Welcome to my running commentary on life.

Welcome to my running commentary on life.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Today’s Episode of Adventures in Housekeeping.

You know, seventeen years is a long time to live in the same house and sleep in the same beds. The master bed was purchased when we moved into this place. We had brought with us a queen bed that was deposited in the spare room for guests and bought a custom-built king-sized monstrosity that was never quite comfortable for me to sleep on.

As often happens with couples that have been married a long time, separate sleeping chambers became necessary when certain changes began to take place. Too many sleepless nights spent on a bed where I could not rest had turned my life into an unbearable misery.

Oh, who am I kidding?

A pre-menopausal condition forced me out. Night sweats, sleeplessness, hormonally-induced nightmares, a general feeling of vexation directed at the peacefully sleeping lump next to me forced out. He wants the heat on while he sleeps. I want the winter windows wide open. Out of self-preservation and my need to protect his life, I took up residence in the guest room.

A couple more years went by and the peacefully sleeping lump was no longer peaceful. He had to compete for room among the other lumps in the bed. Hence the reason I decided new arranges needed to be made.

I was heading down that path again—you know, the one paved with good intentions.

Here was the plan. Kick the king out to the curb. Move the queen to the master bedroom. Buy a new, smaller bed for my room. Memory foam. Yeah. That’s the stuff.

I found a good deal on the bed. There’s a funny thing about this sort of bed. It comes compressed in a box. The instructions say to open it and lay it out for 24 hours to allow it time to resume its full original shape. So, a plan had to be made.

First, give the bed air for 24 hours. In the meantime, I would still have to sleep on the queen, so I laid it out on the living room floor. That meant the next day I would have to get the king out of the house, move the queen across the hall, set up and install the new bed frame, and move the new mattress to the bedroom.

And put in a full day of work.

Now, one cannot simply move one bed in and another bed out. Oh, no. One must thoroughly clean the carpets under the beds, and of course, that means the rooms have to be cleaned. And I had to work.

Okay, so I work from home. This is not one of those jobs where you can just put in the proper number of hours when you want to. I have a set schedule of when I must be at my desk. But I had breaks.

Ever try to move a monster bed during a fifteen-minute break? By yourself? No? Allow me to describe this event, for it is a new adventure in hell.

I had asked the husband to clear off his bed and move things out of the way for me, but he had decided to go hang out at the mall instead. Yeah, ladies, I was that peeved. Not to worry, I have a can-do attitude—and an extensive vocabulary of appropriate profanity for the occasion.

I peeled the linens and moved a chair. I picked up some shoes and moved through the halls removing precious family photos and my daughter’s artwork. I moved another chair, and decorative doll furniture (heirlooms from both sides of the family), an antique mirror the size of New Hampshire, and something on the floor that I believe used to be a dog toy, then I rolled up my sleeves. I had four minutes left on my break, and I was going to make good use of them.

Have you ever lifted a king mattress? It’s a nightmare. This thing must weigh about 200 pounds, and it won’t hold its shape. Every time I tried to lift, it bent inward and refused to budge. Two minutes left. A mighty heave, a dive forward and up over the box springs, another mighty shove, and a scream from lower back muscles, and it was up on its side . . . And over to hit the closet doors.

I dove off the box springs, saved the one piece of art I hadn’t removed from the walls and grabbed at the edge of the mattress. In an effort to balance it, I over-corrected, and it nearly went back over onto the springs, taking me with it.

Bracing a foot against the springs, I finally found a good balance—until I tried to get a better grip and the thing took me down.

In Irish lore, there is a creature called the Banshee. She described as either an old hag or a beautiful young woman with a high-pitched screech. It is said when one hears the banshee’s wail; death will soon visit.

I heard her wail.

Trapped under the huge, heavy mattress, the break timer going off, my need to return to work warred with the pain in my ribs. That’s when I realized it wasn’t the banshee shrieking; it was me.

I let out another screech, heaved the monstrosity upward and shoved it into the hallway in an adrenaline-induced rage. I let it fall back against the wall and ran for my desk. Breathless and sweating, I answered the office phone.

An hour later, I heard the husband groan in the back of the house. Apparently, he’d gotten home and witnessed the destruction of his room. I put my call on mute and muttered something about how it would have been finished if he had just done what I’d asked him to do before taking off to hide from his chores.

Lunch time hit, and I was off and running. The monstrosity had to be moved to the garage—a process that included moving it down two hallways, negotiating several sharp corners, and a narrow exit to the house. It was exacerbated by the sudden downpour—the fourth such event of the day.

The husband decided to offer help. Dear God, save us from the good intentions of our spouses. (This is where I need to insert the emoticon with rolling eyes.)

The man is as strong as an ox and more than twice my size. He wanted me to pull while he pushed . . . me almost through a wall. Then around a corner. I told him to slow down, but he had his shoulder to it and caught my hand at the corner, crushing it. It’s a lovely shade of purple I’ve never seen on human flesh.

We finally managed to get it around the next tight corner and headed it toward the door. It started to wobble, but he was pushing at the speed of sound. I screamed out in terror, but he didn’t hear me. I threw a shoe but had to keep moving lest I be massacred by the unholy mattress. Tears in my eyes, I pleaded for mercy, and finally, I let fly with another banshee shriek—just in time to be crushed against the glass door.

I could see the headlines: “A local woman was found dead in her home, crushed between a large mattress and a door while her husband looked on. By the time paramedics had arrived, it was apparent that every bone in her body had been broken. When interviewed by police, her husband reported, ‘I thought she had it. Not my fault.’ A coroner's inquest will be held . . .”

He stopped. “Sorry, babe. I didn’t hear you.”

The ass must be deaf.

I left him holding the ancient, concrete and lead filled mattress upright while I propped the door open. I stepped out into the gully-washer and was instantly soaked. He gave the bed a shove before I had a hold of it and I got thrown off the stoop. The other shoe went flying.

I believe I’ve stated in a previous post that I have a knack for cursing. It’s a family talent. It’s the ability to string ordinary words together in such a way that the siding melts from the house and the husband runs for cover.

The deluge got heavier. I got madder. I snagged the straps on the &^&% mattress and practically yanked it from my husband’s hands while letting fly a string of oaths that made his face pale, and his hair fall out. Something in my lower back gave, and a muscle under my arm screamed at the same pitch as my banshee wail, but I was past caring. I was headed for the garage with this bitch, and no one had better stand in my way.

And with thirty minutes to spare on my lunch hour.

The box springs were next. On a king, they are split into two pieces, so moving them is a lot easier than the lumpy mattress. Still, the husband had to find a way to crush my good hand and did so when he snatched the thing away from me. When I tried to move the second one, he snatched that away, too, clipping my chin.

I really needed him to go back to hanging out at the mall. At that point, I didn’t care if he went out to play in traffic, I just needed him to go.

“I need food,” I declared as I wiped blood off my chin.

He looked quite grateful and offered to drive into town. Now, I hate fast food. I mean, I seriously loathe it. I determined that I would eat it with great joy if he would only leave and stop hurting me.

It was time to deal with the mysterious—and often deadly—under-bed dust bunnies. This dangerous creature lives solely in the dark and only becomes treacherous when exposed to light. There were hundreds of them and only one solution to the situation. The vacuum cleaner is an amazing weapon. It vanquished the little beasts in no time. I also had to run for the trash can outside as the little monsters attempted to chew through the dust canister. Once the rain hit them, they melted into clumps of mud. They could harm no one now.

Back inside, I discovered the natural cousin to the dust bunny: The dread dust mote. They swirled around the room threatening me with non-stop sneezing fits for having killed their kin. I backed slowly from the room. It was just as well. The alarm went off telling me it was time to go back to work.

Five minutes into my first call, the man returned with a Big Mac meal that smelled like death from coronary artery disease. I wolfed it down like it was nothing. I was truly hungry.

By the time for my afternoon break, he’d disappeared again. It was a fantastic time to move the queen into his room. First, though, I had noticed that the frame for the king was adjustable. Cool. I took it in to make it fit the queen. Now, the queen is heavy, too, but of much better construction and easier to manage. I moved the mattress out of the way, grabbed the box and hauled it to the master bedroom. I dropped it over the frame, shoved, cursed, and adjusted until it was in place.

The mattress was another story.

My muscles were already shot. My back was gone. Still, I wanted my new bed set up. I was past caring whether he had a bed. His bed was just a means for me to clear my room. It hit the big console Victrola and nearly toppled it. It hit the door frame and tore away a piece of wood. It hit a shelving unit and sent it flying. I really didn’t care, as long as it didn’t mark the fresh paint on the hall walls.

When it finally wiggle and waved and slid into his room, I let it fall on its own. It was a nearly perfect four-point landing. I gave one corner a solid kick, and it squared over the springs. The alarm went off, and I limped back to my desk.

After work, the husband offered to help me set up my new bed. There’s something to be said about a facial expression. There must have been something deadly in mine because he backed slowly from the room and left the house. I employed the daughter to help me set it up.

Now, with the house quiet and the night birds singing, I'm ready to take the ice packs off my hands, my back, my neck, and my foot and settle into that nice new bed. I hope it cradles my aching body as much as the testimonials say.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Of Simple Renovations and Other Traps Set by Satan

Simple? Allow me to describe this simple reno. It started in early August. I had the bright idea that seventeen years of living in this house now required a major cleanup job. I’m not talking about knocking out walls and building rooms. I’m talking about cleanup, paint, refurbishment of already existing walls and fixtures.

First of all, flocked ceilings. I truly would like to know who the sadistic, lazy ass was who invented this stuff. What person has not looked up at one time or another at the discolored popcorn hanging over their heads and said, “How do I fix this?”

Well, dude-meister on YouTube said to tape a spackling knife to the nozzle of a shop vac and vacuum the ceiling. It seemed to work well enough, but it took days—even with a dear friend and co-writer helping me. A little bright white paint later—also applied by JJ Gasparin—and the kitchen and dining room had new ceilings. It took me longer to do the hallways, but that’s because I don’t have JJ’s goliath height and nine-foot reach. I’m 5’4”. I had a ladder.

Then there were the kitchen cabinets. I think they were installed at some point in the 70’s. I’ve been using the kitchen for seventeen years. People who know me know I cook. Really cook. From scratch and everything. Hence the expensive appliances I purchased back in April. I deserve the best—at least that’s what I told my husband when he balked at the price. (It’s the new appliances that started this mess. They looked like three Cadillacs sitting in the middle of tarpaper shacks.)

But I digress. Back to the dilapidated cabinets. I had restored the finish a couple of years back, but it was no good. They were worn, scared and in need of replacement—but who has the money, right? So, I decided it would be best to paint them.

Ever wanted to know what it takes to paint finished wood cabinets that live in a house where someone cooks for real? Well, first, you have to degrease. That is, you scrub. You scrub until your fingers bleed. No, really. They bleed. I even bought one of those horrendous, bad-for-the-environment, skin-melting chemical compounds guaranteed to make the mess disappear. Yeah, no. It didn’t work. I was down to Brillo and brutally hot water. My fingers bled. Taking pity on me, the husband even decided to help on one of the many days I worked the project. After that day, he realized just how hard the work was and decided to see to our meals.

Then the doors and hardware have to be removed, and every square inch has to be sanded. Thoroughly. The hardware went into the trash. I refused to clean it and put it back up. No way.

Oh, and here’s a lesson: While your mother is in to help with the painting, don’t allow your 15-year-old daughter and her 18-year-old cousin to paint the cabinet doors in the garage. With the door open. With their long hair unbound. With the little doggie running wild over the freshly-painted panels. If you do this, you will spend the next week re-sanding and repainting, that is, after you scrape all the hair and dirt off. I’ll admit, the puppy prints were somewhat cute, but not on kitchen cabinet doors. Also, when you tell them to be careful not to get paint on the inner side of the door, make sure they understand you. Apparently, that instruction translates to, “Don’t worry. Mom’s just kidding. Make as big a mess of it as you want.” Thusly translated, you get smears and globs to look at when you open the doors. I’ll fix that mess later. I don’t know how, but I’ll fix it.

Once all the painting was done there was the reassembly. Allow me to describe this special ring of hell. First of all, the old-fashioned hardware is no longer available. One cannot simply buy the same hinges and put the screws in the same holes. Oh, hell, no. You have to figure out a way to apply the new hardware, perfectly line up each freaking door and shove the screws into the wood without an extra set of hands to help hold it in place—and in my case, no experience doing same. If you make a mistake, you have to take it back down, putty the holes, repaint and scream. In that order. (The scream is necessary to inform all those in the household who don’t bother to help that they should stay far away lest they get a cabinet door drilled into their backs with Mama’s handy-dandy power driver. It’s very effective.)

Owing to various levels of frustration—or rather my inability to function at the level of frustration the hardware issue caused me—it took me a couple of weeks to accomplish the reassembly. This was frustrating on its own. Then it was time to go through everything I had removed from the kitchen and dining room and decide what would go back up on the walls and what would be disposed of. In the end, some things went to the attic, some to the dump, and some to charity. I went to the store and bought all new decorations. Three items, in fact. Just three that would enhance the gorgeous mural my daughter painted for me some weeks before. I chose three giant flower wall hangers done in brightly painted steel. They’re pretty cool-looking and very simple. Picture perfect and finished.

Except for the countertops I had to order and the new chandelier that’s still in the trunk of my car.

By this time, August and September are gone. There is still the guest bath and the living room yet to go. Oh, joy. I’m so out of steam.

Living room redo started with the removal of some furniture for disposal. I had planned to donate it all, but unfortunately, the day I moved said pieces outside to be loaded on the truck and hauled away, we got a tornado. I was on the phone when it hit. (I work from home, for a health insurance call center, adjusting claims and quoting benefits for healthcare providers.) The nice gentleman with whom I was speaking, judging by his accent, was from somewhere in the Middle East. It was obvious he had no experience with tornadoes as when the sirens and radio alarms started going off and I told him I had to get off the phone to seek shelter, he became a bit miffed. I had hoped to get the humongous desk under cover before the storm hit, but he wasn’t having it. He wanted his information, so I tried to throw it at him quickly. He failed to get it all and told me to repeat. Just then, the wind crashed through my open window and sent the desk flying. I told him I wasn’t going to die for his information and to write more quickly next time. I disconnected and dove for cover—after closing the window and making sure I knew where the dog was.

Buh-bye desk. Fortunately, that was the only damage. Sigh. It was a nice desk. Past tense.

Screw it. Off to the dump with what’s left. Sounds like a job for super husband and his trusty sidekick, the princess. He was not pleased. When he started to argue, I gave him the look. I think I’ve explained in a previous post about the look. It’s enough to drop the most stalwart of men and children in their tracks. Funny how it doesn’t work on other mothers, though. Anyway, he clamped his mouth shut and hollered for the kid to help. They were off, and I was scraping ceilings again. Oh, what sheer joy. Before and after work, scrape ceilings. Remove things from walls, scrape ceilings. Patch holes, repair cracks, scrape ceilings. Sand patches, scrape ceilings. The walls are now ready for painting, but first, the ceilings have to be painted.

In the bathroom, I used the same paint I’d used in the other rooms. For the living room, I wanted something a little more dull and flat, so I bought a different kind. Today was the day. Today I was going to get my new countertops delivered. Today.

I took today off so I could be ready for the installers. I also had to paint the damned ceiling in the living room.

O . . . kay. So the day did not go so well. The installers arrived on time. The plumbers arrived yesterday to disconnect everything. I had spent a couple of hours clearing everything out of the way and removing items from cabinets. Bar stools and chairs were carried out to make room, and I was ready. They showed—two very nice gentlemen with winning smiles and good attitudes. I knew this was going to be great. I was excited. Face it; the old counters are more than 40 years old. They are a hideous wood-grain laminate that is currently disintegrating into horror. My horror. Embarrassing horror. No way I’m cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for the multitudes with this mess.

They pulled all the counters out. There was much noise. There was much grunting; then they began pulling things out. I should also mention that I told them about the nightmare of getting all the cabinets and walls repaired and painted, and I told them the penalty should they mar same. They were very careful.

Then they brought in the first new piece and put it in place. It was gorgeous. I was so pleased. While they were outside wrestling with the really big, main piece, I decided to look inside the now-exposed corner lazy susans. Well, I discovered where the mice had gotten into the kitchen last year during the first freeze. I also discovered where they had nested and grabbed the vacuum. I had it all cleaned up and had returned to my work in the living room by the time they had returned.

They came through the front door with a behemoth of a counter top. I stopped them. That wasn’t the sink I had ordered. It was wrong. I glanced at my naked kitchen with no plumbing. I looked back at them. Their faces fell. They were no longer smiling. They looked at the orders. Yep, the sink was wrong. The massive manufactured, fitted stone counter top had the wrong sink, and I was less than pleased. I tried to remain cool about it, but I didn’t want it. There was a real reason I had ordered the perfect sink. I needed it.

A few phone calls later, the crestfallen men loaded the thing back onto the truck. They decided to bring back that hideous old piece of crap I wanted so badly to be rid of and set it in place—leaving one stretch of cabinets with no cover at all.

Now, I have no plumbing, one missing counter and old, dilapidated crap. Not. Going. To. Tear. Their. Hearts. Out.

Shake it off. Paint the ceiling. Yell at the manager later.

So, back to that different paint I bought. Um . . . Dutch Boy, what the hell were you thinking? You tried to “out-technology” the competitors. You should have just stuck to making paint. Why do you have to make something with “color-changing technology?”

Here’s what happened. I used all the paint—ALL the paint—on just one third of the ceiling. I ran out while I was applying the third coat on one corner. Yes, I said third coat. The paint didn’t cover well at all. When it changed color from the hideous pink to what was supposed to be a flat white, it turned light brown. Well, hell. My old, popcorn-flocked ceilings were brown. That’s why I had gone to all the trouble of scraping them off.


Off to the store to find something better. I talked to the paint guru. He recommended a different Dutch Boy. I had used this brand many times and had always been happy, but I was leery. Still, I took it home and got to work. In most places, it only took one coat. I really like that. In most places.

I was almost finished when a large glob of paint dripped and hit me square in the right eye. Let me tell you, people; there is no hell like the ninth ring of paint clinging to your eyeball. There is no known eyewash that can remove same. The horror! The humanity! The cursing . . . I invented words. My eye currently looks like a large cranberry with a brown spot in the center. Grand.

Back to work. I finished at last, or so I thought. The now-dry technological failure kept bleeding through on the first third. No matter how good the rest of it looked, that first third looked dirty.


Damn, again.

Okay, another major disappointment. The sun was down, and I was tired. I called it done for the day. I decided to let it go until Saturday when Mom is to come to help me paint walls. I would just do a quick coat and move on to walls.

I took up tarps. I took a shower. I moved remaining furniture around to make it livable.

Then I looked up. I heard a sound faintly reminiscent of dried leaves crackling and looked up. I should never have looked up. The ugly brown bleed-through paint was cracking. It was flaking. It was falling. The only place on the ceiling it was doing it was where that first gallon of crappy “high-technology” paint was bleeding through. Apparently, the only thing the paint doesn’t stick to is ceilings. No, really. It’s true.

It clings to my skin, which I have scrubbed raw, my hair where it has become permanent, the hardwood floor where it was tracked by the husband, and the inside of my right eyelid, where it is still burning. If you put it on your ceiling, it just comes off in big flakes.

I’m going to let Mom deal with it. I also have half a mind to sic her on the counter top people. I’m so done.

I also broke my crock pot.

And I’m out of tequila.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Gardening in the Rain

Mom gave me over a hundred flower bulbs. It was time to replace her tulips, so of course she ordered enough bulbs to populate the Netherlands. My mother is a generous person. She felt I needed about a hundred of them.

Thanks, Mom.

So, there I was with a big crate of every kind of bulb I ever wanted to plant and no time to do it. My plan was to have them in the ground by mid-October. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men . . .

October came and went. As from my former post, you remember what happens when you wait too late in the state of Illinois to do an outdoor project. I still have frostbite on my ass from that one.

The problem was more than time. The summer had been hot and dry, and the ground had been baked to a brick-like consistency. So, I needed to wait for a little rain.

A little rain.

It was too cold the day I cleaned the flue on the roof. It was too cold and icy to do much at all. I needed to wait. Hey, the weather man said it would warm up. He also said it would rain almost non-stop.

Like without stopping.

But Mom had given me a crate of expensive bulbs. Before the bulbs could go in, I had to take out the tomato beds. The wood was rotting. The beds were full of fungus from the wet spring, the kind that infests tomato plants and makes them die. So no tomatoes could be planted there again. So they had to come out.

When I put them in a few years back, I put in a potent mix of well over 2000 lbs of organic materials to grow my lovely veggies. Each year before planting, I mixed in another 250-500 lbs. I figured, after some run-off and whatnot, there was probably still 2500 lbs of soil to move. Removing the rotting wood took little effort. One sharp whack with a hammer and the wood falls away.

Yesterday dawned drearily, but the rain had stopped. It wasn’t a heavy rain all week. It was a drippy, drizzly rain that soaked into the bones, but not the kind that fully saturates the ground. It does, however, soften it enough to actually drive a spade into it without killing oneself.

So, yesterday I started. I knocked down one box, carted the soil away—a wheelbarrow at a time—and worked the area, put in 28 bulbs in the cold wind and quit. It was too chilly, too windy to carry on.

Which meant my extra day off was going to be hell. I needed to cart off another 1500 lbs of dirt, break down the box, put in two more tulip beds and a bed of annis, various hyacinth, daffodils and whatever else was in the crate.

Then get Christmas lights down from the attic, string them up, put up the deer and other display lights. So much for reading that book I have sitting on the table. Sigh.

The wheelbarrow is rickety. It’s only 30 years old. The ground is wet. No, it’s a slog of mud. The grass is wetter. The mud is slick. The shovelfuls are heavy.

I was on my fourth load in the wheelbarrow. I was moving the soil to various low spots—anywhere where I could get rid of it. That’s a lot of dirt to dispose of, but I was determined.

My muscles screamed, still sore from the day before. My back was telling me no more. My boots were soaked through and heavy with thick globs of mud and wet leaves. It was like carrying around 10 lbs of cement on my feet, and my feet were freezing.

The fourth load was especially heavy. For some reason, I failed to remember how rickety the wheelbarrow was. So, I was moving the load, moving fast because it was heavy.

The handle snapped off at the base. It sheered away under a couple hundred pounds of muddy garden mix. The other handle was intact, so the barrel immediately listed sideways, causing me to over-correct, which caused the barrel to drop to the ground at a dead stop.

I failed to stop. I failed to stop when my pelvic bone came into contact with the lip of the barrel. I failed to stop when I went down into the mud in the bowl. Ah, I just love the flavor of organic, composted shit in the morning.

So, wiped the mud from my face, spit out a mouthful of sphagnum and manure laced with vermiculite, and crippled the barrel over to my next dump spot.

Time for a break.

I hate my neighbor. He said, “Hey, why didn’t you come get me? I would have used my in-loader to move all that for you.

Yeah, I hate him and his kind offer. I guess my deer-in-the-headlights look with black mud streaking my face and hair, not to mention the copious amounts coating my clothes and boots, must have been comical. He launched into a belly laugh that would make Merry Ol’ St. Nick envious.

“Too late?” he asked.


I was done moving dirt, so it was time to plant. Bulb diggers are fabulous tools. I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to plant bulbs. You plunge them into the soil, twist, pull, and you have a perfect hole.

I recommend you spend more than a two dollars like I did. On my second row of bulbs, the digger split down the middle, flew apart and sent me face first into the freshly turned mud.


This time, it went up my nose. Not to worry. I always carry tissues when digging in the mud on cold, rainy days.

Yes, it started raining again. Lovely. Four tissues later, I pieced the cheap POS back together and went back to planting. The dog was howling. She hates rain. She wanted in the house, her little body shivering while her cute button eyes looked at me with an expression pure hatred. On my feet again, over to the door, let the dog in.

I noticed every time I knelt and climbed back up; it was becoming more difficult. Each movement elicited old lady grunts from my throat; each reach, a groan.

I sneezed out another load of mud.

When the large tulip bed was finally finished, the neighbor yelled over to ask if I wanted him to send over his boys to help. These are great boys. They are everything true boys should be, but I couldn’t stand the thought of mud balls decorating my siding, so I declined.

On to the next flower bed. It was on the south side of the house, so I figured I would catch less of the breeze. I was soaked to the skin, my hair clinging to my muddy face and neck. It kept getting into my eyes, so I brushed it back with muddy gloves.

Oh, hell. Who cares at this point?

The drizzle stopped. For like a minute. Then it rained. It really rained. Like a downpour. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Nothing was going to stop me from planting all those daffodils, tulips, annis, crocuses and hyacinths. I shall be victorious!

The neighbor on the south side pulled in. Upon seeing the broken wheelbarrow lying on its side like a beached whale, he offered me his. His response was my turning my mud-covered face in his general direction and offering him a sneer.

I can still hear him laughing. He started laughing as he walked away. He laughed as he entered his garage and closed the door. He was still laughing so loudly when he entered his house that I could hear him in my yard. He’s still chuckling. I hear it now.

Finally, with all the daffodils, hyacinth and crocuses in, it was time to move to the big garden in the front yard. I’d dumped a lot of dirt there. So, off I trudged with my crate of bulbs, my mud-caked cell phone, and equally muddy mini-speaker, and headed that way. On the wet, muddy oak leaves scattered over the wet, muddy grass. I’m not sure I even managed to find all the bulbs that flew through the air with the greatest of ease when my feet took wing and escaped from gravity. The back of my head landed in the freshly turned mud, causing four bulbs to squeeze out of the ground like toothpaste from a tube.

Come to think of it, that might be why the neighbor is still laughing.

Anyway, I hauled my wet, muddy ass up, picked up the crate, hurled into the driveway with all my failing strength, threw the spade like a javelin, embedding it in the ground more than 40 feet away, kicked the crippled wheelbarrow, possibly broke a toe and set a new record in colorful curses that ranged in the realm of multilingual. My Cherokee grandmother would be so mortified.

With renewed hatred for the task I had taken on, like a woman possessed, I dug what I could find of the numerous bulbs from the wet grass and leaves, marched to the last of the flowerbeds, dug so hard mud was slung into the street and shoved those accursed bulbs into place. I was done.

I also managed to get one lighted decoration from the attic when I discovered I could no longer climb the ladder or pull any heavy boxes down. It was all I had to give. I was so far past done.

Now there’s a trail of mud—and a little blood—blazed through the house, and the water heater is out of hot water, I feel like I was trampled by a herd of moose. It’s not an ache, exactly. It’s more like a burning, blazing fire through every fiber of muscles in my body. My joints won’t bend properly, and there’s a distinct possibly I may have cracked my coccyx.

Those blessed flowers had better be worth it, and spring had better bring plenty of colors.