Thursday, June 30, 2011

Progress Report

It’s the last day of June – the year is half over. (One of my cheeky employees even reminded us that there are only six months until Christmas!) I’ve been living in my house for just over two months. I still can’t believe how natural it all feels. I love my house, my Alegria!

The work on the yard is my biggest priority at the moment. It’s progressing, albeit slowly – but it is progressing. If I wasn’t committed to fixing it up a few days ago, I sure am now. There will – at least – be a labyrinth before the end of summer. And a fence. I think the fence will be a huge asset. It will make the yard appear... less vast. Yes, I think that’s the right word. At the moment, it sort of blends in to other yards and the parking lot at the back. A clear and definitive boundary will give it a sharper perspective and provide a contained aspect, clearly outlining what needs to be done.

On Tuesday a bobcat moved all of the large gravel out of the way and piled it up at the back of the property. That opened up a great deal of muddy ground and left another few tons of crush still to be moved. It’s a process!

That's one big pile of gravel!

First I go around sweeping the crush away from the edges of the where I want to work. Then I lift the plastic to roll the gravel toward the centre so I can shovel it up. As I work, I have to cut the plastic to free it so I can eventually remove it. Once one bit of plastic is cleared and taken away, I move on the next one, working systematically across the yard. With a bit of luck, I should have the area for the labyrinth cleared by the end of the weekend. Maybe! That’s the goal. It’s slow and tedious work. I try not to look up and take notice of how much there is to do.

There are still a few plants to move as well. Ornamental grasses are scattered throughout the yard and I can’t decide if I want to keep them or not and, if I do, where to put them. There are two hop vines that need new homes and random flowers that survived from previous garden beds have popped up here and there. I’m trying not to destroy them in hopes of moving them in the fall. I want some flowers somewhere, but I haven’t figured out exactly where they should be. There is a space in front of the shed that I think would be a good place. A trellis for the hops and a few shrubs and flowers would look nice there. Hmmm... might be the way to go.

The work is cathartic. I feel a growing connection to the earth. Each shovel full of gravel, all the dirt under my nails – even the rocks in my shoes - makes me feel good. It’s invigorating, energizing, healing. I get weary and sore, but I smile. I feel grounded and calm. It’s a nice way to feel. I think that this place is actually good for me.

I find myself wanting to be outside. There is a place in my brain that resists the idea of working on the yard. Some whiny little voice pipes up and complains every time I pick up the shovel. It’s annoying. I just tell it to suck it up and it soon retreats back to the recesses of my mind where it pouts for a while before falling into silent defeat. I promise it ice cream when I’m done and that usually shuts it up right quick like when it’s having one its more stubborn tantrums. (Must remember to buy more ice cream this weekend.)

I’m actually hoping for decent weather this weekend. Not too hot, but not too rainy. I have three whole days to work on the yard and, as I said, get the labyrinth space completely cleared. Once the lumber wrap is down and the lines are painted, I can then start schlepping the gravel back into place. I so can’t wait to walk the labyrinth. It’s what is keeping me and my shovel so harmoniously united.

And, no doubt, Skinny Cow in business!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm no Rick Mercer, but...

I do not consider myself a political person. I have no interest in politics. I openly admit that I only vote so I can retain my right to complain. And, while I guess that does make me somewhat political, it’s as far as I go.

So last year the BC government, whoever they are, decided to adopt the HST, which is, as far as I can see, a federal-government ploy to ensure that the GST doesn’t ever go away. (I mean if you bury it deep enough under a new name and format, there ain’t no way that it is ever gonna get gone.) There was no consultation. The petitions to stop it were ignored. The government didn’t give a fig about what the people who elected them - and those who didn’t, but must still be represented anyway – had to say about the whole thing. All they were worried about was getting that 1.6 billion from the feds. One point six billion! Just so they could increase our taxes.

To appease us, they finally agreed to host a referendum on the subject, knowing full well that reversing the HST would be an unbearably costly undertaking. What? Give back the 1.6 billion? Let’s not even think about how much the ultimately useless referendum is going to cost us. Basically, what it comes down to is that, once again, they have us by the short and curlies. We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t and those smug bastards are still going to get their stupidly huge pensions, go down in history, which they will write themselves in as the heroes, and pat each other’s backs for the good job they did.

I understand the necessity of taxes. I really do. I don’t begrudge doing my part to support the services that make this country a good place for everyone. I do, however, get a little cranky when the people elected to represent me use my hard-earned money in ways that are dubious, to say the least. Changing tax laws is not something that should be done without first making sure that the people who are paying them understand and agree to it.

Obviously, no one wants to pay higher taxes. But, honestly, if the government was more accountable and… well honest with us, we’d be more likely to be more open to such changes. They insist, though, on insulting our intelligence and taking advantage of their positions. I seriously think that it’s getting close to time to take up those pitch forks and torches and rid the proverbial village of the monster! This is simply unacceptable.

I’m going to vote Yes in the referendum. Just to be a pill. Just to make a point. I’m relatively sure that most people will vote No, because, well it would be foolish not to. Not that I’m admitting to being a fool, which is completely subjective and possibly fodder for some other blog. I’m just being rebellious and contrary and want to give the government a message. Stop doing this stuff to us! For heaven’s sake, have some – even a little – respect. We pay your salary after all. You work for us. You are supposed to protect us from this crap, not design it so that we are exposed to it and must suffer the consequences.

My inner socialist is riled up and trying to come up with a socialist system that works. God knows democracy doesn’t. But I bet that politicians would think twice before pulling fast ones like this on us if they may the same salary that, say, I do.

I get that it’s unrealistic to vote Yes at this point. It would cost the province a fortune and who would foot the bill for that? We would, of course. As for the promise (and I use that term extremely loosely) to reduce the HST to 10%, I have to wonder how many people realize that even if they do, it won’t last long. Six months down the road, the government will come up with some song and dance about how they just can’t do it on 10% and they have no choice but to increase the HST. And they won’t just put it back to 12%. No. They’ll make it 13 or 14%. They’ll say that the referendum cost more than they anticipated or something equally as ridiculous and I, for one, am not going to pack my bags just to tag along on that little guilt trip!

End rant. I’m no Rick Mercer, but damn I’m choked!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Two Pale and Spindly Tulips

These pale, spindly things you see below are tulips. I discovered them while digging out a flower bed amid the vast expanse of gravel in my back yard. After I removed the gravel and lifted the plastic, my heart actually wrenched at the sight of them. For over a year, they had been buried under the crushing weight of several inches of pea gravel and heavy, black plastic. But that didn’t seem to deter them from doing what they were meant to do – grow.

Two tiny tulips that were growing under heavy, black plastic and several inches of gravel.

I doubt that they will amount to much more than what you see here. They should have already bloomed by now. But what amazing fortitude. No sun light. Not much moisture. No air. And still they tried. I can’t imagine the struggle, but I’m in awe of the power of nature to overcome such cruel adversity and not give up.

Not long before I found the tulips, I was ready to give up. I was cursing and swearing. Every time the plastic would rip and the gravel would spill through the new hole from my shovel, I would groan in frustration. Whenever I looked at my work and realized how little I had done so far in comparison to how much I have yet to do, my aggravation soared to ever-higher levels. Then just when I was about to throw in the shovel, so to speak, these two tulips gave me an entirely different perspective. If they could keep going, so can I.

I believe that things happen for a reason. It seems to me that it is rather synchronous that the previous owner provided the very material I need to realize a long-held dream; to build a labyrinth. At the same time, the challenge of taking that material and using it to make the dream come true, is, to say the least overwhelmingly overwhelming. I’m relying entirely on intuition in my efforts. I don’t know if my plan is going to work, but something keeps pushing me forward. Like these two striving tulips.

The plan is to save as many of the beautiful plants that are scattered throughout the yard as I can. In order to move the gravel efficiently, I’m going to need some help and I’ve decided that the best help will be to hire a bobcat to come in and move it for me. The problem is that there is no way that a bobcat can do that with all those plants in the way, so they have to be moved. There is nowhere to move them to, so I have to create places for them. Thus the manual digging out and making of garden beds so a bobcat can work around them safely. I hope.

For the last two days I’ve been shovelling gravel and piling it up at the side of the house in order to open a space to move some of the plants to. My back and shoulders are aching and my hands are dry and mud-stained. I’ve had too many encounters with worms and bees and errant gravel falling back into places that I don’t want it to be. I want to curl up on the couch with a book or a movie, instead of hefting wheel barrows full of rock from one place to another. I also want a nice yard with a labyrinth.

This yard thing seems to be a new journey for me. I have no map, only a vague notion of what the destination will look like. My only guide is my belief in the dream of making a labyrinth and the intuitive voice in my head egging me on. And these tulips are clearly a sign that I cannot give up. I cannot stop just because it would be easier. I cannot let this dream slip away.

I can, however, summon patience and discipline and determination and keep going. I can take each small step on this journey with grace and gratitude. I can do this. I will do this. The pain will pass. The fatigue will pass. The sense of accomplishment, though, will be something that will last a long time.

Amazing, isn’t it, how two pale and spindly tulips can teach such a profound lesson?


Friday, June 10, 2011

What a Dilemma

The Touch Screen Dilemma

June 9, 2011

I typically hate shopping. You will never find me browsing in stores, trying on endless different outfits or mulling over dinnerware patterns. If I need something, I go to the store I believe most likely to have it, pick it up, pay for it and leave as quickly as I can. Even better, I fire up the old laptop and order it from the comfort of my own home (or, as sometimes is the case, my desk during a break). Take me shopping and you’ll soon find yourself with a 48-year-old 3-year-old whining to go home. There’s no price comparing at sixteen different stores. It’s more like: This one will do. And, oddly enough, I’m usually quite happy with what I take out of the box when I get home or it arrives.

When I bought my house, I had to make some sacrifices. One of those was our digital camera. In all fairness, Dave had paid for it and so it remained behind with a “his” sticky note on it so it wouldn’t inadvertently get packed and moved. That left me without one and, while I never fancied myself as much of a photographer, I quickly came to miss having the option to at least point and shoot. The lack of a camera really hit home when my girlfriends from Chilliwack came to visit. So, on Saturday morning, I added a stop at Mike’s Audio/Video to the list of things to do with my friends and came home with a shiny new Cannon Power Shot. I even paid extra for a touch screen.

When a pee break became necessary, we dashed home and I took the opportunity to charge the battery pack so I could begin using my new toy. We continued scratching items off our to-do list and returned a while later to discover that the battery pack was fully charged and my Power Shot was ready to go. So, I took a video of my friends. Then we went to the pub, but the camera had to stay home. Then we came back and played a rather imaginative game of lawn darts and Power Shotted a swack of stills. I decided that I liked the camera a lot and named him Snoopy.

It’s now Thursday and I have taken a few more photos, mostly to use on my blog since then. Five days have passed since I agreed to pay more for a touch screen. Five. One hundred twenty hours and a bit. Nearly a whole week. And tonight while I was snapping shots of the renovation and repair work that is being done in my house, it hits me: Snoopy does not have a touch screen. Snoopy has a lot of buttons, but he does not have a touch screen.

Clearly not a touch screen

So, new dilemma. Do I take Snoopy back and demand a refund? Do I keep Snoopy and just ask for the difference back? Do I just suck it up and live with my own lack of diligence? It’s really hard to return something when it has a name, particularly when its name is Snoopy? It doesn’t seem right? It’s only $20 after all.

It occurs to me that with all the talk – at least three minutes in the store – about touch screens, that may not have been the option that I opted for. I may have paid extra for the rechargeable battery pack instead. In fact the more I think about it, the more reasonable that sounds. I recall saying something about being baffled by touch screens...

So, another new dilemma. Do I risk making a fool of myself by going back to the store and asking? Or do I give myself time to convince myself that I paid for the rechargeable battery pack and not the touch screen? Or do I make a discreet inquiry for clarification purposes and accept whatever I’m told, because, honestly, I’m now so befuddled about the whole issue that I’m thinking that it might not shed too good a light on me to bring it up at all. “’Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Snoopy is well mannered and easy to handle. He takes pretty decent pictures and downloading them to my laptop is barely a challenge with the slick interface he came with. And I’ve already designed a knitted camera case for him.

Okay, I’ll keep him. I will make the discreet inquiry; something like, “So how much was that other camera I was looking at with the touch screen again?” And the clerk will say, “Oh, that was a blah, blah, blah. I’m sure you’ll prefer the rechargeable battery on your Power Shot to a touch screen anyway.” And I’ll smile and say, “Yes, I think you’re right. Thank you,” ending all camera-related dilemmas.

If, by chance, the clerk says that I bought the touch screen, I’ll whip Snoopy out as evidence that I most certainly did not, proffer the bill of sale and say, “Then I think a refund for the difference is in order.” The then sheepish clerk will happily credit my credit card with the difference while apologizing profusely for his error. And I will thank him and wish him a good day, likewise ending all camera-related dilemmas.

My new pal Snoopy!  Even without a touch screen, he's cute as a button.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Construction Time Explained

Well, the contractor showed up today. Only 2 months late!

It’s a darn good thing that I have lived around construction workers for most of my life. I understand what they really mean when they say, “I’ll be there at 8 o’clock Monday morning.” What I don’t understand is why they say it in the first place.

I think that, for the most part, they have good intentions. They really mean to be there at 8 a.m. on Monday and they believe that they really will be there at 8 a.m. on Monday. They want to get the job done, because that’s what it takes to get paid. They have already taken the time to price out the materials and factor in the time. They know what they have to do and what they need to do it. It’s not – quite – rocket science to do an estimate and provide a quote, though to the uninitiated it can appear so. And they want to please; they often depend on word of mouth promotion.

I have a theory about the frequent discrepancy between a contractor’s Monday 8 a.m. and everybody else’s. Contractor time is very different from everybody else’s time. Their calendars and their clocks do not run like normal calendars and clocks. Monday at 8 a.m. to a contractor could be Wednesday at 2 p.m. (when that hair appointment is scheduled) to the customer. Or it could be Friday at 9 a.m. (dentist). Or it could be two months down the road right after the next contractor has been contacted to replace him. Like in my case. My new fear is not not having a contractor, but having too many contractors.

Ultimately it isn’t even my problem. Well, it is, but I’m not the one paying the bill. Nor am I the one waiting for the rest of my funds for the sale of my house to be released by the lawyer.

3-ply 2x10 beam and support post under exterior kitchen/dining room wall. 

So far the contractor has provided three reasons why he didn’t show up sooner: 1) he lost my cell number; 2) he left messages on my old number (not realizing that it wasn’t my number anymore) and I didn’t get back to him; and 3) he had a big job at Huckleberry Mine. He seems to favour the Huckleberry Mine reason over the others. I’m guessing that it sounds less lame and more prestigious than the first two. I don’t really care. As I said, I’m not paying for it and I’m not waiting on any funds. It’s not like the house was going to fall down around me if the work didn’t get done immediately.

The important part is: he’s there now. And if the other guy does show up, well, I’ll just have to break his heart. I’m not all that concerned. He didn’t give a specific time and date, so it’s very likely that there is no day and hour in his space/time continuum that will ever coincide with a day and hour in mine.

The reality of the phenomenon has nothing to do with the space/time continuum. I just think that’s a clever out for construction workers. And I like saying space/time continuum. It sounds cool. The truth is that it is the nature of the construction business – and many construction workers – to be… unpredictable. First, there is no guarantee that the lumber yard will even have all of the material needed for any specific job at any specific time. There could easily have been a huge run on 2 X 4’s on the previous Saturday, for instance, and the next shipment isn’t due until Tuesday. Chances are that the lumber yard isn’t open before 8 anyway. Although, when the contractor said Monday at 8 a.m., he could very well have meant that that’s when he would be down at the lumber yard, banging at the gates, assuming that the customer understands that those darn 2 X 4’s don’t magically appear on site.

Downstairs bathroom shower stall waiting for shower stall stuff to be put up and sealed

Second, the construction business dictates the common necessity to take on more than the contractor can actually ever even hope to manage efficiently. Jobs get cancelled; particularly renovation jobs due to regular stress-induced fights between spouses who have hired a contractor over details like gold-plated faucets vs. functioning doors. It’s always good to have a back-up contract in the offing.

Third, the construction business is intrinsically bound to the feast or famine (boom or bust) principle. Particularly in the north here, people tend not to do a lot in the winter months. Then, come spring, everyone and his dog wants something done and contractors suddenly find themselves in high demand. After months of being idle and watching the coffers dwindle, they feel like supermen and think that they can accomplish Extreme Home-Makeover-like feats single-handedly.

Fourth, simple jobs are never as simple as they seem. Murphy ’s Law has a distinct and indisputable passion for construction work. Contractor’s get lulled into the belief that they can wrap up a job by Monday morning at 8 a.m. only to discover that the quicky installation of a window in an existing wall really means re-building the whole wall due to dry rot or black mould from a long-ago, forgotten or undetected plumbing leak, or the rewiring of an entire house because the owner insists that the window must be in the same spot as the electrical panel and doesn’t understand that electrical panels, once placed, do not easily give up their spots. If you ever wondered why contractors charge so much, you should spend some time with some of their customers. These guys put up with a lot!

Equipment breakdowns are yet another hazard on the road to Monday morning at 8 o’clock. There’s nothing worse than a drill calving or a skill saw dying or a hammer… Oh, getting left on top of a wall at the last job and dry-walled in like a heretic in medieval times. These things can be traumatizing to contractors, who have been known to become emotionally attached to their tools.

Hole in wall behind shower.  There was a leak and the only way to fix it was to create another make-work project.

This afternoon I did what most construction customers do when there are contractors working unsupervised in their homes and invented an excuse to dash home from work for a few minutes. Not checking up, mind you, just forgot my lunch. The work was progressing quite well. The crew of two was by no means slacking off while the boss was off doing who knows what besides working on place. I’m not crazy about having anybody in my house while I’m not home and I have to admit that there was some measure of trepidation about leaving three strange men, men who listen to country music, alone with power tools in my basement. My inner suspicious victim half expected to find them sitting in my living room drinking beer and watching porn on my laptop. I hadn’t gone so far as to strategically place a hair on the edge of my panty drawer, but I was relieved to see that they were working diligently at their assigned tasks. It was a good thing that I did “forget my lunch,” though. They were one sheet short of the wall board stuff for the down stairs shower and so I was able to solve that problem for them by ever-so-congenially assuring them that if they couldn’t find a match I would not freak out about it. “Get something as close as you can and use that on the ceiling.” I’m such a good construction customer.

Tomorrow will be round two where they will complete the shower, patch the drywall behind the shower, replace the inner workings of the downstairs toilet, install a new bathroom fan upstairs, repair the drain in the ensuite sink, vent the bathroom and kitchen fans to the exterior and install two roof turbines so that I don’t have to replace the shingles in three years (they should last another 10 to 12, giving me time to save up!). Whether or not they will complete all that in one day is yet to be determined. I may be having my Saturday morning coffee with them. By then we could be the very best of friends, or that space/time continuum thing may rear its ugly head and they may not be back for days. It’s a construction business toss-up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is It Nap Time?

I’m not much of a gardener. I can recognize a tree and tell the difference between one and say a bush. I know that perennials come back every year and annuals keep green house operations in the black. I know that tulips, daffodils and gladiolas grow from bulbs and petunias grow from seeds. I know that rose bushes need to be judicially pruned, but I’m not sure when. I can generally tell a weed from a not-weed. I’m not all that fond of worms.

I’ve tried my hand at gardening once or twice. It wasn’t pretty.

But that didn’t stop me from buying a house that requires not just some gardening, but a total landscape makeover. The previous owner, in an effort to reduce the amount of mowing her tenant would have to do, covered almost the entire yard in gravel. On a daily basis I stand outside or gaze out my bedroom window perplexed and overwhelmed by it all.

Beneath the gravel lies a layer of lumber wrap – the cheaper alternative to landscape fabric. It was a valiant attempt at keeping the weeds at bay. And I must say that it nearly worked! The weeds were laughing so hard, they almost forgot to grow. But they composed themselves and the riverbed- look is quickly – way faster than I can keep up with – turning green. And in this case green is not good.

The back yard today

In my probable naivety, I have devised a plan. It involves a shovel, a wheel barrow and almost certainly a good deal of pain. In order to cut down on the pain part, I’m doing my best to recruit volunteers with shovels of their own to assist by taking on some of it. A few have stepped up and offered to sacrifice their healthy backs to the cause. If my vision is even remotely possible to achieve, it will be worth it.

I estimate that there are three to four dump-truck loads of gravel that have to be moved. I’m guessing that I may need a much bigger shovel than the one I have, but I think that I might be better off working up to the upgraded spade. Like any fitness program, one must start out with the lowest weights and fewest reps, increasing incrementally. Can you say Ben Gay?

The end result, God willing, will see my yard transformed from a chaotic jumble of gravel, plants and weeds to a veritable Eden. (I already have the apple tree!) The main feature in my Eden will be a classic, seven-circuit Cretan Labyrinth which I will construct using – you guessed it – the existing gravel. There’s nothing like repurposing to give gravel… Well, a purpose. Around the outer edge of the labyrinth will be a vegetable garden (but not this year). I’m thinking some potatoes, some peas and some carrots. Maybe some other stuff, but I don’t know what. Beyond the circular veggie patch will be lawn, dotted with two or three small flower beds and a couple more trees. I’m hoping to score one of those funky hardy oak trees. Some day.

My beautiful apple tree

Eventually a fence will be in order. I would like to do something interesting and I have an idea that involves some rather elaborate scroll work in treated plywood, which is way beyond my current ability to achieve, not only because I don’t have a jig saw, but I’m a bit power-tool-aphobic. I can draw the pattern and help construct the frame work; I’m fine with the low-tech stuff like hammers. After all the gravel shovelling is said and done, I could probably dig the post holes…. It’s all a future thing anyway.

For now, a goon-spoon, some back and shoulder pain and sheer determination are the order of the day.

Is it nap-time yet?

Monday, June 6, 2011

How Many Reunited High School Friends Does It Take To Mow a Lawn?

How many reunited high school friends does it take to mow a lawn?

That was just one of many life-altering questions that was explored this past weekend. Others included: How many ways can one mis-use the term ‘and such as?’; Can lawn darts really cause stiff muscles?; How often do the police knock on my door?; Can the community compost be both closed and a photo-op?; and Who ever thought that a mimosa was even remotely acceptable as a substitute for coffee in the morning?

New and exciting concepts were tested for validity – besides booze for breakfast. Those included HDMI cables for hooking up a laptop to a television; being befriended by a tuckered out toddler at the Farmer’s Market; actually cooking a meal to eat at home; Boggle-ing minds; and going to a pub to watch an NHL play-off game where only the oblivious and reluctant could win free drinks.

In a nutshell, the previous two paragraphs sum up the weekend where I spent approximately sixty hours with two dear friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in an estimated 26-years. Thelma and Louise came to visit me with one apparent objective: To reintroduce my middle-aged and previously sober system to alcohol. Well, maybe two objectives. We also had tons and tons of fun. It was like the last quarter century + of being apart never happened.

Besides having Thelma and Louise (not their real names in case you were wondering) as house-guests, I discovered a few things that I may have already known intellectually, but now know emotionally and spiritually. I’m not too old to have fun. Houston is really a pretty cool little town. And staying in touch is one of the most precious things in the world. Here we were, three nearly-fifty-year-old women who, in spite of having learned a thing or two over the years, still full of passion for life and still filled with genuine love for each other. I’m in total awe of how marvellous we all are.

Our children (nine, collectively) are all grown up. We’ve had a variety of jobs and experiences. We’ve all been married (two of us still are). Two of us are grandmothers. We are strong, intelligent, creative and amazing people. From being thrown together randomly in classes in school, we forged a bond that somehow, though highly elastic, has never been broken.

Before their arrival on Thursday evening, I have to admit to thinking that this might be an elaborate joke of which I would be the butt. I couldn’t believe that they would actually make the 13-hour journey just to see me. It was a moment of deep self-doubt. Why would they do that? Then again, why wouldn’t they? I would – if I wasn’t too chicken to drive all the way to Chilliwack by myself! When the phone rang and they announced that they were passing the welcome to Houston sign, my heart soared. Then dropped like a stone. Dear God, what if we couldn’t find anything to talk about? Should I change my clothes? It was like preparing for a blind date. I even tested my breath in my hand.

But all inhibitions were pushed aside when they hugged me! Well, most of them were. Having to sing Do-wa-ditty during my turn at lawn darts was extremely, extremely uncomfortable. I can’t say I was overly crazy about spending an evening in a pub either, but that was just my inner hermit balking out of habit at the chance to have a night out. I have come to the conclusion that pubs are not so bad when you are with people you love and can laugh with. (Hockey games notwithstanding.) Thelma and Louise reminded me who I used to be. While I’ve always thought of myself as being somewhat unconventional, I realize now that I’m not as avant-garde as I was wont to think of myself. I’ve a propensity of erring on the side of caution, taking the safer, most comfortable routes to originality. I contain my creativity to that which is not too far-out or quirky.

So I’ve decided to join the Red Hat Society.

I’m not old enough to wear a red hat yet. But I figure that I will have a whole year to find just the right red hat. And I shall wear purple!

As for how many reunited high school friends it takes to mow a lawn, well, the answer is three, three ex-eighteen-year-olds who are all thankful that the lawn is small.