Monday, July 27, 2009

Mid-Summer Dreams and Nightmares

The tall corn of our neighbor’s tests plots makes a green wall beside the lane leading to our house. Gerald keeps the grass mowed park-level on both sides of the lane, and it is lovely these mid-summer days.

The children and I did the lawn mowing for years over at Pondside Farm while Gerald worked 12-hour days on the farm. We had a large lawn leading down to the pond, and we all took turns. Forever embedded in my brain is the image of Jeannie mowing with her sweet dog Taffy in her arms and both of them happy. When the children grew up and left the farm, I took over with only occasional help from Gerald.

I haven’t mowed since we moved here almost eight years ago. Gerald says he enjoys the mowing and our yard just keeps getting bigger as a consequence. I do remember how peaceful it was to mow--provided I did not run out of gas just before I finished the lawn or if the rain did not cause the grass to get ahead of us. However, I am relieved not to have to confess every spring that I have forgotten how to start the lawn mower. Such ineptness is beyond Gerald’s comprehension, but he would patiently take me through the steps while I felt child-like and dumb because I knew what he was thinking.

Now I just get to appreciate his work. (I had actually wanted us to have rocks or wild flowers around our house and not have to mow in retirement. There was such a house a few miles from us, and I thought it looked pretty neat. I had watched my elderly mother struggle with the folks who were to keep her grass short, so I thought the rock landscaping in retirement was a way to avoid that.)

However, although my life has been simplified by no longer having to remember how lawn mowers start, now I have to fight with computers. Last night I turned off my battery-operated mouse but decided to leave the computer on where I was googling for some information and had not quite finished. A couple hours later, I came back expecting to clear up that bit of research and then decide what to blog about and get it written and posted early in the evening and go to bed early. I was eager to tell about the fun sitting with other Southern Illinois Writers Guild authors at a book signing at the Carbondale Civic Center on Saturday at an arts festival that a hospital group had somehow receieved a grant to sponsor for our area. Earlier HP had been running some kind of monthly checkup, but it was only an icon at the bottom of the screen as far as I was concerned.

I sat down and livened up the screen, and there was a huge blocking square from HP saying everything had “passed”—that was the phrase they used. On top of that was another smaller box asking if I would allow or not allow something, and I did manage to click on “not allow” and that box went away. However, nothing I could do to the exit button on the huge square would make it work. Then even worse, the lower right box that is supposed to allow you to shut down the computer popped up and was flashing crazily. I could not shut down nor get rid of the HP report card and the irritating flashing. For an hour, I struggled to get on with my work. I closed off the computer “illegally” since nothing would allow me to do it normally. I thought a close down might let me start over with a normal screen. No. In fact, interestingly, the computer would turn itself on without my permission unless I turned off the electrical surge do-dad—whatever that thing is called. I kept trying to let things rest and to try again.

Finally in disgust, I turned it off for the night and went to the family room to enjoy Book Notes and read a bit. By this time, I figured if I went to bed early, I would not sleep for thinking of my non-working new computer and regretting I had bought the beautiful thing. (I chose it partly because I loved the sleek look and so few wires.) I told myself I would not subject myself to its vagaries anymore to end a lovely Sunday, and I guessed I’d take it to the store in this morning to see if I had a virus or something that some computer doctor might give an antibiotic.

But like a moth attracted to a light bulb, my curiosity got the best of me and I returned to my office and turned on the computer. What a difference two hours made. The nightmare was over and my computer worked like a dream. I was too tired to blog, so I surfed, read Facebook entries catching up on others’ lives, did a couple online errands and went to bed—very late.

Maybe relearning how to start the lawn mower once a year was a simpler life style than being a computer illiterate living with 21st Century convenience.

No comments: