Although I've lived in two different apartments in the last three years, I've had the same landlords this entire time. My landlords are couple who live in Beloit, about an hour south of Madison. Their names are Anne and Xiao (pronounced "show"). Xiao is from China. He is about my height (short, I know...about 5'4") and probably about 110 pounds, soaking wet. He has longish, shaggy black hair and he usually wears a t-shirt and cargo shorts. His accent is often close to undecipherable (this, from the daughter of the foreigners!), but I can usually make out what he's saying.
Yesterday I ran into him and asked him if he could help me remove a couple of wasps nests that were forming on the lanai. Here's how the conversation went:
Me: Hi Xiao! I was wondering if you could take a look at these two wasp nests...
Xiao (interrupting): They will be gone by tomorrow.
Me: Oh, wow, great. Let me just show you...
Xiao (again, interrupting): No problem, no problem, you won't even see them tomorrow. They'll be gone.
Me: Oh great! That's so great. Thank...
Xiao: You won't even see them. They will not be there tomorrow.
Awesome. Xiao takes care of the business. Once he felt that I was completely convinced that I would never see those nests ever again, he asked me if the noise was bothering me lately (he's doing a ton of work in the attic and until recently would start hammering and sawing at about 8 am. I had a lovely conversation with Anne and they agreed not to start working until after 11. How nice!). I said things were fine, but I was sorry if he woke up early with nothing to do all morning. He replied with this:
No! This is wonderful! I wake up and relax for awhile, and then I work on my painting and drawing all morning! It's getting better...
How beautiful. It reminded me of a couple of other beautiful moments:
Xiao sits with me on the porch of my old house as I read the lease for my new apartment. All of a sudden, completely out of the blue...
Xiao: Do you watch the Discovery Channel?
Me: No, I don't have cable, but I like it when I do see it!
Xiao: Yesterday I watched this beautiful program. It was about all the animals of all the world. From every country. China, Egypt, The United States....all of them!
Another time, Xiao spotted the empty box from when I'd bought my digital piano. He was like "what in the world is that from?" and I explained that it was from the piano I bought. I swear, Xiao's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "You have a piano??? Upstairs?!? In this very house??" That's basically what he said. I was like "yeah, come on up and see it!" As soon as he saw it, he started begging me to play. I literally played about 10 seconds of Für Elise before I heard him saying "So beautiful...so wholesome. So beautiful. Wholesome." Over and over again. Wholesome? Really? Sometimes, these days, when I'm playing without my headphones, I'll hear him in the attic walking over to the space right above where I'm playing and get quiet. I'm still working on not getting self-conscious during those times.
When Gwen and I first moved in together, one of the doors to her bedroom was missing. Xiao said he'd look for it, but that in the meantime, he could "hang a beautiful beaded curtain" in the doorway. He did this with several grand hand gestures.
The last thing I'll say about Xiao is that apparently one time he told Gwen that Begonia the cat "knows all the secrets of the world."
Okay, one more thing. The reaons we say "Xiao and Tell" is because Anne talks so much, so we call her Tell. It all makes sense, see?
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