When my children were younger, we often enjoyed reading books together. Among our favorites were a series of books written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.
We started with “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” and added several others in her series to our repertoire including “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “If You Give a Pig a Pancake.”
The stories revolved around a specific action that sets off a chain reaction of events, eventually leading the reader back to the first action. The events in the chain are often messy and complicated, leaving the poor child who offered that moose a muffin, a mouse a cookie or a pig a pancake exhausted.
While my children have progressed beyond these comical tales, I have stayed with them. Just in a different way. After a very tiring day of running from place to place, I realized my life is exactly like these stories.
I’m sure we all have experienced this type of situation in some way. I know I’ve often sat down at the end of a day but could not recall if I had accomplished anything in particular. I knew how busy I was all day and that I barely stopped to take a deep breath. Yet, I couldn’t put my finger on any one specific task that was completed.
Granted, this doesn’t happen every day, but it’s often enough to make me hesitate about starting a new project before the old one is finished.
Such was the case one day this past weekend. I awoke early fully intending to add a patch to the shade structure covering my vegetable garden.
For the past several weeks, I spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day lovingly coaxing my tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini and herbs to grow and bloom. I drive my daughters crazy describing the circumference of our sole plum and two peaches and how much they have grown — or not grown — overnight.
But with the record-breaking heat we have had recently, I knew I had to do something to protect that precious produce.
We started with a simple shade structure over each end of the L-shaped garden. However, we left a small wedge-shaped gap in the middle. And with temperatures now well into the 100s, my poor plants were wilting.
So, off to the large home-improvement center my husband and I went. All we intended to get was one small piece of shade cloth and a piece of PVC pipe to augment the existing structure.
As with the simple gesture of feeding a hungry moose, nothing is quite as easy as it seems.
Once there, it turned out the price of shade cloth per yard was cheaper if we bought the largest roll. We had considered the possibility of shading the front entry to the house, and this gave us the perfect excuse to buy the large roll.
Now we had to figure out exactly how to attach the shade cloth to the wooden beams above the front porch. It involved wandering through stores to find thin strips of wood that could be nailed to the beams with strips of cloth stretched between them. And naturally those strips of wood were on the other side of the store.
But since we couldn’t find strips exactly the width we needed, we figured we could get the ones that were twice as wide and saw them in half. That, however, would require the use of the only type of saw that my husband didn’t already have in his workshop.
So we headed off in search of a new table saw. On the way to the saw department, we passed the home appliances. Our dishwasher had been making funny noises, so we stopped to see what options were available.
After looking at what seemed like hundreds of models, we did select one and were finally on the way to the power tool section. Somehow, we got sidetracked again, this time by refrigerators. And while we drooled over the features of the newest models, we figured all we really needed was a new filter for the water/ice dispenser. Getting the proper one was nearly as complicated as trying to buy a new fridge.
A good 30 minutes later, we were finally in the tool department. We found the saw he needed and had to pass by the kitchen appliances on the way out and to the car.
That reminded us that we had not eaten breakfast yet, so we headed to the nearest restaurant and split an omelet.
When we finally got home, it was too hot to put the shade cloth up. And we were too tired. We did eventually get it up over the vegetables — the following day.