Many Hands Make Light Work

planter

Two large decorative pots stood guard outside of the apartment doors like stone lions, but cheap and temporary. Inside of the pots, weeds grew tall and unchecked with cigarette butts and trash as fertilizer.   This was an embarrassing problem as a volunteer group was currently en route to check on their beautification project from last summer.

The volunteers were a group of well-meaning housewives from the very far north side of the city where they almost certainly did not use planters as an ashtray or trashcan.

“You,” I shouted, “Stop right there,”

A man wearing a pair of basketball shorts with skinny legs froze in action, he was caught red handed or in this case with the glowing cherry of a nearly finished cigarette that was about to be stubbed out in one of the pots. He looked up with wide eyes, aware of his unmistakable culpability in the situation.

“I need your help, Chicken Legs.”

It was not a question but a demand and a sentence for his crime against potted flowers and beautification projects everywhere.

“Hey, Miss Puney. It’s not what it looks like; I don’t usually leave these here but just this one time.  Sure I’ll help; anything you need.”

Walking closer and peering into the pot, there were 15 to 20 white cigarette butts haphazardly placed as though seeds strewn by a careless farmer hopeful for tiny cigarette packs to one day grow.

“Just this once, huh?”

I shook my head at the discrepancy of his words and my observations.

“It doesn’t matter now. The volunteers are on their way and we have to get these pots ready for them.”

“The volunteers?”

Chicken Legs was unfamiliar with the women who were about to descend upon us, leaving a trail of Chanel No. 5 in their wake. They would not be pleased to find a butter knife, a discarded juice pack, a tangle of weeds of an uncertain number of cigarette butts.

“Please help me to clear these pots.”

Chicken Legs heard the anxiety in my voice and nodded, “You got it.”

Together, we set out on our mission under the hot sun of late May. By the time the women arrived, we were sweating and suspiciously dirty but the pots were ready for their petunias, begonias and ivy for a fresh summer look.

I gave wink and a thumbs-up to Chicken Legs when it was all over and released him from his sentence.

Many hands do make light work.

A Seed of Promise

Luck

A  massive apple seed fell onto the floor from under the pillow.  It was brown and flat, still and unassuming.  Perfect for planting. What luck!

However, when the  seed stretched out its legs and started walking, several things became known at once.

The seed would never produce a healthy tree and give shade to weary passerby or a juicy, ripe fruit to satisfy an empty stomach.  It would never send roots down into the earth to bully the worms or stretch its branches up towards the sky for birds to take shelter from a storm.

The seed that held such promise turned out to be a bedbug. Perhaps it was one of many, all living off of the life blood of its gracious host, destined to feed and breed and wait for death.

Isn’t that life?

 

apple s

.

 

A pig is a pig is a pig

tcp

On craigslist, there are an abundance of sugar gliders, pit bulls, exotic birds and other worn-out novelty pets looking for their fur-ever homes. Forever or fur-ever, makes no difference.  It all means the same thing, a peaceful transition from one home, overrun with unwanted people and pets, reeking of urine and hopping fleas to your home, calm and clean, for now.

Papers of authentication, be damned.

After my normal daily review, I was all set on the adoption of a grizzled, one-eyed tom cat, appropriately named “Winks” when a new posting caught my attention for a teacup pig. I almost wrote that the post caught my eye, but it didn’t feel right after introducing and abandoning Winks so quickly.

There was a picture of a creature peeking out of blanket-nest with a pink nose and a pair of tiny, squinting eyes. The photographer caught the piglet at just the right angle and lighting to appear perfectly charming.  It was no bigger than a kitten, fuzzy and pink, certainly no swine.

My heart was won. Sorry Winks, but I’m about to be a teacup pig owner, I thought to myself.  This little guy has all the right stuff.  It is smart, potty trained, likes to cuddle and loves cats.  Could this be too good to be true?

Then, sure enough, I noticed at the bottom of the post a few simple words of warning, “Do your research. While small now, this teacup pig does have the potential to grow larger than a teacup.”

Ah, how the truth set me free.

Teacup pigs are actually baby pot belly pigs.  They can keep growing until they are four years old and can get to be 100 to 120 pounds.  These so-called teacup pigs can live up to 18 years old and cost several thousand dollars a year for food, vet bills, and proper space.  Maybe more than I bargained for?

On a second look at the photo, the piglet was already bigger than a teacup, approaching the size of a mug and soon to be bigger than a gallon of milk.

The writing was on the wall; the pig would outgrow our small house and likely sit on at least one of the cats. It would break down the flooring and furniture, disrupt the peace, and eat up all of our leftovers and snacks in addition to its own pig-food.  It would have been a gross oversight on my part to ignore the line of caution and pursue the adoption of Teeky, the teacup-for-now, but soon-to-be-regular-sized-sow.

A pig is a pig is a pig.

With such a clear warning, why would anyone ever bring one into their home and expect something different?

pg
Oversight

Like a boss

ant

Much like an ant, I followed the trail of crumbs across the countertop, over the shiny and strange cooking utensils that my coworker brought in to work on his culinary skills at lunchtime, and onto the black stove top.  The stove top was splattered and splashed with an unidentified material that had dried there in cruddy pools, like sea creatures left in the sand after the tide has gone out.

My work was not done as the trail continued beyond the stove, perhaps to an unattended piece of pizza or another plate of spaghetti alla carbonara, my own pot of gold at the end of the crumb rainbow.

I carefully tracked the remaining crumbs and splashes across the kitchen and directly into my co-worker’s empty desk.

He ran out earlier and said, “I’ve got to go and do something somewhere, I’ll be right back.”

His main objective is to remain vague and he’s very good at it, along with disappearing for long periods of time and making easy tasks incredibly complicated and ultimately left undone.

An hour after his departure, there was still no warm body at this desk, just an abandoned bowl with a noodle stuck to the rim, a forgotten or missed relic, and an overflowing trash can with sandwich wrappers, balled up aluminum foil, and Styrofoam coffee cups.

The fruit flies kept me company for a few minutes after I disposed of his rather unsavory trash and went back to my office space, happy for the solitude in which to catch up on case notes and phone calls.

Slowly the door swung open, it was the long awaited return of the missing mess-maker.

Praise the Lord and Hallelujah; now we can both get back to either working hard or hardly working. The details don’t matter much when your grant is about to end or you have lucrative side business hustling used couches.

So here is my sage advice for the day:

In whatever you do, do it like a boss and if your boss asks what you are doing just say, “I’m going somewhere to do something.”

Mudding the Walls

mud

There is great satisfaction from working with one’s hands. However, when one nearly amputates one’s finger, the satisfaction is greatly decreased.

Let me paint the scene, or in this case, mud it.

We had taken down all of the wooden paneling in our backroom and replaced it with drywall. This makes for a short sentence but took several long weekends to actually accomplish.

Generally speaking, once nailed to the walls and ceiling, the sheets of drywall are close but not perfectly flush with one another. Most especially this is true in an unevenly cobbled together house such as the one in which we live. So we use this special tape wherever two edges of drywall meet and cover it with this grey gunk, called mud, to fill in the cracks, seal the seams, and to make the walls nice and smooth.

Easy enough, right?

I had just finished the perfect seam. Smooth and evenly spread with light feathering out on each side; it was the kind of seam that I knew would make my dad proud. Then it occurred to me that my tongue was going numb and my hands were shaking.

“Blood sugar’s dropping,” I slurred out.

I’ve got this, I thought to myself since my usual mode of communication was temporarily disabled. I shook off the shakes with the determination to finish one more seam before collapsing or seeking out a cookie or scoop of peanut butter. In either case, I was not giving up just because of a little hypoglycemia.

Scraping the excess mud from one drywall knife onto the other, I wavered with the thought that I really should stop but continued on anyways. And then suddenly when my drywall knife should have been scooping, smoothing, or scraping, it took on the function of slicing. The edge of the blade cut through the skin on the top of my index finger and stopped just shy of the bone. This was the finger that I might use to point out something interesting, to scoop a sample of frosting from a cake or to squish an ant, a very important digit by all accounts.

As blood spurted from the top of my finger, I stared in shock.  Then, I swore to never be helpful again and started screaming.  Side note: I am not the best at dealing with situations that involve pressure, crisis, conflict, or blood which are not exactly strong talking points in a job interview or when making a few friend.  Subjects such as these are better left to discussions with penpals and counselors.

Fast forward to a new day with a fresh bandage wrapped around my wounded finger.

I am still fervently wishing the walls will come together on their own, possibly through divine intervention, and waiting for my finger to heal.  The fact remains clear that this terrible job is not meant for the impatient or weak of heart.

My utmost respect goes out to the DIY (do-it-yourself) nation.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
-Aristotle

http://www.wikihow.com/Tape-and-Mud-Drywall

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,410343,00.html

http://www.familyhandyman.com/drywall/tips-for-finishing-drywall/view-all

take it…

Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.image

-kurt vonnegut

Life

Life is like stepping into a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink.

-Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

boat

On maturity…

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.

-Kurt Vonnegut

Tha Crossroads

crossroads

Much like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, I find myself waiting at Tha Crossroads.

(Warning: as a gangster wannabe, this song title has been used slightly out of the context just for the sake of introducing it into my blogging world. My apologies to real gangsters who were hoping to read about gangster related issues. However, the issues of the meaning of life, loss, and sacrifice transcend labels/groups so I hope you will keep reading.)

I am pulled by my heart to be a creator, to live by my own hand, to be spontaneous and free, to write and read and enjoy the world while the sun is shining. At the same time, the lure of money and stability pulls me in the opposite direction. Food, water, and shelter are so darned alluring to a simple human like me.

I figure that I could still have these things if I followed the voices in my head, but the water might be from a river, the food might be foraged, and the shelter might not have four walls.

Whenever I pass a bridge, I consider the possibility of living underneath of it. It’s a habit that I started a long time ago when whispers of another kind of life tickled the part of my brain usually left unused. Some bridge dwellings are passable, while others are too slanted, dirty, or already populated by a fellow “freedom seeker”.

Of course, this scenario might seem rushed to go from job to no job and living under a bridge. Realistically, I would have some time between the two extremes. (Plus, I’m still searching for the perfect bridge.) The time would come, however, when I would have to find some way to make money to survive with at least a few creature comforts, like leather journals, prosciutto and fontanel cheese. If at that time, the perfect bridge shelter remained elusive and I had found no other way to collect a paycheck, I would have to rejoin the 9-5 working world (audible sigh).

Another important consideration to leaving the corporate jungle is who would feed my cats/husband if I lived under a bridge? They would eat pizza every night, all lined up on the couch, watching out the window waiting for me to get tired of “roughing it” as a bridge troll and return home.

While I was mulling over the guardianship and pizza problem of the cats/husband, I found an ad for a llama farm where they were looking for someone to teach sustainable llama farming. At last, a job that really resonated. I could learn a sustainable way to live and support the gang (cats and Mister). The farm owners were even willing to pay $100.00 a month for the training opportunity. Sure, I would have to shovel llama shit, feed and groom the creatures, care for the garden and the list goes on and on of the required activities, but the experience would be priceless.

Unfortunately, the llama farm was too far away, and so like my bridge dream, I had to let it go.

If only there was a way to be creative and free, untethered to the corporate world, and still able to make enough money to support my habits of used books, red wine and writing. Then, I would be able to move forward from these crossroads and in the words of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, I could stop “asking the good Lord why? And sigh, it’s I he told me we live to die.”

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tha Crossroads, Bone Thugs N Harmony, official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9IXAJg4Vm0

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-make-a-difficult-decision-30-tips-to-help-you-choose/

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/4-things-you-need-aware-when-you-make-difficult-life-decisions.html

The Best of Apartment Living: a retrospective look

piggy bank
1.Rent
It is money that you never see again and good riddance to bad rubbish- who needs all those bills weighing down your pockets or cluttering up your savings account/fireproof lock box hidden under your bed.

2.Snow Removal/Lawn Care
There is always a boozy smelling guy salting, scraping, and shoveling in the winter or mowing and blowing in the summer making the complex a safer, nicer place to live in between trips to the work shed for his “medicine”.

3.Third hand contact buzzes
Pot smokers turn on their bathroom fan to clear out the smell of cheap weed which gets recirculated throughout the rest of the building thanks to the most up to date ventilation system of the 1950’s.

“What’s that smell you ask, Granny? Someone must be cooking something with a lot of herbs in it.”

“What’s that, Granny? Now you would really like something chocolaty or maybe a bag of chips?”

4.Broken Water Pipes
Since doing the right thing isn’t always the cheapest thing, broken water pipes get repaired with saran wrap and duct tape. Renter’s insurance should replace anything that gets ruined by ice cold brown water that has been in waiting to rain down since last winter, when the exact same thing happened to the last tenants.

5.Meeting people like the tomato-growing-cat-protector
She started by setting out a dish of food for a stray cat and ended up feeding and sheltering an entire colony of feral cats- all this between the buckets of tomatoes that she grew underneath of the stilted stairs and deck area of the apartments that faced the pond. Surprisingly enough, someone complained to management about the colony and the buckets of tomatoes. The tomato-growing-cat-protector was asked to stop feeding the colony and the cat boxes were mysteriously removed – to which she responded by replacing the boxes, leaving out bigger dishes of food, and bringing the ones she could catch to live in her apartment.

She was asked to leave the apartment complex by eviction notice- apparently harboring a colony of feral cats breaks the no-pet rule but the tomatoes were ok.

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