Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Will

Dad had opened the garage door for me so that I could come in through the door to the laundry room. This was his regular routine and I had long ago stopped asking him why he didn’t just let me use my key and come in through the front door. I walked past the space heater he had going in the garage to keep his plants warm during the winter. Another subject I no longer bothered to debate.

I found dad in the TV room sitting on the couch with his head down wringing his hands. I sat down next to him, put my hand on his shoulder, “What’s the problem, Dad?”

“I’m shaky,” he said in a high, squeaky voice.
“Why are you shaky?”
“I don’t have a will,” he croaked. “What’s going to happen when I die?”
This business of the will came out of left field, because he and mom had made out their wills long ago, and then updated them when they’d moved up here to be close to us.
“You have a will, dad,” I said, in what I hoped was a reassuring voice.
Dad glared at me and waved his index finger at me like I was a naughty boy. “No I don’t!” he shot back.
“Well, let’s just check,” I said. I went to the desk where my mom had organized all their important documents and quickly found the will.
Dad hardly looked at the will when I brought it over to him.
“Your mom was very organized,” he said.
“Did we leave any money to Joey’s kids?” Dad asked.
“Joey’s kids?”
“You know, the gambler, and the…”
“The alcoholic?” I finished the sentence for him. Joey, Dad’s long deceased second cousin from New York, had two children, Chuckie, a compulsive gambler, and Dominick, an unreformed alcoholic.
Dad looked at me. “Yeah,” he said, uncertainly.
“You think that’s a good idea, Dad; giving the gambler and the alcoholic money?”
Dad switched gears without blinking an eye.
“What about that guy, Corlini?”
“Yeah. He’s been nice to us.”
“Wasn’t he the guy that you gave the jewelry to on consignment?”
“Yeah, that’s the guy. Your mother liked him.”
“Dad, he disappeared with that jewelry.”
Dad squinted at me through smeary bifocals.
“Anyone else we should leave money to?”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sagebrush Pen

Typical farmers' market, not ours, we don't have tomatoes yet and our location doesn't have those nice trees.

The Kennewick Farmers' Market has been moved from downtown Kennewick out south here to an area called Southridge. There are ambitious long-range plans for developing Southridge, but as one "farmer" told me today, "There's not much out here." This lady was selling Chelan Cherries, which she informed me came in earlier than the I was hoping for. She pushed a bucket of purple cherries toward me and told me to try one. "Don't worry about that," she said, gesturing to the dun-colored powder on the cherries, "That's just dust."

It was windy this afternoon and the farmers' market is set up in a parking lot next to an expanse of land that's being leveled for construction. Dust devils whirled over the parking lot and tented awnings flapped energetically in the wind. The cherry lady was stocky and immovable in the wind, although her should-length, straw-colored hair flew about like Saint Vitus. I bought a pound-and-a-half of cherries and moved on.

I had been looking for gifts for some Slovenian friends we'll see next week and came across a table filled with pens labeled "Sagebrush Pens." I stopped to inspect the pens. A diminutive, bright-eyed older man wearing dog tags and a baseball cap with "U.S. Air Force" written across the front was looking up at the tent he had constructed over his display table. "I may have to take this down," he said. I asked him about the pens. "Made with sagebrush," he said. He gave me his card. It said "DICKS fancy WOODS" and under that his name, "Dick Rambo."

Dick was from Pasco and had been hand making wood products, pens, belt buckles, key rings, etc., since his retirement from the Air Force in 1971. His card said "Wood from your History, Transformed." I asked him about that. "A lot of these things are made from the wood flooring that was torn up from Richland High School during its renovation," he told me. I bought a pen made of sagebrush and told him it was a gift for a friend from Slovenia. "That's a first," he said.

I took my cherries and my pen back to the car and drove away from the flapping tents in the Kennewick Southridge Farmers' Market. A sign at the highway tells me to expect "Burger Bob's soon." It's been there for several months. The farmers will be glad when it finally arrives.