the thirteen people who came by today

a blue tractor with the bucket holding two apple baskets and a sled

As many of you know, I am cleaning out my mom’s house, aka the Magic Castle with my sister and sometimes Jim. What you may not know is just how many people this kind of thing involves. I’ve been here all day today and I think we spoke to thirteen people all of whom came by the house at some point today and were in a small way part of the process. Here’s a list.

– I woke up in the house and texted Kate who came over with coffee.
– While we were having coffee the septic inspector, Lonnie, showed up with the terrible news that the septic will not pass inspection. This was expected, it’s ancient, but still a hassle because you need the system inspected to sell it to anyone who wants to get a mortgage. And there’s nothing wrong with it, it works, but needs to pass nonetheless. Fixing it is lengthy and costly. Oh well.
– We decided to work out our frustrations by continuing to clean out the barn and while we were in there Bob came by. He was my mom’s carpenter and has built or fixed a lot of things around here. He had replaced some stair treads earlier in the week and gave us his opinion on fixing another iffy step on another staircase. When we first inherited this place, he fixed all the six-over-six windows that had cracked glass panes. Good man to know!
– Nancy came by with her grandkids in the car to pick up two old school desks that we’re donating to Boxboro’s old historic schoolhouse. Her car was full of grandkids so her husband showed up with his truck. Nancy also had a friend with her who was our elementary school janitor’s daughter.
– Shannon and Josh stopped by. They had lived in the apartment (this house is a two-family) and were running numbers to see if they could afford to buy this place (not exactly and they had some reasons to stay where they’re living in Littleton) but they had seen an old cedar chest in the barn that we said they could have, and came by to pick it up. Shannon had gone to school with Nancy’s friend (or her kids? I never know how old anyone is.)
– Jim arrived with burritos and we had lunch. (he is part of the clean-out crew so does not count for the purposes of this list)
– As we’re putting more stuff out on the FREE pile out front, two of the up-the-road neighbors showed up, Scott and his wife, and took all the apple baskets we’d left there, and one of the sleds. Said they’d use them for the holiday fair at the local church (the one Kate and I used to go to when we were kids). Tried to sell them on taking a 24′ apple picking ladder (we have one left!) and they may come back tomorrow for one.
– Jamie was a pal of my mom’s, and she helped him with a lot of things. He sometimes works on his truck in her driveway and stores a lot of stuff under the barn. He has some challenges and we were a little concerned about telling him we were selling the house, but he came by to move some stuff and we broke the news to him and it went okay.
– I’m still by the FREE pile and Ray walks by. He lives on Pine Hill Road (a few roads away) and doesn’t know us but vaguely knew our mom or some other older lady who lived at this house who he talked to once while walking by. He was full of random history bits, appreciated the house for a bit (there is a lot to love) and mentioned some story about the woman he spoke with telling him that this house had been a stop on the Underground Railroad which was news to me so very unlikely to be true.
– Last visitor of the day was Bill, our mom’s backyard neighbor who came by with his tractor to give us some plans his surveyor drew up. We’re giving him some of the wetlands in the backyard (our properties abut) so that he can preserve his view and in exchange he’s been helping us with various things like putting new gravel on the driveway and other TBD stuff. He’s paying all the costs but has been keeping us in the loop. It’s been a really nice relationship–he was also good friends with our mom–and we sent him home with two apple baskets and… another sled.

Tune in next week to hear about all the guys (so far only guys) who have been helping us with aspects of the actual clean-out!

hello from poxboro!

I’m at my sister’s house today, chilling out and preparing for attending a friend’s wedding tomorrow. My local thrift store was having a 90% off sale (not a typo) and so, since none of my fancy clothes fit me, I got a dress and shoes and a few shirts for Jim (if he wanted them) as well as a little purse-thing (all I have are messenger bags) another skirt and a light sweater, all for $6.19. It is hard to have to leave the 1950s sometimes….

Last time I was down here, I wanted to grab a gyro on my way in to town. I knew there was a pizza place that I liked but I couldn’t remember what it was called. A quick aside, when I grew up, Boxboro was sort of teeny. It didn’t have its own post office and you’d tell people where you were from and they’d say “Foxboro?” “No, Boxboro.” “Boxford?” “No!” People had yellow t-shirts made that said “Boxborough with a [picture of a bumblebee]”

Now the town is a little bigger and more people live here and more people have heard of it. The town has a post office and a website even if we can’t all agree on how to spell it. However, there are still problems. My default “How do I find this business?” option is to call Google 411. You say the business name and the city/state and not only will it look up the number (for free) it will connect you (for free). You can even just say a business type like “pizza” or “taxi” and it will give you the top listings. It uses voice recognition, no humans, and it works pretty much all the time. Except for Boxboro.

I called and said “Pizza. Boxboro Massachusetts.” It repeated what I said “Pizza. Foxboro Massachusetts. I’ll connect you, or say ‘start over'” “Start over.” I tried this a few times figuring this was just the voice recognition machine getting used to or possibly learning different voices. However, no matter how hard I stressed the B, it kept hearing F. I had some time to kill so I went through the entire alphabet of letters “Soxboro Massachusetts…. Start over… Toxboro Massachusetts… Start over…” Sometimes I’d get Foxboro, sometimes I’d get something else, never would I get the actual town. I finally just punted and asked for “Pizza. Acton Massachusetts.” And got Bravo Pizza in the top set of listings.

When I heard them say the name of the town in the listing, it sounded a lot like box-burr-OH which isn’t that far off so I’m not sure what the problem is. I’m not sure if this is something that I care about enough to start a whole “hey fix this!” campaign especially because I know right now it would likely be futile, but it’s just one more tiny ignominy about living in smalltown America while Big Tech makes awesome tools that only sort of work here.