This is a collection of my Let Inga Tell You newspaper columns, plus blog posts and favorite publications. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ingatellsall.
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Inga Tells All: A saga of single parenthood, second marriage, surly fauna, and being mistaken for a Swedish porn star
lived in my house for decades but 2013 was the year we reclaimed the front
the years, the front yard had really been the kids’ domain.We had big trees with rope bridges going
between them, tree forts, tents, and plenty of flat play space.Adults went out there at their own risk.
they are wont to do, things changed.Two
of the biggest tree fort trees died.The
kids grew up, went away to college, and established lives and families out of
town.Since the grass was actually now
going to have a fighting chance, we re-seeded and added sprinklers.But all this manicured magnificence cost a
lot of money for maintenance and water for space that was totally unused.Like most families, both our private and
entertaining lives occurred out back.La
Jolla homes have become nothing if not bastions.
then some toddler grandchildren came on the scene.Their folks weren’t too keen about the back
yard with its brick patio and pool.My younger
son, Henri, lobbied for some comfy lawn chairs so that the adults (that would
be him) could sit outside in the grassy front yard and watch the kids
dubious about the chairs.First, we have
no garage to store them when not in use.They would block the sprinklers and we’d be perennially dealing with
patches of dead grass.The gardening
service would hate them. After a few months in the elements, they’d look
awful.But a year ago Christmas, I
finally relented and bought two nice lawn chairs that folded up fairly
compactly and could be stored on our back porchlet when the kids were not in
Henri was packing up the chairs at the end of a visit last spring, I told him to
leave them in the front yard for a while longer.I’d been enjoying reading out there and letting
our perennially-visiting grand dog have more space to run around.
chairs never went back.It was true that
the gardeners hated them.They were
heavy and hard for me to move.Paint did
start to peel in places.Patches of dead
grass appeared underneath them.But I
found that the happiest part of my day was going outside with my book and
communing with nature in my front yard.Sometimes I just brought out the book to look like I was reading so I
wouldn’t look like the crazy lady who sits in her lawn chair and stares.You can get a reputation pretty easily in my
soon, the newly-retired Olof would come out around 5:00 and join me with his
Kindle in the other chair.If the sun
were over the yardarm anywhere within three time zones, we might also have a
drink.Living near the beach, we could
watch the pelicans flying in formation back and forth along the coast.We couldn’t quite see the sun sink below the
horizon but we had an excellent west-facing view of the beautiful sunset
was only a few weeks before we knew every dog within ten blocks and their
owners as well.People would stop on the
other side of the three-foot fence and chat with us.I told Henri over the phone that it felt like
a throwback to a time when people sat out on their front porches and waved to
the neighbors as they went by.“Like
when you were little,” he said.“That
was the 1930’s,” I replied tersely.“As
I said,” replied Henri.
then an even more interesting thing happened.Neighbors, seeing us sitting there with adult beverages in our hands, began
showing up with their own.So there was
nothing to do but order more chairs, which we did.On two occasions, a neighbor showed up with
his flamenco guitar, a bottle of Rioja and some Manchego cheese and dazzled us all
with an impromptu concert.
the days got shorter, the early fall brought crickets (one of my favorite
sounds) and spider webs silhouetted against the twilight sky in our trees.Olof, an engineer, is fascinated by spider
webs.Me, I was rooting for the flies.
time changed.Spiders disappeared.There were now some seriously dead patches in
the grass.Gardeners were getting
surly.We’d pretty much have to be out
there by 3:30, a little early even for us, yardarms notwithstanding.So we brought the chairs in.But we really miss them.
maybe the next time we haul them out, they’ll stay out.Maybe our formerly manicured lawn will just
have bald patches.Maybe we’ll have to
give the gardeners a raise.I wistfully
confided to Olof that I wouldn’t mind spending the last day of my life in those
chairs. He replied, maybe disarm the sprinklers first.
So thanks, Henri.Wish we’d thought of
this ourselves a lot sooner.