Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hate is a strong word

So I officially hate the woman who owned these chairs before me. Not at first; I thought I was lucky to get them for $15 at a garage sale. But now that I've tried to strip them several times, and now that Big Ag has had to replace some slats that were rotting, I've decided I hate her.

But hate is such a strong word, dear, I hear my Aunt Margaret saying. Are you sure it's hate and not just frustration?

OK, so I don't hate the anonymous woman, honestly, I just hate what she did to these chairs. I hate that she coated them with a multi-layered blanket's worth of some mysterious white primer that liquifies when the stripper hits it, then painted 2,346 coats of teal latex paint on top of that. And I hate that she didn't bother painting the bottoms of the chairs, in places no one could see...hence the wood rot. 

And like most singularities in the universe, my hatred of this woman as Chair Caretaker points to a much larger issue in my soul, which is that I have issues with people who don't take care of things they've been entrusted with, whether that's a pair of wood adirondack chairs, a piece of land, a dog, or even a child.

I just realized it's why I have so much trouble with some people who move to the country yet aren't prepared to deal with the responsibility the land demands of us. There are a few of them in my neighborhood, and my house sits in eyesight of their eyesore. 

It's not their person -- they're usually quite nice --  it's their sloppy caretaking of cats, goats, sheep, grasses, topsoil and even the houses they live in that get me. Some people live like the objects they own and the places they live are ziplock bags...just use them until you're done and then toss 'em in the trash. 

It's very zen to think of everything as temporary and ephemeral, but we make serious errors when we start treating everything like it doesn't matter because of that. Because even the little things matter. And yes, I sometimes fall beneath my own standards when it comes to caretaking (if you saw the filthy interior of my otherwise-nice car right now you would agree with this). 

But the great thing about the world of ours is that it's mostly about increasing self-knowledge. And if you're willing to look at yourself in the work you do, whatever that is, you can learn a lot about how you relate to the world. It can be in doing something as simple as re-painting two wood adirondack chairs. Or running a vineyard. Or a business. Enlightenment in the simple tasks is available if we'll hold up a mirror to see our reflection while we're doing it. 

But to do that, you just have to be willing to do the work, both the chore and the corresponding inner analysis.

(which I will continue to do, by the way. These chairs will be getting fresh paint and weatherproofing this weekend). 

And to the lady who owned these chairs before me, I forgive you. Because as my Aunt Margaret always said, hate is a very strong word. I'm even working on forgiving the liquid primer that turns to goop on contact and becomes unremovable, but I gotta tell you, that one's gonna take some time.


  1. If only there were a fixer for every breaker as there happens to be in this particular case. Funny how these chairs really can tell a story about the world and the universe. I swear I didn't have any LSD for breakfast. Perhaps they were one level of outdoor bonding for her-to have pretty chairs to sit on outside. She may not have known the finer points of wood+the outdoors.
    Or maybe she's just white trash and didn't give a shit. Haha if so I hate her too! But at the end of the day, you can feel good that you recycled and repaired rather than replaced. I have a set of 1990 brown Jordan patio furniture still going strong so I support your philosophy here. I've still never bonded with an Adirondack chair though. I think my legs are too long. My preferred outdoor perch is a chaise.

    1. Ah, see, there's something for everyone! I struggle with chaise lounges because they annoy my lower back...not enough lumbar support. But I can sit in an Adirondack chair all day long and probably even fall asleep in it. I have met the neighbor I bought them from and she seems decent enough....her strange painting technique notwithstanding lol. And yes you are right, a pair of chairs can reveal the secrets of the universe, if we just pay enough attention. And no LSD here's just true!!

  2. Thinking of you because I'm not sure where your house the new fire close to you? Hope all is okay.

    1. We are OK; thank you for thinking of us! We can see it off in the distance from our patio. We're near Geneseo and the fire is over on the westside -- near Nacimiento,according to KSBY It does make one nervous to see so many fires though! Sure you're feeling the same way.