Long before we actually dated, Jeff and I established that we don't really work well together.
I was at work at the Utility Regulatory Commission one day back in the last century. He was at the agency allegedly doing client work. I heard him coming down the hall en route to the Records Room. I smiled, but kept to my task. A few minutes later, wadded up paper comes sailing over the short wall. I ignore it. More paper missiles come my way.
I grimace. I look up, prepare to spare him a few minutes. He was prepared for more. Time. It was my time he wanted.
"Uh, working here," I say.
Dumbfounded, he groused that I was too focused on work when it was break-time. My co-workers agreed. I will confess that I sent him on his way. It's a wonder he ever came back.
Years later, I decide to tear out the ingrown pavers that once created a nice little path to our door. I'd been thinking about it for a while. Finally, I decide to act while he was at basketball one summer Sunday morning. He came home to find me with a shovel and a slim idea of what I really wanted to accomplish. The 7,000 or so pavers I'd dug out the ground were scattered around. Dirt was flying and had there been rain, it would have been a muddy slog to the front door.
"That's not going to work," he says to my sweat-soaked, dirt-encrusted, blistered self. "Did you do ANY research??
Now, it is true that through the course of this project I would go to get new pavers only to have the hardware store clerk look from me to my Honda del Sol to my stack of pavers about a dozen times before he found a way to ask, without laughing in my face, "Uh, how are you gonna get these home?" (His good efforts didn't last. He laughed and brought friends every time I came back to get more, sparks flying one time when I over loaded and nearly bottomed my little car out in the parking lot.)
No. I HAD NOT done my research. I'd just spent hours digging out a path to make our home look a little better. BY MYSELF. With just a shovel and enough obstinance to power the city. Jeff eventually joined in to help me set the pavers and it was after this marital adventure that we agreed we'd never again work together lest the temptation of divorce or murder grow too great for either of us.
Thus, our happy marriage was born, struggled and survived.
But on Friday, he tells me that his plans for working all weekend had fallen through. "Great! You can work with Ali and me in the Angie's List garden," I say before I really thought it through.
His silence was mighty. "Uh. Well. I could," he said. We chatted a bit. The flashbacks came roaring back and I suggested he go car shopping instead.
But Saturday dawned and he decided he'd go along for the ride. We'll be done by noon, right? There should be a big crew to finish building the 30 or so raised beds, dig the holes to secure them in the ground and get them in place.
We arrived at 9:30. At one point we may have had a dozen people. It was cold. We get started.
Last week, we'd started before we got rain and lightninged out. We'd been able to get the wood cut and a few beds built. The hardest work (for me) was hanging on to a gasoline powered auger that we'd turned to after the hand post-hole digger just wasn't going to work. Our garden is built on a plot of green in the heart of the Angie's List campus. It's been home, we're all sure, to parking lots, homes, probably a fall-out bunker. There are rocks and bricks and tons of stuff that laughs when shovels hit it.
This auger is a two-person device. You stand across from your new best friend with a gasoline tank a motor similar to a lawn mower between you. You grasp the handles, someone pulls the cord and you hold on for dear life as you have to push down to encourage the auger to bite through the hard Earth.
It sounds like the auger and combustion engine does all the work, but trust me. That thing will take you for a ride if you're not careful. There were times I thought I was the Tasmanian Devil spinning around in the dirt. We didn't get all the holes dug before the weather broke, so we had more to do this weekend.
Without discussion, Jeff and I went to separate parts of the work space. He joined the driller/builder crew while I headed to the dirt. We dug out some of the early holes before the auger arrived and then it was drill, baby drill. We all took turns on the thing. Everyone toted lumber here and there, placed the beds and helped wherever we were needed.
Alison and little girl -- about 4 -- were the only little ones on the job, but they helped out with some toting and fetching. They babysat Diva the dog, too. Having them around was a good influence. Well, at least on me. I kept the cursing to a minimum and tried to set a good example. They picnicked on the healthy snacks I'd brought. It was all good.
Alison will be 11 years old in two weeks. She'd been to a friend's sleepover Friday and hadn't gotten to bed until 6 a.m. She came back to us a little grouchy, with wild hair and lipstick covering her lower face.
This is just two days after our human sexuality class last week, she and two friends (one her boyfriend!) and their parents and I went to dinner. Ali was telling him a secret when I told her that was rude and should share with the table or keep it to herself. She looked at me, pointing back and forth to Ty and herself, excusing her social lapse saying, "We're in a relationship!"
I thought the parents side of the table were going to fall out of our chairs. But we made it through. Later in the wee, we had talks of bodily changes, plans for her birthday and her strong desire (which will go unfulfilled) to get an iPhone. Like me, Jeff's trying to hold on to her somehow -- they've spent some good bonding time in search of that big-girl bicycle and sharing rock-n-roll music. She did admit to him that she likes SOME country music, too.
But back to the garden... Jeff and I got along amazingly well. I think he was high on power tools and the chance to play with them with other boys. He and even partnered up on the auger for a little while. It's a hard job, made easier when your height and strength matches up. I had a couple more Tasmanian Devil moments, but we managed to drill a few more holes.
Six hours later, the beds were in, the mess cleaned up and the auger was dismantled and on its way back to the hardware of hell from whence it came.
I don't know if it was the general spirit of the day, Jeff's electric-powered euphoria or the fact that we were among new friends, but we got through all the chores without even one disagreement.
OMG. Could we have become emotionally mature adults?
More likely, by the time the auger came between us, we were too exhausted to do much more than hang on and hope for the best. Yeah. We're older, but we're no more mature than we ever were. We're just parents....
I'm a simple country girl living what my family and hometown friends would call the city life. I refuse to live anywhere without pizza delivery and high speed, fiber-based cable and ISP service and I've given up squirrel gravy for life. I'm married (for almost 20 years OMG!) and have a beautiful and funny daughter. Life is sweet.