Monday, December 16, 2013

Handling Small Annoyances

Too many parts of the world are in chaos around us – including the Central African Republic.  We pray and work in whatever small ways we can to better the situation.

At the same time, there are many small annoyances that face us in our day-to-day lives.  How do we handle them?  And, is how we handle them related to how we try to handle/change the bigger problems? 

A constant niggling issue at the guest house is bat guano (poop) and its related smell.  There used to be bats in the
Attic - all clear!
Chalk in a bowl
attic, but I have been assured they are gone.  I actually believe that because I went up into the attic to look – no bats!  The smell up there is still strong, though.  I had the handyman sweep up a bunch of guano – the area still stinks.  Now, I am trying a couple of other strategies.  I have sprinkled vinegar, put out crushed chalk (both odor-eaters, I hope), and am leaving the trap door stand open to air out the space.  I think the smell has permeated the wood of the attic floor, but hope for improvement – it is certainly better than a couple of months ago.

After fires

A related problem is bat guano falling down the chimney.  Early in my time in the guest house, two days in a row, I found a bat in a sink in the morning (one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen).  Jean, the handyman, went up in the attic and assures me that the screening is in place and bats can’t get in anymore.  OK.  They have not been in the house.  (Good!), but are they in the chimney?  He says no.  I am not willing to go up on the roof to look in the chimney and I can’t tell from below – but I can see guano that falls from the chimney on a regular basis! 

A recent idea was to burn a fire in the fireplace to displace any possible bats and clean things out.  So, on the equivalent of hot summer days a couple of weeks ago, three times I sat and enjoyed a roaring fire in the fireplace!  At first more gunk fell out after the fires, but now the “rain” of guano is back to its slow, steady flow.  Next, I tried an old broom to try to clean off the walls of the chimney (where’s Burt the chimney sweep when you need him??)  I was able to dislodge a little gunk, but the handle of the broom is too long to allow it to fit.  What I need is someone who will go onto the roof to try the broom from the top and to be sure that there is a screen covering the top so that I can be sure there are not bats and to eliminate the guano.  In search of…

Another recent annoyance has been a leaky toilet.  Several weeks ago, a new one was install because, in addition to running constantly, the old one had several other problems.  Great!  But the new one wouldn’t stop running either (less, but still there…).  The owner of the hardware store and plumber came back twice and it sort of stopped.  A week later, the toilet ran constantly and the tank wouldn’t fill.  The owner of the hardware store and three plumbers came to replace the tank innards.  They said that the new toilet came with an automatic innards, but that that kind often leak because the seal at the bottom doesn’t sit right after being flushed.  With my new parts, currently no leaking!

An ongoing annoyance has been finding a tailor who can make me clothes that fit the first time.  I have had several dresses made by several different tailors – you’ve seen some pictures.  Often they use a model; always they take measurements.  Then they make clothes that are so tight I can’t breathe or the zipper won’t close.  I keep going back to have them fixed; I have changed tailors.  For the beautiful new dress I just had made, I emphasized at least five times that it must fit and not be too tight.  The (new to me) tailor who came recommended by a friend assured me he could do it.  He did great sewing, but I swear the top was a Size 4 when he was done.  I was so upset.  He assured me it could be fixed, but I was picking it up the day so many people were arriving for meetings at the end of Nov.  He agreed to fix it and deliver it to the house.  He did – by adding 1 ½ strips of cloth to each side of the top at the seam.  It fit.  I have had him fix another tight dress and it worked well.  I may, sometime soon, get him to make another dress just to see if he can make it right the first time.  (Hope springs eternal…)

My last example is the weather.  The dry season is definitely here.  That means it gets cold at night, but still warms up nicely during the day.  A couple of days ago, it was 59 degrees in my bedroom when I woke up in the morning!  OK, I know that related to winter weather that has already hit Pennsylvania and the northern parts of the US, this is nothing, but it is chilly!!  I decided that it is time to close windows at night!  And, I wear long sleeves.  As I say, thought, with the sun out, it goes up into the 70s during the day, so I have no real complaints about the weather.

I return to the question posed earlier.  Does the way we handle small annoyances reflect how we try to deal with larger one?  I would say yes.  My approach to resolving small problems is with persistence, trying various strategies, and getting help.  For larger issues, I try the same.  Yes, it means frustration often because larger problems are often outside of my control.  That’s when I add prayer, seeking council, and finding small ways to improve life around me even if I can’t see the immediate impact of these actions in resolving bigger problems.  Little steps and banding together raise hope.  When huge problems loom, hope is essential.  We must believe that the unchangeable can be changed.  So, to quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” 

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