A Pocket of Resistance: Water Hours…No, Not the Ones at Sea

This post is an avoidance strategy.

My printer went out last Tuesday. i could have made a fix on the old all-in-one, but it was time. So i wrestled with it for three days, did the Jewell version of quality assessment, and bought a new all-in-one printer, disregarding all of my research.

Since Thursday, the old printer is uninstalled and in the garage. The new printer is sitting on my desk with all of the cables unattached. i vowed to do it right: read all of the manuals and electronic instructions first, then follow them step-by-step, ensuring the wireless connections work, and on, and on, and on.

i don’t think i would be electronically, computer, or web challenged if i studied the procedures and the functions. But frankly, i don’t like spending my time learning all of the things to make things work to let me write and communicate. i spend more time on what makes it work than working on what i intended. It’s a lot like going out in the garage to do some home task and finding i need to do three or four other things first, and go get a tool i once had but don’t now.

Just flat don’t like that sort of thing.

So writing this is an avoidance strategy to keep from getting into the printer thing i know will take be at least two days and about a gallon and a half of frustration.

But this wasn’t supposed to be my avoidance. This was supposed to be about an idea that popped into my mind while watering spots on our front lawn this morning.

And that too is another story, especially about water in the Southwest corner.

You see water in the Southwest corner is mostly not from the Southwest corner. It comes from snow packs in the Sierras and down, down, down to the Colorado River, the one in Colorado, not in Texas, through the loam rich soil of the truck farms in Arizona and California to the east.

When it gets dry here — Duh: after all, this is high desert meant to support the four hundred Kumeyaay who lived on pinyan nuts here long ago, not the four million souls who have moved here to rely on Colorado River water and snow pack. Duh — the overlords pass down their judgment and their authority to the water authorities who declare the dear residents to kill the grass, which didn’t belong here in the first place. Reminds me of all the eastern folks who moved to Arizona because the climate and the vegetation was really good for all sorts of problems, especially allergies. So all of the folks get there and what do they do? They plant all the things from back home that produced allergies and other ills. Now the highly occupied areas of Arizona have allergy problems. Duh.

Regardless, our lawn damn near died. You see, my wife, the wonderful, incredible, responsible, loving Maureen Renee Boggs Jewell is a water Nazi. She was known to stop while driving to work to knock on a neighbor’s door at 7:00 a.m. and tell them they needed to turn off their lawn sprinklers because it was raining. So when the water authorities (hah!)  put out water hours for the good citizens, especially those with lawns, the water Nazi went overboard. No water. Lawn damn near died.

But the dreaded drought ended, sort of, as i predicted, and now the water authority and everyone else is worried the water will allow things to grow, which will become fire hazards in the next dry spell. Go figure.

The water Nazi maintained the rigid water hours and the lawn continued to die. So bad. i talked of turning our lawn into decomposed granite with boulders and pots of plants. But the lawn Nazi is also the money Nazi and didn’t want to spend the money to convert the lawn to decomposed granite (like my son-in-law, one Jason Gander, did to a small area behind his gate in Austin which looks really nice).

So i am working to save our front lawn. i rise early as usual, grind the coffee beans and start the coffee maker, set the breakfast table, and then as dawn suffuses light into the gray of morning,  i uncoil the hose off its hanger on the side of the garage, pull it across the driveway, and begin my spot watering of the driest parts of the lawn.

Somewhere in the middle of this small task, i thought of…no, connected with my father. Some of my earliest memories of him were him watering plants in our yard at 127 Castle Heights Avenue. He would get home in the late afternoon, early evening from fixing cars, grime in his fingernails and on his work clothes. His sleeves rolled up, he would take the hose and hit the needed plants and lawn spots until he was sure they had been given their proper sustenance.

Later, he had a sizable garden plot on the first tier from the road at the “lake cabin,” with tomatoes and other things always better than the store bought produce. He would go out several times a week to weed and water the small plot, waiting for the ripening.

Before they moved down the road to a more accommodating home for my mother who could no longer ascend or descend stairs without pain, without danger, he had planted a smaller patch he cordoned off from the rest of the yard with two by six boards. He would stand there in the morning and then later in the evening with the hose in his right hand measuring the effectiveness of the nozzle spray, ensuring his flowers and tomatoes (yep, tomatoes again) had enough but not too much water.

And once moved into the “adult condo” community, he found enough sculpted areas of dirt and pots to plant flowers, which he watered daily and in the summer twice daily.

i admired his constancy, his responsibility, his knowledge, his precision. But i saw no joy, no peace in this practice he practiced for as long as i could remember. It was admirable, but i didn’t have the patience. i liked these automatic, timed watering systems spraying unknowingly over the grass and plants.

Then, this morning in the gray break of morning, standing two thousand miles away from his watering, i recognized a peace, a simple joy coming to me. It was quiet, enjoyable, non-specific: just standing there with the water flowing from the nozzle on the bare, dry, and yellowed spots to become green again, regardless of the craziness of a green lawn and water hours in the high desert not meant for such landscaping.

There are many things my father taught me. i only recall about four letters he wrote when i was far away. We talked a lot, but only on maybe three occasions he gave me instruction. Yet he taught me continuously, and it always led to what my good friend Peter Thomas calls “doing the right thing.”

As i stood there this morning with my calmness, my peace in performing my task, i realized he still is teaching me.

And later, the printer has been installed properly.

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