Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chapter Ten: In the Spring: Ashes on the Deck, Red Rain, and the Stripping of "The Mystery".....

Chapter 10: Ashes on the Deck, Red Rain, and "Stripping" the Mystery....

So winter dragged on and I spent the winter unpacking and settling us into our new home in town. I was puzzled by a few when it snowed there was no ice or snow on the street out front. We joked that the must be radiant heat in the asphalt out front. We buried a series of pets right in a row, our Turtle Stubby, 3 rodents and we puzzled as to why they all were dying so fast. And another phenomena that we noticed that on weekends there were such strange odors on weekend nights, Burnt Pot Roast and Bagles , or Burnt Rubber....And sometimes we had to sweep our deck of fine grayish ash. The ash was troubling and relentless. I also noticed that our picket fence and deck were stripped of paint,and the landlords told me that the deck had to be painted every year, that all of downtown was "like that". I did notice the houses around us looked the same, the wood was stripped, peeling and weathered like a pile of driftwood.

Our Deck was on the front of the house, and the wood was so stripped I could not even tell what color it had been, and somehow looking at the other stripped discolored houses it did not bother me so much. I bought paint for the spring deciding that I would paint the deck and door, and the front steps, the Rose Box, and the picket fences and planter boxes along the fence. I picked a light sea blue, pale aqua, and over the spring I would paint and tidy the yard and ponder the odd Ash that would fall while I was trying to paint. My son even noticed the ash, and it was the same time we were studying Magnets and as a joke we decided that we would see if the ash was magnetic. And with a magnet out on the porch, we were able to pick up ash off the railing deck. As a Homeschooling mom I had no explanations or answers for that strange phenomena. I was puzzled and mildly disgusted.

I also noticed that no one opened their windows, even when the weather was warm in February. And that people rarely sat outside or visited on their porches.I figured that when Rainey Season subsided later in spring that we would meet more of our neighbors. So I planted bulbs by the steps and fixed up planters by the picket fence and brought my Bird Bath out getting ready for spring. The Bird Bath became a source of angst for me- it kept filling up with rusty scum material and birds would not visit. And yet looking at the water, I could see that the birds would not want to get near that water. So I ended up cleaning the bath alot and yes, buying bottled water for the Bird Bath.

That spring two things would enter our Family life that were special. First while reading a local paper I read that a local was getting rid of a Boat, an old 1920's RumRunner. And so I went to see it, and then I showed it to my husband. And when you reach a certain point in your marriage you start looking at things to DO with your spouse. ( and yes, some people rush off to have Affairs). I came up with the idea that we could fix up this Old Wooden Boat, this RumRunner, and somehow my lovely spouse thought it would be fun too. So we moved the 27 foot boat to the back of our home, to put it in the Driveway, up on barrels so we would fix it up. Ironically, we would need to strip the boat and caulk it and paint it. It had been painted bright blue and bright orange by an Old Canadian and taken north, and then the nice fellow in Whatcom bought it and somehow moved it down to Bellingham Bay. So we moved it out of the Bay and it came to live behind our House.

Ironically by meeting some Old Coast Guard Men while doing Pet Therapy at a Nursing Home, I got to know the History of the Boat, " The Mystery". It turned out that Old Coast Guard Man had photos on his wall " They Got Away" was the name of the wall, and there on the wall was OUR boat from the early 1930's. It turned out that Boats used to go up and down the coast between Bellingham and the Islands, and Fairhaven and Seattle and bring Liguor. The Coast Guard would capture the Fast Boats and then among themselves they would buy the fast ones for themselves ( yes , he admitted doing that). He told me our Boat was part of three , called the Sisters, they were made ( "copied") and used to haul liguor up and down the coast. He said that in Seattle the times were set for deliveries and a Children's Program was used to let people know in code where and when the Illegal Liquor was to delivered.

We bought her for a six pack of beer and 20 dollars, the cheapest present I ever bough my husband.So we put The Mystery up on Barrels out back on the cement slab of a Driveway. And in a matter of monthes the Red Rain fell and the Boat was stripped by the end of six monthes behind our house. Later we would all joke that we never had to strip the Boat, but it was true, and maybe we should not have joked about it. The Boat, The Mystery would become a favorite in the neighborhood, for sitting and having a beer, or for kids to play Pirates. But over that winter and spring the Red Rain would confound me, and even as it would wash away the Ash, it was troubling and like nothing I had ever seen. And by spring I was puzzled what stripped the Boat the Red Rain ? or the Ash ? or Both.

We would also adopt a Cat in late winter. I had seen a photo of her at the coffee shop, and read that the owner was moving away. Xena the Princess needed a home the sign said. Now we had plenty of animals, even some rodents and a little budgie that we had had since my son was a baby, but somehow a Cat, a lovely tortoise shell cat tugged at our hearts. So we went and picked up the Cat. We quickly realized that all of our home critters were safe, as she was practically feral and had never lived inside, so she would be an outside cat. And ironically we got her the same month we got The Boat, so what really happened was that Our Cat, Xena indeed got a Boat. She would stand up on the front of the boat and snarl at anyone that went by, even large dogs. So the Boat had it's own Watch " Cat".

Our other pets were curious about The Cat, and over time she did get to know Abby the Bassatt and Bogie the Scotty. She looked down at both of them. Bogie was our Scotty he was almost 14 and he was also battling cancer, so he did not have time or energy to focus on fighting with her, and for some reason actually liked her. Abby our Bassatt loved all animals, and would even bring home injured animals when out walking. It was not uncommon to look down and realize she was carrying an injured baby bird home. We even took her down to Whatcom Creek and tried to bring home a gasping fish that was laying on the banks....I drew the line.

The Amazing part of the story is that as I write this, it is now 2009 and Xena the Princess is lying next to me, stretched out in the Sunny patch on the bed right by the window......