A bumpy beginning

By Trudi Duivenvoorden Mitic, February 2012

Despite the minor annoyances and even fiascos, life in this corner is pretty darn good.

As I write this, the Christmas interlude is rapidly being displaced by the Days of Disarrangement at our house, a season that unfailingly descends on us every year at this time, sometimes even before the tree is down. Suddenly everything around us seems to be coming undone. It’s gotten to the point where I fear the cupboard doors will fall off their hinges if I touch them, and I really shouldn’t even be on the computer right now.

The microwave leads the calamity parade this year, having belched an acrid whiff of electrical-fire breath as a way of calling it quits on Christmas Eve. Now it sits in my office awaiting disposal, as dead as the warranty that accompanied it off the boat from China just four years ago.

“It’s a piece of junk,” a local technician cheerfully told us when we phoned around to see about repair. “They all are. But I could fix it for 200 bucks.”

That bit of news caused a shudder in the bathroom fan—the one that powers away the moisture of several showers a day—and sent it whining and grumping to its demise. Then the kitchen chairs started mimicking marionette dolls with strings gone slack, which caused us to celebrate the fact that the friends we’d invited for Christmas dinner had already made other plans. (When you buy a set of chairs, I suppose you should expect that they’ll all go wobbly together about two decades later.)

Next a pocket door went off the rail—now that’s a stinker to fix—and last night’s windstorm knocked the balls off a tree in the front yard. (That’s Christmas balls, what were you thinking?) Meanwhile, the deer have wandered up on the porch and eaten nearly everything out of about a dozen pots, despite the plants being “deer-proof” (Victoria’s newest oxymoron) and the pots being full of holly and other thorny twigs stuck in to dissuade them.

On this dreary afternoon Husband and Son are attempting to install a new bathroom fan, the latter from the vantage point of a cold and cramped attic space where it’s snowing pink insulation. For once, he doesn’t balk when we advise the wearing of coveralls and a breathing mask.

Daughter offers to make tuna casserole for dinner, the go-to dish whenever we find ourselves dog-paddling in one chaotic sea or another. It’ll be a challenge though, given that the lights are out in the kitchen—why they’re on the same breaker as the bathroom fan one storey up and across is a head-scratcher. “I could use the trouble light,” she says helpfully, but of course that’s in service up in the attic.

Canada Post participates in our festival of farce by delivering just two pieces of mail today—the last Christmas card and the first plastic-wrapped income tax package. The gentle epilogue of the last season hustled along by the cold-water dump of the next.

That’s how we trundled our way into 2012, a year that will fall as swiftly as they all do in the great domino topple of time. Life is fleeting, and while the sullen days of January and February can weigh heavily on just about any disposition, it helps me to remember that the evolution of humankind from way back then to this very moment has taken a good million years and countless genetic coalescing to lead to who and where we are today. An awareness that we won’t be here forever—or even for a very long time—keeps the minor annoyances and fiascos in perspective.  

I can hear sawing and hammering in the attic. Flakes of insulation are starting to drift downstairs, but the tuna casserole smells good and everyone seems in decent spirits. The disarray always dissipates eventually. The bills will get paid, and one chair has already been nicely re-glued. The roof is solid and the pantry is full. Who knows, the microwave might even be resurrected, depending on how negotiations go with the Mother Corporation. (A long shot, I realize, but as long as consumers stay mute on poor quality, they give manufacturers a carte blanche for making garbage.)

In my office, the computer seems to have successfully resisted this most recent medley of malfunction, but I continue to type gingerly nonetheless. And what I find myself writing is that despite the frustration that some days bring, and despite late winter’s chronic brooding sky, life in our corner is pretty darn good. 

Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic is now negotiating with her men to replace the other bathroom fan, preferably in the morning when the kitchen is both bright and idle.