We hired a local man to install windows and side our house. He was a team of one so we knew we were in it for the long haul, but we felt good about his work and him. We still feel that way, though how he feels about us is surely up for debate. He started in November and finished two days ago. Along the way, among the things we did not contract for, these things occurred:
- The garage door failed intermittently and it became a personal quest of his to solve this dilemma. He did.
- We forgot to set out garbage several times. He set it out.
- A blizzard occured in December. He blew out a trail around our house.
- A water pipe burst above our garage so he gamely made a foray into plumbing. He couldn't fix it at the time but later served as consulant and carpenter with the person that did.
- My mom was here watching the kids when her car wouldn't start. He jumped it for her and left his number in case she needed anything else.
- She called him the same night at 8:00 p.m. when a bat appeared to terrorize her. He came, got rid of the bat, and later took himself out for a drink.
- He took the dog out when we were gone too long.
Among the things we did for him:
- Cookies and cocoa most days.
- Coffee some days.
- Provided fine examples on how to fail at power plays with kids.
- Provided fine examples on how to fail with dog obedience training.
- By confirming that some humans are more hopeless than others, his job security prevails.
Time and money may be different beasts, but in both cases ours was well-spent.
We're sorry, Kyle, and we thank you.
I tell you, we went to Charleston, South Carolina where the sun was on display and the palmetta trees were rustling and the history demands to be observed. Stunning and startling and unsettling all at once. I arrived thinking about Afghanistan and found myself immersed in the Civil War and came home wondering about Libya. I hardly recognize myself.
One thing that I rediscovered was poetry. We stumbled upon a cafe where they have a featured Carolina poet who reads for a bit and then the locals hit the mike with song or their own poems. There was whooping and hollering and the reminder that we all seek solace in words that bring meaning to the seemingly senseless things around us.
I left that cafe with a slim volume of poetry written by a 75 year old man completely devoted to his wife whom he lost 2 years ago. It's called The Jane Poems and in it I will learn their story. Why this is important to me is not yet clear. For now, it's enough to know that someone out there was able to mine their life for the moments that mattered and found a way to capture and share them. This seems like a good thing to carry next to all the other stuff. Somehow it fits even if I don't understand exactly how.
In my brief stint on this planet, it's always been the helplessness that gets me and so far, I have only come to this: do something that matters for or in the name of someone or some cause, however big or small. It's likely the wars won't stop, the bodies will continue to pile up in Japan, and protestors around the world will have to take up their task for one more day. But, a dollar just might feed several small bellies, a phone call might save a life, a listening ear might provide some release for a grieving soul, and a letter might be the latest in thousands that propels someone with power into real action. It's a risk and a gamble, but the alternative seems so disrespectful to those bearing the brunt of the tragedies. In a world that defies logic, what other choice is there?
Winona is a beautiful place to live, but it was fun to see a different side of life. Trains and taxis and buses and subways and lines and street musicians and fashion beyond tennis shoes and jeans and sculptures and languages not understood and performance art and a river dyed green for St. Patrick's Day and dog carriers nicer than any purse I've owned and serious sky scrapers. It was a visual extravaganza and choosing a focal point was difficult.
The rhythmn was different, invigorating , and yet another reminder that not everyone lives or acts or thinks like me. What a relief.