Day 448, June 8, 2021


Tonight's soundtrack: The Charles Mingus Sextet, Sweden, 1964

My daughter is coming home later this week. In preparation for her arrival I have been working on the big gaping hole over the bathtub where the upstairs toilet leaked through. Each day after work, I've done a little light sanding and spread another thin layer of plaster, and then I've walked around the house repairing the other various dents that have accumulated over the years.

At this scale, working with plaster is pleasing. There is a gentle perfection one seeks while trying to smooth the surface and lay down an even smoothness. Of course, at a much larger scale, say a whole bedroom or house, it is a dusty and wearying task, but fixing a medium size hole, mending a dent here and there, that is a different more pleasurable thing. There is a nearly immediate reward where you can step back and see how much of a difference just a little bit of work can do.

It would be nice to have more things in life as satisfying as an easily patched hole in plaster. Something that can be addressed in a slow and measured way. Each day a little step closer to healed. Now, if I can only get a quick coat of paint on it before my daughter arrives and needs to take a shower!

I think that is part of the reason some people keep lists, so they can get the satisfaction of having checked something off. I once worked with a colleague who wrote down every task she needed to do in a notebook. She was famous for it. She exhibited a discipline that many of us aspired to, but could never quite achieve. I only got a glimpse inside the notebook once and I think the way she marked off items was with a quick sharp slashing pen stroke. It was clean and precise. I imagine that was a satisfying thing to do.

I write little lists through the day, but mostly they are things I must do within the next half hour, or that list will become buried by other lists and I will forget what some of the scribbles mean. Sometimes I'll write a grocery list into my phone when we run out of something. Peppercorns. Frozen strawberries. Rice vinegar. But I will often forget to check my list while shopping because I'm distracted by the little cucumbers, the egg plant, the shortbread cookies, the 2 for 1 English muffins.

So, like the newly inspired grocery shopper,

the part-time plasterer,

the dishwasher for two,

the mower of small yards,

the backyard hiker,

the perilla leaf farmer,

the fortune cookie fortune collector,

the commercial jingle composer,

the eater of Reese's peanut butter cups,

I am pleased in the evening's progress in the artisanal home repair world.

In small ways, there is progress being made.

Take care and be well,



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