An Entirely Other Day
A Man, A Spatula, A Dream
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Some days, the only thing that gets me by is the degauss button on my monitor.

Ooo. Pretty colors. (Posted at 4:42 pm.)

Like most people -- and by "most people," I mean Joanne and I -- Joanne and I can't help but give our kids embarrassing Mafia nick-names.

For a while, maybe five or six months after he was born, Tom got tagged as "Thomas Two-Diaper," because he'd invariably re-wet himself, right after being changed.

As he got stronger, he took to squirming around as much as humanly possible, usually when we were in the best position to drop him. So: "Tommy the Fish."

And since Mike has recently started to waggle his head back and forth when he gets tired, we call him "Mikey No-No."

I'm sort of hoping the novelty of this rubs off before they get to high school. But I doubt it will. (Posted at 9:15 am.)

Tom and I are cruising along, minding our own business, when this woman -- busy chatting on her cell phone, playing exactly no attention to where she's going -- appears out of nowhere and broadsides us.

Good thing we were in the supermarket, pushing carts. (Posted at 9:58 am.)

Joanne and I got an invitation to a local church over the weekend -- in the form of a post card, delivered via third class and addressed to:

GREG AND JOANN KAUSS
OR CURRENT RESIDENT

God is a mass-marketer. (Posted at 8:45 am.)

What I figure is this:

There's a Home Repair Zen, a karmic balance between what works in a house and what doesn't, and by actually fixing the kitchen light I've upset that delicately teetering yin-yang. I've messed with cosmic forces beyond my reckoning. I've tread on ground that man was not meant to walk.

That's the only reason I can find for the counter being broken.

In our kitchen is one of those two-and-a-half gallon jugs of water, y'know, that come complete with a carrying handle and a little push spigot. Normally, it's planted pretty far back on the counter, next to the fridge, because Tom is endlessly fascinated by spigots and will happily pull any that he comes across, marveling at whatever comes pouring out for a few seconds before setting off in search for another.

In my hurry to leave today, I filled Mike's bottles with water and left the jug too close to the edge. So when Tom came by on his regular spigot-discovery rounds, he emptied nearly two gallons of water on the counter, the floor, into the drawers, under the refrigerator.

"Eee!" he said, excitedly. Spigot!

This has happened before, of course, and a couple times in the past I've had to drag out all the rags we keep on the back porch and mop everything up. It's the only time the fridge gets moved to clean behind it, now that I think about it -- it wasn't until we had Tom that I even realized that refrigerators have behinds.

So I grunt and push and pull and yank and strain and the fridge slowly inches out of its spot between the wall and the counter. I need to turn it onto the back porch because there's not enough room between it and the stove to get my ass back there, so I start angling it around, too fast, too hard, and it hits the corner of the counter and instantly cracks off a hunk of the tile.

"Eee!" Tom points out, back from searching the rest of the house for more spigots.

The piece is sharp, a couple of inches on a side, from the corner. The counter top is a sort of light gray, but underneath it's stark white, and the damage stands out like a broken bone protruding from a leg.

But I'll be damned if I'm going to fix it. I've got no idea how to fix tile. I know it involves "grout," somehow, and maybe "effort," and I don't want to be associated with either.

No, oh no. I've learned my lesson. I upset the balance of my house by fixing the light and I'm not going to make that mistake again.

I'm afraid of what would break next. (Posted at 3:40 pm.)

Joanne calls just as I'm stepping off the chair and putting my tools away.

A while back, I came home from work, flipped the light switch in the kitchen and started cursing. The hanging light above our breakfast table had been murdering light bulbs with gleeful regularity, offing them at the rate of one every few months -- when the light didn't come on, I figured we'd lost another one. But when I went to change the damnedable thing, my keen sense of observation noticed about an inch of water in the opaque glass bowl that surrounds the bulb. I have no explanation for how it got there, save that the universe hates me and is happy to violate the laws of physics if it means I have to stand on a chair. I took the bowl down, washed it out and flipped the switch a few more times, on the off chance that that would fix the problem. I also blew on the light bulb. I can't actually say why.

And that was it. I didn't want to fix -- or, rather, attempt to fix -- the problem because most household chores only present me with the opportunity to maim myself; while working with electricity, I could potentially reduce myself to a charred lump of carbon. I changed a light switch a couple of years ago without bothering to turn off the power at the circuit breaker, and managed to bridge the wires with my hand. That's not something I would want to do more than the five or six times I did it then, because it felt kind of cool.

But, finally, this weekend rolled around and I had a free hour or so and only the non-mobile child to tend to. Also, Joanne had mentioned the light and her desire to have it fixed every fifteen minutes since it had broken. So I sat Mike in his high chair and handed him the phone and told him to call 911 if anything went wrong. I climbed up on a wobbly chair with a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a total disinclination to go outside and shut the power to the kitchen off. To make things even more dramatic, I also spread knives all over the floor.

And then... I fixed the problem. It was the damnedest thing.

The wire at the socket was melted and cracked, probably the result of the water -- however it got there -- closing the circuit in unhappy ways. I cut the wire short of the fried bit, took two links out of the chain that holds the bowl, hooked the socket back up and now we don't have to pretend we're being romantic when we're just sitting in the dark anymore.

So when Joanne called, I said, "Guess what! I fixed the light in the kitchen!"

And she says, "That's it? That's all it took? You let that damn thing go for four months because you were afraid to look at it and it only took you half an hour to fix?"

And there's a pause.

And she says, "That's not the response you were looking for, is it? Let me try again:

"That's great, honey! You're sure good around the house! Thank you!"

"You're welcome," I say. "My pleasure." (Posted at 2:27 pm.)

There's a high school a block from my house and every morning my street is over-run with sixteen year olds.

They laugh as they walk to school, shout and call to each other. They run between groups, their bodies busting with energy and spirit. They're lithe and young and free, and they radiate an almost blinding vitality -- their whole lives strech before them, crowded with limitless possiblities, and their exuberance can be felt in the air.

One of these days, I'm going to hide in the bushes with a hose. (Posted at 8:22 am.)

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