And gave her two tiny hats that were the only baby things I’d ever bought for myself because I knew she’d treasure them and also just use them. There is only so much standing on sentiment that one can do on some hats. Now, I was… unsettled? bothered?… by a number of things at this shower, but they were things that don’t relate to infertility and so from that point of view the shower was great. I am really glad I went, just to make this retelling of my friend’s shower all about me.

Last night I did nothing. It was heaven. There’d been too much time away from home and my internal organs were starting to shrivel up. I ate left overs and watched trashy tv and polished my shoes and my roommate’s shoes with my grandpa’s shoe shine kit. There was a fire. In the stove. Unrelated to my grandpa’s shoe shine kit.

This afternoon, I’m going to Red Row Farm. Five years ago, when they still lived in Starrhill, W yelled over the fence early in the morning that L’s water had broken and so we spent that drizzly Saturday walking around Starrhill and 10th & Page trying to get labor started. A little less than 24 hours later, A arrived and I fed his mama ice chips that I think she still claims are the best thing ever, and watched as they encouraged A to nurse and became a family. I left them at the hospital and came back to Starrhill and got the nicest hug from L’s mama who had just arrived from NJ. It was a pretty great day.


while waiting for the fire to get going enough that i can leave it and go to bed

Y’all. It has been a day. A good day, mind you, but A Day, all the same.

School was damn good, for a Wednesday, and I made it to staff meeting “on time” which is supposed to mean that there is just enough time to run a load of laundry through the washer and dryer. Today, I realized this is a false assumption. I stayed 15 minutes late and it was still not dry. Oh, well. But! All in all, work was good.

Then I drove to RIC to pick up a friend who flew in to see her sister’s new baby and, well, RIC is far. It’s an easy drive and I’m happy to do it, but it’s far. And then we went down to Nelson County to see said new baby and her equally appealing older sisters, and, of course, then we had to come back to Starrhill. All of which equals late. So worth it. But sill late.

And it’s not over! This afternoon I got the funeral information about another friend’s mama and the service is tomorrow. So I set about scrambling to find a sub and tried to figure how late I could leave school in cville and still make it to the church in Southside and then I had to organize a car, just in case the scrambling-for-a-sub worked out, because I’d loaned mine out for the next few days and then I had to get said organized car, which my visiting friend obligingly helped out with, and then, well, it was late. Like 9:30 or something. Which isn’t late for getting home for lots of people, but it is for me.

And the trash still had to be put out and the recycling and the fire had to be started because it’s damn cold all of a sudden. Lucky for me, my housemate fed the cats, else I’d have lost a limb when I finally arrived home.

And then I did some math involving time and realized that I could scramble a little more to get a sub to go to this funeral, because, for real, ya’ll: it’s funeral. You just go, as my father always says. My uncle, my dad’s older brother,  flew from the west coast back east for every damn family funeral in my life time. He’d often stay with me and he’d always arrive with a bottle of George Dickel and we’d have drinks on the porch in the evening and breakfast from the bakery in the morning and then he’d pick me up from school so we could make it to whichever country church it was that go-round. Mostly he was here for a day or two, but he’d sometimes fly in on the red-eye and then out on an evening flight. And I’m fretting over a drive to Southside? No. My subs are in order; my funeral clothes are out and ready to be carried to school; I have my dad’s truck and I am getting to that damn church on time. May all your people who are no longer with you rest in peace.


alone at last

After a fashion.

Both my current roommates/housemate/tenants (I never have figured out what to call them) are out. I have the house to myself! Whee! Generally, I enjoy renting rooms. It covers the mortgage, which teaching does not do; it provides company, mostly of the good variety; and it, well, I can’t think of what else it does. But I usually enjoy it. The part that is constantly a chafe is the kitchen. I think the next temporary person look for will have to have “hates to cook” in the ad. Sharing the kitchen with one person works well. Two is crowded. I’m over it.

Anyway.

Other things of note:

  • it has been hot and humid as fuck, after the rainiest June I can remember, but I just figured out how to program the thermostats for the mini-splits and I a feel like the eco-police might yet pass by my door. There has been what I consider too much air conditioning happening, but it is just so damn hot and I am trying to keep tenants happy and paying rent.
  • a restaurant across the street from me just sold/is closing. This is great for the owner, who I do like a good bit, but – wow – is that restaurant wrapped up in some good times from my life and its passing is more than a little sad to me.  Silly to mourn the passing of a restaurant, I guess, but there it is. I’m sad.
  • work, aka “camp” is more than half over for me! Whee! It is so worth the lack of money to not pull an entire summer of camp. I need the break, y’all. So as to come back “into the classroom” refreshed. I fully intend to be refreshed, because…
  • cho-girl is in Maryland doing her Montessori training, which means I will be “assisted” (because who could call what she did mere assistance?) by somebody else. Hiring is happening. I’ve never done it before. New skillz! I may haz them! (N.B. the use of the word “may”.)
  • wow, y’all, I sure do love my cats. Probably this goes without saying, but, wow. So true. It’s a little embarrassing. I can’t believe I just made a entire item about that.
  • also in the world of “my work” I went to a workshop last weekend on RIE, which was great. I’ve been reading a lot about it this past year (mostly here), and I’m pretty sold on a lot of the ideas, which are pretty similar to Montessori. So that was great. Only now I really want to run a tiny baby class and be done with these giant, geriatric toddlers.
  • the gas line from the pipe in the floor to my stove got replaced. Fun times! There was the faintest smell of gas and I dithered over it for a moment and then called the emergency gas leak number in the phone book (starrhillgirl, still using phone books in 2013) and the nice man from the city, who’s been here before for a gas leak, came right over and did all his little test things and swore up and down the space behind my stove was no grosser than he’d seen before and found a tiny leak in the flex pipe. Which I then convinced a friend to come fix in exchange for a night of babysitting. Done and done. But wow, it was gross behind the stove. There was cat pee. Ugh. And yuck. But now there is not. Whew.

Looming on the horizon! A trip to the west coast! To see chosen family, not family of origin (who are great, don’t get me wrong) and to ride a train from San Fransisco to Seattle! I’m so excited!


and another thing.

Oh, yes. The bathroom! You want to see the finished product!

First pictures and then the story of my heated floor. (Heated floor?!)

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Huh. These are not very good pictures. They do not do justice to the wonder that is my new bathroom. It has improved my day to day life in a million tiny ways and I am grateful. Grateful to my grandpa who shined shoes and cleaned spittoons as a little boy and then managed to give all his grandchildren money for college (although mine went for a house which has payed off in spades, you’ll remember) and to my mama for being so generous as to pass some money on to me – in part because I think she was (justifiably) horrified by the bathroom’s previous state.

As we are here together discussing generosity, let me mention in passing that I have a heated floor in this new bathroom. What?! I KNOW!

See, my friend – who lives across the mountain with his lovely wife, who is also my dear friend, and their lovely daughter – often stays with me when things call him to this side of the mountain. He has a key and I am happy to have him: he’s great company and he will randomly and skillfully fix little things for me. So he was here during the bathroom renovations (Really, who wasn’t here? The thing took 4 months to ((almost)) finish.) because of a play he was directing and we were talking bathroom re-do shop because he’d recently redone a bathroom at their house. He waxed poetic about the heated floor and I shot him down with some mutterings about not wanting to spend that much and he protested that it wasn’t really that much and then we moved on to talking about other things, as you do.

So the next day, I got a message from my friend wanting the number of my handy neighbor who was doing all the bathroom work so he could “ask him some questions about tile”. Well, this was mystifying to me, because my friend has done tile work, but whatever. I called back and left the number on his voice mail.

And then apparently, the next day, there was a hilarious (to me when I found out) chain of phone calls that even included my neighbor’s girlfriend (also my neighbor) walking up the road to the diner to pass on a message about what my friend was calling about. None of the neighbors have cell phones.

Turns out my friend was determined that I have a heated floor and so his plan was that he could show up with all the parts, instal it and then the tile guy would come and do his tile thing over it and then my friend would come back and do the electrical hook up. When my neighbor’s girlfriend heard this over the phone, she was determined to make it happen so she ran (well, probably walked) up the street to the diner where my neighbor was having his usual beer to tell him what was going on and to threaten that if he didn’t make this all come together she would never let him forget it. So he did, because my neighbor’s girlfriend (who is also my neighbor) is the sort of person you want on your team.

Once they’ve worked this all out (sort of – there was some last minute scheduling, because that’s how we do in Starrhill), I was informed and was left, well, speechless. So everybody did their various parts of the plan and the floor is nice and warm and I can’t get my friend to tell me how much to reimburse him for the parts. His wife, dear friend that she is, provided no help either, replying “what floor?” or something like that when I asked her to dig up the receipt for me.

ANY way. Damn if it isn’t like heaven to get up and have my feet be warm first thing in the morning. Damn if it isn’t pretty much heaven itself to have people be so nice.

“I live in heaven. My home is a sphere that turns around the sun. It is called Earth.”

(Maria Montessori, getting it right again.)


meanwhile, upstairs..

The subtitle for this post should be “In Which I Am Very, Very Lucky”. I mean, I’m lucky I have indoor plumbing. That I own my house and can change things at will. That my grandfather worked as hard as he did and passed on inheritance to my mama, who is equally generous. Lucky. I won’t ignore that.

But! On to the pictures! Ok, not just yet because I don’t have a Before picture. It was that bad. So bad that if you were to come visit, I’d not let you go use the bathroom upstairs. So bad that when I was having little things done to spruce the place up for the appraisal for 2010’s refi, my contractor friend who did the sprucing (For free! See? Lucky.) looked at the bathroom and shrugged and said I should just hope the appraiser didn’t really look in there. So imagine: two layers of vinyl flooring squares, some of the top layer slipping so that you could see thin strips of the bottom layer; a weird and huge and poorly tiled counter that took up the entire length of a five foot long wall with a light brown sink in the middle; toilet that had a bad habit of running 3 flushes out of 5, which a recent but now gone roommate never seemed to notice so who knows how much water was lost when I wasn’t home; a shower surround that defies description. Also imagine just enough mildew that fear of black mold strikes you in your heart. Because it struck in mine.

Ok! Now how about some pics?

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The first thing he did – he being my neighbor who is great and defies description like the old shower surround, but in a good way – was rip out the stupid old counter-sink combo(plus replace the drywall as needed). In part because it gave him more room to work, I think, but also because he’d seen a sink with a big rectangular marble surround at the Habitat Store and he thought he could do something interesting with it, which as you can see he did. Clearly, the second thing he did was cut that sink down to size and stick it in the corner. Better already!

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A panoramic shot, for perspective.IMG_2199 IMG_2201

Look at that tiny corner shelf above the sink! There are two more just like it above it. Look at the little seat sized just for me! Also marble, ahem.  One of the many great things about neighbor builder guy is that he has a huge stash of stuff and he would pull things out for me, all willy-nilly, if he thought they’d be nice. Also in this picture, you can see the bottom of a little cut out in the wall that he didn’t want to do because they are “a pain in the ass” but I said I really wanted one and then he did it and was all proud. The wood around it is gorgeous.

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Check it out! The tiny shelves are held up by old keys! Keys!

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Here it is after I primed it. Twice. Because that seemed like it would allow for just one coat of the real paint?

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Nope, it took two. This is the bit of wall above the shower that I took a picture of to send to Uberbutch, so she’d know how close I was to able to meet for coffee. Now, it looks like the priming/painting happened with in days, even minutes of each other. But they didn’t. This whole deal, all told, took months.

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But here it is, mostly done, with more cute little shelves in the corner. Convenient place for a glass when indulging in shower-time drinks. The biggest, I think deal is the new shower surround. Plain and clean and not plastic! Bonus, no mold when the old yucky surround was ripped out!

Ok. I have to run down to Esmont for Lisa’s birthday. This post is huge. I’ll write another with finished pictures and the story of my heated (?!) floor. Continued theme: wow, I am lucky and wow, people are nice.


Oh, look.  It’s me.  How’re tricks in these months since we last spoke?  Well, since I last spoke and you (all 1 of you) last listened.

Things in Starrhill continue apace: roommates come and go and stay (some good, some less so); the cats sit by the fire or chase each other up trees, depending on the season; the chickens squawk and get neglected (benignly!) and still produce enough eggs for home and to share.  Of note: my upstairs bathroom is redone, which improves my quality of life immensely, and I have not acquired any new pets in the past 10 months, which I think is something of a record, but I did just buy a hammock.

But let’s jump to the now, shall we?  Because it is, well, here now, like the new agey bumper sticker says.  Other, better bloggers abhor lists, but I, well, I love a list.  Much like I seem to love the word well. Let’s make it numbered and call it Things I Did This Weekend.

  1. Went to the market, not for the first time, but for the first time with LB.  There were strawberries from my market bf, who always cuts me a deal.  Then we had coffee at my house and Bernice availed herself of LB’s lap.
  2. Took the bus to Woolen Mills to drop off some lard I made from some fat from Red Row Farm and got to sample some goat’s milk and goat’s milk yogurt as well as have coffee and garden time with Elsie.  That’s two small farm links in one item, y’all.
  3. Continued the ongoing dance of dominance with the lawn.  One day I will come out on top.
  4. Took a nap in the hammock.
  5. Made a fire, because – WTF? – it’s freezing.
  6. Was accepted, officially, into the Australian Cat Ladies (which is a voice for Values, BTW), even though I am not in Australia.  I am so proud!  It’s an honor, really.

Still to come!

  • coffee with Uberbutch – long overdue!
  • more napping!
  • CLAW meeting!
  • vacuuming.

Have a bonus cat picture:

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Ok, and another one:

trip