Saturday, July 30, 2016

After Midnight Moonrise

I'll begin with the 3 pothead brothers who were working on my old roof and inherited my sons Trailmate recliner tricycle.  I did not like them coming over the last several weeks begging Koala for money to buy pot, insisting that she treat them to beer.  She was drinking and smoking after work instead of resting, and I knew she had a lot of worries about her daughter in Mexico.  I became visibly uptight when I discovered all 3 of them on the roof with her.

The previous week she had gotten up there to repair a leak that returned in her room during the big rain.  The whole roof was rotten she said.  She was going to replace it a section at a time.   Ugh.  So we went to the building supply store and ordered a pallet of shingles, nails, and roofing paper. 

Yes, I thought, Mars is marching forward again toward its meeting with Saturn.  I swung between gratitude and worry.  Her way of working was not jiving with what I got from the supply sales people.  How long would it take for possible problems to manifest?  Would the wood be rotting before we realized there should have been new paper under those shingles instead of leaving the old?

The materials were to be delivered the day we ordered them, but they had not set a time.  She had the day off and wanted to remove shingles but waited because of the possibility of rain.  The brothers showed up and she had them doing yard work.  The oldest had cut half the Irises and the decorative vines around the mailbox and beside the front stoop 3 weeks earlier.  It took me awhile to figure it out.  The yard seemed different.  "Hmm.  America has never cut the Irises before.  I wonder what happened to the mailbox plant?  Did she not like the plant beside the stoop?" 

The next week when we were both out in the front she asked if I noticed what had been cut and gave me the back story.  The 18 year old kept begging for $10 to buy pot.  "You still haven't paid me the money I loaned you last week!"  And she put him to work with the weed eater.  From the looks of the yard he really enjoyed using that power tool.  The day after I found out what happened to all the plants, America was at work and I was home resting.  There was a soft knock on the door.  Plant Eater wondered if I could loan him $10.  We had a little conversation.  I learned his name.  I told him I would not give him money.  I told him America was a woman who had learned a lot in life and if he treated her with respect she would be a good friend.  "Ohh!  I treat him with lots of respect.  Total respect!"  All in Spanish.  I corrected him on the pronoun.  "Es ella.  No es el.  Ella es una mujer."  He knew.  They all know she is a woman. And they all refer to her with the pronoun for males.  "Yo se!  Yo se ella es mujer!  Y la trato con todo respeto!"

"Good.  I'm not giving you any money."

"Ok.  But my mom really needs it for medicine,"  he said amiably and walked off.

I learned in that conversation how old he was and why he wasn't working.  He was in the middle of a court case trying to get disability coverage from a roofing accident when he was 16.  His eye was messed up and his hand.

These were the impressions coloring my thoughts as I wondered about this roofing project and noticed lots of stomping around over my head, and voices.  There was more than one pair of feet up there.  Soon there was a soft knock on the front door.  It was the oldest brother.  Though he doesn't speak English I was beginning to realize that the two younger brothers do..  "Koala says she needs un martillo," he seemed to be telling me America wanted the hammer.  She is banging away up there yet still I'm not putting the puzzle together.  I search inside and out, but cannot find it.  I go to the back and holler up to her, "no lo encuentro!"

That's ok she says, she'll come down and find it.   And I climb the ladder to confirm what she is saying, my Spanish sucks and I'm never sure what's going on, and see the bros on the roof.  The youngest is 13.   That's when my inner pendulum reversed and built new momentum from gratitude toward worry. 

Only two hours earlier, before the arrival of the delivery guy with the long platform tracter trailer truck and the fork lift on the back to lift and deposit the pallet of shingles, I was so proud of myself.  I knew better and told myself to chill.  The Brother without English had the weed whacker again.  He was all over the yard like an energizer bracero and I felt happy for him and America, until I noticed he wasn't wearing sun glasses.  America was trimming a bush.  "Why isn't he wearing eye protection?"

"I told him to and he wouldn't listen," she said.

I hollered over the fence.  "Hey!"  He turned it down and looked up.  Happy young man.  "Que?!" 

"You do not work here without eye protection.  Absolutely not.!"

As I turned to go back inside I noticed America smiling.

I call that the pendulum swing toward self delusion.  Oh, how sure I was that things were coming under control.  He headed back to the garage and got the glasses.  It was 11am July 22.  The Moon was in the Aries dodec of Pisces but it was passing through the 6th house of service.

It was 12:00 and the Moon was in the 5th house of children when I climbed the ladder and realized the scary truth.  I felt like one of the parents in "Geek Love" whose carny offspring were taking the show to a whole new level.

"It's ok," they kept repeating as I told them they must not be on the roof.  During the exchange I was aware they were repeating the lines of the script Mexicans use with safety obsessed gringos.  "It's ok," go back to your computer.  They were not even looking at each other but I knew they were in league.  That America had already told them not to worry.  How many times did I watch my brother tell my mom he was taking out the trash and it stayed right there in the kitchen.  "I'm doing it!" he would yell in an insulted tone.  If she would only quit bugging him about it he could quit watching the show on tv and get it done.  She was such a pain.   But his patience was exemplary.

         **         *         *         *         *         *         *         *       

The roof is finished thanks to America's determination.  I think once she got up there and started the job she was seized with a strong urge to get it over with, and the kids just kept pestering her for money or to buy them beer.  I took the 13 year old with me to buy Subway late that 1st afternoon and asked him about his brother.

He was born here but since his mom couldn't find a good baysitter while she worked she sent him to live with family in
Mexico.  He came  back north when he was 16, ran away from home, got a job roofing, fell off a 4 story roof and was in a coma.  Now they are waiting to resolve the court case.

When they came back the next day I texted my son and asked if they could have the old Trailmate.  It has been in a pile of bike parts in the corner of the garage for years and I wasn't sure what it would take to get it going again, but the oldest boy had asked America if they could buy it.  "Take it," he texted back, releasing it from the sooty corner of the garage.  

Thursday July 28, almost a week after America started on the roof, i was finishing up a big house at about 6:30pm when I got a call from Nurse G.  The AC was out and she needed me to have Mr. Lyrica over to spend the night.  America had been working out of town all week, so things had calmed down again and it was a wonderful little slumber party.  His wife took him out to lunch the next day with their 2 children and we all enjoyed a short visit.  We cooked a nice dinner and had a quiet meal together, just the two of us, and I took  him home to his nice cool townhouse at 8:30.

That Friday night I felt really relaxed.  Mixed in with all the worry about boys falling off my roof and future leaks, there were the joys of the unexpected visit with Mr. Lyrica and seeing the underaged potheads riding around on the resurrected Trailmate.  They had pulled it up to the neighborhood gas station and filled all 3 flat  tires with air.  To my amazement they all held up.  The chain kept coming off the sprocket but they quickly figured out how to finagle it back on and were all over the neighborhood.  

It is true that within 48 hours of getting the tires inflated both were flat and had been discarded.  When I asked if they wanted to wait till we could get a new tube, they waved me off, "It's ok!" and rode down the gravel driveway and over to the park.  
I hated to see the plastic rims getting chewed up but they sure looked happy flying around at ground level on that yellow contraption.  

The oldest boy did knock on the door one afternnon asking for $10.  He said the guy at the tire place up the street was going to fix it.  Nope.  No money from Donya Maria.  Once again he rode off happily on the chewed up plastic rims. 

Then, Friday night, after dropping off Mr. Lyrica i headed over to the park to get a look at Mars coming to meet Acrab.  In a month Mars will meet Saturn but first it will pass the distant star Acrab situated right along the ecliptic.  For more than a month Mars has been more than 4 fingers west of Acrab, and i wanted to see if we were down to 3 yet.  

There was a car parked over there, but i had been so worn out, or it had been so cloudy, i had not seen the sky for several nights.  i kept right on my path, oilcloth mat under my arm to spread over the damp night grass and binoculars around my neck.  my cats were circling my legs.  they always come over  to protect me.

I heard a man's voice come from the direction of the car.  "aright now."  It was friendly enough, so i felt ok.  I said a quiet "hey" back.  Next thing i know they're starting the car and backing up.  i looked down at my feet to make sure the cats were getting out of the way.   

This happens a lot.  Folks are parked over there at night trying to have a moment of privacy and MP the stargazer comes along and breaks up the party. Sometimes i wait till the car is gone before i go over there.  Well, last Friday night, it wasn't too late, or it didn't seem like it after the little nap i had taken when i got home from dropping off my friend, the guy in the car rolled down his window and started a conversation.  

Or maybe i did.  he just asked if i was ok, then said "oh!  you're lookin at the sky!" when he saw the binoculars.  and not for the first time, i took advantage of a fresh audience.  i pointed to 
Cygnus way over head and told him the story of the boy who kept diving into the river looking for his drowned friend.  the gods turned him into a swan or cygnus.  Nobody knows this i said, we're all lookin at clocks and calendars instead of the sky, but the ancients looked at the sky to tell time.  that story was to help remember that when they saw that constellation over head they were diving down to face the bottom of the galaxy. 

he got all excited.  asked about the north star and if this all had anything to do with the seasons.  so i explained about Cancer the Crab and Capricorn the goat.   "Wow!  Do you know anything about ...?" and i think he asked about the pyramids.  "ooh.  i don't know," i said.  "They are translating so many things in the last 50 years that nobody understood back when everyone thought the Greeks and the Romans knew everything."

and then he started telling the story of Horus and Osiris getting chopped up and his sister collecting the pieces and wrapping him in her dreadlocks!!  i had never heard about the dreadlocks and that being a reference to mummification.  wow.  we were both so excited.  his girlfriend never said a word.  we must have talked for at least 10 or 15 minutes.  he kept saying "you should read about that.  it will change your life."  and i wanted to say i have and it has.  but i started feeling like i was crashing their party.  but for once it was not just me telling what i had discovered.  he was just as eager.  next he was talking about how he gets in trouble and loses friends for what he's about to say.  and he talks about the bible not being written in 
Hebrew.  "it was written in Greek and it was about 
Egyptian teachings."  and i said "the gnostic gospels!"  i never thought of the new testament that way.

we were both rolling over each other with things we wanted to talk about but i was getting really embarrassed about not talking to his girlfriend.  i was trying to think how to excuse myself and the guy said "what's your name?"  Mary 
Pat.  i live over there.  and i pointed to my house.  "you don't get scared out here?" he asked.  well i do.  but im desperate to see the stars and my cats protect me.  during our conversation he had remarked about a white truck that he said kept passing by.  "Well I'm officer __ and this is officer ___"  i did not even catch their names.  "You're fuckin with me!" i said.  "now im gonna feel safe out here and do something stupid!"  he waved goodbye and drove away.

it was 1:19am when i went in and did a chart.  so i guess that conversation started around 1am.  i went back out and watched the old crescent rise.  i looked through my binoculars at so many stars.  it was a beautiful night for it, even in the heart of the city.

Monday morn America's brother came over with his truck and took 3 loads of shingles to the dump.   The brother without English helped him.   his hand was still hurting from a bad scrape he'd gotten when he punched his mom Saturday night.  
They were having some kind of party.  i had noticed the music
Saturday afternoon and wondered who was getting ready for a party.  apparently he had been drinking and she was telling him not to and he punched her and fell down and scraped the palm of his hand.  he was sullen most of Sunday sitting in the front yard hollering "Buey!" to America as she pounded away on the roof.

they don't pronounce the b.  it is 'whey' like the water left from making cottage cheese,  but more forceful.  it means bull or ox and is like "Dude!" or "ese!"  i guess it's like the Mexican cowboy version of 'ese.

when i asked about the sore spot he said something about his jefa, and his little brothers jumped in and said no "it wasn't her fault! she was telling him not to drink cause he's supposed to get a blood test tomorrow."