dimanche 24 janvier 2010

Seasons and lack of good reasons

The bleak house, on another bleak day

This is what our house looks like from the garden right now if you are an iPhone.

Not so great, right? I am still despairing. Maybe it's the fatigue from a long week and being stuck in my sleeping hours, which make a nice, recuperative lie-in impossible. I can lie-in, but I cannot count on sleeping.

Look at it.

I need to authorize my brother-in-law to set the lawyer on our contractor. That much is evident. They left at the end of September, having touched everything on the list of things that had to be finished to satisfy the contract (as rewritten in July), but having left all of them partially finished and promising to be back "just as soon" as the brick was delivered. Well, the longest of the delivery delays for the two types of brick in question was five weeks. Without fumbling for a calendar, I can say that puts us about 2 1/2 months overdue for their return. Epic fail.


My very old friend, who happens to be an architect, too, took this series of photos that iPhones know how to make into panoramic views. He did not say the house looked wonderful, or even nice. Then again, he had never seen it before, and even if he had, he might agree with me that he preferred it "before".

"Maybe you can show me the beautiful garden," he suggested, sounding just a little too hopeful for some reward for his effort to come all the way here, from all the way over there, in England.

"No," I told him, waggling my head, "I'm afraid not. It's January. It's not beautiful in January."

From the look on his face as he listened to my admission of guilt and defeat, and his reminder about gardens having potential for beauty in the middle of the starkness of winter and the mud of the thaws, I knew I had disappointed again. But then, I already knew that I had fallen short in my garden planning for the winter months. I said something apologetic about how the original garden had really been for the warm seasons, and how I had never quite gotten around to doing anything about that. I also mumbled something I actually believe about rather Italianate terraced gardens not being readily adapted to winter planting.

"It is quite lovely, though," I assured him, "when it snows." Mercifully, he did not reply.

And when it is not scarred with the debris of the workers' abandoned efforts, the house sort of finished, missing a balcony, the stoops undone, the pile of sand for the chaux and the concrete collecting delicious cat poohs -- delectables for our Black Labrador Retrievers --, the planting bed along the front of the house torn up, the antenna recently removed from the chimney lying prone across the spotty grass, the surface plants rotting in the fish pond-in-a-fountain, a large square of concrete reinforcing grid leaning up against the plant urns, shielding the Bergenia cordifolia from -- nothing in particular.

But where, the question is, do I find the energy again to get all this back in movement?

From looking at the new green spikes from what appears to be a hyacinth bulb in a cast-off plastic flower pot push their way up to the light, a reminder that every living thing has its cycles, its seasons, including me?

I am sure a letter from a lawyer will help, but do I have the courage to deal with the workers again? Dumb and irrelevant question. I have no choice.

I have to.

But, in the face of marriage and home renovation, humanitarian work is looking better and better. I just ordered Greg Mortenson's follow-up to Three Cups of Tea, Stones into Schools, and I came across the fact that Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, last seen on page 279 of Three Cups of Tea being taken into custody in Gitmo, has written his own book, My Life in the Taliban.

My copy from the press of my alma mater is pre-ordered.
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