Monday, May 31, 2010

Party Animal

So, an amazing thing happened this weekend, one that hardly ever happens. My husband was out of town and both daughters (the ones who are home for the summer) were at work, so I had a Friday night by myself! I did what any woman on her own would do...

Girl's Night Out!

That's right, I went out and mowed the lawn. And it was great.

I did this as a surprise for my husband, so that when he got back into town late on Saturday it would all be done, and he might not feel like he had to spend Memorial Day doing all the yard work. I did not count on the way things worked out.

At first, everything went fine. I was making neat diagonal lines on our lawn out front, the mower was working well, and it was not unreasonably hot. However, I utilize the plod and trudge method of mowing, which takes a long time. I plod behind the mower for a few turns of the lawn, and then I disconnect the grass bagger and trudge over to the edge of the yard and dump it out. This is in contrast to my husband's method, which is the sprinting method. He RUNS behind the mower, getting both his exercise and the chores done at the same time. One consequence is that he finishes in about 45 minutes and it takes me at least two hours. I would like to point out here that I go as fast as I can. It's just that I am a less-than-svelte middle-aged woman, while my husband is in very good shape. He bicycles to work every day, and is the neighborhood champion at juggling a soccer ball. (He can juggle the ball over 1000 times without missing!) Anyway, so my point is, it takes me a while.

I had started in the evening, reasoning that the sun would not be so hot. I was right, since the sun went down when I had only done about a third of the lawn! No problem, right? My husband has this great headlamp that he wears while mowing in the dark, and it seems to work well for him, so I found the headlamp and went out to fearlessly finish conquering the lawn.

I could not see.

Yeah, okay, I could see a little. There was a pale circle of light on the ground, and if I leaned forward I could kind of tell where I had last mowed. Still, it was not good. Things got trickier when I was on the side of the house, where there is not much grass because the trees block the sun. It had been a while since the last rain, and the ground was very dry. So it was dusty. Every time I mowed on that side, the dust was fairly overwhelming. It got really bad in one area, with dust so thick that I could not even see my little, pale, circle of light on the ground. It was like when it is very foggy and you turn on your high beams in the car. Yeah. It was like that. Only, I was not safely inside a car! It finally dawned on me that there was WAY too much dust, so I turned off the mower and peered down at the bagger. Some of you more experienced people have already figured out what I saw. The bagger was only connected on one side, so the mower was mowing up dust and blowing it directly on ME! Well. I fixed it, and things were much less dusty. Then I started noticing that the ground was sparkle-y. I could think of three explanations for this.

-The dew was starting to form.
-I had dust in my eyes.
-I was mowing over fireflies.


I'm pretty sure it was dew.

I think.

But it was hard to see.

My husband doesn't seem to have these problems. He runs along, looking all cool in his head lamp and his hearing protection and his safety glasses. I probably looked pretty cool, too. Imagine a hunched over Pigpen, with a dust cloud flying around me. I know I must have been hunched over by how sore my shoulders were the next morning.

Funny side story: One thing I never do anymore, is mow barefoot. I actually only did it once. Yes, I know I'm supposed to wear shoes, but I have found a more compelling reason than safety! One evening I was mowing as it was getting dark (again), but I was nearly finished. I don't like wearing shoes much in the summer, so I was mowing barefoot. Nearing the end of the job, I started going quickly so as to finish before it got too dark. As I walked very fast, not quite jogging, I mowed over a toad and then stepped on it. Really. It was terrible.

Anyway, back to Friday. It got too dark. I realized I was probably mowing the same spot over and over again while missing other spots, so I went in. It had only been about an hour, but I was filthy, sweaty, and sore.

The next day, I finished mowing. Since I was in the back yard and I was getting bored, I abandoned the mature, back and forth method and resorted to making designs in the grass. Not crazy designs, just squares, triangles, rectangles--that kind of thing. It is very satisfying when mowing a large yard to finish small areas! So, after a little more than another hour, I finished the last triangle (yay!) and trudged to the edge of the yard to dump the final load of grass, put the mower away, and went inside. I got a drink of water and was thinking that maybe I should turn on the sprinklers when there was a roll of thunder. It had been sunny, but within five minutes of coming in, rain was absolutely pouring down. It was amazing! I was sooo happy. I had mowed the lawn AND it was thoroughly watered! Not trimmed, which is too bad because my husband really likes it trimmed, but I don't trim. I have tried, but I don't get along with the trimmer. The parts I trim just look like they need to be trimmed again, and I get frustrated. I figured he wouldn't like coming home to ragged borders and an angry wife! Kind of ruin the whole point, right?

So, I mowed for my hubby, and he did notice on Sunday morning, so even though I was very sore, it was all worth it!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog?

I have been reading a few blogs lately, and enjoy it immensely, so I thought I would jump into the already overcrowded blog pool. Actually, it's more like I am sticking my big toe in, to test the water, before I get totally wet. I might even wait a few days before clicking on the ominous "PUBLISH POST" button at the bottom of the page, so I can see if I will actually write more than one entry. I started following one blog, and it turned out to be the day the author stopped writing it. Figures. I have saved the link to that blog in my bookmarks toolbar, and click on it every once in a while, and it has not been updated for over two months. If I find that I have the same tendency, I think I will save us all a little frustration by just keeping this experiment to myself.

How does one pick a name for their blog? People seem to be able to come up with some nifty, imaginative names for their blogs. I might change this one. For one thing, it sounds a lot like the title that my daughter chose for her blog, and I don't want her to think I have no imagination at all. However, I do have a good reason for picking this title.

Ahem. I will try to make a very long story brief enough that only a few of you will fall asleep.

Like many young people, I began college directly after high school. At the beginning of my second semester, I met and fell in love with another student. We were married three days after the last final of my freshman year, and are living happily ever after.

Okay, my story does go on after the wedding. To our delight (and a little bit of surprise!), I became pregnant three weeks after we were married. I attended one more semester of college, but did not feel like I could continue school and be a full-time mother, so I dropped out.

Time passed and more babies were born, until we had four young children. After being subject more than once to the dreaded (and RUDE!) query, "So, what do you DO all day?", I determined that I wanted to go back to school and finish my degree, so at least I would no longer be a college drop-out. Accordingly, the day our youngest began attending kindergarten, I started going to classes. I declared my major to be English, and really enjoyed the experience. I went part time, since I was also a full-time mother, and it took me nine (yes, 9!) years to complete my degree. During that time, I was often asked what I was going to do after graduation.

I had no idea.

I mean, what does one do with a B.A. in English?

It was suggested that I could teach. Hmmm, I suppose so.... 
I could get a Master's Degree....Hmmm....
I could go into business....

I decided what I REALLY wanted to do was to be the Sign Police in our town. You know, the person who gets to go around and correct the public signs that contain misspellings or bad grammar? The problem is, as far as I can tell, no one is willing to pay for this kind of service. I have tried it in a very small way, on a volunteer basis, but the reception I have received was underwhelming. I mostly get puzzled looks, and the signs are never corrected.

I tried this once when my husband and I went out for dinner at a fast food place. This is a rare occurrence for us, and usually a cause for much rejoicing, but in this case my pleasure was dimmed by the fact that the sign outside was advertising a "Smashed Potatoe." I mentioned to the person who took our order that potato was misspelled, and received a blank look in response. The sign stayed that way for at least another week, until a new special was advertised. I contemplated driving a different way to avoid that restaurant, but it is right next to the store that I shop at the most.

Another sign that drove me crazy was on the way to my children's school. It was painted on the windows of a furniture store, and advertised their end of the year "clerance" sale in letters at least four feet high. I had to pass this store four times a day, and the sign was up for MONTHS. I wished I had the authority to arrest someone for murdering words-- or at least make them fix it! I fantasized about it!

I was not at all surprised when they went out of business.  It's a daycare now.

Sometimes there are glimmers of hope.  I live in the South, in a state that is often maligned for its low level of education, but on a recent trip to a western state I noticed several highway signs that advised drivers to "Drive Safe."  Back in our home state, I was pleased to note the same type of sign admonishing us to "Drive Safely."  

While I have been dithering about my true calling in life, it looks like someone else is already doing something about America's grammar problem:

It's like he read my mind.

Here's another one:

Thank you, Al Yankovic, for providing hope in a dreary, ungrammatical world! 

May the Sign Police thrive, wherever they may dwell!