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WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH
May 27, 2011
 
The triage at our house grows daily more fierce. The Red Cross will come next week to carry away things I never thought I'd part with: scarves I haven't worn in years, kept because they reminded me of the giver. Clergy shirts I've abandoned in favor of more comfortable ones. My father's suspenders, forgotten sweaters, jackets, trousers. I have looked long and hard at our collection of outdated academic hoods, and have decided to keep them for now.

Other things must just GO. Certainly, the orange bolero trimmed with ostrich feathers, which belonged to my mother-in-law and is now both moth-eaten and illegal, cannot be redeemed. Certainly the set of encyclopedias from 1969, too innocent of too much to be of any use. Certainly the 75 pounds of New Yorker magazines.

The garden is at its best, I think --although I think I said the same thing last month. The roses and ponies are gloriously in bloom, as are the yellow foxgloves. The pink ones, I think, are taking the year off; foxgloves are biennial. All the lambs-ear are standing upright, ready for anything, their leaves and stalks so furred with silver that they glow in the dark. The lavender will bloom next, and after that the butterfly bushes will be ready. I walk there in the evening and find it hard to believe that soon it will not be our garden. All the things I have thought of doing -- the moving of the hydrangeas, the replanting of the iris-- do I do them now, or do I not? Out back, Q has set out thirteen tomato plants from which he will not harvest tomatoes. Foolish? Depends on your point of view.

The books are the main headache. How many are there? I'm not sure I want to know. I do know that I have a new rejoinder for people who mourn the encroachment of eBooks into the publishing business -- you know, the folks who sigh "but there's just something about holding a bo-ook!" when they see your iPad. Yes, there is something about holding a book. And there's also something about packing up a thousand of them.

Will it all get done? Will the house sell? What about the academic hoods? Who will pick the tomatoes and keep the basil from going to seed? Sometimes, when it's all just too much, flight is the only possible course. So we're going to Rome, where the American church is between rectors and needs someone fluent in bad Italian to come in for a month or so in August. This journey should fall smack in the middle of the moving chaos, which will have to be managed by email. No cats will accompany us -- I'm not sure just where they will be yet, but I know they won't be in Italy. We'll have to Skype them.

How irresponsible, to leave in the middle of everything. Ought we not to stay and suffer through to the bitter end? Ought we not to forbid ourselves any new pleasures until after the last book is unpacked? Is there to be no delight for any of us until perfect delight is possible?

You know my answer already.

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The Farm, which enjoys the blessing of being virtual and thus able to exist everywhere, will continue as always. The Almost-Daily eMos from the Eternal City will commence in early August and continue from there through the first Sunday of September. By then, it will originate from its new base of operations, the little white house at 53 McCoy Avenue in Metuchen, NJ.
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