Leading by Trailing

Oh, I really have been a bad blogger, and a bad Internet friend.  Looking at the two previous posts, it occurs to me that I’ve posted exactly once in something like 45 days.  That’s not good.  No, that just won’t do.

You know the excuse is coming.  I will try to make it brief.  If you’re not interested in it, please skip to the next paragraph.  Still here?  I’m touched!  I’m feeling the love, sensing your concern for my well-being, dedication and industry.  See, here’s the thing:  Spouse and I had this two-part charity event to run on the 18th and 20th of September.  That took up a lot of our time in late August and early September.  The following week, we took three days off so that we could mount a five-day home improvement blitz and attack some of the jungle vegetation that seemed to have taken rather serious root in the southern portion of Juniorvania (i.e. behind the house).  When we got back to work late that next week, there were of course a bazillion things that needed catching up on – stuff we hadn’t been able to get done in the weeks before our event and stuff that had come up while we were away for three blessed days of vacation.  It behooved us to make sure that the paymaster remained inclined to fill our purses on a biweekly basis, so vocational concerns had to predominate for a time.  There followed (in rapid, almost dizzying succession) a weekend trip to this event at Wit’s End,  a week-long jury trial a trip to Sudbury for Thanksgiving, a trip to the vet (not theVet, but “the vet”) for Popeye (he has a tumor, but he’s fine), and (interspersed among all of the foregoing) a number of evenings spent watching the various political debates related to election campaigns both here in Canada and south of the border.   On top of all of that, David Foster Wallace had to go and fucking kill himself¹ and so I felt I had to spend every moment of free time that I had reading – or re-reading, in some cases – his essays.  As for this writing this blog, I felt like I had lots to say, but not enough time to sit down and organize my thoughts properly – so I avoided posting anything because I felt I didn’t have time to be comprehensive.   Now I have so much to tell that I’d have to write for a week straight just to get it all in.  Sigh.  Hoist by my own petard once again.

I’ll get to all that stuff – the eventing at Wit’s End, the backyard blitz, our trip to Sudbury, even the charity event – but tonight, the spirit moves me to tell you of something even more awesome.   Why is it so awesomely awesome?  It’s tractor-related, which is the best kind of awesome, because it involves gasoline, a motor, and sharp whirling blades.  Feast your eyes on this:

John Deere X300 and 10P utility cart

As you can see, the People’s Lawn Tractor has formed an attachment to the 10p utility cart ($229, unassembled)! Spouse and I went out and picked one up the other day.  Spouse and I have this week off, and we have been once again, IMG_4783instead of “vacating” as one might properly understand those on vacation to do,  been throwing ourselves into physical labour by way of attempting to improve our surrounding environment.  This week’s target was the eastern side of the house, an area that could only be described as “not badly overgrown” by way of comparison to the front of the house;  with respect to all other areas, it is – or was – in fact positively primeval.  I mention this because we quickly found that “improving” meant “cutting shit down”, the major down side of which is that the shit which has been cut must then be disposed of in some fashion².  Now, disposal of surplus vegetation has, in the past, been accomplished principally through use of a fortuitous combination of the instrumentality of the People’s wheelbarrow and the generous capacity of a steep (and deep) ravine near our western borders.  The said disposal has also principally been accomplished by my father-in-law Harold, who spent pretty much three solid days humping the said wheelbarrow back and forth between the backyard and the aforementioned ravine, disposing of various pieces of trees, all of which had been declared redundant, expendable and anti-social.   When confronted with the need to replicate Harold’s detritus transportation exploits, Spouse and I immediately had an insight and determined that motorized assistance was required at once.

Thus did we find ourselves yesterday at the local John Deere dealer flashing plastic and loading a cardboard box loaded with one potential trailer into the Probe.  I spent the early portion of the afternoon assembling the plucky little vehicle;  today, we put it to work.  Over and over again, we loaded the cart with branches (pruned), vines (removed from the entire eastern portion of the house), leaves (they’re frickin’ EVERYWHERE) and (in certain cases) entire shrubs deemed too diseased, too voluminous, or just too damn annoying to remain.  Over the past few days, we have excavated a lot of vegetation;  to give you a hint just how active we’ve been, the current tally concerning capital equipment depreciation reads as follows:


Over and over again, we drove our little tractor west towards the ravine (now known as “The Gulch”), IMG_4835executed a quick turn and backed the whole apparatus up to the edge.   The 10p cart has a great little mechanism that quickly releases the bed of the cart from its locked position and (if you’ve stacked the contents just right), the dumping action is automatic and strangely exhilarating. If ever anyone needed proof that flying a desk 9-to-5 causes one’s physical dexterity and co-ordination to do a cannonball into the nearest toilet, I would commend to that person the image of the comically inept manner in which both Spouse and I have found ourselves reversing a vehicle that’s pushing a trailer. It goes a little something like this: large circle; slowly forward to straighten everything out just so; driver turns to survey the objective; driver begins a confident, but slow reverse; trailer begins to yaw undesirably; driver confidently makes incorrect and overly drastic steering adjustment; trailer now yaws alarmingly; driver stops and curses, pulls forward again to straighten everything out just so – rinse, lather and repeat.




My back, shoulders and arms are all aching as it is from the sheer magnitude of the project (and, no doubt, the extreme indolence that has previously been a prominent feature of the exercise program for each related muscle group).  I can’t imagine how I’d feel if we’d been moving all the shite we’ve cut down by hand.   I love my tractor and his new friend, the 10p cart.

Spouse loves the tractor too!


¹More precisely, I found out about DFW killing himself in this time period.  He actually did the deed on September 12th, 2008, but I was so freaking busy with all the above-mentioned shite, I didn’t even hear about it until nigh on the end of September.

²I am assured that “piling the shit on the lawn and leaving it there” is not an option.  I know, I was surprised too.

By junior

Guitar owner and silly person.


  1. Dude,
    What about burning? Can’t you burn that stuff? That would make it oh so much more fun playing the “You can’t burn that!” game. Just leave folding aluminum chairs out though.

  2. @Geez:

    Only the finest haberdashery befits such an auspicious occasion. I quite like wearing mine, actually – it’s warm!

    @ Doug:

    Be assured that a substantial amount of the woody materials removed from the eastern slopes of Juniorvania have found their way – as recently as last night – into a Bowl of Fire out back. Anything remotely flammable that we didn’t need for last night’s conflagration made its way into the “You Can’t Burn That” pile that Harold started in the woods at the bottom of the driveway – for future Bowls of Fire. That pile just happens to be on the edge of The Gulch; getting the stuff there still posed a bit of a transportation problem, hence the 10p cart. Well that, and I just like to play with toys.

  3. Quiet literary thought: thank you for not using ‘enormity’ to describe the project. One of my unwritten pet peeves is the use of pejorative adjectives to describe something with no negative connotation. I admit to being unfamiliar with DFW and his work; with no novel being pushed down from on high by the defectiveyeti, perhaps one of his works could be the November project?

    Also: could they be “Great Bowls of Fire”? We lost a neighbor’s iguana to our rear slope at some point, and part of the reason I now refuse to prune it back is not sheer laziness, but the fear of discovering something moldering back there.

    theVet ridicules my physical grace (not without cause, as I find myself bleeding inexplicably unreasonably often). Thankfully, figgy seems to have not been cursed like me, though sadly, most of the head-first impact incidents have occured on my watch.

  4. @Mike:

    Full disclosure: I avoided that one more by good fortune than good management. Truth to be told, I did not know that “enormity” had a pejorative connotation. As for DFW (and NaNoReMo), I would be willing to try to take on Infinite Jest, but everything I’ve heard about the book suggests that it may take us more than a month to get through it (I think it’s something like 1000 pages long). I have a somewhat busy November ahead work-wise, so I doubt I’ll be able to make a lot of time for anything more than a chapter or two a night, so DFW’s master work might not be the right choice for NaNoReMo – maybe we should schedule that one for our own little (?) project in the New Year. That, of course, begs the question of which book we should read for NaNoReMo. I’m open to suggestions…got any?

    As for wetting your beak on a little DFW, I would recommend a couple of Wallace’s essays, notably Tense Present or Consider the Lobster. Also not to be missed is DFW’s commencement address to the Kenyon College Class of 2005; this one has gained some notoriety recently as a result of a passage that mentions suicide in passing (which passage has obviously assumed some additional significance in view of Wallace’s own suicide), but it’s a great piece in its own right.

    By the way, good on you to manage to keep posting consistently. You are a marvel.

  5. Well, as far as novels that’ll take up a month … while there’s plenty of those, and plenty more of the good-for-you kind (like fiber and lima beans), I was considering, based on my recent attention span, something from the world of children’s literature — perhaps the Invention of Hugo Cabret or a recent Newbery winner?

    Alternatively, if it must be classic work, I’m open to exploring something from Dickens, Dostoevsky, or Tolstoy (stipulating that it’s available in English from Project Gutenberg — mainly as a question of opportunity).

  6. I’m always up for any Russian literature and/or Dickens; these are among my favourites! I’ve never really dipped into children’s literature, although the link to Hugo Cabret is definitely interesting.

    While I’ve been busy not visiting my own blog, a fellow reader over at dy has raised the subject of NaNoReMo and Matthew has nominations and voting open – right now, it looks like Lolita will be the choice this year. What do you think? Should we go in our own direction or follow along with the crew at yeti? I would be happy to designate December as “International Graphic Novel Month” (InGraNoMo – “International” because you’re south of the 49th, I am [figuratively, if not geographically] north of same) and do Hugo Cabret…

    What say you?

  7. Lolita does have the Russian thing going for it, but I’ve read it already — though not recently — and think that Hugo Cabret might be more my speed at this point, what with work piling up at work and home.

    Something Tolstoy might be a bit ambitious; all I’ve read from Dickens is Tale of Two Cities, so I’m leaning towards some Dickens from Gutenberg, saving Hugo for the holiday season, maybe.

  8. Bleak House it is — the Gutenberg reason is because of figgy’s reaction to bookstores: somehow, they frown on a 1.5-y/o running around, disorganizing shelves and shucking covers off paperbacks. Go figure.

  9. Bleak House it is, then. In the meantime, I shall keep my eyes peeled for a copy of Hugo Cabret and we can read that over the holidays, perhaps?

    What kind of bookstore owners do you have on the Left Coast of the U.S., anyway? Here in south-central Ontario, they encourage that sort of thing – some stores have to resort to renting a toddler to perform the function.

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