Let's start with the garage below my monstrous, largely unattended, very leaky deck, to which we will get to later, much later. This garage fills with water and has saturated many of my old moldy family keepsakes and also has a door so narrow that I've ceased using it to park my 2002 Toyota Camry after the third time of backing out and ripping the side view mirror on my side and having to replace or re-attach it with duct tape and Gorilla Glue. Currently, the glued mirror is much smaller than the original cracked one but does the job and is holding strong though I suppose it is unsightly; but who cares about that, it's results that matter these days, above all else.
Well, while we're discussing this very fine automobile, which I do maintain internally, it has needed a new windshield wiper for some time, the rubber flapping around while the blade has scraped the window, something I'll get around to next time I bring it to my mechanic, because I'm ashamed of having to ask somebody to attach a new one for me and know I'll destroy it if I try.
Anyway, back to the garage, in which sits my washer and dryer, both hand-me-downs going-on-20 years and confiscated from an empty condo for me by local scrounger, Tag Morely. For the last 5 or so years they have served me with sporadic inefficiency and are now enfeebled to the point where I have to squeeze water out of the garments before piling them into the dryer, which often balks at heating up, so that I run my togs over and over, sometimes two hours, ramping up electricity bills, no doubt. I've been fretting over these two appliances, knowing they are beyond repair and I must buy new or used ones or ask Morely to find me something, but he is away on an out of town job and I am left helpless to deal with this predicament and probably will not take action until these machines quit and I am faced with the humiliation of washing my rags at the local inefficient laundromat.
Upstairs, in my tiny one-bedroom cottage that needs an outside painting job, there is glaring dilapidation everywhere as it is impossible to move without a reminder of the shambles that surrounds me. Unframed photos and pictures are cracked, faded, warped, dust-coated. I can't bear to go into my bedroom, which is beginning to mildew from heavy rains this winter causing water to seep into the carpet through the bottom of the rear wall. I know I should possibly run a heater on it so that fungus will not grow, but my decision has been to stay completely out of this room and remain in my front room where I sleep on an old sofa that I've dragged from place to place since 1981, when I purchased it used for $25 from a desperate drug addict down in Manhattan Beach. This sofa is swaddled in comforters from the Cayucos thrift store, which also supplies my entire wardrobe as well as an ailing coffee maker now 5 years old and an inconsistent mircrowave oven. Both of the sofas' arms are frayed and covered with shawls from the thrift store. It sags, has no cushions for the back rest, and my dog lately has attempted to take it over, so that I have to toss TV trays and various debris on it when I leave him alone.
My kitchen for some time was a mouse magnet, until my friend Ethan, a carpenter, plugged up some holes on the outside, but the other day I followed a mouse scurrying along the counter and disappearing through a slight gap, and quickly duct taped it and since then my peanut butter baited trap has scored no corpses and there are no droppings, so I took the bull by the horns that time and am not a little proud of this victory, however microscopic when compared to the overall disrepair.
Now, though my sofa is a sagging junkyard wreck, it appears almost neutralized by the sight of my recliner, another donation from a former tennis partner some ten years ago. Like the sofa, it is used to my body and my body is used to it, but its fraying has gone about as far as it can go, with both arms completely worn through to the degree where the foam rubber is squashed and split, revealing wood, and the foot rest is torn to shreds and of late has pressed wood against bone, potentially giving me splinters, so it's time for more duct tape unless I call Morely and inform him I need, among other acquisitions, a new recliner.
Wedged against walls are old broken book cases supplied with hundreds of books, mostly yellowed paperbacks, a tribute to my loyalty to literature and great writers, and on my walls are framed quality art, oils and water colors, but also a termite eaten area near the rear, below the framed Ali/Frazier Leroy Neiman boxing poster, where a sawdust-like accumulation needs constant sweeping, a task I am up to, when I dare to look.
Both my television and computer are old and slow and possibly need replacement and my three typewriters are ribbon-less, gummed up, useless relics. My two pairs of flip flops are a sad sight, mostly because my 100 pound Lab follows me every time I enter the kitchen, panting with excitement at the possibility of food, and has stepped on the rear of both foot ware, ripping out the front strap, both of which have been repeatedly Gorilla Glued, this bulged out gross looking gluing lasting about three months at a time. There is plenty of tread on both these flip flops and I'm not about to go out and pay up to $29 dollars on new ones and have Wilbur, the dog, destroy them, especially since I never wear shoes, being a beach person who only uses sneakers for tennis and basketball, which suffice for situations where shoes are necessary, like weddings or funerals or dinner dates, none of which I've attended in some time.
The old laceless sneakers I use on the beach while walking Wilbur are deposited outside, where they belong, on the sandy doormat beside an old chair on which sits an old rain filled frying pan I have not yet thrown away and God knows why, except that I have a powerful tendency to become sentimental about throwing things away, even if they're utterly broken and worthless.
My shower has a nonstop very leaky faucet and sometimes the drain gets clogged up, but I have made use of a coat hanger and broom handle to successfully unclog it, another proud feather in my cap to keep my rental lady and plumber away, though I tackle this chore only after the shower water threatens to reach above my ankles. Right now, this shower and bathroom is one of the few high functioning bright spots in my life.
Moving out onto the deck, however, from my tiny office where the weak computer sits on a desk found on the street with a FREE sign, there is, I'm ashamed to admit, near squalor. Definitely dog-patch, though, thankfully, nobody can see total wreckage from the alley below; yet there are clues—by the huge rocks atop the railings holding down my comforters, blankets, T shirts and shorts taking in salt air and coastal winds, and the projection of a few rusted chairs (all donated by friends years back) along the railing, where I roost, according to where the sun sets, but mostly late mornings when I read my entire LA Times with coffee and muffins. Near the right front of the deck, is a gaping hole that is covered by a wide board donated by a local building contractor whose sons I coached in baseball. I asked for this board after accidentally stepping into the hole, scraping my calf and finding myself stuck and struggling to get out while a caring neighbor looked on in horror and volunteered to come help me as I cursed savagely, but no, I managed to dislodge myself and treat the wounded calf with salves and bandages from the dollar store.
(Yes, I'm an ex army medic and quick to the cure.)
Anyway, on this deck, there are two Weber bar b cues that have only been used once in the past three or four years, a bunch of oak logs that seem to have shed little particles, a dust coated table (donated by Morely), several faded and torn apart dog toys, a bunch of matted up and discarded blankets and comforters that have braved the elements for years but will not be discarded because Wilbur uses them for his outside roost. In the middle of all this is my rowing machine (which I use), donated, of course, by Morely, that is now rusting due to the tarp having frayed and disintegrated and not yet been replaced, though I intend some day, if I can remember, to fetch a new one at the hardware store in Morro Bay. Currently it is shielded with a sheet of tar paper that does not do well in the rain.
My friend, long suffering Ethan, has of late suggested I get a painted sign to hang from my deck which reads—THIS AIN'T THE HAMPTONS. His reason for such a suggestion is the infestation of tall weeds sprouting up from beside my deck on the swatch of land on my right (my responsibility) which at this point, from the unseasonably heavy rains, are a good two feet high and threaten to go shoulder length, surely a fire hazard, but, to me, a sight so daunting I refuse to think about it. Last year I paid a man a substantial amount to weed whack it down, and before that I did the job with my handled whacker, but I am too lame these days and only rip at the outgrowth directly before the garage, something I plan to do in the near future unless somebody wants to volunteer. These days, green growth sprouts everywhere and has even encroached on the steep walkway from my front door to the alley and has become an impediment on my journeys up and down the stairs.
I can't imagine what neighbors and fellow dog walkers must think when they pass below and Wilbur goes berserk, barking viciously, scrambling in a limp back and forth at the sagging, pealing railing, while I roost nearby and bark weak orders to stop at the dog, who ignores me, until the scurrying victims are well down the road, possibly wondering if the presence of both of us is destroying the value of their new mansions sprouting up all around me in this once funky old beach town that is rapidly gentrifying into something similar to Carmel. Yeh, the Hampton's for sure
Also, accomplishing any endeavor around the abode is a struggle with the person writing this article really, really, really falling apart. I mean, a left shoulder was needed to be replaced six years ago according to the orthopedic surgeon who worked on my knee, which is also arthritic, as well as a hip salvaged only by yoga, a neck once herniated badly and only slightly flexible, toe nails falling off or cracking, teeth literally falling out of my head, a chronically leaky nose from several vicious fractures, failing eyesight and ineffective glasses bent from being accidentally sat upon, and a deteriorating brain that has rendered me so forgetful that I might lose concentration amid any attempt to do any maintenance and find myself wandering into a room and wondering why I'm there.
I fear burning the place down, which would probably be for the good of all.
So there it is, a man falling apart day by day, but taking pride in small victories like the duct tape and Gorilla Glue and drain successes, yes, and a realization that if everything you own, including your own hide, is utterly damaged beyond repair, there's nothing much to lose and life goes on in its own rickety fashion.