31 August 2009

Ramble On

I'm getting the impression that some people don't think I should spend all my blogging complaining about my garden, which is truly kicking me in the nuts. I feel like I need to prove my plight. Recall that for the past two months I've had to fight this monster by myself, and I have no weekends to do it in:

My backyard, my bane of existance.

I was talking to my neighbour the other day. He was saying that it's not that bad. In all sincerity and benevolence, he said to "Just do a little weeding, rake up the dead leaves and branches, put in some decorative stones, and there you go. Easy."

To put his helpful suggestions in context, I'd like you to compare his backyard with mine:

A backyard full of shut the hell up, you stupid neighbour!

He's got zero plants out back and about six plants out front. Those six plants are new and small and his wife takes care of them.


The garden is my enemy. It is invading my mind and ruining my life. I cannot find contentment at all; even if I have free time it's in my thoughts, reminding me that true freedom is impossible and I will never be happy.

I've decided on an appropriate allegory for my garden situation. It's dark and terrible and undeniable. Behold:

The Evil One is on my borders, watching and waiting...

There are definitely similarities. Like Gondor, the non-garden portion of my backyard is a safe haven. Battles are waged on its borders between the forces of light and darkness and, though bloodied, it continues to hold. Indeed, if it fails, the rest of Middle Earth (my house) is lost. We fight the good fight, but my forces are being worn down and slowly the influence of Mordor is spreading as weeds and plants start to overgrow and slow-growing, nice-looking trees are overwhelmed. All is not well. We are slowly losing this war of attrition.

Deep inside the garden is like Mordor. In Mordor it is dark and scary and if you're in there, you're likely to be attacked by orcs. My garden is exactly the same: it's dark and scary and if you're in there, you're likely to be attacked by orcs.

There are even geographical similarities:

Ephel Dúath, the impenetrable mountain range on the border of Mordor.

This rock is my entryway to the thick jungles of plants. I actually have a decent time controling the plants around this area. It's sort of my Black Gate:

The Black Gate. I half expect an army of orcs to come marching out.

Closer in, it's even scarier:

Holy Crap! Is that a mûmak?!

You can see the waves of death creeping over as some formerly healthy, happy trees are felled by the influence of evil, an overgrown towering and twisted tree/shrub I consider to be my Barad-dûr.

The tower of the Dark Lord spreads destruction...

Uh-oh, Sauron's freaky eye is about to look at me!

Ahhhh! It burns!


16 August 2009

Life is kicking my blog in the nuts

To the two or three of you out there wondering where I've been and what's up with my blog I must apologize for my lack of writing. (To those two or three: why? To the countless others who don't care: be more like those other two or three people.) However, I have excuses:

1) Father-in-law

First and foremost, and this is not a joke, about a week after my last post, my wife's father passed away suddenly. It's been very sad and hard on us, as it was extremely unexpected. He was up and about painting houses and fixing roofs earlier that week. My mom (the doctor) speculates that his general high level of physical activity masked his very serious health problems (diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.). Because of this, my wife has been back home helping to look after her mom for the past two months. It's been hard being away, and I've had to go home every weekend to visit my wife and lend my support. But that's very hard, too, because I lose every single weekend to travel. That's added a buttload of kilometers to my car (I also managed to neglect changing my oil for over 8000 kms). The death of a loved one is always hard, but there are some weird things that take place among a family that's half not religious and half very religious, and that deserve a post of their own.

2) Garden

Colleagues have asked if I've been enjoying the bachelor lifestyle since my wife left to go home. I've had to explain to them that I've not been living the bachelor lifestyle in any way. I thought I would; I had planned for video games, tv, blogging, sitting outside in the sun and drinking beer. I have not been doing any of that (except for the drinking beer - I may be turning into an alcoholic). Since I go home every weekend, I only have four evenings each week. One evening is spent playing for my company's softball team. So three evenings. Those three evenings are all spent trying - in vain - to prevent my giant motherfucking garden from taking over my backyard and burying my house. The previous owners were a retired couple who enjoyed spending all their time maintaining the stupid thing. I am no such person, nor do I have any time. The garden deserves a post of its own, too, but suffice it to say, this takes up all my free time.

(Speaking of garden, my wife's rich brother's family was just on tv on a home and garden/landscaping reno show. They are extremely busy so they completely tore down and reconstructed their back yard to make it much lower maintenance and easier to enjoy. I'd do that, but I don't have any money and my wife has vetoed my chainsaw/slash and burn suggestion.)

3) Work

Work has also lined up my nads and delivered a solid blow. I missed a week of work helping out my wife's family and came back to a huge backlog on my desk.

I've always relied on my relative laziness and close proximity to my office to provide me with sufficient time to write, but recently I've had to do the 1+ hour commute into Toronto to work at another one of my company's branch offices. This office needs my help on a large design job, requiring long hours and a lot of hard work (that will all likely be shelved by the slow-moving municipal client and be for naught). The other office is much better than my own (free coffee, big windows, colours instead of grey, plants, and large cubicles), so that was enjoyable.

I typically first visit my own office at 9am, setting off for the other office around 9:40am, thus avoiding the worst of the traffic. I work until around 7:30pm then drive home to avoid the worst of the traffic again. Man, how do all those regular office-working, suburb-dwelling people do it? They have to get up around 6am and either catch a train or sit in hours of stop-and-go traffic to get from the suburbs to downtown, and they have to do it every day. They don't get to wait for the lower traffic periods like I do. I had to do it for a couple of weeks and it killed me. Anyway, this does not deserve it's own post, but it did contribute to the whoppingly overdue oil change.

Now that I'm done making excuses, I will promise to write at least one more post during the month of August. I will eventually get back to the Alpha Course review and a few other things, but likely that will be in the fall. No one cares about blogs in the summer time anyway.


This weekend was the first one I've had at my house in two months. It has been a nice change (my first chance to sleep in in two months). My wife was up and we golfing with a bunch of people from our badminton club. I am very good at hitting the ball in the center of the fairway ... the adjacent fairway.