My husband and I have rarely worked together (successfully) on projects around the house—for a couple of reasons: 1) He doesn’t always want to “waste time” reading the instructions. 2) I, on the other hand, would read every instruction in the book if it weren’t for the fact that most of the book is in Spanish, French, and some language that I don’t even recognize. (God has such a sense of humor in how He pairs us, doesn’t He?) Over the years, Earl and I really have tried to work together, but all we would accomplish would be getting into an argument or I would get my feelings hurt, so for the benefit of our marriage, we stopped trying years ago---until recently.
You’ve probably heard someone say something like, “We live in our kitchen,” meaning that’s where the family gathers and spends the most time. For us, we “live” in our study. There’s a large desk there, a telephone, a CD player, a laptop for each of us, and quite a few books. (Okay, okay—so most of the books belong to me. I’ll admit it: I’ve been a bibliophile all my life—love, love, love books and all the info they provide for me.) But—I digress! Our study is not a large room, and since we spend so much time there, it usually has that “lived-in” look. It’s difficult to keep it under control (if you know what I mean) so that’s been my project for a while now—cleaning, discarding, rearranging, etc. I ordered a new file cabinet—wood, cherry finish, very pretty—and a book case to match that and the other bookcases in the room. The only hitch was that they both came in relatively flat boxes—too flat to be the pieces of furniture that I ordered. You get my drift?
Yes—this furniture came unassembled, and I knew that when I placed the order, but we really needed the furniture, and it’s a lot cheaper that way. So I had ordered our unassembled furniture. Now—if you read the first paragraph of this blog, you know where I’m headed with this, don’t you?
Earl had had a rough day at the office, and I was rather tired myself, so it was not the most opportune time to collaborate on a project. But my wonderful husband, knowing that I was chomping at the bit to get that new furniture into the study, suggested that we put at least one piece of the furniture together that night. I have to admit to you that fear struck my heart! Oh, me of little faith! How often had we been at this very same kind of juncture, and it hadn’t turned out well? But I said a quick prayer, and we began—by looking at the instructions? What? I wanted to put my hand on his forehead to check for fever but thought that might be misconstrued as a little tacky, so I resisted the urge, and we began. I couldn’t believe it: we were so focused! And, fortunately, the instructions were pictures! We worked slowly, consistently for probably 40 or 45 minutes with great success. The frame of the bookcase had gone together rather easily even though it must have had a bazillion little nails and screws. We did not have to un-do and re-do one single thing. That is a record for us!
Then it happened. Earl heard a noise outside, and, being the kind of person who just can’t miss anything even a little out of the ordinary, he opened the front door and stepped out onto the front porch, leaving the door ajar about 8-10 inches. Now, mind you, I’m still sitting on the floor with the book case when I notice movement on the top edge of the door. Only when I hear a light thump on the carpet beside the door do I realize that a lizard had ridden in on the top of the door only to plunge over the door to the floor and, I hoped, to his death. No such luck! (My apologies to all you critter-lovers!)
I yelled for Earl as the lizard skittered to the corner of the room (not far from me!) behind a large piece of furniture, but I was keeping an eye on that little rascal. Earl instructed me to get the broom, hoping that he could catch the little green guy down in the bristles of the broom long enough to get him out the front door. Long story short—we chased that poor critter back and forth into the corner, out of the corner, back into the corner, etc. for at least three or four minutes. That may not sound like a long time, but let me assure you it can be if you and the lizard are both scared silly. Somehow or the other, Earl finally got the critter close enough to the door to sweep him out, and as he did, we discovered that during the scuffle, the lizard had been de-tailed. And I don’t mean like you have your car “detailed”; I mean--he lost his tail. Of course, Earl couldn’t resist the temptation for a little humor (very little humor): he had to give the green critter a name. He said that since the poor little guy ended up with a bobbed tail, he should be given the name Bob---Bob, the lizard. Personally, I didn’t care what he was called as long as I could call him gone!
Needless to say, we had lost our focus on the bookcase, and, unfortunately, in all the running around that Bob and I were doing, the instructions had disappeared. Earl and I looked all over the living room, to no avail. Since we had only the five shelves left to install, Earl figured we could handle that easily—“no problem.” Again—fear struck my heart! Things had been going so well until Bob, but now-- well, I didn’t even want to think about it. Long story short—it took us longer to install “just five shelves” than it did to put the entire frame of the case together. Even the simplest things were botched. For example, when we finally got the first shelf in and stood back to admire our work, we realized that we had put the shelf in backward. The finished edge of the shelf was toward the back of the case, and the edge that faced out (and would be seen) was raw and unfinished--our first (and only) un-do and re-do. We finally finished the bookcase in two hours and 15 minutes—not including the time for the scuffle with Bob.
Have you ever noticed that life is a lot like that? Everything will be going along great--(suspiciously) easy—so easy, in fact, that you might get just a little paranoid, wondering when the “other shoe will drop,” so to speak. Then along comes a “Bob” that totally upends everything, and you struggle with all that’s within you to get things back under control. Even when you finally start to see that the chaos is ebbing, things may still be difficult. It can be so irritating, and it is such a temptation to lose your temper over whatever “Bob” has happened that caused you to lose control. One of the really neat things that I learned from having cancer is that very few of the “Bobs” that happen in our lives are really worth the irritation, the aggravation, and the agitation that we allow to tie us in knots and probably ruin our day. Don’t let a little “Bob” steal your happiness! When a “Bob” happens, just remind yourself that it isn’t cancer and that “This, too, shall pass.”
I must tell you that the bookcase looks beautiful in the study and is being put to good use. However, if you were to visit us today, you would see a large, heavy box (with a picture of a wooden, cherry filing cabinet on the side) still on the living room floor where the UPS man left it—a couple of months ago. I just haven’t had the nerve to point that out to my husband!