What is an Alexander day? It’s one of those days that, from the outset, things start going very wrong. Mine began after I had poured some blueberry-pomegranate juice setting the glass in it’s proper place on the counter. When I reached for a utensil, I knocked the glass over. Nothing like trying to clean up blueberry juice before it stains a white counter top. Obviously, gremlins had swooped in and moved the glass. How else could this have happened?
There was also a container of walnuts on the counter that I was going to add to my breakfast cereal. The walnuts, noticing what was going on with the juice, decided to get out of the way of the frantic spill sopping. They took refuge on the floor. Bleepity, bleep, bleep! This had the makings of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
I managed to get through the rest of breakfast without any further disasters. It wasn’t long before the phone rang. My caller ID let me know it was long distance from my uncle. Not having heard from him in a few years, I figured somebody died. I wasn’t ready to hear bad news so I let the call go through to voice mail. When I did check the message, I accidentally deleted it just after hearing my uncle’s voice. Yup. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day was unfolding. (BTW. Due to inexplicable issues with both of our phones, we didn’t reconnect until the next day. And, yes, someone had passed away.)
The next few hours were mercifully uneventful. Perhaps the remainder of the day might even be ordinary . It could happen. Why not? In the afternoon I went to a lab to get a blood draw. No big whoop. I’ve done this many times.
I’m here to tell you the technician who drew the blood injected the needle into my vein like someone throwing darts at a bull’s eye. Not only was it crazy painful, but it caused a swollen vein and sizeable hematoma which took many days to reabsorb. Good grief! It was still a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.
Finally, evening came. Hoping for better things with the turn of the calendar. But wait. The day was not over yet.
I had an appointment coming up the next day. It was one in which I needed someone to accompany me. A friend was kind enough to accommodate. I truly appreciated her willingness to go with me as it is not always easy to find an available soul. That evening my friend phoned and said she had what amounted to a better offer and could I find someone else to take me. Really? That was the piece de resistance of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Nevertheless, there is an antidote for many difficult situations. It is Rule #6. What is Rule #6? If you don’t know, tune in to the next post. If you do know, tune in anyway.
Yes, it was up on the farm. This particular farm, called Breezy Hill, was located on top of a hill. The name was not due to any poetic inspiration. In fact, itt was freaking cold and blustery. Even in the summer time the livin’ was not easy. Every time I turned around, I found myself amidst some bizarre truth is stranger than fiction situation. Throughout the 8 years on the farm, my FAQ was, “Am I living in an alternate universe? Seriously, am I?” Nonetheless, in looking back, there is much to chuckle about and appreciate.
With the growing season morphing into harvest time, I thought I’d share one of my horticultural horrors.
What gardener does not have a zucchini story? Here’s mine. Full disclosure, the closest I had ever come to gardening was buying fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market. Consequently, during my first bona fide gardening experience, I learned, the hard way, the zucchini principle: Never plant more than one zucchini seed, ever ever ever. Of course, in my exhuberant ignorance, I planted the entire packet. There was a song from the 50’s or 60’s about the eggplant that ate Chicago. Then there was some grade B sci-fi movie about killer tomatoes. We had the zucchini that swarmed Centerville. Zucchini vines traversed the entire garden terrorizing all the other vegetables. They wound their way down an incline leading away from the garden, under the clothesline nearly reaching the main road ravaging everything in their path. The zucchini regenerated as quickly as they were picked. The more you picked them, the more prolific they became. Why keep picking them, you ask? If you don’t they just grow larger until they reach the size of torpedoes or small ballistic missiles. Then you need a forklift (or the military) to clear them out. That was my plight.
There are numerous recipes calling for zucchini and a myriad of ways to disguise them in other foods. We ate as much as was humanly possible. When the eating became humanly impossible, we tried giving them away. Of course, no one in their right mind (or left mind) would take any. When I tried to slip some to the pig. She looked at me grunting. Her grunts sounded like, “Are you insane? What, do you think I am bereft of a discerning palate? Get real.”
It was time for Plan B. Okay, I didn’t have a Plan B. Before long, I got the brilliant idea to stack a cord of zucchini in amongst the wood pile. They seemed to blend in very nicely . Hopefully, no one would notice. Ultimately, the beneficiary was the compost, which before long gave the impression of Vermont’s fifth mountain range being formed
FYI. It’s been said that if you are driving through Vermont in the summer, be sure to keep your windows closed. If you don’t, people will throw zucchinis into your car as you drive by.
Nothing says summer in the city like the annual epidemic of road construction. The best course of action, if your situation allows, is to get out of Dodge.
When nature’s signs of Spring appear, so do man’s signs - Parkway Closed for Repairs, Construction Ahead, Single Lane Traffic Only, No Turning Left or Right Until October. Next is the outbreak of demolition equipment and vehicles. You know, all the kind that make so much noise you can’t hear yourself think. Hmmm. Maybe not hearing your own thinking is a good thing.
Let me tell you about what actually happened in my neighborhood. If I had not been a witness, I would have thought it was alternative facts or fake news.
When the temperature hit 100 degrees F, with a humidex of 300 degrees F (only slightly exaggerated); when the air quality was so bad you needed an oxygen tank strapped to your back for going outdoors, the demolition began.
Promptly at 7:00a.m, the jack hammers were unleashed. Then came the front end loaders cleaning up the rubble. Following were the graders readying the road for the black top. They started cooking the tar when it got so hot the tar could have cooked itself. Anyway, the road was soon black-topped and looking lovely.
Here’s where it became mind-boggling. Soon after the road had been newly paved, the gas company showed up. They proceeded to randomly drill holes in the road to check the gas lines. When their inspection was completed, they piled dirt in the holes and covered them with black top. Now the once lovely road was pockmarked with moguls and sink holes.
Next, the water and sewage department rolled in. They drilled holes in new places to check the watermains. Of course they drilled into a pipe so they would have something to repair. That done, it was the same as before. Fill in the holes with dirt and lumpy black top.
But wait. That was not the end of it. Yup. Along came the hydro workers. They dug a conduit along the curb line the entire length of the road to lay underground wires for the latest in decorator street lights. The conclusion was a sparkling display when a nearby transformer caught fire and power went out for several hours while temperatures hit a record 120 degrees F. (Only slightly exaggerated.)
That incomprehensible chain of events was mandated by the Department of Redundancy which promotes misuse of time and money along with being oblivious to what any other department is doing. Please note Section One of the Policy and Procedures Manual: Employ any means necessary to thoroughly harass and vex neighborhood merchants and residents. That which is written was accomplished.
The alarm went off as it does every morning. I got up; washed up; listened to the news while eating breakfast as I do every morning. I turned on the computer, checked email, posted a tweet as I do every morning. Suddenly, I realized I had nothing to do the rest of the day. Some of you might pay a king’s ransom for such a day.
I went through a mental check list of all my options. Friends and family were either out of town or had previous commitments. I was unable to take myself out at this particular time. What else was there to do? Have a couple of unread books I could start. Nah, not in the mood.
(I feel I should point out here that I am well aware of not always writing in complete, grammatically correct sentences. I don’t always talk in complete, grammatically correct sentences either. That’s it.)
I became a little whiney about having nothing to do. Yet, the truth is that there is really always something to do. Dispose of stuff that no longer serves any purpose than to take up space which could be better used. Dig out an old toothbrush and scrub tile grout; clean underneath the stove and refrigerator. There is a littany of similar cruel and unusual chores one could take on. Since I’m not a fan of the cruel and unusual, I once again begged the question, “What am I supposed to do the rest of the day?” Wow, that even reads whiney.
Here’s what happened. It started with chocolate chip cookies. I turned into baker lady. Not much beats warm, fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies and listening to Joshua Bell playing violin concertos.
As I sat savoring a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie, with the music in the background, I experienced a perspective shift. I started listing everything and everyone in my life that I am grateful for and apreciative of. Immersing one’s self in all that is good in life can make a profound change in one’s attitude and outlook.
It’s been said that if you have gratitude in your heart, it is not possible to be depressed or negative in general. I buy into that as I have actually experienced it. As I felt true appreciation and gratitude, the rest of my day changed. How was it different? I no longer groused about having nothing to do. In fact, there was a pleasant flow to the remainder of the day. I also noticed a feeling of joy in my heart.
Sustaining the positive emotions of joy and gratitude can be transformative. I highly recommend it.
“You can’t be grateful for everything, but in any moment you can be grateful for something.” Brother David Steindl-Rast