Broken Things

Fierce rainstorms—replete with high winds, brilliant flashes of lightning, and house-rattling claps of rolling thunder—began yesterday afternoon and grew progressively more powerful during the night. At the moment, the incessant noise and blinding lightning seem to have settled down; I hope the storms have moved on, but we may just be in a lull. Reading the news this morning, I learned how fortunate we are to have suffered only pounding rain, thunder, and lighting strikes in our vicinity. East, Central, and North Central Texas were hit by much wore weather yesterday and last night, including probable tornadoes in the Houston and Round Rock/Austin areas and west of Fort Worth. I feel for all the people who were impacted and continue to deal with the powerful storms. The weather forecasts for today suggest the middle Gulf coast, among other areas in the southern U.S., will be in for a monstrous siege of dangerous storms.


Take any word, any word at all, and say it out loud a dozen times. Do it again, using the same word. By the time you’ve said the word two dozen times, it will sound like gibberish. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right. So do it again. Eventually, you will conclude that the word is meaningless; it’s simply a nonsense sound—equivalent to the way mud made from dusty dirt mixed with honey to form a slippery waxen goo feels as you try to hold it between your fingers.


I got nothing done at the new house yesterday except to survey the work in progress and to get a report on when the project may be finished. I seriously doubt it will be this week; I hope I am wrong, though. Most of the flooring, except for the master bedroom and master bath, has been laid.  Installation of new toilets is on the calendar for today and newly-stained quarter-round is scheduled for installation on Thursday. But the flooring guys are not scheduled to return until Thursday, so that may be wishful thinking.  Once the flooring is complete, though, we can begin the task of cleaning up construction dust and debris, after which we can begin moving boxes into the garage for later distribution throughout the house. Still remaining is installation of new plumbing fixtures (faucets) in the master bath, new stationary and door glass in the master shower, and work getting doors in alignment and having them adjusted so all of them properly close and latch. And I am sure there’s plenty of touch-up painting. And I have to repaint the master bath and to put a coat of primer and paint on what we call the TV room (also known as the guest room). We’ll move in, eventually. And I need to sell the house we now live in. Fortunately, only minor cosmetic work is needed on the current house; I hope that minor stuff will help accelerate the sale of the place once it’s on the market. I desperately need a long-lasting stress relief treatment; perhaps a marathon process of chewing gummies so their effects will continue until the projects are completed.


The official announcement of nominations for the board of our UU church was distributed by email yesterday. My name will be on the ballot as the Nominating Committee’s nominee for vice president and my girlfriend’s name, as the committee’s nominee as board member at large, will be on it, as well. It’s certainly possible that one or both of us will be challenged by nominations from the floor, but I expect that will not happen (if it does, so be it). Assuming we are elected during the May 1 Annual Meeting, we will take office on July 1. I expect our terms will be both challenging and rewarding; I know I will have to be far more engaged with church work than I have been heretofore. Fortunately, the church has a vibrant committee structure to support and implement policy. As I reviewed the bylaws and the church’s master schedule early this morning, the breadth and scope of responsibilities for which I will be responsible became clear. My plans for road trips, etc. will need to account for responsibilities for such activities as scheduling meetings of committee chairs, reviewing documents that detail committee duties, etc., etc., etc. Calendars help me stay organized; so, it’s a good thing I have a calendar to keep me in line!


The number of Bradford pear trees in the Village is staggering. Early spring is the period when those trees become like beacons, erupting with flowers so thick the trees look like white cotton candy on brown sticks. Though not nearly as prolific, but at about the same time, Eastern redbud trees compete with Bradford pears for attention and beauty. In the space of our three days absent from the Village, the volume of white and pink real estate among the treetops  grew exponentially. But the white petals of the Bradford pears will disappear almost as fast as they sprouted; they will litter the ground and streets beneath them and will disappear in the wind in short order. On their tail, though, green leaves will emerge from their barren branches and limbs, and from other newly-awakened flora, changing the views into the forests into clots of impenetrable green rubble. And the pollen will soon be upon us like a thick yellow blanket, transforming my love of Spring into ambiguous loathing laced with admiration and hate. It is pointless and irrational to hate pollen, but I believe Nature has the capacity to turn us—me, anyway—into irrational demons capable of stripping the bark from trees with our bare teeth in pursuit of a solution to pollen allergies.  Not to worry. Summer will be here soon enough, leaving pollen as a mere memory; the hatred of pollen will transform into intense loathing of heat, humidity, and chiggers. These thoughts are beginning to prompt me to consider moving to a different climate with different flora and fauna. Where, though, would I be free of Nature’s demonic needling?


Here is the final stanza of a poem by Pablo Neruda, “Ode to Broken Things.” Something about this poem, especially this last stanza that relies on the ones before it for substance and meaning but stands on its own jus fine, resonates with me.

Let’s put all our treasures together
— the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold —
into a sack and carry them
to the sea
and let our possessions sink
into one alarming breaker
that sounds like a river.
May whatever breaks
be reconstructed by the sea
with the long labor of its tides.
So many useless things
which nobody broke
but which got broken anyway

~ Pablo Neruda ~

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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