Thursday, October 22, 2009

Setting up house with Dr. John in Duluth.

OK. So I showed up in Duluth 3 days before classes started at the
University of Minnesota. The U. sits on the flat area at the top of the
hill above Lake Superior and the old neighborhoods filter down the slope
toward the lake (which, by the way, holds 10% of the world's surface
fresh water - just f'in huge!) You can't see the lake at the U but once
you start going down the hill, you have a view of the Duluth harbor.
You don't get an appreciation of the vastness of the "inland freshwater
sea" until you go up the north shore a ways towards Canada. Yet still,
it is a pretty picture. I was driving on the streets that cut across
the slope when I saw a "For Rent" sign in the front yard of a three
story Victorian home with a slate roof and steep architectural angles.
I parked and walked up the cracked sidewalks to the steps leading to the
front door. I noticed the front door was wide open and so I just walked
into the foyer. The huge door into the living space was
also wide open. Bold, dark wood floors and pillars, 10 foot ceilings.
I could feel the energy of the open space. I walked up the four-foot
wide stairs to the second floor where a guy was playing drums in his
room. I knocked on the door and introduced myself.
"So I guess you live here?"
"Are you the landlord?"
"How much rent do you pay?"
"Does that include utilities?"
"Where can I see the landlord?"
"Well, he is actually on his way here at this exact moment."
And so I moved in that night and slept on the couch in the living room.
Glen, the landlord, had told me that the house was built in 1903. There
was a wall separating a second set of narrow stairs that went into the
kitchen. Glen said that those were the servants' stairs. The only
problem with the house was the dust and clutter that others had left
behind. Former tenants had no appreciation for the grand eloquence that
they were living in. They probably had just become down-trodden cynical
beasts paying an over-bearing landlord, "the man".
I spent four hours boxing up shoes and coats in the foyer, washing and
organizing dishes in the cabinets, dusting, sweeping, throwing away
junk, and just generally making the place look like someone cared to
live there. I told Glenn about it later and he paid me 75 bucks.
I spend most of my time in the living room reading and doing homework by
lamp. I sit on the big front porch during the day when I have time. I
live at 2019 East 1st Street. I can walk to school in 25 minutes,
bicycle in 20 minutes, or take Duluth transit (free for U. students!)
one block from the house. When I ride my bicycle, I have to crank hard
up the hill but I fly like a bat out of hell on the ride home. On 19th
Street, half way up the hill, I found a cafe (Chester Creek Cafe/At
Sara's Table/?Market - it literally has 3 names) that serves locally
harvested organic veggies, or Lake Superior fish, or locally harvested
grass-fed beef in all its menu items. And 5 blocks towards downtown,
parallel to the shore, there is a Farmer's Market every Saturday.

need to buy apples at the market though. They are everywhere. Many
yards have apple trees and it was an abundant year for them. Just
harvest on the way home. Tres nombres Cafe (or would it be four now?)
serves fruit pies using major ingredients from the 'hood as well. I
snatched some grapes off a fence that were over-ripe just yesterday.
Which reminds me .... Someone needs to get the pecans in the empty lot
next to my house.