Look at the pretty!
Why are we staring so intently at the unbelievably vivid carnations today? We are feeling reflective. We are trying to find our calm, our serene center. We are trying to look inward to see ourselves, to see what moves us, what drives us...
...why in the blue blazes of Hell we don't ask other people to do any work for us. Why, when we decided that both yards needed new mulch, we didn't even consider asking for help, paid or otherwise. I don't know why I don't think to do it. Maybe I'm too stubbornly self-reliant. Maybe I'm afraid people will say no, or if they say yes, that they'll disappoint me. We've had that before, where people have offered to help, then didn't show up when it counted. It'd be better if they just said no in the first place. So maybe that's it. Maybe I don't want to put anyone in that position.
"So why don't you hire people to do it?" This one's easy. Accountant Boy says that it's because he's from New Jersey, and that means he doesn't trust anybody. It's nonsensical. Just go with it.
"I'm not letting that guy in my house! What if he's casing it so he can come back later and rob us?"
"Babe, he's the alarm installer."
"Which means he'd know which windows are wired. That makes me doubly suspicious..."
So when the truck from MacAlvey's pulled up with thirteen yards of wet, black bark, we knew what we had to do, and we knew we were on our own in doing it.
"I'll grab the flat-nose shovel."
A.B. worked on the bender board in the front yard, and I started moving the bark. He's better at that detailed work, so I figured I'd do the brute labor for an hour or so, then hand the shovel over to him.
I don't know what happened next, how I got into the groove of it, but I didn't put down the shovel. I worked at it for six and a half hours straight. Fill the wheelbarrow, push the wheelbarrow, dump the bark, kneel down and push the bark around the trees and shrubs, repeat. For six and a half hours.
My neighbor from across the street offered to help, but I declined his offer. "Up to this point, every shovel of bark off of this pile has been scooped by me. I kinda want to see how far I can go."
In order to transport landscape materials without half of it blowing away on the freeway, you have to spray it down. This stuff showed up sopping wet. In addition to making it very, very heavy, the water made it very, very messy. My gloves, the heels of my hands under my gloves, and the legs of my jeans turned black. I had fingerprints on my face from my attempts to brush my hair out of my eyes.
What might not be apparent is that the pile started off at more than four feet tall, ten feet long and eight feet wide. I took down more than half of it by myself. I don't know by weight how much of it I moved. Each wheelbarrow load felt like it weighed about eighty pounds.
Accountant Boy, with the help of our neighbor Mr. Wolf, finished the bender board, finished turning the petanque court into a grape arbor/lounge area, and cleaned and reorganized the side yard. I kept shoveling. "Honey, stop. I can take over now."
"No! Still working! If I stop, I won't be able to start again! Still good to shovel!"
"And that's why you should stop now, while you're still standing. Besides, you're making me look bad in front of the neighbors."
"But I worked so hard on it by myself..."
"How about if we take your picture with the pile so we can remember how much you did?"
"Can I climb it?"
"Did you see how much I did??? I'm like SUPERGIRL!"
We kept working for hours after that, because that's what we do. A.B. brought loads of bark to the back yard and I spread them out around the roses and the lavendar bushes. We finished in the dark.
"This is kind of like the old days, huh?"
"If it were like the old days, we would have brought out the shop lights and worked until two in the morning."
I don't have a good picture of the back yard yet, but here's the front. I did all of this myself -- about twenty-five wheelbarrows worth of it.
I had to use a pumice based foot scrub on my hands and arms to get the black film off of them. As I leaned over in the shower to try to get the hot water to spray right on my lower back, I noticed that my knees were also coal black. It took forever to get all of that stuff off. I still have a couple of streaks on the backs of my arms. My hands were so sore on Sunday that I couldn't pick up a can of pineapple.
I think it was all worth it, though. I'm glad we did it instead of paying someone to do it for us.
This is the other carnation. It's less shockingly fuschia. Look at it grow! It's going to be a good year out in the garden.
What of Starksy, you ask? I'm still, STILL at least a foot away from being done with the belt. Now that the muscles in my forearms don't feel like they're on fire, I should be able to finish it off.