But Mummy, Isn’t That The Servants’ Job?

Time certainly marches on, and the proof arrived in our mailbox yesterday. The first two catalogs of 2023 from nurseries and seed companies. One of the catalogs was interesting in that it offered nothing that would grow, but only the hardware to do it with. The sort of hardware that one might find on an estate, and not a humble homestead like our own. In fact, I could imagine those shelves and garden accessories as backdrops in the television series “The Crown,” as the former Queen wandered with her consort through the barns and sheds of her vast holdings.

Queen Elizabeth : I think those shelves would do nicely for the tomahto plantings, don’t you, Philip?

Prince Philip: Good God, but I’m bored.

Queen Elizabeth : Now, Philip, let’s not be cross again today, shall we? That would make 743 cranky days in a row … not the sort of look royals are going for at all.

Prince Philip: Blast.

I have enjoyed that series, BTW, and will no doubt watch the final season whenever it get to us. It is of course a soap opera, but one of a relatively exalted nature, with characters right out of the Disney canon. All the princes and princesses that a person could ever want, peppered liberally with stiff upper lips and the English language spoken exactly as it should be done.

The only problem for that television series is that Harry and Meghan, the Royal Whiners-In-Exile, are running a set of competitive programs all on their own. Let’s see … when was it precisely that I lost interest in what was happening to that noted pair of pampered persons whose noses have been put out of joint repeatedly by another cohort of pampered persons … wait … I have never been interested in what happened to them.

I have a feeling that Harry and Meghan must be frustrated. No matter how much attention that they have been paid to date, it doesn’t seem to equal their need for it. And some advisor somewhere has no doubt told them that in five years no one, not a single solitary soul on the entire freaking planet will care about them at all. So as the saying goes, they better maketh their hay while the sun shineth their way.

One More Cup of Coffee, by Bob Dylan

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Let it here be said that I have friends and relatives (and some who are both) in the Midwest. Let it also be said that that they are having a difficult winter, with plenty of cold and snow and icy roads and all of the unpleasantness that living in a refrigerator can bring.

Additionally, I will admit that here in Paradise the snow is but a light dusting, the temperatures are compatible with life, and the worst that has happened so far this Winter is a couple of brief power outages.

Since I have always been told that Winter’s hardships are just the bracing jolt that our souls need for necessary toughening, I will have to accept that it is possible that my own soul is becoming a bit saggy and out of shape. Perhaps even the slightest bit decadent. It certainly is not being tested this year.

Why, on this last New Year’s Eve I was able to bicycle to the grocery store to get a couple of items that I needed. Wheels rolling on dry and ice-free roads. Give me another couple of years of this meteorologic cosseting and I suspect I will spiritually begin to look a lot like Jabba the Hutt.

.

My Viking ancestors are no doubt rolling over in their watery graves on the bottom of the North Sea in shame at what a fragile flower I am becoming. Well, let them roll and please pass the grapes and bonbons, would you? There’s a dear.

Song for a Winter’s Night, by Gordon Lightfoot

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Yesterday I killed our vacuum cleaner. It was a case of second-degree vacu-slaughter, because I didn’t mean to do it. How it happened was only one more repetition of what so often happens when I try to DIM (D0 It Myself). The first time I remember was when I decided that the carburetor on my 1950 Ford needed to be rebuilt. How, in the abysmally ignorant state re: automobile functioning that I was in back then (and still am) that I could possibly come to this conclusion I cannot recall.

But I bought the repair kit, dismounted the carburetor, tore it apart, and began to replace what was worn. Hours later that same day I put the thing back onto the motor where it belonged and climbed into the driver’s seat to see how I’d done. I turned the key and sacre bleu!, the car wouldn’t start at all.

I had no idea where I had wandered off the correct path, so I went in humiliated posture to my father and admitted my failure. He graciously accepted the task of repairing my repair, and soon the motor was purring like a well-fed cat. When I asked him what I had done wrong, he first paused and then mumbled a reply. I caught the phrase “… so many things” in his response, and didn’t press him for further details.

To get back to the vacuum cleaner. The machine was operating poorly, so I went to the gurus on YouTube and found exactly that model cleaner with exactly that problem, and exactly how to repair it. I also learned that the manufacturer had never wanted people to be messing in there, so they had created access screws that required a very special tool to remove them. I ordered the special tool.

I will admit that my removing of an endplate and a gear or two only casually resembled what the guy on YouTube was doing. What he removed easily, I struggled to get off. What he pried loose with a tiny screwdriver required that I use a much larger lever and enough force to move the cornerstones of bank buildings.

But it all eventually went back into place, as I tightened every screw and replaced every plate, and then plugged it into the wall. Echoing that long-ago carburetor episode, the machine now wouldn’t work at all. After several pluggings and unpluggings, many disconnections and reconnections, and a couple of hard kicks to its solar plexus, the device stubbornly refused to suck.

The new vacuum cleaner should be here next Wednesday. It will be half the weight of the old one, which will be a good thing. The dead machine was a heavy brute. I like to think of this whole episode as one of the universe gently guiding me to what I should have done on my own long ago, which was to purchase that much lighter tool, to ease our aching backs.

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I mentioned my father coming to my aid in an entry above. The man could fix things, build things, and create stuff with his hands and a hammer that are probably still functioning somewhere. He was very good at those things.

However, there were moments when he was just the teensiest bit absent- minded. Dad smoked cigarettes heavily all of his adult life. Occasionally he would light one up in one room of the house, walk to another room, forget about the first cigarette and start another. His personal record, achieved one summer afternoon when he was involved in a household remodeling project, was to have four lit cigarettes going in four ashtrays in four different rooms.

On another occasion when he was paying the household bills and writing checks to do it, he forgot to finish the job properly and sent one off with only his first name, “Joe,” in the signature line. The check sailed right through and the bank cashed it without blinking an eye.

“Joe” … lord have mercy.

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