Living with a Gypsy

July 5, 2009


Today the Gypsy and I were sorting hardware. Nails and screws.


It’s been a rough week in community engagement and I had to do something else than listen to bureaucrats and aggrieved residents.


I had to get my hands dirty. Get grounded.


Living on a building site generates a massive amount of mess. It’s hard to manage from day to day, particularly with few dry places to store things. Today we were sorting roofing screws from other screws from nails and clamps and tools of all descriptions. Rusted saws (it’s humid here), worn-out paint brushes. Dead paint tins. Odd unidentifiable objects.


Very therapeutic.


Gypsy’s work bench


I have attempted to clean up the Gypsy’s work bench a number of times in the last sixteen years with little success. He’s always tinkering. Genuinely of Romany blood (probably about one-third), he’s a tinker by nature and genetic disposition.


There is nothing he cannot fix.


We discovered that the solar garden lights you buy at the hardware store have a life of about three months and then they start to decline into fickleness, eccentricity, dementia and finally death…


But the Gypsy keeps at them. Resuscitating them. His table is littered with carcases of globes and pickets as he revivifies them one by one. He recharges their yellow batteries and cleans their connections with my nail file. The he gently sets them back to glow along the gravel path.


There are knives to be sharpened and electrical equipment to be repaired. And when the rain took out the phone, endless tinkering with a huge range of cords and adapters to make the phones work again.


Birkenstocks glued back together


I grew up in a household where everything was broken. So I love this quality in the Gypsy. He’s glued my favourite Birkenstock sandals back together so many times they were mostly glue. He’s taken to collapsing Ikea furniture with an artisan’s disdain and made it stand upright again.


He’s built, maintained and endlessly repaired our tarpaulin “hootchie” where we lived for the first few years.


The “hootchie” 2001


His garden is a marvel. His tomatoes to die for. And those chillies!



Old skills


HIs are the old skills. Resilient skills. Like mending and sewing. Knitting. Chopping firewood. Canning peaches. Putting up jams.


Skills we need for the Great Turning: persistence, repair, restoration and loving care.


From my office, I can hear the sounds of kindling being chopped. My chilled limbs predicting another fire in the chiminea.


I am blessed to be the beneficiary of these old skills.


Blessed to be with the Gypsy.