The day before I was to leave for Mexico for my house sitting gig, the owner wrote me and said that his solar batteries have begun to not hold a charge but it’s had enough power to raise the water to the Tinaco, the container on the roof that gives pressure to the house. He believes that if he gets on the grid it will only cost him $7 a month for electricity, which is probably true. He eats mostly nuts, mangos and avocado so he doesn’t even plug his mini-fridge in. His father owns a gallery in town and that’s where he does most of his work and draws most of his power.
He lives in a poor area outside of gentrified San Miguel de Allende where about half of his neighbors don’t have electricity. To get on the grid he had to get permission from his uphill neighbor because a power line pole had to be planted on his property. He told me that switching from his perfectly fine solar panel to the grid SHOULD be done about the middle of my stay. That was a deal breaker for me. He is so far gone in mediation land that he thinks getting the main utility to his home installed is “a very SLIGHT problem” and now I’ve ruined his vacation plans. Had he told me a month ago I might have worked something out with him, he did offer to give me some money. His car was stollen and now he has a scooter that he keeps inside that he worries will be stollen when he leaves. The second floor of his house is dedicated to a pole table which he broadcasts to his neighbors with a wall of windows. It apparently is safe.
So now my plans have changed. I’m thinking about spending some time in Florida and painting on the East coast to grab what’s left of the Fall weather and then going home for the holidays. In January and February I think I’m going to stay in a Hostel in Mexico City. I feel bad that I’ve burned another bridge, but if my recent past is any indication, the more bridges I burn, the easier it is to find hospitable islands.
From “Why does the World Exist?: An Existential detective story.”
“Also, the laws amount to a funny way of saying, ‘Nothing equals something” Updike said, bursting into laughter. “QED! One opinion I’ve encountered is that, since getting from nothing to something involves time, and time didn’t exist before there was something, the whole question is a meaningless one that we should stop asking ourselves. It’s beyond our intellectual limits as a species. Put yourself into the position of a dog. A dog is responsive, shows intuition, looks at us with eyes behind which there is intelligence of a sort, and yet a dog must not understand most of the things it sees people doing. It must have no idea how they invented, say, the internal-combustion engine. So maybe what we need to do is imagine that we’re dogs and that there are realms that go beyond our understanding. I’m not sure I buy that view, but it is a way of saying that the mystery of being is a permanent mystery. – John Updike
I sold my second house portrait in the twin cities yesterday. At this rate, I will be homeless within a month. I’ve started a part time job delivering news papers to people up the Mississippi, but my minivan is starting to misbehave and since people will not walk to the newspaper tube under their mailbox, I have to run the paper up to the door. It’s very hard on my car, a catch 22. People demanding that they not walk to the edge of their property, makes me hate those lazy home owners. I’m going to try to use my skateboard for some of the route this weekend so my car doesn’t get too hot…. how old am I again??? I am grateful for their 50 cents. So that’s good news.
Even better news is that I’ve changed my approach to acquiring house portraits and it seems to be working. Instead of walking dozens of miles putting postcards in the mail slots of the homes I like, risking being fined for breaking federal law, I’m knocking on the doors ready to annoy people with face to face solicitation. I have tricky wording backing me. I got the job from the first doors I knocked on in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The resident in Saint Paul asked me why I knocked knocked on his door. I didn’t want to tell him it was because there was an eight, a zero and a one in his address for fear of appearing crazy, so I told him that I liked the way his house fit in the composition, which is generally true, even this time when I was also playing with numbers. I believe he thought it was weird that I asked him about a house portrait because he actually collects plein air work. Yes, it is weird, and he has no idea how weird.
This spring has been a turbulent one, starting with a 2 day, 1000 mile drive through 20 declared flood disaster zones for my dream minivan, which of course sold 2 hours before I arrived. My old car that I drove there, Fire Rabbit Quest, was about to literally fall apart, so I had to do something. Amazingly they had a minivan there that would work for me, but it was $500 more than I was expecting to pay, was two years older and had rust. It is a low mileage oddball. What could I do? So I drained my bank account to $0, less the gas money it took to drive to my family’s home in PA. The dealer was kind enough to let me borrow his Mexicans for an hour. They helped me remove the back seats in the new van and remove the safe from Fire Rabbit, something I was actually expecting to have to replace. The new car is an American breed, god forbid, and has a great name for what it is to me, The Estate.
It took several weeks to pimp it out to its maximum potential. I asked my father, who was an electrician and very proud of it, how I could install a second deep cycle battery to charge my electronics and run a small fan, isolated from the starting battery but charged from the alternator. He said it would be very easy, told be what to do, so I bought the relatively expensive battery and installed it. A week later my battery light came on. My father said that I had the most difficult problem to find, instilling a terror in me that I had bought a lemon and would shortly be a slave to the kitchen and apartment “living”. A few days later there was an emergency and I had to take my mom’s dog to the hospital. My Estate died in near my fathers house. He was kind enough to jump me and escort me and Rita to the vet. The next day he said that it was my starting battery, the one the Mexicans helped me swap out and that if it wasn’t the battery that was causing the problem that he would foot the bill, the again rather large sum for me. The battery light stayed on and my stress shot through the roof. Read more