There is a place where modern technological conveniences go to die. My place.
During the past week alone we have sent our van's fuel pump to the automotive afterlife, our washing machine to laundry Valhalla and our home computer through those big Windows in the sky.
They join the lifeless metallic bodies of our dishwasher, our microwave oven and our food processor, all of which have given up the electronic ghost during the last few months. If there were laws against appliance abuse, I'd be public enemy number one. Thankfully, we do better with living things - not counting household plants, flowers, grass and tomatoes.
Our five children somehow manage to survive - even thrive - despite all the bad feng shui and negative karma. They are all healthy, happy and well-adjusted, give or take the occasional drama major. And that, after all, is what really matters.
At least, that's what my wife Anita said.
"This is just stuff," she said soothingly, reassuringly, as I wrote out a check to cover the installation of the new fuel pump.
"Yes it is," I said, my fingers still trembling. "Very expensive stuff. Do you realize that this fuel pump is costing me more than the first car I bought?"
She smiled playfully. "What a blessing!" she said. I looked at her curiously.
"A blessing?" I asked. "We just spent an entire freelance check on a fuel pump, and you think it's a blessing?"
"Uh-huh," she said. "What a blessing that we had the money to cover it!" She had a valid point -- as usual. But I couldn't let her win this easily.
"What about losing the washing machine at the same time?" I asked. "Was that a blessing, too?"
"Sure," she said. "My brother feels good about letting us use his machine, and I'm able to spend a little more time with him and his family while I wash our clothes at his house. And I'm really going to appreciate our new washer when we get it." She was good. No question about it.
Twenty-three years of living with me had given her plenty of experience at searching for silver linings. But I knew I had her with the last one.
"And what about our computer melt-down?" I asked. "What's the blessing in that?"
A worried look crossed her face. This was tough, no question about it. It's like they say: everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a computer to really foul things up. Then, suddenly, she brightened.
"You're not staying up so late working on the computer," she said, "so you're getting a lot more sleep! That's a good thing, isn't it?"
She had me there. I had actually noticed how much better I had been feeling the past few days, and had already attributed it to getting more sleep.
"OK, I give up - you win!" I said. "But how do you do that?"
"You know - what you're doing," I said. "Finding the blessing in the curse."
"Oh, that," she said. "It isn't hard, really. The blessing is always there - somewhere. You just have to look for it. Sometimes you have to look pretty hard. But it's there."
Even at my place.