Leaf Alone

I've developed sort of a selfish habit of not telling my dad when I'm taking a vacation day, because he usually will make plans for me, whether it's repairing one of our cars, climbing up a ladder to clean the gutters, or trimming the hedges and lawn over at his lot. Mind you, these are all things I should be helping the old man with anyway, without being asked, but if I'm going to take a day off from my regular job and I don't have a band gig that day, I usually want to spend it doing my own thing. I might not be the type of person who travels or takes long vacations, but we all still need a day here and there to recharge.

Last week, I'd actually told him I was taking Monday off. He got a call from old music teacher's widow about a problem with her car, and I offered to help. It was something he was able to resolve over the phone, but a key component of our conversation was that I was taking a vacation day this week. Out of habit, I didn't remind him, so I shouldn't have been surprised when he turned on my light and started “yelling” at me to ask if I was going to work or not. Half awake, I mumbled an answer a few times before I finally raised my voice enough for him to hear me. I really need to press the hearing aid argument.

He turned the light out, and I lay in bed for another half hour, without any success in getting back to sleep. I began to plan my day. Maybe I'd go out for breakfast, and get in some photography while it was still light out. Maybe I'd catch a movie; there's nothing like having an entire theater to oneself on a weekday in Autumn. Then I heard some scraping noises, and looked out the window to see this little old man raking leaves out in the street, no small task. We live near woods, and it has been windy, and our yard has been absolutely covered. So, after a quick bowl of cereal, I dashed out to help.

He initially told me to go back inside and enjoy my day off, but quickly caved when he saw I wasn't going anywhere. The leaves were falling almost as fast as we could scoop them up, but in the end we could at least see the majority of our lawn and driveway. And unlike some of our bigger problems like car repair, the job took less than an hour with no unexpected complications. So, after jumping in the shower, my camera and I were soon on our way. With any luck, I'd get some pictures taken and still make a matinee of the latest Saw. As the first droplets of water hit my windshield on what started as a sunny day, I began to question why I even tried to do anything in my life.

But I persisted; I was headed to the new dock near my job where I've been enjoying lunch lately, and it wasn't that far of a drive. The radio claimed sprinkles would give way to sun, which they didn't for a few hours, but it did let up enough for me to get some cloudy pictures. At least it's a place I frequent, so I can bring my camera on a brighter day. I made it to my movie, and satisfied a sudden craving for overpriced theater nachos. As the weather gets cooler, I'm starting to consider putting some weight back on for warmth, aesthetics be damned. Maybe I should just wear a heavier coat. After the film, it was sunny outside, and I considered taking more pictures. Instead, I went on a shoe run, since my current pair were getting pretty worn. I'd later discover a birthday discount for that particular store waiting for me at home in my junk mail pile. Whoops.

The biggest “whoops” of the day came when I opened this month's credit card statement, and grabbed my checkbook to pay it. I really should have paid attention to that “this is your last check time to order new ones” message when I used my last check last month. I don't write checks that often, and I think this particular batch lasted me almost 10 years, based on the literature I found in the now empty box that I thought would have more checkbooks in it. I went online and ordered new ones immediately, though it's a race to see if they'll get here before the deadline to pay my credit card bill, which I normally do immediately. This may be the incident that finally gets me to look into paying the bill online, and as I get more and more nervous in the coming days waiting for my new checks to arrive, I may yet break down and do that.

Other than the credit card crisis, Monday was the perfect day of rejuvenation and relaxation. I'm ready to face whatever the week has in store for me, and by next weekend I suspect that next batch of leaves won't be as bad as this initial one. It doesn't look like there's that many left on the trees, but I've been wrong before. Often, our greatest adversaries are the ones we don't see....


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