Commode To Joy

finding happy (even in the crappy)

I’m Not Here For Yard Work

It’s been three years since I started blogging. On the first anniversary, I drafted an installment, decided it was junk, and never finished it (self-doubt for the win). At year two, I looked up my notes from the previous year, was impressed with how good they were – Oh, Jamie, you should’ve finished that – and posted an installment about the journey up to that point.

It’s now the third year, and I keep going back to the lesson from not posting that first anniversary. Mainly, that I had a good installment formed and did nothing with it. In that spirit, this year I won’t write about “what I’ve learned”. Instead, I’ll write because of that lesson learned.

I wrote the majority of an installment last week that then got back-burnered. You know what the back burner opens the door to? You guessed it, self-doubt. Except this time I’m revisiting it, finishing it, and hitting “publish”.


August 1, 2018

I got stung by a yellow jacket. I was weeding along our roadway with my trusty spade. Since last fall, Mom and I have been clearing tall weeds, overgrown grass, etc… Still left is the area pictured.

Pokeweed, wild honeysuckle, and lamb’s quarter, to name a few.

One night last week, I set to work while Miller played about twenty feet away. I stuck my spade in the ground, and – zap! – instant pain. I saw no bug on my leg. Instinct said to drop the shovel and run, which is exactly what I did all the while yelling, “RUN!!!” to Miller.

Thankfully, no more zappers dive bombed either of us.

Standing next to Miller, I had two thoughts as the stinging pain blossomed: Identify what got you. Get to the house. (I had no clue what my reaction would be.)

About fifty bees swarmed above their underground nest where I’d been working. I retrieved my spade, and Miller accompanied me back to the house. Because of where I got stung (hamstring) I couldn’t see if there was a stinger in there. You know what I did next, right? Called Mom.

She came over, confirmed there was no stinger, and got an ice pack. The next day, I called a pest control service who came to the house and confirmed I’d disturbed a yellow jacket nest.

Side note: I thought yellow jackets were bees, but they’re technically in the wasp family. No wonder they’re such assholes.

Anyway, the pest guy got down on the ground and very calmly inspected the area. That’s the key with yellow jackets: Stay calm and they’ll leave you alone. Start flailing or swatting or jabbing at their nest with a shovel, and they’ll attack.

When yellow jackets sting, they let off a pheromone so their buddies know who to target. Unlike bumblebees, they don’t leave their stingers in you or die from it. They can keep merrily stinging the shit out of you, because, as stated previously, #assholes. Which is why, if ever you are stung, let me reiterate: RRRUUUNNN!!!

How I only managed to upset one yellow jacket is beyond me; when I stuck my spade in the ground, its tip was just two inches from the nest. I asked pest guy if he could tell whether there were more nests in the area. Remember, I still have a lot of weeds to clear. His advice?

“Stop using your spade. Get a weed wacker and spray weed killer.”

Ummmm, no.

Mom and I have been transforming that roadway for eight years now. A lot of shoveling, sweat, and mosquito bites have gone into that space. When I look at it, I don’t see perfection, but I see tons of satisfaction. Right when we’re on the homestretch of clearing, I’m supposed to cheat the system by using a LINE TRIMMER?!?!


August 8, 2018

Remember how I said this is my third year blogging? That means I have three years of chronicled life stories. Many of which I remember vividly because I’ve written about them here.

Like that time I planted flowers in the dark and hit a “tree root” with my same trusty spade. For a refresher, I lobbed off over a foot of “root” to later discover I’d actually cut the irrigation line. Awesome Jamie.

Or how about earlier this summer when I repotted flowers and scalped my toe in the process? That was fun. You wanna know the real kicker of that story? The impatiens grew impatient and the mums are now mummified. That’s right. All that blood and what do I have to show for it? A blog post and still-potted dead flowers. Great.

And now, a story about yellow jackets. You know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking maybe I wasn’t put on this earth for yard work.

Despite a lifetime of my mom imparting knowledge on me, despite tons of hours logged, am I really any better off for it? Is it really worth the “satisfaction” of seeing a job completed when it involves unnecessary bills from the irrigation company, bloodshed, and a (still) bruised leg at the sting site?

You know it is. Cause I’m getting loads of material here. Writing about the mishaps makes me laugh. And shake my head. But mostly laugh.

As for my spade? Maybe it isn’t so trusty…or else its operator isn’t. Maybe I do more harm than good with it. Maybe the pest guy is right…

Anybody have any line trimmer recommendations?

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