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Amanda continues her car search. She has proven to be a determined shopper, relentless in her search for what she wants. Or, is she like her father in some things and just cannot figure out what she wants? She has done her research. The vehicle is going to be a Subaru Outback. Other buyers have done their research as well. Used Subaru Outbacks are in low supply and high demand. Weíre not going to find one on the corner Chevy dealer, or the corner Ford dealer, or the corner Subaru dealer for that matter; not one to fit our criteria.
As I look up the hill behind the house I see that it is becoming dark and green now in this time of year. This morning I saw a deer carefully making its way down the path that I have walked myself the same way so steep, stepping carefully against the angle to not lose my balance. Yet from where I look out, I constantly lose my balance. I cannot see the path. Perhaps there is nowhere to step that is safe. Perhaps I lose my balance because I am merely hesitating; balancing too long looking for the next step.
I take Amanda to get her car tomorrow. It was today, but they called to say it was not ready. Part of the purchase agreement is that they are to fix a rust bubble on one door, a small cancer that is preparing to bloom into flower within the next year. She got her Subaru, although we had to drive all the way to Bay City to find it. A 2005 Forester with 64,000 miles, it is a stick shift, which is just fine with her. It has lots of room and will tow a U-Haul, both positives for Amanda.
Three hours the Crone said. Why would I start tonight? Why wouldnít I start tomorrow? I suppose there is something I want badly. I think this is how I get it, even if it does not make sense. I must remember, however to be grateful for the gifts I have. I am grateful for the soft back on the char on which I sit, that I can close my eyes and lay my head on it when I type and rest this way. It seems to have been a long day, although it really hasnít been that difficult at all.
My father asked me to cut some wood because the chain saw was too heavy for him to work, and he had been using the bow saw instead. After the first few pieces, he decided the chain was too dull, so put on another chain, but we could not get the chain to work. It had a bent link apparently and would not run the bar properly, so we put the old chain on and I finished cutting the wood. We spent about twenty minutes cutting wood and about an hour trying to get the bent chain on the saw.
I remember that tonight was yoga night. I donít remember why I didnít go to yoga tonight. It seems there has been an interruption for yoga every class for the past two weeks since the first time I went. It does not look good for yoga. I havenít given up on it. I will pay closer attention to the schedule for the next week. I know that has been part of the problem: it has a tricky schedule, but if I am aware of that I should be able to deal with it. There have just been many things happening.
I did an odd thing today. I applied for a full-time travelling technical job, one for which I was easily qualified. Iíve had a bad week, I suppose. Actually, itís been more than a week. The Crone showed up this afternoon. She suspected something was wrong. She yelled at me in a kindly way, reminding me what I was and was not supposed to be doing, what might and might not be important, and who I might and definitely might not be. She said some very nice things about me then, and finished by reminding me to respect my gifts.
I renewed my license plates late this year. Many people are surprised that my plates expire in May and not on my birthday, and some are willing to argue the point, but the fact remains: my plates do expire three and one-half months before my birthday. The reason for this is so complicated I have forgotten it. And since I had moved this year, and the plate address was different from that on my driverís license I had to show up in person at the secretary of state. I donít have to get into that. You KNOW what that is.
I am cutting wood with my father out by the workshop. I am using the big chainsaw, and we have finally gotten the old chain back into it. Each time we life a limb into the rack, he grins and calls out its name, ďCherry, maple, osageóthat oneís gonna be hard--apple.Ē Heís right about the osage, but I already know that. Itís sticky too. He complains about the dull blade, but it cuts better than anything Iíve ever had. This evening he will tell me stories about making and sharpening saws, and about who made the best saws.
Telephones donít really work anymore. I mean not as telephones. You cannot reliably make phone calls on them. We have come to accept this in return for convenience. I say this a little ruefully because the convenience Iím thinking of may be pictures of balloon animals or the ability to play air hockey with yourself. You can get online, send and receive text messages, but reliably place and receive intelligible phone calls? Iím sorry. I canít quite make out what you are saying. Could you repeat that? My battery is going. I think Iíve passed into a bad reception area.
Daughter Amanda got her car yesterday. We drove through a rain storm to Bay City to pick it up. There we presented the moon-faced teenaged salesman with a check for twelve thousand dollars and a promise to email him the registration on the license plates we were transferring. We signed a half dozen documents and went out into the rain to find he had pulled her new car up to another door. Amanda got her things out of my car and waited in the rain for the salesman to come back with her car. She was a wet, happy girl.
It rained again this morning. Outside, it looks like a rain forest. The grass needs cut, but it is too wet. Daily it grows longer, leaning against the door. If I cut it wet, it will clog the mower and leave wet globs of grass all over the lawn. Left alone it will get to the point where I will have to raise the cutting height on the mower and begin to cut it a little lower each time. But I have the Frankenstein mower, the one that has be run over twice, the one that is no longer adjustable.
I have finished the chicken and noodles I brought back from visiting my mother in Ohio. Gone too is the Apple pie. Three days. I still have the beef stew, a loaf of homemade bread and the mashed potatoes. This should be good for another two days. I am not sure about the mashed potatoes. I may eat them with the beef stew. I can cook all these things for myself. I used to cook them for myself and for others, but something happened to me. Left to my own devices I feed on p-nut butter and graham crackers now.
Self-indulgent, the Crone says. You have become self-indulgent. I have a sense she is surrounding me in a tiny tight cyclone of leaves, twigs, and dust that smarts my eyes. I can take that. I can understand, but what makes me angry is that you are pissing on your gift. I cock my head and try to look at her through the spinning debris. I have to hold a hand over my face. She knocks it away. Iím getting a full-time job back on the road, I say.
Youíre an idiot, she says. You already have a job. Do it.
Iím afraid of many things. I live with general purpose anxiety that frequently has no object. I obsessively worry about minor decisions. I worry if I am worrying about the right things, whether I will miss worrying about something I should be worrying about that I havenít thought of. It is part of the bi-polar mess, and Iíve got it good. But the one thing I donít worry about is whether I can do what the Crone says Iím supposed to do. Iíve never had any doubt about that. It is given, living in free range outside the worry pen.
My neighbors mow their lawns with their garden tractors. I donít have a garden tractor. I have never had a garden tractor. My father does, but he has two acres and a garden. I could easily buy one for the price of a good amplifier I suppose, but I am not sure where I would put one. Besides pushing a mower is good exercise. I know my neighbors are proud of their garden tractors, and the attachments that go with them: the wagons, the mulchers, the snow blowers. No wonder they have to park their cars out on the driveway.
It is Saturday morning again, wet again, and I seem to have stumbled across some playlists of music that I made to keep me company during my stay in Canada. Actually there are about a hundred spanning several years, and there is some part of my brain that clicks on and must explore them all one at a time. They are all layed out 51 songs apiece. What was I doing? Will I go through these and erase them? I suspect some of them will bring back strange memories. Music has strange powers hidden in the spaces between the notes.
I found music, and I had expected it to bring me back to face you. I was ready for that. I was ready as I could ever be to face that smile of serenity, to face the crazy scrawl of emptiness that tried to replace you. What I wasnít ready for was to be brought back to Matthew, who died about a year ago, but he was in there too. And his absence has always struck me with an intensity of surprise that I could never prepare for. How the hell was I to know that we were that close?
I bought two knee braces yesterday, and I am so thrilled with them. I went from being unable to climb or even crawl stairs to feeling invincible in minutes. But then I seem to remember using knee braces about a decade ago too, and taking glucosamine too.
Amanda had come to work out some insurance things with me and spent much of the day, going with me to get the knee braces (Run Forest Run!) and having a late lunch. Without her prompting I would have continued to think about the braces, but probably would not have actually bought them.
The real estate man came to look at my house and scared the hell out of me. He seemed to be relieved. ďItís brick,Ē he said with surprise. ďThe kitchen is huge. It doesnít back up to a dump.Ē
ďNo, thatís a large wooded area,Ē I said. You can see deer and foxes from the kitchen window.Ē He must have expected something awful. He seemed happy with what he found. Perhaps He will come up with a market value that will allow me to exit with the shirt on my back. That, of course, is the part that scares me.
I get a glimpse of the news as the internet pages flash by and more people have died violently, some by accident, some by military action, another type of accident. There are far-reaching consequences of every action. Some of these consequences are anticipated. Eventually they cannot be because they each have their own consequences and they never stop reaching. Even the non-death headlines have implications of death and destruction. And somewhere these, in turn, have implications of life. In the first step of the dance you pause, from fear. It takes courage to love the music, to continue to dance.
I seem to have taken out both of my knees. The left one hasnít been at 100 percent for years, Iíve known that. I think I actually crushed the patella one day kneeling on some concrete, but Iíve gotten along on it ok. But I did something to the right one the other day; perhaps wrenching that 60-pound box of integrated tube amplifier over to UPS did the trick. I may have pulled a muscle or something. I mean Iím ok; unless I try to climb stairs, and I live in a quad. Then thereís sitting down and standing up.
There are times I remind myself of my father. These times have become more frequent as I find myself gimping around the house wearing knee braces and waving one of his homemade canes about. There is something about this image that I have trouble fitting into. I was not prepared for entering the third trimester of life. Is anyone prepared for this? Do they offer classes for this? Are there books? ďTurning 60 for Dummies?Ē I think my friend Matthew was starting to tell me about all this just before he was taken away. That too. Clearly, I wasnít ready.
Someone is coming to look at the car today, the 1988 Cabriolet with 99,000 original miles. It was Amandaís car before I bought her the Subaru. She gave it back to defray the cost of the Subaru, which was nice, because she is not flush with money herself. She is looking at some healthy moving expenses as she heads out to Kansas. Now, I start to feel guilty or generous or something. I am not sure why, since I just bought her a car, but I have this impulse to split the money with her if the thing actually sells.
I saw my son Michael Jr. this weekend. He called Sunday and suggested getting together for lunch. There is something about visiting with my children that often makes me feel more isolated and alone. Perhaps it just underscores some part of the human thing, the way we are all disconnected, all trapped in our own meaty gourds, all essentially unable to touch except for rare accidents. And Junior comes by, a dust cloud with churning legs it seems. It stops. Two people materialize. We hug. We trade information. The dust cloud churns away, a denim-clad leg reaching over the hill.
My daughter Amanda visits too. We have business at the automobile insurance agency where we have to straighten out a mess. No, she does not belong on her motherís policy. He mother lives in Australia. And so on and so forth. Multiple policies are cancelled. Amanda spends most of the day with me because we have other business. She is going to move Kansas. We are trying to sort this out between us. She stays until she is homesick for Lansing and goes home. She does not understand that I am not going to be able to sort out Kansas.
Most of the time now, my movements are somewhat deliberate. I am getting better. I am coming to a clearer understanding of what I am doing. I have left why behind. There are things that cannot possibly make sense. I believe it will not make any difference what number the realtor comes back with. It does not matter how many years I have to plow through here to empty out a house of belongings of people who donít want them. A human being can withstand a certain number of losses. After that they cease to exist, to need a home.
I have not been able to use the treadmill since I asked Tom to help me move it down to the family room. I could do the dreadmill thing and watch my favorite TV programs on the wide screen. It didnít work out. The TV modem would not function with the treadmill plugged into the same circuit. It took me two weeks to figure that one out. The treadmill was too loud and drowned out the TV. Then the treadmill began malfunctioning. Before tearing it apart, I decided to return it to the dining room upstairs where it seemed happier.
Having my son help me move the 200 pound treadmill downstairs and moving it back upstairs myself were different projects. I realized this. After clearing a path, I decided to get the hand truck out of the shed. Both tires were flat. Putting the seats down in my Pontiac Gee Whiz, I wedged it in and drove to Bobís Tire and Auto and presented him with my dilemma. Bob looked sad. ďWe donít do these things, Mr. Cheeseman,Ē he said, rolling the hand truck into the back. That was what he had told me last time I brought it in.
The hand truck with the newly inflated tires would not fit in the back of the Gee Whiz. I put the seats back up, slid it across them, and slammed the back door on it. At home I searched for a tie-down strap. My youngest son had made off with all of them. I found a dubious looking one with two broken pieces of strap tied together. I planned to avoid most of the stairs by going through the garage, across the lawn, up the front porch and through the front French doors. On the truck this thing looked big.
I had been meaning to take the entry screen door off anyway, so when one leg snagged the frame and ripped it off, I kept on rolling through the garage, muscled it across the lawn, and up to the front steps, where the French doors were yawning open waiting. I couldnít get it up the steps. I made a ramp, and managed to roll the thing to the top before it fell off the cart, but not quite onto the porch. I was levitating it there, one arm of it snagged on a $4,000 French door. No one in site.
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