I’m cleaning all our broken things, in hopes they’ll spontaneous un-break themselves. I’d settle for a temporary reprieve, just time enough for me to decide how to replace them. So wiping, washing, vacuuming and polishing I whisper, C’mon you’ve got a few more miles or days in you…but my reeks-of-coolant car and my warm fridge don’t answer back.
Our car, a 2003 silver Civic, has been overheating (periodically) for months, even though I frequently top off the coolant and tighten down its shiny new radiator cap. The original diagnosis—a blown head gasket—a grand-plus repair job. Eek. Really? That’s about the car’s trade-in value. So, armed with the mechanic’s bad news and the knowledge of my meager retirement account, I suggest less expensive possibilities. After all there’s no white smoke coming out the tail pipe or tell-tale clacking sounds, as skeptical friends have pointed out. The nice gray-haired mechanic with the grease-stained hands and smart-as-a-whip eyes only nods at my alternate realities, while dropping the new cap into my hand. He knows I’ll be back.
Then there’s the refrigerator, which creeps up to a balmy fifty-five while the freezer sinks to a frigid twenty below. After YouTube-ing the situation we diagnosed the problem as a bad defroster coil, but that doesn’t explain the ice in the bottom of the freezer…so I poured boiling hot water into the freezer’s drain and later that evening the fridge got a little cooler, 48-ish, and the freezer crept slightly above temperatures found on the scientist’s Kelvin scale. Remember absolute zero from science class? Alas, like the car, the fix only sort of worked.
So I wipe the smudges of the glass shelves of the Hawaii-warm fridge, which may be festering a hearty strain of kill-you bacteria. At least it’s clean. Reminds me of the advice: “Always wear fresh undies, because you never know!”
In my hands every morning: Smooth. Hard. Warm. Filled with heated amber liquid. Laced with white. I draw the enlivening fluid into my mouth and swallow. The black and white, bird and flower cup holds my morning beverage: Dragon well green tea with rice milk; matcha whipped to a froth, topped with coconut milk; coconut oolong brewed strong, then diluted with viscous almond nut milk.
I wake in the early morning hours, throw my legs over the side of the bed and make my way across the plush carpet, then down the cold, hard, wood floor of the hallway, to the kitchen. I flip on the light. Golden-white floods my favorite room. I open the dishwasher and reach in to grasp the mug. I smile at its whimsy. The winding pattern makes its way around the cylindrical porcelain, even, refined, almost European in its sensibilities.
The water rumbles to a boil. The electric kettle clicks off. I pour the heated water over the shriveled dark green leaves, in the Chinese teapot stained with past brews. I stop filling when the water reaches the bottom of the filtering mechanism, a half globe perforated with circular holes.
I pivot to face the stove and click on the gas. As the white fluid reaches a near boil, I switch off the flame. I choose a miniature metal whip and whisk in elongated thrusts, incorporating air into the colloidal fluid.
When the liquor has reached its full strength, I decant into the black and white tall mug and lean down to take a nose-ful of green aroma. On top of the flavorful fluid, I add the frothed white and swirl the micro-bubbles into soft peaks.
I escort the cup over to my spot at the dining room table. With closed eyes, I warm my hands on the smooth surface. I count my breaths; recede into my body. I keep breathing. As the heat transfer slows, I open my eyes and draw the barely sweet, tannic brew into my mouth. I swallow and smile: The perfect beginning to my day.