Tag Archives: shed

1.33 A Fox, A Goose and a Sack of Wheat

IMG_3369

Seriously, my feet have not crossed the threshold of a garden shed in over twenty-ish years, and now I am sitting in my second in under a week. 

My Uncle would be proud.

While I can make an exception for Beatrice’s, I’d renamed it The Map Room which transformed it into an entirely acceptable place to visit. I do not think calling the building I currently sat in a shack changes things in the slightest. 

A shack is a shed built over water instead of on the ground. 

How did the situation, me sitting in a shack in the middle of one of the largest national parks in the country by myself with a pile of luggage, come to pass?

Because apparently, I’m a silly goose.

Six days ago Wood made reservations for the five of us and the boys to participate in the first-ever Fall Foliage Tour. Wood deciding that Pumpkin Mountain the perfect location for said first trip. Somehow, the stars and schedules aligned allowing all of us to take a three day weekend together. 

Unable to talk Wood out of it I spent the remaining five days making copious notes trying to cope with this new wrinkle. FLYT, my house sitting cousin, the Residents, and luggage & equipment lists all sported a plethora of check marks. I’d also worked out a plan (tentative to say the least – but hey, some plan is better than no plan at all) to deal with my tag-along passenger and the risk she posed to the Residents and myself, without alerting or scarring my friends for life. 

So this afternoon the Princess and I picked Beatrice up from Pulp, Sarah from Nevermore and we set out for the Hilltop Hotel (Wood, Laney and the boys left yesterday). A few hours later the Princess pulled into a slot in a damp parking lot. The ever practical Sarah was the first to voice the concern we all felt, “Ummm, where’s the hotel?”

In my hasty preparations, I never thought to take a gander at the Hilltop Hotel’s website (apparently neither did Beatrice or Sarah), relying instead on Wood’s intelligence. Clearly, he forgot to share a few details…

Leaning forward we peered thru the windshield, “Should we call Wood?” ventured Sarah pulling out her phone. Not a flickering bar, fortunately, I spied a bulletin board partially obscured by some ferns, “Let’s take a look.” On it, we found a map which helpfully highlighted the serpentine path we needed to follow, thru the old growth, to a dock. A laminated brochure next to the map told us we would find a boat waiting at the dock to ferry us across the lake to the Hilltop Hotel. Easy as pie.

This place doesn’t sound like a Scooby-Doo set up at all.

Emptying the Princess of her cargo we lugged our luggage (down a trail which grew creepier the further we walked on it) to the dock where we found a shack and a man inside it, “Evening. You three ladies part of the Utley party?”. We nodded, speech being a bit beyond our capabilities since our discovery that rolly wheels, plus a half mile stint on a dirt trail were not a match made in heaven. He went on, “My name is Sam. I’ll just load the boat  and zip you ladies across the lake.” 

When he’d loaded half of our bags, Sam rejoined us, “Have you ever heard the riddle about the Chicken, Fox and a Sack of Wheat?”

We looked at each other, Beatrice spoke first, “Of course, the chicken and the wheat can’t be left alone together, nor can the fox and the chicken – yet all three must make it across the river whole. Why? Oh. You’re telling us the boat cannot take all of us and our luggage in one trip.”

“You’ve got it in one.” he replied. Sam, the boatman, didn’t appreciate the sheer number of bags three women can pack for a trip and used Hilltop’s smaller boat to fetch us. (I’d dedicated one entire suitcase to books, pretty sure Beatrice did the same, and both of us brought our own hiking equipment. Seems neither of us trust rentals).

So long explanation not very short, this is how I found myself sitting in a shack with half our luggage waiting for a man about a boat. Sam didn’t like leaving me alone, whether he worried about wolves or woodsmen attacking, I’m not sure. Personally, I thought a shack induced panic attack more likely, but hey what do I know?

That’s the how it happened. The why is very simple.

It was due to my lack of participation in a trip down memory lane, which featured several 64ounce Slurpees and the mistaken notion that our route held a plethora of rest stops along the way. 

1.30 Takeaway

IMG_8268

(Teriyaki Salmon, Miso and California Rolls were the first items we unpacked! So Good!)

Recalling my initial reaction to Sunny Valley Farm, I decided to wait until I got home before calling Sarah. Crashing the Princess due to distracted driving (i.e., Little Ben drives me to distraction) wouldn’t fit within my budgetary constraints at the moment. So I opted to sit on the garden wall in the Lavender Lady’s back garden and watch the squirrels and birds fight over acorns while I dialed her number.

Waiting for Sarah answer, I took stock of all the good things surrounding me – my toes felt warm and cozy in my wool socks, my crochet scarf kept the brisk air off my neck, and a handful of cookies kept my tummy full on this fine fall day. Sarah picked up on the fourth ring.

Sarah (chirping): “Hey mom! I can’t talk right now. I’m at work. Mind if I stop by for dinner tonight?”

Me: “Little Ben’s right there?”

Sarah (still chirpy): “Yup! So dinner?”

Me: “Seven sound good?”

Sarah (still channeling her inner cheerleader): “Great! See you then! Love you!”

Click.

Little Ben must have been standing right next to her. 

Which isn’t as creepy as it sounds, Sarah Armstrong is Nevermore’s Chief Funeral Director (she prefers the title mortician, but Big Ben won’t let her change it). Who often works within close proximity of Little Ben. I texted Beatrice and added an extra entree to the Chinese takeout order for this evening.  Then thought about it and added three more and a side of hom bow to my request. 

Fortunately, my earlier tasks ate up enough of the day that seven pm rolled around rather quickly. Three hours flew by while I disassembled Laundry Island, made my bed and participated in a lengthy discussion Harold S. Ellington (Beatrice’s skeleton) about my current inquiry while dusting the front room (nope not stalling at all).

At a quarter of seven, Beatrice rolled thru the front door juggling two large boxes filled with takeout containers plus her bag and briefcase. Relieving her of the boxes, I breathed in the wonderfully spicey smells of General Tso’s Chicken and Mongolian Beef. Setting the boxes down on the entryway table I perused the selections, egg rolls, yakisoba, all kinds of veggies covered in multiple sauces (I love sauce) and a variety of rice dishes. At this point, my stomach realized the pancakes and cookies left the building hours ago and threatened to attack the takeout boxes directly, Alien-style.

Beatrice (a bit out of breath): “So, why did I buy enough food to feed a small army?”

Me (wishing I could filch an egg roll): “I might have invited one?”

Beatrice: “That’s a good reason. Why?”

Me: “To help move my table and stuff into the garden shed.”

Beatrice (smiled and arched her eyebrow): “Nothing to do with not wanting to go by yourself?”

Me: “Nope.”

And with timing only Dourwood can muster, he knocked, saving my bacon from Beatrice’s follow-up funny.

Wood: “Bee! Morticia! How are the new housemates doing? Hmm…do I smell Chinese?”

Me: “Sure do. Sushi too! And you’ll get some right after you help me move some stuff into storage.”

Wood: “Morticia, I would love to, but I’m not dressed for it. My suit….”

Me (crossing my arms over my chest, trying to look stern):”…Is perfectly fine. And after you help me move my boxes, we’ll eat the takeout in the shed. Where you can pay Beatrice the ten bucks, you owe her.”

Wood (laughing, looking between Beatrice and I): “Ahh, you told her about the bet? Thick as thieves already! I knew you guys would be great together! Let me grab my sneakers out of the car and roll up my sleeves. That food smells terrific by the way, had an emergency ear infection come in, so I missed lunch.”

He gave me a quick squeeze then darted back outside again. 

Beatrice (shaking her head and laughing): “Can I change? Or should my penance extend to trying to bend and lift while wearing a pencil skirt?” 

Me (smiling): “No, go change. You bought food, that was our deal.”

Sarah walked in with Wood who’d retrieved his sneakers. Things moved quickly with three people (Sarah only carried the food down, wasn’t fair to rope her into Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum’s atonement), everyone laughed when I recounted (with Wood providing sound effects) why I disliked garden sheds. My 50’s style Formica and aluminum kitchen table fit perfectly into the middle of the shed – providing a flat and stable surface for both eating and map reading. 

Fortunately for Wood and I, tonight the former came before the latter.

1.26 “Help”

IMG_8452

WWNDD? Well, Nancy Drew would put on her big girl panties and follow her new friend inside the shed. Fortune favors the bold. The lights flipped on when I hit the threshold.

This garden shed did not meet any of my preconceived notions.

Missing were the overwhelmingly potent odors of fertilizers, insecticides and machine oils. Instead, the delicate bouquet of old paper, whiskey, and cedar greeted me. The aromatic infusion of these scents into my surplus seemed a much more pleasant prospect than what I’d envisioned on the walk down.

Gazing around the space, I also noted the lack of axes, saws, hoes, spades, and mowers. Taking their place on one wall was wooden floor to ceiling flat filing cabinets. Mirrored on the opposing side were traditional bookcases, crammed full of oversized, spiral bound and stapled together books. The cases, like the ones in the house, had their middle shelves dedicated to fascinating artifacts. Only, in this case, the words ‘fascinating artifacts’ should be swapped for ‘unadulterated kitsch’. Stout vases filled with mini-troll dolls, rubber ducks, compasses, plastic goldfish and the occasional dragon and that was only a fraction of her unique collection. 

Who knew a lawn separated a virtual natural history museum from a corner five-and-dime? Or that the shed shared a disturbing similarity to a mad man’s blue box? I swear Beatrice’s shed was bigger on the inside.

Spying an empty area by the back window, I reckoned my boxes would easily fit under it while my kitchen table would work beautifully in the center of the room. This place looked like it desperately needed a surface to set things on.

Beatrice (looking oddly proud): “Dourwood didn’t think you’d make it inside.”

Wood told? Beatrice knew I was freaking out on my walk down? I could not think of a bad enough word to call them. Setting my mug down on the counter to my left, I crossed my arms and pinned my housemate down with a stare.

Me (trying to control my mortification): “He told you about it?”

Beatrice (hands held up in front of her while talking fast): “No. He called while I was in Scotland and mentioned your problem locating the storage area. Trying to help you out. When I told him where it was, he laughed. I asked why but he just bet me ten bucks you’d never step foot in here, I pressed, but he never told me why.”

Me: “Harrumph. Is that why you chose to walk down here at six in the morning? In the dark?” 

Beatrice (reddening slightly): I apologize, I do need to get to work early today. But facing your fears is essential for personal growth? I just wanted to help. 

While I worked out how angry/annoyed/embarrassed I felt, my eyes stray back to the odd assortment of neat junk on her shelves. She should never let a toddler loose in here. They’d go nuts. I found the flat files just as curious, not even the main branch of the library has this many cabinets.

Me  (still trying to gauge my level mortification): “Is it to nosey to ask what’s in the drawers?” 

Beatrice (audibly exhaling): “Not at all – I collect maps. My collection grew too large for the apartment, so I moved them out here.”

I let her explanation go – it held most of the truth – the legs of the cabinets and bookcases matched the ghost of furniture past (the divots in the carpet) in my room. A room which is larger in square footage than the shed, curious thing to fib about. 

Me (looking thoughtfully at the floor to ceiling installation): “What kind of maps?”

Beatrice (walking over and pulling open a drawer): “All kinds. Local, regional, antique, obsolete. Cartography fascinates me.”

Me (wholly diverted now): “Any treasure maps?”

Beatrice (sensing the humor in the question, she closed the drawer and walked to the counter): “No. Alas, the only one I found turned out to be fraudulent.” 

Me (remembering my current conundrum): “Does your collection include an index? I’m looking for a place called Pumpkin Mountain.”

Beatrice (opening a cupboard above the counter and selecting two keys off a row of hooks, turned to me): “Never heard of it, but when I get home tonight I can see what I can find for you. Any reason?”

Me (thinking quickly): “One of my fares’ mentioned it in passing. I thought they might be pulling my leg, sounds like a place you’d find Jack Skellington hanging out in. Now I’m curious if it’s a real place.”

Beatrice (regarding me with interest): “No problem. I like a challenge. Any clue where to find it?”

Me (thinking back): “Mountains. Someplace which allows camping you need to hike to, that’s all I know.”

Beatrice (handing me the keys, her cheeks still red): “Narrows it down a bit, I’ll see what I can do. Here are the keys, if you could lock both locks when you leave I’d appreciate it and please don’t leave them lying about – some of these maps took a long time to find.”

Me (pulling out my Nevermore keys and slipping them onto ring): “No problem.”

Beatrice: “Thanks. Can you forgive me?”

Me (deliberating): “Bring home take-out from anywhere but The Fungus House and promise not to do it again and we’ll be okay.”

Beatrice: “Japanese or Chinese?”

Me: “Yes.”

My housemate peeled off when we approached the alley, I heard her car door slam and her engine turn over in the quiet of the morning (still needed to work out how annoyed I felt about her and Wood’s shenanigans). 

Our apartment windows lit the walk enough to keep me from stumbling the rest of the way to my door. With my eyes focused so intently on the house, it allowed a bit of movement to catch my eye. For a moment a curtain swayed slightly just before a soft light turned off in Ms. Hettie’s portion of the house. 

Perhaps she was more vigilant that Beatrice realized.