It began with the dryer. One day i returned home after a long day to do an evening load of laundry. On 45 minutes of sleep i was as usual just going through the motions of my life. I was on autopilot, wordlessly moving things about the one room house to get everything done in time to wake up at midnight to go to work at 4 while a tv court show created background noise to keep me conscious. The little chime signaled the conclusion of the wash cycle and i sauntered over to the stacked units, opened the doors to the laundry machines, and transferred all of the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I closed the door, pushed the power button, pressed medium, and then start. The machine roared to life and as i was walking away it stopped. I thought, of course i hadn’t closed the door well so i slammed and held it and then pushed start again. It roared to life. As i walked away it stopped. I thought, maybe i somehow touched the dial and took it off my presaved settings. Maybe it was no longer on normal. Maybe it was on more dry, which did tend to run a bit and then stop, or wrinkle saver which tended to run a bit and stop as well. I went and got the step stool, placed it on the ground, and stood on it so i could see the settings on the dryer. The little blue square above the dial lit up under normal. I closed the door and pressed start. It ran and then stopped. I pressed start again. It ran and then stopped. I pressed start again. It paused, then ran, and then stopped. I decided that something must be wrong with the unit. I should investigate. Perhaps it was an easy fix. I pulled out the lint trap and pressed the flap beneath it. There was extra lint tucked down under the flap and extending into the tunnel. I would remove that and try again. I stuck my arm all the way down in the tunnel beneath the flap and pulled up every bit of lint that was hanging down. Then i detached the tube from the back of the dryer to the wall, looking for lint. There was no lint, just dirt. I reattached the tube to the back of the dryer and threw all the lint away. I closed the door to the dryer and pushed start. It ran for a bit and then stopped. I stared at the dryer in an angry haze of sleep deprivation. I stared at it some more, as if it had the answer…i just had to suss it out of it in an interrogation room. I grabbed the dryer unit with both hands and shook it screaming, “No! Noooo! Nooooooo! No!” I opened and closed the door again and again pushing “start” “start” “start”…. I tried perm press, normal, delicates, more dry, wrinkle guard, bedding…i tried them all. Each time the music keyed up and each time i opened the door it tinkled down. Eventually i had to accept that it was not going to work. Not ready to do that, i beat the dryer repeatedly with my fists screaming “No! Noooo! Nooooooo! No. Nooo!” The dogs stared at me pensively.
The first order of business was that the wet clothing had to be dried. I loaded the clothes into the car in trash bags and drove them into town. There was only one laundry mat i would use in a highly trafficked area that was always bustling with people because it was attached to a place of business with late hours. I would only use this one laundromat because i’d had a previous negative experience in a laundromat and understood just how often predators and human traffickers used laundry mats as hunting grounds because you are a sitting duck, a captive audience. You cant leave or your laundry will be stolen. So i used $4.25 to dry this load of laundry in a laundry mat and dealt with all the usual creepsters, including the guy who parked himself one table over and narrated my every move while i ignored him before telling him he needed a hobby and retreating to take a nap in the car. When i returned to retrieve my laundry he stood 7 or 8 feet from me while i folded and narrated again, “Oh tough chica is back to fold her undies eh? Look at you. You think you’re so bad. You think you’re bad? What kind of clothes are those tough girl? What are you a nurse or something? Hey how much money you make? Do they pay nurses good? You ignoring me tough girl? You think you’re too good to talk to me, huh?” I continued folding my laundry in silent anger. He was baiting me. He wanted a response. I said what i had to say and i said nothing else. When i was finished folding the laundry i put it in the trash bags and wheeled it out to the car. I loaded the car and pushed the cart back into the laundromat. I climbed into the drivers seat and headed home in the dark. I swore i’d never set foot in a laundromat again and yet the funk of the dog bedding and the fact that i built a chicken pen too close to the laundry line meant i now had no choice. I would return to the laundromat many times over the next month. This would be a problem not only because of the creepsters but because my bank did not have a location near the small town i lived in. The bank i had my mortgage through would not give me quarters because i didnt have a checking account and i had to drive 1.5 hours to get quartets from the bank i had a checking account with. The dollar general offered an option of getting cash back but had a message written on a “hello my name is:” tag taped to the back of the cash register that said “no cash back”. Then if you managed to obtain cash back, none of the banks would exchange it for quarters unless you could prove you had an account with them. It was a whole big headache full of judgmental dressy ladies who felt i was being a negligent adult who needed to get my life together and one really itchy tweaker with no teeth who said nothing but just kept flicking the “hello my name is” tag back and forth rapidly between her fingers for way too long while scratching and swatting at things i couldn’t see.
i did manage to obtain 30 dollars worth of quarters so that will hold me for a while. Don’t ask how, it’s a longer story. The important thing is that i have them. Though i gave 4 of them away to a teenage girl when she didnt have enough to start the machine and a guy told her he’d fund her laundry load if she did a dance for him. I put the quarters in and pressed start. She was high school aged. Men in laundromats are ******* pigs. I guess he took offense that i spoiled his fun because of all the empty dryers in the whole facility, he chose the one right above the one i was using. My laundry was done drying but i couldn’t pull it out because he had pulled his cart in front of the door to load the dryer above it. I watched him as he stood there and loaded each garment very slowly one at a time. When he was finished he left his cart in front of the dryers and went to sit down nearby. I pushed the cart to the side and removed my laundry a few garments at a time to fold them on the nearby table, in order to prevent wrinkles. Occasionally he used his foot to kick the cart back in front of our dryers. I moved his cart to the other side, near the bathroom, and now it was out of reach.
I used youtube to narrow down what was wrong with my dryer. After research and then trial and error i isolated the problem to the moisture sensor. A small couple lines of metal embedded in the same piece of plastic as the lint trap were convinced the laundry was dry and therefore turned off the heating mechanism so as not to start a fire. In fact the clothes were soaking wet. The metal bits were mistaken. The internet said residue can build up on them and confuse them and so sometimes sanding them with extra fine grit sand paper could render them accurate once again. I tried this. Nothing happened. So, it would have to be replaced. I could only use a screw driver to remove the plastic bit holding the moisture sensor and lint trap because the screws were in these finger length and width plastic tunnels. The drill wouldnt fit. So i stood on a stool flipped backwards laying in the dryer drum on a pillow draped over the ledge of the doorway and twisted the screw driver in an attempt to free the plastic bit in question. After hours and hours and so much visceral screaming at the heavens i was able to remove two out of three screws. The third screw was not only stripped but so too was the tunnel it was in. It turned round and round but did not come out in any way. I tried to super glue the screwdriver to it but couldnt really tell if i was even on the screw since my hand was twisted around and the screw driver was in a dark tight tunnel that allowed no light in. After multiple days of tears and begging God i realized that if i hadn’t removed the screw in 14+ hours of trying i wasn’t going to be able to remove the screw. I had even bought a drill kit for stripped screws…despite the fact that at some point i was aware that the drill did not reach to the location of the screw. I don’t know why i thought that would fix the problem. So i found a coworker whose Uncle (had his own construction business) was going to come over and get the stripped screw out. Then i got covid again and the house was a quarantine zone. My grandmother funded some new appliances and i was ready to just be done with this thing and let somebody else handle the disaster of a dryer issue i was having. So i closed the door to the dryer, removed the lint trap (those things come in handy for other projects…keep in shed for future inventions). I also wanted the tubing and the old stack kit but the guys that hauled it away werent willing to take it if i kept that stuff (they are likely going to fix what i couldnt and either use it or sell it). They are not likely to be happy when they realize the lint trap is missing. Hello boys, welcome to my level of frustration in life. It’s not all peaches. Enjoy.
After the dryer went the next thing to go was the septic tank. There is a flap that opens when you flush the toilet and this flap is staying open for longer and longer periods of time with each flush, allowing ghastly air to enter and fill the house. Obviously i stopped using the toilet. The bathroom now has a home depot bucket with a lid. It must be emptied onto the compost pile daily. At this point with the biblical amounts of grasshoppers the compost is not for gardening. I’ve given up on that. Its merely a way to get rid of fruit and veg scraps that the chickens cant eat so that im not trying so hard to smush the trash down to our designated two bags each monday. Toilet paper now goes in the trash.
It was about this time that i noticed the ice cubes in the freezer were water. They stayed that way for 3 days. It seemed like this was more than the usual faulty seals. Then the refrigerator stopped working. All my condiments, my vegan butter, my oat milk…it all soured. The flax oil went rancid and tasted like paint. The whole thing began to stink in such an awful way. So i got out most of the perished items and then refused to open it anymore. It’s now a room temperature plastic cabinet. The motor has stopped making a noise.
The windshield wiper fluid pump on the car is broken. The shock absorbers went so the steering wheel literally bounces out of my hands while im going down the road. It feels like im riding a galloping horse thats more lethal, difficult to steer, and less fun. There’s a flat plastic piece hanging down from the bottom of my car. It drags on hills. The other day i was driving around and realized the air conditioner had also gone out on the car. I had it at level 4, was driving for over an hour, and the air was still hot. So add that to the list of things that are broken.
My credit card was compromised and i had to cancel it after it was used at a gas station pump where the red sticker was broken. I thought to look but only after i had inserted the card. In my defense it was 4 am and i’d had 1 collective hour of sleep. So i signed up for a second credit card considering how often this happens and i end up with no way of buying things for 5 to 7 business days.
My glasses seemingly cracked, they showed me that it was just a shard of lens, and not a crack. Then 1 day later they were cracked for real at the opposite edge of the lens.
During this time i bought, broke, and fixed a drying rack only to learn i can’t use it for multiple reasons and offer it to a family member.
In the midst of all this mechanical nonsense my dog Cashew decided to get in on the fun. I came home one day and stuck the key in the door only to be greeted by a loose dog. My brain died a little bit in that moment. How was this possible? I’d left her in the crate. Well, she was an Australian shepherd and the short answer to the question was, it was possible because the crate was not padlocked. She had in fact gone full hulk and the metal crate was literally bent out of its box shape and into a strange blob. As i looked around the only noise i could make was, “ah, aah, aaah…”. There was urine and potting soil all over the floor. The indoor plants were trashed. The urine and potting soil mixture was smeared all over the floor, the door, the windows, a curtain, and up to the light switches on the walls. It was on the counter, on the stove, the edge of the sink….she had smeared it over several appliance manuals, all my birthday and christmas cards….then seemingly shredded them all over the floor. The house was an absolute wreck. The further i scanned the room with my eyes the worse it got. I suddenly realized she was next to me wagging her stumpy tail and my hands began to shake. My insides filled with rage. Delivery of laundry units was set for two days. We were supposed to be cleaning, not dirtying. It was always one more thing, one more thing….well this was a lot of a thing. There were so many layers to the destruction. The urine would have to be removed, both color and scent, the potting soil smears gotten out of the wall paint, the crate would need replaced, she would need bathed, i would need to purchase a padlock…the cards would have to be salvaged or mourned, the floors and walls scrubbed…. I was in such dismay and overwhelm. I decided the day was progressing and there was no time to deal with the emotion of it, i would have to get to the solution of it first. I was furious with cashew and did all sorts of screaming at her, then told her to load up in the car, which she did. The dog food and potting soil were in the trunk but i figured it was just a short ride to the dollar general and we’d be back. There was no room for them in the shed. Well, when they added produce to the dollar general they took out a lot of other stuff. So they took out padlocks. Without a crate i couldnt leave her at home so she had to come with me to buy a padlock in kerrville. I drove to kerrville with the dog in the trunk on top of the bags of dog food and potting soil.
I called the pet shop to see if i could book a bath in their bathing station so i could have some place to put her while i ran to HEB and bought a padlock. they said the earliest they could fit her in would be 5:30 pm and she would need in hand paper records of all her shots. She didnt have the distemper shot and one other i couldnt afford. All id gotten them was the rabies, and i definitely didnt have the records in hand. So, i gave up on this idea. The groomer noted that if i wanted to bathe her myself in the same station i needed no records, though this did not solve my problem of needing the padlock, the whole reason we came to town besides obtaining a new crate. I called our veterinarian and asked if i could pay to board her for one hour today to run to HEB and buy a padlock. The vet was not amused that i intended to padlock the aussie into her crate…the same vet who knew full well why she couldnt be left outside alone because he had treated her for sticking her head in a rattlesnake and suffering the consequences, chewing electrical cords, aluminum cans, and consuming poisonous mushrooms. I wasn’t interested in his judgment of my dog parenting today i realized amidst our conversation that i would not be permitted to leave her at the vet either because i had refused the two vaccinations besides rabies at their annual visit. I then decided to solve one problem at a time. I first needed a crate. To obtain the crate i had to buy a leash to get Cashew out of the hot car so she wouldn’t die while i was doing it. So i bought a leash, returned to get her, and bought a crate. I figured while i was there i might as well bathe her, so i paid for a bathing station, hooked her to the wall, used their soap and conditioner, rinsed her with the warm water, and then asked them to turn on the blow dryer in station 3. Cashew did not like the blow dryer and unlike my other dog, she is not submissive and if she doesnt like something she will tell you. She tried to bite the blow dryer several times and became absolutely enraged that i would turn this apparatus on her. I used my quiet stern voice to explain to her that dogs that smear the house in urine and mud get blow dried. When she continued to bite at it i put a stop to it with a couple stern sharp “No.” cues and a glance as i held onto her tether tightly. She relented and stopped biting the plastic tube but continued to tense all her muscles and show her distaste for the item all over her face. I should mention i skipped a part where a groomer was returning a very prim and proper fluffy little dog to its owner after a grooming session, bath, and styling bows. The lady was telling the groomer about her dog’s pedigree when she said, “Hold on. Let me pick him up. This dog here looks like it might try something. He looks like he might be vicious.” Cashew literally never barked once, paid her dog zero mind, walked right past the cats in cages, and went into the bath station with no trouble. I have no idea what made her think Cashew was vicious but the look she gave me when we passed her was one of disgust. I had this big dirty dog and she had her perfectly manicured toy. I had about as much time for her opinion as i had for the vet. It was my job to handle the situation on my hands and parent my dog, not worry about her judgements or values, skewed as they may be.
When Cashew was clean the store clerk loaded the crate into our back seat and i set out for HEB unsure how i was going to obtain a padlock with the dog in tow. I knew there was a rule that pets could not come in, only service dogs. Everybody broke that rule but i would not. I asked an employee if someone could just run in and buy one padlock with my cash and return. She suggested i just lie and put her in the basket claiming she is a service animal. I told her i couldnt lie and she was not a service animal. She went to get her manager whom i had worked under for my last four weeks. She came up to me as if we’d never met and recited the whole corporate policy on pets and handling of cash. Once i understood the answer was no she took it upon herself to explain to me why no one could hold my dog for me. I was perturbed by this because she was explaining why the answer was no to something i’d never asked for. I told her that nobody needed to hold my dog and that this was never on the table as the dog had to stay with me. It was a matter of whether someone could take cash in and buy a padlock, not whether someone could hold my dog. She simply repeated why no one could hold my dog three additional times as if i had made a plea that someone should. I looked at her in utter disappointment that she could not use her brain and chat with me like a real person right now. She was busy regurgitating some policy on why employees could not hold dogs for a fourth time when i told her firmly again, “i heard you and i understood you. Im not disputing you. You can stop.” She then stood next to me while i called people i knew in town trying to see if they would come up here, take my money inside, and buy a padlock if i let them keep the change for their troubles. No one answered. It seemed as if she was standing by to make sure i didn’t run in with the dog when she wasnt looking. I noted, “if i was going to break the rules i would have just lied and said she was a service dog.” At this point she cocked her head, nodded, and went back inside after telling me one more time that the dog could not come in and nobody could take my money, that they could not do business with me today and i would have to come back another day when i didnt have the dog. If i did not obtain a padlock the dog could never be left anywhere without me, so, this was the small hiccup in that plan. Unable to reach any friends in town i now had two choices: leave the dog in the hot car without a/c or leave the car running and unlocked with the key in the ignition and risk it being stolen. Several cars had been stolen from this very parking lot with our security officer on his scooter doing the rounds so this was a very real possibility. I decided to leave the car unlocked and running. I ran in. All the staff saw me but the dog was not with me so they couldnt refuse me service. Im sure they wondered what i did with the dog and i didnt care. I grabbed the padlock, paid at self checkout, went through the exit, and ran back to the car. Three basket boys were ever so slowly collecting and dragging baskets from docks on either side of my car. They were meant to be spread throughout the whole lot and they were all surrounding my car. They had been watching the whole thing from start to finish as they brought baskets in. I realized what they’d done for me and was grateful but didnt acknowledge it as i knew we were on camera and didnt want to get them in trouble with the boss in any way. I climbed into the car with my padlock and started towards home with a clean and living dog (this was the last day the a/c in the car worked by the way), a padlock, a new leash, and a crate. Once home i put the dogs outside and spent hours cleaning, scrubbing, and deodorizing the mess. I could not for the life of me understand what possessed Cashew to go ape shit and the-hulk bust out of her crate to go on this little field trip through the indoor plants and why had she smeared it all over the walls?! I got my answer around 2 am the following morning. At 12:04 am Sili sat straight up in bed and would not lay down. She moved herself in between me and my pillow and would not budge. I checked to see if there was a snake or scorpion she was trying to guard me from. There wasnt. She could not be persuaded to move. I thought she’d lost the plot. What was wrong with her? Both she and Cashew pointed to the window with interest. I wondered what it was that was out there that had them both interested. I purposely crated both dogs and stepped out onto the porch myself. What i heard was absolute silence. The darkness was still. Not a cricket, a bird, or a toad made a single noise. The only time the night is quiet in the country is when there is a large animal in close proximity. Everything small goes quiet to avoid detection by something that could eat them. Something was very near in the darkness. I didnt like it, but i didnt have time to wait for it to go away. I had to get ready for work and the dogs had to go out in the dog run to potty. So i set the water bowl in the dog run, keeping my ears alert for any growl or grunt in the darkness. I heard nothing but silence. I leashed the dogs and took them to the run one by one. I bungeed the run shut so Cashew couldn’t let herself out and went back to getting ready for work inside the house. When i returned to herd the dogs inside so i could leave for work the silence was still deafening. Not a cricket stirred. Then both dogs perked their ears up and stood at attention at the gate in the dog run. The silence was marred by a noise i recognized at once; hogs. The darkness was full of wild hogs. I wondered if this was what Cashew had gone ape shit about when i was gone for a mere half day the day before. Sure enough, that afternoon, i would walk around the house and find hog prints underneath the window where Cashew’s crate stood before she utterly destroyed it. They had come around the side of the house, traipsed in front of it, detoured over to eat the discarded chicken feed around the pen, and gone right down the dirt driveway and through the gate. So the dog went ape shit which i was not happy about but at least now i knew why. She had to have heard hogs so loud right outside the window. Sigh. Just another disaster to add to the list for the time being.
I was drying laundry at a friend’s house at 8:30 at night when our mutual friend came to pick up some device that was supposed to help hip pain. She asked why i wasn’t at the friday group and i laughed and said, “oh i have a few things that are broken that ive been trying to deal with and i just kind of knew making it to the group wasn’t something in the cards for me right now.” She asked what was broken. I then told her everything you just read and she turned to my other friend and said, “Look at her. She’s laughing. I’d be crying, curled up in the fetal position right now and she’s laughing. You have such a good attitude.” Her statement knocked me back a bit as i hadnt realized my outward reaction didnt match my inward one. Outward i appeared somewhat put together, like the recent events didnt bother me and i had some sort of direction or plan. Inward there was a little figure in a red track suit with a terry cloth headband and wild hair running around in circles pulling fire alarms, hitting panic buttons, and just straight up screaming. I laughed to myself. Somehow i had succeeded in portraying a semblance of maturity. She thought i was adulting well and i wasn’t going to correct her. I told her i hoped her hip felt better, gave her a long hug, and returned to my laundry. Perhaps that was what maturity was about…hearing the little dude in one’s head in a track suit with its panic buttons and then ignoring said dude while he does his thing. I suddenly realized that the series of disasters i was currently dealing with seemed like disasters to others as well. My friend asked, “How do you do it?” I answered, “The dogs are alive, the chickens are alive, Im alive, the property is not repossessed by the bank (knock on wood that never happens), we’re not living in a war zone. It’ll work out. It could be worse.” She answered, “that’s a good attitude. It could always be worse.” She told me she would pray that some of my broken things got fixed.
It’s almost time to tell you about the disaster that was supposed to be the first home depot delivery.