July was beautiful and soggy and hot and gloomy, flip-flopping uncomfortably almost every day. The yard work sorta kinda got done – whenever it was dry enough to get things done; even housework inside became unappealing. But July had so many bright spots – I’m looking forward to August!
July 1-10: The Drowned Rat Edition
Thunderstorms pop up seemingly at random. It’s time to do yard work in the evenings after my work day is done, but the skies regularly open up and dump rain on everything, followed by booms of thunder and flashes of lightning. Wolfie seems to be our storm forecaster, walking around the house and meowing whenever a storm is about an hour away. Thankfully the storms themselves don’t seem to bother any of the critters; they just annoy the humans with their unfortunate timing.
Saturday finally gives us a chance to get some work done outside. The fire pit needs to be moved. In our previous yard cleanup, we found a bunch of bricks that would make a perfect pad for the fire pit in its new location. We rip up some grass and lay the bricks down, but the fire pit doesn’t seem to be well suited to that location. The bricks are removed, the torn grass laid back down as best as we can, and the fire pit moved to the opposite side of the patio from where it had been originally. The barbecue is likewise slightly moved to accommodate it, and while it’s not exactly how we want it, it’s definitely a viable semi-temporary solution. After cleaning and relocating the fire pit, my partner is finally able to light a fire on stuff that he’s been trying unsuccessfully to burn for the past two months. Victory is ours!
July 11-17: How did I NEVER Do this?
The skies seem to open up in the evenings – my partner has taken to going out and doing yard work during the day while I am working from home – and I feel a certain sense of inequality about this. It doesn’t seem fair to me that he’s doing all the outside stuff while I’m nice and cozy inside. But right now, that’s how things are; I need to come to terms with it on some level.
Saturday, again, the weather gods cooperate. It’s nice and warm, and we’re able to do a few more tidying up things around the yard, such as moving the fire pit bricks we decided not to use into the ever-growing weed-infested dump that is what we’ve dubbed “The Ecopile.” My partner finishes up by mowing the yard, and taking the whipper snipper to get rid of some weeds. I’m feeling decidedly useless at doing things to maintain my yard, doubly so after awkwardly trying to use the whipper snipper myself. What tools can I use to maintain the yard well? I don’t even know where to start! Coming to terms with those thoughts is overwhelming.
Facebook comes to the rescue – in a couple of important ways. Even though my screen is cracked after dropping my phone on the sidewalk, I ask a question of my friends – both blind and sighted – about useful yard implements. A friend calls me from another friend’s house. My friend of a friend is an avid gardener – we all know where I stand on plants, so I decide to defer to her best judgment. The conversation flows easily, and without thinking I blurt out the words “Maybe I’m thinking too hard about this.” The instant I say it, I know that it’s true. As soon as I hang up the phone, my partner and I go back outside and I mow – for the first time in my life – the lawn on the south side of my house. It’s clunky and awkward, and my ability to keep myself going in a straight line is decidedly not present… but the yard got cut! By ME! And I feel… complicated. Will I ever get this right? Why did I never take the opportunity to do this before? Is there a way I can do this on my own without feeling like I’m just going to always suck at it?
Facebook, again, comes to the rescue. Another friend recommends a reel lawn mower – read: manual), and I like the sound of it. There’s no motor, so I can rely on sound cues to orient myself. Now, the big question? Where to get one! My upgraded phone arrives on Tuesday, and I post on my community league Facebook page asking if someone has one I can borrow or that they’re selling for cheap. A neighbor says I can come by and use hers, and even practice on her lawn! This person has met me a handful of times, and trusts me not to horribly mutilate her lawn? I realize I’m internalizing ablist ideas – “of course a blind person isn’t going to successfully mow a yard!” – and even though I know it’s not true, I can’t seem to stop myself. I’m simultaneously thrilled and full of trepidation, and when I walk over to her house on Friday – after once again the weather refuses to cooperate during the rest of the week – I’m ready to see how this goes.
It’s not smooth, it’s not straight, it’s not perfect. But I do it! I’m annoyed that I’m doing a thing for the second time in my life that her 7-year-old has done on the regular. But I do it! My years of experience playing goalball have me well-versed in moving forward and backward both quickly and in relatively straight lines; it’ll just take more practice holding something larger than a basketball. The lack of sound from a loud motor makes navigation so much easier, and I find by the time I’ve mostly trimmed their already-well-cut lawn, I need to get a reel mower of my own.
July 18-25: Tables, tables, Everywhere!
I search for reel mowers online, and I locate one I like. Unfortunately it’s not available to be shipped to me, and the local store doesn’t have it. I turn to the classifieds site Kijiji, and find to my delight that someone has the exact same lawn mower I’ve been looking at for half the price. They even deliver it to me free of charge (though I pay them a few bucks for their trouble). The mower goes into the shed, whose door is falling off because the base underneath it is slanting so badly – we need to get that replaced!
A friend from Bible school told me a few weeks ago that she has a small table that she’s not using. My partner and I spoke months ago about turning an area of our upstairs into a mini-games room – a small table, a few chairs, a mini fridge for drinks and snacks – and this table seems perfect! My friend texts me and says the table has been taken out of storage and can she drop it off? Of course I say yes! No sooner does she text me that she’s on our way than the skies open up, dumping so much water that even standing outside for fifteen seconds has my skirt plastered to my skin. My friend runs the table in two pieces from her car to the house, and my partner brings it upstairs so that we can put it together this weekend. By the time my friend leaves only a few minutes later, the sidewalks are soaked but the rain has slowed – she makes it to her car without further incident.
The table is reassembled on Saturday. It doesn’t take long, and it even suits the chairs from the kitchen set I’ve had for most of my life. My partner and I relocate that kitchen set – which has doubled as my “office” for my personal computer and other odds and ends for about a decade – into the room where he’s set up his computer. An old desk he bought when he first arrived here is no longer needed, and is in no shape to re-sell, so he breaks it down and we take it in pieces to the Ecopile. The new table sits proudly in the alcove upstairs where my old kitchen set used to be, and the whole space looks great, like it’s meant to look this way.
July 26-31: A Very Adulting Birthday to Me
I decide the carpet underneath the coffee table needs removal. It’s an old carpet, full of hair, and there’s no hope of making it serviceable. The coffee and end tables are removed, the couch and love seat are moved out of the way, and the living room is given a brush-up clean. The curtains are taken down and cleaned again, and the shelves that gave me so much anger six months ago are dusted off and starting to be repurposed. The floors are vacuumed and swiffered, the furniture is brought back and only slightly rearranged, and we call it a day.
Since I was ten years old, I wanted a hammock. I have no idea why that’s been one of those quiet things that sits in the back of my mind – those things you don’t talk about or even think about much but have always just sat there – but it’s my birthday this week, and by gosh I’m tired of just thinking about it and not making it happen. I price match hammocks, and find I can get one on sale for a price I can live with. It looks like it might even arrive on my birthday!
Jenny has shown her unwillingness to run long distances over the past few weeks. Mid-distances (6-8 km) are still doable for her, but longer distances such as half-marathons aren’t her jam anymore. My friend and guide runner, Ed, is guiding on my birthday half-marathon. It’s the virtual race where everything goes wrong. The short version of things that I learn? If you don’t remember when you bought it, it’s not good to eat on race day… and don’t try eating anything new on race day! Ed is endlessly patient; it’s not the race I wanted, including a nagging injury caused by a lopsided office desk chair, digestive issues due to the lessons learned listed above, heat and humidity, and a rolled ankle at the 19km mark. But I come home triumphant – I have one more medal I can add to my display. I walk through the door and am greeted by a wiggly Labrador, my cheerleading partner, and my seasonal housecleaner. Over the next few hours, my house is transformed into an oasis of tidied organization. My birthday concludes with a wonderful dinner and a relaxing evening of sunshine.
My hammock arrives the day after my birthday. My partner and I set it up successfully – after both misinterpreting how the hammock hangs over the stand. I get a chance to briefly try it out before heading over to the community league parking lot, where musicians from the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra are playing a live show. I check people in – I’m the one who set up the Eventbright ticket reservations – along with another member of the community who has helped me get permits and physical distancing markers. The sounds of a bassoon, a French horn, and a harp, fill the summer evening air, and soothe my soul like nothing has in weeks. After the show, my partner and I walk home, and I drift off to sleep in my hammock as the sun sets on another trip around the sun.