Goat Mountain and a ’65 Mustang

“Someone’s here,” says the Bearded One, looking up from his breakfast Coke and the newspaper.  It’s 10am on another precious clear, warm day at the very tail end of summer. The Bearded One slept in, nursing his sore muscles from mixing cement in his manic push before the fall rains start.

“It’s Edeltraut!” I say.  Our 70ish neighbor up the road waves to us through the window and we’re both delighted.  Edeltraut, pronounced A-dul-trout, is a small woman with rosy cheeks and direct brown eyes who grew up in Germany and came to America in the 1950s with her sister.  She and her husband have lived here on the road for two years.  Her German accent has softened over the years.

“I should haf called,” she says.  She is wearing a cheery pants-and-sweater outfit and white clogs.  She carries a red notebook and is clearly distressed.

“Come in!” we say in unison. We love Edeltraut. The Bearded One offers her a chair at the kitchen table and I offer her a cup of coffee.

She accepts and sits, placing the notebook on the table in front of her.  She means business.  “I’m just so embarrassed,” she says.  “So ashamed.  We haven’t written the letter.”

Last spring Edeltraut and her husband volunteered to be the new road managers, bless them. We’re just six years out from the Paving War where there were hard feelings, but most everyone is past it now.  Still, having new neighbors in the job helps.  We tell her that.

“If vee can’t get along in our families and neighborhoods,” she says softly, “how can vee get along as a vorld?”

We nod our agreement and then Edeltraut lays both of her hands on the notebook.  She wants to do a good job, she says vehemently, but her husband is rebuilding their daughter’s old 1965 Mustang — “every little rusty screw!”  It’s all he thinks about, and they haven’t devoted the time and focus to the letter that they should have.  She is sorry and needs help.

The road manager’s job is to hire a road-work company to grade and gravel, and to try and collect $120 each from the 25 or so resident households to pay for it.  It’s been so dry this year that the wash-boarding — the deep regular waves in the road caused by bouncing car suspension — is the worst since we’ve been here.

We fill the potholes, a separate chore altogether.  So we have the current mailing list and offered to help early on, back before the Mustang project.

I feel Edeltraut’s frustration.  I, too, have an occasionally obsessed, very creative husband who has his own project blocking out awareness of all other things, namely rebuilding Goat Mountain.  The goats need something rough and hard to keep their hooves filed down, and the Bearded One’s solution is a 3-foot-high hill covered deep with cement and then embedded with gravel.

He heaped dirt and rocks between two stumps to make the skeleton.  It’s a great design, but it requires dozens of 60-pound sacks of cement, all of which the Bearded One unloads and hauls and unloads again with his 57-year-old body.

I tried to hire Jonah, Momma Goose’s son, and most likely the strongest man on the road, to help.  He wasn’t home, though.  He just got hired again up in Seattle, so I chatted with his dad Brooklyn Man about the chicks.  They are our poultry mentors, and we just split an order of Cornish fryer chicks that are now 3 weeks old.  He tells me they’ve lost 5 out of 60, one crushed early on, the others just died.  We’ve still just lost one.  Momma Goose is working lots of hours at her outside job, he says.

Everyone is overdoing it, even me.  It’s harvest week and when I’m not digging potatoes and onions, I’m jamming and drying.  In fact, the kitchen is all set up for peach plum jam making today.

Edeltraut looks hopelessly at the master address list, a color-coded switchboard of symbols and connecting lines, and says, “I write vit an accent.”

The Bearded One and I volunteer to address the envelopes and draft a letter and get both into her mailbox the next day.

Which we do.  And the Bearded One agrees to spread the remaining cement hauling out over hours if not days.  So Goat Mountain’s still not finished three days later, Saturday, when Edeltraut’s husband stops by to thank us.  He’ll mail the road letter out on Monday, he says, and by the way — a twinkle in his blue eyes now — he took the pan off the Mustang this week!

I have no idea what he’s talking about, not sure why there was a pan on the Mustang to start with.

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9 responses to “Goat Mountain and a ’65 Mustang

  1. Oh Christi, I can so relate.
    1. To Edeltraut’s question, how can we get along as a world? which has been on my mind with this divisive campaign and the ongoing situation in the Middle East. Being the earth mother hippie that I was, I write letters to the Obama Team asking them not to go negative but rather address all the positive, forward-thinking aspects for the country as a whole.
    2. And to the “project passion”…here for days my love has been putting in irrigation lines for the 12 new trees, 10 new Texas Ranger bushes, & 3 new golden barrel cactus that have been planted on the property.
    I lolololololololololololololololol over the cartoon of The Bearded One and his goat mountain. Especially the WAAA and the ZZZZ scenes.
    My love comes in looking like he has rolled in the desert dirt, is dripping wet with sweat, glasses askew, face like a mask of exhaustion. He strips in the laundry room, throws his filthy clothes in the washer, walks buff naked (we have no guests right now) into the pool, into the bath, and then collapses on the bed.
    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
    3. Plus we have our sweet youngest daughter’s wedding in 3 weeks!
    I keep going over several “master lists” – probably with a hopeless stare also.
    I love our parallel universes.
    Big Hugs

    PS Hope your peach jam is the color of the sunset! Just for you.

    • Parallel universes, yes! Our lives have the same challenges wherever, eh? Give Denny a hug and an ice pack, and Ashley a big kiss from me on her big day. p.s. the jam is the color of a Tuscon sunset….:)

  2. Loved the stick man’s adventure with the cement sacks! HA!

  3. I love Edeltraut and I haven’t even met her! Her “I write with an accent” made me smile :). Tell The Bearded One that Steve, although he is only 47, has just done his shoulder in in his chief pursuit of having to get as much firewood as he possibly can towards next years winter (and we are only just in spring) so he commiserates with him. Tell him that if Steve lived in Olalla he would come and help create that concrete mountain of goaty happiness. My brother just bought a 1959 Chevvy Impala the other day. He spent $40 000 on it…just typing that number makes my brain go numb! A car…A CAR! If I had $40 000 I would line our roof with solar panels, erect a wind turbine to happiness, install as many water tanks as I could to collect rainwater from our various roofy structures AND have a lot left over to stuff the moth eaten sock under the bed…I dare say my brother will be taking pans off but his $40 000 got him a shiny silver beast bedecked with red leather. Will he regret his purchase when he gets it bogged on the sandy sea track that leads to his little bush house? Probably, but you know men and their addictions!

    • Poor Steve! Your crazy brother! Seems like you and I are having telepathically similar experiences again in our polar opposite sides of the planet, Fran. I just read your comment outloud to the Bearded One and he says, “In 1973 my nextdoor neighbor Bob bought a really sweet ’59 Chevy Impala for $600.” And then he added, “I’ve been telling you to take your pans off for years.”

      • Lol…my pans rusted and fell off! I have been trying to collect the shards of weathered metal and reinsert them for years to no avail…I have been pan commando for years! 😉

  4. Mundane life events made fun to read about–your stock in trade.

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