THE STORM ENDS AND CLEANUP BEGINS

MORE THEN MERELY MESSY


All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!

 

SUDDENLY, MARCH

It will be spring this month, though in this climate, it won’t feel like spring for at least another month. Not usually, anyway. The climate has been so peculiar, you never really know for sure what you will get. But typically, March is really winter, with the Vernal Equinox showing up towards the end of the month.

I seem to forget that. My birthday is March 11th and for a variety of irrational reasons, I think of it as being a “spring” birthday. It isn’t. March is the end of winter and often, the wildest weather of the season as the warmer weather tries to upset the entrenched cold of winter. Still, we are closer. Much closer. With a little luck, maybe we are done with snow. Sunshine and a few early flowers would be very lovely.

Share Your World – February 26, 2018


What are you reading right now?

During the day, I’m finally reading Jack Finney’s “Time and Again.” It’s a book I’m surprised I haven’t read before. At night, I’m re-reading “Lord of the Rings.” Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merri along with Aragorn are shortly to arrive in Rivendell. They have just discovered that Gandolf has gone missing.

I’ve read LOTR half a dozen times — audio and as text — but it has been quite a while since I read it last. In between, I saw all the movies when they came out. I don’ t know why I decided to read it again. Maybe I just needed that beautiful writing and memories of Middle Earth.

What was your first adult job?

I was the continuity director for WHLI. At the time it was an AM-FM station doing a bit of new music, mostly older music. News. Advertisements. I kept the logs we had to turn into the FCC — on paper — because there weren’t any computers yet.

I also wrote the advertisements and it was here that I realized I had a bit of a flair for PR and advertising. Before this, I was sure I was going to write Great Novels. After this, I thought I might write Great Advertising. Or both. Who knew I was really going to write Great Technical Documentation?

 What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

It used to be oatmeal, but I don’t eat cereal anymore. I can’t even remember the last time I had any. It must be years.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

I took Garry’s blood pressure and without any medication — it was NORMAL. That is very good news.

TRACES OF THE PAST – SUNDAY FEBRUARY 25

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: TRACES OF THE PAST Y3-08


The old Inn in Amherst, circa mid 1700s. The inn is still in use today and in remarkably good condition.

Lacking cathedrals, I will have to settle for the occasionally 18th century inn. We lack the castles and huge cathedrals you will find in other places, but we have a few lovely old inns, especially in Massachusetts which is one of the earliest settled places in North America.

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