March 29, 2007

Spring Cleaning

Melissa and I have been wanting to get some work done on our house and yard for a while now. We figured now is a good time, so we've made this week a HUGE Spring Cleaning event. There's only one problem: The reason the house and yard are in their current dilapidated condition... is because we can't properly maintain them ourselves. Bit of a connundrum, that.

Enter the Mother-In-Law.

Melissa's parents (Ron & Brenda) are two of the most eager busybodies I have ever met. They LOVE to have a project. They are like sharks: They will die if the sit still. Out of boredom one afternoon, Ron declared that the porch railing looked a bit loose. After a cursory glance, he proceeded to kick the railing until it separated from the base of the porch. "Yep, it was loose," he reported to me with a smile. Sometimes they break things... just so they can fix them again.

With Melissa still having some difficulty with physical activity, her mom offered her help and came over yesterday. First thing out of her trunk: Two new toilet seats. "Yours are discolored," she explained, and proceeded to install them. Now I know that it happens over time, figuring what we DO on toilet seats, but I still feel so sheepish to know that it moved my Mother-In-Law to purchase and install replacements, just for her own sake.

Now I was working (from home), so I couldn't help out much. Brenda was racing around the house with an allergen mask on, and Melissa was shredding papers in our desk like we were ENRON and the Feds were knocking at the door. This was fine, but it suddenly got quiet. And as a parent, or someone with busybody relatives will tell you, Quiet is never a good sign.

I look outside and she has pruned our holly bush right down to the stump. On top of that, she was nowhere in sight. I tracked her down in th sideyard, where she was similarly decimating the crepe myrtle tree that overstepped its bounds.

"Brenda? Why did you destroy the bushes? We were planning on taking it out in a few months, but why today?"
"There were a bunch of hornets and bees in it, and I needed to get to the hose."

She reasoned like a man. Give a man a tool, and he'll find all kinds of stupid rationalizations for over-using that tool. Especially trimmers, pneumatic drills and chainsaws

"Wouldn't you be risking MORE stings by reaching into the bush and cutting it into bits, rather than just reaching behind it to turn on the hose?"
"Naah, I just did it quick. Those bushes needed to come out anyway. We'll dig those roots out and I'll get some smaller bushes from Home Depot, look real nice."

At that point, I changed into some work clothes and helped her out a bit. With the Flex-Time at work, this kept me at my work PC until much later, but I couldn't, AS A MAN, stand to see this tiny woman working in my yard and cleaning out my garage all by herself. Of course, being the man that I AM, I wasn't able to help out very much, save to pack up the car and drive a load of garbage, scrap wood and burned-out computer monitors to the landfill.

She left us before dinnertime, and we took stock of the situation: The Garage was cleaned out, swept and hosed down. Half of our shrubs were chopped up into tiny pieces and placed into trash bags. Our bathrooms were spotless, with pristene, new white plastic seats on them. Thanks to Melissa, 2 large bags of shredded paperwork was off to the dump and off our desk. It looks REALLY good in here now.

And what was I able to contribute to this herculean effort? I took out the trash. After they cleaned everything up and put it all into bags for me. Roughly the same amount of "help" that my 5 year-old gives me by carrying the mail into the house when I have ten bags of groceries in my arms. And to think that all of this was done by two women who aren't in the best of health.

My balls will be on display in a mason jar on the mantle until I can earn them back. I plan on renting a chainsaw from Home Depot next week and deal with some of those fallen trees in the backyard.

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