This Side Up

The pull of an empty dumpster


Sometimes it takes something catastrophic to change the simplest of things.

The catastrophe came in the form of a silver car. That’s pretty much what I know about it, although I haven’t checked with police to learn whether they have been able to learn more about the car that took out a pair of doors on our garage and pushed out one wall to the point where a corner of the roof was left dangling.

The driver must be extraordinarily lucky. The vehicle was presumably making a left turn off Stokes and on the Bellman, missed a utility pole by inches, knocked down the ornamental pole fencing of Roger and Betty Keefe’s home and plowed into the garage. It was about 7 a.m. and fortunately during a lull in the usual traffic of cyclists, walkers and joggers. The driver must have been unscathed, for, according to the report of a neighbor, a silver car was spotted backing out of the debris before speeding off.

The good news, nobody was hurt.

Of course there is another side of the story; the process of putting everything back together again.

As nice as it would be to turn back the clock, that’s not going to happen. But then, maybe it’s better that way.

I went through the process of filing out insurance forms and then obtaining bids from at least two contractors. I’m not sure why I went through the bid thing, because the insurance company had their own contractor come up with an estimate that was in the ballpark with the others. In any event, about a month after the slam, Charles Frigon, who operates Seaside Enterprises, had a dumpster in front of the garage and the work had begun.

Order was being restored. Or was it?

A dumpster is a compelling piece of equipment, like a hungry mouth sitting outside a garage and home, to be filled with things collected over decades.

“You got anything else to go into it?” Charlie asked.

Carol and I looked at one another. There was no issue about the picnic table. It should have gone years ago. Charlie pointed out a few other things. More went into the dumpster.

And then the scope of the project expanded.

Since Charlie was here anyway, what about finally replacing the rotted lattice around the porches?

Charlie appraised the work.

“We could get started on that in a couple of days.”

Somehow, I hadn’t expected anything to move that fast. I brought Charlie into the house. Suddenly, other projects we had talked about but done nothing about came to mind. Charlie saw all kinds of possibilities for the kitchen. He had suggestions for the bathroom and how we might achieve Carol’s dream of a hot tub.

I never imagined an empty dumpster could be such a gravitational force.

We started with the lattice, a job we should have done years ago.

Charlie and his sons didn’t waste time. As the garage work neared completion, the dumpster, now full, was hauled away and a second materialized in our driveway. The framework of the former lattice quickly started filling it.

A saw was set up alongside the dumpster. The crew was now in full stride. Rapidly, the crevasses beneath our porch were closed. We realized how much better the house looked … but also that it could stand a coat of paint. The projects seemed endless.

What we didn’t know at the time is how it might also change other things.

The space under the porch has been ideal for storing moorings, boards and pipes. I don’t expect that to change, as Charlie arranged for an access door. But what I hadn’t taken into consideration were the critters that accessed the space. Binky loved it under there on hot days and used to excavate huge holes in the sand. Since he is no longer with us, I’ve watched cats scamper under there. Binky would have never tolerated that.

But then there are other beasts, as Carol discovered the night after the lattice was completed.

Awake at 3:30 a.m. and unable to get back to sleep, she stepped out on the kitchen porch to get a glimpse of the stars and the moon. Instead, she found a skunk. The animal was unfazed by her presence. He didn’t as much as lift his tail. Rather, with an inquiring look, he appeared to be questioning what had become of his refuge and to be looking for a handout. He was indignant.

What were we to do?

The dumpster is still there. It’s only partially filled. I feel the need to fill it. Charlie is waiting for the green light on the next project. Who would have imagined an out-of-control car could have set so many things into motion.

“Skunkie” surely regrets the day, but it was the nudge we needed.


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