Aug 30, 2023

DENIM SPIRIT: The last two weeks of July


I mentioned last column that I was on garden duty while my wife was away for two weeks. It is with some satisfaction and relief that I can report the flowers lived. The deer and groundhog did some damage, but hey, can’t blame the substitute gardener for critters.

All spring I had been looking ahead to the last two weeks of July. I had a deadline of Aug. 1 to submit a completed manuscript which had been accepted for publication, albeit not until late 2024. But like a child stepping onto the school bus for the first time, it would leave my hands and enter into the editing process never to be the same again.

Of course, I had kept working on it here and there ever since it was accepted, but great expectations bloomed for those last two weeks in July. It was the last chance to add a newly inspired piece or subtract or fix a story or poem that had been bothering me like a stone in my shoe. Those two weeks would be a cloud upon which I would sit and serenely primp and pamper my baby for release.

Here is what happened in those last two weeks of July. First, the water heater lost some capacity — meaning, the water was lukewarm at best. One of the heating elements had burned out. But, because it is a heat-pump water heater, it needs a particular kind of element, one that needed to be ordered.

OK, no big deal. I could live with lukewarm water.

It was just dog and me in our small, easy-to-keep clean house. Rabia doesn’t do any house work, nor does she garden other than to chew pieces of mulch. She didn’t care about the lukewarm water, either, so long as she had fresh water in her bowl. No big deal; everything copacetic.

Then, the dryer stopped working. That put a dent in my lifestyle. I had to do small loads of wash and hang-dry them all over the house or drape them on the porch trellises and chairs. Turns out that isn’t so bad, either, just a matter of adjusting for the added time required to dry. Everything dries eventually, right? So, no problem.

Would you believe me if I told you the refrigerator was next? Actually, it was the freezer first and then the refrigerator. They just died. Food had to be thrown out and the refrigerator and freezer cleaned. It was days before the doctor could come and listen for its heartbeat and take its blood pressure, and the other stuff refrigerator doctors do.

So I had lukewarm water, no dryer with a houseful of wet clothes hanging everywhere, and suddenly, no refrigerator. No refrigerator meant low inventory and lots of trips to the grocery.

All these little deprivations reminded me of my privilege and how hard and expensive it is for folks who do without things I take for granted daily. It also provoked my dystopian imagination: What will happen when the grid goes down and doesn’t come back up again? Well, the last two weeks of July came and went. The book got shined and sent. The flowers got watered. The dog got walked. There was no cloud and very little serenity, but it turns out I don’t really need that much.

Cameron Miller of Geneva is an author and minister. His fiction and poetry are available through Amazon. Contact him through his website at


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