Her husband is a big barrel-chested fellow who I occasionally see walking barefooted into town over the sharp rocks and busted glass that accumulates along the country road. Maybe he doesn’t have enough good sense to wear shoes. Other than that, I know very little about the people. They just seem closed up, which does not concern me. They’ve been quiet and unobtrusive all these years. Well, sometimes I sniff pot coming from their house.
My builder will go through all the hoops with the county officials for me to get this remodel permitted. I would like to submit a bill to my neighbors for the added expense, several thousand dollars, but that probably wouldn’t fly. If the remodel were not a living space for my daughter who is returning from Hawaii I would not have bothered building it.
In this county, the cost of real estate, whether buying or renting, is way out of line with the salaries of the jobs available. The formula from when I was young was that about twenty-five percent of a household salary should go toward a home mortgage. At that rate the average household in this county would need an annual income of perhaps two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to buy a modest home. Children of the people from my generation have had to move away because they cannot afford to live in the town in which they were born and raised.
My sister tells me of a story in the paper about a woman who is trying to find a home for her 67-year old uncle who lives under freeway bridges. A roof over my head is something for which I am grateful. The housing situation seems to be quite difficult in other parts of the country as well.
On another note, I have been studying some traditional American folk songs, with the idea of playing them on my ukulele. The chord structure of many of the songs is quite simple and easy to learn, which is what I need since I have no musical background. The lyrics to some of these old-time songs are also quite interesting. My father’s side of the family was from the Missouri Ozarks, so I grew up with a heavy exposure to country singers like Hank Snow, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams. A lot of their performances can be found on youtube. The sentiment of many of these tunes tells a story of a time so different from today. The following, for example, is a curiously sad song titled “Tommy’s Doll”, written by Ernest Tubb. I don’t remember hearing this one in my childhood, but I remember family members raving about many of his songs.