The harder I fall

A devoted reader has taken issue with my newsletters that deal with how much trouble I’ve had with my house and how expensive it’s all been, and that was even before I found out I needed pretty much all of my plumbing replaced for a cool $4,000 even.

That was a couple of weeks ago and to my credit, I didn’t write a newsletter about it. I just took it like a little man in a stoic silence.

The workers did a swell job of repairing the portion of the wall that they had to demolish to get at a kitchen drainpipe but left a gray patch that needed to be painted over.

For a few days, I rationalized leaving it alone as a sort of proud battle scar, a reminder of what my house has been through and bravely survived, but after a while it started to bug me, so I painted over it with paint from a can that didn’t quite match the color of the rest of the wall, but it was close enough.

Call me a perfectionist, but after a couple of days, that bothered me, too, so I decided to paint the entire wall with the close-enough-colored paint and all went well for a while until I got near the end where I was painting under the eaves. I was dizzy from the fumes and, let’s face it, the hard labor — I’m a retired writer, not a stevedore on a banana boat. I scaled about halfway up the ladder holding a can of paint when I lost my equilibrium and the ladder fell over backward with me holding onto it and yelling “WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!” which, even as I was tipping over, made me wonder what became of the eloquent language that usually accompanies my impending-death experiences. As I was falling, picturing myself on my back, seriously injured and covered with blood and close-enough paint, I held the can of paint steady in one hand, a paint-soaked brush in the other, and the falling ladder with an inexplicable third hand while the ladder, paint and I kept tumbling backward down the patio steps before landing safely, miraculously, and still vertical.

I got back on the ladder and finished up and now I’m done painting. Forever. It joins the list of things I’ll throw money at.

International Breakfast Tour

Lately, my daughter Hannah and I have extended our breakfast tour into Orange County. This time to the promisingly named Firehouse Cafe at 3858 W. Cerritos Ave. in an industrial park in Los Alamitos.

The little cafe is decorated in firefighting memorabilia, including framed collections of badges from far-flung departments and has a menu geared toward visitors with large appetites.

When we visited there was just one overworked but nevertheless attentive waitress who took our orders of country-inspired breakfasts, in which “country-style” means smothered in gravy. Hannah had the country eggs Benedict, with biscuits taking the role of English muffins and gravy filling in for hollandaise sauce. I had the country sausage omelet, with gravy taking the place of nothing.

The highlights for me were the house-made blackberry jam on buttered rye toast — that’s a highlight because restaurants don’t seem to butter their toast anymore, finding it easier to just toss a couple of pats of cold, hard butter on the side. My dad used to deliver long, passionate screeds about places that didn’t butter the toast, and I have inherited the peeve, which Hannah has to hear about every week.

Would we return? Perhaps, if we were very, very hungry and maybe order something less countrified next time.

Hannah gave it a B-minus/C-plus. I copied her scorecard.

What’s on my nightstand

Buncha things, waiting to see what sticks: Jennifer Egan’s “Candy House” is an inventive and provocative look at big business attempting to map all of human experience to predict what people will think and what they will spend money on. The sprightly novel features some drop-in appearances by characters from Egan’s brilliant “A Visit from the Goon Squad.

“All Fours,” by the hyper-creative Miranda July, looks at a woman having the most intense and random midlife crisis during an L.A.-New York solo driving experience that gets stuck in Monrovia. Not sure I’ll finish this one. It’s inventive, funny and heavily saucy, but I, too, am stuck in Monrovia.

Which leaves me with “Charlie Hustle: The Rise and Fall of Pete Rose and the Last Glory Days of Baseball,” an in-depth look at the good times and bad times of Rose. Author Keith O’Brien is a Cincinattian whose work has appeared in  New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and on National Public Radio. It’s a good time for a great baseball book.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.