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my life as a widow

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The Single Girl and the Lawn Mower

I did something really amazing last week. Amazing for me at least. It was something I’ve never done before, but now will have to do regularly. So I conquered it.

I mowed the lawn.

Woot! Woot! Wait. You’re not impressed? Let me explain.

Growing up I never had to mow the lawn, because I had a brother. If Dad wasn’t mowing the lawn, my brother was. I did the laundry. Simple division of labour. Sexist, perhaps, but it was the 1970s and made perfect sense to us.

When I bought my first house in downtown St. John’s, my front door opened basically right on to the sidewalk, and I had a heavily shaded postage stamp backyard. Most of that yard was taken up with perennial plantings and stone walkways. There was one tiny patch of sad grass, and I cut it with garden shears.

Then I moved to Toronto and moved in with Jim. He considered it his job to mow first our tiny townhouse lawn, and later our big and beautiful suburban spread. Once our big guy was old enough, he took over.

So, it’s not something I ever really had to do. Plus, I could never seem to get the darn mower started. The couple of times I tried, because the boys in my life were taking longer than I would like to get to work, I simply didn’t have the wingspan to pull the cord out far and fast enough to turn over the motor. Last summer when we were shopping for a new mower, I almost purchased one with an electric start, so I could use it. But I quickly came to my senses and realised that would just mean I’d end up cutting the grass every week.

So, cord it was, and cord it is. And I do deeply regret that decision now, given everything that’s happened.

We got back from Disney and found our lawn looking more like a meadow. The rain did wonders for it. As the sun came back and our neighbours trimmed their lawns to perfection, I became more and more embarrassed by the state of mine. I could have called for my big guy to come over and help. I came close to asking the kid across the street. But then I had an “I am WOMAN” moment and decided I needed to give it one more chance.

It wasn’t easy, but I found a way to start to mower. It involves me doing this ballerina-type 180 degree quick turn, and probably looks really funny, but the mower starts. I did both the back and the front, plus the boulevard. Please note our property is 55×120, and the footprint of our house is only 1000 square feet. It’s a lot of grass!

Ok, so not this much grass, but this kinda explains how I felt about how much there was.

I can’t even express how proud and accomplished I felt. The lawn looked pretty good, not perfect, but it was presentable. I have to work on my technique and figure out the best path to take, but I’ll get there.

This widow’s life is bringing a bunch of new experiences, and reminding me that I am actually a pretty capable and competent gal. I think I’ve got this.

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Re-finding My Inner HandyWoman

My father and grandfather were always super handy. Whether it was fixing the family car or putting an addition on the house, they were always into something. And I watched, and sometimes helped, and learned a few things along the way.

My grandfather gave me my own hammer before I had even started school. I used it once or twice, only with his help, but I was proud.

For Christmas when I was 27, my dad gave me a cordless drill. A male friend of mine got a microwave from his parents. We both laughed. But really, they were the perfect gifts for both of us. He had tons of tools already; I had all my kitchen stuff.

In my 20s, I felt pretty handy. I drilled holes to hang shelves, took down walls, did lots of painting, replaced light fixtures, hung blinds – basically whatever little fixes needed to be done, I was on them. But then I got myself a man, and he took over all those tasks. It wasn’t about sexism or machosim or anything. Jim, like me, liked to fix and build things, and he was good at it. Better than me, to be honest. Or at least more careful and precise. So, the handyman stuff went on his chores list (with the laundry, for the record – we didn’t have a totally gendered division of labour.)

So now I find myself back in the position of doing the handy(wo)man things. And although I’d love to be able to move those chores off my terribly long list and hand them off to someone else, I am actually enjoying getting hands-on with my power tools once again.

Other than hanging a few pictures last month (harder than it sounds with plaster walls), my first real “fix” involved adding a slide lock to our laundry room door. Just whom am I trying to keep out, you might ask? This beast:

I love Maxi, but she can be a real pest. Her greatest goal in life is to find her way into the laundry room when no one’s looking, so she can eat the cats’ food. And explore in their litter box. (Gross!!!!!) Jim put a cat flap in the door years ago, so cats had access, but not dogs. Maxi did manage to get in through it when we first got her, although she couldn’t manage to get back out. Now she’s quite a bit heavier and can’t sneak through anymore, so she watches for someone to accidentally leave the door open. I guess that wasn’t happening quite ofter enough, because she recently started butting her head at the door to break in. And she somehow managed to mess up the door knob enough that the door now no longer stays closed on its own.

I debated replacing the door knob, but decided instead to just quickly install a slide lock. Four screws, one small hole to drill. Just a bit of sawdust to vacuum up. And, voila!

Need a slide lock? I can do that.

I will admit that my drill hole was off ever-so-slightly, and I had to make some adjustments, but overall I am pretty pleased with myself. And now the cats may eat, as the dog can no longer get in. I have seen her try, and may or may not have laughed evilly at her as she butted her head against the now immovable door.

Power tools make me happy

Now, on to my next project. My office. I am hoping to get it cleared out next week so I can start painting. Then I have shelves to stain and hang, a whiteboard to put up, and a few other touches. I think the blinds need replacing too. It’s all completely within my capabilities – if I can only find the time! Wish me luck 🙂