Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coping skills

I took last weekend off from blogging to put a more positive use to my shovel. Please overlook my delay in thanking each of you for your kind words and support over the past couple of weeks. Each gesture was a comfort and it helped me through a difficult time.

It usually takes some physical exertion to bring me back from the doldrums, so I had three yards each of top soil and mulch dumped off at my house. I was expecting it on the Saturday after the funeral.

Friday night, I got home late, and as I got out of the car and headed inside, I smelled that heady, rotten mulchy smell of spring in the city.

"Hey," I thought. "One of the neighbors is ahead of me."

I woke up to find the mulch and dirt was mine, waiting in two gargantuan piles in the driveway in front of both cars. It seemed like far to much stuff, but I had an early (and much-needed) hair appointment that I'd forgotten about. So I left it there, but was mulling over where exactly I was going to put it all.

Come Saturday afternoon, I was out there in the yard shoveling wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load first of topsoil then of dirt into my flat and nearly barren front yard flower beds. But I did have fabulous hair.

I'm not sure if it was my industry or my gray-less curls that attracted the neighbors, but it seemed like everyone on my street stopped by to comment on me as I passed them by or between shovels of dirt and/or mulch. They were all really curious about where I'd gotten the stuff and what the yard would look like at the end. "That's a lot of mulch," they all said.

None of them, however, offered to help. Even when I slyly suggested (ok, I was blatant about it) that I had another shovel. It was OK, though, I didn't mind all all.

I do like the first few times of working in the yard. Especially when you have issues that won't leave your head on their own. The sweat and the blisters work together somehow to clear your head. And, if you can see or stand up after you're done, you have visual proof of your efforts.

It took me all of Saturday afternoon to get the stuff dumped and distributed to three of the four areas in need of mulch in the front yard. I cleared the driveway by Sunday, but had a pile of mulch leftover in the back yard.

This weekend, I finally got that put down and discovered that I probably could have made good use of another half-yard or so of mulch. Not that I'm going to order it. I think the place looks just fine as is. My head is clear, thank you very much, and the blisters are nearly healed.

Ali dabbled a bit with me out there, and Jeff had me supplement the soil in his mint garden. But for the most part, it was me, the shovel, the rake, the wheelbarrow and the leaf blower. Could those four tools be the secret to good mental health?

When Wednesday came around, I was fairly excited. I thought for sure I'd see some movement in the Weight Watcher scale. And sure enough, I did. Up 0.6 pounds. I hate Weight Watchers.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Muscle has less volume than fat. I should be happy with the 19-ish pounds gone from my squat little body. Some parts of me are happy.

But geeze. This weekend I had Bunco. We had friends over for dinner last night and there was pineapple upside down cake. I'm doomed.

And now for other news:

Jeff took Ali to the movies last weekend. He told her she could take a ring pop in with her from home to have during the flick. As they're giving their tickets to the guy at the rope, Ali stops dead in her tracks.

Jeff looks back, "Come on, pal. Let's go in."

"Da-ad," she says, eyes darting to the left, fists stuck deep in her pockets where the ring pop was stored.

"What?"he says impatiently.

She tries again to surreptitiously point him to where her attention is fixated. He doesn't get it. "The sign," she hisses.

It's a sign that says "No outside food allowed." Eyes as big as the screen, she pantomimes her dilemma and won't give the guy her ticket.

Jeff looks down. He's figured it out but not clued her in. The ticket taker is on to the scheme as well. In a stage whisper, she says, "But I have a ring pop in my pocket."

Jeff glances at the ticket taker. He smiles down at Ali. "It's OK, pal."

She's not budging. The ticket taker says, "It's OK kid."

Finally, she goes in. They get their seats. She has her candy, which has a few shards and at least one falls to the floor. At the end of the movie, which is Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the saga of a kid who makes misbehavior and sneakiness an art form, she tries to shoo her Dad out. He likes to wait for the credits to see if there are bloopers. She's insistent that they leave.

Finally, he asks why the rush. She points to the evidence of her crime. "Let's go before they come and catch us," she says.

As they leave the theater, Jeff, the bastion of great fatherhood, takes her hand and says, "Honey, the next time we do something to break the rules, it'd be good if you don't turn us in right away."

Yeah, "the next time we break the rules." Somehow I think Jeff won't be seeing his name on that Father of the Year trophy this year.

1 comment:

Dana said...

It's great that Ali has a concience. It's missing from a lot of kids these days.