Monday, March 21, 2011

Here's the mutiny I promised you

Millet - Gleaners
I'm itching to set things on fire. Yesterday I got my manual labor freak on by mowing the back hill and raking a metric ton of leaves. Our oak trees cling to their dead leaves like that mother gorilla with the dead baby held to her chest in the television special that still makes me cry so raking in the autumn, while a seasonally appropriate romantic idea, is a complete waste of time. The wind rattles the brittle saddle brown leaves, but they stay put high above the ground and the bullying rake.
I'd been supposing I should mow all week, but never got around to it. I used every excuse I could think of. My bee phobia. Potential rain. Potential wind, sunshine and maybe the need to be at the ready to fetch a sick kid from school. How would I hear the phone if I had my iPod set to deafen and the mower going?

Yesterday, I did what is most effective for me. I dove into the job without over thinking it. When MathMan came home from baseball practice, he noted that I'd been a busy beaver. Oh, baby, I can do it all. Oven fried chicken, corn pudding, strawberry shortcake and a pile of leaves that stretches from here to Chattanooga. And I didn't even ask for a ride back home from Tennessee.

As I did my thing yesterday, it occurred to me that it's wired into my DNA to receive a certain pleasure from committing acts of manual labor. My people were not philosophers, clergy, or aristocracy of any kind. Heck, they weren't even shopkeepers like MathMan's grandfather who owned a grocery in Chicago. No, my ancestors were the farmers, the sharecroppers, and before that - the peasants of Ireland and Scotland. They didn't own the land, they just worked it.

Just. Ha.

So when I spend my time doing things that require a lot of physical exertion, I feel a sense of satisfaction that I don't get from doing things on the computer, for example. Just this morning, I used the flexible snake thingy and pulled the equivalent of a small, dead animal except it was mostly my hair, out of the shower drain. I really should get a haircut, I guess. Anyway, despite its unpleasant smell and sliminess, you wouldn't believe the pleasure I received from having accomplished my mission of drain cleaning. I was ready to find an aircraft carrier and hang a banner. But then, just like our former President's declared Mission Accomplished, this war with the dirt, clogs, grime and general muck is ongoing. You can't fix other countries and you can't ever clean and be done with it forever.

Someone steer me back, please.

So this morning before MathMan left for work, I mentioned that I'd like to dispatch those piles of leaves for good before they start to blow around. I wanted to be done with the job thoroughly and without question.

"Would it be bad if I walked by with a lit match and accidentally dropped it into the leaves?" I cooed, stroking his chest fur. I knew what I was up against so I was using my feminine wiles to persuade him.

It was no use. He gave me one of those Oh, Lisa looks and issued his verdict. "No, you can't burn the leaves. It's too dry."

I hate it when he's practical. I offered to stand by with a hose, to make a circle of wetness around them, to haul them out to the dry creek bed behind the house and do the fiery deed there.

After a few more minutes of pleading and promises of sexual favors, he called me Beavis and escaped to have a shower.

He can afford to worry about things like brush fires. He's not the sorry sucker who'll be loading those damn leaves into bags to haul to the dump, I griped under my breath as I made the bed and considered how I could explain the burn marks where the leaves had been at the end of the day.

MathMan came out of the bathroom as the local news reported about a firetruck in an Atlanta suburb that was involved in an accident as it sped to put out a brush fire. I avoided his eyes, but he wasn't letting me off the hook. "Brush fire," he said pointedly.

"Fine," I snapped, my best impression of my fourteen year old self.

This martyr is going to spend the day not writing or reading or doing anything to further her career, but rather bagging up stupid leaves in stupid bags and calling the recycling center to see when I can bring them over. It's going to take me five trips, at least. All I have to haul them with is Chloe's little Toyota Celica Roxanne.

I hope MathMan's happy. He'd better enjoy it while it lasts because he's probably not going to feel so happy when he sees the little present from the drain I left in his shoe.

Who are you spiting today? Any martyrs out there?


  1. I know what you mean. Weeding, planting, and general futzing around in the back yard is great therapy.

    Hey, why haul all the leaves away? Are oak leaves bad for compost piles?

  2. "Just this morning, I used the flexible snake thingy and pulled the equivalent of a small, dead animal except it was mostly my hair, out of the shower drain. I really should get a haircut, I guess. Anyway, despite its unpleasant smell and sliminess, you wouldn't believe the pleasure I received from having accomplished my mission of drain cleaning."

    I got the same feeling of accomplishment the day I "snaked out" a dog-sized clot of dog hair from the newish vacuum-cleaner hose. "Never loses suction," my fanny.

  3. Oh! And I forgot to say that I want to burn stuff, too, only I want to burn the old mail that's been piling up for . . . well, I won't say.

  4. Oh I'm all about the martyr complex. Dishes? Dusting? Who spilled the Cheerios and left them all over the counter? Am I the ONLY one who sees the mess? Etc, etc...

  5. My ancestors are all hard rock miners, so I get the work ethic thing also.

  6. It occurred to me as I was reading this that maybe you could make some money doing what you're so good at -- helping people organize and clean. You could charge by the hour. And then write a book about surviving unemployment and how you became the doyenne of cleanliness and organization in the northern Atlanta suburbs.

  7. Next comes the drifts of yellow pollen. Sorry to ruin your day, but it is starting already.

  8. It's been raining a lot here, so we are off the hook for yardwork (thank you mother nature!).
    Last week I was sick with a burning sore throat like I have never experienced before - mega laryngitis & constricted throat so bad I could not swallow or drink or eat.
    So I went to the doctor. I sat for an hour in the exam room (I was watching my cell phone clock).. he comes in prescribes me a few things, took a throat culture, told me if I don;t hear back from them by 4 to call them & leaves. The actual appt is 5 minutes.
    When I did call back after 4, they treated me like I was a pain in the ass... we don't have the results yet. Ok well he TOLD ME to call after 4.

    He did not write out the prescription clearly so they took hours to get it done. He prescribed me a thick syrup to gargle - with a bitter taste that makes me gag. I told him I could not sleep- he gave me decongestant I should take every 4 hours.
    Were we even @ the same damned appointment???
    So the next day when things were worse, I tried calling him back- to say none of what he gave me is helping. We played phone tag with him digging in saying you have a virus.
    By mid day my practical side snapped into place after a little crying jag. I was in trouble.
    I can't even drink water it hurts so much.
    So I gave up on my Doc.
    My friend drove me to the hospital urgent care, this thing is so nasty I even put on a mask & gloves so as to not expose her to this plague.

    They determine I need an IV drip to rehydrate me, steroids to unconstrict & tone down the burning throat, antibiotics, & serious pain meds.
    All that stuff combined even allowed me to doze off while the fluid dripped in.

    3 days later I am still coughing up thick not clear gunk, & I my throat is not burning like the devil. My voice is half back, but not fully & I have had 2 nights of actual sleep.

    It pisses me off that my Doc did not get it right & I will be paying 2 sets of co pays & 20% out of pocket for each medical visit, only his was a waste of time. He's usually quite good, but this visit was totally lame.

    Still, I need to let him know this happened because if my 5 day dose of antibiotics ends & this flares up again, he needs to be ready to kick it with something other than lidacane bitter gargle syrup.

    Meanwhile I am burning up a whole year's worth of sick days over this most kick ass sore throat thing I've ever experienced.

  9. Seems you've forgotten the value of having next door yards. And then there are streets and sidewalks ... lots of options.

    Or, Craig's List 'em as "Hobby supplies".

  10. Here in the great white north, I just rake them over the gardens and let them rot.

    I come from laborers too. The smell of dirt is like flowers to me. But this laborer was NOT happy to come home from her 2nd job to find dirty dishes and other evidence of laziness. NOT happy.

  11. I'm a cleaning addict too. Love cleaning drains :-).

  12. Oh I come from a long line of martyrs. "No, it's fine really."

    I love your little gift for MM. Pay it forward - that's what they mean right?

  13. //certain pleasure from committing acts of manual labor//

    ...whoa... there is therapy for that.

    Actually, I used to suffer the same kind of feeling, but I was only sentenced to 3 to 8 and when I got out the feeling went away.

  14. As you were raking, I was taking the three hundred plastic plant pots (which have lurked behind the compost bins for years) down to the recycling center.
    You can't beat manual labor for emotional stress.

    I wonder if you should retrain in something like appliance repair? It's working for one of my friend's husbands. (He's a philosophy major who used to work for a nonprofit before being unemployed for two years.)

    Maybe you could be a plumber/writer combo. Do you think there are many of those?

  15. I get total and complete satisfaction from physical labor. I think I would rather get paid scrubbing or hammering than typing on a computer all day. Recently I bought one of those little battery operated Scrubbing Bubbles brushes and it made me SO happy!! I, too, come from Scottish proletarian stock.

  16. "it occurred to me that it's wired into my DNA to receive a certain pleasure from committing acts of manual labor."

    Oh, I totally know what you mean by that. I think that's why I actually LOVE cleaning. I like working up a sweat, scrubbing and vacuuming. I feel a sense of real accomplishment when I am done. And, it clears out my head for writing!

  17. Ooo, you sure write well when you're not writing, Lisa! Love it! All I can say is I have damn leaves and unfinished WIPs too. Bowing head and sending sympathy your way.

  18. I pulled hair out of the drain last week, but I don't have a snake thingy so I just used paper towel and probably pushed more father down. Anyway the water is going down a little faster and no paying the plumber. The furnace man was enough. So are you saying that if I clean my house (it looks like a family of 12 lives here and I live alone), I will get rid of my stress. And job opening at my association. Interested in coming back to good old Des Plaines and association work?

  19. I love, love, love to work outside. We had one nice day, and I had a semi-nice back so as the kids played my husband and I were raking leaf mush that had been rotting under snow for the past few months. I can't wait to mulch. I know, living la vida loca. There is just something that feels so fantastic about spring. By fall, I'm done. Spring though, get me out of the flippin' house!

    I love when you're not writing...

  20. Yes, I'm all spitey about Plenty of Fish. I don't even want to date at the moment. WTF?

    I also get a great feeling of satisfaction out of completing manual labor. I have no freakin' clue why. My mother always made us clean, clean, clean because if we were idle on the couch, we were "lazy." And now LAZY is officially a four-letter word.

    Hey, but I'm glad you feel better about it. I'd consider getting a big metal trash can and setting the leaves afire. Then toss the can. Case closed. No evidence left. You know, just sayin'.

  21. Beltane's coming. I burn a fire every May Day to get rid of the old and make way for the new. Want to join me?

  22. I woke up this morning, looked at the piles of drudge before me, and quickly adorned myself with a glistening martyr complex that even you would envy. Then I heard that out of the 7 billion people that live in the world only 1 billion own washing machines and suddenly all my effort at accoutrement flew by the wayside. I hate it when the rest of the world interferes with my dress code.

    P.S. I could have sworn you had a completely different blog site up this morning. Am I losing it?

  23. Aren't Drain Dingos the best?

    And hey, run the lawnmower all up and down those bad-boy leaves, blow them into a big pile, wrap some chicken wire around the whole mess, and voila!   You're an Organic Gardener!!


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