Saturday, 26 July 2008

Day Seven - Friday, 27 June

Oklahoma City
In the morning I had an appointment to meet the woman from the property management company at my rental house. It is the house I grew up in that I inherited and never sold. I never set out to become a landlady. I’m not sure whether it’s a smart move or not, but it has been just easier to keep than to sell the house.
I went over to their office to pick up a copy of the bills they’d sent me over the last 2 years for a vast amount of work. The receptionist greeted me as though I were a celebrity of sorts, just because I live in England. She insisted on introducing me to each of the people in the various offices, gushing as we went. It was all rather amusing until I sat down in the reception area to look through the papers.
She was so excited about England that out of courtesy I asked if she had plans to visit. She did not. She was hesitant to travel in these troubled times. Her son is in Iraq, you know, and there are so many terrorists in London. I said I wasn’t aware there were so many terrorists in London, though there were some poor young men who were perhaps easily influenced. She thought I put that very well. Then she went on to talk about the fact that the ACLU was a communist organization. When I expressed surprise, she assured me this was true – it was on the Internet. I forget now what she said about the growth of the terrorist, anti-Christ regime that was attacking morality in America, but I decided to look over the paperwork in the car. This very nicely dressed, friendly lady had obviously forgotten to take her tablets. I was amazed she had a job that put in her contact with the clients.
Anyhow I drove over to the house, met the woman in charge of maintenance, Pat joined us shortly and we toured the house. I was really grateful that he took the time – and spent the gas money – to come down and do this, as I was wanting to assure myself that the work they said had be done actually had.
I thought I might be upset that it didn’t look like when Mom lived there, but I instead I was pleased with the way it looked. It was a much nicer house than when I lived there! The walls and carpet were a cream colour, the kitchen had new counters and cabinets and flooring. There were quite a few ceiling fans and all new mini-blinds. The tenant had nice furnishings and d├ęcor and a reasonable standard of housekeeping, and though she was one to find small things to report and demand repaired, this was after all bringing the state of the house back up from the dump that the last tenants left.
We found a few things that needed addressing, particularly the tree trimming that I’d paid for that hadn’t occurred, something I feel strongly about as it damages the roof which then needs replaced or mended.
(picture) Also, I felt a couple of the jobs inside the house could have been done better and asked that those contractors not be used on my house again. It was a very productive visit and well worth doing. I learned that the management company almost never checks the work of their contractors, as they simply don’t have sufficient staff to do so. I shall be giving an opinion to the owner of the company about this situation and possibly about his receptionist’s tablets.
From there Pat and I made our way over to Al and “Ruby”’s. Ruby is her middle name, but her first name, the one she uses, starts with a Z and is so unusual that you would find her easily on the internet. She worked full time until very recently at a call centre. She said customers would often ask her about her name and where it came from. She would need to steer the conversation back as her employer was unhappy about the digressions from the business of the call centre. Z is also cousin to Belmont and to Mom and is in her late 80’s. Al is her oldest son and she now lives with him, not far from Rita’s house.
For all that, they lived near by, the cousins have never spent time together, so it wasn’t just Mom who was out of touch with local family, though according to her letters to Daddy they were all in an out of each others' houses during the war. I saw Al at Rita’s funeral and before that I probably I never said more than half a dozen words to him in total. Al and his brothers spent time around Grandmother’s 4 teens occasionally when they were growing up, but although they all live in Oklahoma City, they don’t stay in touch. I guess that’s just how our family is. Pat pointed out that even the 4 people who were raised together all had different social groups when they were at school and went their separate ways as teenagers.
I was amazed to find that Z looked almost exactly as she did when I last saw her, at a BBQ at John’s house shortly after Grandmother’s death, nearly 20 years ago. She reminds me a lot of Mom, being about 5’4” and thin, with high cheekbones, but with a pointier chin. I thought she looked lovely, though she has been ill lately, having been diagnosed with cancer. In fact, I thought she looked great all things considered. She got out of bed and came to sit with us in the living room. Pat and Al had their own interests to talk about, but I managed to talk a little with Z about family history.
I knew that father, Atmer – also a very distinctive name - had been an electrical engineer. What I hadn't known was that he was responsible for the maintenance of the old Huckins Hotel. Z worked there as well for a while. Mom talked about the Huckins Hotel a lot; I think it was the place to go for an evening’s dinner and perhaps dancing. Grandma and Grandpa, her in-laws, had a nice screened back porch on their house on Pennsylvania; that porch had ceiling fans that had come from the old Huckins Hotel when it was torn down. Another thing I learned was that Z and her husband had lived two doors down from Mom and Daddy when they first built their house in The Village. We stayed for over an hour and I really enjoyed our visit, but I did worry about wearing Z out. Also, I was getting quite hungry.
Pat and I had lunch at Johnnie’s, just about my favourite restaurant in OKC. I always eat there when I’m in town; Rita and I went there often when I was younger. I enjoyed my time there with Pat. It was a good visit with Pat – not ‘Larry’ the actor / politician – just Pat. Anyone who has been around my Uncle will know just what I mean.
Later we went back to Jack’s and Pat headed home to Lamont. I made notes about what we’d seen at the house and made some salad to accompany the huge steaks Jack was going to grill on the BBQ outside. I’m pretty sure I ate 2 or 3 times as many calories that day as I should have, but then that’s what always happens when I go back home to Oklahoma.
Back on the Road…
There is no road book for this day as they stayed a second night there at the Grand Canyon. Everyone basically spent the next day independently (Jane & Chris), (Bob and Bill) and Simon exploring around the Grand Canyon rim, which is of course fairly awesome.

They met back up at the RV, but made a special trip back to the rim to watch the sunset. And so another day.

As always, a big thanks to Simon for his pictures at the Grand Canyon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done to Simon for stunning pictures!N