TGIF: As seasons change, a variety of projects appear
Spring actually sprang less than three weeks ago, but it might as well be the middle of June as far as warm-weather projects around the house are concerned.
Earlier in the week, I cranked up the lawn mower for the first time this year, and I was pleased to find that the well-used Craftsman mower, which I’ve had since long before Sears sold the brand, could actually serve me for yet another season. Its engine started with only one pull of the cord. It thrives on neglect.
My wife has been nursing some outdoor plants for a while now, because the February freeze was brutal. A few indoor plants that spend winters in a pop-up greenhouse on the back porch were also nicked. The small heater struggled to keep the temperature inside the greenhouse in the low 30s.
What about spring cleaning, you ask? Company’s coming soon, so there’s definitely some housework to do. Fortunately, we all have completed our two-dose regimens of COVID-19 vaccinations, so we can extend our hospitality with peace of mind.
Meanwhile, some long-overdue attention to my clothes closet and the ongoing chores in the garage are with me always.
Columnists also have to do spring cleaning. Throughout the year, we collect bits and pieces of column ideas. Some of them are only phrases waiting for inspiration to strike, and then 800 words or so of brilliant prose are added to them. A few ideas managed to generate a paragraph or two as a start, or as a conclusion, but I was never able to connect the dots and turn out a finished product.
So, while working in and around the house waiting for April showers, I’ll dust off my collection of undeveloped ideas to see why they flopped.
GO FLY A KITE — Several weeks ago, I entertained the notion of writing a column on the lost art of flying a kite. Flying kites were among the more frustrating pastimes of my childhood because I never could get my kite airborne. Thankfully, my father seldom had that problem. After he got it aloft, Dad would hand me the ball of string, and it was fun and games until I steered it into power lines. But that’s not enough for a column.
CATS AND DOGS FOR $1,000, AARON — We didn’t realize how good Alex Trebek was at hosting “Jeopardy” until we lost him. We also don’t realize how much our pets mean to us until they’re gone. My family had dogs when I was growing up, and my wife did too, but she’s a “cat person.” As a result, our household has been shared with one or more cats for decades. We’ve decided the two cats we now might be our last pets, because they demand so much attention. Lately, we’ve been “house-sitting” for neighbors, which means tending to their older dog and younger cat. While my wife tends to the cat, I feed and give the dog her medicine. This reminds me of the “grand-dog” our daughter had until last year, when age caught up with him. While hugging the neighbor’s dog, I’m also reminded of “Flopsy,” “Lady,” “Tippy,” and “Snoopy,” the dogs we had before I left home. But sorry, there’s not enough here for a column.
MY FUTURE IS TOAST — Thinking back to elementary school, I can’t remember when we didn’t have a toaster in the kitchen. The best toaster I’ve ever known was the first one. It popped out toast that was uniformly golden on the outside and medium-rare on the inside. You’ve seen such “retro” appliances. Nothing else can measure up. Mom received it as a wedding gift in 1949. In December, we replaced our modern four-slice, wide slotted toaster with another, larger chrome appliance called an air fryer. Four months later, we can cook waffles, pizza, and nachos, but we’re still trying to master toast. And to borrow a line from Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.
HAVING A “GREAT PANDEMIC” — Sometime last fall, a friend whose daughter is graduating from high school this year observed that she was “having a great pandemic.” Among other things, she said it made her more appreciative of the little things in life, which got me thinking. Primarily, I’ve had a reasonably good pandemic too. When you’re retired, you don’t have a job to lose as others did. A fixed income is still, after all, an income. And if you’re not in business, you have no business to lose. That teenager told her father that being in quarantine with her parents, separated from friends, wasn’t the best, but technology eased the pain. Plus, she had time to focus on decisions a senior in high school must make. I pray all youths emerge from the pandemic with such a positive attitude. I’m not able to expound upon that message — not then, not now — but I tried.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.