Notes to My Future Self about Yard Work

Today was a day of accomplishment.  With gorgeous spring weather, brought the desire to get up early and make this spring, the spring that we have a well put together backyard.  Now that I’m showered and subtle frustration has calmed, I can solidly put together some of the thoughts and tips I developed as the day progressed.  That sounds all hunky dory, doesn’t it?  But really this is the stuff that I am warning myself for the future yard work adventures.  It sounds better to put it that way than blatantly complaining.

  • Warn your husband not to laugh at you when you trip or twist your ankle when you are tired, dirty and cranky, and carrying more than a normal armload of tree branches; unless you think they’d like expletives to be thrown their way.  Also, when said expletives are cast upon your spouse, don’t be surprised that you instantly develop a crude character assessment and reputation from the elderly and nosy neighbors.
  • The way to get color on your pasty skin is not to apply heavy duty sunblock (first of all) and then not wait long enough for it to dry.  When the wind kicks up and blows fine dirt your way, it only makes you look dirty.  It just makes you look homeless and feel gritty.  Also, start standing upwind of the dirty to avoid breathing it in and being appalled later when you blow your nose and have nearly black boogies.  You’ll remember this note when your allergies kick in and after excessive nose blowing, you see your reflections and your nose is the only area of skin on your body that shows your real skin color.
  • Don’t rush.  When ripping out weeds, be sure not to grab hold of a rose branch accidentally and sliding more than a couple thorns through your delicate hands, which rips your skin apart.  Yes, I should have been wearing my gloves, but I thought I was done and then noticed a weed-ridden area.  I’ve already paid for this mistake with stinging rubbing alcohol.  Still, do not make this mistake again.

  • Along the same lines, don’t be so offended when you accidentally grab your dog’s crap while again, picking weeds in the yard.  After all, didn’t you just spend an hour spreading manure in the garden beds?  Is it really that different?  Continue reading

How Do Dumb People Survive?

As a homeowner, I watch HGTV pretty often.  My husband and I are handy people and have successfully completed a lot of DIY projects and renovations ourselves, by planning, budgeting, compromising and seeing the value of hard work.  There is also a crazy concept of opening your mind and imagining possibilities.  Not to toot our own horn, but we bought our first house together, which was a fixer-upper and have made it into a comfortable and modern home.  We also aren’t in debt up to our eyeballs because of it.  We aren’t wealthy, but we get by, so it’s not out of bitterness that I ask this; why are wealthy people so stupid?

I see shows like House Hunters and people will say, “We have a budget of only $900,000.”  Only?  Are you serious?  Then I think, well, they must be pretty smart to have gotten that far ahead.  And then the show continues, followed by ridiculously stupid and naïve comments.

“I don’t want that first house because the kitchen was yellow and that’s ugly.”


Continue reading

Spring and Dirty Fingernails Are Here

Inspiration can be found in the simplest of things.

It is still March, but it feels as though spring has been here in the Northeast for a month, if not more.  My flowers have been in full bloom, just as the demeanor of the people I see riding bicycles and strolling with their dogs after work.

It’s hard to feel anything other than refreshed, when it comes to seeing the color sprouting from the ground.  We’ve started to get our garden boxes ready and it’s only a matter of time before the unusual and potent scent of a tomato vine permeates my callused summer gardening hands.

My husband works so hard on the garden.  I’m sure he feels I do also, but he is really dedicated.  Maybe it is the Iowa farmer mentality.  Either way, I find myself very lucky to share a life and home with someone who takes simplicity and hard work seriously, but also has the spirit to make everything we do fun.  We aerated one of the garden boxes yesterday and picked out any grubby insects we found along the way.  We are determined to have a healthy showing of produce this year.  There is also an amazing amount of untapped gardening humor we discovered, as we laughed and combed through the dirt.

So spring is amongst us and the days will grow longer.  It won’t be long before the heat and humidity confines us to the one room that has air condition.  But it is too soon to think of that (I hope), so for now we will open the windows and let some much needed fresh air in, as I clutch my Benadryl bottle.  I will also start stretching and training so I don’t have a daily stumble over the rabbit fence around our garden all summer.  It’s starting to get embarrassing.  Such a klutz.

The Picture of Patience


Epitome of Patience

For inspiration I browsed through a few picture folders and then I came across this one.  My husband and I reference it often because to us, it accurately portrays a sensation that is so easy to feel consumed by.  When we purchased our “as is” house in 2009, there wasn’t a facet updated in it since 1964.  We have the owner’s detailed paperwork to prove it.  The first thing we did was scrape the multiple layers of wallpaper off in each and every room in the house.  It wasn’t that thick vinyl or heavy wallpaper that could rip off in sheets either; it was thin as if printed rolls of computer paper were glued directly to the drywall.  It was impossible to use a larger scraper, or any other fancy wallpaper tool to get the job done without leaving indentations in the drywall that would lead to additional floor to ceiling repair.  We tried utilizing steam, water solutions and pretty much any idea we could think of or that Home Depot markets.  At least our house is pretty small, though it certainly didn’t feel that way at the time.

I can still vividly remember the smell of the saturated walls, mixed with dust and the piles of wallpaper trash that littered the heavily stained and smelly carpets.

This picture is of my little brother.  He was kind enough to come help us tackle this monster.  What you can’t see, is that he is standing at the only scraped version in front of a huge wall.  With little scraper in hand, he just patiently chipped away.  I have to say I admired his dedication.  It seemed  he could stand there for hours.  My husband and I feel anxiety when we see or think of this picture because it stood for everything that overwhelmed us at the time.  It also makes us proud and appreciate how far we’ve come since.  Sometimes I think of this picture when it comes to other aspects in life, particularly since I really lack patience.

On the other hand, we found out months later, after the scraping, wall puttying, primering, caulking and painting were complete, that our house like many built in the early 1950’s, has absolutely zero insulation.  Had we known, we would’ve just ripped out the walls, insulated and put up fresh ones.  The idea of doing that now seems just as painful as watching my brother chip away at that wall.  And to be honest, I run into a dilemma.   What am I supposed to learn from this?  Do I use our experience to trudge along and practice being patient in life or is it sometimes just best to start over anyway?