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The Thaddeus Gazette


Is it the sick dog? The sore shoulder? Seasonal financial and meteorological reversals? Or just the stopped up washing machine? Ah, the author's dilemma: where to begin? Every story has another story stuck to it, a small dog of uncertain pedigree firmly attached to its leg. The spaghetti pile stalwartly resists the attempt to pluck out its primal strand. Better perhaps to just, uh, dive right in.

We had us a sweet little anniversary vacation, a serial honeymoon as it were, first week in January. Went to vacantly beautiful Gold Beach Oregon, where giant black basalt rocks hump up out of football-field wide, miles-long, magnificently deserted beaches like monuments to some ancient glyptic alien race. A week of 50+ degree sunny weather, long walks and quiet talks, snuggling in the rustic cedar-lined room (winter rate cheap!) or lounging in the ocean-view hot tub, or watching Baby the greyhound do her famous Maserati imitation down those long, long strands.

On the way, though, I had an unkind premonition of the new year. New Year's eve on the road in Eugene OR, four miles from our pal Sally's place, our lovely new (to us) vehicle Papa Van decided to papa tire.

No problemo — got a spare, got a jack, got a tire iron. And spent 45 minutes staring at what appeared to be unremovable lug nuts. Called up Sally, she came out with another lug wrench and couldn't get the nuts off either. Finally summoned the Great God AAA, who manifested an 18 year old in a tow truck who smiled benignly and prized off the decorative hubcap both my friend and I had mistaken for the nuts, revealing the actual ones underneath.

Well, we all had a good laugh over that one, I can tell you. My own outer merriment, however, masked a certain paranoia regarding the significance of the misadventure. On New Year's Eve. So, 2012: Year Of Idiot Misperceptions, is it? Oh goody.

Even so, on we went to our happy holiday. Then we came down. Uh, home. Dark, murky, dirty-cotton skies muddy rainy no-money home. Good ol' Seattle.

It's completely normal for me to have no business in January. Many of my clients are street performers, which profession offers a certifiable lack of utility during the Time Of Great Moisture in the Pacific Northwest. Others are busy licking their wounds from their previous year's mu-biz campaign or planning the next. Still, normal is not the same thing as acceptable. I dug far deeper into my cash reserves than I wanted to and began spouting seasonally affected grumbles about the state of business and the fragile future of CD manufacturing.

Less completely normal was the sudden propensity of my previously impeccable computer to blank out at odd intervals and refuse to wake up. Wait a minute, this is a Mac — they aren't supposed to get sleeping sickness. Steve Jobs promised me.

Cue the reappearance of the old pinched nerve in my shoulder from twelve (count 'em) years ago, barking pains in my left arm all the way down to the hand. Too bad, sparky, no music for you. Don't even think about playing that cool upright bass you just overspent on.

And then it snowed. Oh yeah. Plenty yucky sloggy slushy sludge. Just enough to make the roads treacherous and drivers go insane. Nothing like fearful vehicles barreling down our street at 35 mph, hoping against hope that they won't sink in the muck n mire, spraying us with road santorum as we gamely walk our dog.

Which dog then proceeded to contract a UTI and provide us with a delightful series of visits to vet bills and mountains of piddled dogbedding to wash. Which in turn was the point where the washer clogged up.

Now, out here on my spit-shined surface, I may look all civilized and stuff, but inside, I'm a superstitious wreck. I clothe my primitive nature in colorful costumes of spiritual philosophy and post-enlightenment magick, but what it boils down to doesn't resemble a white-coated lab tech as much as a tattooed shaman with a chicken carcass chanting Ooo ee oo ah ah. Signs and portents intrude into my calculations without my conscious intervention and dance around in their bones in my dreams.

So it shouldn't be hard for you to do the math and figure what effect all these pestilential harbingers had in the wack jungle gym of my unconscience. Oh yeah, that bad. At least.

But sophisticated savage not live by ignorant darkness alone. Him also tool user. Grunt. The last time the washer wouldn't flush, it had still been under extended service, and the jolly jolly uniforms who came out to fix it had been incautiously happy to demonstrate how to access the conveniently-located cleanout trap. Said service contract having long since departed to that great Expired Warranty Dump In The Sky, I broke out my miniature socket set, had off with the cover tin, unscrewed the cap to the trap and flooded the laundry room with reeking backed-up rinse water. Pausing to clot up up the repugnant effluvia with dirty towels, I returned to the trap and discovered that it was choked with—

—wait for it—


Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters. Four or five bucks worth, boy. Washer was doing its famous laundrymat imitation, maybe.

How could I interpret this particular set of entrails? Did I just unplug my cash-flow? Is my prosperity going down the drain? Is change preventing me from — well, you get the idea. But the next week, the weather was sunny and 50's-ish, the dog responded to the antibiotics, two or three clients checked in with orders and even my shoulder was better. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Then I went out and delivered an order of CDs, and in describing the washer to my customer, I solicited her opinion as to the overarching message of the whole business.

Her response? "Better check for loose change in your laundry."

Right. Year Of Idiot Misperceptions. I knew that.

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