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John Duke's Blog (82)

To sleep, perchance to dream

Mr. Seals called to find us still dreamily asleep on Saturday morning, wanting to meet us at the cabin to discuss windows. He also was hoping to get paid. He ribbed us about still being in bed at 8:30 a.m., while he was already working on his morning coffee. I have to hand it to him. Mr. Seals is always punctual on payday.


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Added by John Duke on May 10, 2011 at 12:36am — No Comments

Open door policy

We love having visitors come through the door of the cabin. We see progress as slow and incremental because we live with it daily. The effect on others -- some of whom remember its original state -- is more profound. I can see it myself when I look over past photos.


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Added by John Duke on May 2, 2011 at 11:48pm — No Comments

Birds and bees and buds in the leaves

There is a flock of fat, overfed geese that putter around the pond we ride past on the way to the gym. Insistent ringing of the bikes' bells never moves them from the path, where they deposit large piles of goop. One day I think one will attack me as I ride by, just to assert its authority. Yesterday the bell got the attention instead of the great blue heron that was resting…


Added by John Duke on April 24, 2011 at 11:38pm — No Comments

Young hearts of gold

Neil Young was in Richmond this weekend for a show. He was spotted at Plan 9 in Carytown pawing through the vinyl bins. It does sort of make you wonder what tunes Neil Young could find in a record store that he doesn't already own. It also makes you wonder why an aging hippie just won't let rock and roll die. Maybe it is a bit like wanting to live in an old log cabin. It only…


Added by John Duke on April 20, 2011 at 1:11am — No Comments

Bamboo theology

"You are an optimist," Richard called out, as he was getting into his car. "You mean a foolish optimist," I yelled back.


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Added by John Duke on April 10, 2011 at 1:41pm — No Comments

Final Floor

The VCU Rams had a great run up to the Final Four, but just couldn't overcome the size of the Butler Bulldogs. All of Richmond stopped to watch the game, and our disappointment in the score is only exceeded by our pride in the team. Both teams were beasts on the floor, playing with all their heart. I think there will be a lot of Rams pulling for Butler in the championship…


Added by John Duke on April 3, 2011 at 1:00am — No Comments

Sweet madness

Richmond has been a bit mad lately. If it weren't for the VCU and UR games being played on Friday night, I'm not sure how much work would be getting done on the cabin. We were sad to see the University of Richmond knocked out of the Sweet Sixteen since we were looking forward to giving them a shellacking on Sunday, but VCU's stunning run has more than made up for it -- its…


Added by John Duke on March 26, 2011 at 11:26am — No Comments

Wrapped in plastic

The rain came down hard this week, which means the James River is a torrent. Richmond has class IV rapids, unusual in an urban environment. We don't like to pull corpses out of the river and wrap them in plastic, so most people heed the warnings about how dangerous the water can be at this time.


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Added by John Duke on March 14, 2011 at 1:00am — No Comments

Cabinet meeting

"No matter what time it is, wake me, even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting." This may be the only thing Ronald Reagan said that Mr. Seals and I will ever agree on.


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Added by John Duke on March 6, 2011 at 11:44pm — No Comments


We have finally reached the point where the clay is being spread on the walls. The product from American Clay is a lovely shade of earthy green, with deep textured swirls. Fred has been tutoring Mr. Seals on how to apply it. Mr. Seals says his wife Robin wants him to re-paint their own bathroom ceiling. He is thinking of doing it with…


Added by John Duke on February 26, 2011 at 10:14pm — No Comments

Art in windows, music in bamboo

Music and art are keeping my thoughts elevated this weekend. Maybe I was inspired when I looked up to see the hawk perched high in a tree at the cabin Thursday morning. No matter. The theme developed on Friday when Darien and I attended the opening of a major Picasso exhibition in Richmond, although the cabin was about the…


Added by John Duke on February 21, 2011 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Love me, love my cabin

The indomitable Mr. Seals felt the love and fashioned a cupid's heart for our front door out of wood and wire. I know at least one neighbor who is already coveting it. I say, get your own damn valentine.

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Added by John Duke on February 15, 2011 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Bold as love

"You're not from around here, are you?" asked Sarah. "You're not Old Richmond?" She caught me as I was leaving the cabin. She owns the property behind us, "the house with the swimming pool" she told me.


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Added by John Duke on February 10, 2011 at 12:21am — No Comments

The true measure

My father was fond of the truism that one should always measure twice and cut once. He is probably shaking his head at this very moment.


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Added by John Duke on February 4, 2011 at 12:43am — No Comments

Balmy forecast

Now Spring restores the balmy heat, now Zephyr's sweet breezes calm the rage of the equinoctial sky.

Poem 46, Catullus (Roman poet)
I just wanted to let you know it is a balmy 64 degrees in the cabin with the thermostat set at 62.

Phone message, Mr. Seals (Virginia contractor)

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Added by John Duke on January 24, 2011 at 11:16pm — No Comments

Give me the heat

While I was squeezing fresh oranges from my mother's tree for my morning juice in California, Richmond was suffering freezing ice and snow and wind. It was a good time to get serious about the heat.

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Added by John Duke on January 20, 2011 at 1:37am — No Comments

Grit and gumption

We met Mr. Seals at the cabin on New Years Day. It was the weekend and he wanted to touch base with us before he and his wife Robin went to the movie. Darien wondered what they would be seeing. I told her True Grit, most likely.



Added by John Duke on January 5, 2011 at 1:34am — No Comments

I'll drink to that

Nothing says Christmas like a good single malt, so Darien proffered a bottle to Mr. Seals with our heartfelt thanks for all the work he has done on the cabin. Mr. Seals was in similar spirits, for he immediately brought out a bottle of kahlua he had made for us. It reminded me of my mother, who also made her own kahlua. Christmas was the time she would make sour cream cookies…


Added by John Duke on December 25, 2010 at 3:23am — No Comments

Big Noise

Large families like secrets.



Added by John Duke on December 18, 2010 at 2:00pm — No Comments

The earth moved

The focus of activity shifted outside this past week. Scott Turner's crew from Truetimber Tree Service came by to take out the white oak that was encroaching where we wanted to build. I wasn't there to watch it fall, but Mr. Seals said they dropped it right where they planned, like someone delicately setting a spoon on a table for afternoon tea. Mr. Seals shot a video of…


Added by John Duke on December 11, 2010 at 7:35pm — No Comments

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