Notes From Home

by Lucky Garvin

Sabrina seemed a bit preoccupied that morning. I watched for a while, then asked, “You seem to have something on your mind.”

“I hired a lady to help straighten up the animal room, and she’s coming today.”

That I could understand. After the months of frenetic activity rehabbing wild critters, the winter months are a welcome respite for her. “So, if you’re going to have help straightening up the room, I would have thought you’d be more relaxed, knowing help is coming, than if you were going to do it yourself.”

“You don’t understand, Gahv, I’ve got to get in there before she gets here. I don’t want her to see the mess.” This is one of those comments all women understand, but you could search the planet over and find not the first man who did.

“Sooo… you’ve hired someone to clean up, and you don’t want her to see the mess…? Do I get it?”

“You’re going to get it, knucklehead,” she said, balling up a fist.

I went on to work, [Read: Beat a hasty retreat.] but as I drove, a memory shook loose from the accumulations of my boyhood.

The accuracy of these recollections may be safely questioned given the soft yet persistent abrading of time against memory. I think her name was Mrs. Fitzwater, the lady who came to clean our house every two weeks.  Dad felt it worth the five dollars; mom worked hard and  over-saw three devil-spawn males.

Mrs. Fitzwater lived alone, as I recall, having survived the heart-wrenching anguish of having out-lasted her husband. She seemed doddering, but resolute. Without the five dollars we paid her, who’s to say how long she could eke out a survival.

 Her stockings were knotted up at her knees; they seemed to be of canvas; Denny and I half-laughed at her, half felt sorry for her [the beginnings of empathy?] Despite our giggling, we felt compelled to shadow her, to stay near in the event she began a slow toppling; and like some helpless turtle, land on her back unable to rise. We might have worked more diligently than she, but it seemed the right thing to do.

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go clean up my desk; our cleaning lady is coming today you see. All of history is repetition… [Sigh.]

Our latest Doberman is named ‘Lola.’

You know those ‘fast energy drinks’ now so popular? Drink a few cases and you’ll be able to keep up with Lola for 10-15 minutes. We had a friend, upon hearing about Lola’s energy, scoffed, “I’ve got an Australian sheep dog; she can run for hours; she’ll put Lola under the wheels.”

So we decided to get them together, and her dog did quite well for about four hours, at which time she lay on the ground exhausted, watching Lola bounce around her ready to play some more.

Maybe I ought to bottle Lola… Think of the possibilities!

“Well, we should have no trouble winning this basketball game.” It was high school; our school was quite small; at 6 feet tall, I was the team center, the tallest guy on the team. [Our coach must have spent a lot of time crying into a towel; his prospects for ever winning a regional title were two: no way, and no how.

The fellow who made the comment was his school’s center at 6 foot 6 inches. My teammates who had heard the remarks looked at each other in silence. So inspiring was his insolence, we   totally owned the first quarter. I made ten points, two steals, and four clean blocks against boys far taller than I. Finally, however, we succumbed to their overwhelming advantage.

Our coach, however, was far from displeased. “That’s how you guys should play all the time. Tonight you were at the top of our game.”

Hmmm. Good advice for sports; even better advice for life: to play at the top of our game.

I’ve lived long enough to know there’s a lot of things I’m not in charge of, and Life’s one of them. But I can always be in charge of me.

My wife, Sabrina, AKA, Herself Who Must Be Obeyed, knows something very important about Time Management. You all know there’s a philosophy in money management called “Leverage.” As I understand that term, it means using as little money as possible to earn as much money as possible. It business, this same principle is known as The Time Multiplier Effect.

Here’s how it works: Herself and I are outside. She looks around. “Gahv, that tree blew over in the storm; we need to clear it out. [We is a synonym for Gahv, not both of us.] “Oh, we need to plant the twelve geraniums here, and here, and here. Gosh, look at my car; so dirty! We should wash it.” Then she sashays into the house, leaving me to fetch the chain saw, shovel, and a bucket of soapy water. Got it?

She invested forty seconds in the chore list; five days later Ol’ Gahv is still heaving his way through it. Time Multiplier Effect; an essential underpinning of the Honey-Do List.

Look for Lucky’s books locally and on-line: The Oath of Hippocrates; The Cotillian; A Journey Long Delayed.