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Sunday, March 9, 2003

When someone asks you to rearrange your weekend for them, doesn't that mean they have to show up on time? It's not a law or anything, but isn't that how the world is supposed to work? Obviously there's no way to enforce it, or I wouldn't have dragged my weary body out of bed so early this morning for nothing.

Whoever winds my inner clock has some explaining to do. I wasn't expecting my landlord until nine, and yet I woke up at a quarter of seven. (Do people still say "a quarter of seven" in this digital age? It was 6:45 in the morning.) I slept off and on for another hour (that is, until a quarter of eight), then got up and turned the furnace on. Then I went back to bed for half an hour, until the house got warm enough to be lived in.

Getting up early allowed me a glimpse of the turkey that wandered through my yard this morning. At first I thought it was the local pheasant, but the coloring wasn't right and it didn't seem as purposeful as it walked along. It kept stopping and looking around, as if not quite sure where it was or how it managed to get there. I know the feeling well.

I chased the turkey around the house, lamely trying to get a photo, but the best I could do was the shot below of the creature ambling out the driveway toward the road. I later saw it in the field on the other side of the house, with another turkey trailing behind. (Actually, I couldn't really tell which one was in front.) The two of them kept turning up in the far fields that surround me at various times during the day, just walking with no apparent destination in mind. I think I know that feeling, too.

If Landlord Fred had shown up on time to fix my sink, I wouldn't have wasted the whole day. At least, that's what I like to tell myself, looking back on all the empty hours. I turned on the TV just once, long enough to watch the Ground Force Nelson Mandela special on BBC America. I didn't even play any music or listen to the ballgame. I just sat in silence and read, falling asleep a couple of times.

By 11:30 am, it felt like late afternoon already. The appointed hour of 9:00 am had come and gone with no word. I kept thinking he'd show up and fix the sink, and then I'd have the rest of the day to get things done. Every so often I'd get out of my chair to check on the turkeys. After seeing them in the distance on all four sides of the house at various times, they disappeared for awhile.

I assumed they'd found their way home, but later there they were, retracing their steps, probably forgetting they'd been past any give spot a couple of times already. They didn't seem alarmed, almost as if they knew that if they kept going they'd eventually get somewhere, and they didn't much care where that turned out to be. Yep.

Fred finally got here at a quarter of two. He clanked around in the kitchen for half an hour and then announced that he was finished. "Before you go," I said, "can I ask you something about the door you fixed yesterday?"

He took a look and agreed that I should be able to pull the door shut from the outside without having to turn the knob. He took the whole assembly apart and examined it, but he couldn't see what was causing the problem. There must be a little piece inside that's broken, he told me. He's going to replace it. I'm not holding my breath, but it does give me some satisfaction to know that (a) I'm not crazy, and (2) it's going to get taken care of.

And I can always write a reminder note and slip it in with my rent check. The last time I tried that it only took a year to get him here with his tool box.


This turkey has no idea where it's going except away from me.

I could look on this as a wasted day, counting up all the things I could and should have done. But I wouldn't mind spending more Sundays this way. I got a lot of reading done, and I even worked in the yard a bit (not until after he left, though). It was peaceful, and I got away from the pressures of work without having to leave the pleasures of home. Working at home doesn't give me that very often.

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I'm still reading the Anne Tyler book, which takes place partly in Baltimore (as do most of her novels). Every time one of her characters says the name of the city, I recall that Baltimore is one of those towns where the natives can spot an outsider by the way he pronounces it. New Orleans is that way, too, although I wouldn't presume to try to imitate the local idiom.

San Francisco is another of those towns. We who grew up around the Bay Area can tell when someone is from elsewhere if they call San Francisco "San Francisco," saying the second a as a clear, flat vowel. Here it's "San Fr'ncisco," with both ns pronounced so faintly it's as if they were mostly swallowed. "Sa'fr'cisco." Like that, almost.

No, you'll never get it quite right. We'll still be able to tell, but we won't hold it against you, as long as you never ever call it "Frisco." Ugh. I can hardly even write it.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Brittle Boundaries
"We hold people accountable for the evil acts they perform, but we don't punish the innocent just to make sure the guilty are punished as well."

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