Sod This for a Lark

How many hats can a person wear without going completely schizophrenic?

I suppose it varies according to your innate level of mental stability, but having started off a bit batty in the first place, I feel I might be nearing my natural limit: stay-at-home mum, copywriter, empty nester, tree farmer, trusty sidekick, and now student as I just started an online horticulture certificate course.

This morning’s hat was landscape labourer, which is technically a sub-hat of the trusty sidekick hat.

And so, I found myself grovelling on the cold, damp ground laying about 400 acres of grass – or sod as they like to call it here, despite the fact that I’ve tried to explain that that’s a bit rude.

cropped sod picFor hours I kept my nose to the ground, while I unrolled, lined up and pounded down piece after piece, sure that I must be achieving something – until the occasional glance up at this deceptively large suburban yard disillusioned me and showed that in fact I seemed to be making negative progress.

To amuse myself I muttered sod jokes to myself – like calling each piece of turf a stupid sod, or telling bugs to sod off. Now that’s sophisticated humour.

By about 2.30 my arms informed me that they were finished for the day and had no intention of lifting another piece of sod – each of which, incidentally, weighs about the same as a greyhound bus. Sadly that was about an hour and a half before the rest of my body was planning to leave. Now, as the boss’s wife, I could have feigned a frightfully important errand and left, but I found I couldn’t, in any good conscience, abandon my post or my fellow landscapers, so I soldiered on. Damn that protestant work ethic!

By 3.30 the rest of my body joined in the dissention and the work ethic buggered off early for the evening. We had laid all except the fiddly bits, which the others seemed to managing quite splendidly without me, so I made my excuses and sidled off. Only half an hour early.

Perhaps, when I volunteered to help hubby with whatever he needed, whenever, I should have specified the weather conditions in which I was prepared to go outside, and the fact that I don’t expect to have to do any one task for more than half an hour at a time.



Need a Tree?  Please Fill in an Application

I’ve spent the summer helping hubby with his landscaping and tree nursery business and I have to say, being a tree farmer is a lot harder than you might expect.

People think they can show up out of the blue and simply drive away with a tree. Just like that. Seriously, there should be paperwork or something. Background checks. I love those trees – I water them and watch them grow; nurturing them with positive reinforcement and pruning them back in the direction of their full potential whenever they sprout waywardly. It’s a labour of love.

And, frankly, some people just don’t deserve them.  Last week we played host to Mr and Mrs Never-Buy-Anything-At-Full-Price.  They wanted a few trees, so we weren’t averse to talking a bit of a deal, but they walked around dickering and badgering so relentlessly that we accidentally gave them one of the trees for free; and virtually payed them for the privelege of being allowed to deliver them. So pleased were they with their pillaging skills that they went home and told all their friends, who all trooped straight over with the sole intention of harrassing us into giving away our trees, and probably our children.

We tolerated the assault for a while, but the effort of remaining composed through the onslaught was exhausting, and frankly I was forced to pretend that some of my favourite trees were sold in order to save them for more deserving families.  In the end we had to fake an emergency phone call just to get them to go away.

On the flip side, the other day I had a delightful customer who was genuinely excited about exploring the trees and choosing the right one. She ended up taking two fruit trees and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have gone to a better home.  She even told me I could visit them if I wanted. Now that is someone who understands what buying a tree is all about!

I gather what we’re supposed to be doing here is running a commercial enterprise, rather than a tree adoption agency, but still … don’t talk to me about how the pathetic sticks available at the big box stores are cheaper, because if you do, you might suddenly find the price goes up and the only one available is that oddity in the back corner that looks suspiciously like a dead tree with poison ivy growing up it. .


Somewhere in the larder I knew I had a fresh packet of ryvitas.  That’s way more important than it sounds because, what with me getting fatter and fatter by the minute, I’m trying not to eat wheat.  Ryvitas are a huge component of my diet.

Anyway, I just came home after a frustrating morning, and frankly what I really wanted was a doughnut, or a bacon sandwich, or toast and lemon curd.  Anything, really, jammed with wheat, fat and calories.  Nonetheless, I summoned up some willpower and tried to convince myself that a ryvita would do almost as well.  Except, the search for those crispy Scandinavian snacks did not go well.  Until – joy of joys! – I found a single hobnob tucked away at the back of a shelf.  Someone had obviously hidden it there and forgotten about it.  It was stale and soggy, but who cares – I was clearly meant to have it!

chocolate-hob-nobsIt’s amazing how things start to look up after a single hobnob; I even found the ryvitas.  Ironically I must have looked right past them to find the biscuit.

And now that I’ve had that morsel of sugary, chocolatey yumminess, I think I can even start to feel cheerful about the rivita.

Mixed Messages

I Got The Message – So, What Exactly Does It Mean?

Sometimes the universe seems to send messages so clear that they shouldn’t be ignored.  That’s what I thought I was getting!

It all started in the spring when I decided to quit copywriting for the summer to help hubby with his landscaping/tree farming activities.  The decision was ostensibly altruistic as hubby needed the assistance of a trusty sidekick and who better to fill than the role than … well, me.  The real reason, however, was my frustration with copywriting and my profound belief that I have a higher purpose than writing people’s websites; one that I will discover eventually if I keep looking.  I really want to make the world a happier, more beautiful place, and touting the talents of real estate agents online doesn’t seem to be fitting the bill (not that I have anything against real estate agents per se, if you are one and you need the services of a brilliant copywriter, but you get the idea).Apples

So, with a light heart and high optimism I volunteered my services to horticulture.

But, within days I got asked to help with a huge writing project for the zoo.  The zoo!  One of my favourite places in the world and home to a million wonderful memories from when the children were little and we virtually lived there.

“A message from the universe”, my friend averred, and it did seem to be telling me that I shouldn’t give up copywriting after all.

UNTIL … (dah, dah, dah!), during the course of my research, I stumbled upon a page on their old site for the horticultural therapy certificate.

Yes – horticultural therapy is a thing, and it’s what I’m supposed to do!

That was the message!  A message confirmed when one of hubby’s labourers declared that she was working in landscaping to get the experience necessary to become a horticultural therapist.  I mean, what are the chances?  Two weeks earlier I didn’t even know it was a thing.

Or at least I thought that was the message, until I found out that the zoo isn’t planning to run the course anytime soon, and the nearest place to do it is Vancouver – only you have to go for five consecutive Fridays for each of the four modules.  Not super practical from Calgary.  After extensive research it truly seems that, whether I’m supposed to be one or not, there is no way for me to actually train as one.  So, am I back to copywriting as the message?  Because if it is, I’m feeling a little let down.

Remind me – are you supposed to listen to the universe giving you messages, or are you supposed to persevere in your dreams regardless of the obstacles?