Monday, November 18, 2013


J has been home the past couple weeks with chicken pox. There's a vaccine now! And he was about to get it, when he came down with the actual disease. I had no idea there was a vaccine. I'm not very educated about parenting. I take my considerable knowledge about people, and I've more or less learned to adjust it to kids--toddlers are still a challenge, but that seems to be universally true--but I don't necessarily know a lot of things about raising kids. Do they get adequate nutrition from apple juice and Doritos? Do they really need clothes that fit? How many days per year do I need to let them sleep inside at night? So many mysteries!

My ignorance comes from never having had to freak out about caring for a baby. I met J when he was 3 or so, and he was (and remains) very attached to a fabulous mother who knew all the ins and outs of caring for J specifically. It's not a small list of ins and outs, because he is off the usual map. I've picked up some of it, but to e.g. make his lunch, I still need to refer to the "Care and Feeding" manual she typed up. (For example, you have to pack the food in a specific arrangement in his lunch bag, or else he can't find anything. Also, the lunch bag has to be separate from the backpack, because it was separate from the backpack for years, and if it's inside the backpack, he won't be able to find it, and he won't eat lunch.) It's all relatively minor for kids on the autism spectrum, at least.

On this remarkable Sunday, we finally had Jim the electrician come figure out what was wrong with our garbage disposal switch. One day I flipped the switch, it sparked, and the power to the under-sink outlet died, and the breaker wouldn't reset, and I ran an extension cord from an outlet so we could run the dishwasher, and then we sort of called it good and I think it's been a couple of months. We couldn't remember which of the two switches was the disposal, anyway. The extension cord became a semi-permanent fixture, and we've settled for running the disposal periodically by plugging it in, often when the sink strainer stops up and the sink is full of delicious food-rinse water. I particularly enjoyed the surface layer of red oil that came after a meal with tomato sauce.

We'd replaced the switch already, and Anna had gone back in and reconnected the ground wire that someone had cut once up a time, but that didn't help. Jim was able to reset the breaker, using some arcane "push on it harder" technique he doubtless learned during his years of study with various Oriental mystics.

The next step was to try the switch again, which I did, and was rewarded with a loud *POP*, numerous sparks, and some kind of burning ember flying out of the switch and onto the counter. That's apparently what happens when a short circuit burns out: the ember is a piece of burning copper. (In retrospect it seems entirely possible another ember could have gone behind the switch and into the wall, but the one we saw extinguished quickly, and we're constantly at home for the next week. Good thing the house isn't insulated!)

Jim cracked the switch open, and there were just some side screws that had to be moved out of the way, or something. Now we have a garbage disposal again! We can dispose of things! Garbage will be disposed!

It is a good day.

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