FROM THE VALLEY: Disappointment: not in my vocabulary

Tom Valley

I had a doctor's appointment in August. Actually, I had two different doctor appointments. Problem was, I was at the St. Lawrence River, 250 miles away. That meant taking a break from the pleasurable lifestyle of a river rat, with which I'd become quite comfortable.

But, as they say … ya gotta do what ya gotta do. By the way, if you cancel an appointment, why isn't it called a "disappointment"? Never mind.

My wife, Kathie, also had some business to take care of, so she took the trip home as well. She drove her own car from camp because she was not going to return to the river in a week like I was. She needed a few extra days to catch up with the 30 million charitable organizations through which she volunteers her time. (Great person, by the way).

Kathie left the river a few hours ahead of me. I decided to stuff a cooler with as much of the frozen, filleted fish that I'd caught as possible. This was a good opportunity to make room in the freezer for more. And, I thought, Kathie would be proud of me for thinking of it.

When we got home to Medina, Kathie gave me the compliment that I so desperately craved for my foresight, my absolutely brilliant idea. I basked in the glory of one of my few-and-far-between ideas as though I'd just cured the common cold. Dang, I'm good.

While home we tended to things that needed attention. Things like catching up on the mail, mowing the lawn and maybe a round or two of golf. And, of course, something always happens that throws a wrench in the works when you're on a schedule … or not.

Set out in front of our house is a pergola. It's an arbor-like structure that stands about 12 feet tall at its peak. One of the structural beams in it had cracked substantially and was ready to collapse from dry rot. It was dangerous. Knowing I didn't have the time to fix it, I got some long 2-by-4s and stuck them underneath to support the weakened sections. It would have to do until after we came back again.

I mentally washed my hands of the situation and went back to camp with my flea-bus dog, Maggie. Kathie said she'd follow in two or three days after she had saved the world, got everyone in the U.S. vaccinated and paved a three-mile stretch of road in front of our house.

Maggie and I were at camp for several days ahead of Kathie and easily got back into the swing of things. I wanted to get some things done before she got there so that I could get another "attaboy." (They're addictive.)

Maggie acted strange the first couple of days. I figured she just missed Kathie. Until …

I opened the freezer and a slime-like glob started oozing down from the top of the refrigerator. I got on my tiptoes, reached up and to my horror there was a thawed bag of eight fillets I'd placed there and forgot … about 10 days earlier while packing the cooler. I have zero, nada, no sense of smell. (You can add brain cells to that.) Maggie's senses are full tilt. That's why she was acting so strangely.

It was the most disgusting maggot-filled mess you could possibly imagine. And three times as hard to clean up. Kathie could detect a llama fart in Istanbul from anywhere on the planet, and as much as I scrubbed, scoured and sprayed stuff to get rid of it, I knew that she would call as soon as she reached Syracuse, 125 miles away, to ask, “What stinks?”

Anyhow, moving on: Things soon got back to normal at the “Labor Camp.” Of course, I'd lost those eight nice fillets but was comforted by the fact that I had taken a bunch home. And there was also the good news that Kathie shared with me: Our son and his buddies were going to go over to our house, the day after she left, and take down the pergola. A huge job that needed to be done, off the books. Super.

It was about two or three weeks later when our daughter called. She was at our house watering plants and wanted to know if I knew that the cable was out. That was odd. She then noticed that the power was out in the computer room. She also said the automatic garage door wasn't working. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

I asked her, sensing what had happened, to check the breakers in the electrical box. Sure enough, when my son tore down the pergola he had to remove the light fixture and thus, had rightfully/wisely thrown the breaker switch off.

Unfortunately, it was the same breaker to the outlet that the freezer — containing the fish — was plugged into. It had been off for more than two weeks. Goodbye … more … fish.

I don't blame my son. He was there doing us a big favor, it's not his fault. How was he to know? Nonetheless, I won't mention his name. No need to embarrass Eric for something he wasn't even aware of.

Sure, disappointments stink — badly, so I'm told — but they can't dampen … life on the river.

And that's the way it looks from the Valley.

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