Friday, I came home from work, hit the light switch, and nothing happened. Were this a standard old-school fixture with classic bulb-shaped bulbs, the kind proper Gaia-worshippers are dishonor-bound to condemn, the solution requires only a fresh bulb and about nine inches of additional height, the latter attainable with a stepladder, one of which is hanging in my garage. But this was a track-light system with three bulbs, wacky-looking things with a two-pin base, and surely not all three of them could be bad. Three possibilities presented themselves: the switch might be wonky, the transformer — gotta have one somewhere for a 12V lighting system on a 120V line — might have gone troppo, or the breaker might have tripped. The latter being the easiest to fix, I headed out the back door.

And stopped. The old elm tree out back had cashed in its wood chips earlier this year, and bits and pieces had started falling off of it long before. But this time, it was literally decimated, and maybe more than that: I'd guesstimate that between 10 and 15 percent of it broke off in one fell swoop and, well, fell.

Of course, it fell right across two power lines: mine, and the one running to next door.

Okay, maybe the breaker can wait. The dead limb weighed just as much as it possibly could, and I couldn't figure out a way to tip it over without causing further line deflection. After a brief burst of Anglo-Saxon and a period of reflection, I called the power company and reported a pre-downed line, not to be confused with pre-road downs. Inasmuch as Big Storms were forecast for the night, they were very interested, and a chap was dispatched to remove the offending wood and check the line continuity. Oh, and the breaker was fine. The limb, meanwhile, is pushing down grass.

"Everything around me," I wailed, "is collapsing." Or something like that. Last month, the bathtub faucet developed a tiny drip. As one might reasonably expect, it's no longer tiny; based on the utility bill, I'm guessing it's whizzed away about 2,000 gallons of water so far. This is not a Good Thing, and it will have to be addressed. I'm hoping this is a typical late-20th-century fixture with a swappable cartridge. And while I'm on the subject of drips, the single-handle faucet over the kitchen sink is now slightly off kilter: to stop the water, the handle must be pushed approximately 3 degrees to the right.

Also on Friday: I dropped into the pharmacy, and was told by the pharmacist that the New! Miracle! Drug! the doctor had prescribed over the phone would react badly with all the Old, Boring Drugs I'm already taking, and I would not be able to pick it up until they'd reconciled their differences. Which is fine with me, since this stuff was only just approved by the FDA this spring, meaning it will come off patent about the time they load me into the back of the wagon and take me away.

Oh, and I caught a good look at the brake rotors on the car on sunny Saturday, and they're grooved like an old jazz record. So those will have to be replaced.

So everything around me is collapsing, and that includes me. This is not the way I want to start the fall. But it's the way I always start the fall; what with a birthday on the near horizon, I suppose this is my way of acknowledging that I have one less year left. Inevitably, my emotional composure goes south, and if it hasn't quite reached Tierra del Fuego just yet, it's at least gotten to Paraguay. Assisting in this plummet down the map: medium-level knee issues the last three weeks, which have only just started to subside. And physical pain, I've discovered, discourages doing almost everything else that needs to be done.

So I've called out the boys from Dover to fix the wayward electrons and the leaky fixtures, and while they're at it, to breathe on the furnace and see if it's planning to kill me anytime between now and spring. Gwendolyn will have her new brakes later this month. Sometime between now and then, I'll figure out how to pay for all this kindly service. Even later this month, they'll come out and check the premises for termites. I may leave that big hunk of wood, a good 30 feet from the house, on the ground as a decoy.

The Vent

  8 October 2013

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 Copyright © 2013 by Charles G. Hill