Sunday, April 24, 2016

When the yard fights back

For about three months after spring has sprung for real, giver or take a few days, I love puttering out in the yard. The tulip crop was especially pleasing this year, and my lilac tree seems to finally be trying to bud.

But the grubs, the moss, the weeds and the damn bugs that seems devoted to them were killing me today! I'm starting to think it's my own yard that's causing my eye issues. I finally visited the doctor I should have in the first place: Rob Diegel at Urban Optiks.

Going there is like walking into a friend's house. (He's in Broad Ripple; and yes, I usually bike there.) A really smart friend who won't take your bullshit. He forgave me for going to see four other doctors first and being so naive as to think a $17 prescription would fix my eyes.  They're now on nearly $200 steroids -- which is what I get for ignoring the issue so long. But hey, think of the strength my sarcastic looks and eye rolls will have soon...

Anyway, if you're in Indy, he's the guy to see. To see. (I crack myself up sometimes.)

Confident I have super powers to fight any allergies or weirdness out in nature, I spent some time in the back yard this morning and the front this afternoon.

My neighbor, Jason, wandered by to ask if I was planting new or just addressing my dandelion-overrun flower bed. I do want to plant some more, but today I was just waging battle with the plants and creepy-crawly or fly-y pests.

I complained that my yard -- compared to his and most of our other neighbors -- was full of a lot stuff not commonly thought of as appropriate lawn wear. "At least it's green," he offered.

I like Jason a lot. I'd like him a lot more if he brought his fertilizer-weed killer magic across the street. I considered spray dandelion killer but I don't really like injecting poison into the groundwater, or the four-footed neighbors.

I did dig out some patches of the more invasive moss and weed patches. Some of the weeds were like crop circles except they were smallish, symmetrical squares that appeared out of nowhere. There are now two square plots of bare earth. It's early in the season: plenty of time to get to Lowes and tackle more projects out there. For now, I've wreaked havoc on the grubs, dandelions and assorted weeds. The flying creatures finally forced me inside. But I have plans for them...

Sunday has been a lawn day for me. Ali has her friend Asher over and Jeff has played basketball and watched baseball. Not a bad day, all in all.  Jeff and I watched the SNL Prince tribute last night and marveled -- like the rest of the world -- at the talent and intrigue in that man. Such a loss.

Yesterday Ali and I got to have brunch with Aunt Lois, which was wonderful. Watch out Cindy: we're planning to make this a monthly thing when you're back in town.  For dinner, we walked over to Indy Tacos and had a great meal and fun time. I know our house is small and we could trade up.

But I love our neighborhood where the neighbors forgive you for dandelion infestations and are up for a block party as soon as we can get it organized. We can walk to the library, the grocery, the vegetable stand and a ton of great places to eat or hang out.

Plus, I have unfinished business with that yard of mine.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Say hello to my little friend

OK, so it wasn't really me channeling Al Pacino in Scarface, but I did introduce Alison to a friend she may not come to love: our Honda, HRX 217 Versamow lawn mower.

I've been telling her for a couple years now that she could contribute more than staying on the couch as I do yard work. When she was small, it was a nice little time for her to safely spend with Blue's Clues or Total Drama Island -- or on really great days, a book. But she's taller than me now. She's old enough to safely mow.

In truth, I was extra motivated by a piece in the Huffington Post that asked if parents were getting a raw deal these days when children are cossetted and ferried from one event to the other with no room for chores.

Alison has had regular chores for years now, but her childhood and mine or Jeff's is markedly different.

I took her and a friend to see "Book of Morman." She's had massages and manicures. She's flown more in her short life than Jeff and I have collectively. This year we added Jamaica (Thanks, Grandpa) to her passport and later (Thanks Tracy & Eric.) we hope to see it stamped with Paris, France.

Let's just stop there. She has a well-marked passport and she can't even drive. Hell yes she can mow the yard!

While she agreed to do it with only a little protest, it is also true that as I pulled the mower out to the front yard she was trying to escape out the dining room window. She had one leg out the window when I came in the front door.

Where did she think she'd go? I don't think she'd thought through the rest of the escape. She truly didn't think I was serious. She has so much to learn.

She advised me that she much preferred the good ol' days when I did the yard work and she watched from the couch.

I had mowed the bigger backyard the night before, and truth be told, the front yard didn't really need a trim. But I was fired up. If the Huffington Post hadn't already reminded me that I was coddling my only offspring, Amer had just posted a video of Jenna taking over the task for her older brother, Drew.

Ali didn't have a chance. When I gave her her Saturday suprise, she immediately called Jenna, who was unaware of the video. "Did you mow the yard today?" Ali demanded, not even saying hello.

"What?" I heard Jenna say as I walked by.

"Did. You. Mow the yard today?!" Ali asked. "Because my mom says you did and if you did, then I have to. Thanks a lot, Jenna!"

More appropriately: "Thanks Amer!"

She did a fine job. True to its claims, the Honda fired up on her first pull of the rope. Once she'd mastered holding down the bar while pushing, the mower took her up and back and around. I stayed out there picking up a wheelbarrow full of sticks from a recent spring storm. She had a hard time navigating the corners and I muted my ears while she figured things out.

After we did the yard, we replaced the front door glass with the screen and declared ourselves done with chores for the day. (She'd already powered through the dishwasher and laundry, and trash day is Friday.) She didn't  hug me and profess her gratitude for my instruction, but when her father came  home, it was as if she was two again and had mastered tying her own shoes.

"Guess what I did!" she exclaimed.

Like I said, this was more an instructive chore than a needed one. He said something about it being a great thing to get done.

"Yeah, it wasn't that bad," she allowed. "But now I think I have to do it every day!"

She is not unfamiliar with dramatic expression.

Speaking of drama, she and Asher were my dates for "Book of Mormon" Thursday. Asher is a new friend she met at Herron High School so we're not quite as tight yet as say, Jenna, Bree, Alex or Hannah. But we might get there. They had an awesome time and it was super fun listening to them sing along or exploding into giddy laughter at some of the outrageous lines.

Last night, Jeff, Ali and I went to our first Indianapolis Indians game of the season. Ali was on her way to the bathroom when Bree, from the first-base side, spotted her hair. They spent most of 6th, 7th and 8th innings together.

Despite Jeff's rally cap -- a concept new to Ali -- the Indians lost thanks to an 8th inning home run and good fielding in the 9th. We dropped Ali off at Asher's for a bonfire that turned into a sleepover and got home to have Jeff realize he'd left his phone at the ballpark.

I didn't remind him that back when we were dating, he'd done the same thing. Yes, that was 20 years ago, so I guess if has to happen, a 20-year-gap is a good stretch to go between. He fretted a lot, castigated himself and started counting up the dollars this was going to cost us.

This morning, though, our new best friend, Eddie, called to say the cleaning crew had both found the phone and turned it in. So it's down there waiting on him. That rally cap might have worked, after all.

So here's a slap in the face for you. I was part of an Indians season ticket group back when the Tribe played at Bush stadium on 16th Street. We had a ton of great times on those old wooden bleachers.

Clay Miller's "Uh-oh spaghettio" oath lives in infamy. Some one who'd lost his shirt once got smacked by a foul ball so hard you could see the ball's stitching on his torso for the rest of the game. So much fun. Here's the slap: the Tribe celebrates playing at The Vic for 20 years this year. Gulp.

Yes, we still have the tickets. Clay is still part of the group. We need to get the gang together again sometimes. If we can all manage the walk...

So it was mostly a great weekend. I woke up with another eye issue, much like I had a while ago and I ended up with a third diagnosis from a third doctor. Ugh. This one says it's environmental, likely, so if he's right, I need to suffer a bit more to see if he's right. If it IS something in the yard, I'm so screwed.

It's been a really weird spring here, weather wise, but right now, the yard is really pretty. I'd hate to think one of those pretty flowers is secretly out to get me.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


What's the only thing that can wreck a week in paradise? Coming back to winter in spring. What is up Mother Nature's behind this week?!  My poor tulips are shivering, the magnolia blooms are frozen flakes and none of the plants knows what to do.

Ugh. So wrong.  Needless to say, we've mostly been huddled in the house. Ali and I are lazy. Jeff was studying up for his latest baseball draft, which took up most of today. I managed to get to the gym but mostly it's been another day hiding from the cold.

Pancakes and Chris Austin forced me out of the house Saturday. We usually have lunch pancakes during the work week, but Ali had a sleepover and Jeff was consumed by baseball so we agreed to meet before he was planning to attend a rally for women's rights. I invited myself to it somewhere between my second and third cup of coffee.

I was glad I went. Not just because I need to get more active, but because it was a great thing to see so many people of such diverse political philosophies coming together for a common cause.

Stay warm!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Life's a beach

I don't want you to hate me so I'm not going to tell you about our trip to Jamaica. The pictures will likely seal my fate.


If it's any consolation, I made myself hit 10,000 steps before I could have breakfast, I paddle boarded in the Caribbean every day but the chocolate monkey on my back and breakfast mimosa still had me gaining a good 10 pounds.

But they're happy pounds.

Alison went into town with James and David, got offered "weed" five times, nearly got pick-pocketed and took a picture of a sign that pointed out "no pissing" in one, inexplicably protected corner. No one got a bad sunburn. We all snoozed a bit in the sun. Jen and I traded paperbacks and it was just idyllic.

The Mainers went back to snow and we came back to chilly weather. We're all trying to get back into our routines and wishing we were still gathering on the sand every afternoon. But summer's not far off so I'm fairly certain we'll all muddle through.

I was quizzing Ali about her life on the way home from school the other day and she indicated that if I'd stop, she'd be a happier child.

"Would you rather I take no interest in your life at all? If I would ignore you?" I asked, slightly affronted.

"I think that would be just fine if, say, I was watching anime instead of doing my homework," she said.

Tonight she laughed at me when I asked her to snag a storage container for me from the top shelf. It was in the back and just slightly out of my tip-toe reach.

The chocolate monkey never laughed at me.