Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Male Chauvinist pig Lawnmower

Okay, so I have become more interested in gardening since I have been home and that has led naturally to being more interested in the appearance of the front yard. I refuse to take on the back yard, I have my limits after all. So with all the rain we've had the front yard has managed to become all green and has those funny lumps of green grass that have grown more than the rest of the lawn (crab crass, I think) and it needs mowing. Since Dad is sick (some sort of flu bug or maybe food poisoning) I decided to mow the lawn myself. Actually, I have toyed with the idea for several days now, but to be honest I am a little scared of the lawn mower.

Lawn mowers are not friendly machines. For one thing, they're smelly. Also, they are noisy. And they don't turn on with a gentle turn of a key. No, you have to yank on a cord. And you can't use both hands to yank on it because you have to hold some bar down while you yank the cord so that the lawn mower will know you are not dead or something like that. Supposedly if you let go of this bar the lawn mower will assume you have died and it will stop. I don't know who dreamed up this "dead man" switch but I don't like it. Anyway, so here I am yanking on the cord and holding down this bar. I get "putt putt putt." I am yanking with all my might and I get "putt putt putt." I open up the gas hole and it is not only empty it is DRY. I get the gas can and pour some inside. I yank the cord again and I get "putt putt putt." I try yanking it with my other hand (my first hand is getting tired) and since my non-tired hand is my LEFT hand, this time I get only "putt putt." So now I rope an innocent observer (my home teacher Colin) into holding down the bar so I can yank with both hands and I am rewarded with "putt putt putt putt." Oh goody.

Now I rope my innocent observer into trying to yank the cord. He gives a half-hearted yank and what does HE get? "ROAR!!!!" I am only a little annoyed that my lawnmower obviously knew a MALE had touched the cord and therefore decided to roar into life. I move the switch from the "N" (which I assume is neutral) into the "1" position (which I assume is the slowest) and the lawnmower takes off at what feels like 10 miles per hour. I am leaning backwards with all my strength as the lawnmower pulls me all over the lawn and I trot along after it, trying to guide it to the hairiest parts of the lawn. I am finally able to steer it around the outside of the lawn twice before my other home teacher shows up, Colin's father. Colin's father decides that Colin can read a short story to the Wizard and me from the porch (no one wanted to go into the house because no one wanted to catch the Wizard's flu bug) and then Colin could help me learn the other intricacies of the lawn mower (like, what's the difference between throttle and choke? Does the little picture of the turtle and the rabbit give me a clue?) while he finishes mowing the middle part of the lawn. Why is it that Colin is able to mow without throwing his entire weight backwards against the pull of that lawnmower? I mean, yes I think Colin out-weighs me a little bit, but as near as I can tell we were in the same gear...

Anyway, after a few moments he was done. I am claiming credit for mowing, however, because I mowed around the outside of the lawn and that was the hardest part. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Afterwards, it was getting dark and I had Dad show me how to work the weed whacker. I used it to edge as well as I could, but I wasn't very pleased with the result around the sidewalk. The weed whacker did okay around the rose bed, but it looks like part of our lawn has slid over the sidewalk and I think tomorrow I might get a steak knife or something and edge the sidewalk edge of the lawn. (The wizard says we have a special shovel for this, and I will try that first, but I think a steak knife will work better.)

Once this is done I have a flat of snap dragons to plant and a flat of something else too. I don't remember what they are called but they have pretty little blue flowers on them. Plus I have some flower seeds to scatter. I just want our front yard to have some pretty flowers. Oh, and I ordered a tool to help dig out some dandelions.

Dad's happy that I am getting excited about the yard's appearance. But like I said, I draw the line at doing the back yard. That's for someone else.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The let down...

Okay, so Elli was scheduled to return home this coming Monday, but today after school Bridget was checking her email on my netbook and I heard her say, "Oh, no..." I said, "What?" She said, "Elli's going home tomorrow."

Yep, less than a day's notice. The kids are all supposed to take their packed luggage with them to school tomorrow and they're all leaving at 2:30 to get to the airport by 3, for their flight which leaves at 6:00 p.m.

I know I got to keep her for several days longer than I was supposed to so I have no business feeling cheated, but that's exactly how I feel, cheated. Bridget had already made all these plans for a giant sleepover on Friday, and I'm sure there were other things that were going to happen too. And Elli has an American boyfriend now, too. Allen, a friend of Bridget's, who is a really nice guy. Of course they are both really hurting right now.

I've listed myself and checked in for a flight tomorrow so I can go to the gate and wait with Elli. One of the perks of working for the airline. Also, MJ is working tomorrow so she might be able to pop over to the gate and say goodbye.

I would definitely do this again if I had the chance. Elli has been a joy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcanos and German Exchange Students

Okay, so for the last three weeks we have had a German exchange student. When Bridget first asked if we could participate, I thought "Sure, why not..." We've had Japanese exchange students in the past and it's been fun so this was okay with me. And actually this has been easier because I've been a stay-at-home mom and I've been able to cook breakfast and make lunches for the the girls, plus I make dinners now so the brunt of it hasn't fallen on Gary at all.

Anyway, about three weeks ago we met Elli. She is quiet, but not necessarily shy. She observes us and then pretty much just steps right in and does what we do. Bridget has made sure that Elli has had a nice mix of activities so that her time here was a good blend of "regular teenager" stuff to do, like going to movies and going to the mall, typical tourist stuff like going to Cave of the Winds (and we saw some nice Anasazi ruins in Manitu Springs since we were close but we couldn't quite squeeze in Garden of the Gods), and she has left in plenty of just plain family time, too. Elli speaks English very well, much better than our Japanese exchange students did, so communication has been very easy. She speaks it well enough that she has been able to watch movies in English and enjoy them, which to me is a real test of knowing a language. She even laughs at the jokes, and I think humor would be one of the last things you would be able to get in a foreign language.

Anyway, Elli's three-week program was supposed to be over yesterday. Due to the volanic activity that has shut down air travel all over Europe, though, her stay has been extended for a little over a week. (Who knows if it'll be extended any further?) Anyway, we're glad to get to keep her for a little longer, she's really a sweet girl and the three weeks pretty much flew by.

I wonder if Bridget is going to want me to keep making lunches for her after Elli is gone home? I never did that before Elli came, I've only been doing breakfast.

In other news, I had a job interview (phone) for a part-time job and it must have gone reasonably well (I thought it had but what I mean is, the interviewer must have thought so too) because I have a 2nd interview a week from tomorrow. It's for a software company and they want a part-time office administrator to take care of basic administrative tasks that have been piling up. It's pretty much downtown and they're flexible with the hours, five days and 20 hours a week. I have to say I've got mixed feelings because I've gotten used to staying home and getting stuff done around here, but I'd rather be part time than full time so maybe this is the way to go. And anyway, there are probably a LOT of people who are wanting this so the odds of my getting it are probably about one in 50 or so.

Also, I have been having fun poking around with gardening. So far I have experimented with one of those topsy turvy things for strawberry plants. I also have one for tomato plants, but my tomato plants aren't big enough yet to put in there so that will have to wait a bit longer. I also have four pots to use for a couple more tomatoes, a few peppers, and some basil. And last time Michael and I were at Sam's Club, I saw a kit for a raised garden that was only $39 for 3.5 feet by 8 feet, so I got it and I'm hoping to get it put together this week and get it filled up with potting soil. Then I want to get some cucumbers and more tomatoes and other stuff in there. On my patio I have some trays that mount on the railing that have lettuce and spinach. Hopefully I won't kill them. I'm hoping to be able to go out and snip salad though the summer time. (The front was the only place we have that doesn't get too much sun, apparently lettuce and spinach don't like full sun.)

Also, I planted a new blackberry plant, pruned down all of the overgrown raspberry plants, and cleaned up all of the overgrown rosebushes and re-planted a couple of rosebushes where our old ones didn't make it. So far I have managed to not kill anything, we'll see how the rest of the summer goes.

Gary is out of town for the week. That means I get the whole bed to myself, but it means I have no one to chat with at night. I'd rather chat at night than have a whole bed to myself. I miss him already.