Indian Summer Leaves


Leaves, leaves, leaves and more leaves.

I didn’t grow up in areas with 4 seasons. When I encountered a real autumn for the first time, I was awed – awed in every sense of the word. I couldn’t fathom that such a spectacle occurred every year and yet people just went about their business as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Nor could I understand how so many commented only to complain about leaf removal.

In North Carolina, we did have some deciduous trees – not many – and I’d collect leaves, make a glue of flour and water, and glob them onto my dresser mirror. When I moved here and experienced the glory of deciduous forests at their peak, those puny leaves I used to attach to my mirror seemed ridiculous.

indian summer

Indian Summer on the Patio

While I’m still awed, and sometimes rendered speechless, I do go about my life as if nothing extraordinary is happening. After several decades of deciduous trees in abundance, I also complain about leaf removal. It appears I’ve become complacent.

But not too much.

After several weeks of the dogs tracking leaves in the house, I finally got my butt out there with a broom and a rake. After years of this, I know better than to begin the process before all the leaves have fallen.

The idea was to at least clear the patio. Designing one’s garden with a sunken patio near mature oaks creates autumnal challenges. It’s easy to lose a small dog out there. Moreover, the condition of my gutters would make at least one person I know weep.


Outside Leaves In

It was daunting. It is daunting.

For several hours, I have maneuvered around patio furniture, the heat pump, small dogs, flower pots, dog toys, retaining walls, and the hot tub trying to bring order out of chaos. The task is made more daunting in that I don’t remove the leaves; I chop them up with the lawn mower and leave them lie to improve my pitiful soil. Three small dogs of a mind to help add an additional layer of difficulty.


Never too old for a good leaf pile.

But the truth is, I can’t bring myself to just attend to the task. I have to play in them. I’m still susceptible to the joy of jumping in a great pile of leaves and immediately being pounced upon by the dogs. The four of us romped, made leaf angels, and pretty much made a bigger mess than I started with. Towards the end of Romper Room with Leaves, the cat joined in. Indian Summer made it all that much more fun. The temperature is positively tropical out there.

The patio is clear, more or less. I haven’t gotten the lawn mower out yet so there are still great heaps of leaves about the yard. One brisk wind and they’re all going to end up back on the patio. I’m trying to summon the discipline to get out the lawn mower and finish – or at least make a serious dent in the project. But I don’t know, those piles of leaves look like they need some more playing in.

small brown dog

You could lose a small dog out here.

I was just lamenting that I have too many projects going on and too little time. In my hurry-hurry life, it speaks well, I think, that I can still find time to play in the leaves.  As long as I can still find time to play and marvel, life will be good – is good.

15-Minutes at a Time

At my primary job, we are all undergoing a “time study” wherein we jot down on a form everything we’re doing within 15-minute blocks of time. For three days now, I have started my day with an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper with clock times in fifteen minute increments running down the left side and lines on the right to fill in my incredibly important work.

It’s making me crazy.

The first day I amused my self by filling it in as I would a twitter account. The line next to each fifteen minute block holds, roughly, 140 characters.  I like doing it this way best.

Connie is downloading and reading email – deleting most of it and ignoring the rest.

Connie went to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee, and explained flash mobs to co-workers.

Connie lectured Name Deleted for Privacy about clicking on attachments from unknown emailers.

Day Two wasn’t quite so fun. My tasks are pretty evenly divided between multitudes of less than 5 minute things OR multitudes of long term projects. The latter I can break down, I suppose, into 15 minute intervals, but there isn’t enough space to put:

Responded to Board Member’s email explaining volunteer policy, called Theatre Dept. (again!) to try and book puppet show, answered phone call from Concerned Grandmother, rubbed co-worker’s pregnant belly, ran the halls gossiping and loitering on my way to pee, poured coffee, checked to see that server hadn’t exploded or nuttin and succumbed to a blueberry muffin.

You see the problem?

As for the projects, I’m finding it difficult to break them down, so there are tasks where I fill in one line

Developing fundraising materials

and then put ditto marks down the page.

But that’s making me frown. I’m finding that I don’t like the ditto marks. If they want 15 minute intervals, then dammit, I want tasks that can begin and end in 15 minutes. So. For Day Three, I ignored everything that couldn’t be done within 15 minutes. Then I arranged stuff so that I had the 3 minute task, the 5 minute task, and the 7 minute task all together so that I had a “clean” 15 minutes. I don’t want to start something that has to carry over into the next block. Often I can’t get it all to work out mathematically and I end up spending a minute or two staring at the time study chart thingie.

I suppose I’ve mentioned that I’m neurotic. No? Well. Now you know.

Everybody knows everybody goofs off. A couple of times, I put:

Blatantly goofing off.

I’ve always prided myself on the fact that if I’m goofing off at work I don’t try to hide it. I’m an in-your-face slacker when I slack.  Now I’m goofing off in precise fifteen-minute intervals.  Slack?  Precise?  You see the problem, right?

Then there’s the white-out dilemma. Today I had already written:

Connie is outa here!

When the boss showed up to discuss Important Things™.

After she left, I pondered whether I should white-out the “outa here” or just cross it out or just ignore the whole damn thing like the conversation never happened. But then I got all consternated that the Boss was going to put “Talked to Connie about Important Things™ “on her time study chart thingie and then it was going to look like I was falsifying my work record!

Now, really, who is going to put “blatantly goofing off” and then lie about all the rest of it?  Hmmm.  That would be kind of clever. 

Anyway. I’m not really a white-out kind of person. This is because I do everything on the computer and it’s driving me crazy to have to hand-write this thing. And now that I think about it, I don’t know for a fact that I do have to hand-write it. Hmmm.

In any event, I crossed it out and wrote:

Foiled again! Boss chose quitting time to discuss Important Things™ which were discussed with no real resolution.

The conversation only took 11 minutes so I sat there for 4 minutes and straightened the things on my desk. I did not add “straightening desk” to the form because there wasn’t any room left.

I have 6 more days of this.  I’m a little manic.