Thursday, June 12, 2008


This is our last day of "just us" here at Mom's; my brother and his family arrive tomorrow. The kids can't wait to see their cousins again, they've been planning their adventures since we said goodbye at the end of last summer.

As for me, I've enjoyed this week beyond reason. I'm not on vacation, yet, but I've taken a few days off from school to work outside. This house has been only minimally maintained over the years since my father died (1997), and surrounded as it is by encroaching woods, such neglect was passing from the benign to worrisome.

I brought a pressure washer a few days ago. I spent a day on the deck, which still has some greenish planks, but I think some deckwash might work just as well on that. I spent a day on the driveway. I think the last time it was swept was when I was here last summer, but I can't be sure of that:

I'm making the kids help, too. They've done some weeding, some raking, and some (very little, really) lawn-mowing with the push mower. Mom doesn't need a real lawn mower, since this is what we're mowing:

I know one of my nephews did some leaf-removal for my mom earlier this spring, but I'm not exactly sure where he put them. I think those leaves were part of the tremendous piles I've pushed back to the brush line.

Speaking of tremendous piles of leaves, there's yet one more to be shoved into woods:

These ones were under the side deck and all along the terraced side of the house, drifts inches deep. Tomorrow we will rake the whole mess behind the brush line and thank God that we don't have to bag it all.

I think the best part of the day was loading up the beach car (the sticker for the beach doubles for use of the town's landfill) with the old pile of wood that had been cluttering up beneath the deck for several years, and then taking it all to the landfill and heaving it into the huge dumpster full of construction and demolition trash. There's something very satisfying about heaving huge chunks of wood into a giant metal box.

Then again, the best part of the day was probably when we went to the little beach when I got home. We caught all sorts of things: brine shrimp, a tiny whelk, really obnoxious hermit crabs. There were these weird jelly-filled tubes, I think they must be some part of a jellyfish life cycle. The water was cool but not freezing, and the beach was deserted except for a group of young teenage girls: I say young because they were not too cool to go swimming and goof around in the water.

Tomorrow's Mom's birthday and I have a cheesecake cooling in the oven for her. It looked a little weird last time I checked it; I warned her that I couldn't be sure how it would turn out since she didn't buy the Philly cream cheese... the batter tasted good, though.

I'm on deck to make pizza for dinner for the crowd (11 of us, I think), but that's fine. No pressure washing, and only that last little bit of raking to do in the morning, and then back to schoolwork. The forecast says it will be too cool to go swimming tomorrow, and DD wants to go beach combing; we'll see what happens.

My to-do list for the yard is still a bit long: weed and mulch the flower beds, clean up the other side of the house, pressure wash the patio and all the outside furniture. But I don't need to get all that done now; my goal was to get the backyard in decent shape so the kids could go out and play back there without dealing with tall grass and dead leaves everywhere. We've already had one tick incident (DS2, on Monday) and I'd rather not have anymore. The other stuff just needs to be done before July 13, when we're having a party for my brother's sixtieth birthday.

Today I thought, there must be something wrong with me: I had so much fun. Mom's concerned that I'm working too hard, she thinks I'm crazy. I'm not, I'm really enjoying myself. In years past I was too tied up with child-minding or not physically capable of doing what I'm doing now. When I lived here (as a snotty teenager), I had little patience for yard work -- the only saving grace, nearly 30 years ago, was that the trees were much smaller and many fewer, and so we had less work to do. I can't recall ever having this much stamina in the past. I would be good for one day of hard physical labor, but not three in a row. (Yay, me!)

At the risk of jinxing what has been a remarkable run, I will come right out and say my rheumatoid arthritis is in remission. The only parts of my hands that hurt are the thick muscle under my thumb, and the few blisters I've developed. This is extraordinary given that, when I first arrived, both my mother and my sister were suffering major weather-related flares.

Whatever else is happening, just knowing that this is within walking distance is enough.

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