Days like these….

Photo by Michael Gordon.

Mama never told me there would be days like these. She was a nice, gentle person and probably didn’t want to scare me with the perils and pitfalls of adult life. Or maybe days like these were no big deal to her; she did have 8 kids, after all, and never lost her temper, swore, or acted like the big spoiled brat I do when things go south.

My formerly stalwart freezer (a 4th anniversary gift!)

Which they did yesterday, for sure. I was in a great mood (warning sign #1) and contemplating shirking all my responsibilities and going to the movies at noon. But at 9 am, I walked down to the basement to empty the recycling and noticed water on the floor under the freezer. I opened the door and beheld the listless, flabby packages of defrosted vegetables, watery containers of thawed chicken stock, and slimy blue pouches of Freez-R-Bags. My Freez-R was toast.

I mopped up all the water on the floor, transferred all the salvageable food into coolers, and hauled the coolers into my car. Then I walked into the backyard where we’ll be having 50 Young Alumni to dinner tonight, only to feel mud squishing through my toes. Thanks to the aggressive irrigation efforts of the yard guys,  it was a swamp of mud and newborn grass. Why did this day seem to have an endless water theme?


While I was standing there, sinking into the loam, I overheard my bizarre next-door neighbor T, talking to my icy neighbor J, who lives on the other side of me. They were discussing what a jerk I was to ask T to remove the 40-foot tree that had fallen a month ago from her yard across the full width of our yard, taking out both fences with it. T claims the tree’s demise was an “act of God” and she is thus not responsible, and why was I so demanding anyhow? J snottily chimed in, “And it’s not even her house!” Well, technically J has a point. We only get to live in the university’s house because my husband is president, so I guess our six years here qualify us as squatters.


Having called in a refrigerator whisperer and nursed my hurt (okay, super mad) feelings, I went upstairs to get the broken necklace and earrings I was taking in for repair. Collecting all my stuff, I whirled around with my purse and proceeded to knock a candle and its glass base onto the floor. Then as I was sweeping up the pieces of broken glass, I stepped down hard on the beautiful vintage ring that my husband had just bought me for our 15th anniversary and that I’d just repaired and put on the saucer to admire. My heavy shoes crushed the delicate shank I’d just had fixed. And knocked out one of the tiny, rose-cut diamonds on the side. Which I then couldn’t find because it looked exactly like every one of the tiny splinters of glass on the floor… and I know this because I picked up every one & examined it with a magnifying glass (embedding a few in my fingers in the process).

Wow. What a day. And it was only noon. Technically, I could still have made it to the movies, but by then I just wanted to lay low, read, write, and get something tangible accomplished. Like engraving a quote from Robert Frost’s sarcastic poem, “Mending Wall” : Good fences make good neighbors on the side of my garage where T will get to look at it every day.

"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out"

But really, I wish I could keep my equilibrium when confronted with this kind of confluence of chaos. I wish that, like my husband the lawyer, I didn’t get so easily enraged by people I’m convinced are not being fair or doing the right thing. I wish my tolerance for annoyance was balanced with a radical understanding of how totally good I actually have it. And I wish I could learn to repay meanness with kindness and break the cycle of anger.

My ring, repaired.

For an antidote to all my histrionics, read my blogging pal’s post about her perfect day on the farm, and feel the peace of listening to someone astonishingly well-balanced wash over you. In fact, I’m thinking of moving to South Dakota as soon as possible. I won’t even need a freezer there.

27 thoughts on “Days like these….

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  2. What a day, and what a re-telling. I know that in my case writing or telling my story on a day like that always helps- perhaps it is my wine bibbing Irish background?- and I’m so glad that is what you did. That is a very very beautiful ring, by the way. -kate

    • Yes, it does help to re-tell a terrible day and make it all funny — and as I’ve always said, the worst vacations make the best stories! It’s an Irish thing for sure to get such a kick out of catastrophe I think … over a glass of wine, by gosh!!!

  3. Yikes Betty; that is a memorable day for all of the wrong reasons.

    Speaking of equilibrium, I subscribe to the old adage of “Even Steven” that was popularized in the Seinfeld series. With your run of bad luck, I’d expect a bombardment of positives to surround you to balance your scorecard.

    I am sure the weekend will be super for you–sunshine and flowers and more.

  4. As a new follower of your blog, I was totally delighted by your telling of what sounds like a perfectly hellish day. Not that I really enjoyed hearing about your suffering – well, okay, maybe a little, Honestly, I think you’re a saint for putting up with neighbors like that. God bless you for making me laugh and leaving me feeling that my day was really pretty good.

    • Oh, you know I always love stories of people getting into sticky jams — because it’s good to know that I’m not the only one with troubles. And if you can laugh at yourself … you’re always better off! So happy you’re reading, Anita!

  5. A very wise man said to me once, “Hey. Not every day can be a ten.” If it makes you feel any better, I’ve lost the contents of my chest freezer (read: protein that we buy on sale to feed five mouths that are going to complain about it) THREE times, because kids unplugged it. It was an accident, they swear. Also, your squatters line cracked me up.

  6. They say confession is good for the soul…maybe especially on paper? For an introvert like me, it’s a struggle but makes me a better person. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Enjoyed this post (despite that it was a bad day for you all around), but it served a purpose—I am so grateful I don’t have (many) neighbors like that (even if you are a squatter now!). Beautiful ring, too!

  8. Lovely Betty! Thank you so much for sharing your “interesting” day…You are truly one of the most “too awesome for words” women we’ve had the honor of meeting! Wishing for you less “days like these”, and more blessed days like you gave to so many! Thank you for being YOU and hugs to you from SoCal!

  9. You are a nice person, and did a good thing, by not marching over to them and saying things I would have said. Especially if I was having an already bad day. I hope you get a good karma pat on the back!

    • Hi Betty! Actually, I’m not really that nice — if I could have thought faster and come up with a pithy remark, I would have but they were being so snarky,
      I just was stunned into silence. A rare occasion! Thanks for listening to me moan….

  10. A lovely post! It comforts us all to know that everyone experiences such days, and your ability to find the humor in it all makes me smile through it. Yes, we really do have it good and we need reminders, especially on days like this!

  11. Not the ring too!
    and 50 students to dinner tonight? Good grief I can understand why you want to move to South Dakota! (love the picture of the farm)
    They say that writing helps. Did it?

    • Writing always helps … sometimes I don’t even know how I feel until I put it into words, and then I can figure out what’s making me feel bad/sad/happy/scared ..
      I don’t know how I’d ever cope if I couldn’t write! The ring debacle was really the crowning blow — and much as I love the beautiful old thing (it’s from the 1850s)
      it probably shouldn’t be entrusted to my care. I’m a total barbarian when it comes to jewelry — I’m always bashing around, sticking my hands in the mud, etc. etc…
      so a delicate ring is at total risk on my chubby Irish claws. Oh well — guess I’ll just enjoy it in the box & take it out when I know I’m going to be ladylike! Ha!! Thanks for
      writing, Rosie!!

    • I think South Dakota should HIRE you to promote the state … you just make life there seem so blessed, homespun, friendly and fulfilling!
      I’ve always loved Robert Frost, but “Mending Wall” is just a spectacular poem — from the first words “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”
      to the last, and it’s not really sarcastic (as I put it) but awfully poignant. All the walls we build up around ourselves. And I was thinking of your
      post about waving to your neighbors when I was bemoaning the animosity that has sprung up all around me – and for which I am at least
      partially responsible. I gotta work on that!

  12. Robert says, “you’re Catholic, so you can’t break that cycle…” I just say – so sorry – hope the other song applies “What a Difference a Day Makes”.

    • Oooh, I love that song — wasn’t it Anita Davis?? And YES! The new day made a big difference, as it always does. But Robert’s kind of right, too — it is a Catholic thing (and more particularly an Irish one) to just get all wrought up and make much ado about basically nothing. Which is why God made wine. Thanks for the words, Susan & love to your hubby!

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