Grass is grass, no matter what side of the fence it's on

So I discovered I still had some lurking 'premeditated resentments,' and I didn't even realize it until it was too late!

I assumed that setting up house would be easier in America than it had been in Kenya.
I assumed that emails telling me to pay my bill would pay my bill if I obeyed and clicked HERE.
I assumed that hot water heaters were electric.
I assumed that $80 in kooky-sounding flours would allow me to bake again, gluten-free.

Instead, we discovered the sellers had just cut the hoses close to the tap when they couldn't get the old washing machine tubes off. At midnight, after a week of VBS, Chad said, "Let me hook the washer up real quick for you." We all know those are famous last words! The twist of a wrench, the snap of metal, the spray of hot water, and Chad's calm voice calling out,

"Miriam...we're doing this again!"

And the saddest part was, I knew exactly what he meant. I gathered up the same towels, which I had washed and folded at a friend's house as if just for this reason, and stuck my finger down the hot water pipe to plug what I could while Chad turned off the water main, and we soaked up the second flood. This time, from the main floor to the unfinished portion of the basement. Not nearly so bad, but still. Really????

After days. And I mean DAYS. Of filling out paperwork online for the health insurance exchange, we finally got coverage for a decent monthly payment. The next day, I got the email reminding me to pay my premium. For my convenience, they included a link. The nice link took me to the right place, where I paid my bill and reveled in the ease that is American bill-pay. Until I got a notice from the same insurance company that, in fact, it wasn't possible to pay the first month's bill on-line. It didn't seem at all strange to the woman to whom I was speaking that I had, actually, paid the first month on-line. As in, I got the request. I followed the link. It accepted my information. It gave me a receipt.

"Oh, no. That's not possible. You can't do that for your first month because you're not registered on-line yet." We went back and forth. I was tempted to define "impossible" for her.

I finally laughed (the kind of laugh one laughs to keep from crying) and I said, "Well, ma'am. I don't know what to tell you. I DID actually pay, and I DID actually get a receipt. So it actually IS possible. What I need to know is what to do next."

And what I had to do next was pay a second time, the full amount again, because who doesn't have that kind of extra money just sitting around? And then I had to wait until both charges cleared my bank before going back to the phone, sitting on hold for half-an-eternity, and then explaining the situation to several very confused people before they could track down the payments and credit my account for the over-payment. When I expressed my opinion that this was a very poor system, I was informed, "Oh, that's just the website--it tells you to pay, but you can't." Actually, you can. But I didn't bother getting into that again.

When the kids' bath water ran cold, Chad discovered we didn't have a match or a lighter anywhere in the house. Once he bought one, he discovered that the pilot light wouldn't light. After running through all the possible scenarios, he mused, "it's almost as if the gas is off!" My ears perked up. Gas??? But we have an electric oven--what would we need gas for?

So, I now know that hot water heaters are gas-powered in Ohio. Which means that when you move in, you have to set up gas services. Or they turn it off. And then they are booked solid and can't get back to turn it back on for a week.

And so back to bucket-baths we went. For a whole week--which is totally something we took in stride in Africa, but I ASSUMED we had moved past here in Ohio. That's apparently only for those who know that hot water heaters are gas powered.

I have been avoiding cooking anything that would require flour-substitution since Omara's diagnosis. We've gone gluten-free, but that just means we're eating meat and eggs and rice. I've not actually tried to REPLACE flour. But I decided it was time. I took a deep breath and went on-line to a trendy all-natural-organic-gluten-free-GMO-free-gobbly-goop-free website and ordered an obscene amount of stuff I'd never heard of before. Psyllium husk powder. Xanthum gum. Potato and rice and tapioca flours. Ugh! But the real betrayal came when I had all my ingredients out to make a old favorite--chocolate cream pie. And I discovered the cornstarch was not gluten-free. The CORNSTARCH "may contain traces of wheat." There is no winning with this!!!

But you know what? A friend from church is a plumber, and he fixed our broken pipes and didn't charge us a cent. And the insurance company FOUND my extra payment and credited it to my account, over the phone, without me having to stand in a single line. And neither the water nor the power went off the whole week of no hot water, meaning I could boil water whenever my heart desired. And I ran to the store and found extra-expensive cornstarch that only contained corn and it only took me 20 minutes there and back.

So even as I wallowed in my own premeditated resentment confusing easiER with easy, I realized the truth which I had been conveniently ignoring.

No matter what side of the fence it's on, there are some rough patches of weeds, and some bare spots, and then some sections of glorious lush lawn. The patches may be in different places, so a quick comparison might lead you to believe you're on the wrong side. But really, it's all the same, no matter the differences. Fence-hopping won't get us anything but exhausted. So it's time to stop comparing the two sides. I need to enjoy the lawn, pull what weeds I can, plant grass on what bare spots I am responsible for, and leave the rest up to the Gardner who owns and loves and nurtures the grass--all the grass, on all sides.


  1. Thank you for that Miriam! We're going through transition now in California, learning patience and trust again.

  2. She didn't mention that I (her husband) have been pulling weeds of the poisonous varieties (poison oak and poison ivy), but we should have a very nice lawn in a couple of years. Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba--we will get there. Content in the journey.

  3. Awesome post of "Grass is grass, no matter what side of the fence it's on"

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  4. We have all heard the expression, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. What does it mean? Plainly,


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