I do not know how long my daughter has
been driving around on a flattish tire.
Neither does she.
Neither, in fact, does my husband, who,
in denial of the sad, sagging evidence before him, declared the tire
gauge to be broken.
Today is the day: Monday, mother of all
get things done days,
the day of fresh to-do
lists, lists full of intention and promise and hope. Today, I get my
daughter's tire fixed.
I step outside and work the ice from
the windshield, glancing nervously at the tire, wondering if it will
be able to limp the half mile into town. I drive slowly, holding up
traffic and occasionally driving down the center of the road to avoid
the potholes that gather at the street's edges. At the repair shop, I
hand the keys over to the woman behind the desk and head home on
My breath comes in thick puffs as I
walk, gloved hands jammed into my coat pockets. Everywhere I look,
fallen autumn leaves are edged in frost.
As I arrive home, I'm greeted by Grey
Cat and Calico--a stray who stopped by for dinner one night and
decided to stay on. Perhaps it's the bowl of organic milk my son sets
out every morning. Maybe it's the flannel blanket on the patio.
Perhaps it's just the kibble. Whatever it is, despite numerous flyers
posted in town, it looks as if Calico Cat is here to stay.
* * *
I've got a meatloaf in the oven nestled
beside a dish of roasting Brussels sprouts. A pot of potatoes bubbles
on the stove. From the basement, the boiler hisses and protests and
blows off steam with regularity. Despite the admirable effort the
boiler makes, the house has a constant chill: The windows are drafty.
There is no insulation.
Like old cars, old houses create long
to-do lists and just when you think you've got one thing done and
scratched off, mentally tucked away, you're proven wrong: Every item
on the list creates at least two more items to add. Rewiring before
insulation. Windows before painting. Tree trimming and sanding.
Cracked storm windows and messy gutters, all needing to be addressed
It snowed last week, but didn't make it
to our side of town, much to my family's disappointment. There's a
level of excitement in the air as we anticipate that first snow. But
I suspect that, as we make our way through the end of fall and into
winter, that excitement will fade only to be replaced by the
anticipation of spring and the first sweet shoots of green. But for
now, we wrap up in extra blankets and settle in, watching the windows
for the first telltale signs of white.
* * *
The repair shop phones: The tire is fixed. A
simple valve stem issue. I pick up my pen, scratch tire from
my to-do list and head back to town, pausing on my way to scratch the
back of Calico Cat and scan the skies for signs of snow.
Labels: Creative non-fiction, essay, home ownership, local, old houses