Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yesterday, I was "up with the concrete guys" as the old saying goes (?) and out the door before the family was awake, which never happens. I'm not sure why the concrete guys are up before dawn, but it has something to do with not sitting in traffic with a truckload of wet concrete, and then not pouring the stuff midday when it stiffens and cracks before it's even smoothed out. These guys get up early. There's a concrete and stone guy who lives on my street at the end of the cul-de-sac. He drives a diesel, and you can hear it rumble and chatter to life every morning just before sun-up, as he heads out to pave over the world. I waved to him yesterday as I was loading my truck (not a diesel) and he tentatively waved back, no doubt wondering why I hadn't hired him. (I could tell he knew where I was going.)

So it was off to get some posts set in some massive Escondido patio for a cover that won't be built until Thanksgiving, of all things. Meanwhile, another job was put on hold due to termites, one job was delayed because of inspectors, and another job, well, it's just making its small, daily demands of a cut here, a cut there. Re-run the electrical. All of it over a pool, no less.

That being said, I may just get a day off this week. I've still got some tooth pain, which I paid a few hundred bucks for, and the family 4Runner remains in the shop. We considered setting new appointments and trying it all over again with the Legoland trip (off-season hours are Thurs-Sun, in case you're wondering) but I'm not sure I could handle another car accident right now. I'd rather work in the garden (speaking of accidents.)

The garden. My vast suburban happy homeowner Versailles that proved to be a disappointment of Legoland proportions this past season. And here we are in Autumn, already. I've been wandering out back to see if any of the SoCal growing season could be salvaged, (you usually can) and I refuse to give up. I had a few straggler tomatoes coming in, heirloom types, and I was looking forward to plucking them for a nice plate of balsamic, basil and mozzarella, but the squirrels got there first. I went out to harvest and there was nary a sign of the fruit. I almost blamed my wife and child, but then I noticed the lettuce had been munched down to a hairy stump. And the grapes? Gone. The squirrels don't touch the jalapenos, however. Thanks, guys. Where's my BB gun?

So I was a flipping farming failure this year. It started out so strong and I had such high hopes for it all, but the soil wasn't amended properly (like that flopped attempt in '06, remember? Gawd, that was something awful!) and the drip system gave out right before a heat-wave. The lawn is near-dead, strung along on life support irrigation. Just for kicks, I plugged in my pressure gauge the other day and discovered it was down to about 40, which is like checking for a heartbeat and hearing the thing stop pumping right then and there. I reckon I got a bad regulator, so I banged on it with a hammer and cranked it up to full. We've got it up to 80 now, which seems to do the trick. No doubt the whole thing will blow when we go away some weekend, flooding the decrepit mess of dead neglected things I worked so hard to plant last Spring. Maybe I should just give up on this one. Call it a loss and make it a Halloween display. Fine: everything to the compost pile! In January we go again!

But it was a beautiful weekend, even though there was so much to be done. At one point I actually saw the wind change direction and could smell the end of summer. And It was all things PIRATES! which made for an entertaining succession of events. Taught the Little Ditchman how to wear an eyepatch and then took a break from the pirates to have a little Wizard of Oz, as there was a themed kid's party down the street. I poked my head in and represented the family, to let them know we were all still alive on the other end of the cul-de-sac, and ended up staying for beer and cake. Most notable decoration from the party: the mom had stuffed some stockings and ruby slippers and jammed them under the playhouse out back, so it looked like the house had fallen out of the sky and landed on the Wicked Witch. The kids loved it. (The Little Ditchman had no understanding of it, but she appreciated "the green castles" -i.e. The Emerald City)

Then it was back to PIRATES, arrrgh, down at the harbor where pregnant mommy was slaving away, shlepping the family wares. There was AN AUTHENTIC PIRATE BATTLE being staged in the harbor, which I went out of my way to check out. It consisted of an old ship putt-putting out into the water and then a bunch of guys dressed as pirates on the distant other side of the bay, up on the breakwater rocks, waving their swords. A hundred or so spectators lined up to watch. A cannon was fired. The end. I wish I had the highly anticipated event on video, but I was too enthralled with the whole extraordinarily unremarkable display. It was like waiting for the cars to get out of the way for a parade, and then realizing that the cars were the parade.

Oh, well. We'll get 'em next season.