Monday, April 19, 2010

Mount Hey-You-Foot-La, The Great Decelerator


In this age of advanced security measures, instant communication, and rapid transit, it's amazing to me that a bunch of ash can ground a good honking chunk of air travel worldwide.  And before that, it was low-flying geese that was able to lay several domestic jets low.  A historically conscious friend and traveler told me that the last time that tongue-twisting Icelandic volcano erupted (over 150 years ago), it kept right on erupting for about a year.  Maybe they should install some sleeping rooms right there in the Hong Kong airport?

I'm thinking that before the airlines start convincing us that their ash-filtering technology really works (really) that maybe it couldn't hurt to expand our travel options.  I mean, you gotta figure that there might be some desperate air companies that just might start running the actuarial numbers to see if a few unsuccessful test runs would really cost so much compared to what they are losing now.  Cynicism runs deep.

Maybe the hey day of ocean travel is not over after all, I'm thinking.  Wood paneled sleeping berths?  Walks on the deck on chilly, clear nights?  Dressing for dinner?  Hey, even if it adds a few days onto the journey, doesn't it sound a whole lot more civilized than stale nuts and squeezing oneself into a tiny, pay-toilet at 35,000 feet?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Journey To The Center Of The Dishwasher

There's something that happens to you after you own the same house for a decade. The things that once seemed critical to fix right away/as soon as possible/first thing in the morning begin to fall away. You learn to live with the wiring that never got connected to the kitchen under counter lights. You let some grass grow over that spot on the far side of the front yard that you used to keep mulched. I mean, who walks over there?

Pretty soon that little voice deep in your brain that used to shriek things at you like "Call the plumber tomorrow!" or "Find someone who can get that tar off the bricks out front!" is a just a distant, vaguely annoying sound. Like someone's dog barking again two streets over. You have changed, not your house. You have realized that that list in your head -- you know the one -- that never-ending epic novel of cracked washers and poor water pressure is just that -- never-ending. It doesn't matter how much you get fixed, because there will always be another task to take its place.

There are few discoveries in life that are more freeing, sister.

I am an artist of the stopgap measure and outright household ignorance. I've learned to fix broken latches with rubber bands and I can recreate just about any seal with duct tape (man's finest invention to date) or super glue. Even better though, I've learned that, really, my world will not end because I have not pruned the azaleas or the grass is a little high or the light in our shower doesn't work.  It's okay to ignore the little stuff. I can admire the azalea branches, heavy with blossoms, or just sit in the grass, or enjoy the fact that in a dark shower I cannot see that my ankles have gotten thicker.

But even I can meet my match, and today it is the dishwasher. Its shelves held lovingly together with trash bag twist-ties and half of its silverware basket eroded away, it has patiently endured my ennui until it could stand it no longer. Last week, the door handle became permanently stuck -- and not even my humpty-dumpty magic could pull it open again.

Doing dishes by hand or getting the dishwasher fixed and freeing another place on the list for the next home repair task?  Sometimes it's hard to know which one I really want more -- or is worth my precious attention.