The Economy Of Lawn Work

“Time for lawn work.”

Groans from children and adults alike.

We have almost two acres and most of it is covered in grass or weeds. Seems that weeds enjoy rain and no rain. I don’t get it, for three weeks there was no rain and the weeds flourished. Literally taking the place of grass in a few places in our yard. Looking tall and happy while the trees drooped and the grass turned brown and crunchy. Crunchy is not a grass adjective or should not be a grass adjective.

Then rain for close to a week, off and on, but rain none the less. My thought is that both the grass and weeds would enjoy the rain. They did, however the weeds enjoyed the rain less meaning we have or had grass and not so much weeds. Mowing the lawn to take care of grass is much better to all of us than mowing the lawn to knock down weeds. Much better is a scale from zero to can’t it wait another day.

Where is this going beyond an overview of our lawn and my thoughts upon rain, weeds, and grass? I do not want to mow all almost two acres. I did that last year for a few months and while I got in better shape there were a few times where I was positive I was going to die. This year I did not want to die and I wanted to give the children an opportunity to earn some money and learn a skill or two and keep me from dying.

They leapt at the earning money, because they want things, and they didn’t want me to keel over dead behind a mower. I am pretty sure our girl wants to best me in hand to hand combat for leadership, thus dying behind a mower would ruin her plans. They both wanted to learn a skill or two as well. Where things got interesting was how much lawn work they wanted to do.

Our girl loves being outdoors and has no problem with physical work. She is younger and smaller than her brother who likes being outdoors and has a problem with physical work. At first because of his size and eagerness he got the larger portion of lawn to mow and work to do. With each successive time he got a smaller and smaller portion of lawn work and money while his sister took over more and more.

Yesterday she mowed three times as much as he did in about half the time. He putzed around with his smaller section of lawn, which is hard to imagine let alone see as all he had to do was walk in an ever shrinking rectangle. When finished collapsed and announced he was done. His sister bounded over, grabbed his mower, and headed off to do another section of the lawn without complaint. In fact, her only complaint, gophers. Damn gopher trails and holes.

I know as soon as she is tall enough she will do the whole lawn on the riding mower wearing her favorite unicorn helmet. 🙂


You Don’t Know What Its Like To Not Want To Work

I have a work ethic.

I was raised with the understanding that work came first, then play. If there is work to do you do the work to the best of your ability. Then you play.

Over the years I have relaxed a bit on that, sometimes work can wait.

However, when there is work I do the work to the best of my abilities and I expect those around me to do the same. I do not tolerate sloppy work, fast work, lazy work, or no work.

I will teach, I will demonstrate, I will show, and I will answer questions about the work I ask people to do.

So where is this going?

As a stay at home parent, I no longer see the necessity for distinction between stay at home mom or dad you are a parent, I have a lot of work to do. I do not get paid for the work I do, nor do I complain about the work that I do. I do the work. When there is group work around here I ask for volunteers and then I expect them do to the work without me having to constantly monitor their progress.

Recently, I tried to get the children to not only clean up their room but to donate to Good Will the toys and such that they no longer play with, no longer want, or feel they are too old for. I wanted them to get a sense of giving. I also wanted a clean room and further, they are getting to ages where the toys they have take up more space and need more care, thus time to turn into the next stage towards adultswhohavehobbies.

I asked the children to fill up totes with toys and such for donation. To put trash in a trash bag and for each filled tote they would get $20. I know, how is that giving if I am paying them. They are a bit too young to totally get the giving without getting something and the money they made went into savings. Win Win in my book.

What happened has turned into an epic meantwelldisaster. The first three totes were a combination of toys and garbage. We spent six hours sorting through all three totes to get down to one tote of donation and five bags of garbage. Suffice to say there were words said, tears shed, and the parents (us) who thought they were doing a good thing in the long term, got to see how the children really took care of their stuff and thought about their stuff. It was not a pretty picture.

Frustrated, I turned clean and donate into a larger clean and donate project with daily goals and lots of sorting. Now I walk them through what is donatable, talk to the about the state of the toys I find, and am trying to re-teach them how to take care of their stuff and why they should. To show them that I am not making them do something I would not, I too have been taking stuff of mine to Good Will and other places that will find new homes for toys.

After two days of non-stop work, our eldest comes out in a huff and yells the title of this blog at me. I replied without hesitation, “No I do not know what it is like to not want to work, because I have for longer than you have been around had to work for one reason or another and since you and your sister were born had to work harder than I thought possible, even now talking to you I am working because you need to learn what it means to have a work ethic, to take pride in ALL of your work, and to stop thinking that the world or anyone else owes you time off. You have a very good life, we have worked hard to ensure that you have a better life than ours, and that you and your sister have treated your stuff with such disrespect and now are telling me that I do not understand your position only tells me that I have more work to do.”

He left in a huff, but came back with three full totes, without trash mixed into them. Work never ends, at least for me it doesn’t.


Being a writer and person who takes care of just about everything around the house with a bum arm (getting better each day) is frustrating. I’m not that person to sit and do nothing. On a typical day before noon I have cleaned the house, done the dishes, run to the store, painted a miniature or two, and written a blog post. For the past week I have slept in late, watched a lot of TV (there isn’t much good on Netflix, Amazon, or any other form of electronic media), and tried to find a comfortable way to sit.

Watching the house get dirtier and more disorganized by the day frustrates me. Barb and the kids are doing what they can, but they don’t have the time to take care of the day to day stuff like I do. A good sweep, a good mop, a good vacuum, a good dusting, and a good dose of tidying up, nothing major but enough that I am bothered by it.

Not being able to buckle a seat belt or drive is also frustrating, thankfully this week everything is working out so a friend can pick up the kids from school. The ache and pain, constantly trying to find a comfortable position is also frustrating, I don’t enjoy sitting around for long periods of time. I can read, but only if the book is on table, because holding a book while my arm is in a sling is…yep, you guessed it frustrating.

I cannot cook. I could cook if someone else did all of the prep. Due to schedules that hasn’t worked out well. I also cut myself trying to cut a steak into slices for a sandwich. I stopped counting how many times I dropped the fork each time I made a cut.

Most frustrating of all is the writing. I can somewhat write in a notebook provided the notebook lays flat, I can find a way to prop my bum arm up without undo stress, and the background ache doesn’t, which is almost always does, force the writing out of my head.

I’d love to be able to sit down for a lengthy period of time to bang out more Puddles and Whiskers and Menagerie. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to. The ideas are there. The voices are there. The other arm required for fast typing is not. To give you a scale, each paragraph of this is followed by 5 to 10 minutes of rest and massage.

Hardly a way to create a flow of writing. Like I said things seem to be improving in small steps. I would prefer larger steps and a lot less frustration.


Less Posts, But More Focused Posts

Research MonkeyHello, I am your Research Monkey, PHD. The boss, due to what he describes as “weather one day away from mandatory ark building” has been under the weather. At least that is his public excuse.

However, since I am the voice inside his head for you, I will tell a different tale. He is having a crisis of sorts, nothing major unless you happen to love this blog. If that is the case then you two may be having a crisis in a second. Hmmm…that was alarming sounding. Allow me to start over.

For five years this blog and few others were his hobby while at school. In fact, he started blogging shortly after starting school. Each blog has been during a time of change in life. Life has changed once again and as usual, especially during this month, my boss is being introspective and looking towards the future. Normally, this passes, but a few days ago he realized he was not posting because he wanted to post, but because he felt he had to post.

That doesn’t work for him. When a hobby becomes work or feels like work, it is time to take a break from the hobby. That is what happened yesterday, he took a break. He spent his time doing whatever he wanted or life demanded. Today, he is working on his projects again. What does this mean?

For now less posts, but more focused posts. He is not going to close the blog or say goodbye, he enjoys writing and sharing to much to do that, but for…well I have no idea how long…he will not post every day unless he wants to. Since he is mentally elsewhere, I thought you would like to know.



Pulling Everything Together

If there is one skill from college that I am putting to use it is transference of notes from one media to another. Now that I have identified the notes I want to work with I am taking them from the various, over a dozen, notebooks and one very full vanilla folder, to a file on the computer.

Another skill being put to use is creating an organized document. I could have typed in notes without any organization or thought to the future, but thank you classes, I have been creating headers and pages, and so on; essentially creating a publishable/printable/searchable document on the fly. Very nice.

I have to say I am surprised by some of the things I am finding, there are extensive notes on each of the species, such as herg or cymean. I knew these things, as a concept, but I forgot how much I wrote and drew. There are pages of notes on culture, language, religion, iconography, and even a few notes on entertainment. A long time ago when I was actively working to write my own role-playing game these notes would have been what set my system or at least setting aside a different from other who still use bare bones descriptions.

Today, the notes are being put to use towards fleshing out characters, work on the setting book, and giving me a lot of ideas of other stories and characters I can create. Speaking of characters, I am not a good character namer…yeah, I wrote that…I found tons of unused names, character descriptions, illustrations (doodles but I wanted to sound fancy), and plots. Strange how much effort I put into something.

Going over the notes I can see where one idea lead to another and where separate spin-off ideas came from; always interesting to see how my mind works (or in this case worked). I can see a lot of ideas were one-shot ideas with a definitive start and end point. These have been fun to read over. There are ideas that never seemed to get beyond the page they were on and ideas that were just that ideas for…something.

Pulling it together is nice. Pulling it together with a greater understanding of writing, publishing, selling, organization, and other skills learned over the past five years, great.

Here is a sample from my notes


General Notes

  1. Information is easy to access, search, and obtain. Privacy and security are two different concepts for people, privacy is something many assume they have as they post information constantly. Security is something corporations and the government strive to have complete control over.
  2. Stroud is always in motion, there is no “down time,” at a minimum electronic and holo ads run non-stop all over the city, especially around businesses and hot spots.
  3. Cyberware or mechanical augmentation is common enough to go unnoticed. Nano-augmentation is latest tech and not in hands of any other than corps and military for testing.
  4. Information access is in every device and easy to use. This does not mean people have access to all information, but the trending/popular/quick searches are what most people get and use as information/knowledge. Deep searches still take time.
  5. Vehicles are “smart” self-drive, collision avoidance, accident survival systems, ground-hover-flight capable (most are one or two modes at most).
  6. Magic does exist…to what extent is to be determined


A Million Little Projects

The best laid plans of mice and men.

I have been trying with help from people around me to get all of the little projects around the house done so I can get to work. What is my job, why writer and I would like to write and if everything works out become a paid writer once again. However, before that can happen, the million little projects that are not important on their own, but add up into a giant distraction need to get done.

And that was were I was all day, a million little projects…

  1. Move the microwave, yes I bought one to heat leftover efficiently, to make room for the fryer which required moving the spice racks.
  2. Find new home for spices
  3. Continue organizing the pantry, an ongoing project as the pantry is a walk-in closet with a lot of shelves
  4. Build the fryer
  5. Hang rope lights, we are using rope lights in place of standing lights to reduce energy costs and because they look cool
  6. Move excess games from shelf in the dinning/living room onto shelves in the office/library
  7. Hang up remaining picture frames and mirrors
  8. Organize the master bedroom into something resembling a place  you want to sleep and have sex
  9. Organize the silverware. The silverware has been tossed into one drawer while organizing everything else, now silverware is somewhat more organized
  10. Kitchen equipment that is used less frequently needed a new home
  11. Take a tap light back to store for a new one
  12. Take back bottles
  13. Spend an hour online and on the phone with Amazon to learn where a charge came from
  14. Pick up children from school
  15. And so on…

What was not on that list?




Did you say writing? If you did, you are correct. I did no writing at all today, other than this post and a list of things I wanted to get done. If you did not say writing, you are way more hopeful than I am or have a very high opinion about the amount of stuff I can get done in one day, thank you. 🙂

So here I am at the end of a very productive day, but I have not done the one thing I should be doing. However, looking for the silver lining, a lot of the distractions that have kept me away from writing are now done. That is a good thing.

Hopefully, after I finish this post, make dinner, clean up dinner, and watch the news, I will put paper to pen creating and fleshing out characters for the stories. Then I can share with you how I create characters, probably not that exciting, but if I am to revise old writing into something better I need to take the time to address the issue of bland characters.

Dinner calls.


500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part 20

A short day, but eventful for me day as a teacher. As I wrote yesterday, I am seen as less than an expert by the students. Possibly an accessory to the teacher, but not an expert. I could go on about how odd this is especially when there is plenty of evidence that they have seen and touched, albeit some of them only touched my print portfolio with the tips of their fingers like adults holding a soiled diaper, but I won’t.

I wasn’t sure what to expect today, as yesterday left me with a sour taste in my mouth to assist, but I did let two of the students know that if they brought in their material I or PK would look at it and do what we could. Both brought their stuff.

Color me surprised and pleased. A pleasant surprise, if you will.

The design issue I passed onto PK, as he is more design oriented than I am. While he ran Cutthroat Chopped, a resume challenge, I worked on the other student’s issue. This student had been presenting some odd looking print documents and we didn’t know why and do not ask me why it never occurred to ask this student what was going on, but it finally happened (lesson learned for me, ask). The student had been using Power Point instead of Word. Explaining that Power Point was easier to use and get the results the student wanted. Makes sense, except when attempting to create a book-like object.

Step One, discover root of issue. Check.

Step Two, the student copies and pastes all Power Point slides into a Word document. Check.

Step Three, I marvel at the “interface” between two Microsoft Office products. Check.

What should have been a quick lesson on resizing images, text wrapping, and then onto a small discussion on font choices quickly turned into a two and three person operation as we, meaning the Professor, PK, and I, marveled at the various conversions.

One of my favorites was taking a sentence, converting it to a header, and watching the results. For example: Bob Has Lunch converted from Power Point to a Header in Word, became bob HAS lunch. Awesome. Just awesome.

Keep in mind, my plan was to teach the student the basics of Word. That way they could work on the document at home, creating what they wanted, but the conversion process took up enough time that I was not able to teach as much as I wanted. In fact, I am not sure I taught anything. Time limit meant that it was more important to me that the student see that they had the start of a print portfolio than teach them information that might not improve moral as much as seeing what they have.

In the end, the student left with a 5 page document that looks a lot more like a print portfolio than before. The student also got some suggestions and advice. Hopefully, the student listens. With some additional assistance from myself and PK, I can see this being a good portfolio.

What about the design issue? PK knocked that out the park, went on to run Cutthroat Chopped and the winner (forgot a pic) was a student who I offered some suggestions to as I walked by. Not bad at all.