Everyone else on the planet has already figured this out. You've probably all got rakes and screen doors and a baseline knowledge of how to adjust your water temperature. We, on the other hand, curse that vile temptress Fate that would give us a house that requires cleaning and maintenance...and thought.
It's sort of pathetic, really. A couple of flies buzz around our heads and we start swinging wildly in the air, like inflatable advertisments. We cook without pot lids because we can't remember which drawer we put them in. We shrug at burned out ceiling lights. "Too high...guess it can't be fixed."
The vastness of the challenge should not be underestimated. Walking into Home Depot I feel like a Cold War refugee who's just defected. The embarrassment of riches on every aisle is invigorating, but she sheer magnitude is terrifying. The visceral thrill of owning and wielding a chainsaw or cordless drill is more than offset by the drudgery of selecting window shades or debating screw sizes.
It's not always easy to find the humor in this. The way Ikea designs hanging lights, for example, is definitely notfunny. But if I step back and imagine myself changing a shower head, soaking wet and low on plumbers tape, I have to chuckle. I'm sure I look like what I feel like--an idiot.
I'm learning. Some old tricks are coming back. I know to turn off the electricity before changing a plug. Our water now approaches a temperature slightly above liquid nitrogen. And I know where the spatulas are now.
But I tend to fall back on the advice a friend gave me not long ago. "When it comes to having a house there's only three words you need to know."
"Call the guy."
The guy should be about done cutting our shrubs by now. Thanks for the advice, Murph.
* Kelsey, I loved you on Cheers, and Frasier was great until every episode became "a very special episode." But dude, when your new show is pre-empted by "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" it might be time to give Cliff and Norm a call and find out when the reunion special is.
My boy, Kevin
of Always Home and Uncool,
has asked me to post this as part of his effort to raise awareness in the
blogosphere of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was
diagnosed with on this day seven years ago. The day also happens to be his
wife's birthday. These are his thoughts, and I encourage you to offer your support to combat this disease.
Our pediatrician admitted it early on.
The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's
cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.
The next doctor wouldn't admit to not
He rattled off the names of several
skins conditions -- none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner -- then
quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.
The third doctor admitted she didn't
The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed
from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even
though we had ruled out every allergy source -- obvious and otherwise -- that we
The fourth doctor had barely closed the
door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted
she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.
She brought in a gaggle of med students.
She pointed out each of the physical
symptoms in our daughter:
The rash across her face and temples resembling
the silhouette of a butterfly.
The purple-brown spots and smears,
called heliotrope, on her eyelids.
The reddish alligator-like skin, known
as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.
The onset of crippling muscle weakness in
her legs and upper body.
She then had an assistant bring in a
handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to
my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.
This was her gift -- a diagnosis for her
That was seven years ago -- Oct. 2, 2002
-- the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a
family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal
consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.
Our daughter's first year with the
disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph
infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her
to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she
sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over,
as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.
Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9,
remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All
that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes
twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.
What would have happened if it took us more
than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece
all the symptoms together? I don't know.
I do know that the fourth doctor, the
one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize
it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step
toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.
That, too, is my purpose today.
It is also my birthday gift to my wife,
My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others
aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for
To read more about children and families
affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at www.curejm.org.