Spent the day at the cabin. Mostly mowing and weed-whacking. Only managed to mow a ten-foot path around the perimeter of the cabin and the toolshed. I’m gonna need a bigger lawnmower. One acre is beyond my abilities and my lawnmower’s. One acre laughs at us mockingly and says, “You boys ain’t from around here, are ya?”
The toolshed door doesn’t open all the way. In fact, it doesn’t even open half the way. I discovered this last week. I thought maybe the rails just needed to be cleared of debris or something. I was hoping to fix it today. Okay, that might be exaggerating. I tried shoving it open again, and again it got stuck at the same point, so I basically gave up. I noticed a large fire ant mound near the door. I dug it out with a shovel and dumped the dirt (and the ants) into a five-gallon bucket and tossed it into the culvert. But that didn’t fix the door. I suspect now that the land has shifted and the rails are out of whack. Something that me and my crowbar will not be able to fix today. I retreat into the cabin and have my lunch, one that I had prepared before leaving the house that morning — a tortilla with hummus, roasted peanuts, salami, and swiss cheese.
The place still doesn’t have water. I tried locating the water main, which according to the survey that I had ordered, should have been near the southeast corner of the property. But I couldn’t find anything. I’ll call the water company tomorrow and verify that they received all the signed paperwork I sent them. Without water, I can’t flush the toilet or take a shower or rinse my face in the sink. All I’m able to do is just sort of sit there in my little cabin smelling like freshly-mowed grass and sweating profusely, which is precisely what I did.
After taking time to cool down and digest my lunch, I took a drive into town. I’m a little leery about those country roads. Highway 19 seems a little treacherous. It’s a two-lane road with the speed limit varying between 60 and 70 miles-per-hour. It’s about a fifteen-mile drive into town. In the daytime it’s fine, but I have nightmare visions of late-night head-on collisions, bodies and car parts flying in every direction. How many times have emergency workers had to mop up blood-soaked asphalt, emergency strobe lights flashing into the black night? I don’t want to know.
Downtown Sulphur Springs is small-town America. Driving through the area (which couldn’t be more than five or six blocks), passing all the old homes and tree-lined streets, I am filled with a soothing reminisence. We could live here and lead a simpler life, and I am at peace. It’s so close I can almost smell it. But not quite. Many of the shops in the Main Street area appear boarded up. I imagine this part of town would have been bustling in the fifties, sixties and up through the seventies. Bee-hive hairdos and ’65 T-Birds. Banana-seat bicycles and Brady Bunch reruns. Faded Kodak photographic memories. Every household has a shoebox full of them.
All the big-box stores are on the other side of the freeway. This now is where all the new development seems to be taking place. You’ve got your Walmarts and right across the street, your Lowe’s hardware store. Of course. Over there, your Chevron gas stations and Jack-in-the-Boxes. Car are lined up on this busy Sunday afternoon, turn signals blinking, horns honking.
I’m headed to Walmart. Not to purchase anything specific, although I do need to find a mini-fridge for the cabin. I want to see what the people look like and how they might react to a Mexican-looking guy decked out in hobo clothes and smelling like freshly-mowed grass. All sorts of sociological experiments can be conducted while roaming through your local Walmart store. Visit any Walmart in Anytown, USA and you will get a good idea of what sort of people live in the surrounding area. Seeing Mexicans and other minorities are always a plus in my book. Mixed-race couples with young children are an additional bonus. I left the Sulphur Springs Walmart feeling reassured.
Back at the cabin I pulled down the two ratty mattresses stashed up near one side of the loft. Both items had likely seen better days at a dump or homeless encampment. Lumpy, soiled, and stained. One was wrapped in white plastic and across its surface like dried crumbs I discovered what appeared to be termite wings. A disturbing sign. Something to worry about next time. For now I dragged the two mattresses like soggy corpses against the wall on the floor then covered the pile with a tarp that I had brought along specifically for this purpose. I had a feeling I’d be wanting to take a nap later that day and had in mind to put those ratty mattresses to good use. A plopped down and sunk in. As mangy as they appeared, they were nice and soft, like lying on a giant pillow. I slept for a good half hour and woke myself with my own snoring.
I left Rancho Koogmo at 3pm and was pulling up in our driveway by 4:30pm. Owning this property is going to put a lot of miles on my truck.