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Diary: Saturday, November 18, 2023

by bill - 2023-11-19 12:47:56 ( in culture, writing, blog, chores) [php version] rebuild

Today started, as usual, with feeding Cleo, our Boston terrier, and leaving the back door open. It was cool out but not too cold, and I prop the door open, weather permitting, so she can let herself out. With the back door and storm door being mostly glass, installing a pet door would be difficult if not impossible for my limited skills.

I then spent a little too much time on the computer before going out to inspect our yard. You know, be more useful, cut down on my screen time. I was finally getting around to re-doing the flagstone/pavers that lead up to the side gate into the backyard. My wife, Tara, was concerned she might trip over them. Actually, her words -- months ago -- were "With me being the klutz that I am, I'm afraid I'll trip and fall."

The gaps between those stones needed to be filled in with dirt, but I didn't have any spare dirt. We have bags of garden soil left over, but that's way too expensive for this. I would have to scrape dirt out from under the stones, each of them roughly 12x18 oddly-shaped, decorative inches. And, for that, I needed a hoe. Problem was, I'd broken ours a month or two earlier trying to do something similar with one of Tara's metal planter boxes. She needed that thing level, but our backyard is on a downward slope. I had to hoe/scrape out a level spot in the dirt and insert the planter into that. The soil was so hard -- it hadn't been raining much -- I broke the hoe.

Tara has been bed-ridden -- or lying on the couch, or walking gingerly around the house, anything but sitting -- with a bad back lately. Sciatica, she says, with all the shooting pain that goes with it. I know the feeling, having gone through it myself 20 years ago. Not fun. In my case, it was a bulging or herniated disc for which I required an epidural steroid shot every few years, but never surgery. I still have to be careful how I move. Hopefully, you'll never know the excruciating pain of one of your vertebrae rubbing against your spinal cord.

Tara had the surgery, but the pain has returned a couple years later. She was awake but still in bed when I walked in and announced, "I've got to go to Lowe's for a hoe." I couldn't resist adding " opposed to going downtown for a 'ho."

She looked at me, obviously in pain from either the pinched nerve or my stupid joke. Probably both. She said, "Your wife is out of commission a few days and you have to go out and find a 'ho?!"

"What can I say?" I shrugged. "I'm a man." We both laughed.

Cleo -- following me all over the house because I had my shoes and hat on, clearly going somewhere, and she didn't want to miss out -- was jumping onto the bed, then down to the floor, repeatedly, this whole time. I had to grab her cute little black and white puppy face and explain that she was not invited. I'm so mean, I know. Animal abuse, for sure.

So, I went to Lowe's for a hoe, and more string for my edge trimmer while I was at it. I prefer Lowe's over Home Depot, generally, and they're closer, anyway. When I got there, I had three to choose from and picked the most expensive one -- just a few bucks more -- hoping it would last, hoping with hoes, like 'ho's, you get what you pay for.

I brought it home and performed the chore described above. The new tool was still intact. I then noticed the dirt at the edge of the grass, the start of my little walkway, was still just a bit too high. So, I grabbed the hoe and whacked at the ground a few more times. When not actively using it, I'd found I could balance the hoe upright, blade flat on the grass, handle at an easy grabbing level, which saved me from bending down to pick it up. That's another habit I formed since recovering from my own back problems. Avoiding bending over, not balancing hoes.

Then I heard the crack. When I brought the handle back up, the metal blade was no longer attached. It was stuck in a patch of clay soil. Yep, I'd broken another hoe. There's gotta be a joke in there somewhere, but it's not coming to me.

Returning inside with my broken new toy, I mean tool, I told Tara, still in bed, I'd have to return to Lowe's for a refund, assuming I could find the receipt. I've got a bad habit of throwing them away too quick. She said okay and asked if I could bring back a couple bottles of supplements, cayenne pepper and ginger root. They're good against inflammation, she said, which causes or at least aggravates nerve pain.

Back at Lowe's, as I gave the woman behind the counter the handle and blade in two pieces, she joked, "What did you do!?"

"Just digging in the dirt," I shrugged, not sure they would accept my return.

"You don't know your own strength!" she laughed. "I mean, look at you!"

I am a big guy. Was she hitting on me? No, she was just being a good customer service person while scanning the bar code on the handle. "Why does it say 'fiberglass handle?'" she asked herself aloud. "It's clearly wood inside."

"With a plastic coating," I said, "making it look like fiberglass. Probably made in China, too."

She didn't want to follow me down the conspiracy theory path, though, just rang it up, added the $34 or so back to the card I'd paid with, and wished me a good rest of my day.

There's a fairly new Indian restaurant -- my favorite kind -- called A-Ha next to the Lowe's. It's where the Mongolian Grill was before that place's owner was arrested for embezzling or something. I don't know. Anyway, it was almost dinner time now, so I got on my phone while in the Lowe's parking lot and placed an order. Might as well get the order started through the app rather than sit and wait. I didn't think about the added fee they would tack onto the bill for that. Oh well.

Tara had earlier suggested I go to a True Value or Tractor Supply for another hoe. "A better store, where not everything comes from China."

"There is that new Ace Hardware on the north side of town," I said.

And, that's where I would go while waiting for dinner, but in between here and there was a Walmart. Walking in -- after pulling through the first spot I found into the spot in front of it for easier exit, always a bonus -- I passed a store clerk helping a customer wheel out a 75" television on a shopping cart too small for the thing. It seemed a bit odd. Since when are Walmart staff that helpful?

"While I'm here," I texted Tara, "can I buy a 75-inch TV?"

"Sure," she said. "Can I hire a live-in maid?"


We were both joking, but inside the store I overheard a husband tell his wife the 40-inch "smart" TV he was lifting off the shelf could go into (presumably) their kid's room. "Is that okay?" he asked.

"I don't really care which one you buy," the wife snapped, not happy, I guess. Tara wondered via text if Walmart was having a sale on TVs. I said I didn't know and wasn't going to buy one today.

I found a bottle of cayenne in the pharmacy section, but not ginger root. Tara said according to the website, they had both in stock. Aisle G11. I said, "I was there. I looked but couldn't find it, and I'm pretty sure I've got my alphabet down pat." Maybe I shouldn't have assumed things were in alphabetical order?

"Walmart never lies!" she joked.

I should've bought the cayenne there but thought, no, I'll go to one store and buy them both there. Save myself a trip through the checkout line. It made sense at the time.

The shopping center next door has a Publix grocery, so I went in looking for Tara's herbs. She checked their website, which said they had them both in stock. They didn't have either one.

"What about the big Kroger?" I asked. Before she could reply, I was pulling into that parking lot, only for her to say this store was out of stock but the one closer to our house had both, and in the square bottles. I'd mentioned I like those squared-corner bottles. The round bottles are fine, but if it can sit in the drawer with its label up and readable, why not? Some marketing genius thought that one up, copying the carpenter genius who came up with the flat pencil after too many pencils rolled away.

"What about Walgreens?" I asked. They were on my way back to pick up dinner. She said they had them both in stock, and sent a screenshot from their website to prove it.

But first, I had to hit the new Ace Hardware for that hoe, the main reason I was out in the first place. It's a very nice, new store. As I walked in, one of the first things I noticed was the tiger-striped cat walking around like it owned the place. That's always a nice touch. Makes it feel homey.

Seeing the garden tools section dead ahead, I found the only hoe to choose from, then realized the walkway project was done. I didn't need a hoe again until next spring. But, I'd driven all that way -- up and down Main Street, the most congested street you'll ever find in such a small town -- so I bought the hoe. It was a store brand, not Craftsman like the one from Lowe's that ended being wood falsely advertised as fiberglass. At the Ace checkout counter, I was tempted to joke that a cat had sneaked into their store, but they've probably heard that a thousand times.

Finally at Walgreens, as I dodged foot traffic in the pharmacy area, looking for those items on the shelf, I could not find either one. I texted Tara, who replied, "They all lie! I'll just order it online." I did end up finding a bottle of ginger root before leaving, but not the cayenne. I had no trouble finding a bag of mini Payday bars in the candy aisle on the way to the cashier. Hey, it'd been a rough day and I deserved a treat.

UPDATE: Here's some video (thanks to my dashcam) to go along with all of the above.

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Comments (We enjoy free speech. Try not to offend, but feel free to be offended.)

    You managed to make the mundane actually interesting.

- Sam Houston , 2023-11-19 21:08:46

    thanks! that's nice to hear.

- bill, 2023-11-19 21:28:23

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