It’s Too Bad I Can’t Mow at Night

Okay, I am too busy to be playing the middle between two lawn junkies. One keeps his at a constant three inches, the other keeps his so short that I’m not certain actual blades of grass are growing. I think he may have literally hit dirt, and one good dust-nado will take out whatever green is left of his lawn.
I like to keep my crop of earth somewhere in the middle of Naked and Manicured, and by middle, I mean: if my grass is around five inches tall, I consider it a win.
This morning, while driving back from dumping Bubs unceremoniously upon his hallowed educational grounds and returning to the house where a hot shower before work and hopefully some magical coffee which someone-other-than-me had procured — and there isn’t such a Someone, but a girl can dream — awaited, I mulled my To Do list.
Crestfallen, I realized the first thing on the list was the lawn.
Thanks to recent rains and a lack of interest on my part, I may have had substantial grassy growth in need of maintenance.
I thunked upon it: “Work all day. Bubs’ tae know do. Work next day. Bubs’ tae kwon do. Work some more. Dishes. Good night, work some more? Really? Then Bubs’ whatever-else-Bubs-has. Oh, and laundry. Crap, and more work! Therefore, I can schedule the lawn for…eleven days from now…or…” I realized, “This morning …meaning, two hours — one-and-a-half if I don’t shower, and oh, that can not happen — in which to mow.”
Recap: before work at 11, I need to have scalped the acreage.
I ran the numbers twice more, looking for a loophole. I had none.
So I did what any good mom does: I panicked, opening the garage to release the Deere and quickly ride the plains. Whew! And an hour to spare!
But in my Atta-Girl moment, I realized I’d forgotten the ditch, the seemingly endless ditch, waving its four foot tall fingers nearly beneath my nose in a taunting gesture. I wanted to return the favor with a digit of my own, but I didn’t.
The ditches require the push mower; therefore, I pushed.
Did I mention the wind? Or the dust? Or the endless stream of truckers doing whatever-they-do-in-the-Out-There during daylight hours honking repeatedly as they passed their gigantic truck tire mere inches from my struggling hide?
Annoying! Weird! Dangerous! But oddly flattering.
But no, no, random honking in the Out There was too strange to be complimentary.
And so I grumbled as I dodged and mowed, finally –finally! — finishing the task.
With the mechanical beasts back in their housing, I darted into the house, ran to the bathroom, started the shower, and just as I was searching for the clock to tell me the time, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror.
Oh.
Okay. So that’s why I received random attention from speeding vehicles.
Not complimentary.
And back to weird.
Because in the mirror was a dirty, wild-eyed female Disney villain wearing sleep pants, a questionably presentable t-shirt, and fuzzy dusty green-tinted houseslippers.
Huh.
And the hair. In art, it might be called something between Medusa and “Foliage Waving from the Ocean Floor.” Hair should not look like that. I was matted.
Needless to say, ego in check, I crawled into the shower, made myself presentable and walked out the front door with my newly coiffed head held high. Because, hey, I may be That Neighbor now, but my ditches look really good.
Plus I got to work five minutes early.
Plus plus…I finally got coffee.

Band Mom Training

Our local high school prairie band, the Pride of Piedmont, traveled twenty arduous miles to participate in the State marching competition. After a morning of practice, they endured the prelims to pass gracefully into the finals last night.
As a Band Mom in the Works, I had to attend and take my budding percussionist Bubs with me, of course. I mean, it was a must: to sample the future, to taste the air, to sense the incoming.
And to buy probably the world’s worst popcorn — twice! — but that’s an aside.
Twelve bands from around the state earned their way into the finals, which began an hour early, as weather was forecast to ruin all evening plans. Things needed to move quickly in order to duck for cover before impending high winds and tornadic conditions disbanded — see what I did there? — us early. (It was a hot day; cold fronts and hot air don’t blend well, causing Disruption, Madness, Entropy, the Big Three.)
As an Okie, I was ready: I brought a raincoat. That was nearly Scout-like behavior for me, the ultimate non-forward thinker. I was ridiculously proud of bringing a coat, shunning it quickly beneath the bleachers without another thought. My inner storm-sense felt no whisper of anything but excitement and snare drum vibrations.
Our band didn’t play until 8pm, while clouds rolled in, iPhones everywhere tuned to weather radars, and breezes blew a tiny bit more forcefully than minutes before. Weather aside — because hey, weather and Okies are an ageless duo, married lo these many years (it does its thing, we ignore it) — tension was palpable. Even Bubs had abandoned his twelfth request to get up and leave and do whatever pre-teens deem fun aside from sitting still with their moms.
(Let me take a moment to feel my maternal gene quietly cry and shrivel.)
When finally the Pride marched afield, happy Piedmontian feet stomped repeatedly across aluminum bleachers, drowning out any thunder that dared approach. Our anxious crowd sounded like a herd of buffalo trampling grasses, leaving deep, deep footprints, and video-graphing every step, because buffalo do that, as they, too, care about posterity as much as any glowing Band Mom alive.
And the band did us proud. They were lovely in their blue and black with silver striping, recreating the Black Plague, the death, the mayhem. Our stricken teens ended up prostrate across the yard lines, valiantly playing the parts of corpses as Doctor Death beneath his crow mask wandered between castaway instruments and polyester clad bodies to fully appreciate his reign of doom.
It was epic.
And Bubs loved it, too.
So. Snapshot of the future, right there.
And the rain, though it dropped teaspoons of rain upon us during the tabulating and subsequent award ceremony, held back until much later. It knew our wrath should it fall prematurely.
And instruments are expensive, so thank you, buffalo of yore, for your input into holding back the storms until all the tubas were packed and the bells rolled away.
The future is bright.
(Though I’m not certain my poor raincoat, resentfully discarded hastily beneath my seat, made it back to the house…)

King: She’s so “Beautiful”

My divine mother got two tickets to the Carole King musical, “Beautiful,” playing in the City’s own Civic Center Music Hall last blustery-chilly-rainy night.
Carole King! Whose Tapestry album played so often atop my LP stereo that its grooves were no longer distinguishable.
(It was my mother’s album…ahem. Sorry, Mom. I seem to confess too much on this blog…)
We were behind the pit…we were seated on the floor…we were practically counting sweat pores on all the stage players…and it was pure fun, a romp through the late 1900’s so fun I found myself bobbing in my seat. (I’m sure that defies some sort of Broadway Show Etiquette rule that those of us accustomed to the nosebleed section of the theatre do not know. (Really. I looked up toward where I’ve sat before, and gosh, the Could-Have-Been-Me in my seat looked like an ant, one leaning way back in its seat with Kleenex stuffed in her nasal orifice. Been there, done that.))
A few things I learned last night:
1. We were all dancing dorks. Granted, we had a great time, lovingly blissful, dancing in shiny suits and beehive ‘do’s with arms waving and butts wiggling and all the while having an absolute blast. Which brings me to number two…
2. I could never have been selected for any upright musical group ever ever ever…Why? Bat flaps. While the lovely ladies attired in strapless satin dresses and office pumps on the stage were parade-waving, elegantly swan-like with their balletic arms, I knew if I tried the same, I’d knock the Do-Wopper next to me unconscious with the extra selvage beneath my upper arm and while I would be remorseful, my defense would certainly be that I had no control; I was not able to stop the onslaught. Once that skin gets to moving, it’s its own tidal force and must come to rest in its own good time. Bummer. Dancing do-woppingly would have been fun until the waving started.
3. Magical costume changes! I don’t know how they did it, but the actors were donned in Everyday Wear one second and Right Before My EYES — no exaggeration — they pulled a David Copperfield and were suddenly –SUDDENLY! — wearing sateen any prom queen would pull another girl’s hair for. Magical, I tell you!
4. I now have a visual for “The Locomotion.” I’d always sung it, and moved my then-young-unstretchy arms in a facsimile of something train-like, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. The true “Locomotion” requires far more cardiovascular interaction than I attributed to it. Those singing actor geniuses were sweating! I admit, I never once sweat while rendering my weird Loco-movements, thus I was doing them all wrong.
5. Carole King — funny, brilliant, prolific, an artistic phenom. I had no idea the breadth of her repertoire until last night. She and her writing partners were all over the musical map with the scope of lyrics they contributed to the musical world and I’ve never had so much fun sitting in one place — knees wiggling, head bobbing, burning up the sit-in-one-place calories — as when I watched “Beautiful” with my mother.
6. Art is so damn sexy.

Tire Pressure Seems Important, but What Do I know?

The fancy truck I drive tells me the pressure of each tire. Which is good, because tire pressure is not on my priority list…ever…
When the tire “map,” as it were, popped up the other day, it told me all the tires were low by about five pounds.
So I gunned it to warm the air and gain some pressure.
I wish I were kidding.
But the owner’s manual seated within the car pocket subliminally told me I was acting like an irresponsible beginning driver.
“Don’t ignore my warnings. I’m high-tech; you’re not; you’ll lose,” the truck announced to my chagrin, because it’s right. It’s always right.
Besides. I needed gas. And an Icy Drink.
Under the guise of Adult Vehicle Maintenance, I pulled into a prairie 7-11, one so busy that it’s hazardous. But it has the best Icy Drinks: just the right juice/ice combination so important when enjoying a frozen beverage.
“Bubs,” I said, as I pulled up to the air compressor. “I’m going to leave the key on, and you’re going to read the gauge,” which I displayed with my best parade wave at the dashboard control, “And tell me when the pressure number reaches 41. Okay?”
(Note that I was so proud of myself for using correct vernacular instead of pointing and using nonsensical words ending with “-icky” or “-ingie,” as in: “I’m going to push a button to get  air to squirt into the wheel…valve…thingie.”)
“Okay,” he proudly respond as the driver door slammed shut behind me at the precise moment the radio volume escalated to a level left behind with high school and days of “cruising.”
“Turn it down!” I barked, indeed using a pointer finger to enunciate my point. And I frowned; it was All Mom there for a minute, though I really like Imagine Dragons and my toes betrayed me. They were thankfully hidden by the enormous truck body so I could retain my Mom Status and get away with a wiggle in my butt.
At the first tire, the one most perilously close to empty though not low enough to have caused any true alarm, I unscrewed the valve cap and proceeded to push air through the stem. Down about five pounds? I’ll count to…10…
“What’s it read?” I yelled in to my child, ever vigilant to his mother’s voice.
(Yeah, right.)
“Turn down the radio!” I repeated atop a window bang. Things were getting heated.
“What?” came the reply over the stilled air.
“The gauge, on the dashboard, what does it read now?”
“Still 36.”
I waited a beat.
“Okay, what about now?”
“What?”
“It’s been two seconds!” I yell, rising to stroll quickly to the open window and wave my rubber hose dealie in my son’s perplexed face. “What does the gauge read now?”
“36,” he said, his eyes wide but sparkly, because, hey, I was waving a hose in his face, and yeah, that’s pretty funny, but fortunately he didn’t laugh. Smart kid. Mostly.
“You didn’t even turn your head and look!” I noted loudly.
“Oh,” he mumbled, then turned to read the number. “38.”
I paused. I’d counted to 10 and only gained 2 pounds.
“Alright,” I muttered, more to myself and the guzzintas in my head than to my boy. “Fine. I’ll count to 20 then, sucker.”
And I did.
And after a similar verbal exchange as previously, I heard my boy say, “It says 45.”
“45?”
“Yeah. 45…is that good?”
“Yes,” I answered. “If I were going pontooning in this thing.”
“What’s a…”
“Never mind, never mind,” I said, canceling the ensuing conversation post haste.
Did I want to air the others up to 45, stay balanced, would that work??
No, no…I’m kidding. I knew the situation was overinflated, never fear.
With a fingernail, I proceeded to release some of my hard-won air.
“What’s it say now?”
“Uuummm…”
Silence.
“Son?”
“Yeah, uuuummm…I’m looking…”
“I don’t believe the gauges have moved.” My spirits were low. It was a hot day. I’d been at work all day. I had no Icy with which to cool my ire. Things were dicey, I’ll admit.
“Still says 45.”
“But I let out so much air,” I said to no one in particular, because of course my son had found a Big Nate book in the previous half second and cared not one whit for my predicament.
“Fine,” I said, again surly. “I’ll show you how to let it out, ya stupid ol’ stupid ol’…” (Insert any swearing you like in there; I’m sure it’s as accurate as any illustration would be.)
“Okay,” I said after letting the tire relieve itself. “Howzabout now?”
“What?”
Oh, sweet Lord in Heaven, he’s so cute…don’t let me use this air hose inappropriately, I prayed as I stomped my unhappy self toward the driver window and popped my head to check for myself.
“It looks like a big red butt,” my son whispered in my ear.
And sure enough, I’d lowered the pressure so much that now the tire map glowed rouge and indicated with a decidedly butt-like icon that indeed, the tire was low, low, low.
“What now?” Bubs asked.
“I get rid of the butt.”
I stomped back into place, shot air into the air like I knew what I was doing — all the while relying on my bird like instincts to tell me when air pressure was optimal — and released the hose when any good bird would.
“What’s it say now?” I called for what I hoped was the final time.
“Um…36.”
“Perfect!” I screamed at anyone within listening range. “Mama earned an Icy Drink.”
I wrapped the hose around the waist of that delightfully inexpensive air dispensing machine, stormed into the store toward the frozen concoction dispenser and filled two cups to the brim.
“I got no trouble until the butt glows red.” I’m gonna print it on a bumper sticker.

.

A Hundred and Fifty+ Years Later…

This has been a lonely couple of weeks, and I don’t know why.
Bent on curing loneliness, I turned, of course, to watching sad documentaries on Netflix, where I can binge watch from bed amongst puppies and Oreo cookies and no one is the wiser.
I’m a huge fan of Ken Burns and his Prohibition and Roosevelt documentaries; his is a vision I trust to tell me a million historical things I never learned in the many snooze-worthy classes I endured in school, and to portray the players honestly, with great respect. While searching for my new binge-worthy subject, and in my current mood, I touched, literally, on the icon for his series about the Civil War.

Episode one was grueling. About six minutes before I reached the end, I hit repeat twice to be certain I caught everything. So many details, so much information; so many characters to mentally locate. Granted, some of the details were missed because of all the Oreos and the crunching.
Finally ready to proceed, flat out of milk and thus no longer smacking on Oreos, I hit Play for the episode’s last few minutes in which I was caught short and teary-eyed by an if-I don’t-come-back letter from a volunteer Union soldier — Sullivan Ballou — to his wife, Sarah, at home in Smithfield, Rhode Island with their two sons.
Here’s the video reading of the letter.
Tears gushed in ignominious rivers down my face. Who doesn’t want to be loved like that? Who wouldn’t want a letter so beautiful, so dear, so crushing because of its finality?
As with all of Burns’ videos — well after I’d poured more milk, ingested even more cookies, and stopped with the ugly, lip-quaking, nose runny sobbing — I turned to the internet for even more information.
Ballou’s letter, as lovely and gorgeous as it sang then, holds water still. And has since 1861, in fact.
For a tidbit about the branching tree of Sullivan’s impact, read the tale at this Washington Post site.
Tears, tears, tears.

 

 

Watching the Clock

Sunday morning I woke bored.
I’m not sure that’s a thing, waking up bored…must have been a stellar lack of dreamscape Saturday night, but once my eyeglasses were upon my face, I fell back on the bed, bored.
What did I do? I watched the clock. I have one of those analog things, the kids nowadays don’t recognize as timepieces. It has hands, even, I mean, how old school can I be?
And lo and behold, I watched time go by. For three minutes, I watched clock hands creep along incrementally until I’d given them up. Gone forever, those three minutes.
It made me think. When I’m conscious of time, it goes slowly. When I’m fractured, trying to get eight things done at once, I never have enough of the fluffy stuff, time.
It’s kind of like when Bubs was a baby. Watching him was blissful, of course, unless I was exhausted and desperately in need of dark to come early so little man could go to his crib, leaving me to fall onto my own bed for the tiny two hours he gave me to recover between feedings/diapers/gas/lonely-so-hold-me moments. But these eleven years zipped by so quickly  that I must not have been watching…but I feel like I was watching…and now mostly, I feel cheated. And depressed. And sad. And tired.
The Moral: Don’t wake up Bored.
So have better Dreams.
And watch every single precious second of this blindingly swift life. Live within each one. And rue its passing while relishing the memory within.
And maybe scrapbook a lot. So that when you’re old and can’t remember the things you should remember but somehow lost hold upon, you’ll at least have a visual diary with Cricut cutouts and fancy borders to remind you what you’ve seen.
Now, I’m going back to sleep…even though it’s Monday.

I Can Hear Bells from Everywhere

My Bubs is officially a sixth grade band member.
I am a band mom.

I am a band mom to a sixth grade percussionist.
Monday was Instrument Night, in which moms cry a lot as they write really big checks and then go home to eat ramen.
(Or maybe it was just this mom. The other didn’t seem so stressed. And actually, I don’t mind ramen, so that last statement may have seemed more dire than intended.)
Anyway, what does a big check buy on Instrument Night? Well, for a newly minted percussionist, it buys a carry-on luggage-style bag — with sassy wheels and a clever ull-out handle, thank heaven — housing a drum practice pad, a set of mallets, a set of drumsticks, an instrument stand, a metronome, a chromatic tuner, and a xylophone, though I was immediately corrected that indeed it was not a xylophone, it was a “set of bells,” that for all my worldly experience I would swear was a xylophone.
Here’s the sweet, sweet thing: Bubs wanted to “get the feel” for his new instrument, as for the last week he’s been learning how to hold sticks, how to tap rhythmically, how to keep time, and now that he had a rolly-cart full of official merchandise, he wanted to practice on the real thing.
Absolutely! Yes! Let’s do this!
He carefully demonstrated how to mount his drum practice pad on the stand; it screws on; it’s a dull sound, not the snare drum chaos I was expecting. I took my fingers out of my ears almost immediately, so Bubs didn’t know of my fear.
Then he moved on to the metronome, which he turned on and to which I found myself keeping time while I was watching ramen noodles boil. Why was the beat, beat, beat continuing? Why was Bubs not stopping the madness? Oh, because he suddenly had to go to the bathroom for the interminably long time that boys suddenly go to the bathroom. Books are involved.
Somehow I managed to find the power button on the delightful apparatus that I learned “stays home for nightly practice.”
Delightful.
Once Bubs was out of the bathroom, he returned to center stage to put together the bells — to properly mount them on the instrument stand — and grab his mallets.
“Ready?” he asked while I shoveled noodles into my head.
“Yes,” I mumbled and nodded. I had no free fingers to plug my ears. Why would I? Bells are melodic, bells are lovely, soothing, dainty…
What the holy hell.
I have never heard such disruption of my psychic calm.
Did you know an eleven-year-old boy can make a xylophone wail like it’s part of Metallica?
Or maybe that was only me wailing.
Because without even realizing it, Bubs’ mother had deserted her noodle bowl, grabbed a bag of dark chocolate chips of questionable age and a screw-top bottle of red wine — pairings are important, even in the time of crisis; dark chocolate absolutely must go with red wine — and vanished into her bedroom as quickly as possible. Door closed. Netflix on the Fish in Aquarium app — “so soothing!” squeals the ad — and a fistful of chocolate shoved into her maw as quickly as possible.
Band Mom. That’s me.
Ever supportive. Ever present. Ever tipsy.
It’s going to be a long year.

I’m never going to earn Pearls

I made a small penny floor — an accent feature — in my kitchen, and now I hate every other single thing in the room. So dull. So drab.
Best way to un-drab boring tile? Floor wax.
It’s a guess. I’m not really much of a house keeper. I watched “Leave it to Beaver,” though, and June Cleaver mopped — while wearing a dress, heels, and pearls — covering her kitchen’s black and white drab with a shiny coating. Thus, I shall wax as well.
I made a trip to Lowe’s for cleaning supplies only. Who does that? But I did, and I drug Bubs with me. He loved the trip. Why? Because a mop can be a pretend weapon of sorts. And Bubs has surprisingly strong arm strength. He can whip a mop around his head quicker than a guy with a Lowe’s cart can scurry away.
(Again, Strange Lowe’s Shopper in the Small Tools Section, I’m sorry. So sorry. But Bubs did miss, in his defense.)
Still ambitious, and with Pandora roaring in the background, I drug every bit of furniture, junk, and kitchen-y crap out of the room, leaving the floor bare and vulnerable to the numerous orange scented cleaners I bought at Lowe’s.
I scrubbed.
I toiled.
labored over the floor.
Then I pulled the mop from the clutches of my imaginative warrior Bubs and got to waxing.
How hard could it be? “Dump the stuff in an “s” shape and squoosh it around the floor with a damp pretend sword/gun thing.”
Easy peasy.
I was even conscious enough to remove the dogs to the backyard so that they wouldn’t spoil my efforts.
I was in the zone.
Shiny! Pretty! Clean and so so shiny!!
A half hour later, I checked the final results and recognized immediately that waxing the floor seems to have a learning curve. Chunks of tile, still bare to the elements — unshiny, unpretty, so very very dull brown — that I missed entirely while executing my wax/squoosh plan.
Second coats don’t really work so well…still have spots…don’t know how that happened.
Third coats? I’m afraid of build-up…
So…here I sit, with all my kitchen accoutrements shoved into the living room and I don’t want to put a single one of them back into the kitchen on my sort of shiny tile.
But I need to clean the living room floor…and to do that, I have to take everything out of the living room and put it…elsewhere…perhaps in the back of a U-Haul van.
At least the kitchen looks much…emptier…cleaner…shiny-ish. And it won’t get dirty again because there’s nothing in it but my purse and keys.
Best place in the house to keep my purse and keys, in fact, because the other rooms are stuffed with crap I moved in there from the kitchen.
Poor June Cleaver. She would so hate me.

Mullets are New Again

My Bubs wanted a mullet.
He wanted no haircut at all, ever, for the rest of his days. But I insisted. And bribed. So I won.
And when he finally landed like a long fabled hundred-pound fish into the light of a barber chair, where scissors awaited, he still slumped like I was about to club him and throw him back into the water, where he really wanted to be anyway.
I couldn’t have that.
The clubbing. Or the caught-but-released-with-no-haircut part.
My metaphor fell apart somewhere in there.
Under the watchful eyes of the Barber Lady, I had to resort to groveling, and the only tactic that worked was, “Yes. Fine. Mullet. Let’s go.”
And a mullet he got. Yes, he did. Four inch fringe laying across the back of his neck.
Well.
Girls know, when hair dries, if it is genetically predisposed to the least bit of wave/curl/bounce, the genes will present themselves. Pain in the rear, I can tell you, as one who looks like a standard poodle after being drowned by a giant wave that overtook the bow of the good ship Lollipop and now looks extraordinarily strange wearing patent leather shoes and ankle socks.
Bubs did not know that.
So when Bubs’ hair dried, he recognized that he has a lovely curl to his tresses. Sorry. My genes. Not great for a boy, I see that.
But would he let me return him to the original barber chair? Um, no.
We bargained…again…and his main concern was having to interrupt his gaming.
Okay. It’s a problem. I had a solution.
Bubs leaned his head back, releasing the fringe to hang loosely behind him. I cut quickly, deftly, with a pair of scissors the size of a human femur, and then scooped up bits of hair with a shop vac. And it was going great, in that the main clump was affable, willingly relenting to the vacuum, while nearly invisible tendrils were less forthcoming.
It was a requirement to go for the strands on Bubs’ neck. Required.
And maybe the hose stuck to his neck, like…stuck…and while he was screaming, “Get it off,” repeatedly, I was thinking, “Oh, great, his neck is going to look buried under a hickey from a giant catfish, which is a seemingly less embarrassing story than the truth.”
Fortunately, a quick flick of the Off switch resolved the stressful situation and no bruises remain.
Bubs went back to gaming, clearly unscathed and thus erasing any immediate trauma from a literal red neck situation.
I ended up vacuuming the living room, which was an unexpected Martha Stewart moment that my non-cleaning inner non-Martha appreciated.
And, best part, I wove my fish metaphor back through this story.
So. Win/win.

Harvesting the Prairie

I was gone to Wyoming for a lovely nine days. Two weeks late for the full eclipse, sadly, but a wonderful trip nonetheless. Crowds were bad enough. I can’t imagine the bottleneck today, though Wyoming is a great state for a swarm of folks looking up. Lots of room to spread out, and I wish I could be there to see the 360 sunset during the darkest part of the eclipse.
Good googly moogly, that would be an awesome sight.
But anyway, back to me.
I returned from the mountains and altitude to flat lined prairies. Still resplendent in their simplicity, though I miss the northwest vistas covered in antelope.
Life awaited. Vacation was over. And there was the lawn, right where I left it.
Usually my lawn maintenance schedule is fluid. I ignore the growth until I can’t stand my own whining, “I don’t wanna.” Once I’ve annoyed myself enough, I slump and head to the garage to get started.
First, I surveyed the damage. Nine days of light rain and lowered August heat certainly invigorated the tender follicles of my vast three acres. I sighed, heavily, and I got to work.
I felt like a barber, planning the attack on a ruly mane. Cut the whole thing on the highest setting — a 6 — then a four, then hopefully trim the beast into a manageable 3.
Only a few times did the beast chug on the 6, giving me false optimism. Because rounding the bend on turn four hundred twenty-three, the Deere laughed and laughed to a stuttering choke.
Poor Bubs. I had to interrupt his catching-up-from-vacay gaming marathon so he could throw on his boots and help Mom roll the neutralized beast out of the mounded, unbaled clippings and into flatter terrain.
When we stood from our thirty degree incline, from all of our weight thrown behind a reluctant mule, Bubs got to his feet, announced, “Whew! I’m beat,” and returned to his pixelated onslaught.
Things proceeded more easily from there. Sure, I had rolled over the lawn for three hours, and it was tamed at last.
But for the ditches.
I can’t ride the ditches. The slant makes me nervous. With every sideways angle, I envision myself on a gassed up, wheels still rolling turtle that bucked me just because it could. Thus, I concede to terror and simply walk the rest: the ditches, the edges, the gardens, the chicken coop, the veggies…good grief, it’s a lot.
But walk-mowing is exercise! It’s a labor of love! It prevents a call from the city for unsightly grounds tickets.
After another hour of sweating so heavily I appeared to have relieved myself during the toil — though I assure, I was so dehydrated that urinating was the last thing my body needed to do — I approached the last few hundred feet of still unmanaged green, and the mower bucked, refusing to be shoved into even one more unfettered verdant isle.
I encouraged the mower, “It’s only three feet tall. Aim low. You can take it.”
But, no. The mower said no. At which point I got insistent and with a last guttural hurrah, I shoved the sucker forward into the unknown.
And from the front of the machine, out rolled a full-sized, gloriously orange pumpkin.
So.
Lesson learned: don’t mother the gourds. They’ll be fine.
Also — best part — I live between competing Hank Hills, though one has more lawn ethic than the other. The left just gets it done to get back to fun stuff. The right, well, he is meticulous. Yet because of the rains, neither of them had gotten around to sculpting their grasses. Which meant, that after collapsing over the handle of my mower and relenting to the weeds that lay blessedly in the shade — pulling them by the handfuls simply because they were stationary and I wouldn’t have to walk any more for a while — I was The First to Mow. I was manicured! I was kempt! The Hank Hills of the prairie were NOT!
Ha! And again, Ha! I won!
Less than 12 minutes later, while I was still recuperating on my butt next to a pile of weeds and non-desirable bits of roughage and still mentally begging the fridge to bring me a cold apple cider beer, I heard the start-up of the Engine on the Right.
Hank Hill was ready to nip the superfluous three inches from his own beloved landscape.
I still won.