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Summertime Blues 

Ah, the joys of summer: the sweet smell of freshly mown grass mingled with the odiferous scent from the mosquito spray trucks, the bright colors of blooming flowers everywhere, the sun-kissed blush of children's noses, the nails in your tires. What?! It's a sad but real sign of both the city's recovery and its lack of same. You know you've entered a new era when part of your daily routine is checking all four tires to see if any are flat before you venture out to your job each morning.

It's one of those weird catch 22s. In one respect it means people are coming home, gutting and repairing their houses, finding roofers to replace their blue tarps with something more permanent, all concrete signs that the city is recovering from Katrina. On the other hand, it's testament to the sad fact that down almost every street you encounter huge piles of debris -- some that have been there quite a long time — and an omen of the long, long recovery before us and the city's inability, or lack of focus, on taking care of the trash problem. Granted, the situation is much better in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, where at least there is trash pickup, than, say, St. Bernard, but I daresay we're all becoming too well versed in the amount of pressure we must have in our little temporary tires (and the effort it takes to fill one up with a bicycle pump), the locations of the few working air pumps at gas stations and the varying costs of repairing a tire that's picked up a roofing nail versus one or two large screws.

Had I had the entrepreneurial foresight, I might have bought an air compressor and lots of tire repair kits and opened a mobile tire-repair service and set aside my love for words and stories. If I had, I might be building a new house now instead of repairing an old one.

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