Monday, March 16, 2009

Collecting Wheelbarrows

I’m sorry I haven’t been on in a while but I told you what I do here. Now picture that with a foot of snow. Then mud. Then a family crisis involving an invitation or lack thereof, accusations, hurt feelings and good old-fashioned gossip. And me trying to mediate. Trying to fix it. Talk about bogging down.

I finally broke down and bought another wheelbarrow to replace the broken-wheeled one. I couldn’t take it anymore. The only thing is, it’s too small. So now I have five wheelbarrows. None quite right. There’s the red child’s wheelbarrow that I told Kelly came with her pony and which I now keep on its side filled with petunias like it just tipped over when my dwarf gardener let go to swat at a fly buzzing around his head. On second thought, since tomorrow is St. Paddy’s Day and me being Irish, let’s call him a Leprechaun gardener.

There's the rusty metal one which we use for mixing cement, and in the old days, making bran mashes for the horses, but is too shallow for more than a couple of loads of manure—hardly worth taking out of the shed. Maybe I’ll plant some petunias in that one too.

There’s the broken-wheeled one, which was my favorite, not too big, not too small, but hard to push. And the Big Mama, my dually, which I got for Christmas one year. It’s made out of bright yellow plastic like a hard hat and good for moving around bulky things like bales of hay or a tumble of kids, but not for manure because it’s hard to dump due to the double wheels. Plus, it has a flat tire. It was the subject of my story last summer about how everything is broken around here and now it’s almost summer again and it is still broken.

Since, in my excitement, I already threw some manure into the new wheelbarrow before I realized it was too small, I can’t return it. So I told Kelly I had a surprise for her. I made her close her eyes and led her out to the barn. “Okay, open them.” I waved my hand. “Wa-la! Now it’ll be easier to pick up manure!”

She wasn’t impressed. Maybe she thought I was going to unveil a pony. “Do I have to pick up manure today? I just picked up manure yesterday and I have a lot of homework and I don’t feel good and I really would have liked a Breyer instead. Can’t I pick up the dog poop?” Then she bust out crying. I was shocked. What kid wouldn’t want a brand spanking new wheelbarrow?

That’s the interesting thing. And sometimes frustrating, especially when concerning passionate subjects like stimulus packages or favorite Idol contestants—everybody is different. Just because I get turned on by wheelbarrows doesn’t mean you like them. Maybe your thing is seed spreaders. Or bamboo rakes. Or something totally useless like jewelry. Which I don’t get at all. There’s not a lot of bang for the buck there. I can’t even see what’s on somebody’s fingers without putting on my glasses, never mind being able to tell whether I’m looking at an actual diamond or a chunk of glass. I really couldn’t tell you. It could be a rock from the backyard for all I know. No, I’d rather get a new coat, leopard maybe, or a suede jacket with fringe—something everybody’s going to notice. Perhaps a new pair of cowboy boots. In red. Now that’s got the wow factor and no need to conspicuously stroke my chin or tap my fingers on my forehead to get someone to notice what I’m wearing.

Therefore, except for some silver-and-turquoise jewelry that I got in Arizona and an antique amethyst necklace that belonged to my great grandmother—burglars take note—the safe is empty. Well, I do have something. I had to let Kurt get me an engagement ring and a wedding band. We argued about the size of the engagement ring. “It should be bigger.” “It should be smaller.” “Bigger.” “No smaller.” “Bigger.” “Smaller.” The lady behind the counter, who stood with her arms crossed and a pair of eyeglasses on a cord around her neck, shook her head. She’d never seen anything like it before. What?—couples always agree on the rings? No. But usually it’s the opposite. Usually it’s the woman who pressures the man for a diamond at least as big as her sister’s, and certainly not any smaller than the next door neighbor’s; but no, not this time. Kurt was the one who wanted it bigger. I just wanted to get a token chip and then spend the rest on something good—like a saddle.

Kurt said, “People will think I don’t love you!”

So we compromised and got something, not too big and not too small, kind of like my favorite wheelbarrow.

Now, if only I could get the feuding family to come together. But I can’t fix everything. I can’t fix broken wheelbarrows and I can’t fix people.