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That's good! No, that's bad

Remember that good news/bad news bit where one person makes a comment, and another says, “Oh, that’s bad.” Then the first person says, “No, that’s good,” and then explains why?

Archie the barber on “Hee Haw” did this. Yes, I realize how much respect just sailed out the window by admitting I watched “Hee Haw” and remembered the name of a character, but some sacrifices are character building. Anyway, that’s sort of how I feel about this parallel universe in which we’re living and moving and having our solitary being. So, let’s play the game. I’ll start.

I have to stay home and can’t be gadding all over the valley finding stories. Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good. How’s that? For one thing, my wallet can breathe. While working from my living room, instead of rushing the season, I witness the slow, steady show of each bulb. Daffodils, then tulips, now iris, one by one until a choir of blooms forms.

Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad. Why’s that? Well, looking at them reminds me my irrigation isn’t working.

Oh, that is bad. No, that’s good. How come? I called Andrew, my maintenance guy, and got to visit with another human person.

Well, that’s good then! No, that’s plumb bad. Why, consarn it? Because he informed me I had a leaky pump. Then that’s bad. Well, not entirely. It gives the pump guy work.

Events that first appear black may flash iridescent if you stand on your head. It’s sad for families, at least adults, that schools are closed. Are the kids crying about it? I would have thanked the stars above and wondered what I’d accidentally done right to deserve such favor, except for libraries closing.

With entertainment venues closed, I’ve discovered fresh genres of discovery from a window. Yesterday I got a huge kick out of watching my neighbors’ six (6!) young grandsons try their adolescent muscles at yard work. Cousins and brothers worked rakes and clippers while finding and perhaps challenging their place in the royal order. One young landscape designer became so intent on hedge trimming that little more than stubs remain.

Instead of familiarity breeding contempt, I appreciate my home more, not less. I realize I have a sweet place of repose here. After too long to divulge, I hoed a thick layer of moss off my deck, amazed at how easily it yields to the nudging from a straight-edge. I scrubbed a layer of muck off the lawn furniture, and invited a friend over for grapefruit mimosas and chocolate cake, at three paces. The feral cat living under the deck had his reflexes challenged, but I enjoyed a full two hours of dogwood blossoms and conversation.

Time spent within the four walls highlights old house idiosyncrasies, which have moved into the, gee, I really need to fix this category. Aunt Sophie (my home) turns 120 this year, could use a nip, tuck and a paint job. At least rats will no longer find entrance. Another problem solved.

Oliver the cat has figured out he’s my only constant companion and is playing me skillfully like an all-day sucker. He did this before, but he has more leverage now. Last night after digging fresh cat food from the can to mix with what had been sitting there, and giving it a quick warm to make it irresistible, he licked it once or twice then sauntered to the kitchen and sat near the chicken that was broiling for my dinner. This was a first. It worked.

My street had been quiet — such a change. Neighborhood cats and city slicker deer could cross in peace. Less common bird calls came through loud and clear without competition. I can tell life has picked up some, though I’m not sure where everyone is going. Maybe we need to drive our cars.

So, it feels as if someone cracked open a window, and that’s good.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her with a six-foot pole at peggydover@gmail.com.