April Showers

It was a pragmatic matter growing up. There were six of us in a small three bedroom ranch house with one bathroom. We took our showers at night because the bathroom was a critical choke point in the morning, with four kids getting ready for school while trying to get in and out of the bathroom before Dad went in with the newspaper.

From the time i left home for college, that shifted. i took a morning shower. Some days, an early afternoon shower, depending on the start time of my first class, or the degree of hangover i carried on any given day. Not just for cleaning up, it was often necessary to get my eyes opened.

Thirty six years of working in a laboratory or office environment had me starting my day with a shower. As ingrained a habit as any, it took a slight hit at the start of the pandemic when personal hygiene was… well… less critical due to the complete lack of socialization.

Since moving to Stonerbrooke in September, i spend hours each day outside. i became a bit of a recliner potato over the cold months, but as soon as there were two or three warm sunny hours each day, i moved outside. Digging in dirt. When i started, there were garden gloves, but now they only come out when there are thorns or thistles. i added a solid nail brush by the kitchen sink to help scrub my crusty hands when i come in for a water break, but i am now doing dirty labor on a daily basis. For the first time in my life.

Yesterday, i spent several hours with a weed whacker, and then with a cordless sander working on a bridge that needs a new coat of paint. It has been raining a bit, so i was a muck-encrusted mess by dinner time. i took a necessary shower while the brussels sprouts were roasting for dinner.

Getting your hands dirty. Getting your body covered in grime. Getting chunks of unknown crud in your hair. Getting to sleep more easily because your body is just tired.

And unlike a career in research, later senior management – where the single most tangible product from a hard day at the office was often just a powerpoint deck – i can see the positive results of my effort.

24 thoughts on “April Showers

  1. Just passing through...thanks for the place to put my feet up for a minute or two and enjoy the company. on said:

    Cerebral tired is much different than physical tired. For me, cerebral tired reveals itself with the inability to make decisions or figure out what to work on next. Physical tired may include the good feeling of tired, slightly burning, worked muscles.

    When working with your hands, you can see the fruits of your labor at the end of the day. When working in the lab, the results of your cerebral gymnastics might be seen in 20 years.

    • Exactly this! I have suffered “cerebral exhaustion” to the point that I couldn’t function. No music in the car on the drive home to rest my brain. Incapable of making the simplest decisions!

      And yes, basic and exploratory research plays the long game. I’m seeing many technologies that I worked pay off now. Very satisfying, but not the same as the instant gratification of a weedless flower garden (however transient that weedlessness may be!).

  2. I also grew up in a one bathroom home, with six residents. Showers/baths didn’t happen in the morning for any of us offspring.
    These days they do. And, if I have been incredibly busy/got incredibly grubby TWO showers might be a happening thing. Luxury.
    And yes, seeing the fruits of my labour is a most excellent thing – even on the days when I whip myself for not doing enough.

    • Now that we are slowly getting back to a limited degree of socialization (many friends now vaccinated) there may need to be multiple showers! If we were just a little more remote, I might put in an outdoor shower!

  3. Plus once the initial blisters, calluses and aching muscles subside you find you can bend more easily to pull those weeds, your arms become muscular from all that sweeping, your knees will cease to crick ans crack as your legs get stronger … I am lucky to have a huge garden here in India that was waste ground before I moved in. After 2 years here I have not only a great garden but also a super fit body …. so happy for you….. seeing your blogs again makes me want to start writing mine again lol

    • Daisy Fae’s writing does that…of course, she sets the bar really high with her writing and I’d never be happy with mine.

      How long do I have to do this stuff before my body stops cricking and cracking?

      • Awww… Shucks. Thank you, but these “hoarkings” aren’t particularly polished. Pretty sure you can turn out good words, sir. You can work motorbikes, cameras, planes, and systems while making it look easy. Give it a go! I’d read it!

    • Good to see you again! We started daily yoga in January, which has definitely improved my flexibility. The physical work feels good – slinging around the weed whacker gave me an unexpected upper body workout. And I don’t have to make any extra effort to get in 10k steps each day! Not sure I’ll ever get strong enough that my knees stop creaking! Would love to see your garden! Hope you get back to the blog!

  4. I’m very particularly to shower every single Monday, when possible. Otherwise people start talking.

    I recently swapped an office job for going back to my old one of working in a kitchen. It’s a similar contrast. In a ktichen you see the tangible results, and hopefully, a bit of pleasure provided to others. In the office, I really couldn’t care less about the consequences of my activity, nor about the activity itself.

    I love your little bridge. Did you used to tell your children about the story about the trolls that live underneath them?

    • Well, there is that. I have gotten much less diligent about daily showers since lock down. I will make the effort when it matters, though!

      That bridge is the “pretty” bridge – closest to the road. One of three! I adore it! We got that painted last fall. I loved the “troll” stories as a child – and you’ve reminded me that I need to plant a troll of some sort under that arch! The grandcritters will need to discover bridge trolls!

  5. When I was a dental hygienist I saw the immediate results of my labors. When I went home I would be physically tired but have the satisfaction that I did my best for my patients, most of whom were appreciative (but not always.) However, there was cerebral fatigue too from having to chat up everyone all day. My husband was a dentist and most nights we didn’t do a lot of talking about our days or much talking at all because we had an insider’s understanding of exactly how it went!

    Yes, I second the motion: your bridge needs a troll! And three billy goats too. πŸ™‚

    • I used to be more extroverted – gaining energy from human interaction. Pandemic has me exhausted after making polite chit-chat with the cashier at the grocery store! I do love my recently retired hygienist! Her timing was perfect – not asking questions until I was able to answer! It’s a delicate balance!

      My ‘wasband’ and I worked in the same building for years. For a short time we commuted together. The drive home was either dead silence, or both of us talking past each other about our days. We learned that separate (time shifted) commutes were better for that decompression time after work and before the chaos of kids, dinner, extra-curricular, etc!

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying the adventure! We remain in awe at these gorgeous grounds. Every day reveals something new. A bit disappointed that the scrawny lilac only has two blooms – needs a sunnier location! I have a project!

  6. All this talk of showers leaves me feeling dirty πŸ˜‰ … and is the place really called Stonerbrooke? i mean hell it’s practically begging for me to take up residence under that little bridge now innit?

    And as you know i’ve always been a fan of physical labor, not that i want to have to do it like in a job type way but i need to get out and feel the muscles stretch, feel the slight soreness the next day, it makes me happy… and last year i bought a machete and a hatchet to clear brush behind the humble abode, it’s one of my favorite things to do, getting scratched up by thorns and what not, dodging my beloved groundhog holes (i’ve dubbed this years resident Fred, apparently groundhogs have a horrible sense of direction and regularly get lost and take up residence in whatever groundhog hole they find), i’m sure the neighbors may worry a bit when they see the glee in my swinging of sharp objects but little do they know that while i’m doing it i’m apologizing the whole time to my plant friends for having to tame their growth. Yes, i talk to random plants. πŸ™‚

    • Prior owners (the only people who ever lived here) named it “Shallowbrook”. Given the freedom we enjoy post-retirement, never to have to fill a jar for a test, we are enjoying the edibles on occasion. Hence the more appropriate name.

      You don’t need to move in under the bridge – there are two guest rooms, and our nifty little camper out in the big barn for sleeping.

      i need a machete. my project for today is to clear a path on the far side of the creek back into the brush. doing it with a weed whacker is far less cool (and terrifying to the neighbors) than using a blade. i talk to the plants, too. A huge breakthrough for me? Co-existing with spiders. While painting a bridge saturday i didn’t scream when a wolf spider popped out from between the boards. i just flicked him off into the grass. That’s huge progress!

  7. If I was having barn envy before, my wife would be having garden envy now.
    I’m not a gardener and have never had any interest or compulsion to get involved. I’ll periodically mow the lawn out of a sense of duty, but I don’t enjoy it.
    For sure I enjoy sitting in a nice garden, but if I was on my own it would just be an overgrown patch of weeds.
    Maggie loves to get her hands in the dirt and has been trying to convince me for 30 years, without success.
    I do envy her, and you, and anyone who can throw themselves into it. I can clearly see the soul-deep satisfaction people can get from it.

    • That was me before. i always loved and appreciated gardens, but never had the time or inclination to do anything with one. Always more pressing matters to tend to, or more entertaining pursuits. With an abundance of time, and these existing gardens, i’m surprising myself at how much i enjoy it. i spent an hour yesterday removing weeds from just one garden bed! i gave over a dozen forsythia bushes (pretty yellow things) their post-bloom spring haircuts. i’m talking to plants, tolerating spiders, and spending a lot of time playing the “what is THAT?” game with the things that seem to be emerging from the dirt on a daily basis!

  8. That’s a great bridge with a wonderful paint job. Yes office vs. outside work is so very different. Yet another difference that you probably don’t really need to worry about is working outside in miserable weather. My father, brother and a few others in my extended family worked construction. I had a few experiences with that physical dirty work and realized I would enjoy working in a office/lab setting much better. I did enjoy testing stuff in the engineering lab. Building something is still a joy. I’m lazy when it comes to sweaty dirty work. However, it does provide that refreshed feeling when you clean off the dirt and sweat.

    • As with most things (for now) we are just in ‘maintain’ mode – so we used the same paint colors the prior owners used. i love it! At least for the first year, through one cycle of the seasons, we aren’t changing anything outside – want to understand what’s here before we decide what needs changing! Like you, i suspect if i had to do physical labor to earn a living it would have lost a bit of sparkle on the first 100F day!

      We have the luxury of staying indoors when the weather is bad. Truly a luxury. What we’ve learned is that i now get restless when i can’t work outside. With some very dated decor, i’ve also discovered that paint is cheaper than couples counseling. One bedroom/office painted (from odd brown to ‘flip this house’ gray), and i’ve just started on the downstairs bathroom (from 90’s pastel green to ‘vanilla’). Painting is another endeavor that is deeply satisfying.

  9. Me too, after sitting all day in front of a computer I can’t wait to get outside. Oh my! Gardening/working outside on a variety of projects is my happiest place. I’ve been trying to document what we’ve done to this place since we’ve moved here, 4 yrs in Sept. because I like to look back at what was. I love the physical work, the dirt, the sweat. Since we created a fabulous yard last year since we didn’t get to go to Spain, this year we’re doing the hot tub thing. Which is the one think that would have made all the past projects a wee bit more relaxing.

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