Don’t Say “Can’t”

Daybreak, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Someone suggested to me once that when you use the word “can’t,” you append the word “yet,” afterwards, as in:

“I can’t skydive . . . yet.”

“I can’t understand quantum physics . . . yet.”

“I can’t play the oboe . . . yet.”

The concept that we not limit ourselves by words is a sound one, although like any idea, it can be taken to the extremes of fanaticism.

Without being strangely compulsive, however, we have always tried to be upbeat about the resources at our disposal, using what we have to its maximum, and not wasting time grumbling about what we lack.

For years we didn’t have a pick-up, which is a handy item on acreage, but it’s amazing what you can fit into a car; we’ve carried everything from bales of hay to a full grown goat to two-dozen paintings, but not, incidentally, at the same time.

Utah Juniper, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

My latest car coup was the new washing machine, tucked into the back of the  aptly named Honda Fit — it was amusing to watch the burly appliance loaders stride out, stop short in front of this deceptively tiny vehicle, shake their heads, and run through in their minds what they were going to say to the batty broad who assured them,

“It’ll fit.”

And it did. I dropped in on Eldest Supreme at work just  so I could casually mention, “Oh, by the way, I have a washing machine in the back of the car.”

There was even room for groceries.

There’s something fun about being odd, blithely moving forward to accomplish things that  everyone says you can’t — it’s difficult to do at first, but the more you practice, the easier it gets — to the point that, when you get really good at it, you find that you’re living your own life, as opposed to vicariously existing the way the people around you think you should be.

The downside is that you are odd, out of step with the other drummers, sometimes standing alone on a side street while the rest of the town is watching the parade on Main Street.

I thought of this the other day when I was running errands and every single person I encountered asked me, “Are you going to the circus tonight?”

In the Hollow, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

What kind of Scrooge says “no” to a circus?

“How much does it cost?” I asked.

“$18 for adults, but your granddaughter would be FREE!”

One of the many skills in my repertoire is the ability to multiply a tw0-digit number by a single digit model, and $18 times four (me, the Norwegian Artist, and two progeny) plus $0 for the Toddler makes $72, which buys a lot of yarn, or, in the case of the Washing Machine Issue, meant that I stared blankly at the sales rep when he asked if I wanted to sign up for the six-months no interest plan or the 12-months one.

“If I didn’t have the money on hand to pay for this now, I wouldn’t be buying it,” I said.

After all, I’ve been holding my old washer’s hand for two years, or more aptly, applying pressure on the agitator mechanism, which doesn’t work properly unless I stand there and push down. Calling a repairman to a rural area and paying $100 up front  for the 70-mile trip means it’s worthwhile to save up and wait for a good sale, which I did.

And now, instead of a visit to the circus — which really, between animals and people and life’s circumstances I have on hand every day — I’ve got this box on the front porch, waiting for the Norwegian Artist to set down his brushes in exchange for a little aerobic activity and weight lifting.

I took a break just now to pat Edward, the Useless Porch Kitty, and then smile at the big box emblazoned with Washer/Laveuse/Lavadora.

If I get this much joy out of reading the box, then what will the actual washing machine produce?

Seriously, I think a circus would be too much for my emotional make up.

I can’t do it.


Descent into Bryce, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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12 Responses to Don’t Say “Can’t”

  1. Carrie says:

    A new washer?! Awesome! Clyde and I are the same way. If we don’t have the cash, we don’t get it (with the exception of his work truck that we got cornered into buying but only have just a few more payments on). No credit cards, no loans, just the moolah.
    And $72 IS a lot of money for a circus…when you live on or near a farm, it’s suddenly not the novelty it is for city dwellers. That’s half a week’s groceries, or the water bill, or a lot of yarn or a pickup bed full of flowers that are 75% off….

    • Carrie: Muy true. It feels so good to actually own the item, and not wonder what you’ll skip eating this month in order to make the payment.

      The Norwegian Artist tells me that it will be two days until the washer is out of the box and in the laundry room — he’s too busy playing with the new lawn mower (not a riding one, the kind you stand behind and push), and I’m fine with that. I went out last night and played with it myself. After a scythe and a reel mower, this new baby is a dream!

  2. What happened to the days when washers lasted 30+ years? You’re lucky if they last 5 years now days. How long did your last one last? I hope more that 5, or are you one of the lucky ones that was still pampering one of the 30+ models? Whatever the case, congratulations on the new washer. 😉

  3. Peter: 21 years and three moves. My mother bought hers at the same time and it’s still going strong, but 1) it never moved from its original venue and 2) she doesn’t have all her progeny milling about and creating dirty clothes.

    Her refrigerator? I remember it from when I was 10, and I’m a few years over 25 now. Quite a few years.

  4. Dianne says:

    Bravo, that’s the pioneer spirit. That brings back memories. I never managed a washer, but I did get a full size sofa in the back of my VWRabbit. It looked pretty funny driving through the city streets on the way home, but it worked.

  5. Candace Rose says:

    Good column, especially the part about realizing that you’re living your own life, as odd as it may look from the outside. Rather than watching the main parade or circus, you’re creating your own, day by day. Plus, there’s all that column fodder! Thanks for writing.

  6. Candace: thank you. You’re right — when obnoxious things happen, my first thought is, “Oh, this will make a great column!”

    Really, when you stop and think about it, all of us at sometime find ourselves on that obscure side street, and rather than try so hard to get back on the main, crowded thoroughfare, we could wander the little shops and kiosks of the area in which we find ourselves and discover new treasures.

  7. Dianne: Think of all the smiles you brought to other people’s day!

    When I was a very young child and my family lived in Peru, we fit 8 people into a Volkswagon Bug. Not an experience I would want to repeat!

  8. Jana says:

    As always, you cause me to laugh and to think. I love your authenticity and lack of concern over other people’s opinions. I’m impressed with your car’s feats – the weirdest thing I’ve done is bring home a table saw, belted into the front passenger seat of my 2-door Accord. Or, perhaps it was the 2 boxes of Adirondack chairs strapped to the top. . . then again, it looks rather stunning with a canoe on the roof. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Carolyn!

  9. Pingback: The Great Washing Machine Adventure | Middleagedplague's Blog

  10. Margaret says:

    Stratoz and I just got back from doing a craft show, and he worked his magic fitting the entire booth into our orange Fit. I think it gives him a bit of a thrill to know he can make it all fit, and amuse our fellow crafters and artists.

    • Isn’t it a kick? It makes you want to buy large items just so that people can load them into the vehicle.

      And you have an orange Fit too! Love that color!

      College Girl called me the other day and asked if I was in town, 30 miles away. “No,” I replied. I’ve been at home on the computer all morning.

      “Well I saw an orange Fit drive by and I thought it was you. I waved and waved and made a total fool of myself to some stranger!”


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