Wednesday, August 10, 2005

All the King's Horses

I blew up my microwave today. Nobody ever told me you can’t hard boil an egg in the microwave. It exploded and blew the door open and egg flew over half the kitchen. And for some reason I am neither angry nor disturbed at all. In fact, once I got over the humiliation of realizing that I should have known it would happen, I thought it was freaking funny, even while I was wiping up egg with magical Clorox Clean-ups wipes. I was worried about the cats getting into the egg but noticed that they were conspicuously absent from the scene; I think the noise scared the crap out of them.

It seems asinine that I should have to constantly remind myself how great my life is. I never forget that I have a stellar family and a few dear core friends I depend on, but it’s the simple things I overlook: my cats (who are, at times, terrible creatures I’ll admit. But the unspeakable, grounding comfort of reaching absently out to pat a soft head in the midst of my harassed daily routine, or the cosmic timing of their affectionate overtures when I am troubled, these far outweigh the irritation of his-and-her hairballs and the occasional snag of a throw pillow or rug), my Vaio, a little silver window to the world without which I would feel much more claustrophobic in this pokey little town, my books, my half-dozen musical instruments, my beloved, trusty ’87 Raider and the Cadillac that is like a time machine to the last years of my father’s life. There are so many things I hardly consider, and yet, my potentially scary basement apartment is a home because of them: my six houseplants, which survive somehow with minimal light, and a ragged assembly of furniture, including a rusty camp stove I fished out of the desert sand and refurbished (makes a perfect end table) and the bookcase my mother’s father built before he died when she was twelve.

I wrestled violently with my old blue Schwinn for two hours tonight. It won, but I know a virtual army of able and willing men who each own a link assembly tool and whatever impossible contraption is required to actually put the tire back on the rim without tearing the new tube. While I was standing in the bike aisle at the Wal the Beach Boys’ Little Deuce Coupe came drifting down from the sound system, and before I knew it I had tears running down my face, the quick kind that you wipe away with a smile. One of those celebrated little boxy Ford roadsters was the raffle car at the last Logan Cruise-in Dad and I went to before oxygen tanks and wheelchairs, shaking hands and blinding bleeding retinas. He wanted to win that little thing so bad; I could just see big six-foot-something Dad folded up into that tiny car. Like his Porsche 911s and the Pontiac Fieros; why do big, tough, mechanically minded guys want to fold themselves into those ridiculous little cars? And then again when I got home I had to pause, because the smell of axle grease and the sweet reek of WD-40, which I had liberally bathed the rusty bike in (works every time), hit like a blast from his noisy old air compressor, which I was using to fill the tire I managed to reassemble. I think of him often and miss him very much, but I wouldn’t wish him back here, knowing what lay ahead.

I sometimes wonder if I’ve given people the impression that M and I had the perfect father and we were Daddy’s little girls and our lives were sunshine and scented Downy softness. You ought to know that wasn’t the case. We had as weird a childhood as anybody. It’s an awfully long story I’ll get to sometime, but the gist of it is that Dad wasn’t around much, and for five years beginning when I was almost 7 or so and M was maybe 10, we saw him twice a year for a week at a time, at Christmas and late August before school started, Mom and M and I on joyous pilgrimages to San Diego before he got set up and we moved down, too, which was the best thing that ever happened to me. But the one thing that I had that so many other kids I know (who are adults now, struggling with the lack of it) did not was the absolute certainty that my father loved me and thought I could do anything. In recent years he didn’t so much approve of all the things his girls did, but I have never doubted that he recognized in us the indescribable genius he passed on, a knack for things that makes us surprisingly resourceful and just so damn able, without even knowing it was his. He may have been intoxicated a good 50% of the time I spent with him, but he was a delightful drunk and I never thought twice about it (until I turned teen and decided he was embarrassing, and then I hollered at him quite a bit, until he up and quit one day). Anyway, he was still a father to be proud of.

Dad once fixed our microwave and left a screwdriver inside the works, and when it blew up he maintained that he had left it in there to hold something in, it was intentional, part of his plan. I didn’t believe him until I was driving his old gold Cadillac up the 405 in L.A. during 7:00 morning traffic, and I fiddled with the mysterious pencil-and-rubber band contraption stuck to the dash and the cruise control came on. I had never driven a car with cruise, so I panicked when the gas pedal suddenly dropped away from my foot, and I didn’t know how to stop it so I slammed on the brakes and nearly got rear ended by the monster Esuvee behind me. Dad was a real-life MacGyver but his tinkering could be hazardous unless you had him explain it first.

The trout survived their first day and night in a tank, and they’re devouring the beta food. Way to go, guys!

I spent the afternoon getting my new Sketchers steel-toes wonderfully dirty, moving mud with our little John Deere tractor. It's beautiful coffee brown, clean mud composed of coagulated river silt that may possibly be the perfect dirt. It even has that potting soil smell, that musty, acrid smell of damp earth. When Travis was taking his turn (got tired of me not listening to his directions, I suspect, and wanted to play with the toy) I walked around checking out the vegetation. Sagebrush, greasewood, thistles, tumbleweeds, grasses and spiny brush. I pulled the flat, wing-like pods off the dried brush and found little ruby seeds inside, like tiny jewels, like the blood red granules of sand in those Native American sand paintings. We had just got into the second drying bed when the black clouds came up over the Wasatch Mountains and started rumbling, and we got inside just before the sky dumped buckets. So much for pushing the layers of dry dirt off the top so the wet sludge underneath can dry. I don’t know why everybody doesn’t want a job like mine. Maybe not everyone likes to get dirty.


Blogger JOB said...

I know that I am a Man like that. Me and dirty do not get along !! Anyways, I hope things are going good and I know your birthday is around the corner !!

August 11, 2005 at 5:13 PM  

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