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Soon

5 Jun

ADiaryofaPandemicMaster

June 5,  2020

Day 76

This morning I set up a ladder outside the kitchen bay window and climbed up to inspect the roof tarp where it is secured to the main house roof overhang. I brought with me a homemade rake made from a long, thin strip of plywood with four wood screws set in the end like the tines of a fork and bent at ninety degrees. Using this impromptu tool, I patiently raked out a couple of pounds of leaves and debris. The little implement worked perfectly and when I had cleared as far as I could reach, I swept the troublesome pile off the tarp and down to add its component parts to the ever growing humous layer of the forest floor. To the extent that I could, I eyeballed the tarp surface for cracks and then climbed down to wait for the next rain so that I could check to see what puddles appeared.

For the entire two-month span of lockdown the dumping of refuse at the council-run tip was governed by constraints that made trash runs a real pain. I took some bags down  there in the beginning to see how it worked, but when I discovered the hoops I had to jump through I elected to store my full trash bags along the eastern wall of the shop container. Then I watched the numbers fall and waited for the end of lockdown. Now that we’re at level 2, my personal collection of rubbish bags has assumed an elevated priority. I decided to consolidate bags by packing them tightly before loading them into the car for the trip down the mountain. I built a frame to hold open the bags so that I could transfer the contents from other bags into them and set about turning twelve bags of garbage to eight.

While doing that I did a load of laundry only to find that the mysterious leak beneath the washer is back. Threw a towel down to soak up the small puddle that crept from beneath the whiteware. Roseanne Roseannadana came to mind as I thought about the one-step forward and two-steps back dance I’d been doing around the homestead during the last few days. If it’s not one thing, it’s another… Sometimes it’s like that. You just have to put your head down and drive on.

After lunch Valerie and I drove over to a friend’s lot about three-quarters of a kilometre down the valley. We’d been invited to inspect a pile of timber scraps her builders had amassed during the construction of her new home. We pulled in the curved and muddy drive to find our friend Rosie getting out of the car after the long drive from Auckland. She’d come up with a friend to spend the weekend kitting out her new digs with books and planters and the usual home furnishings.  We sorted out social distancing while commenting that it was strange how we still clung to routine despite there being only one active case in all of New Zealand.

Rosie bought her lot about two years ago with the idea of it being an off-grid hideaway far from the madding crowd where she would be able to put down roots, grow a garden and commune with nature on  weekends or holidays. She has a caravan and has spent a long time on site planning her home. The design she came up with makes the most of a small building area perched at the edge of a precipice that affords a wide-open view down the valley toward Whitianga and the sea beyond.

Working with an innovative construction firm, she’d opted for five twenty-foot shipping containers to be placed on huge wooden piles driven into the clay and arranged in a wide ‘U’ shape with the open end facing the view. The builders had cut out walls and installed huge sliding glass, double paned doors and combined two of the units into a large and open kitchen/living room with bedrooms forming the legs on either side. The fifth container was tacked on in back to form a mudroom/entrance and an enclosed storage room. The site was chewed up and muddy but will recover and blossom and her house is going to be divine.

Rosie had pulled the trigger on construction a month before Covid-19 showed up and seen most of the work finished just as lockdown started. She then had to endure the uncertainty and frustration of two-and-a-half months of everything being shut down. No work could be done and even traveling to the site was impossible. Mice took up residence in her caravan and the shell of her new house was exposed to the full brunt of the onset of winter. Since lockdown ended almost a month ago the majority of the work has been completed and the open lines and sweeping vistas are a testament to her imagination and patience.

Rosie showed us around and then offered us the off-cuts of the piles that were used for the corner posts of each container. There were fourteen in all, twelve inches in diameter and ranging from four to eight feet long. I asked her if she was sure, because if I had to buy them at the timber yard it would cost a great deal. She was adamant she wanted them gone and that I could have them. I accepted gladly, but only after showing her how she could use two of them split long ways to make a nice temporary set of steps up and into her house. Her eyes lit up when I showed her how to do it and she said she’d ask her builders to knock it together. I can’t wait to see how it works out.

In the meantime I’ve got twelve huge posts to move to our lot. Looks like two at a time in the back of our station wagon. Lots of levers and work and straps and tarps and fun, and then I’ve got to find a place to stow them neatly until I can use them in the construction of the upcoming new bathroom/storage room and kitchen expansion. I don’t want to mess up the forecourt but at the same time I want to store them as close to where I’ll be using them as possible. I decided on the way home to make Rosie a bell for her driveway as a house warming gift. Luckily, I’ve got an extra SCUBA bottle around somewhere so that will be easy. Another adventure underway.

Checking in with the numbers I found that there has been no change in twenty-four hours…

Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 10.31.18 PM

Zero New cases. Zero recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases and probable cases (plus 22 deaths) is 99.93%.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/05/cant-quite-believe-it-new-zealand-tiptoes-towards-elimination-of-coronavirus

 

PH

 

Soon.

 

 

Social Darwinism

4 Mar

100 words of apophenia for Friday Fictioneers based on the photo prompt from Erin Leary. Thanks to all who read Dream of the Dragonfly and commented during the preceding week. If I didn’t get to your story please accept my heartfelt apology. Out of 117 stories and I read about 40%. Madison’s baby is turning into a demanding teenager under the patient care of Rochelle. Hide the car keys. I can’t promise I’ll be doing any better, reading-wise, this week, but one thing I will tell you is that if you write a good story, word will get out. Witness the writing of Dr. Tracey of http://whatsfordinnerdoc.com. She’s new but good. Welcome to the party, pal.

Cepheus

(Copyright Erin Leary)

“What do you see?” asked Emily’s court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Rochelle Fields.

“Stars.”

“You know what most people see when they look at that picture?”

“Mushrooms?”

 

“Did you kill him, Emily?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know why?”

“It was a mercy killing. We’d been married a month when he said he wanted me to share him with another woman.”

“My report will say temporary insanity, Emily. Doing my bit to save the world, one retroactive abortion at a time.”

“Thank you.”

 

“What stars, Emily?”

“The constellation Cepheus.”

“Remarkable.”

CepheusStars

Cepheus

A Four Monkey Day

1 Nov

three monkey day copy

Bonnie Carini never reads my blog.

She goes a mile a minute and has a lot on her plate so of course, I forgive her. We met in the late eighties when she was a diver for Atlantis Submarines and I was a green Co-Pilot. She moved on and we kept in touch through the intervening years. In June of 2003 I met her by chance at the Keahole Kona airport departure lounge. I was seeing off a friend and she was headed to New York for a week before going to the Faroe Islands with a small crew to film a documentary about life there. As they called her flight, she said I should come along as a camera operator, gaffer, interviewer and jack of all trades. They called her flight again, we hugged, I said I’d think about it….and off she went.

A week later I called her room at the Palace Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, from my room at the same hotel and told her I’d see her at the airport the next morning for our connecting flight to Vagar Airport in the Faroes. She was only slightly surprised.

We spent three weeks that summer shooting footage and meeting people and finding our way around some of the most beautiful group of islands on the face of the planet. At breakfast one morning, sitting on the lanai of our rental house in Leynar and close to the end of our trip, we decided that we needed to tell a larger story about the islands and the people that grace them.

Next summer we returned for six weeks and began writing Pilot Whale Fog, a story of a musically gifted boy befriended by a pilot whale in a country where the whales are most often referred to as ‘dinner’. We returned to Hawaii and tried to market our nascent screenplay but truth be told, it needed a lot more work. The seed was there, but it needed water and care. In 2010 through 2012 we spent many days meeting in Kona at the Royal Kona Resort to rewrite, reshape and reboot the screenplay. During those long days, if we found lightning in a bottle and the work went well, we would ask the waitress at the oceanside bar for one of their little plastic monkeys they used to decorate Mai Tai’s. I’ve got a drawer full of them now and the result is a finished product that is a hundred times better than the original. Since then Bonnie has done what she does best and pushed the work, getting it out into the wider world and in front of as many people in the business as is humanly possible.

This October we received word that the screenplay for Pilot Whale Fog had been made an Official Selection at the 2014 International Family Film Festival to be held in early November in Los Angeles. This is thanks to a lot of perseverance on her part and I want to thank her for it on the pages of this blog. That way if she ever does read it, she’ll know that it means a lot to me to have been on the journey with her. I know it’s not the Oscars…yet, but it’s pretty cool. (You can’t get there if you don’t try and if you don’t ask, the answer’s always ‘no’.)

So, thank you, Bonnie. Today’s at least a four monkey day.

Aloha,

D.

 

Official Selection

A Little Trim

6 Aug

100 words for Friday Fictioneers, a tiny band of writers on the winding road of life whose journey each week sometimes includes writing a short story based on a photo prompt (shown below courtesy of Bjorn Rudberg). The head of the road crew is Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

 

A Little Trim

(Copyright Bjorn Rudberg.)

The woman who cuts my hair smells of lavender and sometimes the sea if she has gone swimming in the morning. Barefoot, in jeans, her fuchsia silk blouse unbuttoned just so, she leans close as she works and tells me how the water felt on her skin or of the color of the dawn.

I sit still and erect, every sense on edge until she finishes. She never asks if I am satisfied.

I pay, then press my tip into her warm hands.

“Come again.” She smiles.

The men in her waiting room frown at me as I leave.

 

 

TunderheadMadeira

A Young Author’s Letter, or Positive Input for the Flight Crew

31 Jul

100 words for Friday Fictioneers, a hangar full of writers, each with a wrench in one hand and instructions from their muse in the other. The maintenance crew chief for the gang is Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, whose photograph also serves as the inspiration for the stories. You will find them lined up and ready for takeoff here.

Yes, this is a true story. Would I lie? (My thanks to Nicola, wherever she’s writing now.)

 

Nicola's letter picture

(Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields)

“May I borrow a piece of paper and a pen?” asks the little girl seated next to me.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Nicola, sir.”

I dig into my briefcase.

“What are you going to do with them?”

“Write a letter to the captain.”

“She writes every chance she gets,” explains her mother from the aisle seat. “Says she wants to be a novelist when she grows up.”

Much later, courtesy of the internet and a pilot with a sense of humor who followed instructions, I got to read the letter.

 

Nicola nailed it.

 

 

Nicola's letter