Friday, September 19, 2008

It's So Hard to be Good

At the beginning of the summer I issued forth a challenge…the Push-Reel Mower Challenge. Remember that? I was going to try to mow our yard all summer using only a push-reel mower. It was a good and worthy challenge, some might even say a tantalizing one (okay, just me because I have no life). Unfortunately for the environment, I was not up to it. I only managed to use the push-reel three times this summer. I’m giving myself a grade of suck minus for this one, folks.

That’s the lowest grade I’ve ever gotten, and I gave it to myself.

Okay, so here’s the deal (get ready for the excuses). After I issued the challenge we found a house we wanted to buy and had to quickly put our house up on the market. We desperately needed to make the yard look more presentable so we wouldn’t be dealing with two mortgages. I think our push-reel does a good job mowing, but it’s not the tidiest way to go about getting the job done. Second, we went on vacation for two weeks. When we returned, we found a jungle awaiting us. Our dandelions were actually roaring. Out came the gas mowers once again. Third, the house we bought came with a lot of grass. Horror of horrors, we actually had to buy a riding lawn mower (well, we didn’t have to, but I would still be mowing today if we hadn’t). Before we took this drastic step, I tried mowing with the push-reel mower, hoping to use it in some areas - it didn’t work. The grass was too long. So I tried the push-gas mowers. Tragically, after an hour and a half I died (at least that’s what I told my husband), with most of the yard left to do.

I’d really wanted to be good to the earth, to conserve and nurture, but this was too much for me to handle! So what’s a girl to do? Granted, I kind of like whipping around on my riding mower now, though the hills are a bit daunting (that whole tipping over thing, you know), but I don’t want to keep this up. The rider mower (Bubba) uses a lot of gas. We needed a better solution, which I soon provided. It was an answer to all our problems and inspired by a genius that stunned even me. I said to my husband, "We must buy a goat."

He laughed at me.

So we didn’t buy a goat, but what we are going to do is create a huge vegetable garden, reduce the size of the yard where practical, plant a giant flower garden in a large space by the house, and fill in smaller areas around the yard with any plants we can find (preferably big ones). Plus, there’s one area we will probably only mow every other time. I’ll have my oldest boy do some of the mowing with the push-reel once the grass is down to a manageable length. We’re also composting like crazy to reduce our waste and to help us do all this gardening we’re planning to do. I even set up a clothesline of sorts in our laundry room so I can continue to hang clothes to dry instead of using the drier.

Can’t you see I’m trying! I’m really trying!

So how did your challenge go this summer? Hopefully better than mine. Did I disappoint you? I kind of disappointed myself. But all I can do now is move on and try to improve.

Or better yet, buy a goat.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Michelangelo, I Ain't...

These last several days, I’ve been spending my time painting the innards of our house, and I have to tell you that it’s been a real pain in my behind. It seems to be a neverending process that never ends (oh, yes, the writer in me just exploded with description there!). I have paint in my hair, under my fingernails, on my clothes and on various body parts that don’t normally sport green paint (except on St. Patty’s day). My hand hurts from gripping my little paint container and I think I pulled a tendon standing on my tiptoes. The funny part? Everyone keeps asking me when I’m going to paint the ceiling. Har dee har har. I’m not going to paint the ceiling, people! Okay, I’ll admit there are a few green marks on the clean, white expanse that might have led them to believe I was going to paint the ceiling. But those had nothing to do with the fact that I can’t steer an elephant! That insane implement, that steam roller, just kept on rolling even when I didn’t want it to. Worst of all, at the end of this humbling experience, I have been forced to admit something that I never wanted to admit.

Michelangelo, I ain’t…

Painting is a chore to me, and a senseless one at that. It’s like doing laundry or cooking meals - mind numbing and seemingly futile (just like resistance against the Borg). All right, it isn’t completely the same as these daily/weekly chores. Once you’re done painting, you’re done. Plus you have a lovely result at the end of it all that won’t need to be repeated for several years. When I was painting, though, I didn’t care about any of that because I didn’t believe it. This task felt like something I’d be doing over and over for the rest of my life. The Groundhog Day of chores! It’s hard to believe, but when I first started thinking of painting (I really needed to put to rest the rumor that I was afraid of color), I was going to paint almost the entire house. But I kept chickening out, until there was only one small area left that I was willing to do (or couldn’t talk my way out of since I’d told people I was going to paint). And that small part took me three days to do.

I simply can’t believe people choose to do this for a living.

But then, there are people who can’t believe people actually choose to write for a living. For them, writing is an agonizing process best left to the monkeys. I have never found writing to be agonizing, but I have found it to be hard. Especially when I started out writing novels. It seemed like getting a page down on paper was an Olympic event comparable to water ballet (you may scoff but try doing what they do - you’ll sink like the Titanic). But like every effort, practice does make your task easier. Of course, some of us can practice and practice and never be a Michelangelo. I, for one, fall into that category. I shall never be a Shakespeare.

So why bother doing it at all, you ask? Because I’m a masochist. That’s why.

So here’s my plan. I shall keep on writing and drop the painting. I’ll leave that to the painters of the world. Now, if I could just find a way to drop the cooking and laundry, I’d be all set. Any volunteers? It’s really very fun. Fabulous, exciting, in fact! I’ll even let you do it for free!

Just drop me an email and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What the @*%& ?!

My husband always has a way of making life interesting. We finally closed on our new house, signed all the papers, gave away a lot of money, and were leaving the building when it happened.

My husband started to choke...

Yes, that's what I said. He started to choke. We were in the parking lot at Re/Max and he began making weird noises (okay, that's not the unusual part). He could not talk, nor could he breathe. All signs of imminent death, I believe, resulting from a blockage of the windus pipius (sorry to get so technical on you).

This is how it happened. My hubby has Type I diabetes and during the closing he started to get low blood sugar (I could tell because he was actually trying to read what he was signing). To raise his blood sugar, he takes glucose (fast acting sugar tablets that are about the size of a 50-cent piece - they kind of look like giant Smarties and yes, my children covet them). While we were in the parking lot he decided to take one more for good measure. A moment after he popped the glucose tab into his mouth, he saw a bumper sticker with a picture of George W. Bush on it looking rather goofy, accompanied by the letters WTF? My husband started to laugh, sucked back the glucose tablet and essentially blocked his windpipe. Once I ascertained that he was choking, I had to do something. So I did the Heimlich on him.

Now, I don't know if any of you have ever had to perform the Heimlich, but I imagine it's not something most people think about doing. Unless you have kids. They choke on things all the time - at least my part human, part vacuum cleaners do (I'm still not sure if they actually chew). The point is that I've visualized doing the 'maneuver' many times and partially had to do it a few times on my little rugrats (after back slapping, which is the recommended method for alleviating choking, didn't work). Plus, it didn't hurt that I'd taken a CPR class, too, so I knew where not to Heimlich. Maybe because of these efforts on my part, the attempt to dislodge the foreign object was very successful, with no internal damage as a result. I must say I'm awfully glad. We still had a lot of heavy lifting yet to do.

So we are now in our new home...alive and kicking. The first week and a half were a tad stressful. I was about ready to drop kick everyone I met (I didn't care who you were) into next week. But now things are starting to settle down. I can actually check my email, write a blog, sleep. Life is good here on the farm. We have lots of fruit to eat, vegies, too, and lots of space for the kids to play. Though I still have to cook and clean toilets. I was hoping all that would change when we moved.

No such luck.

Despite this hurdle, I am thankful for my life, for this wonderful new home we have, and for Mr. Henry Heimlich. Say hurray!