Pop generation quiz: are you old enough to remember Gerald Ford, newly sworn in as Nixon’s successor, telling the nation with visible relief, “Our long national nightmare is over?” I keep hearing that phrase in my head.
I don’t mean the blizzard, which was possibly the politest blizzard as such ever to strike the Eastern United States in my lifetime; it arrived late on a Friday, moved out on Sunday, and began to immediately become history on Monday when temperatures rose above freezing. Today it was nearly sixty degrees and the ramparts of snow blockading my curb had turned to slightly rotten layers of carbon-coated Sno-cone that could be raked to either side with a slid shovel.
But! at the same time we saw the end of the alleged three-week renovation project, which didn’t go on as long as Watergate — only since November fifth; it just felt that way.
True to form, the God Pan called me Tuesday morning to ask if I could be home for the County inspector. I had certainly mentioned that as a good day about a week before, but I do rather like warning. Never mind. Let’s get this over with. Slightly ahead of time — meaning I could hope for a full deadlift workout — a stocky, grey-haired country boy pulled up in what might have been an M-1 Abrams with a County logo (hard to know why he needs this to go from house to house peering at wiring, but perhaps it was a concession to the half-completed plowing).
He peered at wiring. Did you know that the main box has to be grounded to the water supply within a five foot distance? Christian had hooked it up to my water heater. I don’t know why that sounds to me like something that might explode, but it seems to be counterintuitively about safety.
He peered at outlets. They seemed to please him.
“I can see you like cats,” he said. “There are six,” I admitted.
“You’re probably the person I should ask about this then,” he digressed, and explained that he had just adopted a feral kitten whose mamma, a resident of his big back yard in the provinces, didn’t seem able to feed it though she was coming to the porch for food. He felt bad about taking him from mamma but he looked so sick and skinny. Would I ever declaw a cat? (No, no, no. I demonstrated the use of a claw clipper then and there, with the assistance of doofey Mystery). How do you deal with a kitten who likes to bite when he plays? (The first bite signals the end of play for now.) We were, more or less, walking around the house while he tested GFI’s, but his heart no longer seemed to be seriously in it. By the time we got to the top floor he had spotted an actual fox, a big healthy one with a thick pelt, trotting across my neighbor’s lawn and behind her shed; explained to me about the Manassas fox hunt, which is actually fox harassment that ends when the fox scurries up a tree (I still think it’s mean, but at least they don’t kill the fox); discussed his theory of how people don’t grow food for themselves any more, so they don’t plant by the almanac, and freak out when they see a late season snow as if it never happened before. We agreed on everything that was wrong with the world and, as an afterthought, he signed off on an orange ticket that said my job was kosher.
I still made it to the gym in time, somehow.
I gave the God Pan a final check. He promised he would bring me his new high-end bottling of organic VOGH when it was ready.
I can’t wait.
I have a row of paint chips up in the dining room, because I really have never seen housepainting like they did and it all makes me think of a fresh new color on the walls, but not this year. Unless I get a very, very strong prescription.