Spring is cleanup time, and while those with giant yards are out stuffing giant branches into giant lawn bags, I am going with less-is-more.
With almost no yard at all, I have embarked on the deceptively simple task of targetting a single aggravation a year.
Last year, it was decorative flags. I like to hang one from the garage.
But first, there was the problem with flag-spinning. One wind, and they were a twisted mess.
And then, there was the fastener issue. It was as impossible to open the little metal clip as it is for a grown-up to work the front clip on most children’s car seats.
And finally, the fabric tabs that go into the metal clips. A season or two and they were ripped to shreds.
By the end of the season, with the help of a shoe repairman, I’d mostly licked the problem.
Seems that leather tabs are strong as iron.
I toted the really good flags to the shoe repair shop and replaced the tabs on the others myself with tabs cut from denim jean patches.
As for the clips, I started using pliers.
By the end of the season, I felt almost like Heloise. It would have been total victory if I’d conquered the flag-twisting problem.
I gave up and moved on. (But suggestions still are welcome.)
This year, while others are at plant sales overzealously filling their wagons with flats of petunias, geraniums and exotic Ohio native plants, I am devoting myself to the proper display of two – yes, only two – hanging baskets.
Two years ago, I blissfully planted my first wrought-iron shepherds hook into the ground and hung from it a single basket of petunias – just like the picture.
There was a single spike to anchor it.
Only one strong wind, and it was not like the picture.
It was planted face down on the ground – little pink faces muddied with peat moss.
The obvious solution was to install a double shepherds hook, so that two baskets of exactly equal size and weight could balance each other out.
I was encouraged by the new pole’s anatomy, which included not one, but two prongs at the base.
This should do it. Theoretically.
But when the first strong gust of wind blew, the baskets were still hanging, though the pole was listing forward ever so slightly.
“Only natural,” I told myself. “Gravity. But the pole is still stable.”
By the second storm, the only thing holding it up was the boxwood the whole affair had plowed into.
I righted it, a remedy that lasted until I added weight by – God forbid – watering the plants.
Last year, a handyman suggested sinking it in cement if I was sure I’d never want to move it.
I pondered all winter if it was in the perfect place and couldn’t decide.
So with spring, I turned to the internet – treasure trove of solutions – and it immediately failed me.
It turns out the Hang Tuff pole, pictured with a double shepherds hook hanging straight and soldier-like with a cement block tied to each hook, is not available till the end of 2019.
All would have been lost if I hadn’t needed bird seed. Turns out a bird-feeder pole might be just the thing – if I don’t mind a shepherds hook with a bird perched on top. It boasts a corkscrew and four prongs.
“It’ll be perfect!” the sales clerk exclaimed. “No need for cement. And you could bring it in every winter so it doesn’t rust.”
One project a year is quite enough.
I’m certainly not uncork-screwing the thing if it happens to work.
I’ll just thank my lucky stars and start thinking ahead to next year.
Maybe that rusty planter on the screen porch.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.