September 8, 2009

Lawnmower Men

Yesterday, my friends mowed my lawn.

Now, granted, these are my friends in Limbo, the folks with whom I and my kids now frequently share wine and pie and cupcakes. On Labor Day Sunday, those of us who could came together for a meal and a little beach time on the river. The gathering was at my house, and I'd had grand plans about getting up early (yeah, right) and depooping and mowing the lawn.

Lots of kids in attendance means a need for a clean and navigable yard. Right?

But I woke up late. And I woke up to a disaster. Two of 'em, actually.

My redhead, who has an unquenchable thirst for what he calls "cow milk" (note the cow on the label), had helped himself to a carton from out of the pantry. He left the pantry door open. This is never smart with a Black Lab in the house. This dog, who is now so old she cannot manage stairs unassisted, somehow made her way to the pantry, pulled out six cans of cat food, chewed her way into each and every one of them, and left bits of crushed can and puddles of chicken and liver dinner all over the house.

It took me an hour to clean it all up. Longer for the stench of cat food to dissipate.

Then, my dryer broke. So I spent lots of time carting wet clothes upstairs and laying them all out in the sun in the vain hope that they'd dry before company came.

Upshot? Lots of poop, very long grass, and an explosion of laundry on my deck.

My friends, who get that Limbo is a challenge of time as much as anything else, took one look at my shambles of a backyard and just stepped in. They grabbed plastic bags. They pulled the mower out of the shed. And in no time - well, it would have been no time except that crabgrass is a bitch to cut - they had my yard in playable shape.

And in doing so, they taught me another one of those Lessons Learned in Limbo.

Lesson 2: Ask for help.

Most of us, we just keep on swimming, despite the tsunami doing its best to drown us. But if you ask for help, shockingly, you might just get a life preserver, a helicopter, and someone trained to use both.

Pretty incredible, that.

Of course, asking for help is easiest when you don't actually have to ask. My friends made it very easy.

Once the lawn was mowed, we had a fun dinner - potluck as usual - of faked barbecue chicken, nearly browned potatoes, curried wheatberries and a signature salad of savoy cabbage and home-roasted crunchies. Oh, and brownies so fabulous that the children managed to devour every one of them before the grown-ups even noticed they were gone.

The food vanished. The lesson, though - that will stick.

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