Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Aimless Weekend, Done Right

Last weekend, I couldn't settle into anything. I did a lot of.....stuff, I guess, but didn't finish a single thing I started. It all felt unsuccessful, disjointed, and unproductive. I think two migraines in one week, besides being karmically unfair, had cooked so many brain cells I just couldn't muster a plan. And it showed. I felt dissatisfied about last weekend.

This weekend, I had made a list of the things I wanted to do. It went a little like this:

  • Clean the garage
  • Dismantle old storage unit in basement
  • Sort boys' outgrown clothing and organize dressers
  • Paint bathroom ceiling
  • Mulch front yard perennial garden

If you see the problem with this list, well, so did I by Thursday night. I have only 48 hours for one weekend, and I don't have multiple avatars or access to amphetamines. Clearly, I'm insane. Or unrealistic. Both.

It's at this point in planning anything that I start spinning my wheels mentally. I get overwhelmed with the bigness of my lists. If I'm not really careful, the list hits the trash can, my ass hits the sofa, and another weekend goes by in half-hearted attempts at not much of anything.

I am my own worst enemy.

By Friday night I'd abandoned the list and simply chose the one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to be outside. I wanted to garden. Did all those other things on the list need doing? Yes. Were they going to get done this weekend? No way. Even if I tried. So, Saturday morning the boys and I were at the garden center:

I spent the weekend in the garden, mulching. Eight bags total. But the weekend was made up of other little moments too. I was not always slave to the mulch.

Many of the other things were garden related. I weeded, which is a form of meditation for me. I moved plants around. I start out with gloves and a trowel but always end up with bare paws, hands in the dirt. Thank goodness for the existence of nail brushes and moisturizers.

I conquered a little more real estate from the weedy and forsaken area across the front of the house:

It doesn't look fabulous, yet. I ran out of mulch on this side of the yard. But the area was cleared of overgrowth and a place created for access to the tap and hose. The hose rack is new, but I'm not sure how I feel about it holding up kinked and filthy old garden hose for everyone to see, even if it makes everything more organized and easy to use. I'll have to make sure something bushy and pretty gets planted in front of it.  Those two clumps of green on the left are starts of sedum. It's a great ground cover and I like the way it fills in around pavers.

The daylilies my sister sent me two seasons ago are filling in thick and healthy this spring. It's going to be a beautiful show by July. ( I still need to weed the grass out from between them before mulching in this photo. The pointy plants in the far background are lily of the valley, one of my favorites.)

These petunias, called Picasso in Pink, are amazingly edged in chartreuse green. These things just seem to leap into my cart at the garden center and ride home with me. 

They went into a hanging basket with some other trailing plants:

Right now the bird feeder on the left is just for looks, so I could take the picture. I got it second-hand, and the bottom three inches inside is a hardened brick of old, stale bird seed. I need to get it down and clean it out properly before I can start serving up dinner to the birdie friends.

The basket and feeder are hanging on this garden stake:

Two-dimensional rabbits are the only ones I care to have in the garden. The real ones eat the lilies. You can see the hydrangea we moved in a previous post leafing out well in the background far right. It lived! Oh, and see? Proof of mulching. It wasn't all puttering.

My other big diversions?

It was Mother's Day on Sunday, and we had Grandma (my mother) over for afternoon coffee. The cake is courtesy of me, and the centerpiece can of grass is courtesy of Ben's third grade soil science unit. Do I not know how to Martha Stewart it up in here?

I celebrated by wearing my funky chicken apron:

Joe and Ben made me garden stepping stones for my Mother's Day present. I can think of no better way to dress up that new mulch:

Ben and Joe also began their adventure in container tomato and pepper gardening. Here are my proud farmers: 

We bought edgers, but didn't get them installed. Yes, it would be better to install edging first, then mulch. I don't always do things in the right order all the time. I'm a little difficult that way. 

I did a few other containers too:

In the end, this weekend was aimless too, but in a fundamentally different way than last weekend. Instead of being a disjointed pile of half-started, never-finished items and resulting guilt, it was more like a two-day riff with a common theme. Granted, I'm going to enjoy a two-day riff themed "Garden, Kids, and Cake" a lot more than I'm going to like, say, "Sanding, Spackling and Priming," but I think there's something to be learned from this weekend.

And that's this: choose one.

I think I should still make lists. It's a way of telling myself what my current priorities are out of the approximately 852 things that need to be done to this house. But I shouldn't expect the list to be all action items. I should learn to consider them more like a multiple choice set. But the only correct answer is my inclination.

I think choosing one is more realistic. I think it's more likely I retain a grasp on my sanity. Choosing one also leaves space for grace to fall into my day-- the kind of grace that includes soup cans of grass, cake, new flowers and deciding to move a clump of perennials from here to there. By choosing one, I ended up getting that one chosen thing done, and a jumble of other good things too. That's the kind of "aimless" that feels like a happy accomplishment by Sunday night.


  1. I like this thinking a lot. I've had too many of those aimless weekends. We spent most of our project time this weekend on the garden, too. (We planted tomatoes! Feeling awfully proud of us...) While I was out there, I thought of about 10 other garden things to do. All of them are small, in themselves. Sometimes, it is those small, easy things that never get done. They seem too unimportant in the face of the big things (which, also don't get done, but for the opposite reason: not enough time for a big project). But if I could think of them all as part of a larger "fix up the garden" project, I think I'd be more inclined to do them. Appreciate this food for thought.

    1. Definitely yay for tomatoes!

      I think the one-item, flexible approach fits my working style a lot better than a highly structured checklist. I tend to work at things indirectly. After 30 minutes, I need to do something else to consider the progress of the main project. Then after the diversion, I'm ready to tackle it again for awhile. Lather rinse repeat until the main item is done. I know that I probably would drive narrowly focused task tacklers bananas, but thankfully I don't have work as a team. My dysfunction can function all by itself!

    2. Cane and I have been maintaining for a while now that the secret to relationship success is finding a partner with compatible dysfunctions! :-)