She's going to really creep me out by Wednesday
Summer’s half over, and we haven’t been up to the cabin yet. This is mostly due to the fact that we don’t have a cabin. That seems a prerequisite. I would like to have a cabin; I would like to sit on the shore in an old metal chair with a Hamm’s and listen to the loons, which I assume are present in all lakes and issue their haunting trademark call from sunset to 11:00 PM, when the noise ordinance kicks in. I would love to smell the ancestral perfume of the lakes – dead fish and weeds – and listen to the sounds of the country. The gutteral sigh of a powerboat motor throttling down, the soft thunk of the boat hitting the dock, the gentle plosh of the tackle falling in the water, the sudden scream of the drunk neighbor getting his hand caught between dock and boat. But the days of a little humble shack furnished with thift-store stuff chosen for its ability to withstand mold – well, they’re over. Now you buy a lot on Lake Lelac, tear down the cabin that’s already there, build a luxurious house with all the modern appointments, then drive home. You visit it once a week, like a beloved relative who’s doing time. During the week you stare at the ceiling, convinced someone is breaking in the cabin and stealing the fixtures.

If I’m going to live on a lake it’s going to be permanent. Odd: when I think 20 years down the line, I either want water outside the window or dessicated desert. Either is fine. It’s the in-between that seems boring. I grew up with lawns and trees; in DC I had neither to call my own so I dearly wished to have them again. Now I have lawn from here to there, and about 20 trees.

Odd how you never think of the trees as your property until they die. Before that, they're common scenery; after, they're a personal liability.

Downtime on drive-around day, sitting at a wobbly table at the Preferred Dunn Bros. coffee shop. No power outlet, which is annoying. Ah how spoiled we get, so soon; I have free wi-fi that enables me to surf the world, but I’m irritated that I have to supply my own power. At the adjacent table some sort of high-power job interview is going on. The guy doing the interviewing is dressed very casually, has a dynamic patter, looks like the evil priest from “Temple of Doom.” Then again, it’s hard to tell if he’s the interviewer or the interviewee . . . ah. He’s applying. Middle-aged guy, high energy, fab patter, trying to sell himself to a young kid who has about six percent of his dynamism. This is why suburban coffeeshops are often more interesting than your ragged boho java shops; no one’s sitting around making long faces at some novel about transsexual Cuban nuns in the 19th century.

He just told a story about the founder of Sears and Roebuck, a lesson on the shifting sands of fortune. You know how he ended his days? As a greeter in the Sears store. He got bought out and he ended up working for them. Never forget that.

Really? thinks me, at the next table, innocently typing along, googling away. . .

In 1895, Roebuck asked Sears to buy him out. However, at Richard Sears' request, he took charge of a division that handled watches, jewelry, optical goods, and, later, phonographs, magic lanterns and motion picture machines. His business interests did not end with Sears. He later organized and financed two companies: a manufacturer and a distributor of motion picture machines and accessories. Roebuck also served as president (1909-1924) of Emerson Typewriter Company, where he invented an improved typewriter, called the "Woodstock."

After several years in semi-retirement in Florida, the financial losses he suffered in the stock market crash of 1929 forced Roebuck to return to Chicago. By 1933, Roebuck had rejoined Sears, Roebuck and Co., where he largely devoted his time to compiling a history of the company he helped found.

Then, in September of 1934, a Sears store manager asked Mr. Roebuck to make a public appearance at his store. After an enthusiastic public turnout, Mr. Roebuck went on tour, appearing at retail stores across the country for the next several years.
Alvah Roebuck returned to his desk at company headquarters in Chicago, where he enthusiastically assumed the task of compiling a corporate history until his death on June 18, 1948.

So he made a promotional tour. So he was the Woz of his day to Sears'' Jobs. Not that bad a story. This man is advising this young kid on his business, and he’s shooting out advice and ideas and plans and strategies so fast it’s just dazzling. And he's applying for a job. Either it's all BS or he's for real. Either would be a fascinating story. You could guess, but the truth would have some quirk you couldn't predict. You wouldn't even be close.

Waiting for Gnat’s class to end. This morning’s class ended with popsicles – all the kids line up for a Bomb Pop. (I’m surprised those haven’t been renamed yet – Tricolor Love Pole, maybe.) (Or maybe not.) Dropped her friend off, ran home, got lunch out the fridge, got back into the car. “We’re eating in the car! Like savages!” she said. We speed off to the next stop; I drop her off, swing over to a small mall to see if Pottery Barn has marked down its seasonal stuff. This is the magic point in the year when your new and exciting lifestyle is available at previously unheard-of prices. Quantities are limited, so hurry in. I saw lots of great deals – all of it was crap, alas. Bought some rocks to put in a pot. That’s what life is, sometimes; nothing more than getting rocks for a pot. (River-washed rocks, of course. Smooth rocks.) Then here.

He just left, after announcing that he teaches self-defense. Either that was one of the more capacious BS artists I have ever beheld, or greatness just passed by. I should run outside and see if the flowers bloom brighter where is shadow fell.

After I get Gnat it’s home to upload some stuff and get her into a leotard; off to the dance recital. Busy day.

Update: remember my fascinating tale of website construction? I could make rollovers in GoLive 8, but could only build links that called up a new page in another frame in GoLive 6. So I did all the rollovers in 8 then did the links in 6. Opened the page in a browser: the rollovers no longer linked. Opened the page in 8, saved in 8. Now the rollovers worked, and the links opened in the same frame. Had to add the requisite code by hand. Joy. And by now, of course, I’m dead sick of the page and everything about it. By the time v. 10 comes out I will probably want to remake the entire site as a series of gray pages with blue links and make it an homage to 1996.

Update the second: Gnat’s dance recital was wonderful. Since the recital was preceded by 45 minutes of class and practice, I went to my car, turned on the AC (it was, and is, 93 degrees) and read the new Dalrymple book. Less anecodotal and episodic than the previous book. After half an hour I went in to shoot the recital; then I ran off to get supper, did the Hewitt show, walked the dog, worked on the site, finished the Diner, came downstairs to the laptop to sketch the next column (due tomorrow morning) and write . . . this. And now the week is done.

But even though it’s the end of the day I can’t shake the nightmare I had last night. It was bad. We were staying at a resort that was periodically terrorized by some sort of scaly lupine beast; I had been there once before during such an attack, and remembered well hiding in a room, listening to the screams, the chuffing sounds of the beast, the rending of flesh. Why I had gone back I don’t know – probably decent room rates for the peak of the season – and when I heard that there was an 60 percent chance of scattered monster that night, I decided to leave. “Oh, because of the monster?” someone said sarcastically.

I was rather confused. Well – yes, because of the monster.

This seems to be a symbol for much of modern life. Well, yes, because of the monster. That’s enough for you, but not for others. Because we all have different monsters, I guess. For the moment.

Perm link: here.

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