Saturday is Chore Day

Our sunny little balcony has looked like hell ever since all the new plants Jack bought to replace the dead plants died, too. Two generations of dead plants, the dead-er ones at the back, all burnt up from the deadly combination of a cheerful southwestern exposure and benign neglect.

I suppose if the balcony were used as more than a bulldog tanning station the job would hold more urgency. We put a second-hand teak loveseat out there but nobody ever sat in it. I bought a $100 custom cushion from Smith & Hawken and still nobody sat in it. My next move will be to install cable TV and a kegerator and that still won't be enough, until the stripper pole goes in.

But this afternoon something seized me -- what if we have company over the holidays? It's been known to happen. People visit occasionally, though only the smokers ever show any interest in what lies beyond the sliding glass door. Does it suffer from bad feng shui? Is our balcony haunted? Is the ghost of a former agricultural engineer out there smoking Pall Malls and glaring at our empty watering can?

Whatever the problem is, today I finally got to sweeping and some half-assed re-potting. My technique was as follows. (1) Grasp dead plant by the base of its stalk, (2) shake the usable dirt back into the pot, (3) put the dead plant in a trash bag, (4) put a currently-living plant into the old dirt of the dead plant's pot. Or coffin, really. So, struggling, half-alive plants are in their new plant coffins, watered. Tile swept, detritus tossed in the Dumpster out back. A job I'd been avoiding for six weeks took no more than fifteen minutes from start to finish.

As I was doing all this I was trying to figure out why I let the big jobs wait until someone's around to notice me doing them. I have acres of time to avoid my personal responsibilities and do chores like this during the week, but no, apparently I need an audience. I need witnesses, bystanders, passive collaborators, even if they're just a husband napping next to a kid who's been eyeball-deep in his DS since sunrise.