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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place."

The Red Queen's speech from Through the Looking Glass (above) explains why I have trouble enjoying maintenance.

On Planet Earth, things fall apart. Everything is in a trajectory towards disintegration which we can only struggle to delay. It takes so much effort just to avoid losing ground!

I love huge projects that create new things. I detest projects which simply fix things: you work and work and all you get is, back to where you should have been in the first place. The enemies: time, entropy, attrition, material exhaustion...

This gripe follows four hours I spent today repairing the deer fence. Little creatures with sharp teeth make little-creature-sized holes, lots of them, then the fawns come along and make the little holes bigger and squeeze through and eat things on the forbidden side! But the worst of it is, they forget where the little hole they squeezed through is, so they hurl themselves against the fence over and over in utter hysteria, and it's time-consuming to calm them down and get them to leave.

Here are the ideas I used to stay calm while the hours rolled by:
  • The weather was delicious. Usually I perversely end up sewing up holes in the fence on rainy days.

  • Better to sew up holes than to chase crazed deer.

  • It was actually good exercise, yoga-like stretching and groveling in the leaves.

  • One either repairs things or replaces them. Replacing is not only more expensive, but more trouble.

  • Maintenance temporarily turns back time. What a triumph!

  • Fixing stuff is the right thing to do.

I managed to convince my daughter's boyfriend that fixing their bed by adding a center beam would be easier than going shopping for a new one, paying for it, dragging it home, dragging it up the stairs, disassembling the old one, dragging it down the stairs, and assembling the new one.

Yesterday, I cleaned out a winter's worth of mounded crud from the chicken coop. I was muttering about it, but on the plus side, that hay-plus-chicken-poop will make fine compost. And while I was cleaning, I found the very first two eggs laid by my new pullets. (I'd suspected they were ready -- some of them now assume the "ready" squat when I stretch a hand out over them, proving they can't distinguish a hand from a rooster -- and I saw one circling the coop cheerfully clucking to herself yesterday, classic post-egg-producing behavior.)

If I can grow to love maintenance, perhaps I won't get so cranky and impatient that I drill a hole in my drainpipe trying to snake it.



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