Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Great American Lawn -- FAIL!

I live in a town that I love in most respects. I have great neighbors, who can be counted on to help in a crisis. The town government is open and responsive, for the most part. The schools are great, and did well by my kids.

But everyone seems to have a gardener. No one warned us of this before we moved in. For 16 years, we have been limping along on our own.

Why all these gardeners? It's Great American Lawn fever, right in my town! Centuries from now, anthropologists will look back at the mid-twentieth century as the period when grass went mainstream. The wealthy always had nice lawns, of course. The word "greensward," meaning an area covered with green grass, was first used around the year 1600. After World War II, however, as home ownership became possible for many, lawn culture took off.

My Dad loved his Great American Lawn. Every Saturday, out came the lawn mower, and my shirtless Dad would lovingly cut and groom his quarter-acre of green. In the early days of our marriage, even my husband fussed over the lawn. After the kids were teens and no longer playing on the lawn, we even engaged a lawn service to regularly deliver a chemical mix to encourage growth and kill weeds on the front lawn.

We gave up on the Great American Lawn when we read about colony collapse disorder, which killed many, many honeybees in our area and across the country. Though this probably arose from a combination of causes, pesticides and herbicides were probably contributors.  We canceled the lawn service in an effort to do our part to save the bees. We would pull the weeds ourselves, we decided.

Well, this was a great idea, but it never happened. The weeds are encroaching -- the most identifiable one is wild strawberry, and another type with a blue flower. Dandelions abound. Burdock sneaks into the shrubbery beds (I pull those suckers out, once they get to a reasonable height. Like five feet).

Our neighbors' gardeners pull up in their pickup trucks, towing their mowers on metal trailers behind them. They always take a good, long, appraising look at my disastrous lawn as they go by. I wave gaily. Our son cuts our lawn, weeds included, to an appropriate length.

Yes, it's weedy. But weeds are green, and bees are alive.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Naked wood, at last

To the left is my dining room table, which I have not seen in 13 years.

OK, I should explain. I have not seen the top of it in 13 years.

We never had a dining room in our old house. When we moved into the current house, presto! There was the dining room. We had nothing to put in it. It sat naked for a few years, though we finally did see our way to buying a room-sized rug for the spot.

Finally we went to a furniture sale, and bought the table you see to the left. It's a gorgeous dark cherry, which we both love. The minute it was delivered, we stuck the table pad and a cloth on top of it.  Bye-bye, table.

My mother also had a cherry dining table, and was very proud of it. Her table also lived in seclusion beneath the customary pad and cloth. I suppose she thought I might want it, and she wanted to preserve it for me. After she died, as we cleaned out the house, I knew I had to make a decision about whether to take the table.

I pulled off the cloth and pads. There it was, hidden these many years. It was pristine. It looked unused.

It was, however, butt-ugly. I loved my mother, but I hated the table. I sent it off to auction with most of the other dismal mid-century furnishings, which I also hated. That's when I bought my own table.

Two weeks ago, I pulled the tablecloth and the padding off my table. The cloth went in the wash; the pads got stowed under the bed. My husband expressed dismay. He is good at this.

"Put the pad back on! It'll get scratched. We need to protect it for Megan," he said.

"Megan will buy her own, one that suits her," I replied. "I'm going to enjoy this while I'm here. If she really wants to keep it, she can have it refinished."

He looked at me doubtfully. J. is very careful about the family legacy. But I am feeling wild abandon. "I'm going to enjoy it," I said again. "I'm going to get on top of it and tap-dance!"

"Oh brother," he said, rolling his eyes, but in undeniable retreat.

There is a lot of eye-rolling at our house. There's apt to be more before I'm gone!