When our house guests arrived on Monday, Bella took out her cell phone and turned it off. "We're here," she said, "don't need this any more."
They did not bring a laptop. They did not check their mail 57 times a day. They did not get and have to answer any phone calls while we were on the beach. They have the right idea in so many ways.
They both live within biking distance to work. And they do. I live within biking distance and I drive. I blame it on all my heavy stuff (why do I have a laptop that weighs more than a desktop?), but really it just makes it tricky to stop for a coffee and muffin on the way.
They also buy mostly locally grown food. We are doing a little better in this respect. I mean, we have chickens. But the chicken feed we give them is probably imported from Thailand.
But here's the real puzzle. They have mentioned that their jobs are not, how shall I say this, lucrative. Child care is an issue because the babysitters in their area make a better hourly wage than one of them is pulling in. And yet I would classify them as affluent. They have a lovely home and (this is my real Affluence Barometer) they eat better than anyone else I know.
They take care of what they have, they buy quality instead of quantity and I imagine they are really good at keeping to a budget. Which is surprising given the cornucopia of house gifts they brought us (new Harry Potter!).
I love their house. She's an artist and her home has always been stunning. He's a literary sort, adding a level of interest to their bookshelves. Whenever I go there, I take a notepad so I can remember all the interesting-sounding titles. A few years ago I followed him around a bookstore as he rattled off up-and-coming authors I should read. My favorite turned out to be Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer, but there were lots of good calls.
They have a share in a local farm and get fresh vegetable deliveries weekly. They also get to go pick stuff when they want, so they always have fresh flowers around the house. I only have fresh flowers when I wait until after dark and harvest irises from the garden down the street. Okay, I don't really do that. But it's crossed my mind.
Anyway, tonight I was wishing Bella was still here because I just got home from They Might Be Giants - a band we both like a lot. I was close enough to the stage to confirm that both John and John have brown eyes. I sang all the songs I remembered of theirs from when I was in college, and watched all the people around me sing the rest of the songs. The people around me may still be in college.
They were all very nice, those They Might Be Giants fans. In fact, at the end when they sang "Istanbul, not Constantinople" and everyone was hot and sweaty and packed in like a commuter train, I noticed a smell. It was different from the smell of other band crowds. It was, in fact, the smell of soap.
Let it be known that They Might Be Giants fans are regular bathers. And for this I am very pleased. Even if the band didn't play Hippy Kitten.