Our garage floor is original to the house, and years of use have polished it to a shine. It’s so slippery that if your shoes are even slightly wet, you will slide around on it and predictably bust your head. Gordon fell a couple of months ago in his work boots. From what the children said, it made “a sound.” Long story short, we decided to put a nonslip coating on the garage.
This project required removal of everything that was in the garage. Gordon tolerates very little clutter in the garage, except when it comes to his tools. More on that later. But still there were things like spare flooring, and an old box full of mystery things, and old paint cans. We had to find a temporary place for all these things. We also need to throw many things away and so Gordon got us a dumpster.
It was determined that the side courtyard was the best location. People who owned the house before us liked European themes and they tried to create this little spot on the side of the house that would be more in line with a tiny courtyard in one of the European cities. It would’ve been lovely, except that they chose bricks for the flooring. Bricks that get mold. Bricks that collect dirt. Bricks that weren’t properly laid because they are very much not level.
You’re in Texas Hill Country. Why didn’t you use flagstone like a normal person?
Anyway, the biggest problem with the courtyard are the live oaks. These particular members of the oak family are evergreen. They don’t drop their leaves in the fall. Instead they shed their leaves whenever they feel like it, which seems to be all the damn time and in large quantities, which makes them picturesque but an incredible pain.
I open the door to the side courtyard. There is a foot of leaves on the ground.
To be fair, it’s my own fault since I knew there were leaves and I ignored them. So I get the leaf blower, I get gloves, and a hat, a large plastic pot, and a wheelbarrow, and I start blowing leaves into piles, scooping them with the plastic pot, filling the wheelbarrow, and then wheeling them to the back of the property, where we basically have Texas wilderness and the leaves will act like natural mulch.
Meanwhile, Gordon is throwing things out and carrying things in the attic, and he paired his phone to a speaker, so we have music while we’re working. I am blowing leaves and dirt. There is dirt on my face. There is dirt on my sweater. There is dirt in my bra somehow. There are leaves stuck to my hat. I just want to get this done and take a shower.
Two hours later, Gordon picks up his phone and says, “Kid 2 called 6 times. Weird.”
While we were cleaning the garage and the courtyard, Kid 2 tried to call me. I left my phone inside, so predictably I didn’t pick up. She then tried her dad, who also didn’t pick up. Then she tried the house. No answer.
She knows we are always home, because of COVID. So she calls her sister.
Kid 1: I’m working on my thing. I don’t know where they are.
Kid 2: Go and find them. What if something happened?
Kid 1 goes to the office. We are not there. She goes to the front of the house.
Kid 1: Both cars are in the circular driveway. I called for them outside and they didn’t answer.
Together our children are 46 years old. Instead of going out and taking a look at the garage, they decided that one of us must’ve had a critical health issue and was taken away by an ambulance, and the other one of us had ridden with the injured person, and we didn’t tell them about it.
We were both thoroughly chewed out for failing to answer phones and failing to inform the children where we were.
We finish, shower, I cook a yummy dinner, we settled down for the evening.
10:00 pm. A call from Russia from a number I don’t recognize.
I pick up. The call drops.
My father never calls me on my cell. He only Skypes. The only time I open Skype at all is when he calls me. There is only one reason why someone with an unknown Russian phone number would call to my cell. My father must be in the hospital with COVID and my estranged brother is trying to reach me.
I call the number back. Call drops.
I call again.
Finally, there is a voice.
Me: Are you okay? Is Irina (stepmom) okay? Is Andrei okay?
Dad: Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Everyone is fine.
Me, sitting down: I thought something bad happened.
Dad: No, I monitor your Skype activity and I noticed you haven’t logged into Skype for 3 weeks, so I called to check on you. Call me tomorrow. Love you, bye.
Me: … I need drugs.
Gordon: Yeah. Your father is stalking you online.
The next morning on Skype, explaining to dad that I only Skype in the office and I wasn’t avoiding him.
Dad: You shouldn’t have been worried.
Me: It’s natural for children to worry. Explaining the garage cleaning incident.
Dad: What about his tools? Does he have tools? Where are the tools being put?
Me: Yes, he has tools, and they are in this giant water proof toolbox. I have my small tool kit and all my stuff is nicely put up. Gordon has his giant box and he just kind of throws things in there…
Dad: That’s what a man does. Everything is correct. You don’t need to hassle him about it.
Dad: Does he have a bucket of screws?
Dad: Everything is good. He is doing everything right. Molodets! (There is no literal translation, but the best I can do is attaboy or like well done!)
I finished the conversation and Gordon arrives to the office to work.
Me: My dad thinks you are a proper man because you have a bucket of screws.
Gordon: Well, I’m so glad that after 25 years of marriage, I finally have done something he approves of.