New Skills

Writing is on my to-do list every day. I have writing goals and I have every intention of meeting those goals. For one does not finish a book if one does not write. However…

I live alone. Not alone, alone. I do have Atticus, my labradoodle. But since he can’t mow the lawn, wash the car, or make me lunch, most of the time he doesn’t count. When my husband was alive we divvied up the chores and responsibilities. He did most of the outdoor stuff, although I did the flower beds. Inside stuff he replaced the batteries in the remote and I refilled the salt and pepper shakers. Whoever got out of our bed last, made it (that discouraged slothfulness). He weed-wacked and I filled the bird feeders. He repaired stuff and I replaced the stuff he couldn’t repair. This duty/chore arrangement made it possible for me to carve out some writing time. For the Hubs, it gave him free time to putz around in his shop organizing tools and discovering creative uses for nuts and bolts and various wood thingys. It worked for us.

Now, it’s just me and Atticus, and as I said the dog is mostly useless when it comes to chores. However, knock on my front door and you’ll quickly discover why I keep him around. No axe murderers or door-to-door salesmen will ever step over my threshold uninvited, not while my boy is around. But as for chores, repairs, yard work, car stuff, and lugging groceries into the house, I’m on my own. In the last five years I’ve learned some new skills. Did you know that one can fix a broken garage door opener at midnight during a snow storm with Duct Tape? Did you know that you can hang a large framed painting over the fireplace without using a fifty-pound extension ladder leaning against the wall in the garage? All you need is two very thick books, let’s say, Webster’s Dictionary 1969 edition and Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament 1962 edition stacked on top of each other. The books are then placed on top of a sturdy wooden footstool that is strategically placed on top of a dining table. Works perfectly.

And, this week I’ve increased my skills two-fold. My garbage disposal quit on me. I poked around on the ‘reset button’ (cleverly hidden on the bottom of the disposal where no one but a hobbit could find it), checked the fuse box (which I found cleverly hidden behind the door to the garage), and fiddled with the on/off button numerous times, all to no avail. Then I remembered that God gave us YouTube. Yep, I now know what an ‘allan wrench’ is, or is it an allen wrench? Whatever. I found that little ditty in the garage cleverly hidden among hammers and extension cords. I also was instructed by the YouTube garbage disposal fix-it man, that I needed a broom handle to complete the repair. While I didn’t have just a broom handle, I did have a broom with a handle that would suffice. I put the allen/allan wrench together with the broom with a handle and proceeded to do as instructed. Turn this and poke that. I did. My garbage disposal was returned to its formal self in a matter of minutes. However, now my dishwasher wouldn’t work. Did you know that there is a switch behind the garbage disposal that if you accidently hit it with say, a handle of a broom, it turns your dishwasher off? Who knew?

I say all of this to say this: time is precious. I used to have a partner who carried his weight allowing me enough time to write every day. These days, I have to budget my time and be prepared to write another day if this one doesn’t work out. My life was changed in an instant when my husband died. My writing life was changed too.

The other day when my garbage disposal fired up after my impressive repair, I felt something. Not pride exactly but maybe I came out on the other end less scared and a little more capable than I was the day before. I’m learning to not let these facts of life, meaning, taking care of myself and my surroundings, cheat me from my writing time more than it has to. Now, if I could only teach Atticus how to pre-heat the oven …



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