Monday, November 14, 2005


Life is filled with small irritations, petty details that ruin your joyful outlook on the world and leave you glum with frustration. After a sunny week in Florida, I am back home to face life head on again, and it seems my path is strewn with rocks and muddy potholes.

First, my car insurance payment, which I had faithfully put into the mail before my departure, had failed to arrive at the office and, after a day or so of driving here, there and everywhere, I found I had no insurance. Getting this clarified...or partially clarified...since the check is still floating around in Limboland, involved spending several hours on a telephone with computerized voices, speaking with women named Charlene or Norma or Gladys, who are probably stationed in England or India, trying to explain the situation to them and constantly asking them to turn up the volume of the phones since my one good ear, which has only 25% of its hearing, is not responsive to the soft moderate tones of most women's voices.

After hours of "What?"...."Would you repeat that, please?"....and "Eh?", the situation, if not solved, was at least under control. Then, I discovered that my television is out, a blur of jumbled snow. This involved another phone call, this time to Marge, who promised to have it repaired in two day's time. After another session of "What?" and "Eh?", we decided that the repairman would arrive on Wednesday afternoon, hopefully in time for the next episode of LOST.

Then my son arrived and I went outside to help him rake up the piles of leaves that had accumulated during my absence. The leaves clung with quiet desperation to the trees this year, and I had decided that I might be raking leaves at Christmas time. But a high wind, the same one that had annihilated my cable television, had stripped the leaves from all of the neighbor's trees and deposited them in my yard, amid the shrubbery, piled around the deck, and strewn all over the lawn. Keith had brought his dump truck and we piled the leaves on a tarp and then dumped them into the truck bed.

There is nothing more elusive than a dried leaf. It flies away at the slightest breeze, evades your rake and likes to sidle around like a playful child. You can rake for an hour and, when you look back, there are more leaves to take the place of those you raked. Many inventions have been created in a vain attempt to make this chore easier....machinery that blows them around, sucks them up, pulverizes them. But, in the end, they will win. There is always more leaves laying around.

Leaves raked and driven away, I returned inside to find that my toilet had overflowed. This is the ultimate of household disasters. I turned off the water, ran for the plunger, and began soaking up the water with a supply of towels. This done, I began plunging. ....hoping it wasn't a boa constrictor, which I had seen on a news broadcast recently and which had been clogging a toilet after getting lost in a sewer pipe. Fortunately, it was one of those net scrubbie thingys that come in every little gift package of soap I have ever received and for which I have not yet found a use, but they do look sort of cute sitting around the bathroom.

This crisis over with, I decided to wash the wet, heavy towels....dripping them from the bathroom to the small laundry room. Of course, this is when the washer decided to just sit there, unresponsive to my efforts to start it. It took me a long time to finally discover it had mysteriously gotten unplugged, probably by the gremlins that seemed to have entered here during my absence. Anyway, I got the towels washed and decided to sit in a chair and stare at the wallpaper for the remainder of the day. There is just so much one person can take and I had reached my limit.

However, then a phone call came, informing me that my young grandson had ran into a car while riding his bike through a parking lot. He was okay and would be able to go home, but his knee required twenty-two stitches. I hung up after talking to his mother and was somehow filled with renewed energy.

How could I have thought that an insurance payment, piles of leaves, a dead television and a clogged toilet were important? How could I have imagined these things to have any value in my life at all? In a split second on any day, I could lose a member of my family. I could be facing a sorrow that would rend my heart and would be an eternal source of grief! Little aggravations come into your life like little passing clouds, covering the sun, but if that huge storm overtakes you, they make the smaller clouds seem frothy and meaningless. This day had been filled with irritations and strife, but we had blessedly been spared the agony of losing a child. Realizing this, the day that had seemed so stressful became suddenly joyful.