Man, winter can be hard on a house. It’s especially hard on a 90-year-old house, although, in houses and in humanity, preventive maintenance helps.
This is our Indiana house I’m talking about here. We ran home this weekend to sweep the cobwebs out of the joint, mow the grass and see how badly the cold weather treated everything. Answer: Not as badly as the never-ending sewer project on our street, which has disrupted everyone’s lives since Thanksgiving. “Boy, did you pick a good year to be gone,” all the neighbors said; evidently they pray for rain these days, to settle the dust that drifts into every eye and dulls every house.
So, I guess the lesson is: Even with cobwebs and a mummified mouse in one of the cold-air intakes, it could have been much worse.
The kitchen faucet did spring a fatal leak, however. Alan replaced it, leading me to thank the lucky stars once again that I married a man who can repair plumbing. Why do so many love songs concentrate on liquid eyes and strong muscles? Show me a man who can handle a pipe wrench, and there’s your good husband material right there.
I took some time to walk around the neighborhood, just to see who’s moving and who isn’t. After nine months in Michigan’s Second-Most-Expensive City, it’s a shock to hear neighbors taking umbrage at the gall of another, who is asking $165,000 for that house, which is merely roomy and well-located and well-maintained and has a brand-new patio with a fountain and water garden. I mean, who the hell does he think he is?
Michigan’s first-most-expensive city (or so I’m told): Birmingham. Now you know.
After sweeping and dusting and scouring and mowing and uprooting and cutting back and filling a thousand lawn-and-leaf bags, it was back to A2 (the Fellowship is over, but Kate’s still in school), which is increasingly feeling like home, although God knows why because I really miss my kitchen equipment. Alan has a theory: “I don’t think I’ve seen a NASCAR jacket since I’ve been here.” Nor a Sam’s Club, nor a Wal-Mart. Even fast food can be hard to track down; there’s a Wendy’s way out that way and way out this way, but not close by. Ypsilanti, which I’m told has all of these things and the famous Brick Dick, does the dirty work for us.
And today? I’m recovering. Some vestigial Fellows are coming for dinner, and Alan and I are going over to the Nichols Arboretum to see Imagine/Align, “a site-specific, community-based art installation blooming now at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum. This project, conceived by artist Susan Skarsgard, is a line of 20,000 yellow daffodils as far as the eye can see, traversing the environment, mapping thought and inspiring contemplation on the idea of lines, borders and imposed definitions.”
Yes, that’s Ann Arbor for you. Back in the Fort, they just call it a flower bed.