Managing the lawn: a life lesson

31 July 2009

Gardening is like doing a jigsaw.  A pointless way of passing time until you die. – Jeremy Clarkson, The Times (London)

Yesterday, the Supermodel and the kids were off in the San Jose area, visiting my in-laws (“Grandma G.” and “Guy,” as the kids call them).  Having a little extra time on my hands and the weather being agreeable, I chose to spend a couple good chunks of the day catching up on the yard work — specifically mowing the back lawn.

One of the reasons we moved to this house over five years ago was that it had lawns, front and back, and we wanted our children (our daughter was 2½ at the time, our son was actually born a week before the move) to have their own space of grass to play in.  Previously we had been renting part of the first floor of a drafty old Victorian that was surrounded by fruit trees and rose bushes in various states of repair, but no real open space to speak of.  Our current locale has a substantial back yard with some trees (oak, almond, olive and one we can’t identify), and a front yard with plots of grass broken up by cememnt walkways.  Plenty of soft green for the little ones to gambol.

Of course, in this fallen world everything has a downside.  The downside with a lawn is that you have to take care of it, or pretty soon you don’t have a lawn, you have a weedy patch of dirt.

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Preparing for the worst … or is it the best?

29 July 2009

I’ve been putting off writing this all day.  I need to write this.  Maybe for you, absolutely for me, I need to get this out.

Over a month ago, I posted this blog entry dealing with my mom’s recent health problems, including the possibility that she could have liver cancer.  I talked to her Monday night, a few hours after her most recent visit with her doctor, and found out the latest.  Yes, it’s cancer, and it’s inoperable — trying to remove it at this point would simply kill her faster.

So let’s just say that things here at Chez Anselmo are a little … muted.  My on-again, off-again low-grade depression is definitely on again, that numb car-accident feeling I talked about before.  The Supermodel has been affected as well, not helped by some additional health problems of her own (hopefully minor — but with the “C” word hanging in the air, it kind of preys on your mind).  We haven’t told the kids, and we won’t until either they ask or she dies, because we feel it’s not fair to put that kind of burden on minds not yet ready to handle it — but that also means that when the Supermodel and I want to talk about it, we have to be somewhere they’re not and circumspect besides.  It hasn’t been a lot of fun.

And how is Mom handling this?  Well, her reaction can best be summed up as, “I’m going to Disney World!”

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L’affaire McNair, and a simple solution

28 July 2009

Out of respect for the dead, I’ve held off until now on the subject of Steve McNair.  But I think an important point has been missed in the discussion, and I’d like to get it out on the table.

McNair, as you probably know, was a successful NFL quarterback for thirteen seasons with the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens before retiring last year.  Since then, he’d been working on building his post-playing career.  He was running a restaurant in Nashville and had a farm in his native Mississippi, pretty much out of the public eye.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t all he was working on, and he didn’t stay out of the public eye – if he had, a lot of people would be a lot better off.  And I would be writing about something else today.

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The Church, locked in an institution

27 July 2009

The world of religion has a way of sanctifying the last era and riding it until the next era is nearly over — a conservatism [that] gives religion a bad name, as if God isn’t strong enough or wise enough to deal with today. — Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point.

So yesterday, I picked up the Supermodel and our kids from the service they attend every Sunday morning.  And as usual, on the way home I asked her how the service had gone.  She gave me the basic description – a guest speaker was there, here’s what he spoke about, a lot of people who hadn’t been attending in recent months came back that day to hear him.  And that was it – nothing extraordinary to report.

After a long silence, I was surprised at the words that came out of my mouth next: “I guess I was hoping that I’d actually missed something.”

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Why Conan will triumph … eventually

22 July 2009

It’s been several years (basically since I got married in 1999) since I’ve watched a TV program with any regularity.  Recently that’s changed — there is now one show I check out most episodes of: The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

I was a mild fan of Conan’s show back in my single days, when I was still energetic enough to stay up that late.  More recently, I’ve been watching his new program on Hulu, a rebroadcasting website partly owned by NBC.  Conan’s hosting of the venerable late-night warhorse began June 1, and has aired every weekday since save for a week at the end of June where it was bumped for Wimbledon coverage.  And I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying it for the most part.

But I’ve also been hearing about the revamped show’s problems in the ratings.  After the first week, Conan started getting beaten pretty regularly in the overnight Nielsen viewership numbers by CBS and The Late Show with David Letterman.  Until the last week or so, he was still winning the race for viewers aged 18-34 (the ones advertisers seem to want the most), but recently he’s been falling behind Letterman there as well.  And there’s another cloud looming on the horizon: the previous Tonight Show host, Jay Leno, is returning to NBC in September with a Tonight Show-style talk/variety show to air at 10 pm Eastern & Pacific/9 pm Central on weekdays (Conan comes on at 11:35 Eastern & Pacific/10:35 Central).  Leno’s deal will also be based in Los Angeles, which means that his show and Conan’s could end up competing for the same guests.  All in all, it doesn’t look good right now, and pundits in the media, from NPR to Perez Hilton, is wringing their hands about whether Conan will survive this sudden downturn in his fortunes.

They are; I’m not.  Remember, you heard it here first: Conan O’Brien is going to be just fine.  In fact, I think that a few years from now, people are going to have forgotten he and his show were ever in trouble.

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Happy Distraction Day!

20 July 2009

I’m declaring a holiday today.  And I’m going to call it Distraction Day.

Now, this holiday will be different from most holidays, at least those in American culture.  Here in the U.S., holidays tend to be a time to take off from work, eat excessively, laze around (unless you’re the one cooking for those excessive eaters), and abandon one’s usual schedule of activities.  But Distraction Day will be different – it’s a day to get things done, empty the figurative inbox, eat less (because I’m too busy with other stuff) and … well, and still abandon the usual schedule, so that part’s similar.

Maybe I’m the only person this happens to, though I suspect I’m not.   Or maybe it’s just my personality type, which is more likely.  But give me one or two big projects and I’ll dive into them, happy as a clam in mud.  Give me a bunch of little tasks and I get rattled.  Charles Colson, the former White House counsel and current prison reformer, used to say the same thing about his old boss, Richard Nixon – and I know that Nixon and I share a Myers-Briggs profile (ISTJ, if you’re curious.  And yes, knowing that you share a personality type with Tricky Dick can be very humbling).

Regardless of the cause, I’m a little distracted at the mo, because even in my unemployed state, I’ve got a lot of little things piling up.  (Anselmo’s First Law: Activities always multiply or expand to fill the available time.)  So I’m proclaiming Distraction Day, and clearing the decks!  The celebration will include:

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Periodic Pingback Doubleheader: Monk and Viola get back to the roots

18 July 2009

In case anyone was wondering where I was: no, I wasn’t beaten to death by angry pastors for things I’ve said on this blog.  (Though the year’s not over yet, wink.)  I was just tired, due to the heat (it’s been over 100F/38C every day this week, and we don’t have air conditioning) and some general life ‘n family issues (minor ones, eminently fixable, just a whole lotta them).  And in the words of Huey Lewis, I took a couple days off.  Never fear, though; I’ve already decided next week will be posts-a-go-go, a lot of stuff to read about – stay tuned and see what happens.

And as a reward for your patience, I have not one, but TWO Periodic Pingbacks to keep you hopping this weekend!

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