Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You do what you can

I am thinking about Jane Austen. Aside from the fact that she is one of my favorite authors, I was thinking about a piece of criticism that Eudora Welty wrote where she mentioned that one of the complaints about Austen that some critics level is that while Austen was living in the tumultuous times of the Napoleonic Wars, she barely alluded to them. Instead she concentrated on everyday life in English villages and towns and the lives of the middle classes.

Welty's point was that we always live in unsettled times and few of us play a role in the great schemes of the world and so our concerns are about such mundane things as paying the bills, our relations with our neighbors and occasionally falling in love.

Currently, the economy seems to be falling apart, we are in the midst of a nasty presidential campaign here in the U.S. and we have been involved in a poorly thought out, ill advised and illegal war. I can't do anything about these problems other than fret.

On the personal front, I found out that 2 different friends of mine have cancer, one has had surgery and is recovering before she starts chemo and the other is going in for surgery next week. I can't do anything about this either, other than fret.

Last night I called up Doris only to find out that they have been plagued with trouble as well. First their TV died, then their computer died, the new pellet stove they had ordered to replace their wood stove is sitting on a loading dock because the truckers that were contracted by the stove company quit and then one of my sister's hen houses burned down.

They got a new TV, my cousin is fixing the computer and from what I can gather they have made arrangements about the stove. Once again I can't do anything about that either.

Out of all this mess, there is only one thing I can address. I can buy my sister some new poultry. So, with the aid of the internet and a phone call to Doris to find out if the Bantam chicks can go in with the broody hens (they can't, not enough room) I am going to be buying chickens as soon a the new coop has been built. 25 of them.

Considering the state of the world, it is an insignificant thing. It is not ending war, fixing the economy, curing cancer or bringing the country together. All I am doing is helping out a middle aged woman who I find myself often annoyed with and who I am frequently impatient with, but who has taken on the rather onerous task of caring for my very difficult parents in their old age. Goodness knows that in her world which is even more circumscribed than mine, her Bantams loomed large and their loss was a real blow.

It ain't much, but it is one thing I can do and it's making me feel a little less helpless.