57. Reversed

57 smallWhile I was drawing this a man in a white SUV reversed into the driveway.
I had no idea where he went after parking because the car was partly obscured by a large tree.
About an hour later a man and a woman came out of the house and without even a glance, drove off.
How odd, I thought, such a lack of curiosity that you wouldn’t approach someone who was sitting opposite your house and drawing it.

Today’s podcast: Swindled- The Implants

53. Phone

53.phoneWhile I was drawing this a woman and a man, dressed in sports clothing, sunglasses and baseball caps, stopped in front of me.
‘Wow, that’s really…’, the man said, before I cut him off, pointing to my headphones waving my hand, and mouthing ‘I’m on the phone’.
‘Oh, okay.’ said the man as he and the woman both smiled and continued on their way and I went back to my phone where I was simultaneously talking to my friend Barb over in the Valley, and arguing with my girlfriend about dental floss via text.

Today’s podcast: The Daily- The Legal Vulnerability of Roe V Wade

23. Can I Help You?

21While I was drawing this a woman came out and stood in the driveway, hands on her hips, and stared at me for a few, maybe 20, seconds.
I wanted to wave to her, but the idea of her coming over to talk to me and me having to explain to her what I was doing: telling the same story about my hundred houses project, was more than I could bear, so I decided to keep my mouth shut.
Eventually she dropped her arms and turned and walked away, and I put my eardbuds* in and got to work.
About 20 minutes later, a man reversed down the driveway behind me in a black SUV, stopped just before the road and leaned his head out of the window and asked me a question.
‘Can I help you?’ he said, his face expressionless, his voice authoritarian, like a government official with a small amount of power but a big head.
‘No,’ I said to him, sitting there on the kerb on the edge of his land, ‘I’m just sitting here drawing the house across the road.’
Then I heard something I’d call a delighted squeal and a woman leaned forward from the passenger seat and smiled at me and gave me a little wave.
I returned the smile and wave, and then the man, who was wearing a black cowboy hat and hat a little goatee beard and spoke with some style of Southern accent, smiled and told me to have a nice day and finished his reversal out of the driveway and drove off down the road.
I sat there for a moment, watching them drive off and thought about him asking me if he could help me, when what he really meant (from a primal perspective) was why are you on my territory, stranger, and are you here to kill me and my breeder and steal my fire stick.

*Today’s podcast: Desert Island Discs- Kirsty Young with Annie Lennox

21. The Wife

19While I was drawing this, the man from the house behind where I was sitting came out to ask what I was doing.
‘Drawing,’ I told him, taking my earbuds* out and smiling up at him, ‘I go around the place drawing pictures.’
I asked him if he had an issue with me sitting in his gutter and he said no.
The man didn’t seem to have much more to say to me, so he didn’t say anything, just goodbye and went inside.
An hour or so later the man came outside again and called to a man who was arriving in a pickup truck.
‘I’ll move my car out of the driveway and you can put it in here.’ he said to the man in the pick up.
Then the man reversed his car out of the driveway all the way across the street and parked right in front of the house I was drawing.
I watched him for a minute or so, thinking he would drive forward, considering that he knew I there drawing the house.
But he didn’t.
Instead he got out of his car, locked it, and walked across the street toward me.
‘I’m going to have a bit of difficulty finishing my drawing now that you’ve parked your car there,’ I said, in a light-hearted jokey way, thinking that he would probably slap his head and say ‘Oops, sorry about that’ and trot back across the road to move his car.
But he didn’t.
Instead, he walked straight toward me, and as he passed he said- Sorry, I’ve got the electrician here and I didn’t plan on you being here this morning.’
I didn’t know what to say to that, so I just stared at the man’s car: a dark coloured SUV- type thing, which now obscured the house from the driveway to the start of the living room window.
After a few minutes I felt myself get angry, and I was just deciding that I would get my revenge by posting the man’s house and street number in this story, when a woman came out of the house with some keys in her hand and said, quietly and sweetly: ‘Would you like me to move my husband’s car?’
I smiled at her and said yes, and she crossed the street and reversed the car so that I had an almost full view of the house again.
Then the woman, who was wearing shorts and a grey tshirt with the word ‘Hawaii’ across the front, crossed the street again and began talking to me.
Firstly she apologised for her husband, and I told her I understood: that he was most likely stressed because he had an issue in the house as he had an electrician in.
Then she asked me where I was from and I told her I was Australian, but that I had lived in the UK for many years, and she told me that she had always wanted to go to Australia, but had never had the chance.
‘And I love your accent.’ she told me.
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Everybody does. I could get away with murder with this accent.
Then the woman told me how much she liked my drawing and asked me what medium it was.
‘Pastel.’ I said, and then I told her of my 100 house project and we talked for a while about drawing.
And then, when I asked if she drew, or painted she told me that she had once, but that now she didn’t have time for much as she was caring for her elderly mother who was very poorly.
‘I used to work as an Ayurvedic practitioner,’ she told me, ‘and alternative therapies, but I gave it up. Too much money and it became all about how much money we could get out of celebrity clients.’
Then she explained that she’d designed and planted the garden along the side of her house: a beautiful garden in well balanced muted tones that looked like it was planted for maximum water efficiency.
‘Are you a garden designer?’ I asked the woman, whose pixie haircut I was coveting, ‘Is that your job?’
‘No,’ she said, ‘I used to work for a company that designs, but I had to give it up because of my mum.’
Then we talked for a while about doing lots of different kinds of work, and I explained to that I had tattooed briefly for a living, that I had once been a creative director, that I had shuffled wallpaper rolls in a hardware store, and that the job I was doing now I had no real qualifications for.
‘Thing about the USA that I’ve learned,’ I said, ‘is you really can be whatever you want to be. You could get a business card printed saying you were anything, apart from an astronaut or a neurosurgeon and people would throw money at you.’
The woman thought for a moment, and then laughed.
‘Actually,’ I say, ‘with my accent they’d probably hand me a scalpel.’

Today’s music: playlist I made on Spotify, featuring Supertramp, Bruce Springsteen,Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Loudon Wainright III, Amy Winehouse, Annie Lennox and AWOLNATION.

1. Tony

1While I was drawing this a woman driving a small teal SUV stopped in the middle of the road in front of me.
She had short ginger/blonde hair and a frown, and was waving her hand.
I paused the podcast* I was listening to and called out hi to her.
‘Have you seen a dog?’ she called out to me.
‘What kind? ‘I called back.
‘Small! White!’ she said, her tone high-pitched with dog-loss anxiety.
‘Nope, I haven’t seen a dog,’ I called back to her, ‘and I’m sure if there’d been a dog running around I’d have seen it.’
‘Yes,’ she called out, ‘so if you see him, his names on the collar, and the phone number.’
‘Okay,’ I called calmly, ‘I’ll look out for him.’
‘His name’s Tony!’ she called as she started to drive off.
After she’d gone I sat there for a few moments looking up and down the street, hoping to see Tony come trotting down a driveway, or out from behind a bush or under a parked car.

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*Today’s Podcast: Slow Burn- A podcast about Watergate