Here are two photos of electronics at home.

The first is a gorgeous new MacBook Air, their smallest and cheapest priced version, but still expensive ($999). My old one, which I had for a decade or more, retired unexpectedly last week, thankfully leaving a hard disk with contents intact to be transferred into a new computer.

I heard from an independent repairman that Apple now makes computers to last 10 years. I had a choice of buying a refurbished one, but given what he said, and calculating how old I would be in 10 years, I decided to get a new one. Am glad I had the money to do this because I work on my computer every day of the week except in retreat times.

So here it is, a gorgeous red golden color, not the classic silver, weighing about 1-1/2 pounds so that you could take it in your bag, perfect for travel though I don’t travel so much anymore. At home it’s connected to a bigger screen providing relief for my eyes. It functions just like it looks—perfectly.

Not so the coffee machine. The handle on the steamer broke, so Lori attached a vise grip to it so that we could turn it 90 degrees to steam milk. The machine leaks inside, I tried to open up the back panel to see if I could fix it but couldn’t even unscrew the screws because they’re a special size I couldn’t find in hardware stores. Every morning I open up the bottom to throw out the water that has leaked underneath.

My housemate, Lori, who at first didn’t want to use the coffee machine, now teases me that she will leave when it breaks down completely. “Start packing,” she told Henry the Chihuahua when we first discovered the leak. But the machine still works, and Lori is still here.

We bought this DeLonghi model after Bernie’s stroke. There was a lot he couldn’t do after that, but he wanted to continue to make his own cappuccino though he only had the use of one hand. We got a machine that ground coffee, steamed milk, and made espresso all in one unit, something we never had before. I put some kind of container under the steam tube, and that way Bernie was able to put his coffee on it and press the steam button on. He was delighted, loved to show company what he could do.

It will be 7 years old soon, has served us well, but when it goes, I’ll go back to a more manual, hands-on coffeemaker, nothing as sophisticated as this.

Old and new, spic-and-span gorgeous and a machine requiring a prosthesis to keep on going. You get fond of the old ones that are more into mutuality: I’ll serve you if you serve me.

It was very interesting not to work on a computer for 5 days. I adapted quickly, decided to make the most of this surfeit of time. Did some cooking, dogging, housework, phones, but didn’t feel the pressure of having to do or complete work.

Something happened to time. I experienced the years after Bernie’s stroke as a daily race against time, trying to finish everything, not just my work but also what he needed to be properly cared for. Even before that, I experienced time as an enemy, never a friend, always coming up short, never giving me enough of itself.

On Saturday the Zen teacher Nancy Baker, in talking about non-stealing, said: “There are so many ways to steal. When you hurry, you steal from the future.” I felt she was talking directly to me.

When Bernie would ask me to go to dinner, I’d say, “Okay, let me quickly change my clothes and we’ll go,” and he’d invariably smile and reply: “You don’t have to do it quickly.”

In these five days without a computer, time became spacious and fluid, substanceless. There wasn’t just more of it, it also felt more circular, like the circle Aussie makes when she naps, curved on the sofa with her head by her paws. It wasn’t linear any longer, starting in the morning and ending in the evening.

I experienced what it was not to do. I studied, I read. Not the least bit productive. Stared into lots and lots of space, and it stared right back.

My red golden computer is starting a long life of doing, while the coffee machine with its ungainly mechanical limb is probably on its last legs, or next-to-last. Oddly, I don’t see them as opposites at all.

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