Big Inca

To: The Boss

From: Bill

Date: January 22 

Management training? I didn’t know we had any.


All of the story continues by CLICKING HERE.

This could have been something Bill was encountering in the story.

Big Inca

To: Bill

From: The Boss

Date: January 19

Sometimes it all seems gray. Or gradations of gray. Even politics.

And then it all explodes in color, and differences count.

Sometimes that’s when you find out which politicians are there to move things along, and which ones just what a cut – in effect, impeding you.

As it is, you’re creating an attractive location. Even in the snow. Or maybe because of it.

Make sure our broker knows that.


For the full story, click here: BIG INCA.

This could have been something Bill was encountering in the story.

Big Inca

To: The Boss

From: Bill

Date: January 8 

Are you suggesting we turn our attention to consumer goods and marketing? I thought our operation was based on far more esoteric prospects, from technology to finance.

On a lighter note, Manny wants to do something by Phillip Glass as our first opera.


For a free copy of the big novel, CLICK HERE!

This could have been something Bill was encountering in the story.

Big Inca

To: The Readers

From: The Author

Date: January 1

Everyone gets the day off. I have no idea what they’re doing. If you think you know, fill us in. OK?

While we’re kicking back, though, I’m curious. Would any of you want to update this story by having Bill and his Boss and their colleagues text their exchanges? You know, using the shortcuts, LOL and the like? Or would that too soon be passe or even unintelligible? (My, how quickly the technology keeps changing! Remember, this was cutting edge stuff not all that long ago.)

Speaking of history. The top manager in the mill was called the company agent. Think it fits Bill? He’s an agent, after all — of an undercover sort. Nowadays, we’d prefer a loftier title — general manager, at the least. Maybe even executive director. Just what would you call Bill?

That said, hope you enjoy the day and have a fabulous new year. Just remember, though: Watch your step.

Holiday cheer …

Listing a few specifics of place

Lessons of the soil. Our clay.

The raised beds and asparagus patch.

Our berm.

Start with composting. Collecting all the bagged leaves each autumn, to compost. Two hundred, at times, stacked somewhere in the yard.

The heat, followed by red wigglers.

It’s a particular place, after all, in a specific region. I had never thought I’d view sprouting maples as weeds. I quickly recognize other invaders, especially the ground ivy. Soon, uprooting them becomes reflexive.

Six years into this, I realized our soil was improving. I’d pull up the weed maple sprouts, roots and all, easily. No need to find the pliers.

* * *

The outdoor room I called The Smoking Garden.

It’s panels of ferns. Lilacs.

The necessity of a brush pile.

Bird feeders.

Skunks.  Opossum.

Tiki torches.

* * *

The house across the street, once so right, now showing serious signs of neglect.

Our array of drip-line neighbors.

Also behind us, the dogs. And a kitchen renovation followed by another before we could do ours.

Old Ernie passing, opening way for the young Yuppie couple who quickly had four sons.

That is, within neighborhood.

Waiting for the brood to return from their mission in Bolivia.

Kodak 24 191

* * *

Look ahead. Work far from done. Our five-year plans. Our twenty.

My loft.

Downstairs bathroom. Stairway. Rerouted driveway.

Replacing the shed.

Side screened-in porch, with the hot tub.

Will it ever be done? Will one or both of the kids return, with children? Will we be, in the New England tradition, a multi-generation household? Or will my wife and I outgrow this, and abandon our asparagus patch?

All the money, rebuilding this house, how many times over?

* * *

Stacking two cords of firewood in little more than a day (with two more on the way)   – oak, maple, birch, this round. Its aroma after rain when I return past midnight.

Select squared-off pieces for erecting corners. What would you or I have to barter?

All the hard work of the old days already done: felled, transported out, cut, split, and delivered. Here, since the woodpile will be more a square than a row, demands extra care – sloping inward, expecting settling. The finished stack like a sculpture (do not touch). In the wood, touches of pink, yellow, burgundy in the end-grain (will weather to gray). Working a puzzle, the multiple ways each piece might fit, made solid, knowing movement will yet appear. The satisfaction, expecting the family to find comfort by winter fire. Gloves, my hands soft from the office, prone to splinters. My desire for everything in place, ready, functioning.

My practice, going to the far side of the dumped wood first.

What critters will be taking refuge here?

The energy factor (don’t ask).

But here we are, together again, with friends on the way. A home, after all.

Re: vision

Buying a house changes a man’s vision. More accurately, buying a property and its landscape changes that vision, with the house itself becoming the domain of his spouse. He will do what he can there, for her, in their wellbeing. In the process, he will perceive much that previously eluded his awareness.

Squirrels, of course, as they really are. Or the appearance of dampness in inappropriate places. Flaking paint or shingles. Many other signals for combat, as well, for the list is long.

In our case, a New Englander in walking distance of downtown in an old textiles mill city. (The particular design … purchased, unaware that a side lot we’ve come to call “the swamp” was included.) The impact of deferred maintenance … chimney relined, immediately, and then having the roof replaced, not with the standing-seam metal I’ve admired but rather a durable, affordable shingle the recommended roofer favored … the furnace boiler …

And then to the barn – a carriage house, actually, though that sounds pretentious.

Drip line. The crooked boundaries.

Jacking up on clay and roots. Drawing into the air, seemingly.

Working with Rick, a master carpenter and licensed electrician.

The monolith, a thick cement slab we had to remove from the back door when it came time to replace a rotting sill.

The kitchen renovation, long overdue.

Painting is the easy part, and even there I fail.

* * *

I remember his appalled expression when I voiced a thought about metal framing, rather than wood, which I now know will warp or settle. The uneven floors, the hurt look of a bed-and-breakfast owner when I mentioned his bathroom.

As Rick and the plumber both grin, “Old houses, you gotta love ‘em.”

Kodak 24 182

* * *

In the television episodes, I used to be appalled by their all-too-quick readiness to rip out walls or fixtures. Now I find myself cheering them on, while the money and work crews are available.

The amateur work we keep uncovering here.

Still, in a project involving framing or drywall, I find myself in awe at the various stages of construction. Stand in the empty room, pondering. Trying to envision, with some futility, how the next step will actually appear. Even when I’ve put all this to paper, drawn the lines and measurements, it holds mystery. There’s a great satisfaction, too, when the final result proves right.

New understanding of various eras emerges. The lack of closets and storage. How tight the space, in the utility room. All the shelves we’ve added (with all of our books expanding).

There had been a second stairway, up the back. Or was the bathroom a later addition? The one closet, blocking hallway light.

What was in the side yard, and what filled the swamp?

The questions, like weeds, keep growing.