Last night the dogs and I sat on my porch while watching the older set in our ex-retirement bungalow neighborhood gather for their weekly tipple, I mean card game. Hag survived his surgery, and has put on 14 ounces since, so hopefully he’ll be better than ever, but it wasn’t a cheap experience and he still has a way to go before the vet will be satisfied that he’ll be fine. He’s positive that he’s fine and is not pleased with his enforced inactivity or his carefully metered smooshy bland diet and is being an ungrateful pain in the ass. I mostly ignored it. I’m worried about money, about Hag, about what else can go wrong, so I’m going to talk about something else.
Miss E is our across the street neighbor. I like Miss E. The card game was on her porch last night and the rule is if you’re visiting you bring a bottle to share. The other oldsters gathered, bringing their bottles tucked inside of purses and bags. When it’s Miss E’s turn to buy she sails down the street with her bottle of Tanqueray tucked into the crook of her arm, no apologies and no embarrassment. I like that.
A widow, Miss E has gentlemen callers too. The first few weeks we lived here the other residents would drop by and wrangle the conversation around to the who’s, when’s and how longs of her visitors. I told them that Miss E was probably the person to ask about that, I had two toddlers and too much on my plate to pay attention to her comings and goings. She started cutting us flowers for our table not too long after that. We had problems with one of the neighbors over our impossible to mow by hand drainage ditch, so Miss E started having her lawn guy hit our ditch with his big tractor mower when the natives get pissy, and jars of homemade pickles began appearing in her mailbox. We aren’t the bbq with the neighbors type but we get along.
Miss E was the head lunch lady for our school district for four decades, she’s been retired for about ten years now and she still has the ability to command instant respect, even from across the street. Last week my teenager was outside grudgingly cutting down some bushes that were encroaching upon my blueberries and Miss E stepped out, looked around, saw him and called “Tim, you come over here and do something for me.” He put down the saw, said “yes ma’am” and went to fuss with her smoke alarm battery for her. He came back and had the rest of those shrubs cleaned out in no time, then crossed back over for a sandwich and sweet tea on her front porch. I chuckled. By the time he came home he had changed some light bulbs, fixed the string on her attic stairs, changed the heat pump filter, and hefted some furniture for her vacuum. He came home with a big grin, a quarter for his change jar, and a pocket full of cookies. Silly Eggplant.
I have just been instructed that she would appreciate some cuttings from the oak leaf hydrangea bushes behind my house (the ones I’ve been trying to kill for years) and that she’s looking forward to the watermelon pickles I have simmering on my stove. I’d better get a move on since I like quarters and cookies too.