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Mulcho Problemo

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Navigating the waters of relationships can be tricky.  I have to brag that most of the time, our waters resemble a cool, deep lake.  No currents, no risk of tipping, and any possible obstacle is completely visible before your vessel approaches.   The only problem with this scenario is that when you see said obstacle, there is a great deal of discussion as to which side to go around it as we silently but purposefully start rowing in opposite directions.  As the rock draws nearer, our conversation becomes more impassioned as we continue to row against one another.  One of three things happens: one of us gives up but sulks about it for a while pretending to not be bothered by the whole thing, we hit the rock (slowly usually and with much laughter), or one of us (usually me) agrees just the point of making the other one let up a bit.  At this moment, the agree-er digs in like the Swedish team in the two-man boat Olympics and takes the boat where they wanted to go the whole time.
Before we all talk about the potential problems with all of the above behaviors, allow me to say that they are unintended.
1.    The agreement with sulking.  This usually occurs as we’re getting ready to go somewhere.  We are running late.  We haven’t dropped off dry cleaning in a month so instead of closet full of clean ready to wear clothes, we have a pile of wrinkly worn once but clearly smell too bad to try again clothes.  In the flurry of activity, a question gets thrown out.
“what are you wearing tonight?”
“expletive….I don’t know.  What are you wearing?”
We see that this is getting us nowhere so I make the first foray into the closet and appear with, what I think, is a lovely outfit.
“what about this?” –smiling
“you cannot wear those jeans with those shoes.  Where is your belt?  Do you maybe want to iron that shirt?”

Now, at this point, any reasonable person would say the following.  “You asked for advice.  You don’t want to go out looking bad so you really should be thankful that someone cares enough to notice the details and have you looking your very best when you walk out the door”.  The reality is, I do feel that way.  How I respond though is with a snarl. “Fine.  What shoes should I wear?” (if you’re so smart you tell me).  “The black boots.”  Damn.  “With the heels?!?”  “Yes”.  At this point, I’m throwing off the tennis shoes and scowling at the boots that I can barely walk in but at least look decent.  Now, she’s pissed…for good reason.  It all goes back to advice my father gave me.  “Don’t ask for an opinion when what you’re looking for is assurance”.  I realize I’m being unreasonable so I try to act happy and rational about the whole thing.  She avows never to give advice again and that I can just look like I get dressed out of a 1980’s Target catalog if I want to.  The boat goes the right way.

2.    We hit the rock.  We have a lot of house guests.  We love having house guests.  We feel so honored that people would come all the way to see us that we spoil them rotten when they get here.  We get overwhelmed with house guests. (Note to all of those who may come to visit….we can’t wait!)

Excitedly -“Hey. I talked to Sally the other day.  She wants to come for a visit.”
Guarded – “When?”
With enthusiasm – “Great question.  She’s not entirely sure but sometime in the next few weeks.  I told her my work schedule so I think maybe one of the weekends I have off.”
Perplexed – “OK.  We’ve had a lot of house guests though and you were just saying that you needed some downtime.”
Rationally -“I know. I know.  But it’s Sally.  We haven’t seen her in forever.  She’s totally low maintenance and we’ll all have a great time together.”
Irritated – “Maybe we can just put it off for a few weeks.  Remember how you just said last night that you were exhausted?”
Deflated and irrational- “You’re right.  You’re right.  I’ll give her a call and let her know that we can’t do it right now.”

A few weeks later…still gliding toward the rock.
Concerned – “did you manage to get a hold of Sally and tell her that this month doesn’t work for us?”
Oops – “haven’t had a chance yet but I’ll call her today.”

Later that night…rock looming ahead
Sheepish – “Couldn’t get a hold of Sally.”
Irritated – “Wasn’t she supposed to be coming this weekend?”
Blink-blink – “Um..yea…. I think this was one of the weekends we spoke of.”
Sigh – “Do you think it might have been nice to let her know earlier?  If she’s planning on coming here then she is leaving her house tomorrow morning.  You can’t just change someone’s plans like that.”

Next day…house guest arrives…rock meets boat.

Another great weekend enjoyed by all until Sunday evening.
Concerned – “Hey Em. You look irritated, what’s going on?”
Frustrated – “I’m just tired.  I really need some downtime.”

3.    The fake
This is another one of my party tricks that could not be more irritating and brings us to the title of this essay (finally). Mulch.  There is a large area in our backyard that is left “natural”.  This is code for “Jesus Christ that’s a big area.  No way do I want to plant, weed and tend to it but we can’t afford to get it landscaped so it sucks to be our neighbors”.  This year, we decide we’re going to mulch.  Bringing order to chaos.  Organizing our little section of nature and beautifying our view from the patio we are finishing so we can enjoy sitting out there.  She and I have different ideas of what will look good out there.  As the person responsible for mulching my parents yard when I was growing up, I am partial to the large mound of double hammered hard wood that gets dropped on the driveway.  It’s rich dark color and fragrant aroma are a joy to work with which is good since it takes my twiggy arms about two days to spread it all out.  She likes the aesthetic appeal of the nugget variety.  Crisper.  Neater.  And here is the rock in our lake.
As we glide toward the rock, negotiations begin.  I won’t bore you with the details, let’s just say it’s an intelligent back and forth about the relative merits and downsides of each of our mulch choices.  We listen.  We understand.  I still don’t agree but I offer compromise.  “If the mini-nuggets are as good for the soil underneath, I will get them, otherwise I’d prefer the double hammered hardwood because it will condition the soil for planting in the future.”  Seems so rational doesn’t it?  She stops rowing.   I call and the mulch-expert on the other side of the phone tells me all about how great the hardwood is and I’m sold.  I start rowing like there’s no tomorrow.
She, with good reason, is now irritated. “Why did you waste my time and energy discussing this if you were going to do what you wanted anyway?”  The good news is, though, that she will have lots of time to tell me “I told you so.”  Invariably the path that I choose leads us around the rock into another rock.  I’m sure that later in the summer when the well-conditioned soil under the warm southern sun is sprouting weeds like crazy through my carefully placed hardwood, she will enjoy reminding me of the merits of the mini nuggets that I will then be placing on top of my double hammered hardwood.

Stay tuned gentle reader, the mulch will be delivered on Friday.


Written by composthaste

March 17, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I love that you guys argue about mulch. it means your relationship is in a good place. a few weeks ago isaac and i argued about which fork was the salad fork. he thought it was the big one, i thought it was the small one. I used the internet to prove I was right. I ❤ the internet!


    March 17, 2009 at 4:50 pm

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