Thursday, January 27, 2011


Some of you have asked, "Who is Virginia?"

She's been called an alter ego, a muse, a figment, the female James, but never a Nazi or socialist.  Her time for name-calling may be on its way since her recorded life has been accused of lacking the trauma of reality.  Jimmy -- the fellow wearing the orange vest, who shouldn't be carrying a gun because he's a felon -- maybe it's in his vocabulary.  Or Phil, the law school graduate, who stalked her from Georgia.  There's plenty of time to grow a few villains.  And her skin, so Virgin-ia, invites redheaded passion.

Speaking of guns and orange vests, on our 4-mile walk this afternoon we spotted a sentry at the end of a neighbor's lane, close to the sign that says "No strangers."  In any other neighborhood we've lived in, we'd have called it creepy, but here it was normal.

As we drew closer our guess proved right.  It was Jim, out checking his traps, carrying his "over and under" Baikal double-barrel shotgun/rifle.  He opened the Russian gun to illustrate its dual purpose, handy for deer or coyotes as well as birds.  He's always teaching us something, this man with a solar-operated dog feeder, a BB recycler (shoot at the target and the BBs roll down a chute for re-use), an elevator that carries firewood from his garage to his living room, an outdoor shower heated by a few hundred feet of rolled black garden hose, and a house he built himself using many materials (including windows, doors and shake shingles) collected from construction site dumpsters.

We met him about 12 years ago in the James River.  I mean that literally.  While we were fishing, up from underwater swam Jim and three kids, all snorkeled and flippered.

"I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?"

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