Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hot Time on a Cold Day

On a late November Saturday morning, when it’s below freezing outside, where is the Common Household Mom to be found?  In the warm kitchen, making a birthday pie?  At the mall, shopping for gifts for her loved ones?  Curled up by the proverbial fire, sipping hot chocolate and reading a good book?

No, Dear Reader.  On such a day you can find the Common Household Mom outside, mowing the lawn. 

The Weather Man had promised dry and 45° for today.  That’s a good 20° warmer than the past five days have been.  So I girded myself in the clothing of yard work, including not a winter hat but one of those things that just wraps around your ears.  The actual temperature was only 26°, but at least it was dry.  I heard the sound of a lawn mower out in the neighborhood.  Sure enough, there was my Neighbor with the Heart of Gold mowing his lawn, with the usual cigar hanging out of his mouth. 

I set my face toward the garage, found the gas can, and filled the mower’s gas tank.  I have not yet figured out how to do this without making my hands smell like gasoline for the rest of the day.

The mower instructions say to prime the engine with three squirts of gas using the handy primer button.  However, my husband has told me that our post-menopausal mower needs more than that to get started.  I couldn’t remember how many squirts, so I pressed the primer button nine times, hoping I would not flood the engine.  I yanked the starter cord more times than the House of Representatives has voted to repeal Obamacare.  Nothing.  I decided to go up to a lucky thirteen squirts. More yanking, during which I tried not to imagine what that action was doing to my elbow joint.  Nothing.  The engine did not even turn over. 

I wondered if the engine would cooperate if I smoked a cigar, as Mr Heart of Gold Neighbor does.  He seems to have no trouble starting his mower.  Not having a cigar, I put the mower back in the garage and went inside to think about whether covering the mower with a blanket would be a fire hazard.  Half an hour later, I tried again.  After three yanks, the mower sprang to life and said, “Well, hot damn, I guess I do have to mow the lawn today after all.” 

After mowing a few rows, I noticed that my hair felt weird, as if it was poinging up out of my skull.  That’s what I get for not wearing a real hat, I said to myself.  But no, it was not my hair rebelling, but drops of sleet on my bare head.  I soldiered on, thinking fondly of the days when our son was not at college on lawn-mowing days. 

As the Wintry Mix on the mower started to look like a Jackson Pollock painting (except in black and gray), I decided it wasn’t that bad.  I tried not to overestimate the number of leaves that the mower bag can hold.  I am always fearful that this is a fire hazard, but then I reasoned that only a Boy Scout can start a fire on wet leaves when the weather is 26° and sleeting, and even then the Boy Scout needs dryer lint and a lot of matches. 
Is it a fire hazard when the leaves get backed up in the mower
like this, or just a yucky mess?
When the sleet on the mower began to resemble a Rothko painting, I decided I was done for today.  Besides, the yard bin was almost full.

I did manage to get one section done, but that’s only one third of the lawn. Son, it’s your turn.  I’ll be sitting by the fire, which remains proverbial because we don't have a fireplace.  That would be a fire hazard.

Nearly full yard waste bin

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Survey: Words

Back for a limited time only:  my unscientific Thanksgiving survey!

1. Name a book for which you are grateful but which you have never read.

2. What is one word that will be useful to you on Thanksgiving Day?

3. List a word or phrase which you would be grateful to hear on Thanksgiving Day.

Some books I have never read: my Dad's books

Some words I might find useful on Thanksgiving Day:



Some words I might want to hear on Thanksgiving Day:

People, God, cupboard.
(Don't you really wonder who would step out
if you opened the doors of that cupboard?)

A word which might be useful, but which I do not particularly want to hear on Thanksgiving Day:
If you absolutely adore surveys, you can read my Thanksgiving surveys of previous years here (for 2013) and here (for 2012) and here (for 2011).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Notes and Rhymes

(Warning: Bad ‘Poetry’ Ahead)

In mid-September, I lamented, “The time for fresh peaches is over.  But I got some frozen peaches, which aren’t half bad in a bowl of cereal.”

My husband’s response: “South-going Sneetches won’t eat frozen peaches.”

On the first day of fall I had this phone text conversation with the Common Household Husband.  This was not long after he had his car’s alternator replaced.
Husband:  It is cold out.

Me: It is not cold here in the house.  Do you like my hat?

Husband:  It is cold here and there.  It is cold everywhere.

Me:  How’s the battery light in yr car?  Does it light up like a star?

Husband: It’s dark as night.  Must be all right.

(Note the high literary references to such gems as Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman, and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss.)

Younger Daughter gets up faithfully at 6:00 AM every school day, and has made it to the bus on time every day but one.  I am really proud of her for doing this, especially since she is not a morning person.  I rarely get up in time to see her off, and although I suspect she prefers it this way, it makes me feel moderately guilty.  She did indicate to me that she loves it when I leave a little note for her in the morning.  Usually all I can muster is something like this:
Hello, Sweetie!  Have fun in your time travels today!
Love, Mom
(a great note for a Doctor Who fan)

or this:

Welcome to Monday!
The first day of fall!  Woot!
* * * a great day to find your MATH BOOK * * *
(The math book subtext refers to the fact that she lost her math textbook during the first week of school.  Also featured:  my poor drawing skills.)

And here is a note I left for Younger Daughter, composed late at night while waiting for the pumpkin muffins to cool.  I left it for her to find the next morning before school.  You should perhaps know that when she was in utero, her siblings called her “Lump.”
(Those pumpkin muffins have chocolate chips in them.)

Oh, sweet little Lumpkin,
Please enjoy these pumpkin
Muffins which have beta-
Carotene far greater
Than the daily boring
Cheerios you’ve been pouring
In your bowl each morning.
            With love from no other
            Than your nutty mother.

She left this response, composed at around 6 AM:

In truth there is no other
With much more percent of nutter
Than my mother.

Yup, that's right. 

Reader, if you found a note for you in the morning, what would you want it to say?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

So, Anyway

Younger Daughter:  Mom!  Guess what! There’s a new DVD out of Monty Python!  With the original actors!

Me:  How could that be?  

Younger Daughter:  Why not?  They’re not dead yet.

That is all.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


While I was on my trip to the Old Folks’ Home, I received several gifts.
64 Different Brilliant Colors
The first one was a gift from God – the chance to see more fall colors during the drive to and from Baltimore.  Around every turn of the PA turnpike (and there are a lot of them) there was more fall beauty.  It was as if God had taken Burnt Sienna and Golden Yellow and Pine Green and Brick Red out of her crayon box and gotten busy coloring all the hills.

There were a few gifts from myself.  I stopped at every rest stop on the way without anybody getting crabby about it.  Traveling alone has its upsides.  When I got to my destination, I gave myself another gift.  Instead of going right inside I took a twenty minute walk first.  I took the camera with me.

I was fond of that red fire hydrant.

I actually wasn’t alone – I brought Einstein along. I think he didn’t have too bad a time.

Einstein with a rose that is about to say "Feed me, Seymour!"

Einstein examines an ancient-style timepiece.

Einstein appreciated finally finding a
quote that was not said by himself.

When I told my Mom I had forgotten my books, she offered me several magazines, including The New Yorker from several weeks ago.  I can usually wade through all the pretentious New-Yorkiness and find something interesting to read in there.  New Yorker cartoons are very amusing. When I asked Mom if I should return the magazines to her when I was done, or put them in the recycling bin, she said, “Oh, I got them from the main building in the place where it says, ‘DO NOT TAKE THESE MAGAZINES FROM THIS SPOT.’  So you don’t have to give them back to me.”  My Mom, the scoff-law!    

I had a good visit with my mom and my aunt.  They have a fair amount of pain and trouble these days, but within certain parameters they are still functioning well, and for that I am very grateful.

But then there was this gift... When I went to my aunt’s apartment to help her sort through some things, I found this in the kitchen.  

On the left is a plaster-of-paris (or something like it) snowman.  The snowman’s orange tin nose had broken off.   This snowman took up what little space there was in the kitchen and also entered the space in my brain which is reserved for things which enrage me.  As my aunt and I worked on other stuff, I tried to formulate what I was going to say to convince her to get rid of the snowman. 

When I finally mentioned the snowman, she said, “Oh!  I got the snowman for you!  Isn’t he cute?  I only paid $5 for him at the Thrift Sale!  I thought he would look cute in your front yard!  His nose is broken off, but I saved it, and I’m sure you can easily fix it.”

My brother’s rule about my aunt is: If she gives you any item to take away from her apartment, accept it; then find a dumpster.  I decided I had to follow my brother’s rule.  I was so enraged, however, that I could not help saying to my aunt, “Do not ever buy anything for my yard ever again” as I carried the snowman to my car.  That was rude, but honestly, I already have several boxes from her house and my mother-in-law’s house filling my basement and I don’t need her to get me extra junk.

Despite sitting unsecured in the trunk, the snowman did not break during the drive home. Perhaps I should have engaged in reckless driving.  So I decided to have a bit of fun with it until trash day next week.

I deposited the snowman in the back yard so my husband would see it when he came home from work.  I put this sign on it, but decided it was too obscure a reference.
"I have taken your leaves hostage until
you return my nose.  - Major Kovalyov"

Then, thinking that the snowman, with that black knit hat, resembles a convict, I went for this sign.
"Need ASAP!  Heavy snowfall OR ride back
to Leavenworth."
When my husband came home, he greeted me and said, “Where did we get that cute snowman from?”


What other uses could there be for this snowman?  Throw it off a tall building?  Sneak it into the neighbor's yard?  It hasn't made it to the dumpster yet, because that is what always happens.