That last half-hour of sleep is the most sacred. People are in bed and relishing those last few moments of warmth, hopefully snuggled against a loved one. Jammies are warm and soft against your skin and you can see the sun barely peeking out the sides of the curtains. You look at the clock and know you have that magical half-hour to squirm and contemplate what the dream featuring Matthew McConaughey might have meant.
Then the leaf blower starts.
Your skin turns Grinch-like green. Your head shakes and you cant believe the universe does not understand how sacred this last half-hour is.
How could someone be up and firing up a gas-powered engine at this time of day? Where is the law? Where is common decency? Where is Spider-Man?
I know this seems like hysteria. But seriously, the leaf blower this time of year is heard nearly every morning.
Later we were told that technically the laws allow hideously-obnoxious sounds to begin at 7 a.m.
Now, I can understand this for construction workers in summertime. They need to get started as soon as possible because its 107 degrees in summer and 112 on the roof by noon.
(This is actually an electric leaf blower, only slightly less obnoxious than the gas-powered version of the evil beast).
But leaf blowers in winter? If theyre up early, theyre working at one of the worst times of the day.
My head is shaking back and forth so much in wonderment that Im sure a tooth is loose.
One morning Tommy and I were subconsciously auditioning for the Olympic snuggling competition. I was zoning out and listening to the wind blowing through the birch tree. Then I heard that distinctive sound of a gas-fueled engine.
No, it was not directly outside my door, but it sounded like the operator was blowing that dastardly machine directly into my eardrum. I imagined his maniacal sneer.
I turned a gummed-up eyelid toward the digital clock and saw that it was 6:19 a.m. Wait, I set my clock 10 minutes ahead so it was actually 6:09. Is there some daylight saving time that I dont know about?
I did the patented Hacking elbow move and woke Tommy up.
Its 6:09 and someone is blowing leaves.?
He understood the urgency of my directive and padded outside to talk to the operator.
Soon the gas-powered monster was subdued. Be assured, no violence was involved.
Sadly, there is no price tag that can be given to that precious last half-hour of sleep. If there was, I would have sued.
Like jet skis, Im sure leaf blowers are fun to use, in a sadistic sort of way.
Heres a list of other most-annoying morning sounds.
Enloe Flightcare, although one cant complain because theyre important to saving lives.
Neighbor Curious George when he is bonded to his power tools.
The feral cat that sets the dogs off barking.
Snoring that sounds like honking birds and rivals the entire Pacific, Central and Atlantic flyways.
The neighbor who warms up their ridiculously huge truck at 3,500 rpm.
Needless to say, Im rallying for a change in laws about leaf blowers. I understand their usefulness, for helping with liability around walkways.
However, given the right circumstances, leaves will just turn into compost and enrich the soil. They can also be used for crunching and weed suppression, although leaves should always be raked from the lawn.
Shorter nights/longer days
Thursday was the winter solstice. Although the day marks the beginning of winter, it also represents the shortest day of sunlight of the year. This is an opportunity to rejoice and think about the fact that the days are now getting longer.
As usual, I was late in getting my spring-bloom bulbs in the ground this year. I put the tulips in the back of the fridge for chilling, then of course forgot about them.
I was reminded of them when a friend brought me another bag of them. Plus, the daffodils planted several years ago already have stems about 12 inches long, which jogged my memory.
Because the tulips werent planted until mid-December, I wont expect fabulous results. They have a tendency to be gobbled up by the neighborhood squirrels.
Normally I would compost, but composting cant be guaranteed to kill all the weed seeds unless you have your turning, aerating and watering techniques down. I use(d) an old flimsy metal bucket to cart heinous weeds to the green waste can.
Tommy apparently misunderstood me when I said we couldnt plant a bunch of bulbs in the old tin bucket because there wasnt proper drainage.
Somehow, when I had my back turned, he proudly returned with the bucket, to which he had punched a bunch of holes in the bottom with a hammer and nail.
Ah well, I guess well have to look for a new bucket at the thrift stores, and will have a nice, big pot of tulips at some point in the spring.
In the past, I have planted tulips too late and then the tree canopy reaches out and the tulips have to stretch to get the sun they need.
With a pot, you can just move it around in the yard to help the tulips stand up tall.
Theres some cool, basic info about tulips on a British Web site at: http://tulips.blomsbulbs.com.
Thanks to all the readers who sent in holiday treat recipes, including a really bizarre one fans should enjoy. (Hint: It has to do with kitty litter).