Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Word From Dad: New Series

In a brave attempt to join the online word (in the same manner that he admitted, eventually, that CDs have handy little tracks you can skip to, and that email is actually a satisfying way of corresponding with people) my father has started his own "blog", in the form of emails that go out to me, my mom, and Matt once a week or so. Entitled "The Ballad of Mallard Ave", they are great accounts of whatever day he's just spent at our house, working on the lawn or just seeing how things are going with the work being done. Since I'm interested in keeping good documentation on this whole project of fixing up a first house, I asked if I could "syndicate" his blog here. So I bring you the new series, "A Word From Dad", starting with his latest entry. Expect updates (and hopefully archives) soon.

July 10.

Hey to all- Regular readers of this blog know that I do everything I can to make your reading experience up-to-date and enjoyable. Many of you have written to tell me that you've enjoyed the regular features, the games, the promotions, the contests. Tonight's fun is to vote on a new name for this blog. Here are the choices, or what I call The Ballot of Mallard Avenue:
1) The Mallard of Mallard Avenue (in case a wild, male duck is sighted in the back yard)
2) Mallard Avenue Melody
3) Mallard Avenue Malady
4) Your Choice: _______

On to today's news. I had an interesting meeting with two women at lunch today. They're trying to start a farm where women getting out of prison can live and work and learn about organic farming. They knew about a community garden ( where I volunteer. We traded ideas and names. Late in the day I phoned Donna, our contractor, to see if she'd be there when I got there after work. She'd already left, but told me about the work that got done (you can read about that in her informative email). Aside from the construction, she: heard and saw two women on Oakwood Avenue cursing and screaming at each other; heard the music of Tooth, which electrician Clint, who's a killer musician, thought was incredibly loud and bad; could barely get away from neighbor Lester, who kept saying that Donna should have hired him.

Lester, who lives in a house about twenty yards across the street from 502 Mallard Avenue, is the star of tonight's blog. The first time my wife and met him, he told us that he'd been a cowboy out West. Though he grew up as a young black man smack in the middle of Durham, he'd had a fascination with all things horses and cowboys. Not that we needed proof, but he ran inside to get a lariat and an orange traffic cone. He placed the traffic cone on the hood of an old truck and, sure enough, roped the critter from about twenty feet away.

I ran into him first thing when I got there today. He alternately praised Donna's work, then said he should have been hired, he can level the side stairs, told me to ask Jessie and Matt if they need help with molding, installing light fixtures, et. al. But the best of all was when somehow we got on the subject of martial arts and fitness.

I got into a mock karate stance and told Lester that I'd practiced for 4 months 38 years ago. That launched him into a very long speech about how he teaches teenagers in a gym to box. About then neighbor Tyler, the street's Mayor walked up. Lester asked me,"You know how to get in underneath them? You got to do the duck walk!" He proceeded to lunge toward me in a low crouch, threw mock punches to my ribs. Thing is, though, his "punches" felt like noogies to my ribs, so I started laughing hysterically in a high-pitched howl. This didn't deter him at all. Instead, he did a reverse duck walk, then a forward duck walk with more noogies to the ribs. Tyler was almost doubled over with laughter. Lester then lay on the ground doing situps/crunches (despite various aches and pains, he's in great shape) as Tyler and I continued to laugh.

What did our "fight" look like to others? I'm a 6'3" white guy, he's a 5'9" black guy. As Sheriff Andy Taylor once said on the Andy Griffith Show, "what looks like rasslin' to some is dancin' to others."

I told Tyler, "Say, how about that thing you wanted to show me at your house!?" Tyler said, "What thing?" I said, "You know- that thing!" Finally Tyler caught my drift and we were able to get away for a few minutes. Tyler and I hung out for a while- he told me how he got a little mad when a neighbor with whom he'd been friendly wandered into his sister's house and inadvertently scared her, also how he chased away what he thought was a crack user who went onto the porch at 504. Tyler knows I'm at least a little nervous about Jesse and Matt's living down there and usually has some sensible thing to say that puts me more at ease.

I was about to leave, but spent a few more minutes talking to Lester at his house. Jesse Curtin was also there. Jesse has almost finished sheetrocking his master bedroom at 501. I drove away laughing about Lester.

502 definitely looks like a construction site- a whole lot going on inside and out. Living on Mallard Avenue, I expect, will never, ever be dull.

- Dad/PK.