Friday, July 30, 2010

home again, home again, jig, jig, jog

Last week's trip to the Island was a little more eventful than usual, with Justin cutting off a foot and a half of hair, visiting friends, car dying, kids with colds, all the land around our cabin bought up by Buddhist Monks (except for the brand new biker campground, catering to Hell's Angels), mostly great weather, but some intense storms thrown in there, my near concussion by somehow slamming my head in a door, an exploding dryer in the coin laundry, etc, etc, etc. All in all, an awesome week...if you overlook the random not-so-awesome adventures. The car was the biggest issue, and the most icky, although everything turned out just fine.

It was late evening, after dinner, and we decided to drive to one of our favorite isolated beaches for a dusk walk before bed. Probably about 15 miles away. So we are in the middle of nowhere, near dark, and the car just stops. No cell service, nothing around except one long driveway, back a way, in the bushes. Justin leaves us in the car and hikes down to check it out. After nearly forty minutes, I panic a bit... The kids are starting to run fevers, it's crazily buggy out, plus my door doesn't lock and I don't want to leave the car that just happened to have both our laptops in it, not to mention cameras, passports, purse... No other cars pass this whole time. High tourist season my ass.

Anyway, Justin eventually returns with an elderly man named Ken, and a gas can. (Justin tells me later that after Ken and his wife opened the door, before he even said a word, they ask him if he had knocked for long because they were both deaf in one ear, and their cat was too. Since none of them can tell where a sound comes from, they all went to the wrong door first...they next proceeded to tell him that all white cats with blue eyes are deaf, but as Cookie has one blue eye, AND one green, he's only deaf on the one side. They open up the door and usher Justin [who still hasn't explained what he's doing there] inside and Ken asks him if he plays the fiddle. Fumbling around under the sofa, he draws out a violin case and shows Justin a fiddle he's made himself. Next comes the photo album of fishing boats he's built, and various woodworking projects over the years. Not that Justin didn't appreciate any of these another situation he would have been delighted to talk shop with the guy but....)

Back at the car the gas does nothing. Justin and Ken head to the house to call a tow truck. We wait again before Justin, Ken and his wife, Rena return. The tow truck will be an hour at least so the couple invite us all up to the house. Once there, Rena beckons to me, "I have something to show you." Leaving the boys and comparative safety of the front yard behind, I follow her down a long, dark, twisting hallway. Before she turns the knob on what appears to be a bedroom door, she peers at me with a weird smile and says "What do you think of THIS?!" My heart is racing as she opens the door with a proud flourish. Dolls. THOUSANDS of them on every surface fill the entire room from floor to ceiling. There is a tiny path around the bed, but other than that, the dressers, bed, floor, shelves are piled with DOLLS. She starts to wander around saying hello to them...every one has a name and a story, and I hear quite a few... Some are wearing handmade cardboard and colored plastic sunglasses. She says that the light destroys the eyes on the vintage dolls, so she made most of the older ones special glasses, and keeps the shades drawn. At one point she picks up a doll dressed in a nun's habit and asks me if I'm Catholic. "Nooooooo" I say slowly, hoping not to offend her. "But of course you've heard of the Order Of St. Crisco?" she presses. I wanted to say "Oh sure." But luck was with me and my honestly won out. "No, I guess I haven't." She seems a bit shocked for a moment before breaking into a cackling laugh and flipping the doll upside down, revealing a can of cooking grease. "I BUILT HER ON AN EMPTY CRISCO TUB!" Whew! Starting to sweat now and praying to St. Crisco that the tow truck hurries the hell up. But you know what? A few more minutes, a few more stories, and I decide that I really like this crazy doll lady, and am rather disappointed when we hear the truck rumble in.

Since the kids and I don't fit into the tow truck, Ken and Rena offer to drive us home. Rena forces her husband to slow to a crawl in front of every house we pass, while she tells me who lives there, what they do and how they are related to her. Quite late, when we finally get back to our cabin, I light some candles and we exchange contact info. Rena's last name is HOWE! Totally strange! There are no Howe's anywhere on the Island, it's all McSomething or MacSomething. I fully intend to send them a doll or two for their kindness.

The car saga continues the next day when Justin and our friend John (who was luckily honeymooning nearby and came to our rescue) head over to the garage to figure out the problem. The little old man at the garage identifies the broken part in a heatbeat, and our luck continues when, out of the five cars rusting in the underbrush behind the shop, one happens to be the same as our car. The mechanic explains that somebody just left it there a couple years ago..."Dunno who, dunno why." Justin is welcome to take parts off it, free of charge, as long as he replaces them from a junkyard before we leave, in case the mysterious car owner ever returns. The man also hangs over Justin and John as they work, telling them story after story, and seeming terribly amused by their plight. So the car got fixed, John and Kate head home on the ferry, we got replacement parts the next day and put them back in the junker, while the 87 year old Panting Shore Garage mechanic tried to sell us a case of canned beef to bring home to Vermont, and that was the end of the car adventure.

Seriously, the locals there are so insane that it feels just like home. My other favorite Local encounter was when we were in the barber shop and Justin sat down in a chair between two burly fisherman (with buzz cuts, getting their hair cut even shorter) and took off his baseball cap, letting his Rapunzel mane tumble down his back. One fisherman started taking pictures with his cellphone, while the other one asked us if it wasn't scary "living in Vermont with all them poisonous snakes you got down there."

It was an amusing, mostly nice week. We had some other friends, with three kiddies, who were vacationing in Summerside, come spend the day with us and all the kids had a blast. We ate lots of good Island food...the new potatoes were incredible. We had dinner with our neighbors Ethan and Lila who informed us that Rena-Doll-Lady was their children's elementary teacher growing up. We took in a museum or two, did a whole lot of beach, mowed our lawn a couple of times, did the moonlight lighthouse tour (E's favorite), relaxed during the day, kids coughed during the night. I shut my head in the cabin door trying to get in before mosquitoes did, and had a monster headache for's still sore. A wacky week. Missing the sound of the sea at night, but glad to be home. Every place gets compared to home, not really fair, I know, because no other place will ever win. Even our home away from home. How lucky I am. Poisonous snakes and all.

My computer is being slow so pics are all on my flickr page.

Friday, July 9, 2010


When the garbage truck swerved
Into my lane,
I was thinking of daisies,
And how they lay thick
In the ditches.
Dainty swath of white,
As if someone drew a finger
Down through a puddle of lace.
I hadn't a thought of how Life depends
On the carelessness of a CD change,
Or the lighting of a cigarette.
The balance hanging, every second,
In the hands of strangers.
To save myself,
I yanked the wheel to the right, and mowed
Down several feet of daisies
Nodding their heads cheerfully
By the wayside.
Those innocents
Crushed into the dirty shoulder.
And really, what's the difference
Between us?