household magic

Things keep breaking around the house. I want that to stop. I want the light sockets that blew out to start working again without being asked. I want the wet splotchy cluttered basement to stop being wet and splotchy and cluttered on its own. I want the rooms with scratched and stained walls to paint themselves. I want the attic to organize its crap into orderly stacks. I want the dust bunnies to vacuum themselves and the toilets to plunge themselves and the floors and stairs to sweep themselves with an army of magically autonomous mops and brooms (cue “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”!). I want all this to happen now. Yesterday. Two weeks ago. Last year.

A couple weeks back, on one of the milder Saturdays, my furnace decided to konk out. I didn’t much note its konking, being oblivious by nature. I just layered on fleece after fleece after fleece after fleece, like someone migrating across the Bering Strait, until my highly observant daughter noted that the thermostat was cranked way way way up and yet the temperature inside the house was still, like, 55 degrees. Nothing I did helped. Cranking it down and then up again did not help. Cranking it way way way upper did not help. Re-lighting the pilot did not help.

And so I left a message with the gas guy. When the gas guy called me back, he had some adorably screaming wee ones in the background, and I felt terrible to pull papa away from his babies, especially on a Saturday, but, you know, 55 degrees. He came. I took him into the wet splotchy cluttered basement and dragged a big old bin of Legos out of the way. He then proceeded to fix the furnace in about three minutes flat (fried copper coupling was the culprit), and in that flat three minutes we chatted about his kids. One of them was a 3-year-old boy.

Does your son like Legos? I asked, wiping down the box with a rag.

“Oh! He loves ’em!” said the gas guy, eyes on the furnace. “He has so many!”

Do you think he’d want these?

I popped the lid on the bin and showed him the contents: an explosion of little plastic nuggets of building nirvana. Fun to play with. Hell to step on.

The gas guy looked up. His eyes popped.

“Oh, wow. Yes. Wow. Really?”


“You sure?”

I’m sure. You’re doing me a favor. Seriously. Look at this place.

“Thank you!” he said, then finished fixing the furnace. I finished wiping down the box o’ Legos. Our jobs done, we talked a bit about payment and a bit about winter and spring and a bit more about kids. And then he picked up his tools, and I picked up the Legos, and we mounted the stairs, leaving the basement behind us. It was wet and splotchy  as ever, but a little (just a little) less cluttered. And it did that on its own. All it needed was a broken furnace and a little boy to make it happen. Magic.



5 thoughts on “household magic

  1. I get it. Unfortuntely, I have a 4 bed room house for me & Max, the cat, since my husband of 30 years died in May. Kids, though they are really young men in lat 20’s are not ready for stuff. Guess I am not ready to divest either. But, so much to keep up especially with the snow this winter. I know the feeling about things happening for no apparent reason other then to make one crazier than we are already. I think I have legos and know I have at least a huge box of books and the Fisher Price Farm in my attic (no wee-ones any time soon that I know of and no other houses). I guess I need to learn to let go!

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