Friday, April 3, 2009


The day before yesterday, I struggled with my column. I knew what I was writing about, but it was not coming to me at all. It didn't flow from my brain to my fingers, onto the computer screen before me. I've been writing long enough to know that if it doesn't, it's not a good column. After a couple hours, I had a column, but I wasn't happy with it. I got up and started cleaning.

Yesterday, I had a busy morning. I got home, frustrated and worried. I surveyed my yard. What a mess. My life was interrupted rather abruptly last fall, and I did not get my raking done. Leaves were everywhere. The winter winds had limbs and sticks everywhere. Beer cans, fast food papers, cigarette butts thrown from the windows of thoughtful travelers littered the front of our property. I decided to vent my frustration outside. I have three gardens. I began pulling the leaves back to expose what I already knew I would find. Tender shoots from the new flowers had pushed through the soil. Tenacious, they were still pushing upwards. Eventually they would have popped through the leaves, and actually, some already had. I made their little green lives that much easier, pulling the leaves away and letting in the light. I started a fire, and began burning the rubble from my yard. The ash will be nice for the rhododendrons, the azaleas, and the asparagus. Our apple trees are budding out. I found myself making a list of things that I needed for the yard. I raked. I called out to our neighbor walking down the road. Jerry and Tim used to work together. They both lost their jobs when the company closed. Jerry hasn't found another job yet. He stopped and visited a bit. He makes me laugh.

A red truck went by. I noticed this is that fleeting way that people take in the unimportant details of their lives. When it slowed, I noticed it a bit more. When it turned around, and came back, it had my full attention. I did not recognize the man who was asking me if I was Debby. "Yes," I answered warily. And the passenger side of the truck exploded and his wife jumped out. They were on their way up the road to the Blueberry golf course. The wife was certain that I was the Debby from the newspaper. She was so certain that she made her husband turn that truck around. She wanted to meet me. She wanted to talk to me. "I love your writing. It comes straight from your heart. You are funny. I look for you every Saturday." Her husband petted Buck while she explained who she was...Gloria's sister, the aunt of the pastor at the church Tim and I got married in, the sister of Jim, who delivers Little Debbie Snack foods. It never ceases to amaze me. In the country, by the time that you've recited your pedigree, whoever you are talking to will know at least one person in your family. She hugged me and hopped back in the truck and they were gone, on their way to Blueberry Golf Course, to play some golf.

I continued raking, but it was different. I was thinking about my column, the one that had been so hard to write. The words began to come, slowly, at first, but then they began to flow. And for the first time in a while, the column was a funny one. Not just a few laughs in the body of a serious subject. It was a funny column. I finished what I was doing in the yard, and wandered inside. I got Tim's supper around, but then I sat down at the computer, and my fingers flew, and the words flowed, and a perfectly cheerful column about bald heads and driver's license photos appeared before my eyes. It was the same column that I had been so unsuccessful with, but written with a different tone, from a writer in a different mood.

Last night, I lay awake in bed for just a short time. I'd worn myself out, running in the morning, yard work in the afternoon, writing in the evening. I drifted off to sleep thinking of gardens. People. The satisfaction of writing, of breathing in the scent of the earth, solitude to think. Stones to arrange. Birds to be fed. Dogs to be petted. Wood to be stacked. Really, all these pieces fit together so well. I have a happy life. When I am happy, my fingers fly, and the words flow, and I write about life from my heart, with humor.


Caroline said...

I always thought you were a good writer but didn't know you had a column as well!

Anonymous said...

OMG what a whirlwind! You have inspired me to get out there and do something! I only wish we could successfully grow azaleas and rhodos here -too hot and dry mainly. But they are magnificent in Tasmania which is much, much, much cooler than here. I think I will visit in your warmer season - I think I am allergic to snow - only partly to see you and the rest to see your gardens (just kidding!) We are hoping to build a new home shortly and I am doing things in pots to plant the new garden - they are beginning to multiply while I wait - and wait.
I really do admire your energy in spite of everything. You are a great mum too. Love the sound of some of your recipes, they sound so interesting.
Did I read it right? Do you also do a column for a paper?? I know you read like a very practised writer - hmmm I thought so.
Keep up the great work - I haven't visited for a few days so have just spent quite a bit of time catching up on your posts - most enjoyable as always.
Hope the new job proves rewarding for you in every way. Love Barb

Debby said...

Remember that I live in a very rural area. The newspaper serves a small area. The column is very small time, but it is something that I enjoy. It was a tough decision, whether or not to write about cancer. I've always been funny. However I can only write about what I know. It soon became evident that if I didn't write about cancer, I'd have nothing to write about. I took a deep breath. It was the right thing to do, it turns out. There are a lot of people dealing with cancer.

steviewren said...

Debby, Wednesday this week was my your yesterday. I took a sick day, although in reality it was just a mental health day...and man did I need it terribly! I cleaned, visited with my daughter and grandson, made spinach salads for our lunch, picked sticks up in my yard and topped the day off by going to a friend's for supper and craft night. At her house I found myself talking/no bubbling a mile a minute. I was so happy. My brain was reset into a happier mode. A mode I haven't been in for a long time. I've told God thank you a dozen times since then. Thank you for a perfect day.

Bob said...

What wonderful gifts God has given you. They seem simple, yet you multiply them. Thanks.

Laura Jane said...

I hear the unmistakeable sound of MOJO returning!

Good for you, Debby, I'm delighted to hear it. A blessing indeed.

Now, go pluck your chin, you hairy energetic woman! (I kid, I kid)

Debby said...

You know, Bob, that is the thing. Whenever I find myself dissatisfied, or restless, almost invariably it is because I have not taken a look around my life, because I have not counted my blessings. Really and truly, everything that I need to make myself happy is a God given gift beneath my very nose. Certainly there are things that I still would like to see and do, but even if this never happens in my life, I have been blessed, mightily. Like Stevie noted, when you remind yourself of these things, the gratitude comes automatically. Joy bubbles up.

Mikey said...

Awww, that's so good! I love this story. I love that you're back on track. And famous :) People LOVE YOU GIRL!!!

Redlefty said...

Great insight, and you know that I can identify with the writing aspects.

My best stuff takes 10 minutes. If it's just not happening, I can choose how to spend the next two hours:

1) Keep banging away at the keyboard and try to edit/hone until it's acceptable.
2) Spend 110 minutes getting myself together, doing an "unlocking" physical activity, figuring out what's really going on. Then write for 10 minutes.

#2 always works better.

Bush Babe said...

Laura Jane - you took the words right out of my mouth. MOJO baby. Such a great word. I am lucky I can hide behind photos when I am rushed or the words are not quite ready. Well I think I am lucky... my family could be another matter (here she comes with the camera again!!!).
Hugs on a great post.

Debby said...

Does this mean that BB has PHOJO?

Mrs. Spit said...

My garden is still under a foot of snow, and will be for at least another month. But thank you for sharing yours with me. It was a breath of fresh air that I desperately needed.

Lori said...

What a beautiful entry! Before I got to the end, I was thinking, "well, her column may have been hard to write, but she sure is getting this entry out well!" I wish I was able to read your column. What paper do you write for again?

I'm from a very rural area, so I know exactly what you mean about meeting someone randomly and then discovering a whole slew of people you both know or are related to.

I've been working on my front yard in between cold snaps and rain. I still have a lot to do, but it's getting there.