Rendered Fat Content


Maurits Cornelis Escher: Convex and Concave (1955)
" … fresh stories can successfully reframe even old and entrenched expectations."

The peeing boy fountain in the backyard pond, reminiscent of the famous one in Brussels, this week started exhibiting symptoms of possible prostate problems. His flow, recently manic, had slowed to an unrespectable trickle. I called The Muse's son, who had replumbed the guy during his tenancy here, and he drove over to 'splain the pipes. He introduced me to his very clever ramrod contraption and demonstrated disassembly and deployment, but the trickle persisted. Yesterday, I decided to conduct a more thorough exam, pulling the pump and subjecting all hoses to the high pressure water treatment. Each hose in turn produced more than adequate volume. I scrubbed off the slimy pump, then, in a sudden sleet storm, hooked all the parts back together. Hardly a trickle. Realizing that I'd just entered The Stymie Zone, I turned off the pump and retreated to someplace warm to dry off and consider my situation.

This was not an unfamiliar experience here, where chores roughly separate into two broad categories: those which can eventually be successfully completed and those that never will.
For the latter, no amount of dedication or ingenuity ever seem capable of nudging them over any finish line. These, I learn to live with as apparent features of the place or else I drive myself crazy. Chastizing myself for my many native inabilities improves no outcome and so seems pretty much beside any point. I'd retreated to consider how a crumbing concrete likeness of a once enthusiastically peeing boy could possibly be so casually violating fundamental laws of physics as well as logic. If every pipe tests clear when separate, it seems impossible that they would function as clogged when merely connected back together. I later returned to the scene of this latest crime, repeated the diagnostics, producing the same results. I wisely opted to just leave the pump roiling on the bottom of the pond rather than potentially burn it out failing to push through some previously unrecognized dimension. I'll retire the peeing boy fountain now. Nobody needs a scofflaw for the fundamental laws of the universe as garden decoration.

The peeing boy mystery joins a long and humiliating history of attempted interventions here. A few finally crumbled to ever more forceful or thoughtful interventions, but most haven't and most of those probably never will. There are apparently limits to what I can do when attempting to intervene and great wisdom might lie in my ability to identify these early, before I burst a gasket failing to successfully fix them. Sometimes, calling in a professional helps, though I'm uncertain just who to call to perform proctological services on a concrete statue. He'd previously served in a less kinetic role, statically exposing himself in a shady corner of The Muse's rose garden, a surprising discovery for any visitor happening by, and he could easily return to that former ignominy, I guess. I'd been wondering if we might not have outgrown the lurid fountain and might instead install something burbling, more soothing for the koi accustomed to living in a literal urinal.

The front door sticks, but only under suspicious circumstances. It's An Intermittent defying logical investigation. It's history includes several initially heroic attempts which, together, seem to have made matters worse. The Muse speaks of just replacing it with one not yet cursed, though I suspect that any replacement would soon start exhibiting the same familiar symptoms. Context remains king. Various other little shortcomings have earned the status of features of this house and while both The Muse and I vividly dreamed of coming home here and successfully intervening, those dreams easily tattered once we crossed the border. When we remodeled the back half of the place, we needed exorcism to rid it of some of its more virulent demons. The fixes have their own quirks. I'm almost convinced that almost nothing actually works without us making up partially fictional stories about how they do. They might not ever work as originally expected but fresh stories can successfully reframe even old and entrenched expectations. We're adapting.


Friday comes without successfully resolving The Peeing Boy Mystery. The world continues turning. I believe that the Stymie might be better appreciated for what it brings rather than for what it denies. It offers an opportunity to experience humility, if not outright humiliation, bringing threatening hubris down a peg. It also introduces the opportunity to reconsider, a generally healthful response which beats beating one's head against brick walls. It need not become a bummer and might just as easily serve as a form of liberation. If something simply cannot be accomplished, it serves no purpose to continue holding any obligation for finishing it. Acceptance might follow, and with it, a certain transcendence, even when the sticky front door essentially locks you out of the place. Transcendence ain't necessarily easily accomplished but the Stymie can help it along.

I began my writing week describing the usual nested infinities unavoidably experienced in any SettlingInto in
Done&Done-r "One does not unpack the same box twice and one does not always unpack the same box once. Some arrows never reach their target but get tangled up in some philosophical disagreement along the way."

I next sang the more prominent praises of just getting
Dirty from digging in our marvelous dirt. "The purpose might be to induce that exquisite exhaustion that only comes from getting Dirty."

On Easter morning, I wrote about Resurrection, concluding that: "We've lost much with every transition. Resurrection seems unnecessary to bring forth any presence still living within our hearts."

My most popular posting of the week, and perhaps for all time, proposed the unlikely existence of a certain goodness within grief in
GoodGrief. "Buddhists might actively practice non-attachment but the rest of us whole-heartedly attach ourselves to the people we love, which opens us up to considerable suffering when (not if) they leave us. That suffering seems destined to become either bad or GoodGrief. If it's never leaving, we might be wise to find some way to consider even the most wrenching experience to be evidence of GoodGrief."

I next sang the praises of the utterly dependable and almost invisible
ContextKeeper. "I suspect that God, if there is one, buys his clothes at J. C. Penney's, too, and wears well-stained boots. He prunes spiritual shrubbery along the edge of eternity while almost nobody ever notices his presence."

In my obligatory rant of the week,
PreCycling, I railed about the sorry state of our recycling practices, where not even glass gets reused all that often. "We inhabit an out-of-sight-out-of-mind society yet continue to believe ourselves somehow enlightened."

I ended my writing week by warmly predicting an ending to the most restrictive parts of our over-long quarantine in
LastWeek. "I wonder who I will have turned out to be after I lift my veil."

In one way, each week seems to resolve into just another Friday, perhaps a Stymie if I had filled myself with expectations of getting ahead or with anything other than experiencing even more endless cycling. Each end to every Friday might wash clean the passing week's accumulation, but leave a hole which seems to demand filling, my work set out for the upcoming period. Thank you for following my Stymie.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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