bunt sign

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

The sun didn't exactly blaze today, but it gave off just enough heat and just enough light to justify its reputation. Since I made a point of saying I'd set up the new birdbath if the sun came out, I made time to do it this morning. It didn't seem like something I could screw up. It's just three parts — the base, the bowl and the connecting rod.

Ah, but I can make anything more complicated. First, I found a tiny chip that had broken off, so I glued it back on. I'm not sure, but I think I made it look worse than if I'd just pretended I didn't see it.

Then I moved the old upturned flower pot out of the way. This had served as the base for my temporary birdbath, but what I didn't know was that the earth underneath it was building up to fill the empty space. So I had to dig up that pile of damp dirt and pull the weeds around the spot. Then a few more weeds, and a few more, and I could have kept going but it was taking up time when the Boss had every right to assume I was working.

For the next half hour I tried and tried, but I could never get the base to sit flat enough that the bowl wouldn't tilt at an angle that kept it from holding enough water to do any good. I finally gave up trying to make it perfect and settled for good enough. That's how I make up for not being able to do things right — I settle for good enough.

I was so pleased with myself for completing one half-assed engineering project that I decided to try another one. David gave me the birdbath for my birthday Monday, but he also gave me a bird feeder. For Christmas. The year before last. It's been gathering cobwebs in the loft because I couldn't find a tree limb to hang it from.

There are plenty of trees around here, but the limbs are either weak, or growing at the wrong angle, or too far from the house to let me get any benefit out of the feeder. I mean, if I'm going to feed the birds, I want to be able to watch them. The old oak on the back forty would have worked fine if I could have moved the house a hundred yards or so and rotated it so the window was facing the right direction.

So I decided to hang the feeder off the porch overhang. It seems so simple that I don't know why it took me a year and a half, except I didn't know if I wanted to attract birds to the porch, where I sit and read on summer afternoons. It just got to the point that it was there or nowhere.

Of course, I made a big production out of it. I had to move the wooden wind chimes to the other side of the porch, which meant screwing another hook into the overhang. Tools! I had to use tools! As a tool-o-phobe who lacks any pretense of manual dexterity, I find this intimidating. Somehow installing a simple hook involved a hammer, a screwdriver, a nail, a pair of pliers and a stepstool. I'm sure anyone else would have done it in fewer steps, but I got the job done. It was good enough, anyway.

Unfortunately, that was only half the job. I also had to put the feeder together. In this case there were three big pieces — the floor, the roof, and the plastic cylinder that holds the food — plus a pin that connects the whole assemblage together. Oh, and a nut and washer. This was almost too much for my poor skills, but they provided diagrams, plus instructions in a language that resembled English. I was never fully convinced that I'd put the thing together right, but so far it seems to be holding up.

The feeder saw a little action late this afternoon, when a pair of house finches started chasing each other in and out of it. I'm still waiting for the new birdbath's first customer, but maybe tomorrow while I'm gone the sparrows, finches and jays will discover it.


My new birdbath will not always be this lopsided.

I keep forgetting that I'm not going to be here tomorrow. (But you don't, because I keep reminding you.) It's hard to procrastinate when there's no tomorrow. Out of habit, I'll go down the to-do list and the first things I'll do will be the ones I can't put off until tomorrow. Anything that's left I'll blow off for the day if I possibly, possibly can. When you get into a comfortable routine like that, it's easy to forget that tomorrow is not just a day away. Sorry, Annie. I'm going to the game.

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