Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Catastrophic Non-Failure

Every now and then, I seem to go through a period of time where so many things break, I am sure someone out there is sticking pins into tiny replicas of my possessions.

I recently ran across a scrapped blog post from last year where I complained of having several blinds break along with my lawn mower, sump pump, coffee pot, and a drill.

The most recent rash of failures included my computer, modem, router, lawn mower (yes, again), phone, and the little plug-thingie in the bathroom sink. Also my printer died a slow and agonizing death and then came back to haunt me. When my hair dryer shorted out in my hands with a tiny explosion, once the small fire was out and the shaking in my hands had subsided somewhat, I found myself laughing at the absurdity.

I was hoping those little fireworks were the finale to this round, but it turned out that was just an introduction to some of the big stuff. My garage door broke along with a door lock, my washer and dryer gave out, leaked, and shorted out. Now my computer has another virus. In spite of thousands of dollars’ worth of preventative maintenance, my car has a light that comes on, but the little scamp goes off as soon as I take it to The Car Guy.

Regardless, I am lucky they are just things.

My ex-husband used to pretend that it took some sort of skill to do home repairs. Really I find they just take time, money, the proper tools and often some physical strength—none of which I have in abundance.

But necessity really is the mother of invention. When my son was in high school, his car happened to get a flat tire in our garage. I can never remember where the jack goes, so we looked it up on YouTube. The whole incident became quite a blessing in disguise—not just for the mother-son bonding it inspired, but because of the way that one incident seemed to spark my son’s passion for internet-taught car repair. Now he’s the person I consult first when it comes to car problems.

And I find it pays to be sort of anal. It took me hours and hours, but when I recently replaced some door hardware, I was pretty excited that I was able to use poultry sheers and art supplies to fix a previous mistake. Now the door closes considerably more smoothly than before.

Right now I am tired, sore, behind on everything (as usual), wounded all over the place from various wrench accidents, and considerably poorer. But I’m also a little stronger, I own a few more tools, and I have a few more skills under my (tool) belt. I might be girly, but it doesn’t mean I can’t figure out how to change a spark plug. I’ve met some amazing people (such as the total stranger who just repaired some electrical work for me on a Saturday, and free of charge), and these breakages have sparked some wonderful conversations—with my children, with friends, and with acquaintances. As always, I am touched and inspired by the kindness of total strangers. Funny the way these things work: what you lose in stuff, you gain in a different set of resources. I am so, so blessed.

Take that, voodoo-ers.

You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn…. ~From “You Learn” by Glen Ballard and Alanis Morissette


  1. New knowledge, new skills is a much better way to look at troubles than the whining "woe-is-me" refrain that most of us (including me, I'm afraid) would fall into. Talk about lemons into lemonade...

    Critter Alley

  2. Tammy--You rock! I am very impressed.

    I think you could write a story for NYMB On the First Time...the first time something fell apart and you were able to repair it. That could segue into the string of things you were then able to fix...

    Think about it.

  3. Tammy, you are an amazing woman. Because you are willing to learn, and to do, you are blessed with the kindness of strangers, the love of your son, and the admiration of your online friends.
    Fabulous attitude, just fabulous!

  4. Thank goodness you had the internet for the tire-changing lesson! I had a flat in the middle of nowhere and had to put on a little donut tire and drive 20 miles. The worst part was when my cousin drove by, saw me changing the tire, and WAVED without stopping to help.

  5. You're a strong, resourceful woman! My 26-year-old daughter bought her own house just over a year ago and she has learned all kinds of stuff. I'm in awe of you ladies who manage to DO all that stuff.

  6. I love that last line - "take that you voo-doers" and good for you for trying things and finding out that you can do it! But boy, I'm so sorry for all the mishaps.

  7. Everything does seem to go kaput at once. It's like the ebb and flow of life. Just say, "Enough already!" You certainly have had your share, and you have been a testament to others.

  8. Your posts are always inspiring! I love the story about how the flat tire helped you and your son become closer. I've learned that everything happens for a reason and the little things in life really matter. Your posts reaffirm that belief!

  9. Amen! Isn't it great what a positive attitude can do? You are due for an abundance of blessings, my friend. Maybe the hardest part is letting yourself sit back and enjoy them!
    p.s. thank you for the very kind comments on my story last night. I can think of no greater complement than being told that I make someone want to write. I feel this way about your writing ALL THE TIME!!!!


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