Walk Like a Robin: An Innkeeper’s Journal

China Cabinet

JUNE 2015: A man from Maine left an invoice in his room for the restoration of a Carroll Thayer Berry painting. While resting my feet, I Google the artist. He is an American painter who grew up in Maine and whose artwork is emblematic of New England, the seacoast in particular. I wonder how much this painting is worth because the repair bill cost $485.

I unpack three of fifty boxes. My Portmeirion tableware is now in the pantry and it looks as good as it did in the corner hutch on River Road. We always refer to the house in New Hampshire where we lived for twenty two years as River Road. My husband the dump picker found the china hutch on the side of the road in Portsmouth. When we sold the house we got a hundred fifty dollars for it at the yard sale. It was definitely one of his better finds, along with the claw foot tub he found on a sidewalk in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Unlike the character in my first novel, The Reverse Commute, I never did get to take a bath in that tub.

Folding sheets, my mind wanders and once again I break protocol. We start bickering.

“How many times have we gone over this? You need to follow the procedure.”

“What procedure? It’s only sheets.”

While making the beds we have another sheet argument. It takes us three tries to find a King sheet. The closets were a disorganized mess when we got here and I thought I had it all straightened out but nothing was labeled and I mistook a few Kings for Queens. Just a few.

Rich snaps a flat sheet over the bed. I reach for my end when he realizes the top of the sheet is at the bottom of the bed. He grabs it with an impatient, aggravated attitude. I ignore him. Apparently making beds is his least favorite chore.

The Inn is empty tonight. No breakfast tomorrow so we will be sleeping in.

I wake up feeling great. The best I’ve felt since my untimely meeting with a pothole. I was hoping for good news at my doctor’s appointment but Vinnie, the very handsome physician’s assistant, told me I had to wear the boot.

“Or would you rather be in a cast?“ he asked.

I opted for the boot. Defeated, I limped and clomped my way out of the office. Vinnie told me I have at least four more weeks of this misery.

Pulling into the driveway at the Inn, I am laid low by the thought of all the stairs. I was getting around so much better without the damn boot. I take it off, drop onto the couch, and ice my aching feet.

My daughter in Denver sends a text asking for some cash for essential things she needs such as Trader Joe’s facial cleanser. She is afraid she won’t find these things out here in the wilderness when she joins us for the summer, and she is right. I send her fifty dollars on my phone through Square Cash and receive a message asking to verify the transaction with the three digit number on the back of my debit card.

My pocketbook with the debit card is back in the kitchen, up three steps. The journey there seems to me like a trip across the Mojave. Rich has gone up to the second floor to shower. I just asked him for my cell phone and my laptop. My cell phone battery is on red. My laptop is at five percent. After I finish this financial transaction, I want to read the Kindle on my MAC and drift off to sleep. I feel like crying.

Rich checks our guests in. A man’s flight from Houston was delayed which caused a chain reaction so he won’t be here until eight. When he arrives Rich upgrades him to a larger room and gives him info for Mario’s Tuscany Grille, the only restaurant open until ten. I am exhausted and laid low by the day’s set back. The boot is kicking my ass.

The next day I am at the office desk, a bookkeeper once again. I need to balance five months worth of bank statements. Listening to Gregory Alan Isakov on Pandora I am reminded of Sam and Elizabeth in my third novel, Life Is All This.

That season came in quiet with the rain
Loving you was just like Raising Cain
It was strong and bound for glory
And cursed with a thousand stories

Like Sam and Elizabeth’s story, I think most marriages are cursed and blessed with a thousand stories.

In the afternoon we once again retire to our screened-in porch to veg out. We are exhausted. Robins skip across the yard eating worms, taking three or four hops, then stopping to lift their head, stretch their neck, look around, then hop, hop, hop, they start their dance all over again. I point this out to Rich.

“That’s what you need to do from now on. Walk like a robin, always on the lookout for trouble.”

I agree. From now I will walk like a robin.

Norfolk Porch


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