Category Archives: Home and Garden

Summertime, and the living is …

Let me say right now I LOVE summer and am not in reality, a Debbie Downer. I am however a critical thinker, and I’m just not going to sugarcoat it anymore. As we officially embark into summer and I proudly display my chalky bare legs resplendent with spider veins and bug bites, I find myself pondering some of the “great” things about summer that if I’m honest – are not that great.  I’m talking about things that people pretend are awesome, but they’re just NOT.  Hear me out –  my top ten.

# 1 CONVERTIBLES.  If the day is hot enough to have the top down, that also means the seat is the temperature of the sun, and you will lose at least one layer of skin from the back of your legs.  Things will cool off somewhat when you get up to speed, at about the same time your head tries to fully blow off.  If you have hair, you arrive looking like you did that time you went to the science centre and put your hand on that thing (Note, not a science geek)  If you don’t have hair  – and many sporty muscle car owners don’t (these are mostly owned by senior men who are trying to recapture youth by way of finally owning a car that the actual cool guys in the ‘70s had) – then sadly the whole cool effect is lost with the Tilley hat with built in SPF and chinstrap.

#2 SUNROOFS – see# 1, with the added bonus of all your receipts and loose paper car contents swirling around you as you drive, like you’re in a vacuum canister.

# 3 What offers endless bending over, huge amounts of dirt, constant neediness and ultimate disappointment?  If you said parenting, you’re wrong (are you though?).   The answer was VEGETABLE GARDENING.  UGH.  Planting a bunch of stuff, then trying to figure out if whatever comes up is what you want or if it’s a weed, then WATERING it a whole bunch of times in a row, then trying to decipher what disease it has (ALWAYS has a disease)  or what exactly is the bug that’s eating it and then going to the Farmer’s Market to buy your produce anyway.

#4 FARMER’s MARKETS – Yes, please “Organic Sarah”  I’ll pay you $8.00 for 2 tomatoes and a sunflower, because I came up too close to your booth and so now I’ve entered into some sort of unspoken contract to buy something because we spoke and you’re obviously gifted because your tomatoes aren’t diseased or riddled with holes from pests unknown. And I want to look all Harrowsmith/whimsical-like in my sundress and take the visual focus off my aforementioned legs – therefore I’ll carry the sunflower out in plain view, preferably in a wicker basket #blessed.

#5 CAMPING. Enough said.

#6CAMPFIRES.  Can’t even concentrate on the singing of Kumbaya when it’s equivalent to having 6  chainsmokers sit 2 inches away and aggressively blow smoke in your face.  The burning eyes and air quality issues are only forgotten when nursing wounds of small children who have eaten charred marshmallows that are the approximate temperature of molten lava.  The smell of the campfire in your clothes and hair is a gift that keeps on giving, well into the fall.

#7 POND SWIMS   No thank you.  It’s always FREEZING.  Either your feet touch gross mud or slippery rocks.  SO many other creatures are in there too.  Creepy little spiders that shoot along the top of the water like aliens. Turtles.  Fish.  Crayfish. There COULD be leeches.   Once a watersnake almost touched me.  There was a bit of a scene.  Let’s just say I’m glad ponds don’t have that chemical in the water that turns purple if you know what I mean.

#8FISHING.  The ACTUAL worst.  You have to carry a lot of gear.  You have to be QUIET.  You have to touch the grossest stuff to bait your hook, then via trickery, you try to get an unsuspecting fish,  minding his or her own fish business, to lunge for it out of hunger, only to have it rewarded by getting unceremoniously dragged kicking (with no legs) and screaming (with no voice) into your boat or up on shore, where you then decide to toss it back in with the worst lip piercing story ever, or the other fate of it gets to become your probably mercury laden dinner. Thumbs down.  Two words – Captain Highliner.

#9USING MY CLOTHSLINE  This one I’m torn about.  I like hanging the clothes up.  I love watching them flap in the breeze.  But I then lose interest and I definitely don’t want to go get them off the line.  Sometimes they stay out there for days, and come back in the house with the addition of bird poop. When I do eventually bring them inside, I don’t like that the towels are stiff and can stand up by themselves and can also do double duty as dermabrasion device.  Plus, EVERYTHING needs ironed which, let’s be honest, was never even a possibility.

#10   SANDALS  I do like that they are cool and comfy.  But it’s hard enough keeping my hair/face/hands presentable to the rest of the world, but then there is the added burden of FEET. All winter they get to be hidden away in the deep dark recesses of my boots. Now add to the growing checklist of grooming tasks (eg – did I fill in the bare spots of both of my eyebrows or just the one?  Are there any new rogue whiskers that people are too scared/shy/mean to tell me about? Did I convincingly cover up that age spot that aspires to be a third eye?) … I now also have to worry about if my toenail polish is chipping and do my heels look like an ancient creek bed in the Sahara dessert.

That’s my 10 – and perfect timing – I couldn’t even make this up if I tried.  Hubby just stuck his head in and told me to water the vegetable garden.  So, here goes 30 minutes  and several gallons of water I’ll never get back.  I guess it could be worse.  We could be heading up north in a convertible for a combo camping/fishing trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Home and Garden, Humor, Thats Life

Livin’ La Vida Loca – Long Weekend Style

This is a nice picture of the dog.  A little less nice of my lawn.

This is a nice picture of the dog. A little less nice of my lawn.

Where was I? Oh yeah….  Update –  I’m not that good at multi-tasking anymore because it appears that I can’t work full-time and blog. So since we still like to eat and even moreso drink, I guess my posts will be sporadic/annual going forward. But as I contemplated what a mess I’m making of the first long weekend of “summer”, I thought it too blogworthy to ignore. I actually had the added benefit of getting Friday off too. This had all the earmarks of being a super productive weekend.

In one of the many ironies that is my life … now that we don’t live on a farm anymore, hubby has gone into farming in a big way … working for a large cash crop operation.  Since this is planting season, basically that means that he is home for about 6 hours in the middle of the night for a much needed shower, feeding frenzy and power nap before being gone again at the crack of dawn. Which means I’m left to my own devices on this … the biggest of all outdoor project weekends. Let’s see … what did I accomplish yesterday? And make no mistake, there are many projects and maintenance things that need to happen. I got an early start…

8:00 am – 10:00 a.m. – Coffee. Put on tv to see news. Accidentally watched whole movie called “The Beaver” with Mel Gibson.  Worse than that, it made me weep, setting the stage for the rest of the day.

10:00 am – Dug up a few dandelions. Played the “weed-or-plant?” game trying to figure out what else to pull out, got tired and came back in the house to eat a couple squares of chocolate bar in case my blood sugar was low. Ate 12 squares.

11:00 – 12:00   Read paper outside and threw ball for the dog. Was impressed at how far I could throw it from a sitting position.

12:00 – 2:00 LUNCH

2:00 – Went to get wheelbarrow to collect pulled weeds, only to discover it has flat tire so it’s too hard to push.  Aborted mission. Sprayed dog with the hose.

2:15 – 3:00 – Googled what to do when your daffodils look like mine do … Got distracted by Facebook, looking at all the cool, fun and productive things that other people were doing this weekend.  Lost interest in doing anything about the daffodils. I don’t think I did anything with the daffodil remnants last year and the world didn’t end (much to disappointment of Mayans).

3:00 – Decided to fire up the push mower to cut some grass, because cutting the steep hill with the riding mower is too death defying for me. It’s hubby’s job, as he is heavily insured. Began a series of phone calls to tractor-dwelling hubby.

Call # 1:  “If I just put some gas in this should it start? Do I have to put anything else in it like oil?”

HIM: “No, that’s it. Should start right up.”

Call # 2:  “Is there a special button or anything that I’m missing? It’s not acting like it’s going to start at all, ever”.

HIM:  “No, no button or anything. You could tape up the idiot proof handle if that’s making it awkward, then just use two hands to pull the cord.”  I let the questionable “idiot” reference slide.

Call #3:  (This one took a long time to answer and turned out to be entirely one-sided) “ Yeah, it’s not going to start. My back hurts from pulling. This is stupid. I hate this.” Click.

Call #4: “I think I know why it won’t start. I can see it’s got a little leak in the hose. It’s probably because of how you stored it. Why did you put it away like that? Is there any way I can plug it? Is it going to kill the grass? Where should I put it so that the whole tank of gas leaking out won’t matter?” He dutifully answered all the questions but I don’t remember what he said, because I already lost interest in cutting the grass, and ceased to care whether leaking gas killed it. I ended the call.

4:00 – 7:00  Attempted to clean out the garden shed. Mostly whipped myself into a swearing frenzy after seeing all the junk that we’ve still got after our big move last year. Unless we’re going to be building a railroad in the foreseeable future, I think that there are a lot of giant pick-axe type tools that we can get rid of.  See exhibit A.

Exhibit A.
Dog added strictly for scale. The blue thing weighs roughly 250 lbs.

Also made mental note to ask hubby why it is that we can’t get rid of the 3 saddles we have. We managed to part with the horses years ago.  Failing a roving herd of wild mustangs making an impromptu appearance in our yard … I just don’t think we need them. Call me crazy. To make my little cleaning task even more interesting, the garden shed is home to several hundred bees including I’m pretty sure, those of the Killer variety because they are as big as birds, and they were all engaged in a fast paced game of “dive bomb and try to touch her head”.  That wasn’t so bad … kind of took my mind off the blackfly bites I’d been collecting all day.

Stopped cleaning when I dropped super heavy silver part of air compressor hose onto my shin.

6:45 – 7:00 – Iced shin.

7:00 – 7:05 – Pulled weeds from between deck boards.

7:06 – Got sliver.

7:07 – 8:00 – Worked on getting sliver out. Finally got it out, treated the wound and dressed it.  Decided I best have a stiff drink like on the western movies when somebody has to get a bullet dug out of their flesh.

8:00 on ….  A blur of educational shows like The Soup, Fashion Police.

11:30 – My back was pretty sore by this time, so took hot bath with glass of Baileys and read about world issues like Avril Lavigne’s wedding plans and Prince Harry’s polo skills.

12:00 midnight. Hubby home. Calls into the bathroom. “Did you get the gas for the lawnmower from that red can you left in the middle of the driveway?”

“Yes!”, I shot back.  Thinking the whole time … “So sue me for not putting it away. It’s heavy, and I’ve been slaving all day….”

His two word response was the perfect capper to my day:   “That’s diesel.”

Of course it is.  Is it Tuesday yet?

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Sometimes it takes 2 to DIY

English: Logo for The Home Depot. Category:Bra...

English: Logo for The Home Depot. Category:Brands of the World (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some things never change – like, for example, the simple satisfaction from a job well done. When there is a problem with something, and you are able to fix it and make it better again, or build something from scratch, that is some powerful sense of accomplishment right there. I can think of only one thing better than being a successful “DIY”er. It would be being a “DIYD”er – or a “Do it Yourself – Director”. I’m awesome at that. Our new place is great, but, let’s face it – there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. We tackle things as a team. My contribution is as follows: Identify projects. This can be done in a number of ways, but I tend to go with:

Conspicuously staring at imperfections while subtly shaking my head and with an occasional heavy sigh thrown in. For effect, this is best done while spouse is trying to point out something unrelated and usually pleasant.

“Hey, Darling” he says. (He sometimes calls me ‘Darling’, and I figure – hey, if the shoe fits.) “Look at that crazy dog!” He points at our pooch, laying upside down, sleeping adorably on the floor.

BUT I of course, can manage only a fleeting glance at the right-upside-down-dog, but then my gaze drifts over to a missing piece of wall trim nearby. I adopt a sad, melancholy face, not at all what he was expecting when he pointed out the cute pet … and then BOOM, fixing piece of trim just moved up the priority list.

When that doesn’t work, another subtle tactic is the unnecessarily loud phone conversation with my sister that lists all the things that need fixing/are unbearable, and always hinting that I would be much happier (and some might even think, nicer) if only these projects were done.

Sometimes I perpetuate the myth that “we” do jobs, by accompanying on a trip to Home Depot. Once there, I usually

a) Complain that I’m hungry because I can smell Subway.

b) Fill the cart with a bunch of stuff we didn’t intend to buy, like plants and mops and organizers.

c) Lose him at least 3 times, and zoom around up and down the aisles like a crazed mall walker.

d) Act bored, possibly even climbing a rolling staircase to the top, or laying on some plywood stacks just to pass the time while he does tedious stuff like “calculate” and talk to old guys wearing orange aprons and shorts and workboots, during which time I’m trying not to laugh when they say stuff like “caulking”.

We get out to the truck and I sometimes have to sit there for 10 minutes while he figures out a way to fit everything in and on top of the vehicle. During this time I play with the radio and creepily stare people watch. I always perk up on the way home, with the truck loaded down with mysterious ingredients like concrete and wood and “caulking” (too funny).

“How long do you think it will take us to get this done?”, I inquire, eagerly.

He always plays along … and goes into a Mike Holmes-esque recitation of all the things that have to happen:

“Well, first we have to sand and then I’ll cut out those old pieces of wood and cut news ones and put them in and then it will all have to be caulked (I’m dying!) and then we can paint with the primer and then paint with the nice new paint that you picked out…” , but by then I’ve glazed over so badly there’s no coming back. AND – we both know that I’m not doing any of that. He will do it, and it will be perfect, consistently way better than I could have imagined. I will wander into the room where the work is going on and cheerlead, “That looks AWESOME! I love that colour I picked out!”

(It’s always some variation of beige.) I may even deliver a well earned beverage.

When the job is done he will call me in to admire it. Sometimes I take before and after pics. It is without exception, done equal to or better than if we had hired a professional. His talent at doing absolutely everything never ceases to amaze me. I’m always impressed. However, sadly, my satisfaction is always fairly short lived. If for example, he tries to bask a little too long in the warm glow of accomplishment by a couple of days later by saying something like, “Remember how that room used to look?” I usually say something sensitive and motivating like, “Yes, but … have you SEEN that laundry room? Let’s not live in the past”.

Here’s a pic of OUR latest DIYer project. I heard it was going to be an exceptionally hot summer, and phoned him on my way home from work a few weeks ago. I didn’t mince words:

“We need one of those pools from Canadian Tire.”

“Aren’t they expensive? Where will we put it? Aren’t they ugly? Do we have enough water?” Sometimes he’s very inquisitive. And, obviously, none of these things are my problem. He picked one up.

There was a slight delay with the installation, when he read the assembly directions and it said “you need 3 people” to set the thing up. When 2 hot weekends passed and he realized that at no point was I going to lift a finger, so the chances of getting a third party were akin to the snowball’s chance in hell, he got fed up and did what he does best. Did it himself. I arrived home from work, it was installed on a spot where he had painstakingly and perfectly prepared the ground. He called the water delivery service and got it filled up, and by the next day we were swimming.

A recent and fairly effortless project

Now was that so hard? Best part is, the kids keep raving about what a great idea I had, as they lounge in and around this pool.

Well, I can’t take all the credit. It’s just not my nature. I’m a team player. And, it may sound corny, but in my case it’s especially true … there is no “I” in team.

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Filed under Family, Home and Garden, Marriage, Thats Life

Glass Houses

A little over one month later, and it’s hard to believe, but we’re now settled into our new home.  And by settled in, of course I mean we have paths winding around all the boxes.  We basically stopped unpacking once we had located the essentials — various remotes, sweatpants, and the bottle opener.

In the final couple of days on the farm I nearly killed myself cleaning. I wanted to leave it nice for the new owners. I completely wore off all of my fingerprints through inexperience and aggressive use of SOS pads.  Housekeeping was never my forte and my complete disregard for dusting is world renowned.  After removing all the furniture I couldn’t help but marvel that my family members and pets are all functioning reasonably well without the aid of a respirator.

Luckily that means they are well prepared for coming to visit the new place, since the sellers did not share my enthusiasm for impressing with one last epic cleaning session.  And heaven knows I’m not about to start in cleaning this place too.  In a word, eff that.

Not to sound cranky, but the previous owners also ignored the part of the deal that said that window coverings were included, so all of our windows are bare.  We weren’t madly in love with the draperies or anything, but I worry that our  window  exhibitionism might prevent us getting invited to any neighbourhood events. They say good fences make good neighbours, but when you get to be our age and you’re so hot you sleep in your underpants, I think blackout blinds are also kind of a public service.  We may have trouble making any new friends if we don’t get some blinds soon.

We’re having minor issues getting adjusted.  The dog has claimed the basement bathroom toilet (did I mention we have 3?) as his personal drinking fountain.  But he can hardly contain his excitement as he gallops in for a drink.  He’s so enthused he can’t help but wag, and the door is on a bit of a slant, ­so the minute his wagging tail touches the door, it promptly slams shut behind him, and his awesome flushable fountain room changes instantly, becoming a terrifying prison. Eventually someone always finds him, but not always before he has a panic attack and rips up the toilet paper or takes a dog sized bite out of the shower curtain.

Hubby says “barn” instead of “garage” all the time. 2 of the 3 cats have developed agoraphobia/eating disorders. They have quickly forgotten their past lives as adventurous outdoorsy “barn cats”.  They are basically living my dream life, by eating constantly and never leaving the house.  The other cat regularly ventures out and about while the other two peek out the window at him, between mouthfuls.

Our issues are more than made up for though, with sweet amazing benefits like …. wait for it …. a truck comes and picks up our garbage and takes it away.  We were giddy the first couple of times it happened.  It’s like magic.  You put it out by the road, and then when you come home from work, it’s gone!  The first time the anticipation was too much – I phoned home at lunch to say “did they take it?”  Not that I minded those 20 years of wonderful Saturday morning rides into the dump, riding in the truck surrounded by recycles and odiferous trash bags. That was some quality time, right there.

I’ve changed jobs, and now drive to work via a big city on a highway. I’ve been trying a number of different routes, but don’t have the greatest sense of direction so have pulled a lot of u-turns.  Plus I’m not used to this highway driving, I always drove my commute along scenic country roads, and I used to amuse myself by honking the horn at the cows and horses in the fields, to see if I could get a reaction.  Now I’m surrounded by other commuters, so I amuse myself by staring at other drivers and grinning, and sometimes uncontrollably sit-dancing at stop lights.  Sometimes when I’m doing dead arm robot other drivers think I’m waving at them.  They never wave back.

I don’t know why they aren’t friendlier.  I’m always fully dressed.

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New Home-ward Bound

The maple lined driveway of the farm on a frosty morning

Well, we can relax.  We found a house on Kijiji. And today we get possession of it.  Thankfully we have 2 weeks to move, which is great because it turns out I’d rather do other stuff – like write blog posts – than help move.

*Disclaimer – the pics in this post are kind of random – photo albums are already packed so not much to work with.

This major life event, causes me to reflect on our other homes of our married life.  All three of them.   When we got married, I moved half a block away from my parent’s home, into a cute little house we had rented. We thought it was a palace.  It was tiny, without a basement, and had two little bedrooms. When I put stuff away in the cupboards, I could also do a weather check, because there were huge cracks where I could see outside – that is unless they were too iced up.  Our castle had a “portable toilet”, which was especially pleasant since we hosted lots of parties with our 20-something pals, where mass quantities of beer were consumed.

We stayed there 3 years.  Hubby had always wanted to have a bit of property, so we found ourselves looking ½ hr north, at a 10 acre piece of land with a cute little bungalow.  It had no basement, but the toilet wasn’t portable so it had me at hello. The young couple who were selling it had built it themselves, and we were young and naïve enough to think that was a good thing.  In hindsight, Mike Holmes would have been apoplectic.  The young couple was extremely good at staging and had really nice furniture.  We were dazzled by the charming décor, and so excited at the prospect of our “hobby farm” that we failed to notice that the house itself kind of resembled a double-wide, and that parts of it were held together with fence staples.   The reason I know this, is because fast forward a few years, when we had 3 little kids, and those 3 little kids had 2 little friends over to play. It was a windy afternoon, and they were all 5 playing in the living room, and the drop ceiling got real literal and “dropped” on top of my happy little toddlers.  After that, helmets were mandatory as we searched for our new home.

By now my hubby’s appetite for land had become insatiable. He wanted a farm, and he had a list of attributes it had to have – bank barn, maple trees, creek, etc, etc.  We started looking another ½ hr north, and looked at so many places that I eventually stopped going with him because it was too hard to haul all the kiddies along.  One day he came home and said he thought he’d found the place. It was a January day, and I remember riding in the car to look at it and driving for what felt like hours through frozen tundra.  The house had been empty for a year, so the staging was a little less inviting than our first house.  Each room had a charming little pile of dead cluster flies under the window.  And there was a decided “hill” in the floor of master bedroom.

Winter morning view from the barn.

On the bright side, this place had two toilets of the not portable kind, and it had a basement.  So what if it was the kind of basement you don’t want to go into unless under threat of a Wizard of Oz category tornado.  I had chronic fatigue also known as numb-y mummy syndrome in the 90s, so robotically signed the papers, and we moved in on June 26 1992, with a 1, 3 and 5 year old.  My biggest concern was how I was going to keep them all safe, with a pond and a creek, and a barn with a ladder up to the rafters. I had visions of a well-worn path down our driveway from emergency vehicles, and being on a first name basis with all the 911 operators.  Hubby was enthralled with all the fields and dirt and trees that we could call our own.  He saw past the insulbrick and the long grass, and fell deeply in love with the maple lined driveway and the white board fence and the big red barn and the bush out back. He thought this was a great place to raise the kids.  Turns out, he was right. (I can admit that, because he hardly ever reads this.)

Move in day, June 1992. Note the well manicured lawn and my future fashionista sporting the toga look.

The hard farm life

After 20 years, we’re moving on.  It’s bittersweet – it’s a small town and most people have lived here FOREVER.  The folks in our community who eyed us suspiciously for the first 10-15 years, have started to warm up. (Mercifully we didn’t realize at the time how sorely we stood out at our kids athletic and school events.  We thought we were anonymous, and really we might as well have been wearing sandwich signs that screamed “stranger danger”.) Now ironically, we will  be making trips back to the old hood to visit. We will miss our pals.

Even though we’re empty nesters now, the kids are having a hard time with saying goodbye to the old place.  I tsk tsk them and tell them how great the new place will be … but secretly I’m dealing with flashbacks of 3 little curly headed imps fishing through the cracks in the bridge at the creek, or all 3 sleepily listening to Tom Petty songs while crammed into a tractor cab with dad as he plowed fields, or 3 teens huddled behind the driveway trees waiting for the bus, or countless family barbeques with spectacular sunsets.

I can’t think about that too long.  Instead I choose to focus on the fact that the place we’re going to has an unprecedented 3 normal toilets, and a basement that I will willingly spend time in, even without weather network alerts.

And the best part is, the family moving in to our old house has 3 little kids under 5.  The dad is visibly excited about the fields and barn and trees and bush.  The mummy is not at all numb-y, and is thrilled about calling our old farm home.  They think it’s going to be a nice place to raise kids.  They have no idea.

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Filed under Family, Farm Life, Home and Garden, Memories

All I Want is Dust in the Wind

The weather is terrible. It gets dark in the middle of the afternoon.  My half-hearted job hunt has stalled.   I have a boring empty nest and way too many mirrors in my house.  November is officially the most depressing month on earth. There is one thing in my life that doesn’t suck right now. Unfortunately, it’s my vacuum cleaner.

I’ve been kidding myself for a long time that I could make this relationship work, with what in an ironic twist is called a  Hoover “Windtunnel”.   I dutifully haul it out a few times a week, even though it weighs a ton and I have to schlep it up and down the stairs. But I finally  had to admit that one of us is just going through the motions.  Things hit rock bottom the other night when it couldn’t pick up – wait for it ….. an onion skin. That’s right, the transparent single layer outer shell of a cooking onion proved to be too daunting for this particular Windtunnel.  It twisted and flapped pathetically at the end of the hose – almost going, but then not quite – taunting me by making a little noise, kind of like someone blowing on a blade of grass.

I’ve become completely unreasonably obsessed.  I fight with this thing and curse, and hubby tries to calm me and asks me to step away from the Hoover, and suggests maybe I should, “Eliminate the middle man and just sweep the rug –  it works just as well”.  But lets all just calm down and  HOLD ON A COTTON PICKING MINUTE. I come from a time long ago, when men were men, and when you had a job to do, you damned well did it.  Why should this Hoover get off scott free while I work up a sweat trying to sweep a rug that was clearly intended to be cleaned through a process of powerful sucking coupled with a solid session of beater-barring? 

So, using the part of my brain that has me driving past gas stations that have put the price up, even when my low fuel light is burning brightly and the next closest station that might have cheaper gas is 10 miles away,  I maniacally pick up dirt and then jam it into the hose. Sometimes if the particular piece of debris is too long, like a toothpick, and gets stuck sideways, I will break it in half and feed in the two pieces separately.  I’m nothing if not committed to seeing that this DAMNED Hoover fulfills its contractual obligation.  It has one job.  “SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP.” (Just a small sampling of my verbal tirades).

Somehow, this makes sense to me, and it is why over the last few years, vacuuming the rug on the stairs really means that I can be found rubbing the convenient “stair attachment” furiously along the carpet and then sitting down every third step or so, working with the little pile of cat hair and dust bunnies that I’ve basically “plowed together” by friction, and then trying to coax ­­­­­the material down the nozzle, rather like a mother bird force feeding reluctant and somewhat bulemic young ones. 

It would be okay if that’s the best that was out there.  But I know that there are magical models out there that can suck up ball bearings at the drop of a hat.  Why, — and I’m not proud of this – but I happen to know firsthand that a full-grown finch in a cage can be effortlessly sucked off a perch, if you’ve got adequate suction mixed with just a hint of  easily distracted.  Side story:  Many years back I was helping a friend’s mom in her pet store, and was vacuuming out an occupied cage, whilst chatting away with the lady.  I turned to look at her to make a particularly salient point, and then when I returned my gaze to the cage, it was no longer occupied. I looked down to see two tiny stick legs kicking madly at the end of my nozzle.  I then had to follow the trail of the hose of the central vac to pull it out of the wall, where the little yellow guy plopped onto the floor, visibly shaken. I placed him back on his perch … and fun fact – “scare the shit out of”, is a real thing.  The timing of this incident came fresh on the heels of the time I helped by cleaning out an aquarium after having just applied nail polish remover (who knew that fish were THAT sensitive).  I was tactfully informed that my assistance, voluntary as it was, would never again be required at my friend’s mom’s pet store.

Totally digressed again, but it’s my prerogative.  Mmm …  perogies. (I may  have a serious attention deficit issue.)

I know that there are some amazing vacuum cleaners out there now, that can have your old tired rugs looking like they’re brand new.  But they also cost about $700.  I don’t want to spend that much on something as boring as dirt removal.  I could get something really good for $700, like multiple restaurant meals, or my hair cut and coloured 3 and a half times, or laser eye surgery on one eye – (the blue one),  or a spider vein-ectomy on one leg – (the bottom one, when I cross them).

But for now, it’s business as usual.  I’ll just hunker down and do battle with the uncooperative Hoover.  Someday, my Dyson will come.

A Dyson DC07 upright cyclonic vacuum cleaner u...

Image via Wikipedia

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Flower Power

What is the opposite of a green thumb?  I have that.  I’m one of the few people  who are actually kind of sad when the snow disappears, because that means you can see my flower beds again.  And by flower beds I mean weed filled dirt piles.  I wish that I liked gardening but I really don’t, because frankly I don’t know my Aster from a hole in the ground.

There are people who actually start growing little seeds or whatever in their house, so they can be out there ASAP in the spring, trowel thing in hand. I, however, procrastinate until the dandelions have come and gone.  Then when it can no longer be ignored and I’m at risk of a visit from the weed inspector municipality guy, I go out there and try to weed.  It’s especially hard, because I’m never really sure about what is a weed and what is something that came up from last year.  I always get confused about the stuff that lasts only this year and the stuff that should come back every year.  Also I don’t remember which thing is called an annual and which thing is called a perennial.  The year we were trying to sell our house in the fall I bought about eight lovely Mums and planted them. They looked spectacular!  In the spring I promptly ripped them all out.  Who knew?

Anyway, by the time I eventually give in and go to the garden centre it’s late June or early July, so there’s nothing left.  I’m there with a couple of little old ladies who have to fill up a gap in their container or window box.  I on the other hand, am filling up my truck with all the half dead leftovers that for some reason are still full price. Then, I bring them home and I’m usually exhausted from all that too-ing and fro-ing, so they typically get to bake in the sun for a few more days until I get around to planting them.  PLUS you’re supposed to pick stuff according to how much sun and wind it can tolerate?  Come ON!  I draw the line at that.  I plant stuff where I want.  Oh, you don’t like the shade and gale force winds my pretty little Fuchsia?  Suck it.  I’m not walking all the way around to the other side of the house.

My flower beds are striking in their absence of any sense of originality.  Sometimes I half-heartedly undertake some floral beautification. In a particularly ambitious moment last fall I planted some daffodil bulbs, and this spring I had a semi-straight row of ten single daffodils, evenly spaced about a foot apart.  It was breathtaking.   It also matched the semi-straight row of tulips from a couple years back.

It’s just SUCH an ordeal.  I hear people say they like working with the “earth”.  I don’t.  Our brand of dirt could have anything in it.  Our soil is heavily loaded with rotted maple leaves (I don’t like raking either), twigs, and the occasional cat turd.  I don’t want to touch it.  These hands have to make hamburgers, and more importantly, put ice in drinks.  I have tried to find my inner Martha Stewart, and have even gone as far as buying gardening gloves.  But I always seem to lose one, so now I just have a few  single left handed gloves, which I wear on both hands.  So while my gardens may be lacking, I should score some points for tending them with one of my hands practically on backwards.

Sometimes people take pity on me and give me a chunk of something that they have in their garden because it’s “super-easy and impossible to kill”, and then I bring it home and dig a hole and stick it in and forget about it.  I think you’re supposed to “prune” or “thin” stuff or something, but I’ve never remained interested long enough to do that. My sister gave me some hunk of green thing a few years ago that had white on the edge of the leaves and sometimes for no reason purple flowers come out.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s taken over about three quarters of one of the flowerbeds, and it appears to be moving out into the lawn.   SWEET!  It may be ugly, but it sure filled up a lot of space.

AND my GOD why does gardening hurt so much?  A few hours of squatting and bending, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a train! And who hasn’t knocked themselves semi-conscious at least once, by stepping on a ho?  (And yes I mean the gardening kind).  And how about the dizzying head rushes when you’ve been kneeling and then stand up suddenly? I’ve watched enough Dr. Oz to know how important it is to listen to my body, and it tells me that gardening is dangerous and bad.  What if worse comes to worst, and I expire and begin my dirt nap prematurely and literally, right out there in the middle of the portulacas?

If that happens, do me a favour.  Send me no flowers.

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