Thursday, August 13, 2009

Necessity is a Mother

Well, I had all these big plans for the summer. I was going to start my novel, post on "Dig for Texas," build an amazing contraption called a clothesline, pick the fruits of my labor on the farm...Sadly, not a one of my grand ideas turned out as I expected. The details of why this is so are not very exciting (in fact, just thinking about it all makes me want to poke a stick in my eye from boredom); suffice it to say that since school ended I've been to Chicago, then to Canada, then to Alaska, then to Seattle (where I met up with fellow garden blogger "Greenwalks"--more on that in a future report), then back to LBB for a mere 20 hours before I left on an unplanned trip to Midland, where I helped my sisters clean out my parents' home of 35 years in order to sell it tout suite. During all of this, my internet access was either spotty or too expensive, or I was just too tired to respond to emails or post on the blog.

That last experience, the cleaning out of my parents' house--which entailed nearly a month of hotel living (Oy. You have no idea.)--was traumatic enough that when I finally returned to LBB, I went into a frenzy of cleaning out all my own closets. Let me tell you something, people: Do it. Do it now. Don't leave this for your loved ones...

Once my own house was more or less in order again, I turned inward. I read some fiction (quelle change!), I bought my dream bike and began going on blissful morning rides, and did generally Important Stuff like learn to nap. Still I avoided the 'net. Call it "ether-lassitude."

And I did not garden. My little veggie farm, in fact, had died. Why? Well, although I'd set up a brilliant watering system that was water-wise and could be operated nearly mindlessly, the veggie plot received no watering whilst I was gone. This was not because my faithful husband was not doing his part and turning the little wheel-thingy on the automatic timer just as he'd been taught by yours truly. Rather, it was owing to the evil ministrations of squirrels, who, in a spectacular streak of what I can only imagine was some ill-deserved ill-humor, chewed several little holes into the hose that fed into the soaker hose, creating little spigots through which fountains of water would stream whenever Walu, with all the due diligence one can expect from a loving spouse, turned it on. Thus sadly, even with all of this careful attention, not a single drop of water actually made it to the heirloom tomatoes and peppers.

I hasten to say, that this was not Walu's fault, but that of the villainous squirrels. Plus, Walu's a scholar, not a gardener. I love him still.

I was so demoralized by the loss of my garden, that I simply haven't been able to get back out there and pick up the pieces. Besides, it's hot. So, as I said, I've been doing other things.

And so now here we are, my first post back in blogland. I was casting about for something about which to write when the dryer caught fire. While that in itself was exciting, it is still only indirectly the subject of this post. No, the real subject is that old friend of ours, Necessity, and how she helps us rise above our normally pedestrian selves to save the day. Suddenly we were without a dryer and with loads of laundry still to do. As previously mentioned, on my summer to-do list was the building of a clothesline, something I've been wanting for a long time. In fact, wanting a clothesline was one of the very first things I ever posted about on the Bike Garden (as you can see here) and I fully expected that by this time this summer I'd have this awesome post about this marvelously simple mechanism for drying clothes using solar and wind power, and how it harkened back to the good old days of gramma and grampa, with statistics showing how the dryer is one of the biggest energy wasters in the house, etc., etc.

Instead, here's what I've got: I needed to dry my clothes. I strung a wire from a post on the balcony to the cross tie on an arbor. I started hanging things.

It's not pretty. It's not even clever. It was just what I had to do. And I guess that's really what this post is all about. It seems that for these past couple of years, as I've struggled to navigate the tricky shoals of elder-care, I've learned that sometimes we just do whatever it is we have to do. In the past year my siblings and I have buried a father, wrestled with some dubious home-health care, pleaded unsuccessfully with the Midland police department to prosecute the scam artists who bilked my mother out of thousands of dollars for "trimming the trees," moved my mother into an independent living facility in another city, cleaned and sold a house, and settled an estate--all while trying to live our "real lives." We do what's necessary, and in the meantime, plans don't work out, or we get tired and discouraged, or we just don't think we have what it takes, or we can't seem summon enough courage to make one more decision about anything, ever...

But then we square our shoulders and somehow manage pull it off. Maybe it's not great, but it is sufficient.

Back in the 1860's woman named Marie Lords said, "A cowgirl gets up in the morning, decides what she wants to do, and does it."

That's some moxie can-do attitude, my friends--just the sort of thing that old Mother Necessity expects us to have when she comes a-callin'. That'll string you a clothesline, or put out a dryer fire, or put to bed a failed veggie garden, or convince a plumber that he needs to come over to your parents' house at 5 PM the day before the fourth of July weekend because "there is water flooding the master bedroom right this minute as I speak to you on the phone" (oh, did I forget to mention that part?), or clean out a jam-packed house full of memories and a LOT of junk in record time. Think on it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have a nap.


  1. Oh, Susan! What a summer. Well, it's actually not as bad as I feared. I thought you'd been hit by a beer truck while out on a bike ride or something! Just glad to know you're safe and sound, but sorry about all the hassles and the month of hotel living, the dastardly squirrels and the dead veggies. Well, as they say in baseball, there's always next year! I use that line a lot with my own garden. In fact, I'm already looking beyond my own failures to what I hope will go better next year.

    Feel free to use my first name if you do write something about our fun visit. I am totally fine with that!

    Your clothesline is great - when you said you would "build" one, I thought, "only Susan would do that!" Two posts or hooks and a rope. That's all you really need, right? Glad you got at least a few things checked off the list and got back to naps and books. Those can be considered accomplishments too, no?

    Glad you have you back here, you were missed.

  2. Thanks, Karen! It's good to be back. I just needed some "cave time" to re-group.

    I'll post about our visit sometime in the next week. I was just looking through those pics today and smiling. And I still have the sign your daughter made!

  3. Summertime & the livin' ain't easy for you. Well that all just stinks. The wicked squirrels were probably thirsty and found a convenient source of refreshment. Too bad they didn't chew through the high tension wires instead (can you smell the singed fur?). I live in fear of a dryer fire ever since a kid in my high school class had his house burned down as the result of one. I'm a bit fanatical about cleaning out the lint. Just pulling it off the lint screen is insufficient. I've got all sorts of tools for getting at the stuff way down there. Did I mention I was a bit fanatical about it?

  4. I loved the quotation about necessity. Very true. AND there's something to be said about someone who can take some absolutely not-so-funny unfortunate mishaps and even worse of calamities and turn them into meaningful lessons with comedy stitched into every punctuation mark. Your little words of wisdom never go unappreciated, but I've told you this before. Enjoyed reading this, and I'm glad to see you back to your blog again.


  5. MMcGD: I hear ya, honey! You go after that lint and don't let anyone call you a fanatic!

    Eileen: Danke.

    David: 'nuff said.

  6. Whole first half of year has been brought "unexpected" situations for us, too. We're all in for some smoother waters, I think.

    Oh, and ditto this bit re: cleaning out the house:

    "Let me tell you something, people: Do it. Do it now. Don't leave this for your loved ones..."

    I kept telling myself this when we spent two weeks camped out at MIL's after her passing this winter. Finally, this week, I started the process. Am going to tackle a drawer and cabinet a day.

  7. Glad you learned how to nap and that you have a clothesline now! Sorry about the other stuff...Welcome back!

  8. My God yes, nap! What a summer. I remember cleanign out my grandmother's house and how gut wrenching that was, I feel for you. What can I say. Get your feet down--school starts soon. (Egads! But what would academics do without summers in which to cram an entire year's worth of living in the real world?) Good to see you back online.

  9. Into every garden some rodents must come...

    So glad to see you back healthy and hopefully rested.

    My mother has been cleaning out ever since my dad passed away 10 years ago. I hate to think what would be found if someone had to clean out after me at the moment. But, that'll be their problem, I don't have the time to deal with it right now. Anyway, you can't die of embarrassment if you're already gone...

  10. Life happens to a garden and a gardener. I am glad you are back and posting. Especially enjoyed this totally delicious read. Love the quote and want to have it stenciled on my office wall! Have you rediscovered how wonderful line dried sheets and pillow cases smell? gail

  11. Susan, glad you are back - what a summer you have had. After all that - Cave Time is a good thing to have taken.

    Looking forward to hearing about your visit with Karen
    K. - the other Karen

  12. Ay! My sympathy on the bloody squirrels and the loss of your heirloom tomatoes and peppers and on the cleaning out of your folks' house. We've just moved mine to a senior community and even though they did most of the cleaning out and donating and recycling themselves, we still had some bizarre moments. Like when I was trying to stuff their multiple jars of snack stuff into their now-small pantry (they get at least a meal a day in the dining room of their new place) and I came across the jar of those plastic rectangles that close the ends of grocery store bread bags. I asked my mother if it was really necessary to keep them, and she said, "Oh, yes. Your father gets upset if he doesn't have extras." Uh huh. Okay, I said, shook my head and found a place for them. Necessity is definitely the mother of something, but it's not always invention. And congratulations on that impromptu clothesline!

  13. I'm glad you have returned to blogland. I think you may need several naps to recover!

  14. Welcome back ... whenever you're ready.

  15. We have really missed you, Susan! So glad to have you back. What an intense summer you've had. I hope you have time now to relax with a nice cold beverage and watch your laundry billow in the breeze, your birds flit around your ingenious constructions and your plants revive in your attentive care.

  16. What a summer. Susan, my mom has been in the hospital all summer so I understand the frustration. I'm glad you're back and biking. I also read a lot of fiction this summer to escape. Are you on GoodReads? It's a great way to find new stuff to read while seeing what others are reading. Til next time.~~Dee


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