June 06, 2012

Done

When I woke up this morning, I was determined to finish the landscaping project I’d been working on. The flagstone walk was in place, the low spots on the lawn had mostly been filled, and I figured about 20 more trips with the wheelbarrow would finish the job. Every time it rained the dirt got heavier, so I wanted to take advantage of the few hours of sun we might get this morning. I dressed quickly, put on sneakers so caked with mud that they are heavier than ski boots, and got to work.

But the universe wasn’t cooperating. The tire on the wheelbarrow had gone flat. Since curse words didn’t fix the flat, I decided to try the air pump at the local gas station. Almost everyone in the house had already left for work or school, but there was still one car left in the driveway. I opened the trunk of the car, grabbed the heavy, muddy wheelbarrow, and dumped it in. That’s when the back windshield of the car shattered.

I yelled into the house to let Shaggy Hair Boy know that he no longer had a car and would need some other way to get to work. While he called family members who had already left for the day, I rooted through the garage to find an old toboggan that I could use as a sledge. A bright pink plastic toboggan with a bit of clothesline worked fine for transporting small loads of dirt, and I got back to work immediately. Then it began raining.

I ignored the rain and kept working. That strategy seemed to work, because soon the rain stopped. Not long after, my husband drove home to pick up Shaggy Hair Boy, took pity on my situation, and used his car to bring the wheelbarrow up to the gas station.

Despite the awkward start to the day, I finished the project. By noon, the dirt pile was completely gone, and I was walking around, scattering grass seed and clover seed the way that Almanzo Wilder might sow wheat. (For some reason, any project that involves dirt and manual labor makes me think I’m a character in Farmer Boy.)

I walked out to the middle of the road to admire my work. Everyone in my household was at school or work or a conference for theoretical physicists, so I waited until I saw the elderly man with the sea captain hat who walks his dog every day. I said to him proudly, “The pile of dirt is gone! I finished the project.”

Sea Captain Hat looked at my front lawn while his little dog yapped and ran around me in circles. Then he said to me, “Aren’t there any able-bodied men in the household who could have done the work?”

It was a rhetorical question, of course. He knows I’ve got a bunch of tall, athletic sons – he sees them going and coming every day. I sighed and said patiently, “Sure. Anyone in the household would have helped if I had asked. But this was my project. I like working outside. I like the exercise of manual labor. The rest of the family has helped out by doing the indoor chores. Boy-in-Black, for instance, cleans the kitchen and does the grocery shopping. My husband does the laundry.”

Sea Captain Hat yanked at his dog's leash, and I could tell he wasn’t listening. He came up with a new theory: “I guess if they’d done it, it wouldn’t have come out the way you wanted it. My wife is like that. She’s never pleased with what I do.” Yeah, that’s right. No one helped me because I’m a control freak. That must be it.

I looked directly at him. “My kids or my husband could all have done a perfectly good job. And they offered to help. But this was my project. I wanted to do it. I like working outside.” I didn’t know how else to explain it to him. So I shrugged and looked back at the lawn to admire my work, while he and his little yappy dog walked on down the street. I looked at the flagstones, the newly seeded spots on the lawn, and the smooth area where the dirt pile used to be. Then I went inside to get some lemonade so I could sit on the front porch and admire my work some more.

13 comments:

Zhoen said...

Sad, a man who has never had the joy of the satisfaction of a job well done. On the other hand, wow, you certainly won through after many trials and tribulations!

liz said...

You rock on so many levels.

Erin S. said...

I'm glad we're not concerned with rigid gender roles in my household. I mow the lawn, he cooks, I vacuum and do the dishes, he cleans the bathroom. And it works just fine.

Congrats on finishing your project. :-)

Lilian said...

:( yeah... that neighbor certainly subscribes to has many gender stereotypes... :( "able bodied men..." (sneer), couldn't he see that you were able bodied enough? sigh...

I'm thrilled that you were able to finish the project and that your husband was able to help both you and your son. Hopefully the car will be fixed soon too.

Bardiac said...

I bet your project looks GREAT! And it's even better because you did it. I totally get that. It's sort of sad that he doesn't.

Pictures, please!

Yankee, Transferred said...

What Liz said. Always.

Nels P. Highberg said...

How did the windshield shatter? Did the car get soaked in the rain?

jo(e) said...

The windshield shattered when I put the wheelbarrow into the trunk. Maybe part of the wheelbarrow somehow hit the glass somehow? It doesn't really make sense to me because the lid of the trunk was between the glass and the wheelbarrow, but maybe one of the handles poked through underneath the lid of the trunk? It happened really fast and I took the wheelbarrow out right away, so I'm still not really sure exactly how it happened.

I did cover the car with a camping tarp so it didn't get wet in the rain. It's a really old car that my kids use; to be honest, I don't think getting wet would have hurt it that much anyhow.

stylocycle said...

The window could have shattered simply because of a differential between internal air pressure in the car and external air pressure outside. If it was colder out than in, if the car was, e.g., parked in the sun, the vibration from the opening and closing of the trunk could easily have triggered the shattering. It's fairly common.

jo(e) said...

Stylocycle: Thanks for the explanation. That makes sense. The car *was* parked in the sun, but it was still cold outside because it was early in the morning.

Gregory Zimmerman said...

a great story as always. but i think i may have concluded the chain of events with something other than lemonade.

stylocycle said...

:)
My pleasure, Jo(e).
It happened to us once, on a winter trip, far from home. We had to make a 3 hour drive in -20C weather with a garbage bag in place of where our window had been only shortly beforehand.
My step-dad, an engineer, explained it to me and I was greatly comforted.
Similar things can happen with double-pane windows because the gas between the panes can expand....
I'm sorry you'll need a new window, but at least you won't have worries about the cause now.

Life&Times said...

My guy is happy to mow the lawn and use my weed eater because my yard tools are fancier than his. But I enjoy the gardening and landscaping more than he does. Your work looks lovely :) I've just been holding the fort this year trying to figure out what I've got and how I want to change it next year (1st year in my house). You make me even more excited for my landscaping projects next year.