There’s a clock way up on the kitchen wall in Rene’s cabin that hasn’t worked for all the years I’ve seen it there. It was a nice a copper frying pan but now it’s stuck at 3:19. The clock is above a crowded row of yellow and avocado-hued small electric appliances, several versions of each. There are mixers, popcorn and ice cream makers, deep fryers, waffle irons and coffee machines. It sounds cooler than it looks.
Rene bought another popcorn maker at a garage sale this summer. I was surprised and pointed out that she had others but she said she couldn’t reach those.
It’s getting bad, her place. The water has gotten to the second floor. The roof leaks all around the chimney and if you poke your head into the attic you can see the sky clear through in quite a few places. There’s bats, squirrels and mice again because that poor guy that went up there last summer pulled out a lot of little dead things but nobody sealed-up the holes. The roofing estimates were so high she got discouraged. She gets vague or changes the subject when it comes up, like when you’re sitting in the living room and a bat flies by.
Her father built it as a summer cabin and never quite finished. He just kept building and filling it up. When he died it was a construction zone full of military salvage. It’s taken his daughters over ten years to clear it away. It isn’t looking better the more of it you can see.
It’s a funny looking house. Big and green, hulking in tall pines. A truncated corner porch makes it look uneven - like it has one raised eyebrow. At some point they found it was built across a lot line. The guy next door pointed it out. He told Rene’s father, a huge quiet man, how there should be an easement and a set-back here and here, using his foot to draw lines in the dirt. Rene's father didn't say anything and he didn't ever do any paperwork. He just cut off a corner of the building. It didn’t fix the problem but it shut that neighbor up after he watched him attacking his own house with a chainsaw.