Uppermost House: Of entropy and shrimp curry



A bunch of centuries ago, guys like C. Columbus got the bright idea of finding The East by heading west from Spain. My wife and I used the same logic last weekend to install a new washing machine, although we traveled east.

Our family is living proof of the second law of thermodynamics, entropy they call it: “... (usual symbol S) is a measure of the number of specific realizations or microstates which may realize a thermodynamic system in a defined state specified by macroscopic observables, blah, blah, blah…”

In everyday terms it just means all our stuff is falling apart.

Well pump, pressure tank, dishwasher, mixer, pellet stove, two cars, a sink and toilet, computers, my right knee, and so goes this year’s busted-things list, ending a couple of weeks back with the final major appliance, our 13-year-old Swedish washing machine that makes hundreds of dollars’ worth of terrible noises but no longer cleans anything.

So I ordered a new washer online and picked it up Friday night after work from one of those big box stores. Hoses cost extra, of course. A many-hundred-dollar machine for washing socks that doesn’t come with a pair of fifteen-dollar hoses — it’s a bit like having to pay for your Coke on the red-eye to Pittsburgh.

Anyway, the guy helped me grunt the huge heavy box into the back of my SUV (which had already had several major repairs this year), and I drove home proudly, like a successful hunter.

But here is where entropy-of-the-mind comes in. The level of the back of my SUV lines up pretty well with the little landing in our garage that you have to walk up three steps onto in order to get into the house. A smart man would have backed the car up to the little landing, and him and his wife of 33 years would have then horsed the unwieldy box onto the landing and in through the mudroom and into the laundry room, on their own and with minimal fuss. But there was not a smart man nearby, so instead I backed partway into the garage and then my wife of 33 years and I used the assistance of the law of gravity to triumphantly slide the box out of the SUV and down onto the garage floor.

“Now all we have to do is get it back up onto the landing,” I said, pointing over and then up. Which we couldn’t, of course, because like everything else around here, we are also falling apart.

Had there be a hip young person around (one of our grown children, perhaps), they would have looked at both of us and the SUV and the landing and the washing machine and at what we just did (and alternately failed to do) and said, “Whoa, epic fail, dude.”

There was no such young person around, so instead my sensible wife said, “Let’s go to that great Indian restaurant in Brunswick.” Hence we headed east in her new SUV (her old one broke down in May) for shrimp curry.

Well, we had a swell time, and once stuffed with exotic stuff we couldn’t identify but gulped happily anyway, we went to Freeport to wander around like people from away and look at all the Christmas lights and go, of course, to L.L.Bean, where we saw lots of stuff we wanted to need, but spent only sixteen dollars.

The next day at church, I told my sad tale about entropy and my missed landing and once the laughter subsided a bunch of guys said sure, we’ll come over and help, and a few minutes later the new washer was elevated up off the garage floor and muscled through the mud room and then the old washer was slid and muscled in reverse and lowered from the little landing down onto the garage floor. The smiling and helpful crew took off and we waved and marveled at the speed and efficiency of it all.

Now all I have to do is lift the old washer up a couple of feet so I can get it into my SUV to go to the transfer station. I feel like C. Columbus would have felt if he had come all the way back around, only to discover Spain.

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