Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Day In a Nutshell... or rather, Nut HOUSE...

Today was a crazy, busy day. But, what else is new, right?

It's nearing the end of the school year... at last. I can't WAIT for it all to be over, and if I'M this wound up with anticipation about the end of the drudgery of routine, then just imagine how my girlies are feeling these days.

Actually, this morning was Child Number Three's last day of junior nursery. Of course, there was a "graduation" ceremony... Because, nowadays, EVERYBODY "graduates" from EVERYTHING at the end of the year, don't they?! Fortunately, the event was overwhelmingly cute, and there was good food involved. I'm a sucker for both of the aforementioned. In fact, I was up until midnight last night, baking cookies just for the event. "Disorganized!" you say? Not at all. I actually baked the FIRST batch yesterday afternoon, then made the mistake of leaving the children with my husband at home while I nipped out to run an errand... Well, let's just say, when I came home, it was evident that a second batch of cookies needed to be baked.

When we finally made it home after the ceremony this morning, and had completed all of the to-ing and fro-ing that make up my children's' multiple lunch hours, I threw on my grubbiest clothes, set up a little tent-and-tunnel set for my kids to play with on the lawn, and set off for the lower flower beds with my biggest, baddest pitchfork.

I recently threw in the towel with the lower beds, and hired an arborist by the name of Jim to come over with enormous chain saws, a grinder and a very noisy wood chipper. He heroically sawed down the revoltingly overgrown rocket junipers that had overrun the space, and then laughed wildly as I did a little jig, watching him feed the chunks of tree through the wood chipper. The noise and the mess he made with those machines was formidable... and watching him grind the stumps and roots right out of the ground made me Want His Job. It was an immensely satisfying afternoon's work... even if I was only allowed to watch from a safe distance.

So, now I've got a whole new space to plan and plant. I've got some great ideas... and I confess, I have actually bought some of the plants and small trees already. However, what I also bought were about ten enormous bags of fertilizer and triple mix... the soil in that bed was evidently last "turned" during the reign of the dinosaurs, and it needs a good deal of digging and mixing-in before anything will be able to thrive down there.

So, there we were... me, filthy, sweaty and generally horrifying to behold, and my children grass-stained and grubby and gloriously happy in their tent... When I looked over on the grass next to me, and noticed that the little red "MESSAGE" light on the the roam-telephone I had brought down with me was flashing wildly.

I dropped my pitchfork, pulled off my gloves, and listened to the message... and immediately wished I hadn't.

It was my mother. Whom I love, don't get me wrong. But today, I felt a whole lot LESS love than usual, because her message was to say that she and my father were in their car, ten minutes from my home, and they were coming for a "surprise" visit ("You don't need to go to any TROUBLE for us, dear, we'll just see the children and sit on the patio for a bit...") Fine and fair enough. The kicker was, that they had a pair of ancient and extremely high-maintenance British relatives with them, and they had ALL just been to a funeral. And I'm not kidding about that last part, they actually HAD.

"Jolly good."


People, you should have SEEN me take off out of that flower bed. It must have been a sight to behold-- Goddess With Wings On Her Heels, no kidding. And with a trail of little children flying behind her. Because, Goddammit, no matter HOW BAD I LOOK, my kids need to look at the very least, neater and cleaner than I do.

By my calculation, judging by the time on my mother's message, I had approximately five minutes to get the garden, my kids and my SELF in some semblance of presentable order.

The kids actually co-operated: Child Number Two wiped her little sister's face and helped her put on something without mud on it, before cleaning and changing herself.

I whipped wildly around the garden, collecting things to throw out of sight, into the sheds. After I cleaned and polished the table and chairs, I galloped into the house, and gave each child their very own Secret Weapons.

In a closet on my main floor, I keep several empty white laundry baskets. Not for laundry, but for JUST this sort of occasion. It's my method of emergency "cleaning", even if it's not REALLY cleaning, but rather a sneaky form of "shit-shuffling", and my husband and I call it. That's where you don't REALLY put stuff away, you just move it from one place to another.

Anyway, each kid and I got a big white basket... and we filled those baskets with as much clutter as we possibly could, with the time we had allotted to us. Then, before anyone could catch us, we crammed the baskets, filled-to-the-brims, back into the closet, and slammed the door. By the time my parents et al sailed through my garden gate, the house actually looked relatively presentable.

And the visit was pleasant, it was actually very nice. I had tremendous sympathy for my relatives, who were close friends of the deceased, and who were holding up pretty well for the most part, under the stressful circumstances they had just been through. We sat on the patio, sipping lemonade, and chit-chatting about nothing in particular, watching the children water the flowers with their little watering cans...

Yessir, it would have been quite a successful visit indeed, had I had time for a shower MYSELF, and an opportunity to change my clothes... Because there are few things in life quite so unsettling as being in absolutely no doubt that, while you are making small-talk with people you hope to favourably impress, your entire being simply reeks of sheep manure. The pong was pungent, people, and no one was in any doubt of what I had been doing with myself all afternoon...

Oh, well. At least they didn't find the laundry baskets in the closet, right?

1 comment:

ewe are here said...

You handled the 'surprise' visit amazingly well, I must say. Very impressive.

I'm like you: I can get clutter out of the way verrrry quickly if I have to, although I hate to 'have to' on such short notice. Not a fan of surprise visits.

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