Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nothing to get alarmed over. Honestly.

Snack. Whack.

Don't worry--those odd and vaguely ominous sounds you heard in the wee small morning moments were only me, pruning my garden at 4:30 in the morning. Nothing at all to be concerned about.

Unless you're like my neighbors and get a little uneasy when you realize you live quite close to someone who may or may not be all there. After all, who in their right mind does yard work before the sun is even up? (Barring all other considerations, how, exactly, does one know what one is pruning at that time of day/night? And further, how can one prevent clipper-related injuries to one's self? Or is that all part of the fun? Answers: the human eye gradually adjusts the size of the pupil in response to available light, allowing one to become more sensitive to low light under exposure to dim conditions; years of semi-blindness have taught me to be aware of the position of my extremities in relation to personal activities; and, yes.)

My neighbors have nothing to fear, of course. There's a perfectly reasonable explanation for my quasi-nocturnal horticultural endeavors. Two reasonable explanations, actually.

First, I am the product of generations of raving insomniacs. Like most of those whose surname I share, I either cannot fall asleep in the first place, or after miraculously achieving sleep before one a.m. I cannot stay asleep. I can count on only one hand the number of people related to me who have the ability to sleep though an entire night. (One of them is my own child. Only one of them.) The rest of us are doomed to an endless cycle of wakefulness and exhaustion. A recent item for family debate was whether or not a good night's sleep is one of the promises of the Resurrection. (I cannot scripturally prove my position that it is, but there are vague hints in the relevant chapters in Alma. The whole "restored to its proper frame" concept holds great hope for me, suggesting as it does the thought that my REM cycles may be returned to what they were when I was a child. According to my mother I was a consistent 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. person until I went to school. Sigh.) The others saw our point, but quibbled over the idea that sleep will be unnecessary in a perfected state. To that I say Balderdash! I have several years of sleep unclaimed, and I cannot imagine letting them go to waste, perfected state or not. Besides, can you imagine what Celestialized dream might be like?

The major culprit in tonight's wakefulness was The Child Who Teethes Grumpily, a.k.a. The Happiest Baby in the World, when he isn't currently pushing molars through sensitive gum tissue. His wails at 1:30 doomed me to my present state. He is, naturally, sleeping soundly now. (Someday I will have my revenge. Let's just say there are several potentially hysteria-producing photos in my possession, and I am prepared to whip those puppies out at strategic moments during his adolescence. Nothing perks up a prom date like pictures of my cutie trailing soapsuds across a floor after a bath, if you know what I mean.)

Second reason for pruning before the (in these parts) whimper of dawn: I live in the beautiful desert Southwest. For those who abide in more temperate climates--say California, or Hades--this may not make sense. Allow me to whine/explain. Forget frying eggs on the sidewalk; it's hot enough here during the day to fry eggs in the palm of your hand while looking for a spot of sidewalk to demonstrate said phenomenon. It's only June and already I want to sob in surrender. It's 5:30 a.m. and 90 degrees outside! This isn't a climate so much as a solar-sponsored war. The only chance I have to do anything without burning major expanses of flesh and/or spontaneous combustion is during the very earliest of hours. Forget working under a large hat and regular hydration--this time of year my favorite gardening is done under a roof in front of the fan, preferably in a recumbent position. Not a lot of plants grow under those conditions. That's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. What most people call "summer gardening", the kind done outdoors, with vegetables, trees, and such, is a strictly nighttime event for me. When you live in a place that doesn't cool down into the nineties until midnight you adapt. There's a reason the desert seems so empty: all the intelligent creatures spend the day and most of the night indoors, praying for another Ice Age. Let me tell you, Global Warming takes on a whole other and very personal meaning in the middle of a desert Southwest summer.

So, for the next while--120 days or so, but who besides me is counting?--I will be pruning, weeding, trimming, hanging laundry, sweeping, and in all other respects tending to outdoor chores while the sun is on the other side of the globe. If it worries you, I suggest ear plugs. They work for my neighbors.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dear Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Home and Garden, et al:

In view of the current economic situation, and in light of the fact that reading your gorgeous, glossy pages induces hours of weeping from this loyal but chronically cash-strapped reader, may I suggest a new feature to be included in your wonderful, but ultimately depression-producing publications:

Making Do with Melia

Honestly, I think the time has come to reassess our home-design ideals to reflect a more realistic approach to interior decor. Namely, the fact that NO ONE HAS ANY MONEY FOR FANCY DOO-DADS! (Features Editors: you know who published that fancy spread on French Rococo lamp finials. Aren't you just a wee bit ashamed of yourself?) A more current, socially-relevant path is needed these days, and I graciously offer myself as guru du jour. (Martha Stewart, eat your heart out with your exquisite Colonial-era pewter fork and knife. There's a new diva in town, and she owns Melmac plates! 1970s vintage. Pre-scratched. Top THAT!)

Allow me to present my credentials:

Age: Old enough to understand the beauty of Photoshop in a biography picture. Young enough to remember in which Mason jar I stored my marbles.

Education: Yes, thank you and my parents very much!

Experience: 12 years as wife in a single-income family.
9 years as mother to a ravening horde of children who prefer eating to staring at beautifully matted and framed artwork, although we offered them the choice when we overhauled the budget last year.
Significant time as Tightwad of the Month.

Skills applicable to this position: Can repurpose innocuous bedroom furniture as high-fashion living room objets d'art.
Have high degree of glue-gun aptitude.
Can perform and spell "decoupage".
Ability to use ludicrously low monthly allowance for purposes of good instead of evil.
Zealous commitment to never buy new when you can scrounge it free.

Ideas for features: Instant $anctuary--combining bedroom, office, and family art gallery into one serene space on a budget of $50 in less than two weeks.
Use It or Lose It?--the morality and aesthetics of retaining the inevitable detritus of family life. With special emphasis on recycling worn-out socks as furniture protectors, high-concept puppets, and sources of both artistic inspiration and mental breakdowns.
Art for the Colorblind--teaching one's husband to appreciating the nuances of hues other than white. Bonus: how to cope with "I don't care, Honey, they all look the same to me!"
Dinner as Decor--using the principles of design to create an inviting environment based on the spaghetti stains in the kitchen. Extra feature on the merits of differing sauce brands as inspiration.

I await your enthusiastic responses. In the meantime, I have a bathtub fiasco/artistic challenge awaiting my attention.

Creatively yours,