A day in the life

Yikes. I hate to disappoint those of you who have been thinking my time away from blogging is due to my hot-air balloon trip across the Alps or the Sahara.


We’ve been getting rid of the yucky green stuff that covers decks, porches, sidewalks, houses, driveways, fences and small children here in the South. I have power washed the living bejesus out of every inanimate object on our property so that A could spend the last several days on his knees painting the deck, the porch, and two sets of stairs….

We’ve been blasting the house into decent shape before the hot muggy weather arrives and the only thing we’ll want to blast is our way to the beach.

That’s pretty much what I, queen of the power washer, have been doing lately instead of buzzing around Chamonix Mont Blanc in a balloon. And working on grant proposals. And writing meeting summaries.

I’ve missed you, too.

But, yeah, I still manage to get out some. Like today: a half-hour standing in the paint department line at Lowe’s trying to buy more deck stain.

The guy in front of me looks like a lot of people around here – thin, wiry, long grey hair tied back in a skinny ponytail, skin crinkled from lots of time in the sun. He’s the kind of person I tend to start talking with in parking lots or checkout lines, and so that’s what I do. He’s in the middle of painting something ‘oyster white’, or maybe ‘sand dollar’, judging by the paint smudges covering his arms and t-shirt.

There’s only one person working the paint mixer and so we’re standing there at the paint counter for a while. He tells me his name – Jake – and that he’s painting every room of a big house along the Intracoastal so the owners can put it back on the market: ‘They’re gonna ask a million four – but I say they’ll be lucky to get eight, maybe nine.’

He knows without asking that I’m not from around here. He tells me how back in ’89, when he moved here, this was just a big field and the six lanes out in front of Lowe’s was a narrow two-laner, even dirt in some places. He tells me that I don’t miss being up North.

We talk about power washers. I say I’d never heard of power washing before moving here. He tells me not to put a sealer on the deck, no matter what it says on the back of the Cabot’s can.

Finally his paint’s ready. ‘Oh, I thought you were together,’ the clerk says when he starts to leave and I stay.

‘Well,’ Jake looks at the clerk. ‘We were together while we were standing here, and now we’re going our separate ways.’

He smiles; I smile. I notice his feet. He’s wearing sandals, Tevas maybe. His toenails. His toenails are carefully cut and polished.

They’re bright red.

19 comments to A day in the life

  • SHUT.UP.
    His toenails were not red!
    Natasha, you have to make this stuff up, I swear…
    That is the funniest thing I have read all week.

    BTW, you should get your paint at ACE. Lowe’s is a monster mega killing mom and pops…and I hate Jimmie Johnson. 🙂 Happy Friday, girlfriend!

    • Natasha

      Actually, his toenails were kinda close to my own personal toenail color — which is ‘cocoa motion’ and not quite BRIGHT red, but I used poetic license here.

      I did not make this up. For the record, I COULD NOT make this stuff up.

      I did notice his toenails slightly earlier in the conversation, and was going to comment that our toenails were similar in color, but I chickened out. I sorta kinda wished I’d mentioned it to him then, but oh, well…such is the life of a power washer.

  • Okay, so here is what you need to do. Write a book of short stories and title it Encounters. It’ll be a best seller!
    Between this guy, the man in the parking lot, and the couple on the ferry, you already have a great start.

    • Natasha

      You have NO IDEA the number of little encounters like this that I have recorded. And you might be right about putting them together that way.

      Did I ever tell you about spending the night after we got rained out and soaked during a week-long camping trip with the laundromat owner? Who had a HUGE collection of antique torture instruments in his living room?

      This was in the mid-west, but still….

      • Okay, STOP.IT.
        You’re killing me! Antique torture instruments! I bet you didn’t sleep all night.
        This really made my day. You should post an ‘Encounter’ story every Friday. What a great way to start the weekend.

        • Natasha

          This is a challenge I like. 🙂 It will force me to talk to even more people than I usually do. Which is a lot.

          This could be fun…..

  • Yes – I think it would be a great book! Some folks just have the knack to start conversations with others. I’m just starting to slow down in my retirement and enjoy others instead of being in such a gol’darn hurry all the time. Cocoa motion – I’ll have to look for that one!

    • Natasha

      I will admit, Parrot, that living in the South has definitely made/allowed me to talk to people I see on the street all. the. time. Cocoa motion – Maybelline – CVS. Just do it for me. (and Jake)

  • I would definitely read that book, Natasha. That last line was a killer! 😀

  • Either I don’t get out enough, OR, you have some really weird people living up your way. You know I’m going to look down at the toes of ANY man wearing sandles from this day forward. Not to mention how the ones with long hair are going to get a complete scan from head to toe.

    I love these stories! Keep them coming. 🙂

    • Natasha

      DS: I’m assuming you’re familiar with the term Redneck Riviera? I mean, you’ve lived in Florida all your life. 🙂 So get out already….

      We are lucky to have three distinct beach towns right here: One rich and yuppie, one Redneck Riviera, and one laid back old-fashioned family. You can probably tell which one I like best.

  • Sadly enough I had to consult the Urban Dictionary for the term Redneck Rivera. When I get out of the house it is usually to fill a photo mission for one of my projects.

    Because the Space Coast project will tear me away from my Poem book, I’ll probably get a good dose of culture then. I hope I am not forever jaded by the experience. 😉

    • Natasha

      I just looked Redneck Riviera up in the Urban Dictionary to see what it said. We went on two Gulf Coast road trips last year — one in the spring to the FL panhandle, MS and AL and one in the fall, to Texas and Louisiana. I guess those are areas that qualify as R.R. in the urban dictionary. I love, love, love the Gulf Coast and am heartsick at what’s happening to it with the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

  • That’s just too funny. I lived in NC for one year and it was quite an interesting year. I think finding quirky people like that has to do with the environment, but you seem to have a knack for noticing it also. It’s the writer in you, isn’t it?

    • Natasha

      Hi Valerie — Thanks for dropping by! Sometimes I notice a lot, and sometimes Moses himself could be driving the pick-up truck tailgating me on the highway and I wouldn’t have a clue.

      But, yeah, once you start writing you tend to notice these things more and more. It’s fun.

  • Natasha! You joined the workshop … Darksculptures talked you into it, huh? I’ve finally formulated my three goals, but I fear Merrilee will say those aren’t really goals. 🙂

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