In Hot Water

Yesterday was full of events — most annoying? Water heater went out and wouldn’t light. I called my favorite plumber — and got the owner. “Two weeks, that’s how things are going around here now.”

“Well, maybe if you have a guy up here in Monte Vista he could just stop by?”

“I’ll put you on the list. Have we done work for you before?

“Yes! You guys do the best work. You’ve done stuff for me a few times and it’s always been great.”

“That’s wonderful to hear. I’m afraid that doesn’t change the list, but if someone’s out there, I’ll tell them to stop by.”

“Thank you so much.”

Four hours later he appeared himself and fixed the problem — which was dust and who’s surprised? 8 years of dust, 30 inches away from the dryer vent, seriously? He had the same vocal inflections as my grandmother which was wonderful to hear. Turned out his people came from Missouri a couple generations ago. They are farmers; he has animals — lots of them, so I heard a lot of stories about them — and of course we talked dogs and mountains. It was a great conversation, and it reminded me why I was so happy to get back here when I retired. “I hunt, but you know, it’s just an excuse to get back there.” He nodded toward the San Juans. He and his brother hunt on horseback. “Lot’s of people don’t like hunting, but we live on what we kill.” I’m not one of those people who object to hunting. I can’t. I’d rather eat elk or venison than beef any day. I’d be a hypocrite to object, as much as I love to watch those animals and feel blessed when I see them. I’ve even wondered if that love isn’t a deeply engrained human thing from millennia of hunting for survival. It’s like a lot of things in life. There’s no pure black and white. Deer and elk overpopulation means nature steps in with disease to cull the herds.

I learned that my water heater has a dust filter. He pulled it out then went out to his truck to get his air compressor. The filter is a narrow band, just a flexible plastic net. He blew out the dust — covering both of us — and said, “You ddin’t have to stay here for this.”

“I felt guilty just leaving you here alone for that.”

“Well, at least now you can take a hot shower.” I enjoy that kind of humor. The tones of home are always welcome, I guess.

This is going to be an expensive month. So, I have a couple of gigs lined up, one is an article the other is a fence.

I’m heading to the museum later to talk about the poetry reading coming up a week from Friday. After all the adventures yesterday I sat down and wrote out a talk. I’ve been to a few poetry readings, but, strangely, I can’t clearly remember any but Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti back at D. G. Wills Bookstore in La Jolla in another lifetime. I’m sure as hell not either of those guys. The other readings all fade into an image of a second story room in a half-empty downtown Boulder, Colorado, walk-up, the first poetry reading I ever attended. Folding chairs — maybe 30 — were arranged in optimistic rows. A lectern sat in front. A few students from the University of Colorado were going to read. I knew one of them? I don’t remember. From the ceiling hung two bare lightbulbs. The room was a dingy yellowish beige and the four windows that faced the street had pull-down shades. The poets fumbled embarrassedly through their poems, reading with serious, earnest voices, and then sitting down.

I don’t think it was like that for Homer when he recited the Odyssey. If anyone would like to read my talk, I’ll post it later. Let me know. I practiced last night and learned one thing which was not to choose poems with too many sssssssibilantsssss.

After all that, the dogs and I headed out to the refuge. For summer it was perfect. NO PEOPLE. Enough wind to keep the bugs off, perfect early evening light.

“I can’t believe you brought us, Martha!”
“Me either guys, but YAY!!!!”


The featured photo is me and a friend sitting outside D. G. Wills Bookstore in La Jolla in 1994. Allen Ginsberg is inside reading and so many people had shown up that they had to set up outside for the overflow. There was a loudspeaker. Extra points for anyone who can find me in the crowd. That would be quite an achievement!

19 thoughts on “In Hot Water

  1. I thought that was you leaning against the tree, but then I thought ‘no glasses and the hair is too short.’
    Yes, I’d love to read your talk, Martha!
    The photo of the dogs is sweet. It looks like little Teddy is giving Bear the eye like, “Isn’t this great?!’

  2. I didn’t know you were a fence. Reminds me of the time my dad got me a tape recorder for Christmas. I was told I couldn’t send in the warranty card. At first my parents were a bit vague about it, then said it was because my uncle got it for us from somebody who got it when it fell of the back of a truck. I later learned that it was someone he knew only by first name and met in a bar when he wanted to place an order.

  3. I like your plumber! And I hope you will post your talk, citing the poems you read as well! Sounds like the walk in the refuge was well deserved at the end of that day!

    • The walk at the refuge was definitely deserved and needed. I got the heads up from a friend today that it’s very pleasant to walk at the cemetery. There are trees there, so we’ll be checking that out. That would be nice for summer.

  4. That is so wonderful that the owner took the time to come personally! Here it has been so blazing hot that even with the AC we’ve been taking cold showers!! Taking both dogs together looks like it was fun for Teddy and Bear… Good luck on the reading – but I’m pretty sure it will be fun and well received!

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