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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07


So…we bought what I’m referring to as a river cottage.  There's a sign affixed to the outside that says "Rivah". It’s the fixiest fixer upper we’ve had which means we are not doing all of the work ourselves.  Some things were agreed to before the closing and we were given a credit that we basically, immediately handed over to the contractor who hasn’t yet begun. We got what I would characterize as a fair deal - meaning both the buyer and the seller thought they got screwed.

We went there today, me in my car and Andrea in her truck.  The ride is pretty - I like the last half hour of it best, when you take the bridge across the Rhappahanock and the water expands on both sides, the northern neck is just on the other side of the bridge.  I stopped at a country grocery store on the way, mainly because I had drunk too much coffee that morning. The store reminded me of a camp store.  It seemed suspended in time a bit and sold some strange meat and fish products.  Strange to me anyway - I wish I’d taken a photo of these offerings.  Next time.  The workers in the store moved slowly, in no hurry, on rural Virginia time.  As I neared the cottage, the already slow truck in front of me slowed more and I saw the flashing lights of a police car that had pulled someone over.  The truck pulled to the side and crept past and I did the same, mouth gaping open, then mouthing, “What happened?!” To Andrea, who looked just as surprised and a bit sheepish.

She called me and I stopped the car to answer as the cell service at the car is spotty at best.  I answered laughing because Andrea is the rule follower and it turns out she had been caught speeding as, it turns out, the speed limit changes 3 times within a short span.  She got off with a verbal warning.  I’m sure it was her earnest nature.  I imagine her blue eyes widening as she replied, “No.  I really don’t know why you pulled me over.”

Andrea made it the rest of the way to the cottage and we unloaded the stuff we had schlepped down.  The prior owner had left her “art” which we removed and promptly donated to the nearby resale shop that benefits the animal welfare league.  We found a kitchen drawer organizer there, as well as a book, and a replacement letter sign because ours had broken during a fall. Last weekend, we went to the same resale shop and scored a set of dinner and salad plates for the cottage - $8.  I’m on the hunt for bowls.

I scored a Facebook marketplace deal this past week - 2 kayaks, 2 life jackets, a helmet, and paddles.  Andrea asked me how I was bringing this home in my Subaru.  She had plans so I said I’d make it work.  Clearly, she has better foresight than I do so she drove me to get the goods in her truck.  This was a good move as I likely would have needed to make 2 trips and the pickup was over 20 minutes away.  Oops.  Anyway.  Let’s not lose sight of the bargain, people.  $300 for that haul.

After the “art” work had been removed, Andrea gave me a lesson in spackling.

“You’re not frosting a cake.” Andrea said.  Which is good because that seems less likely for me to do than spackling.

I cleaned and made a note to bring the step ladder next time to get the top shelves and cabinets in the kitchen.  It already smells cleaner.  It seems the prior owner wasn’t big on cleaning. Or keeping the cottage up.  Or having good taste in art.  We met the neighbor - interesting.  A small, pink bell on her keychain says, “Ring bell for sex.”

“Are you two sisters?” She asked us.

“Nope.  Not sisters.” I replied, telepathically telling her, “Think about this - it’s one bedroom.  One.”

“Huh. You look alike.” She said.  I was grateful she didn’t ask if I was Andrea’s mom - a question that’s been asked of me twice before.   I mean - what the actual fuck?!

Thankfully, Andrea and I both have a generous helping of gray hair now. So it seems less likely someone will think I’m her mom.  We get inside and Andrea hissed, “What do you think her story is?!” We have no way of knowing so we make up a story.  She made up That we’re sisters.  I wonder if she looks at her bell later and thinks, “Aw hell.”

While at the hairdresser yesterday, I bemoaned the short, white hairs that were pointing straight up atop my head.

“What’s the deal with these short ones?  Are the brittle and just break or what?” I ask.

“They’re new.” The hairdresser replies.  “They growing in where you have shed a hair.”

“What did you say?” I ask slowly. “Is that some depressing fact they told you in hair school?”

“Yep. I mean - think about it - it’s very unusual you would see a hair half brown, half white.”

“Fuck.” I mutter softly.

“Forget I said that.” She suggests.

“Are you kidding? Andrea has them too.  I’m telling her immediately.” I say.

What bullshit.  I mean - it makes sense but I have so many of them.

“Do not pull them out.” The hairdresser warns, adding, “If anything - flat iron them so they lie flat.”

Blah, blah.

After the lawn is mowed, we head to the dock where Andrea mutters about the goddamn fish stealing her worms off her hook.  It really is ballsy of them.  I used to think that the saying, “the fish are jumping!” Was just that - a saying.  But here, we are surrounded by jumping fish.  Andrea puts her hand in the water and says it smells strangely of chlorine and tastes salty.  The river is brackish - having mingled with another river and then, eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. Andrea spots a crab from our dock.  The water slowly rises as the tide comes in.  I sit and write this, sweating.  At least the humidity is miraculously low.  There have been a few days like this and they are amazing. I’m ready for fall.

I brought home decorative pumpkins, uncharacteristically early, as if willing fall to please come & give us a break from the humidity.

Next Saturday, we’ll be back with paint for the (one) bedroom, a step ladder and some additional

tools.  The internet will be installed then.  We’re not hauling furniture down as all the flooring will be replaced.  Most of its carpet now, a poor choice for a cottage on a river.

Andrea catches a small fish and I snap photos as if she’s just reeled in the big one.  She goes to release it with our brand new net and drops the fish and the net into the water together.  She manages to catch the net with her pole.  Two catches reeled in today.

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