I Always Have Tomorrow

It all started when I went to transplant some seedlings…

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATT COLLINS

I am a goof. Being 73 may have something to do with it, but un-fortunately, I think I’ve been rather unorganized most of my life.

Take the other day. I was simply heading towards the green-house to transplant a few penstemon seedlings I had started a couple of months ago when I noticed an empty space on a tree limb—and remembered its bird house. It needed repair and was still sitting on the workbench in the downstairs workshop.

“Dang,” I chastised myself, “I need to get on that!”

I immediately pivoted and headed to the basement.

“Weren’t you going to the greenhouse?” asked Kathy, the lady of the manor, also known affectionately as The Boss.

“I was, but I remembered something that I need to do first.”

“Oh, finally going to work on that birdhouse?” she said.

How does she do that? I asked myself. Aloud, I said, “What do you mean—finally?”

“Honey, you took that downstairs weeks ago, after you found it on the ground.”

“Now, Kathy, it hasn’t been that long, has it?”

She looked at me in silence. It spoke volumes.

I went to the shop—and noticed the shelving project I’d promised Kathy I’d finish before Fall. It was now the Ides of September.

“Gosh,” I said. “I better get on that straight away. Got to keep the peace!”

“Gosh,” I mumbled, “I’d better get on that straight away. Got to keep the peace!”

I picked up the pieces I had previously sawn, started to sand—and realized why I hadn’t finished before. I needed a finer grit sandpaper. I immediately drove to the neighborhood hardware store and selected the perfect sandpaper for the job.

Back in my shop, I proceeded to sand the maple boards baby-bottom smooth. Using wood glue, I carefully glued and screwed it all together. Then, to my dismay, I realized I needed stain.

I chastised myself again: “Darn, every project I do, I seem to have to go to the hardware store about 10 times.”

Oh, I’ve tried making lists, but I either fail to make my list complete or leave it on the kitchen counter. At least the hardware store’s only about a three-minute drive.

As I started to leave the shop, I spied the broken birdhouse. “Good grief,” I mumbled, “I’d better take a look at that before The Boss has a cow.”

I examined it and saw that when it hit the ground one of the joints cracked and chipped some paint.

Kathy called down and informed me that lunch was ready and was being served in Paradise, our secluded backyard retreat. I went up and we sat down at the shaded table. Kathy noticed that her chair was wobbling.

The Boss purred, “Can you fix this? It’s very annoying.”

“Sure,” I replied. “The nylon pad is missing from the bottom of one leg. It’s an easy fix. I’ll take care of it after lunch.”

“Sure,” she repeated, not quite in the same confident tone.

I nodded sincerely, “No, it is—and I will. Really. Let’s trade chairs for now.”

Trading chairs, she offered a small, faint smile.

“Not to worry, dear,” The Boss said. “You always have tomorrow.”

Immediately after lunch, I hurried to the hardware store, where—this may surprise you—I am on a first-name basis with the staff. I was told where I’d find the necessary chair replacement part and soon discovered that there were nine different pads that might work. Not knowing which exact one to buy, I bought all nine.

“Thanks, Steve. See you later!” they said when I left the store.Like I said, they know me pretty well. We even invite them to our annual Summer party—why not? Many guests bring a bottle of wine for a hostess gift. They bring a wicker basket full of assorted hardware items!

Back home and much to the surprise of The Boss, I fixed the chair. Then I headed downstairs and immediately realized I had forgotten what I needed to repair the birdhouse. Oh well, I had to return the eight chair pads I didn’t use anyway.

“Hi, Steve,” I heard upon entering. “Have a few returns, do ya? Need anything else?”

I shrugged and said, “I don’t really know, I’m not sure exactly what I need. I’ll just take a look at everything and figure it out.”

After spending nearly an hour investigating the possibilities, I got it pretty well worked out. I even remembered that I needed a pint of red enamel for that cracked joint.

Back in the shop, I attached a new hanger to the birdhouse and, using wood glue, fixed the joint. I thought I had better wait until the glue dried before applying paint.

Leaving the shop to head, at long last, to the greenhouse, I noticed the shelving.

“Stain!” I uttered to myself, “Why didn’t I remember to buy the stain?”

I trod heavily up the stairs.

The Boss saw my dejected look and inquired, “Heading to the greenhouse, dear?”

The greenhouse—what a great idea! That’s what I’ll do. I’ll escape to the greenhouse. There’s nothing really to do there, but it is, after all, one of my favorite places.

On my way, I grabbed a beer. Then I went in and tuned the radio to my favorite nostalgic station. I sat down, picked up the latest issue of Horticulture, and simply lost myself in the humid, warm, restful greenhouse. After finishing the beer and magazine, I headed to the patio and my old, comfy, well-worn recliner.
The Boss saw me and asked, “So, did you finish your transplanting?”

I slumped and dropped my head. “Transplanting,” I mumbled.

“Not to worry, dear, you always have tomorrow. Besides, it is happy hour.”

She handed me an ice-cold vodka gimlet on the rocks.

Hoisting the glass as if making a toast, I said, “Yes, I always have tomorrow.”

I’ll need it.


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