Thursday, May 17, 2012

just say no

It’s not easy for me to say “no” to opportunity. Maybe it's because I’m an immigrant – one who came here alone, focused on taking chances and risky steps.

Two ideas percolated in recent days and today I had to give some kind of an answer.

The first had to do with a legal issue. Should I work on it? If it succeeds, it may be financially rewarding. Or not. Ed tells me most large gains grow out of chancy investments of time. And yet, wont I feel hugely frustrated if, after several years' work, nothing comes of it? Just say no, my internal voice shouts at me, just say no! But my immigrant’s brain can’t just say no. And so I sit on the fence. One more day – I tell the party who is asking for my input. Just give me one more day to think about it.

The second idea has to do with the writer’s shed. You remember the writer’s shed? Years ago, before we came to an agreement about the farmhouse, Ed put great efforts into constructing the writer's shed -- a place where I could write, sleep, stay for a day, or two, or three...

We tore down the structure that once stood there and, with the help of Amos, the shed builder, put in the structure that stands there now. But we never finished it. I agreed to move into the farmhouse instead. The writer's shed stands incomplete. A shell of what was once to be.

And that’s a shame. Recently, we've tossed around the idea that we should put in the floor, the little kitchen, the shower, toilet. And then we should rent it! Not year round, but occasionally! A real money maker!

And yet...

So many times we’ve rented rooms in private homes and looked at each other to say – who would want to do this? Who would want to cater to the needs of grouchy travelers? Who would want to listen to complaints about bad TV reception or an overabundant mosquito population?
But, but, we could rent it just to special, preapproved people! I tell Ed.
One more house to maintain...
We could meet interesting folks!
*You* could meet interesting people. People who would complain about the grouch on the premises. Me. Besides, do you really want to lose your privacy?

I smile. I wrote about my colonoscopy on Ocean. What privacy could he possibly be referring to?

Just say no, just say no...

I will, I will, but why is it that I am regretting saying no? In both cases?

We bike to Paul’s cafĂ©. We pass Lee, tending the fields south of us. When are you planting in our quarter acre?
I have planted! Beans and cucumbers. And my sister will plant some more!


We swing by the local market, too. The last of the perfect asparagus. And spring spinach. And, of course, as every week come spring and summer, Madison’s best baguettes.


Finally -- home.

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...Where the iris stands tall, the tomatoes are getting chomped down by the chipmunks, and the lettuce seems too stubby and lettuce.

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the next phase

 Surely you do not want to hear that I did a clean sweep of three grocery stores today? Is there a story in that? Perhaps not a story, but room for a smile: does anyone else walk away from Woodman's giddy, after loading up a shopping cart with many, many jugs of fruit juice (blueberry-grape-wild cherry -- mmmm! Diluted with sparkling lemon mineral water -- the best!) and many many packs of sparkling lemon mineral water?

And I’m no longer surprised when, at Trader Joe’s, the clerk asks if I make my own trail mix since my cart is full of unsalted pistachios, lightly salted cashew pieces and peanuts. Oh and how could I forget – so many containers of chocolate covered raisins. (The answer is -- I do not.)

I venture out to town so infrequently that I now buy as if for a winter season in North Dakota. Anticipating a powerful snowstorm. That will bury me deep for four months. Without access to unsalted pistachios, chocolate covered raisins and sparkling lemon mineral water.

At the farmette, my focus has...evolved. To grading – but please don’t let me get into the habit of repeating day in and day out for the next two weeks that I’m grading. Know that whatever else I may be doing, I’m also grading. There, I’ve said it.

And what else? Ah, the seasonal job of carrying water to the thirsty plants. Much of it is accomplished by standing still with a pointed hose. But some of it is significantly more taxing. I am reminded of the resentful kids of Monet, the artist. They complained that their childhood was lost to watering his expansive gardens. My plots aren’t one hundredth as vast, but they stretch far and wide so that even multiple extensions to the hose wont do. And so I carry the watering can. Back and forth. To keep the flowers satisfied.

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(Sorry, how could I forget: and the fruits and veggies.)

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It’s an evening task and one that, honestly -- I sort of like. At least now, in the early stages of the growing season.

Then, tonight, a special return to town – for a Mother’s Day meal at Graze. This is the city trip I’m always happy to make: for a meal with the terrific younger set.

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My littlest one is, of course, in Chicago, but in spirit she is there too. And since it's "Mother's Day," I am left to open boxes. (These days, insofar as I am at all decently dressed, it is because they attend to me in this way. What I am wearing for example is, from head to toe, their doing -- from a recent birthday.)


At the end of it all, Rosie transports me home. Past a sun that set over the fields, past deer that always come out when I ride at their hour of play.


A beautiful evening. You could not hope for a better one.