My husband is out of town for eight nights. Fate has parceled out this opportunity for me. A sprint to the Oaks at Ojai? See every movie at the Laemmle, one night at a time?
No, even better. Get stuff off my list.
As a realist, I know I won’t do it all. My list looks like The Blob, circa 1962. Grey and amorphous, unwieldy, sucking in screaming people and thrashing things, growing ever larger, wilder, less manageable. My list frightens me, as did my parents’ choice of drive-in movies when they took us to see The Blob in 1962.
But I’m an adult, darn it, not a crybaby. This is my week to conquer those nagging chores. And I am home alone, for first time since both children are off to college.
Admittedly, a bit of a wash. I am frozen in the Macaulay Culkin pose, mouth open, hands slapped to my face in amazement. Turns out, this is a good thinking pose, one I will introduce if I ever teach yoga. With my hands occupied, not darting about to fold, sift, type, I sort my priorities.
The ongoing household items (groceries, fix dishwasher, buy more light bulbs, laundry detergent, toilet paper) is filled out by my sport, gardening. There are always sprinklers to be fixed, hoses to mend, gates to adjust, tires to inflate, pots to water, shrubs to prune, pests to manage. My grandfather was a farm manager and, good lord, I can see why he took to drink. A person needs 40 fingers to plug the holes that keep springing in the dam.
Item number one: Rake the leaves. We are beset by moles, which love to burrow under cool, moist cover. Sometimes that cover is lawn, sometimes shrubs. This week it’s leaves. I gather eight black trash bags of oak and Chinese Elm litter. These treasures will rest for one year, after which time, they’ll go back into the garden as crumbly and beneficial leaf mold.
Item number two: Watch the Super Bowl commercials on YouTube. Yes, the Darth Vader kid’s cute, and no, we shouldn’t blame the Black Eyed Peas for the sound system. Missed the entire Christina Aguilera kerfuffle and slept great.
More items, making progress. Goodwill, post office, eye doctor, Community Garden. For the past year I and my dear plot partner Stephanie have been sidelined by family and work. To put it kindly, we’ve haphazardly tended our plot. Ever the optimist, Stephanie has determined that the garden is a necessity for her well-being. Her cheerful spirit reminds me how fun it is to garden with an enthusiastic partner. Bonus: We harvest six pounds of carrots, a few fennel bulbs and our untended onions. Roasted with garlic, olive oil and salt... Dinner!
No other items but Community Garden redux. Three more hours. It’s not work when it’s fun. We make good progress. Woo, one more day and we’ll be ready to plant our summer garden. Electrician, work deadlines, book group magically fall into place.
Smell the roses. Or Fringe flower, Loropetalum chinensis, in the case of the Sierra Madre Library. I pull over for a closer look at the splash of pink. Rosey azaeleas, vivid Loropetalum, and velvety purple Princess flower, Tibouchina urvilleana, are the start of a bloom show that will continue through the spring. Colorful curbside gardens seem the greatest act of generosity.
Bart O’Brien talk at the on manzanitas, currents and gooseberries. Because O’Brien is so knowledgeable, I write as fast as I can, 20 pages of notes, beginning with: currents have no spines, gooseberries are spiny with an equally spiny fruit, which is edible, but not tasty. Good to know in case you’re marooned in a chaparral or coastal habitat. This Thursday series is just one of the many .
So, the week progresses like this, a mix of mundane tasks tempered with small thrills of color, scent, tastes and restful sleep. There are now new piles of leaves now, and oh, I need to buy light bulbs. Add that to the list.
Good thing my husband will be home tomorrow. He’s always happy to help!