Tag Archives: life

Roots. Damn roots.

If you read yesterday’s post, you learned about both my propensity to swear and our plumbing problems.  Neither issue is fully resolved, but there is hope for the plumbing situation.

Our day started early and with a plan. There would be no time to truly enjoy that (imaginary) “extra hour of sleep” around here. In addition to two dogs and two cats that have zero awareness of “fall back”, I awoke at 4:15 AM thanks to a very hard-wired internal alarm. I wanted to take advantage of the quiet morning before we needed to really start moving. Sadly, both pups assumed it was an hour later, and their “breakfast reminders” came at me fast and furious. Nonetheless, I had a little time to be still and look at the week ahead before I had to focus on the day ahead.

My husband joined me around 6:15. The plan was to drop our younger daughter off at work before a quick Lowe’s run, a strong cup of coffee at Starbucks, and then to start digging soon thereafter. The morning unfolded as planned and I think I made it to just after 11 before a single swear word crossed my lips. That is when he finally reached the pipe and there was no obvious sign of the damage nor cause for the backup. He was, however able to pull the stuck garden hose out of the mainline, and we then estimated on both the direction and distance to the (suspected) broken pipe based on the kink in the hose. We had a ways to go. He dug some more. Ah, sh*t, I said under my breath before returning to the house.

Another hour or two passed. More pipe exposed. Still no obvious signs of what could be causing the backup nor sign of any leaking water indicating we were tracking a broken pipe. He speculated he was digging in the wrong direction. I knew it would be dark in 3 or 4 hours and the prospect of going another day without flushing toilets was growing. A few more swear words slipped from my mouth.

After more than 3 decades together, I think he’s fluent in the refined dialect of my select words. He looked up at me from the depth of his five-and-a-half foot hole and simply said, “Right now, I’m less concerned about finding the break and more concerned about getting us flushing toilets today.”


We would need to rent a commercial sewer line snake and I didn’t blink twice. Within 20 minutes, we were on our way to pick it up. On the entirety of the drive there and back home, I quietly said prayers for this solution to work. I refrained from lacing my prayers with any profanity.  I think that helped.

Another 30 minutes or so, and he had the snake run almost the full 100 feet length, the toilets flushing beautifully, and the answer to our problem.


Damn roots.

Our nemesis is back. From exactly where we don’t yet know. But, they are in there. The jaw end of the snake pulled up some up lacy roots with it as we (OK, he because we all know I didn’t do it) slow cranked the full length of the 1-inch twisting steel cable back out of the sewer pipe.

Still, we had an answer and flushing toilets. That was enough for one day. The giant gaping hole would have to wait to be back-filled until tomorrow because we also had only 45 minutes before the rental store closed for the day and over-night charges would apply.

Together, he and I lifted that monster back into the truck and high-tailed it back across our little town. We were there in less than 10 minutes and on our way home in under 20.

Dammit! Roots! Again!

Now it was time to play detective. Roots, from where? What is the next step? Does it and can it wait until spring now that the line is cleared? What do those little roots really represent?

The last one stumped him. He can follow my swearing, but I usually lose him when my writer’s brain emerges. I can’t blame him; it’s messy in there. But, I pressed on.

He knew what I wrote here yesterday. I had read it to him. He laughed and certainly understood the metaphor. Today, I pondered the role of roots in that metaphor. If our plumbing trouble and the sh*t that came up hadn’t been caused by a shift in the pipes but was, instead, caused by roots…

I was digging and he was following and better yet, he was getting it.

The roots we brought up were small, not the monstrous knotting kind. They’re the kind that can go without notice until they cause repeated and eventually big damage. I talked it out. He listened. These roots are like those connections–friends, family, co-workers–that we have in our lives that niggle and burrow into our vulnerable spaces, doing small, invisible, and very gradual damage. These are the ones that are difficult to cut out. Sometimes, we keep them, like the plants in our yard, because they add something to our lives or perhaps because their role is so large, they are not easily removed. Either way, like the plants in our yards, all relationships need tending and some need hard pruning.

I concluded, the small roots are almost more damaging than a single monstrous root because it is often harder to isolate and remove the damage caused by multiple invasive, suffocating strands than it is a single choking rope. It is in staying ahead of the small invasive ones, the ones that seem harmless, that the real challenge lies. Prune hard and prune often, I thought. Annual clean-outs may be necessary.

We made a quick pit stop on the way home and pulled into the liquor store parking lot. He’s earned tonight’s glass of wine. His body will most undoubtedly be feeling the day’s work in a few hours. As we browsed the selections, we both saw it. A firey red label sporting a man’s head with a plunger on it. It was almost prophetic, the day’s events mocking us. Those roots inviting us to laugh along, reminding us not to take life quite so seriously. Those damn roots inviting us to share a moment of connection and in celebration of flushing toilets.

We pulled into the driveway. I glanced at the piles of dirt crushing my landscaping. Roots! Damn you and your invasiveness, I thought quietly, but I thank you for the lessons.

Begin Again

“Part broken – part whole, you begin again.”
~Jeanette Winterson (from ‘Why books seem shockproof against change.’ THE TIMES: BOOKS)

It’s that time of year again–the time when many writers hold themselves to a self-imposed commitment to write every day for the 30 days of November. Some call it NaNoWriMo. Bloggers– with no novel in mind– call it NaBloPoMo. Some think it is motivating, and some think it is pure hell, losing themselves under the weight of generating something new every day of the month.

I’ve jumped into this pool more than once, and I’ve been on both sides of the argument. There have been years that I was thrilled to be pushed to write daily. By nature, I am a goal-setter so I (usually) welcome that extra push to strive harder and meet the challenge laid out before me. However, that same drive can also become my fiercest enemy when not kept in check.

I had to check and double-check the date of my last entry on this blog. It has been almost 2 years since I’ve written on here. 2 years! For almost 2 years, this site has sat, gathering dust and my guilt. Since I stopped early, I’m guessing my last round of NaBloPoMo was more daunting and crushing than motivating. I don’t really remember what was going on in my life at that point. I do remember it felt liberating to give myself permission to walk away from a commitment, especially in the middle of it. On the other hand, I know this blog also became that over-stuffed closet in my mind, the one that holds the junk that needs to be purged but is, instead, ignored. Lights turned off. Fingers in the ears. Singing loudly. I did my best to ignore it, but I could still hear and feel the echoes of this blog. Especially when I wrote elsewhere.
I suppose I haven’t been entirely quiet for 2 years because I have been writing and sharing short vignettes on Instagram. (Did you know I’m on Instagram? https://www.instagram.com/reclaimingmary/) More often than not, my posts are connected to a moment captured in photo during my day, be it from my morning walk, life with the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppies I’ve continued raising, or just a random, unremarkable moment in my day that prompts me to dig deeper.
With a quick look back over the last two years, I’ve discovered the obvious;  I could never really be quiet. Whether on this blog, a social media platform, a long letter to a friend, or in my journal, I have been writing. In fact, and without a doubt, I’ll forever be writing. Words to paper are the air to my lungs. Thoughts come in, swirl about, filling me, and then pour out when there is no room left to draw in anymore.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to take let out a very large breath. That voice that pushes me to write has been screaming in my head. I’ve opened and closed this blog at least half a dozen times in as many days.  “Write!” I hear it calling. Then, I look at this site and question where to even begin. Still, I hear it, that pleading moan that I feel deep in my bones. “Write!”

I dabbled with the idea of writing here again but made no commitment to myself or anyone else. I wasn’t ready to commit.  “Write!” The voice grew louder in my head as my list of excuses grew longer. And, just when I was ready to turn my back on this blog once again, I saw a friend’s Facebook post announcing she was jumping into the NaNoWriMo pool once again.

“I’m in, too!” I announced. I didn’t think, I jumped, as I’ve been known to do more than once. But was I? After all, there is no one watching to make sure I write here. I could just as easily have said, “Sure, I’m in” before closing my laptop and flipping on the television. Instead, I opened this blog. Date of last entry: Nov. 12, 2017. Then, I wondered what was happening two years ago when I stopped writing.

I pulled up my old photos from Nov. 13, 2017, the day after I stopped writing here. Other than having just started raising another Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy, I saw nothing that indicated life had gone through a major shift. However, I apparently had sipped a cup of tea that reminded me “This life is a gift.” I agreed then, and I agree now.  Since I snapped a picture of it, odds are good I wrote about it someplace. Somethings in life haven’t changed.

I guess stopped writing here two years ago because it was time to stop. Perhaps I simply needed a break. Perhaps, I simply needed the time to let things swirl about in my head a bit longer. But, just as my dear writing friend, Niki, declared today, it is time to begin again.

I don’t know if I will write every day this month. I think I will try just to, well, you know, dust off the keyboards and my writing chops, but with a busy month ahead, I will write for the primary purpose I always do; to discover and to dig deep.  I hope you’ll stick with me because, my friends, I’m in!