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Coffee with Mimi: Yearly schedule challenges to overcome

By Mimi Becker

Contributing writer

It is summer.  Well, not according to the calendar definition, but most certainly weather wise and, definitely by the signs in the yard.

As usual, I have a plan and a schedule.  There is a list of yard activities which will result in a reasonably acceptable yard.  I am semi-retired and the master of my own calendar.  Why, then am I in the same yard predicament this year as in previous years?

I quite enjoy the activities involved in yard work.  I don’t mind mowing.  Trimming is not a abhorrent.  Weeding is quite satisfying.  After a session in the yard, I can sit back on the porch or patio with pleasure as I survey the vistas.

The reality is, yards are not job complete, check it off the list items. They aren’t easily controlled like indoor jobs such as cleaning the bathroom or dusting the living room.  There are forces conspiring against us such as nature over which we have no control..

    My yard is relatively large for a town lot.  There are  three distinct sections of about equal size and complexity considering obstacles.  In less than two hours, I can mow and trim a section.  Two hours, that isn’t much.  It doesn’t get dark until almost 9:00.  So, two hours, three afternoons a week results in plenty porch time admiring the vistas.  Even the trimmer cooperates on that schedule.  It takes one full battery charge to trim each section and the battery will recharge over night.  

    There are seven days in a week.  Get out the calendar and schedule a few evenings for family and social events.  Accounting for my yard’s needs, I still have four evenings to use as I choose each week.  

    My calendar is still the paper version.  It goes everywhere with me.  Certainly, there are times when outside obligations and family needs can get the upper hand, but every week?  Surely not. Absolutely not possible.

    Completely and totally the reality.

    The problem is, once an event is on the calendar, it is very difficult to undo.  One of the pleasures of my new life, is being able to spend my work time on projects to which I am entirely committed.  So, meetings and activities are not a chore, but a means to a desirable end.

    Tell that to the summer weather and my yard.

     Recently, while going into a 5:00 work session on a project, I took a few minutes to water a plant outside the meeting space.  It had been quite warm for a few days and potted plants are the first to go without attention.  

    It seems to be the rule in my life that the thing I take time to do ends up being the thing that needed no attention after all or it may be too late to be of best use.  

    Shortly after carrying three pitchers of water to the wilting plant, it rained.

    Sadly, the poor plant needed water so badly, most of the water I gave it ran out the bottom as the chunk of soil surrounding the roots floated around in the pot completely separated from the sides of the pot.  While the subsequent rain was welcome, it proved to be not enough to completely nourish the plant.  Extra attention will be needed to restore the plant to health.

    It’s the yard again.  Only the yard is on steroids.

    After a series of days stretched into weeks of heavily scheduled work and family time, the yard needed to be tended to without delay.  There was one day in which to accomplish this task, and that was actually only a partial day.  I had to be smart about the plan, remember the trimmer needs a day to recharge.

    It was warm before I started and I was feeling the effect of several days  with a five year old and a very busy schedule at work.  But, the mowing had to be completed, the whole yard, and as much trimming as the battery would allow.

    There are many obstacles in my yard; trees, furniture, odd shaped planting beds, a patio, a pond, pathways.  On the three day mowing plan, these impediments are not a big deal.  If my mowing pattern is not the most efficient, it really doesn’t matter.  I’m outside and the result will be quite satisfactory.

    However, this is not the desirable mowing plan.  The whole thing had to be done and the potted plant hadn’t been tended enough, so to speak.  

    I don’t like to leave chunks of grass on the yard and as the yard is in a crisis state, I knew I would need to bag and empty and bag and empty many times over.  On the three day plan, this doesn’t seem to be much of a time drag, not too mention energy drain.  

    As I pulled the lawn mower out of the garage, I tried to devise some plan to improve the likelihood that this process would be made more efficient and thus easier.  I like to mow in a diagonal pattern, but this requires many turns at the ends of the multiple strips.  In my mind it seemed reasonable that turns were time spent not cutting grass and cutting grass is the object of this task.  So, I determined that cutting in as much of a circular pattern as possible would eliminate a significant number of turns.  There are several areas in which a circular pattern is not possible, but I would manage those as I got to them.

    I completely finished the mowing and as much trimming in the front as the battery would allow.  The job was complete to the best of my ability under the circumstances.  Sitting on the porch surveying with satisfaction  was skipped due to the lack of energy left from the total effort.

    Thankfully, it is only mid-June.  I am nearly through my first year in this new position and can begin to predict the work patterns.  As with any family, spring is probably the second most schedule challenged time of the year.  

    Should I choose to accept the mission, there is still time, with appropriately designed steps and assignments, and an element of reasonable personal expectations, to keep the potted plant from needing crisis attention.