A Monumental Puttering In The GardenSunday, August 07, 2011
Today Sunday I have been puttering in the garden. Most who would read this would find the verb to putter as a pleasant verb that applies perfectly to action during an idyllic day of bucolic fun. That’s in English. There is no appropriate equivalent in Spanish. One might say in Spanish , “I spent a day doing useless stuff in the garden.” Or one might use either of these verbs that have a negative association. One is the verb ociar which comes from the Latin otium which means free time or leisure time. But once it became a word in Spanish it came to mean doing nothing. The other verb is to vagar which if you notice that the root is similar to vagrant and that a vago in Spanish is worst than a vagabond you get the meaning that it’s best I stick to puttering in the garden in English.
In the evening, in bed, I watch Rosemary with pen in hand and a small notebook. In that notebook she writes “a things to do list”. At the end of the next day she probably crosses out those things she indeed did. Sometimes she says in frustration,” The day has passed and I have accomplished nothing.”
I can understand her frustration. At one time years ago she would travel to Europe for her job and routinely rent cars in airports. I remember one day that she called me from a luxurious Los Angeles hotel to tell me that outside her window she could see people living in cardboard boxes. The juxtaposition of the highfalutin business woman calling me up to describe abject poverty was off-puttingly strange.
On my side of the street, politicians, business men , and movie stars waited for me to show up and I remember the evening when the band The Police sat down on a bench inside the Coliseum while I set up my lights to take their photographs.They had to be patient.
From a position of access (and in the case of my, wife luxury and the action of jet setting when that was deemed a good thing) to that of one of puttering in the garden for not having anything better to do, can be troubling. And troubling indeed it has been.
But my friend, Paul the frugal Hungarian, has come to the rescue. He phoned yesterday and I told him that I was having a hard time adapting to being unemployed.
In a perfectly calm manner he corrected me, “Not unemployed. Try retired.” Somehow I didn’t feel so bad and I am beginning to adapt to Mondays being Wednesdays and Sundays feeling like Tuesdays and weeks going by like the accelerated time machine in the film The Time Machine.
After three weeks of being with our granddaughters all the time, now that they are in Cabo San Lucas for two weeks, Rosemary and I miss them. But at the same time we are starting to understand that we have to withdraw our preoccupation of what they are doing and what their mother and aunt are doing and worry a bit about finding the time (of which we have lots) to spend the time together by ourselves. I am even thinking of going to Buenos Aires in November, just with Rosemary and leave the granddaughters to themselves and their friends.
We have been using Skype to communicate with Hilary and the girls while in Cabo San Lucas. It was Friday when we made our last call and have our daughter say, “You guys, again?” It was my friend the frugal Hungarian who told me that we have been imposing ourselves too much on our daughters and granddaughters. He must be right and Skype will be unused until the girls get back.
All in all this weekend of puttering in the garden has not been just that. I would define it as a monumental weekend of puttering in the garden in which we are at last learning that two can be the best of company. I must re-define my concept of usefulness and learn that being mutually useful is usefulness enough.