Rendered Fat Content


Umberto Boccioni: The Street Pavers (1914)
" … a place to celebrate recent accomplishments while my next grand obsession lurks in waiting."

I caught myself Puttering yesterday afternoon, after I'd finished screening those long two cubic yards of compost and working it into the soil. That composting effort had consumed two full weeks, since I was also breaking up planting beds, which required much weeding and digging. I felt as though I'd really accomplished something but felt at loose ends. I couldn't quite bring myself to just surrender to sloth upon finishing. I mended a troublesome hose connection and read the installation instructions for that fancy hose caddy, though I concluded that the hose caddy probably constituted a full project and not a proper focus for Puttering. I watered the garden and got the little fountain there working. I hammered an old length of rebar into a rose garden corner to prevent the hose from dragging through the bushes, then I sat and watered some more. It had been a six week sprint since we arrived here, a race against an overly enthusiastic springtime determined to out pace planting season. I had spent most days in the yard, weeding or reconfiguring, and it occurred to me as I folded up the tarp and swept the driveway that the digging portion of our SettlingInto was ending. Time for a little Puttering.

Puttering's not hardly work.
It's more dibs and dabs, well short of full engagement. It requires no commitment and mostly involves finishing touches, many of which earlier paled in comparison to the larger efforts preceding them. I deliberately left minor distractions for later, for after finishing the big work, but those once minor distractions take fresh prominence once I completed the larger efforts. The last planting bed needing my attention yielded to my magic and left me without portfolio, so I puttered. I lined up supplies on garage shelves after weeks of deferring formal organization. I snipped off errant twigs and branches, deliberately avoiding starting anything of consequence. I felt oddly not obsessed with anything, a surprisingly edgy feeling.

The end of semester served as my least favorite part of university. I'd grow accustomed to rushing around just short of panic then one day find no obligations hounding me. I'd build up a considerable head of steam then suddenly run out of track. I responded by getting depressed. I'd feel worthless for a week or two before classes resumed and my work could properly harass me again. I can tolerate only tiny bits of Puttering before really needing a larger purpose. I have painting to resume. It's a never-ending process when owning any old house. I have windows to fix, exacting work requiring a few dry days and total engagement. I have my workbench to organize and boxes left to unload, both demanding focused attention and real commitment, not the proper purpose for Puttering.

I was speaking with someone who'd recently retired and I asked him if he was enjoying his retirement and he explained that he'd never been busier. Between golf and pickleball, bowling and all, he hadn't had a moment to himself. Some people can turn their own recreation into a haunting obligation. I remarked that I'd never found any interest in recreational activities. Golf, skiing, bowling and such never entertained me very much. The Muse said that's because I live in my head and not in my body, and there's certainly some truth to her statement, but for me it's something different. At the end of a round of golf, what's been produced? What's different? When I finish one of my larger projects, my world's changed. The garden will never be the same again after six weeks of almost overwhelming engagement with it. It wasn't just me recreating, but my world I was changing, recreating it. After, I might engage in a little Puttering, just walking around the place utterly changed by my presence. I suppose that Puttering amounts to my thirteenth green, a place to celebrate recent accomplishments while my next grand obsession lurks in waiting.


Friday might find me Puttering, but I'm already plotting my next obsession. Endings spawn beginnings and this week was no exception. The logbook recorded the final closing on our Colorado home and I managed to get my Washington Diver's License even though my calendar app had scheduled my appointment using Mountain Daylight Time rather than Pacific. The agent let me in early and we all somehow survived the ordeal. Next, car licensing, which will allow us to drive The Schooner again, since its Colorado license expired while we were satisfying the many precedent activities required: proof of residence, voting registration, and the driver's license, each of which needed scheduling and waiting. I got my library card, too, clear evidence that we're SettlingInto here.

I began my writing week considering difference and how strange I seem even to myself in
Lyzdexic "I once thought that I might outgrow whatever my difference might be, that through diligence I might learn different than my native difference, but I haven't."

My most popular posting of the week caught me
MonauralTyping, stereotyping based upon rumor whispered into only one ear. "The thing about grace has always been that it does not check credentials before visiting. It reasonably presumes that the recipient will not be worthy, but that worthiness remains irrelevant."

I might have dabbled in self pity while visiting a long-familiar city without finding my familiars there in
DejaRue "Through boarded up display windows I see my reflection, dull and featureless, graffitti-like, and I sense that this was all my fault."

I wondered how rhythm had imposed itself upon our SettlingInto in
ImposingRhythm "Whatever I seek also seeks my presence."

I told the story of how I came to consider myself a spider's guardian in
UntanglingWeb. "I now possess a duty I just sort of backed into."

I spoke of the frustration this placid gardener sometimes experiences in TheNuclearOption.
"I limped away dragging my armada behind me with one SawsAll blade broken in the engagement."

I ended my writing week by exposing
TheLittlestLie. "I suppose that ours was a tandem self deception, therapy without a patient, healthy interaction in a world lacking connection and in desperate need of intervention. The conversation was the intervention needed."

The sun sets on this writing week to find me Puttering and plotting ahead. I know as well as you know that I never very deeply plan anything ahead, but something will emerge to become my next dread and lofty purpose. I have no shortage of choices. The purpose of engagement does not seem to be completion, but something quite different. I think of completion as the first stage of beginning again. I experience the innocence of starting afresh then work myself through all the stages of acceptance to completion which, gratefully, starts the cycle all over again. SettlingInto properly seeks no ending, just ever deepening states of SettlingInto. Thank you for following my inveterate Puttering.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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