Albrecht Dhrer, Eat Your Heart Out
Vermont in August means projects. Even a vacant cabin accumulates necessary repairs. You know, something about moth and rust doth corrupt. This year is no exception. The stairs to the front porch collapsed as Barbara descended, but, not to worry, the descent was slow and easy. Three days later I reconnected with my plane geometry equations (a2 + b2 = c2), dusted off my square, bought some 2 x 12 pressure treated lumber, and, quicker than Barbara can bake a peach pie, I had new steps in service. Of course, a week later the new ones collapsed too. But they were under warranty and I had them up and stepping again in a matter of hours.
The major project, and one for which there was ample forethought, was putting a new roof on a small house behind the cabin. Retrofitting is usually a pain, amply proven once more with this job. The shingles were sodden, the nails rusty, each support beam a different length from the others, and a couple of boards were rotted through. I pulled mightily at one two by four and for my effort fell off the small ladder onto the turf rolling, fortuitously, like a tumbler. Seventy-three year old shoulders were not meant for somersaults.
In the space of four days I pierced or pinched three fingers. The pinky on my right hand bled so profusely in the bathroom sink, where I had gone to get a Band-Aid, you would have thought I had had a nosebleed.
My secretary years ago, evaluating my secretarial efforts during her absence, opined, "What would you expect when you ask a carpenter to type your letter?" I think she disapproved of my erasures and uneven pressure on the typewriter keys. On the other hand, when this summer carpenter has been in the company of a master mechanic, he has smiled at me benignly, beholding a brad I had mangled in a stair molding, as if to say, "Well, what would you expect of a preacher?"
I might have protested, but didn't, that I know a preacher who was a master carpenter, and did both jobs magnificently.
The three Band-Aided handed fingers on two hands had me worried the Friday night after they were banged up. I was participating in a wedding for Phil Passaro and Denise Hanner (a report will soon be posted!); and I feared congregational reaction when I raised my damaged hand in blessing. Like that Sunday morning in Brooklyn, a day or two after I broke my nose playing basketball: the two black eyes and a nose brace would have scared the daylights out of the sympathetic members of the United Methodist Women, while inspiring giggles among the members of the youth fellowship. I therefore removed the brace and put Barbara's rouge on my raccoon eyes, thereby stanching the cries of alarm and the giggles.
For the wedding I donned brand new Band-Aids approximating my skin color. No one asked about my wounds.
It's what we do for love. You see, Barbara keeps fond thoughts of the way Vermont used to be, back when she was a little girl, there was no running water, and the natural urgencies of our bodies were relieved in a fashion our grandsons find gross. But there it stands, our darling outhouse, sixty years old or better. My friend who once owned a cottage on a small island in Lake Huron, without electricity or running water, named his outhouse The Tabernacle. Barbara's nickname for her family's backhouse was the Do Drop Inn. She doesn't approve and will be annoyed that I have told you, but I have christened the little shed with the new roof, The Lady's Throne, from which, when the door is open on a sunny day, the beauties of nature may be appreciated even as nature calls.
Well, that's the news from Mt. Chelsea, where all the repairs are amateur, all the fingers menaced, and all the backhouses have a beautiful view.