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Never Say Never

“Never say never.”

I never (whoops, said it!) really understood that phrase until I was in my late twenties. It hit me even harder in my mid-thirties.

By then, I had learned the horrible truth: when you say you’re never going to do something, a divine ha, ha, ha! echoes through the heavens, and an invisible hand begins to slowly tweak your circumstances so that before you know it, you’re doing those things you said you’d never do.

As a teenager, I looked around at my three siblings (because I was the Perfect Child, don’t you know) and decided that I never wanted children. At the same time, I wanted to be a good Catholic. Catholics are not supposed to have sex unless they are number one, married, and number two, open to conceiving a child with every “act of marriage”.

And so, with much reluctance on my horny late teenager part, I decided I would never get married. This I announced openly to my mother who would hear it at least a dozen times over the next decade.

By age thirty-five, I was married. By age thirty-six, I’d had a baby.

Desperate to find a teaching job after college, I found myself in a big city nearly a thousand miles away from where I’d grown up. I had on purposely not taken any early childhood courses in college, not received certification in that area. Because I didn’t like little kids, so I was never going to teach Kindergarten.

In that city I’d moved to lived many Hispanic immigrants, and so the school district had a bilingual program. Therefore, so did the school that eventually hired me.

Having received my teacher education in an area where immigrants were immersed in English in school – only taught their native language at home – I lifted my nose in the air and said, “I will teach in this school, but I will never teach in a bilingual classroom.”

Little did I know that the principal was spying on me, hearing me speak in Spanish to Spanish-speaking parents, rubbing his hands together in glee as he plotted to stick my hoity-toity nose into the dirt. At the end of my fourth year teaching, he assigned me to a bilingual classroom for the coming year.

A Kindergarten bilingual classroom.

Ah, ha, ha, ha! boomed the mirthful Voice In The Sky.

Since my mid-thirties, I have been tempted to say that I would never do any number of things. I was never going to have another baby. I was never going to live in a city again. I was never going to teach in a classroom again.

I have resisted temptation. I learned my lesson.

Wait! Hold on! Why didn’t I think of this before?

“I will never be a New York Times number one bestselling author.”

“I will never sing on a stage and wow an audience of thousands.”

“Hubby and I will never be self-sufficient in growing fruits and vegetables.”

“I will never act in a movie.”

“I will never…”

Hey! Reader! Are you laughing at me?

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To What End?

Back when we were part of the institutional church, the woman whom we called “pastor” at the time once asked from the pulpit, “To what end?” She was encouraging and challenging her congregation to ask that question before setting out to do something.

Of course, she put a spiritual spin on it. If the answer isn’t, “To glorify God”, or, “To fulfill God’s will for my life” or whatever, we shouldn’t do it.

I’ve asked myself that question a lot since then, but usually not in a spiritual context. I just want to drill down and check my motive for doing something.

Wait. That is kinda spiritually related, isn’t it? Your motives.

Confession time: more often than not, the motive revolves around my selfishness or pride.

Such is the case with the lasagna beds J and I have been building. Lasagna gardening is a way to create rich soil for growing by layering organic material in the area where you want a garden bed. It’s composting in place, with a layer of cardboard or newspaper at the bottom to discourage weeds from growing, then alternating layers of carbon-rich (leaves, shredded paper) material with nitrogen-rich (food scraps, grass clippings, weeds) material.

The different layers is how it gets its name, lasagna gardening.

We – more so J – have been sweltering in this hot, humid summer to gather materials for the beds, two and a half ten-by-three-foot beds so far. It’s taken a ton of time, a toll on my lower back which refuses to heal, and most of our energy.

It’s been miserable.

So I finally asked myself, “To what end?” Why have we been making ourselves miserable day after day and week after week to build these beds, when we have the money to just fill the boxes with potting mix?

You know why? Half guilt, and half pride. Guilt, for three reasons. Number one, it’s evil to buy things in plastic bags (everybody’s aim is supposed to be zero waste, don’t you know). Number two, shouldn’t we be more frugal and keep as much money as we can in our funds “just in case”? And number three, we have all the leaves, grass and weeds we could ever want for building lasagna beds. So we should suck it up and do the hard work of using the resources on our property.

Where does pride come in? Bragging rights. “Look, we garden the economical and natural way.”

Special emphasis on the word “natural.”

Because don’t you know, people who container-garden or otherwise don’t figure out how to work with the native soil (by amending the soil or building lasagna beds or using heavy mulch) are inferior to people who garden “naturally.”

Fine, then. We’ll go on and be inferior. We’re going to fill the top half of this third bed we’ve started with potting mix, as well as the entire fourth, fifth, and sixth beds. And this winter, when the organic material in the first two beds have composted down to four to six inches, we’ll fill up the remaining four to six inches with potting mix.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop hating this miserable summer weather so much. Because I won’t be forcing us to be working our tails off in it for hours on end.

 

 

 

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On The Verbing Of Nouns

I think I read somewhere a few years ago that English is the only language in which its speakers regularly turn nouns into verbs. Take the word “nail.” It used to be just a noun – that small, iron, cylindrical-shaped object with a point on one end and a flat head on the other that you used to hold two pieces of wood together.

But in the last few decades, it has been verbalized. If you do something right or figure something out, you “nail” it.

Then there are words like “jar” and “dish.”

It seems the more digital technology progresses, the more this verbalization happens. You “google” if you search something on the Internet (regardless of the search engine you’re using). Fake photos have been “photoshopped.” You “friend” someone on Facebook.

So I thought it would be fun to get goofy with the idea of verbalizing nouns that, as of yet (and as far as I know) have not yet received the privilege of becoming verbs. Here we go.

“That really floored me….” Wait, floor is already both a noun and a verb.

Let me think…

Got it! “He beaned me on the head with a baseball.”

What? “Bean” is already a verb, too?

“Let’s ratchet this up a notch.”

Meh. This is hard.

I’ve got one! Seriously!

“I was so computered by the class, I felt dizzy when I walked out of it.”

Computer: To cause to be inundated with information.

Let’s see if I can come up with another one…

“He toothbrushed along in his sneakers.”

Toothbrush: To move in a back and forth gliding motion.

Next: “I don’t want to shirt right now.”

Shirt: To act as a mediator between two debating parties. Comes from a shirt having two opposing sleeves.

How about this one? “He lamped up the entire house.”

Lamp: To turn on multiple lights in an area.

Finally (because my brain is getting tied in knots): “She seems to just headphone her way through life.”

Headphone: To go through life engrossed in one’s own thoughts, or otherwise seeming to ignore what is going on around one.

**********

Yeah, okay, so some of these are a bit of a stretch. I never realized how many nouns have already been verbalized until I started to really think about it!

Maybe I’ll stick to just using the words that others have already invented. You know, keep being a writer, and let others do the mental gymnastics of manipulating the English language.

What about you? Can you come up with any G-rated examples of new verbalized nouns? Share in the comments below!

Or, go through this post and tell us all the words I used that could be either nouns or verbs. I know you have nothing better to do. 😉

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I Might Be A Hypocrite

B is notorious for desperately wanting a toy, only to get bored playing with it a week after he receives it. I began to see that pattern way back when he was three and four years old. Rare was the item he would take interest in long-term, his Lego and wooden block sets being two examples.

So when, after we moved here, he began demanding that J make this toy and that toy for him, I got my dander up. I was quiet at first. Maybe B actually would play with this wooden boat for longer than a week, making it worth J’s time and effort.

Nope.

Then there was the wooden helicopter. A large wooden helicopter, probably three feet long. Here’s where I started to protest. J was already working so hard trying to get so many homesteading projects done.

“But I’ll play with it, I promise!” B argued.

J built it just to keep the peace.

I don’t think B ever played with it one time.

So after that, my protests became louder and more vehement. As did B’s insistence that he would play with whatever J was building.

Turns out I was always right. If B ever played with one of J’s creations – which all took several hours of work – it was only a few times.

I’m happy to say that no such requests have occurred in the past year, maybe year and a half.

Not from our son, anyway.

However, last year Somebody Else asked J to build a cedar post-and-hardware cloth wall for a keyhole bed that she knew she was going to use to grow carrots. This past spring, he ended up dismantling everything he’d worked so hard to put together.

Last fall, this somebody else was so sure that she wanted to grow strawberries on a kind of vertical garden that she’d seen on YouTube. J spent hours, sweat, and money to build it.

But it didn’t work the way she’d planned. And even though she’s tried to come up with more efficient ways to make it work, she’s come up empty.

Of course, the “somebody else”, the “she”, is yours truly. It hit me in the head like a whack with a two-by-four a few days ago while I was stewing in my guilt over having had J build the vertical garden structure: I’m as bad as my son.

Or maybe I should say, B is a chip off the old block. The female block, not the male one. He and I are both perfectionists, always seeking the ideal world, and when something we hope will bring that world closer to existence doesn’t work, we abandon it for the Next Great Thing.

I’m a hypocrite.

I’m also selfish. I need to think about J, pray about my Great Ideas, research the idea to death, before I ask J to spend his life on my fickle dreams.

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