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The Hawk's Nest

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Life without Linda

     Last weekend, Linda drove to the ”big city” to spend some time with her daughter. I was wondering if I still had what it takes to survive without support.
    I decided I needed a project that would keep me busy, but not be too strenuous.
    The perfect project became clear quickly—our beautiful, Douglas fir steps still hadn’t been finished. With Linda gone, I could live without using them for a few days. Sleeping on the couch isn’t my first choice, but I can do it. The couch is not as bad as sleeping here with her in another state, but I got through that, too. Our closet is upstairs, but that didn’t have to be a problem either. I can live for a few days in the same clothes, so it seemed like an excellent plan.
    So Linda left. I spent some time in withdrawal, but still managed to get by. I got out the sandpaper, four different grits, and the sander and up the steps I started. Suddenly I realized that I better get something to cover the furniture in the living room where I would be working. This is definitely a “Linda” influence. Had she been here, I would have started and, when I looked up, everything would have been covered. Somehow, I knew that with her 300 miles away it wouldn’t happen if I didn’t do it myself. Not only that, but it even seemed like a good idea. I was really proud.
    Sanding is one of those therapeutic jobs. You keep doing the same thing over and over, but at the same time you really are accomplishing a task. It’s kind of mindless, so the radio can be blaring out some old rock and roll song without interfering with your thought processes. On the other hand, you have to stay with it a little so you don’t sand a hole in the middle of a step.
    As the wood started to come alive, after a couple of days under the sander, other things seemed to be happening as well. For one, dirty clothes seemed to appear around the house. That was a truly strange phenomenon since I was still in the same t-shirt and shorts. There is a theory that when a man is in a house alone for any length of time that dirty clothes start to breed. I don’t understand it, but I saw it happen. Another theory is that if a man sees it happen he is on the road to Domesti City, a city where I’ve spent little time.
    Other mysteries started happening as well. Beer bottles appeared and then didn’t disappear. This doesn’t happen when Linda is here. Where do they come from and how do they multiply so fast? I tried to keep them off of the steps where I was working. As soon as I noticed one had gotten there somehow, I would remove it. There was a time when I never noticed them at all until someone showed up and was rude enough to point them out. That may be another sign of getting close to that same city.
    Several years ago, just after Linda and I got together, a friend came for dinner. Linda was late and called to ask me to start cooking the rice. Our friend showed up just as I was discovering that there was no Minute Rice, only the kind that comes without instructions. I asked if she knew how to fix rice. I was glad to hear that she did and a little surprised when she told me it was very easy. When she saw the doubtful look on my face, she laughed and said, “Linda caught you just in time, just before you turned completely feral!”
    When we sat down to eat, they were still enjoying the learning curve I was in. “It’s a good thing that Linda came into your life when she did or you would be sitting cross-legged in the forest, grunting and eating grubs by now,” she proclaimed. I thought about it for a while. I have enough trouble with English. I don’t think I want to learn the Grunt language. But I have wondered if grubs are easier to fix than rice.
    Anyway, back to the steps. I sanded for several hours, removing beer bottles and dirty clothes when they appeared, until I was done with the very fine sandpaper. I then went back and hand sanded anything that felt rougher than satin, or at least rougher than what I think satin feels like.
    It was time for the finish. Someone said that any wood sealer needed to be Swedish. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m half Swedish, thanks to my mom Elsie Peterson, so I decided I had that taken care of. I opened the can and stirred gently, so as not to raise any bubbles, and started in on the top step.
    When I was done with the bottom step, I opened a beer and looked for a place to rest. I headed for my leather recliner only to discover it had a blue tarp over it. It took a moment, but I did remember covering it. I took off the tarp. Wouldn’t you know it? Dirty clothes were resting there. I pushed them aside, sat down and reached over to the side table to set my beer down, only to find the table already covered with bottles.
    So as Linda was driving out of the big city, I decided to get a little more familiar with my newly found Domesti City. I’m still not sure what happens, but walking around with a bag gathering bottles, and a basket gathering clothes does make a difference in the place. For a guy who is not real comfortable in the city, it’s scary to think this is one I could get used to.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

Linda, bachelor

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