I woke up today with chores on my mind. My buddy Josh LoPresti lent me his woodsplitter, and I had dreams of a mindless day splitting wood and heaving it into a pile for my kids to stack along the fence. But the dryer was broken, and it needed to be fixed. Margret’s brakes were completely shot and needed to be replaced–something EJ is good at tackling with his inimitable genius. Still, I kept my woodsplitting dream alive. I went out and realized I should move the dry wood to the porch and so loaded two truckloads and heaved them in a pile on the back deck and finally got cracking with the splitter.

About five logs into my joy EJ walked out back and said the bolts on the rotor were nigh about impossible to loosen, so I drove to Tom Cumming’s house for some advice and a bigger wrench–one that would give us some better leverage on the bolt. Tom does not know the word “no” or the phrase “it can’t be done.”

Still, it wouldn’t budge. But then Rex stopped by and convinced me not to try and put a cord on the  dryer Billy Cooper donated to me yesterday–as good as that dryer was. “We can fix the one you have–but first, let’s get those bolts off.”

“Not to worry, Rex,” I told him. “I can always call Sal Angelone and Andy Bloch just sent me a novel-length description of what to do, and if I looked perplexed enough, my neighbor Tom will mosey over and probably do it for me…and if worse comes to worse, I’ll call Sal–the master of all things mechanical.”

Rex’s solution, arrived at after a slew of colorful language that had EJ and I smiling, was to simply turn the steering wheel so that the wrench handle would be outside the wheel well, and damn him, the extra purchase gave us the leverage we needed.

Then Rex tackled the dryer–a dryer that cost way too much and was only a year and a half old–six months past its warranty from Home Depot. More colorful language mixed in with “It is the f…ing motor, something is stuck in there!” Sure enough, after taking the whole dryer apart (held together by a myriad slew of screws, there was a pencil stuck in the fan.” We put it all back together, tested it and it worked like a charm.

But…when I went to reattach the cord, I dropped a screw that sets the wire to a terminal–a very small screw that simply “disappeared” on us. We combed the ground everywhere for close to an hour…nothing, nowhere. We could not find the screw for the life of us, and so the pile of laundry would keep piling as no store in town or out of town had that stupid little terminal screw.

Rex went home. Denise was bummed as laundry was her project of the day, and with her indefatigable energy and resolve was all set for a longer trip to Home Depot for a final last ditch attempt at screw-buying. Right as she was leaving I offered a $5.00 reward to any of my children who could find the screw.

Money is a wonderful motivator. There was a scramble of kids headed to the basement.

Margaret found it within two minutes, more or less hiding in plain sight. The dryer was fixed. EJ replaced the brakes. The other kids stacked all the wood on the porch, and now I am out back on the oh so neat back deck smoking a cigar, sipping tea while sitting between neatly stacked wood–enough I promised them to get us through to March, when we can tackle the other pile if needed.

The unsplit wood is still unsplit. I have no doubt that Josh will grant me a few more days. The splitter is covered for the night. The kids are sprawled on couches. There are hot dogs still to be grilled.

I woke up feeling blessed that I had the time and place and wherewithal to do the daily chores of life, but more so feeling blessed to live in this tiny town of Maynard where people seem to find the time to help each other in small and magnanimous ways–where philanthropy is an action of everyday life, not a pillar or plaque set in some museum or school hallway.

This is where I live.

I am glad to be here.

%d bloggers like this: