The curmudgeon and the bird’s nest

Not everything has to be kept as neat as a pin all the time

Have you ever put up with a minor annoyance for weeks or months and one day fixed the problem then spent some time wondering why you put up with it for so long in the first place?

That was my experience recently when a heavy concrete birdbath developed a distinct list. When filling it, the port side dripped water into a flower bed and the starboard side was high and dry.

Due to the size and weight of the thing, it was not something I could safely fiddle with and I kept forgetting to ask visitors to give me a hand. Well, a few days ago a friend came to the house and I suddenly remembered the birdbath. Within minutes the list was corrected, the annoyance banished forever. A tiny, silly thing, but our garden instantly became much more appealing to me.

I once bought a comfortable-looking pair of walking shoes bearing the name of a big-time golfer on the label. I thought that he should know about walking comfort for sure. I now doubt that Mr. Golfer ever heard of the gang who make the shoes.

They felt like wearing two overstuffed pillows and walking in them was more a question of keeping your balance than comfortably strolling. But, I put up with them for years before one day saying, “Enough is enough.” I walked resolutely to the garbage bin and rid myself of them, celebrity label and all. I felt free, liberated from a petty annoyance of my own making.

I looked up the definitions of  nuisance and annoyance and learned they are pretty much the same thing, irritations of one kind or another causing mild anger. In my mind I categorize  nuisances  as people centred and annoyances as the environment around me. For example, a mosquito in the bedroom at 2 a.m. is a real annoyance while a drunk I once worked for was a blasted nuisance. A fine distinction.

A friend of mine recently suggested (jokingly, I hope) that I was becoming a curmudgeon so I’m being careful here to remain my sweet, reasonable self. To continue. I suppose the opposite of those of us who endure petty annoyances are the hyper critical people who must have everything in their lives just perfect and they go through all sorts of trouble and expense to keep everything   near perfect.

The lawn must look like a putting green, the car showroom spotless, the kids marvels of evolution. Hah! A lifetime of that sort of  behaviour and one risks landing up in the lunatic asylum while the rest of the world serenely goes on in their slovenly ways, not knowing or caring that you are no longer on the scene.

When we lived in the East, I had a lovely old wooden boat with a 30 horsepower Grey Marine engine that puttered along quietly and provided a perfect but worn platform for a day of relaxed fishing.

I invited an acquaintance along one day. We had barely cast off when he was up on his feet emptying ashtrays and polishing a wooden railing. He then decided to polish up the dashboard and the running light covers. The boat was nearly 30 years old and was simply beyond such nice housekeeping flourishes. So much for a restful day on the water. He was never invited back.

The point I want to make is that many of the things that bother us exist only by our own sufferance. Nuisance or annoyance, be rid of it.

There, that wasn’t too curmudgeonly, was it?


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