}

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Things need to be done


Things need to be done, which is very annoying. Why can’t those things just wait until we’re good and ready to deal with them? But, no, they demand attention regardless of what we want or want to do. On the other hand, doing things can be really good for a whole bunch of reasons.

Yesterday I mowed the lawns (Instagram photo above). As far as I can remember, it’s the sixth time I’ve done that, though not always been both front and back. For example, in early May (the last time I mowed?) I only did the back lawn, and it had grown a lot since then, the front less so. It needed to be mowed, but not nearly as much as the back lawn.

Sunday night, I assembled some storage shelves for the laundry area in the garage. I’d originally planned on putting a cupboard in the space, but thought a shelving unit with wire-mesh shelves would be better for a place with moisture around than fibre board cupboard would have been.

That space became available for the shelves when I moved the dryer on top of the washing machine. I needed my brother-in-law to help me lift it because it’s a condenser type, which means it’s much heavier than an ordinary dryer. It wasn’t all about making space, though: The dryer needs to be cleaned out all the time, and the exchanger unit thing is at the bottom of the dryer, and there’s a port inside the machine (at the back, of course) that has to be vacuumed out. With the dryer sitting on the floor, the only way to clean all that was to lie down on the floor, which I wasn’t keen on doing, not the least because it’s harder to get up off the floor than it used to be. Creating the space for the shelves was actually a benefit from making the dryer easier to clean.

Those are some things I’ve been doing, things that needed to be done. But the far more important things had nothing to do with the house, or chores.

On Saturday, I went with my cousin-in-law and sister-in-law to the Tamahere Country Market, a monthly thing that’s part farmer’s market, part artisan market (the specific mix varies from month to month). It’s a way of supporting local producers, as well as spending time out. It’s held the third Saturday of the month at the farthest reaches of Hamilton, near Cambridge, all of which is why I’d never been to it before.

Afterward, we went for brunch at a nearby cafe (Instagram photo below), the first time I’d been there, too. On the way home, we stopped at a shop I’d never even heard of, much less been to.

The next day, we all went to the restaurant at an olive farm in Southern Auckland. The family had given me a gift certificate for my 60th birthday, but my hospitalisation last year made it difficult to plan a trip, then Nigel died, and, well, it seemed like there’d just never be chance to use it. So my sister-in-law (the same one from Saturday) organised for us to go before it expired. And, it was lovely.

As I was waking up Sunday morning, in that weird dreamlike state that’s neither asleep nor awake, I thought about the trip ahead, and imagined they’d have beef cheeks on the menu (they’re very trendy right now). The very name grosses me out, and I imagined turning my nose up at it, trying it reluctantly, and even involuntarily making a face as I did so.

When we got there, they did, indeed, have beef cheeks on the menu, so I felt obligated to order them (one simply doesn’t ignore the demands of a dreamlike state). As I did, I briefly made the face I’d imagined—just for my own amusement, to be honest; I don’t think anyone noticed, it was so brief. For the record, it was okay, but I wouldn’t have it again—too strong and even gamey for my liking.

The week before, I’d gone with my cousin-in-law to the house of some friends of hers for dinner. I knew them, though Nigel knew them much better than I did. It was the sort of thing that would have made me feel quite anxious, even if Nigel had been with me, but especially if he’d been unable to go for some reason. Under the circumstances, I could have expected to feel overwhelmed, and the anticipation of that may have me decline the invitation. So, I don’t know why I agreed, but more, why I didn’t feel anxious. In fact, it was a nice evening.

What all these outings have in common is that I was doing unusual things, tings I wouldn't normally do, and all in a short period of time. In fact, these days I’m far more likely to agree to doing social things than I ever have been, and that’s not merely because I don’t have to consider anyone else in my household. I don’t know what makes me do social things, when, on the face of it, many of them are well outside my comfort zones.

It’s been going on long enough now that I think this is one of the ways in which I’ve been changed, possibly/probably permanently. It’s not a case of “feel the fear and do it anyway” (I’ve done that in the past, especially when I had to an event with nothing but strangers). Instead, it’s not feeling the fear in the first place. At the moment, I think it’s because I’m so matter-of-fact about life in general, and I just don’t care or worry about things that at one time would have bothered me.

All of that is on top of the day-to-day things I need to do. Mowing the lawns is an example of new chores, one of the things I do know that I didn’t do in the past. Moving the dryer and putting up shelves isn’t in any way unique, because I’ve done similar things all my adult life. What’s changed is the context, because I’m now doing things for myself alone, and to make my daily life easier and/or better.

Things need to be done. Always. But sometimes it turns out that doing things can be really good for a whole bunch of reasons. I don’t think I’m done finding out what those reasons are.

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