At 6am, watching the TV weatherman, I got an idea for a short essay, and drafted most of it by 7am. (Below.)
Did Veronica’s aerobics. Then, at 8am, as I had planned out days ago, I quickly showered and dressed and headed out for the grocery store, getting to Piazza’s at 8:30, still within the early “vulnerable” hours. I bought a few things I wanted and just as I was ready to pay with the phone I got a call from Scott. He wanted to bring me up to date on his medical news, which has been a lot more dire and uncomfortable than mine.
Near the end of October, he went up an extension ladder to trim a decorative tree in his backyard, and apparently fell off it. “Apparently” because he doesn’t remember: the fall gave him a severe concussion and he doesn’t remember it, or five days at Stanford hospital. He suffered several compression fractures in vertebrae and is braced up several ways, but expects to be out of braces, or in more comfortable braces, in another month.
Back home I made another experiment applying clear coat to scrap plastic using the air brush and it is absolutely not acceptable. Far too many little bits of dust, and voids, and wrinkles. I went online to various hobby stores, and ordered some Tamiya spray clear, which had enthusiastic user reviews. It won’t arrive for a couple of weeks, though.
Mid-day I did not get out of the apartment as I had sworn. It was raining.
OK, here’s the essay I wrote this morning and posted to the writers’ group, getting several enthusiastic seconds.
The jovial weather guy on this morning’s news, delighted to finally having some weather to report, reminded us “You won’t need your AC for a while, don’t forget to put the cover on it.”
Oh lord! The AC cover! My heart warmed with the sudden knowledge that I will never again need to do that. Never again will I get the AC cover down from the dusty shelf in the garage, disturbing a summer’s worth of spider nests. Custom-fitted black leatherette, bought in the prior century, now coated with months of dust, it fits snugly over the bulky AC evaporator unit beside the back door.
But it can’t go on yet; first I have to clean the evaporator, getting rid of eight or nine months of dust, bird poop and pittosporum leaves. That takes half a roll of paper towels and many squirts of 409 cleaner. Then, once the big metal box is clean, I need to wax it. If I don’t, it will rust under the cover. Back into the garage to find a bottle of auto polish and some rags. I wax the top and sides, and “tsk” where rust is creeping up the bottom edges of the metal case.
With a summer’s debris cleaned and the paint protected, I can fit the cover. I snug it down over each corner and fasten the velcro at the ends. And now: it is time to clean the dust from the leatherette and make it rain-proof. Back into the garage to dig out the spray bottle of Armor All, and use more paper towels to wipe in the milky protectant and make the leatherette shine.
When the AC box looks like a glossy black monolith, ready to shed rain for a few months, I pull the breaker that powers it so it can’t come on if I mess up setting the thermostat. I pack all the wet, dirty paper towels into the recycle bin, and put away the bottles of cleaners. I have “put the cover on the AC”, a simple job that only takes a couple of hours.
This morning, gaping at the jovial weatherman, I am so, so delighted that I no longer care for any of the details of an old suburban house — the gutters; the roof; the random wiring; the taxes and insurance; cutting back the attractive but greedy Virginia Creeper; denying access to the roof rats; and, in November and May, covering and uncovering the AC. It was only when I was driving away from the place for the last time, on my way to Channing House, that I felt — as the old evangelical hymn says — the burdens of my heart rolled away. And I’m still glad.