Two days ago I was in my kitchen and saw my neighbour through my window. She was standing on the sidewalk, staring up at the second floor of my house.
I went outside with my container of blueberries because we cannot be parted. Blueberry season is on, friends, and they are my favourite, my true love, my most sweet companion.
“Everything ok?” I asked my neighbour. She is a nice woman maybe ten years older than me. We chat a lot. She is funny and low-key and has never complained about my children, even has lied to me for years about not hearing them. Seriously. You are not hearing impaired, how could you not hear them, what a nice thing to say.
“I found something weird today..” she started, moving toward her house.
We live in townhouses, so her house is separated from mine by a cedar hedge and courtesy. I followed her around the hedge to her house, where she picked up a piece of wood, a two-by-four, painted the grey colour of our houses, with a metal grate attached to it by one screw.
“What is that?” I said.
“I found it on the hedge between our houses,” she said. “It must have fallen off the roof. But I don’t know from where…”
We both commenced looking up at the second floors of our townhouses, wondering what the hell.
I saw a place on my wall that I remembered not being bare before. I shielded my eyes.
“Oh, from there,” I said. I pointed. It looked like a double exhaust pipe on a muscle car, but pointing out of the wall of my house.
“Is that..your dryer vent?” she said.
I shrugged. Maybe?
Yes, as it turns out. The cover for our dryer vent just dropped off the house the other day, luckily landing in a hedge and not on either of our patios or on our heads. As Eli would say, “Now THAT would be a concussion!”
This evening a representative of strata came over and rapped on my screen door. She interrupted my solo viewing of Tiny Furniture (a fantastic movie if you want to experience life as a 22 year old) and consuming of chili and rice and chips because that’s how I roll when I’m alone (oh yeah, family is gone tonight to camp out in a park and look at the meteor shower).
“Hi…” she called to me.
“Hi…” I answered, shoving a chip in my mouth and forgetting to pause the movie, which is OK because I have been 22 so I know what happened in the ten minutes I was away from it. (angst, angst, more angst)
“Are you the one whose dryer vent cover fell off?” she said.
“Yes,” I said and brandished the now-somewhat-famous piece of wood caked with dryer lint and bits of my old hair, attached precariously with one screw to its metal grill.
“Hmm,” she said, staring at it, moving it from one hand to the other. “Hmmm. What was it attached to?”
“The wall,” I said.
“Yes but..” and she pointed out that there was no hole in the wood indicating that the wood and grill were ever attached to the wall. Yet, there are two exposed vents pointing out of the wall, and a piece of wood attached to metal on the ground, so let us do the math.
“We have someone coming in September..” she said, looking dubious.
“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s wasp season.”
“Yeah,” she said. “Someone else down the row actually had the same thing happen recently. But not the wood, just the grate fell off.”
I felt some relief. It wasn’t that my house was defective. It’s that all the houses were built twelve years ago and the person who built them used super glue that takes exactly twelve years to wear off. One by one, the grates will drop off on peoples’ hedges, onto their patios, concussing their children and cats.
The other day when my neighbour and I were discussing the exposed dryer exhaust, she said, “You don’t want to wait to fix that. Critters will nest in there. Squirrels..”
My neighbour had squirrels in her place a few years ago, and raccoons eating her herb garden. She is bitter about critters.
“Well,” I said. “I’ll just leave the dryer on all the time. I’ll cook them.”
“Free dinners” she said.
It’s not what I want, though. I don’t want things living in my dryer exhaust pipes. I don’t want great exposed holes in my wall. I don’t want to eat squirrel.
The strata representative went away and handed me back my piece of linty, hairy, broken wood with the one screw attaching a metal grate.
“Someone will be in touch,” she said. She was shaking her head as she walked away.
“Thanks…” I called after her.
I came back inside and finished watching my movie and eating my dinner. I’m sure it will all work out.