Very few things went “right” this year for a lot of people.
It’s been a year that has shaken us all out of our routines and forced me to love my home despite the floors than need refinishing and the flooded basement. I count myself lucky to have come through 2020 relatively unscathed.
I know this is the time of year where people traditionally make resolutions, set intentions, and plot out how they want the new year to unfold. I won’t be doing that this year. I may never do it again.
“Things will work out,” my Mom used to tell me when I got upset over things I couldn’t control. How can she be so sure?
She didn’t really know. Yet, despite her not knowing the English language very well, never having driven a car, and being used to living in the city, she married my dad and moved to the woods of Connecticut. That was 1967. They are still married. Things worked out.
And her mother didn’t know either. She had three children during World War II in the Netherlands, and endured her husband being taken away by the SS to a work camp. She endured and he came back. Sometimes things really work out.
I’ve come to understand that things will work out the way they will work out. Acceptance is the path of least resistance.
And a few things actually did work out this year.
After a slight delay at an auto shop in Laurel, Maryland and some new brakes… I made it to Connecticut to visit my parents for Christmas. This was not without its challenges. I traveled with my kitten, Captain Pickles because I feared leaving her alone for a few days would render my couch a pile of upholstery shredded to bits.
We made it to Baltimore before the howling and other feine-in-distress sounds started. They were so piercing that I missed my exit off of 295 and ended up in a sketchy warehouse district.
As I idled by the welding shop on the side of the road, I made an executive decision. She was to roam free in the car. A bold move. I had decided that Things will work out.
After 20 minutes of exploring and crawling under the seats, she settled into my lap. She stayed curled up on my lap through all of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Things worked out.
Things really worked out a day later when my Mom started hollering for me to come to the window!!!
There, in the dusk of the backyard were three black bears. A momma and her two almost full grown cubs.
I had been waiting almost five years to see the infamous bears that roam the hilly and woody terrain of my parents neighborhood.
I almost didn’t believe they existed.
But there they were. A magical Christmas gift for me, Captain Pickles, and my parents. We all stood watching safely from the window as they approached the bird feeders.
My father made a clanking noise with a wooden stick on the tile floor. The sound was enough to deter Mamma from going any further towards the feeders. She turned around and walked back towards the woods. Her two cubs diligently followed her.
This year there has been a lot of uncertainty. But things worked out. So, instead of a grand list of things I’d like to accomplish in 2021 or a resolution for grander things, I’m going to stick with: Things will work out the way they will work out.
That’s where the adventure is anyway.
Happy New Year’s Everyone.
In early September, a flash flood ran through my little slice of the world. Forecasters called for heavy rain and possible flash flooding. I wasn’t worried.
Thirteen years ago, I invested in a lot of money to install a sump pump and French drain system in my basement. A necessity for my house, at the bottom of a hill… in a neighborhood built on reclaimed swamp land.
A narrow band of rain barreled down on my town. I went to check on my basement. Sump pump working.
As long as that pump was pumping, I was in the clear, I thought.
My thought was wrong.
A river formed between my house and my next door neighbor Mario's house. My backyard was flooding. The end of the block filled up with enough water to fill a neighbor's car with water up to her seats. The new levee being built on the other side of the town (in anticipation of more storms due to global warming) was at capacity.
After oggling for a a few minutes at the sheer volume of rain that was barreling down, I went to check on my basement. My kitten’s litter box was floating on top of ten inches of water. My furnace, my hot water heater, washer and dryer were all sitting in almost a foot of water. My heart sank. I went back upstairs, with a long, heavy sigh.
This was one of those moments when home ownership felt like the worst idea in the world.
A few days later, after the clean-up, mopping, and dry out was complete, I called my friend Kirsten. It was time to try and start each piece of machinery that was in the basement to see if it was still working.
I needed some good juju. We sent positive energy to the water heater before I tried to start it.
“Hot water is what separates us from the animals,” my brother texted, when I told him I was waiting for my basement to dry out before turning on the water heater. Good to know.
I turned the gas back on and tried igniting the pilot. Success! After four days of drying out, I was back in business for hot water.
My dryer started right back up. My furnace kicked back on. I was feeling very, very lucky and contemplating moving to the desert. The last thing that needed to be tested was the washing machine. I was hopeful. This thing is built for water, I thought. I put a load of clothes in and turned her on.
She refused to fill with water. She was dry as a bone. How ironic.
I called Kirsten again. We got centered. We sent good energy to the washing machine. We read her energy. … to see what she might need. “She feels like a happy machine, with a possible hiccup,” said Kirsten. “Check the machine where the hoses come into it.”
I did as she suggested and there, in the back of the machine was a secret panel. I could see a piece of folded up paper sitting behind the panel. Instructions? I was beginning to feel like Sherlock Holmes. I got my socket wrench out and took off the back panel. I unfolded the piece of paper.
It had very specific instructions for resetting the machine. “Position cycle selector at 9 o’clock. Depress start button while rotating cycle selector knob 180 degrees. Release start buttons and all LEDS will light. This is position zero.”
Who comes up with this stuff? Should I also hop on one leg while doing it? I tried five times before I gave up.
I looked at the instruction sheet again. It had a schematic of the machine and realized I could open the front of the machine. I did this and noticed that below the tub that holds all the clothes, on the bottom of the machine, were about 50 wires. I placed a box fan by the wires for a few days. Maybe they just needed to dry out.
I tried the ridiculous instructions again. Nothing.
I caved and called a repair man (a mortal sin in my father’s house, as he fixed everything himself).
The repair guy came fully loaded with a COVID mask and face shield. He spent less than five minutes waving some sort of electric meter around the wires before he declared, “Your motor is spent.”
She had died. And there was nothing more to be done.
There are times in life when a flood of emotions overruns you and it’s hard to keep yourself together. And then there are times in life when an actual flood overwhelms you and it’s hard to keep yourself together.
And then there are times where it’s hard to distinguish between the flood of water and the flood of emotions.
This is one of those times.
Looking at the world from above the fray. Houkje writes about following her intuition, observerations on the magic of the natural world, and navigating creativity and chaos in an uncertain world.