Life, Mortality, and Family Hobbies

My father's mortality appeared to me for the first time last week. He had a cold, which by itself, isn't a concern, but it coincided with a gout flare-up. Every motion was painful for him, making it impossible for him to do even simple tasks. And because of the cold, he couldn't treat the gout right away, so he was limited to pretty much just sitting there in pain.

Battling both afflictions at the same time showed me just how frail a human life, particularly my father's, is. And for the first time, my dad looked very much frail.

I had brought him persimmons to dry; one of dad's hobbies is making hoshigaki, persimmons dried by peeling and hanging from their stems and massaged every few days. At the moment, this particular hobby isn't possible for him.

So just for my dad, last night I peeled several persimmons, tied strings around the stems, and hung them from the kitchen window. 


Old Home Day

While pruning dead material from the Meyer lemon trees in my front garden yesterday, I heard a little voice: "hello?" Thinking it was someone next door, I kept hacking away at the dead branches, and then: "excuse me, hello!"

Climbing down from the planters, I saw a man with a backpack in my driveway. My first thought was "Oh no, I've been caught outside my house by a Watch Tower pusher!" but then "nah, must be trying to sell me something."

As I prepared to let Piglette rush the fence at him, he smiled and said something between Piglette's barking that sounded like "I live next door."

"Oh, you live with Dwayne & Maria?" 

"No, before!"

"Oh, the blue house?"

"Um, no, I mean I used to live in the house before."

Finally, the light switched on. "Oh, Andre!"


Ah, that's right, Andre was one of his (Armin's) dogs. Armin's grandmother (or maybe great grandmother) lived next door to my grandparents from the beginning, and he came to live with her when he was a toddler. He and I used to talk over the fence, and I'd bring treats for his dogs. His family moved away about ten years ago, after his grandmother passed away.

Armin told me he'd tried to write a few times, but didn't know the exact address (or my full name), so his letters never got to me. He'd also stopped by the house when he'd been in the neighborhood, but this was the first time I'd been around. It's not every day that a kid tries to keep in contact with the crazy old lady who used to live next door, and I was touched that this kid (who, granted, is now an adult in his 30's) did.