Steadfast in both virtues and vices

07/05/2014 3:52 PM

07/05/2014 9:10 PM

I suppose it qualifies me as stolid and unimaginative, but I have never been tempted by the idea of change simply for change’s sake.

The house we live in pleases me absolutely. It was my wife who discovered it for sale, and on a morning 42 years ago we toured the place. By that same evening we decided it was the right spot for our young family.

I would not trade it for any other, no matter how spacious or grand, and have resolved never to leave it, unless that is a good many years from now, feetfirst on a gurney.

I have worked at this same newspaper for just one year short of six decades. And I have found writing for an audience of readers whose experience and values have much in common with my own to be a quite satisfying relationship.

The thought of trying my luck in some larger and more prestigious market has never even once occurred to me.

I know from reading the news reports of celebrity misbehavior that some men find female attraction irresistibly compelling, with results that can cause lasting damage to family, career and reputation.

I will freely confess to being as appreciative of beauty as the next fellow. But in my life I have loved just three women: the one I married and our two daughters, grown now to adulthood — all three of them the flowers that brighten my days.

I have recited here what I consider to be my slender catalog of virtues. But the list of my shortcomings is a good deal longer.

I’m without any gift for the routine chores of household maintenance usually performed by a capable homeowner. My total arsenal of tools consists of a hammer, a pair of pliers, a wire cutter and three screwdrivers.

If a pipe happens to plug, or a drain refuses to empty, my wife has the names and phone numbers of several good plumbers in a book by the phone.

Most of the light bulbs in the house I’m able to change unaided when they burn out. But the ones on the porch and several recessed fixtures in the kitchen ceiling defeat me.

For the first several years I had a push-type gasoline lawn mower — not actually mine, but the one my wife’s late father left in my custody. I even once owned a fertilizer spreader. Although, when the mower finally died, it seemed a pointless waste of time and effort to feed what quickly became an unsightly riot of uncut grass.

My wife is a talented and dedicated gardener. I count on the beauty of her roses, peonies, irises and daffodils to deflect attention from the untended scandal of the yard.

And so far it has worked. At least, as of this writing, we have received no threatening notices from the local neighborhood association.

If the situation changes, however, and the correspondence grows testy, I have a fallback plan.

A man I know operates a residential salvage business. I will instruct him to deliver two old fashioned claw-foot bathtubs and place them side by side on our front walk, facing the street.

And we’ll see what the arbiters of of urban propriety might choose to make of that.

For more of C.W. Gusewelle, go to gusewelle.kansascity.com.

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