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The sluggard’s way is like a hedge of thorns,
but the path of the upright is smooth.


For about a month, our family had been gathering around the table with our food lit by candlelight. All the primitive flickering was not a nod toward our New England Puritan antecedents, but rather the consequence of our dining room light dimmer going belly-up.

At first we found the lower light charming, but it wasn’t too long before we had a hankering for the good old days of modern illumination. Ben had to give up his reading at the breakfast table. We got tired of burning the cup of our hand as we dropped lit candles back into their candleholders. And we inconvenienced our guests: at dinner time the Sunday night study group shuffled around the gloomy room, blindly rummaging in one mystery dish to another.

Ah, the guests. They had entered our home by a strange ritual. Like any solid citizen they walked up to our front door, knocked, and waited. They heard the sound of approaching footsteps. But then, the door didn’t swing open. Instead, “Can you open the door? We can’t from this side.” For at least a month we hadn’t been able to open our front door because of a broken latch.

A family of seven, no matter how Dickinsonian eccentric it is, occasionally has to leave the house to have dealings with the real world. Doors are ideally suited for these kinds of exits. And front doors have all the advantages of directness.

But when it was time for all of us to leave, we’d send Kai out the back door, into the backyard, along the side, through the fence, up the steps of the porch, and we’d startle the neighbors by filing out as Kai held open the door.

It’s been a complicated month, thanks to these two maimed fixtures. What stopped me from fixing them? Well that’s complicated too. It has a lot to do with my having to go down to the back of the basement, open up the gray box, read the faint, messy print, and piece through which switch it was that turned off the current to the dining room light. Huge obstacles by any one’s measure.

On Monday, though, I took the two hours and fixed the dimmer and door handle. Lit food and easy exits have gone far to smooth out our lives.

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