Ferris Bueller Had the Right Idea

Shhh!   Don’t tell anyone, but Spouse and I have taken a couple of days off from work.

A day off is a wonderful thing;  if you’re anything like me, you have it in mind to accomplish so many things, but you also want to just revel in your chance to drive in the slow lane for a change.   For us, on these days, priority one is very definitely just kind of recharging our batteries vis-a-vis the workplace.

A very close second, though, was “getting those chairs painted”, you know, the ones my father-in-law started painting two weekends ago.  The lawn furniture in question is a set of two chairs with matching table and bird bath that my Dad made several years ago, and which he and my Mom kindly donated to the People of Juniorvania.  The acquired assets were in need of a paint job and – when he and Gillian were here in late May – Harold was, as Pierre McGuire is wont to say, “a monster” with the paintbrush.  He layed down a number of difficult early coats on all of the pieces over the course of a couple of days back-breaking work, but wisely fled the jurisdiction prior to completion of the task.

Here’s a picture of Harold getting the painting party started:

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Harold Takes the Task in Hand

Spouse and I spent a couple of hours in the driveway ourselves this afternoon, gaining new appreciation for the difficult work Harold had already accomplished. With any luck, tomorrow morning will see the application of one final coat on each piece and I will happily spend the afternoon literally watching paint dry.

After the painting was done (well, actually, in between coats) we headed in to the backyard and were mesmerized by the movements of this little fellow:

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May Be a Juvenile Ruby Throated Hummingbird

I had a great time following this little guy with the camera and trying to get some good in-flight shots. It was such a beautiful sunny day that I could really ramp up the shutter speed and go full telephoto. Here’s a shot of our new friend heading in for a snack at the new feeder:

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JHB01 Looking for Clearance Runway Two Seven...

I am really pleased with some of the shots I got of this little visitor today.

We finished off the night with a bowl of fire out back (first one of the season) and a couple of beers before settling in to watch Malkin and the Penguins dismantle the Red Wings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final (turning point of the game:  for sure, Malkin’s first breakaway shorthanded in the second period.  He didn’t score, but it gave life to the Pens, especially Jordan Staal, who followed that rush up with a breakaway of his own and rang up a shorty in the process.  The Pens didn’t look back in the game and – with a few breaks and some discipline early in Game 5 in Detroit, they might not look back in the series.)  I’d like to write some more about the Final tomorrow.  For now, it’s time to pack it in for the night  and get some shuteye so I can get up early and enjoy doing whatever the hell I damn well please again tomorrow.

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:

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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.

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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!

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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.