Sunday Morning ~ Decisions

Sunday Morning ~ Decisions

Khoza lipita ndi mwini dzanja. ~ The ivory bangle goes if the owner of the hand agrees.

~ Chewa proverb

October 15, 2023

Hi Everyone,

I recently made a big decision about a new roof, a huge financial and esthetic consideration. I fretted. I overthought. I collected so much information I got confused. Metal or asphalt? If I go with metal, should it be corrugated or standing seam? What color will complement my house, gray, black, or brown? How will it hold up in wind and snow? Will snow fall off and kill someone? Will a fifty year life span be adequate or should I go with “lifetime”? What does “lifetime” even mean? How should I finance this? I got so much conflicting information I spun in circles for awhile before taking deep breath and committing. Metal. Burnished slate. 

I listened to the news and thought, good God, I did not have to consider whether the roof would survive a bombing. Or a wildfire. It was heat efficiency, maintenance, and rot that I lost sleep over. I thought of my children’s inheritance, not their survival. 

I thought back to when we built this house and had to make multiple big decisions every day. A couple then, it offered ample opportunity for disagreement. How much of the budget should we use? What will it look like? How long will we have to live with it if we don’t like it? I just wanted it DONE! There were conflicts. We’d anticipated that. We’d heard the maxim “Build a house, lose a spouse!” and were prepared. It was definitely hard on our relationship but we came through with a little professional help (another decision). It made us closer. We were proud of what we’d built. It sheltered our large family so well, so comfortably. We could entertain guests without disruption of the family routine. My ex would often look around and say proudly, “What a ripping little house this is” a line we loved from The Wind and the Willows. We’d laugh. I was happy. I loved the life we’d made. On Sunday nights, we’d get the kids to bed then build a fire and read the paper, swapping sections until we got to the crossword puzzle. I loved Sunday nights. I was sure it would always be that way. We’d made the right decisions.

As life wore on and kids got older, there were more decisions and they got harder. How much leeway to give teenagers? What consequences were appropriate for their poor (and sometimes dangerous) decisions? There was a lot of discussion, disagreement, conflict and compromise. And that was just our little nuclear family: seven people with a common experience and culture. 

Decision making can cause some wear and tear. Even small decisions like which movie to watch or what to meal order can cause low level stress. Though wrong decisions in those circumstances can cause disappointment, we can go out to eat another time or watch that other movie later. But what about the irreversible decisions? The ones that can ruin relationships, cause harm, completely change the trajectory of lives? 

We all have a personal process of decision making based on our past experience and emotional state. I like to talk it through, out loud, to another person. Using English, my first language, I gather data, consider options, and come out with final decision. I like hearing other perspectives, input, and stories. Then I like to moll it all around and settle it. And since I’m on my own, I can make the decision that works for me. After all, it is my resources, my body, my home, at risk. What an incredible position to be in. What privilege. 

So I’m thinking of those who have neither the time nor luxury of mulling over all the possibilities. Those whose safety is in such peril they must make decisions about whether to stay or leave. What to bring? How will they protect their families? Would I decide to flee, knowing I may never be allowed back to my home? I’ve made a life here that I love. I have a community I value and an environment where I feel safe. What if I had to leave my home forever? Would I forsake all my belongings? My few family heirlooms? All the photos that remind me we once had a happy and intact family? Or would I stay, looking at the adornment of my life and decide that is enough. There but for the grace of God go I… a decision I do not have to make. 

At this time when I wonder what I can do, I focus on voting for those who know how to make decisions for the common good with empathy for humankind.

Love to all,

Linda

Sunday Morning ~ Searching for Balance

Sunday Morning ~ Searching for Balance

Mlandu sugwera pa mtengo. ~ A tree never has a court case.

~ Chewa proverb

October 8, 2023

Hi Everyone,

I’ve spent the last three months chasing deer out of my yard. Once they got over the garden fence for the first time in twenty-five years, they’ve come every night consuming every new leaf that sprouts. I sprayed a rotten egg mixture, hung bars of soap, covered plants with netting, in a vain attempt to salvage what I’d planted. While visiting my neighbor one Sunday I saw a deer munching her shrubs and pointed to it. She was non-plussed. “I can’t stop them.” she said. I was surprised she didn’t try to shoo it away as I do. I thought about her reaction and decided she has the right attitude. I’m the one encroaching their turf. They should not have to alter their behavior for me.  

I love growing my own vegetables. Until this summer, my biggest problem was not enough sun to ripen my tomatoes. Slugs had previously been my most challenging pest, so I laid a copper barrier around all the beds and marveled at how well it kept the slugs away. When the first deer jumped the fence and invited all her friends and family to the feast, the copper was not a deterrent.  I put up netting, they pulled it down. I propped up a taller barrier, they made a new entrance. Envious of my neighbor’s nonchalance, I started thinking about how I might enjoy the sight of deer instead of being angered by it. When I declared my garden a total loss, I decided to shift my tack. Since I won’t be here next summer, I’ll spend time planning a landscaping renovation. It’ll give me something to do on long lonely evenings. I’ll take down the shorter fence and erect one high enough to ensure a safe garden space. I’ll reclaim my summers. If deer want to see what’s on the menu at my address they can eat their fill of acorns. 

On this Indigenous Peoples Day I’m reflecting on how to live in harmony with my environment. I’ve never fertilized my lawn or used herbicides. I only use organic matter in the garden. My useless deer repellent was not toxic, and though I did get traps for the carpenter ants, I only use mint spray to keep the rodents away. But I started thinking about the losing battle of keeping the deer out of the yard and thought about what it might be like to welcome them and create a space where we can live together without angst. I want to look out my window and be grateful. I want to live in harmony with creatures and seasons.

We had a severe storm Saturday night that brought down a lot of trees. One fell close to my little house, blocking the back door. I’m grateful it did not hit the roof, but as I inspected it this morning I thought, I’m the one who put the house there. The tree is not trying to ruin my house; it falls where it must. I’m thinking more and more about how we have tried to impose our will upon nature instead of living in synch with it. It’s only me I can control.

Love to all,

Linda