Sunday, June 28, 2009

Come Rain or Shine

It's going to rain.

Any minute now, the skies are going to open up and just dump down rain.

This is no good, because – like every Sunday summer morning, I'm on the backyard patio with the laptop and my trusty black lab Suzy laying at my feet , sitting by the pool as I try to write something of meaning to post here on Head Stuffing.

So I'm feeling the pressure to produce.

What really stinks is the fact that I spent all day yesterday busting my butt doing all the yard work I promised I would do over my week vacation last week, but – as usual – procrastinated.

I'm a great procrastinator when it comes to doing house and yard work. Just ask my lovely wife Darlene. She'll tell you it's true.

Boy will she tell you.

She sure tells me.

"You promised you were going to cut the grass and weed the flower beds and trim the edges with the weed whip, and you were going to pull those little weeds from the front yard lawn and spray that ant killer that's now illegal in Canada to kill all those little ant hills!"

So that's what I spent all day yesterday doing – in thirty degree Celsius (ninety something in Fahrenheit) heat in the bright sun, on my hands and knees crawling across the front lawn pulling these tiny little weeds and these little yellow flowered vines from the front yard with my hands.

And I'm too old for that crap.

Then I cut the grass, and trimmed the edges with my new electric weed whip I bought in early May. Its maiden voyage was successful, although I now have a three inch gash across the top of my foot.

You shouldn't weed whip while wearing flip-flops.

Then I took out the sprinkler in the early evening – coincidentally about the same time I finished doing the yard work – and soaked every corner of the yard – including the gardens at the side of the house and around the arbor.

The place looks great.

I think I just felt a drop of rain.

I was hurrying because we were expecting company to come – old friends from Amherstburg that we hadn't seen in six years. But they didn't come.

I even put the tiki-torches around the patio deck and filled them with citronella oil so they could burn as we sat out last night after we barbequed.

That was nice.

I was really hoping to enjoy the day out in the back yard, but now the weather is calling for rain. And I haven't even gotten to putting out the solar lights we bought in March - when they were on sale – around the gardens. They would look great.

I can smell the rain coming in the breeze.

But it's a nice breeze. A nice cool thread of air running through the middle of the warmer air. The kind of breeze that made me want to move to Canada from Louisiana one summer twenty four years ago. If you've ever been to Louisiana in the summer – and felt that squelching heat and humidity – the kind that hits you like a wall of water as you walk through the door to the outside – you would know why this breeze inspired me to move back home to Canada.

But I didn't factor in the fact that Canada has winter. And I'm not a winter person.

I probably should have thought that out a bit better.

But if I had done things differently, I wouldn't have met my lovely wife Darlene, and we wouldn't have had my two beautiful little girls – who I am ready to send to a military boarding school – nor would my faithful black lab Suzy be lying here at my feet.

Funny how the sunlight shone through as I was typing that last paragraph.

But now the winds are picking up, and the umbrella on the patio table is starting to blow a bit in the wind. The water on the top of the pool is starting to move in strong rippled waves.

It's a coming boy. We had better batten down the hatches.

No, it stopped. It's calm out now, and the breeze is gentle again.

I can hear the horns of the barges and freighters on the Detroit River – only a couple of blocks from the house – bellowing messages to each other like "You're in my lane – get out of the way", or "Hey, it's going to storm, you better get ready", or "hey, did you hear the Tigers got the snot kicked out of them last night by those rotten Houston Astros?"

But now the sun has come out again. The breeze has calmed. And my youngest daughter Ashley-Rae just came outside in her bathing suit with a towel asking me to spray sun-block on her.

Quite often storms miss us here. It's like they change direction to ride the Detroit river south to Lake Erie or north to Lake St. Claire. The storm systems just go around us. Maybe they will today too.

It would be great to have a job as a meteorologist – a weather man – where you can be wrong more than fifty percent of the time and keep your job.

"Hey, it's weather, who knows what it's going to do?".

Yesterday I saw on the news that they just shot up a new weather satellite into orbit. One that they claim will be able to provide more accurate data to allow meteorologists to make more accurate predictions.

But I bet they will still get it wrong at least fifty-percent of the time.

I don't have any friends that are meteorologists – but if I did, I wonder what they would say when they show up at the golf course for our 10:30 tee time and it starts to rain? "Hey, it's weather, who knows what it's going to do?".

The breeze is starting to pick up again and the leaves on the big Chinese Maple tree next door – the kind that throw those little helicopter like seeds all over my yard every May – are turned over showing their bottom sides.

They say that's a definite indicator that it will rain.

But at least I was able to get this writing done.

For what it's worth – I feel a lot better now that I got my frustrations with meteorologists off my chest.

But I still don't know if it's going to rain or not.

From my back yard patio, I can see the western sky. The wind is coming from the west, and the clouds on the horizon move over my head. But now, behind this wave of clouds is clear blue sky – clear to the horizon.

Maybe it's not going to rain after all?

"Hey, it's weather, who knows what it's going to do?".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Summer Working Vacation

It's a beautiful vacation day in the back yard.

The sun is shining hot, the water in the pool is crystal blue, and the radio is keeping me informed of the latest updates on late breaking Detroit Tiger news.

And as I sit here and type this in, I realize that you may be misunderstanding how truly busy I am on this amazingly beautiful summer morning.

I'm not just sitting around with my feet up. My lovely wife Darlene had just asked me to put them down.

"Not on my clean patio table you don't…" she chastised.

"I hope you're enjoying yourself, Master."

I think she was being sarcastic.

"Oh, I'm fine thanks", I replied.

Then my lovely wife explained - as she frequently does - all that she had done and was currently doing to make our home a beautiful place to spend one's vacation.

"… and my back is killing me and I just can't do any more!", she finished. I realized she had indeed been sarcastic with her earlier reply.

Then she sat down and explained all that needs to be done this morning.

"The tarp from the pool is still lying under the girls swing set. That needs to be hosed off, folded up and put away in the garage. Then you need to get the solar blanket down from the rafters, hose it down, and put it on the roller, then go ask Mark next door if he will help you set it up on the posts by the pool. Then the weeds need whacking, the cars need washing, and the …"

She did not even come close to taking her first breath before I interrupted her, looking up from the keyboard and the white page on the screen … wondering what I was going to write about today.

"I'm really quite busy already", I stated quite calmly.

"You are? Doing what? Looking at baseball statistics or chatting with old high school girlfriends?"


"All I see is an empty coffee cup, a white empty page on your screen, and half eaten banana!", she continued … the red starting to creep into her forehead and cheeks.

"I'm vacuuming the pool right now." In the pool squirming around in a chaotic pattern was the automatic vacuum device we call the 'Nomad', sucking up the odd patch of dirt and sunken leaf.

My lovely wife rolled her eyes at me.

"I'm also doing a load of laundry". I pointed to the air vent at the corner of the house where the dryer vent was blowing out hot air, making the corner of the bush planted beside it jiggle.

My lovely wife crossed her arms and stared at me.

"And I'm washing last night's dinner and this morning's breakfast dishes!", I said a bit more emphatically. There was nothing visible to prove my point from the back yard. She would just have to take my word for it. " What more do you want?"

My lovely wife sucked in her cheeks, did a big huff, turned and stomped up the deck stairs to go in the kitchen through the sliding glass door.

"Could you grab me a pop on your way back, I asked. "I'm starting to work up a real sweat! That's be great."

The sliding glass door slammed shut, and my black lab Suzie did a soft disgruntled moan as she rolled over out of the crack of sunlight that found her shady spot in the deck floor.

I glanced back over at the Nomad at the bottom of the pool. It was still wiggling its way to the next little speck of dirt.

I glanced over to the corner bush. It was still jiggling from the air billowing out of the dryer.

And therefore I just naturally assumed that the dish washer was still making our dishes sparkling clean.

So I turned my attention back to the white page on my screen and started typing, inspired by my near state of perspiration.

Slam! The sliding glass door closed again.

Slam! An ice cold can of Lemonade appeared next to me on the patio table – the now empty coffee cup scooped up while still jiggling from the vibration.

I guess all things are subject to matters of perspective.

I then heard splashing coming from the pool. My lovely wife – now clad in a bathing suit – had floated her way over to the Nomad wiggling in the pool. She grabbed the hose and moved the vacuum head over to a speck of dirt.

I watched her as she looked at me with a great big smile.

"It missed a spot", she said.

My lovely wife then floated back to the middle of the pool on her back. Her feet floating up in the air. She smiled and said …

"Now I'm vacuuming the pool too!"

I knew she would come around to my line of thiking.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Still Getting Around to Summer

We are starting the second week of June, and it still doesn't feel like summer.

Maybe it's because the Stanley Cup Finals are in full swing, with the Detroit Red Wings looking like imminent champions.

Maybe because it's over two months into the 2009 Major League Baseball season, and I still haven't figured out if my beloved Detroit Tigers are a good team or not, regardless of the fact they are two and a half games up on Minnesota for the lead of the American League Central.

Maybe it's because we are still putting together our back yard – having just painted the back deck, and planting flowers and stuff in the gardens. The grass of our front lawn has been a constant battle with weeds and ants – and every time I think I have made some progress killing one kind of weed, another kind pops up all over.

Maybe it's because I have had only one golf outing - back in May – and was so disgusted by my shots off the tee that I am almost scared to play again. And it's not summer until I carry the clubs in the car every day.

Maybe it's because we are still in the process of opening the pool. The black tarp is still on, but we have the water filled and chlorine shock in the water with the filter on to clean it before we take the tarp off – hoping the black tarp with the sun on it will warm the water quicker.

I hope it works.

Maybe it's because even though the deck is now set up ready for hanging out – chairs and table are waiting - the umbrella poised and tilted to block the heat of the direct sun as we sit out back and listen to Tiger games on the radio - we just haven't sat out there very much.


It's been cool. It's been wet.

It just hasn't been summer yet.

"Be patient, the calendar says the first day is summer is June 21st. At 1:45 AM."

True. But after waiting eight months for summer to reappear, the last week of June seems too late.

I always thought June was a summer month. Not just its last week, but a whole months worth.

I feel ripped off.

"But Fred, you just got through explaining that you're not even set-up for summer yet?"

That's very true. In fact there is a new barbeque sitting in its box in the garage still waiting for me to put it together.

Summer needs a barbeque you know.

So maybe it's not summer that's taking too long. Maybe it's just me?

That is one thing about living a northern lifestyle. You become more idle in the winter. You don't have to cut grass, or weed the garden. You don't open the garage door, roll out the pressure washer and your favorite wax and start detailing the cars.

In the winter you do house work. And you shovel the driveway if it snows. You fix stuff. You wash and fold clothes and put them away. You vacuum and dust. And you look for a good movie to watch with the kids on a weekend afternoon.

But in summertime, the workload ramps up.

Because all that same housework still has to be done. And the outside stuff has to wait.

And every year the summer stuff gets harder.

Harder to kneel to plant flowers.

Harder to bend to pick weeds.

Harder to yank on that lawn mower's pull chord twenty five times until the engine finally kicks over. And heavier to push.

So I guess it is true.

Every year it takes me a bit longer to get around to summer.

But I better get moving, June 21st is coming fast.

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