Community Columns

Changes get made — inside and out

This is a busy day, both outside my house and inside. Maybe it just feels that way because nothing was happening for such a long time, and now so much is going on — some things I’ve had nothing to do with and some I have slowly, inch by inch, put into place.

Outside, the City of Merced is trimming tree branches across the street. Two shiny citron-yellow trucks have been in the neighborhood for over a week now, and while they are impressive in themselves, they are even more so because they have buckets, and there is more than one. When I needed trees cut down in Greenport, I found only a few tree men with bucket trucks — so the idea that the city owns even one is surprising.

In fact, many things surprise me here. After all, this town has fallen on hard times. Today’s headline is that the local Pepsi plant is closing, a prospect denied by the company as recently as a month ago. Yet the two bucket trucks are accompanied by a bright-yellow chipper truck that travels with them, also sporting the distinctive City of Merced logo.

The city’s garbage trucks are also at work outside. Two new ones, state of the art, have been added to its fleet. These run on natural gas and, like the others, have two “arms” that extend to pick up and dump the barrels we leave on the curb. Last night my neighbors and I put out our city barrels: recycling (blue), garbage (gray), clippings (khaki). Each truck picks up only one color, so three different trucks are needed to complete the job.

Life in a city of 80,000 is very different from life in Southold Town. But I do miss the dump.

Now to the indoors — very exciting because every small thing that gets me nearer to feeling completely at home here is important. When I arrived, the first thing I realized, amid the mountain of boxes I knew I’d have to unpack, was that I had no shades. Further, the windows are all oversize — too big for the kind of shade I used to buy at the Arcade. As I lived through my first 100-degree day here, I also realized how very hot the sun made my living room and kitchen. So I experienced a different need for insulating windows — from sun and heat. In fact, California offers energy rebates for installation of Low-E heat-resistant glass. Such windows are expensive, so buying them requires doing some homework. I made several trips to Lowe’s to figure out what shades I needed and what kind of glass I should be looking for. The frames are also important, with the options of wood, vinyl or fiberglass. My son, John, helped with the research and found a company on the edge of our area that carries what I want and will work with me. Today I met with its president, who makes his phone calls at 7 a.m., so we’ve become early morning friends. The glass will finally be installed in November, and will involve removing asbestos, too. Apparently houses built here before 1978 used this material.

Lastly, I’m getting window blinds today. They also have insulating characteristics: a double honeycomb weave that reduces heat. They are for the three windows that aren’t being replaced, but these are in the front. I will feel private again.

Why is all this such a big deal?

Getting packed and ready to leave, I never thought about actually being here. All my focus was on the details of leaving — so many details that I was on overload and my brain just froze. I have needed every minute of these two months for it to start working again.

When I arrived in a totally new place and was deposited among 50 boxes, all of which had to be unpacked … well, I’d sigh a lot, unpack a little, then sit down to read a book. Each step was hard won and very small.

That’s why today seemed so busy, and was so exciting. Something was coming together. Outside the house. Inside the house. Inside me.

Ms. Amussen, of Greenport, is a freelance writer and a copy editor at Times/Review Newspapers. E-mail: [email protected].