There’s just something about dirt. It makes me feel good. I mean the dirt that’s earth. Soil. And planting in it. Having my hands in it. Having it on my clothes because I’m working in it. Cathartic. Therapeutic. It smells and feels like life and sun and rightness.
I did some research when we decided we’d have our first 4th floor patio garden. Just because we’re 40 feet up and a bit fenced in for room is no reason to not have our summer Man-garden (a Man garden is just like a regular garden only I put on my Man-gloves and Man-boots and grab some Man-tools and say things like, “headed out. Be back afore serious dark“). We knew we wanted lettuce (two kinds), kale, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, several kinds of herbs, several kinds of flowers (Man-sunflowers of course), and we added a bird feeder so I could call in the local wildlife.
So, we gassed up the Man-rig and headed to Lowe’s at sunup (Ok not quite sunup; coffee and a Man-potion are must-haves). As you might guess, the trip proved to be its own special kind of adventure. Mostly because it’s spring, it’s the first nice weekend we’ve had, we went three times (well? what?), and the card reader system crashed (which apparently is a code 70). The lack of parking and carts was foreshadowing I should have recognized. It was like Disney World without the rides or Mickey (although I did see some pretty unique sights). It was the longest line I’ve ever seen. That said, all I have to say about it is God Bless Americans. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to make where we live beautiful. Come Hell-er-highwater, we won’t be denied our dandelion killer.
We made it back after the 3rd trip and called it a good campaign (pretty sure the manager had declared martial law as we were leaving). We had everything we wanted between stands, pots, seeds, and plants and spent the afternoon transforming the End-of-Day Martini Patio into the End-of-Day Martini Man-Garden. The only real setback was the woopsie when I dumped a whole bag of potting soil onto the kitchen floor (if it ain’t dangerous it ain’t Man).
I’m anxious to see what grows. I’m anxious to taste really fresh salads. I’m anxious to have fresh mint in the End-of-Day Man-Martini. If it’s like most things I do, I’ve way over done it and the management here will at some point knock the door and inform us that our cucumbers have trespassed to the floor below (which is when I’ll smile and puff my chest and reply, “heh-heh. Well a course they have”).
Life is good. Things are good. We are blessed. It’s become the time of year when we sleep with all the windows and the slider wide open. Feels like camping on a really nice bed. There’s a single robin that wakes me every morning and the sun blasts in as soon as it’s up. We’re anxious for the gym, pool, hot tub, and club house to reopen; we think it will be soon. The garage rock-and-stump workouts are sustaining for now and Rachel is painting rocks and secretly decorating the premises. She’s also creating coasters that have become quite poplar. We just moved into a bigger garage so I can get the Man-scoot in and out without moving the car.
After an uncomfortable pause, we’re back to our plan making. It’s so good for the spirit. I’m looking for a summer gig of some sort (Mark’s Man-Gardens?) I’ve got the names of one Florida and two Bahamian catamaran companies and we’re opening talks about where and when the next Casa Plummer might be. I’m looking at investing options for the corona check. We talk often of AirBnBs in Florida or the coast of Maine. I think there’s a trip to the Oregon Coast when it opens. I read a few pages of Fankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning to Rachel every afternoon as we rap up and then we unpack it a bit while throwing something healthy on the barbie.
The 5’oclock hour approaches, and with it the end of day, even for a Sunday. Time to grab Frankl, make something nice, and head out to the Man-Garden; to smell the fresh dirt and listen for the robin to start his evening song.
I get most of my best ideas in two places: the shower and while working out. I know that last one is a When and not a Where, but since for most of my life I’ve usually worked out in a gym, I still think of it as a where. I’m not sure what if anything those two places or activities have in common, but the fact still holds. I have actually thought about working out in the shower for the potential double-whammy affect, but any amount of even half-serious processing along those lines quickly raises some obvious concerns (although, I do make noises in both places. Is that weird? Sidebar: When’s the last time you read anything with the term double-whammy? Yep. Right here).
Incidentally, I’m having some of the most intense workouts in my life (with lots of noises. I mean, not like those crazy-loud powerlifter noises, but…is this getting weird?). I’m using, true to my business namesake, only items found at home. Or the garage. Along with fit bands and tubes. And OK one thing from under the front seat of the truck (is that weird?) I introduced Rachel to the secret knowledge today. She’s already the good kind of sore. I’m probably the leanest I’ve been in years, don’t have joint pain, and am starting to get some real definition in my abs. I’m aware I’m probably getting smaller from lack of heavier weights (maybe if I made more noise?) I’m thinking about creating some vids to throw up on the social sites in the hopes it might save some folks their sanity. It sucks when a significant aspect of life just sort of evaporates (first world problem, I know).
Like most, I’ve seen a little change in life of late. To be honest, I’m getting resistant to hearing any more about it. I get being informed and being smart, and I am, but please, dear God, no more of the same. Everything, everything, is about that, or about not thinking about that, or about how life can be lived with, in, around, or without that, or getting or not getting that, or re-getting that, or when that might not be that anymore.
I’m so ready to focus on spring and patio tomato planters. Weekend outings to the desert. Long bike rides.
That said, on some level things like this are good for me. It reminds me to not be whiny, and to remember and specifically note the gifts of hot water, electricity, a good pillow and bed, sight, an over-abundance of food, music, work, sun when it’s out, my legs, and the myriad of other over-the-top gifts that I so over-take-for-granted every day.
Additionally, some other really cool things are happening. Contrary to Dave (God bless you Dave), Rachel and I pay most of our recurring bills using a credit card. We call it the Bill Card (clever, yes?). We earn 2% cash points. We’ve never once paid interest or late charges, there is no fee, and we have accumulated $336.42 to use as we see fit (we promised each other we’d cut up the card if we ever paid even one dollar of interest). We’re thinking of using it to pay for a couple of round-trip tickets to the Baby House. Ah, sun. Free sun. The best. I know the idea is controversial, and the discipline and watch care required is real. It’s working for us and it’s fun to think we’re getting paid to act like grownups.
Rachel’s work sabbatical is going well. By using the same discipline and watch care, we are still ending up at the end of each month with money left over. I like that because it allows us to continue to give. Not like we were giving, but that’s a heart thing more than it is a wallet thing. And (biggie here), we’re not even drinking Bottom Shelf (BS). Right? I know. I mean c’mon.
And speaking of bottom shelf, here comes a mouth-watery from-left-field Oh-Em-Gee-zinger. We brought all the fresh grapefruit back from the Baby House Grapefruit tree the last time we were there (you already know where I’m going with this huh?) If you have not tried a soon-to-be-fah-reakin’-famous Baby House Fresh Grapefruit Martini, feel free to get on the Plummer-Condo-4th-Floor-Happy-Hour-Drinks-on-the-Balcony list. Ok, they’re actually even better on the deck of the Baby House, under the soon-to-be-famous Baby House Grapefruit tree, but in my best Tony impression: Bettah than Gabbagoo!
Seriously though. If you did have a care in the world, that’d fix ‘er.
I must admit to intermittently wearing a sly grin a bit as of late (I’m kind of a shitbird sometimes) when I read about many public education teachers moving to the online environment. Some (not all) teachers were (are) public-protest critics of online learning, claiming all sorts of detrimental effects and ill-awfulness. Much of the protest seemed to be centered around the best interest of the union rather than the best interest of the student, but no matter. Some kids are learning some cool news ways to learn and teachers cool new ways to teach. To be fair, many teachers are setting good examples by embracing the change of online education. And that, perhaps, is the best lesson of all.
I talked to my mom (Ma) today like I do about every other day. Dad got stuck in the backyard ditch this morning. Not with a car or any sort of vehicle; he himself got stuck in the ditch. Apparently it’s a new ditch. Who can know these things. He falls down alot. Last month they found him in the snowbank. Literally. Like a cartoon with his feet sticking up. Last summer he laid in the rain for some time behind the shed (seems there was a piece of shed-gutter out of place). It doesn’t seem to bother him though, which to me is admirable. He’s going to do what he’s going to do with the life he has left. He’s an ex-Maine State Trooper, so hardly any surprise there. There’s a Dad blog in my future.
Near as I could piece together of the Ditch Incident, the neighbor (?) took more cement blocks than he was entitled to (?) after the fence came down (??) and used them in said ditch. Dad got a hair and decided he wanted some back and got stuck. Neighbors responded, general confusion and excitement reigned, a rescue operation ensued using shed tools, and life returned to normal (whatever that is). It didn’t seem to bother mom or dad a bit; “just anuthu day.” I told her her life was “wicked excitin’.” All of this, understandably, gives me motivation to pray alot about my own aging.
I have noticed one other kind of sad thing as my folks age. Long term hopes and plans seem to have faded and become unpredictable. They are both in their mid-80’s. Once they were so vibrant and able, and the talk was often of the coming summer, spring, fall, and of trips and projects (always the projects), and redoing and rebuilding. It was only good sense to make plans for the future, and once made, the wheels of hope were attached and the conveyance traveled through all aspects of daily conversation, finances, arrangements, and just life in general. This is how I was raised.
There was not just today and tomorrow and this week, there were always coming seasons and with them these excited Hope Plans. The Hope of something and getting closer to it with each day and the joy of life that it brought, and the Plans that made it definite and timed and real. This cart of Hope Plans carried energy and optimism and conversation and meaning and happiness and soul-health.
But it’s different now. There is little talk of distant plans or projects. The weather is always a mandatory conversation piece, but it’s often “too” something: too hot / cold / rainy / windy / wet / snowy. After the weather, the talk is mostly about today, maybe a little about tomorrow, and at most this week; but after that it denigrates into the pessimism of not being able to plan anything. Life is so unpredictable, capabilities are no longer certain, the What-Ifs and Who-knows stand so tall and looming, and the news is so scary. At times mom seems a little down. And how could she not be; Hope Plans have become Maybe Somedays or just nothing at all.
While working out (and making noises) in the garage this morning, I was thinking about why I felt a bit down. I am so blessed. But it came to me that I’m like my mom in this way. Even in my blessings, in order to really feel alive (ok, and not sad), I need to know there are definites out there. Not Maybe Somedays. Not We’ll See How it Goes. Not depends On. I need Real. With Dates. And Costs. Adventures. Trips. Projects. Challenges. I need We’re Gonnas. I need Hope Plans.
I don’t have the answers just yet (might need a few more noise-making workout or showers. This is getting kind of weird, huh?) But at least I know what’s going on with me.
Hope is such a powerful thing. Real hope with real plans. Right now, I’m trying to make small but definite hope plans; at least one for each weekend. Some small thing to give me something to look forward to. It’s healthy for me and I need to have something real out there and anticipate it getting closer. I need to move towards it with aggression, and faith, and expectancy (and maybe even some noises).