Monday, May 28, 2007

Anger Management

I am not prone to anger, but when I do get angry, it tends to be an “outburst” – and even then it is usually low-key. I get it over it very quickly, and then I go on my merry way. Well, a few days ago I found myself in a situation where a very clever essay by Jamie Buckingham, “Things That Go Squish In the Night,” immediately came to mind. This piece is in his book The Last Word, a collection of columns he wrote for a newspaper and other publications.

He relates an incident where he shut off a valve that drained water from his heating system so he could divert it to a spigot and wash the car earlier in the day. Evening has come, it is getting late. He has told his daughter to hurry up and take her shower and has gone to bed. Just as he is falling asleep, he hears a sound and realizes he has failed to reopen the valve. Now water is now flooding the back yard instead of draining into the pond. It is pitch dark outside, he grabs his flashlight, sloshes through the water to the well house, shuts off the water, and then heads off through the backyard to the cement-lined hole where the diverter valve is located. He sticks his hand down there and touches something slimy, which he can’t see in the dark. He leaps up, forgetting that he is kneeling under a barbed wire fence.

“The result was disastrous. When I became a Christian, I lost most of my old vocabulary. This robs me of the necessary safety valve to handle such emergencies. So, instead of cursing, I threw my flashlight, which landed in the pond, leaving me in total darkness. Ripping myself away from the barbed wire, I staggered backwards away from the fence. I stepped in doggie-do. Hopping around in the tall grass, I ran a thorny briar between my big toe and the toe right next door... That which I lost I suddenly found–and a torrent of expletives issued forth...”

Jamie Buckingham is now late, having died in 1992, so I guess we will have to wait until eternity to enjoy any more of his witty writing. At any rate, what happened to me wasn’t quite as dramatic, but the effect was much the same.

Earlier in the spring, R fixed up a half whiskey barrel planter for me at the side of the porch so I could plant a clematis and have it climb the trellis on the porch. The local greenhouse where I would have found a clematis shut down, and not being able to find one at Wally World, I planted pansies, violas, and johnny jump-ups around the rim and left a spot for the clematis, should one turn up. The flowers survived the hard freeze we had in April and were thriving and just beautiful.

Two weeks ago, I found a beautiful burgundy passionflower fine at a street fair and planted that in the spot where the clematis would have gone. And I was happy. I have never been very successful at growing flowers.

Then a few days ago, I returned from aerobics and started up the back steps, and glanced down to look at my beautiful pansies and saw that they were no longer beautiful. Some “thing” had gotten in the barrel and tore it up. All the plants on one side had been pulled up, and the plants on the other had been covered in dirt.

I was enraged. To echo Buckingham, “that which I lost I suddenly found.” We too are out in the country so nobody was around to hear me, except R. Fortuntely, what ever got in their simply uprooted the plants and did not destroyed them, so I quickly replanted them all, uncovered the ones that were covered up, and gave them a good watering. And they seem to have bounced back.

Buckingham closes his essay with the thought “...God is more interested in what we become along the way than whether we arrive. I am not sure what I became. But one thing is certain, I have not yet arrived.”

Me either.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I feel the earth move under my feet...

Well no, not exactly (I mean, I no longer live in California where this sort of thing happens a lot), but this film of the rotating earth is very cool. I skimmed through a very bizarre book once written by a group who believe that the earth stands still (based on a few passages from the Bible) and the entire universe (not just the sun the solar system) revolves around us.

Actually, my world was shaken just a bit on Friday--in a good way--when our son and his fiance came to the house with a Mother's Day card and a cactus. I was shocked almost speechless: this is one of the first times I can remember that he has responded to Mother's Day since he left home. This is probably because of the influence of his fiance, who is a mother herself.

I regret that I couldn't be there for my own mother's celebration. She is worthy of every accolade, whether trite or profound, that people have penned over the years in honor of their mothers. All one would have to do is examine the response of her four children in honor of her to understand what she means to all of us -- and not just remembering her on this one partiuclar day, but day-by-day.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lookin’ out my back door...

Such a lovely sight to see her looking back at us framed by the brush, and then to see her moving gracefully through the clearing to grab a bite to eat before moving off into the overgrowth. Perhaps as summer drifts into fall there will be a spotted fawn by her side. They will come expecting to eat apples from the old apple tree but, alas, there probably won’t be any this year. The hard freeze we had this spring has likely destroyed most of the fruit crop in the area. Deer have a habit of helping themselves to the plants people have set out in their gardens and flower beds (I recall my aunt compaining about the deer eating her rosebushes). We don’t have too much growing here aside from native plants to interest the deer so they don’t bother us too much. I remember hearing about one local gardener who became so irate at the deer eating his strawberries that he went on a shooting rampage and got into trouble with conservation. As much as we enjoy eating vension, they are in no danger from us shooting them from our back porch, except perhaps with a camera.