Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Whack those Weeds

In mid-June I faced my fears in the weed patch.  A few days later I was in the car with my husband.  We were on our way to pick up our son at a Boy Scout project in the local park, and I was going along because my husband didn’t know the way.   I broached the subject of the weed whacker.  I said, “I want you to show me how to use the weed whacker.”  A moment of silence, and then this from the Common Household Husband:  “You can’t use the weed whacker.  You wouldn’t know what to do if it malfunctioned.  Nope, you just can’t do it.”  

Me:  “But that’s why I want you to give me some directions on how to use it.”  

Husband, apologetically but firmly:  “No, you just can’t do it.  I mean, you have to.... you have to... you have to be a man to use the weed whacker.” 

Me:  “Hey!  I used to mow lawns all summer long when I was a teenager.  Of COURSE I can use the weed whacker.  I just need you to show me how to use it!”

Husband:  “You are not qualified to use it, if you have to ask how to use it.”

This line of reasoning belongs right in the same category as, “I don’t need to ask for driving directions.  Because I am a man.” 

Aghast at this unexpected display of male chauvinism, I nevertheless completed the task at hand.  I GAVE MY HUSBAND DRIVING DIRECTIONS on how to get to our destination.

We arrived and picked up our son.  As we headed home, conversing about the Boy Scout project, I suddenly let out a huge belch.  Sometimes, but not often, this just happens to me. In this case it was fortuitous.  That belch earned me the sudden respect of the Common Household Husband, who declared, “Well!  Okay!  I guess you ARE eligible to use the weed whacker!”

Eligible, maybe, but he still hasn’t given me my lesson.  If only I knew what the darn thing looks like, I would just find it in the garage myself and give it a try.  I will use directions given to me by that Great Non-Chauvinist Source: google.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Cake Looking for a Solution

We celebrated the Common Household Son's birthday by running errands most of the day.  But then the day finished up with this Sudoku Cake.

Please pardon the San-Andreas-Fault-like crack on the left side of the cake.  

The Son said he would solve the sudoku if we gave him more candy numbers to put in all the squares.

Our solution, of course, was to eat the cake.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Perils in Suburbia

Humans face many dire perils in this world:  war, famine, flood, drought.  In this suburbia we do not face those perils right now, thankfully.  So perhaps we conflate other fears to a higher level than they deserve.  Some suburban fears include: the snowplow not showing up in time, encountering a skunk, and seeing saggy middle-aged women in Capri pants.  Then there is the fear that our neighbors will get fed up with our slovenly yard upkeep.

After three weeks of staying inside due to illness, I had to face my outside fears.  My fears lurk in here:

I am certain that dangerous snakes, vicious rabbits, and angry chipmunks live in there.  Actual members of our family have spotted all three species in our yard. I fear these creatures more than I fear my neighbor’s wrath at having to look at those weeds every day.  It doesn’t help that the book my daughter selected for bedtime stories the past few nights is 100 Facts You Should Know About Deadly Creatures.  Then there is also the questionable wisdom of a woman with vertigo trying to weed a muddy, sloping terrain.

Angry Chipmunk

With images from the “deadly snakes” and “venomous spiders” pages fresh in my mind from the previous night’s bedtime reading, I put on my thickest gardening gloves, and started pulling out the tall weedy grass.  Nope, better to use the clippers, even though this meant I wouldn’t get the weeds out by the roots.  No WAY was I sticking my hands down near the ground.  Because whoever lives in those holes in the ground would definitely attack me for disturbing their peace.

Attack Rabbit

After about 10 minutes work, though, and no harm done to me, I got a little bolder.  I gingerly stepped up into the chopped weeds so I could reach higher up, tense with anticipation of the Gaboon viper’s bite or the black widow spider’s sting the whole time.  

Gaboon Viper

Then I had to go work from the top of the hill down, to reach the rest of the weeds.  Vertigo prevented me from standing, so I sat down in the mud, and started chopping.  Of course, this put me even closer to the vicious rabbits that I knew were lurking underground.  But another 10 minutes, and no attack.  The only creature I saw was a huge daddy-long-legs.  I decided to ditch the clippers and pull by hand.  Pull, pull, pull, and then, aaaah!  I shrieked in panic – something had bitten my hand right through the glove!  Nobody heard me scream because this is suburbia, and there was incessant noise coming from a wood chipper down the block.  I snatched my glove off and saw a pinpoint prick – either an insect or a thorn had pierced my precious scaredy-cat skin.  

I ran as fast as my vertigo-infected head would let me, into the house.  More like a slow, middle-aged trot. My hand hurt and was turning red at the site of the sting.  First ice, then the Blessed Benadryl.  My hand hurt for the rest of the day, but the expected total paralysis did not set in.  I guess it wasn’t a black widow spider bite.  

The photo below shows the result of those thirty minutes of anxious weeding.  What you can’t see is the unfinished portion to the right.  I have decided that it is time for me to learn how to use the weed whacker.  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Not with a Bang but a Whimper

School's Out for Summer!  Time to Go Fishin'!

This school year went out with a whimper, not a bang, because my little one is ill.  I don’t know what the kids learned this year, but here are few things I learned.

- It is sad for one’s youngest child to miss her last day of elementary school.  It leaves no opportunity for celebration or closure for either of us.   She is disappointed that she missed her chance to tell the school what she wants to be when she grows up.  So I will tell my three readers now:  She wants to be a writer and a scientist.  You go, girl!

- I don’t know the lingo of the next generation.  For instance:
Oldest Daughter to Son:  “My bio notes PONE your bio notes!”
Me:  “What does ‘pone’ mean?”
Son:  It’s spelled ‘pwn.’
Me:  That is not a word.
Oldest Daughter:  You just THINK that because you are not HIP.
Husband:  Maybe it’s a word in French.

- My oldest child’s assessment of the high school Honors English teacher:  “Mrs. A is small and intimidating, like a nuclear warhead.”

- My youngest is in favor of training rabbits to protect the house from thieves.

- An enthusiastic teacher who likes kids can do wonders for a student’s participation and grade.  Thank you, Mr. S, thou rare thunder-darting welsh cheese (that’s supposed to be a Shakespearean compliment).  Take that, Mrs. Smith, thou artless folly-fallen scullian!   Thou mangled pottle-deep canker-blossom!

- Failsafe mechanisms are not failsafe.  (The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico makes me sad beyond words.)  Machines are not foolproof* and they do wear out.  To wit, we need to get a new timing belt and water pump in the car before we go visiting colleges this summer. And a new washer would be good too.
* Especially when fools are in charge of the machines.

What did you learn this school year?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm sick and I don't have a thing to read

During my recent illness, I felt the need for something to read.  

I read all the psalms asking to be cured of a dread illness. Most of these psalms talk about vanquishing enemies.  I tried to think of the infection as "my enemies" but I think in reality I should have thought of the doctors as my enemies.  The antibiotic Bactrim is definitely my enemy now.  

I tried reading some books recommended by my 10-year-old, but they just weren’t right.  They were too teenagery.

I wasn’t well enough to go to the library myself.  So I sent the family to the library to get some books for me. Here are the titles they came back with:

Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism

Writings on an Ethical Life

The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner, who had to have been delirious when he wrote it.  Reading it made me feel more delirious than my fever did)

Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief

Peter Camenzind, by Hermann Hesse (translated from German)

A little light reading, eh?!  Next time they go I’m going to be more specific and have them get something by Alexander McCall Smith.

I do not wish to sound like I am complaining. My family was very helpful and compassionate.  Not only did my husband save my life by determining that I was allergic to the antibiotic, but he also trimmed the bushes, power-washed the deck, cooked all the dinners, took the kids to their lessons, took them to school when they missed the bus, took me to the hospital twice, submitted a grant, and started a new employee.  The children got themselves ready, got themselves to school (mostly), helped with dinner, helped with the shopping, studied for their tests, and brought me water when I needed it.  What a wonderful family, reading choices notwithstanding.