Yesterday as I was borrowing a three-pronged extension cord from my neighbor I explained my plight and noted that Life is Hard. With a smile he asked Is it?
Now I didn’t mean hard as that in the Congo I had just been raped six times after watching a Hutu militia cut the heart from my father’s body1 or that in Haiti, fleeing our house behind me from the earthquake, my husband had been flattened by the house’s entrance2, (or that I lived in dreadful conditions under Sharia laws in Afghanistan as the female characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns3). And I don’t mean hard as that of Jane Austen’s aristocratic characters such as the Dashwood women who were left in reduced circumstances because their brother got the large inheritance. No, I merely mean hard as in maintaining a suburban house by myself.
Two weeks ago I was trimming my hedge with the new hedge trimmer that my daughter had given me for Christmas so I wouldn’t have to borrow hers, and I cut through the extension cord. I have been using power tools for a considerably long time, and this was a first. So I went to the hardware store and bought, for only $3, connectors for line level, which mean I needed to connect each of the three lines (positive, negative, ground) separately. This verges on the impossible; as soon as one side is inserted, and you start on the other, the first slips out.
Enough of trying to be cheap and rescue the end of the cord. I exchanged these for a female connector ($7) and rewired the end. (My neighbor pointed out that I could have bought a new cord for $4 more, but I do hate the American idea of throw-away and buy new. I was raised by Depression parents who salvaged everything. When a neighbor threw out a broken dining room table, my father took the turned legs and made them into lamps.)
I plugged the repaired cord and hedge trimmer into the garage socket and nothing happened. I mulled over this for a few days. Having an inspiration I took the cord upstairs and tried it with a lamp. It worked. I figured that I had done something dreadful to the hedge trimmer and considered taking it back to Sears. But I just knew that if I did, they would plug it in and it would work. Why? I mulled another few days. Ah hah! I went to the circuit box and turned off and back on all of the circuit breakers for lights/sockets and garage RFI and retried the hedge trimmer. Nothing.
This time I was through with mulling. The week-and-a-half of rains had ceased (when I wasn’t going to be out trimming anyway) and the hedge was budding! I may have been too late to trim. Oh well. I plugged the cord into a socket next to the front door (forget the garage) and it worked. I managed to trim half of the hedge before I realized that I couldn’t trim the other half with my 50’ cord plugged into the house. I needed to plug it into the garage. Forget that. My neighbor was collecting his mail and I asked if he had a three-pronged extension cord that I could borrow.
The hedge is now trimmed. We will see how much it blooms. There are a few yellow flowers on the creosote, and the other feathery cassias are budding. As soon as the palo verdes become a burst of gold I will take photos of the house, with the desert in bloom.