Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Last Friday morning Abby packed her car with all the essentials needed for a weekend at home, (laptop and dirty laundry), and planned to hit the highway right after work. At approximately 4:45 p.m. she decided she couldn't face the prospect of another three-hour drive. Despite the fact that her parents are counting down each and every moment with her until the big move to Ecuador, after work she drove back to the dorm and unpacked her car. Determined not to be cheated out of a weekend visit with our "soon"-to-be-departed daughter, and in complete denial that she might have wanted a weekend to herself (as completely unlikely as that was), Saturday morning we drove the three hours to see her.

It was Oregon Trail Days and our visit was filled with all kinds of small town activities. We headed to the city park where we watched an Elvis impersonator belting out songs, ate buffalo burgers and perused booths filled with all kinds of arts and crafts. Only in America's heartland can you purchase a man’s barbecue apron created from tidy whities underwear, or a marshmallow gun, or sculptures made of tractor parts. We also viewed a fairly large quilt exhibit where we could vote on our favorite creation although Dean was the only one who cared enough to vote. You’d think Abby and I would have wanted to vote since we actually quilt, but at the time we were just happy to be inside somewhere with fans blowing the sweat off our bodies.

After the quilt exhibit we headed to the local zoo which was small but surprisingly nice, fed the ducks, viewed all the animal exhibits and had refreshing popsicles which were frozen so hard they barely melted in the 90 plus heat. Then we had an early dinner, got back in the car and headed out for the three-hour drive home. Apparently buffalo burgers, popsicles and dinner wasn’t enough food for us though, because we also stopped partway home for ice cream.

Since we neglected the BFD all day Saturday we made up for it by working all, and I mean all day Sunday. We could have used those fans from the quilt exhibit on Saturday but we made do with the umbrella from our patio table. After nearly ten hours of deck time we stood and stared with pride at our progress, then drug our exhausted, sawdust and sweat covered bodies into the house with barely enough energy to shower and crawl into bed.

Things deck-wise are moving along quite nicely, due in part to the fact that after a mere almost 37 years of marriage, I was, for the first time ever, allowed to use a real power tool, not just a baby sander. Who says the surprises end after the early years of marriage? During all of my married life, my technique for getting things done has been to threaten to do it myself and if that doesn't result in action, I am sometimes required to actually pick up and hold a screwdriver or pliers or in desperation, a power tool. This strikes fear into Dean’s heart. His eyes get wide, his heart starts palpitating, his palms start to sweat and he jumps into action---or at least the appearance of action. Multiple projects have been completed in our house as a result of this subtle persuasion. However, now that I’ve been allowed (and I'm still not quite sure why) to use a power tool, specifically a drill, the fear that I may be more heavily involved in all the projects I so carefully add to my ever-growing list is making my own palms sweat.

As it stands now, Dean and I are a fine-tuned deck-rail building machine. My official status has progressed from Slave-girl standing at the ready to hand him any tool requested, to Apprentice who delicately sands the sharp edges of the spindles and those long boards that the spindles attach to (whatever they're called) to my current status of Associate, fully trained in the use of a power drill. I not only drill the pilot holes for the screws but also am responsible for the very difficult and precise drilling of the special little counter-sink hole thingy…whatever it’s called. And after drilling only a few counter-sink hole thingies that were too deep or too shallow or not quite vertical and only breaking one drill bit, which got stuck in the spindle, I’ve gotten pretty dang good at it, even if I do say so myself.

Tonight we decided to take a night off and go listen to the Wednesday night music outside at the art museum. But this morning while I was relishing the thought of a night off, I realized that when I wasn't looking, the grass had grown six inches and tonight was the last chance I would have to mow it until next week. So I did have a deck-free night and we did go listen to the music. I just had the pleasure of mowing the lawn first.

I almost enjoy mowing the lawn the first time or two of the summer because it's proof that winter truly is over and warm weather is near at hand. Otherwise, I hate mowing almost as much as I hate bending over planting little seeds in the garden. And I really hate planting seeds. In order to survive the weekly mowing I talk to myself. "This is good for you. It doesn't matter that your neighbor can push his mower with only the pinky finger. Pushing a mower that is NOT self-propelled will substitute for the weight lifting you haven't been doing because you've been working on the BFD." "Quit whining. Sweating clears all the bad toxins from your body." "So what if you always have to pick up the dog poop when you mow, even though nobody is cleaning your cat litter box for you. The extra walk to the garage for plastic bags and back again to the trash is good for you and the bending over will keep you limber since you never make it to pilates because you're always working on the BFD." My absolute favorite lawn mowing survival technique is gloating. "Yes! My lawn will be mowed before Jack's (my neighbor). I win!" It's irrelevant that Jack doesn't know there is a lawn-mowing competition, let alone the fact that I am on a roll and he is experiencing a losing streak. And the fact that he mows his lawn on the shortest setting while I mow on the highest, resulting in my lawn still being higher than his when I'm finished, has no bearing on the outcome of this competition. What matters is that twice now I have gotten my lawn mowed before his.

Every now and then there is a small unexpected joy during the lawn-mowing ordeal that is better than winning first place in my fantasy the discovery of the first raspberry of the season.

Okay, not the first......I ate the first one.



Lesley Collins said...

I always tell myself that after I mow I get a treat. Usually chocolate.

Al said...

Gasp! Your raspberries are back! (And Cathy, "raspberries" only means raspberries here, thank you very much ;) ).

abby rose said...

You made my weekend complete - I got to miss out on driving three hours (twice) and still got to see you and get all the goodies that come with parental visits (i.e. lots of food, my stomach is still full...)