Sunday, May 28, 2017

Martha's Month and Pam's Plans

Recently I received an offer for a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine if I renewed my current subscription to another magazine by the same publisher. Since it cost me nothing, I decided to accept the offer, not even knowing how amusing I would find this magazine. On page one of every issue, readers are greeted with “Martha’s Month: Gentle reminders, helpful tips, and important dates,” a calendar with brief notes apparently highlighting what Martha plans to do each day. Clearly, she and I lead very different lives, and her agenda often makes me laugh. For example, why does she really need to “Sharpen knives and scissors” on June 19th?  Does that have anything to do with her plans to “Deadhead peonies” a week later?

I notice that she never mentions doing laundry, grocery shopping, or even spending time at the Target Dollar Spot. Perhaps she has staff to do those tasks that seem to consume so much of my time. I also suspect that her plans on the 9th to “Clean outdoor lighting fixtures” probably involve a more thorough job than my simply tapping the glass until the dead bugs fall out and then kicking them into the grass with my athletic shoes. Speaking of athletic, Martha admirably and diligently plans to exercise (weight training, yoga, cardio, and core on a rotating basis, of course) every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. My fitness routine is much less structured, consisting of random stair climbing to find things Alex has lost, contorted stretching to shave his face and tie his shoes, and power walking as a means to keep up with his long-legged strides. On three of those days when she is getting physical exercise, I’m getting mental exercise by working the Sudoku puzzle, knowing that Alex will carefully check my accuracy and call me on any mistakes I might make.

A good deal of Martha’s time seems to focus on gardening. She plans to plant melons, beets, spinach, lettuce, bush and pole beans, and sunflower seeds next month––all on different days. Instead, I will be planting myself on the couch to watch Jeopardy and baseball games with Alex. Martha will also weed her various gardens: rose gardens and vegetable beds. Instead, I plan to weed through autism research next month, looking for ways to make Alex better. The fruits of her labor allow her to “harvest garlic scopes” and peas; however, I harvest pens for Alex by lifting couch cushions and having them magically appear.

In other ways, perhaps Martha and I are not that different, after all. On June 2nd, she plans to “Wash and groom cats,” which I can’t think would be too much different than my washing and grooming Alex on a daily basis. On the 11th, she plans to “Pick strawberries for jam”; I just pick up strawberry jam at the grocery store. While she plans to “Stock up on summer wines” on the 7th, I plan to stock up on toilet paper around that time. On the 27th, she has earmarked time to “Feed roses,” and I feed Alex multiple times every day.

Aside from the small chores, we both have important tasks next month, as well. On the first of June, she will “Cover garden paths between beds with salt hay.” [What is “salt hay,” anyway?] On that same day, I will be teaching my last day of seventh grade English, trying to keep my students in their seats by walking the paths between their desks without the benefit of salt hay. On the fourth, she will “Judge the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s National High School Design Competition,” which sounds impressive. The next day, I will be meeting with Alex’s psychiatric nurse practitioner to go over his comprehensive metabolic profile, lipids profile, complete blood count, medication levels, and complete thyroid panel results, which also sounds fairly impressive. On the 24th, Martha will be enjoying recreation, as she plans to “Go for a horseback ride.” I, on the other hand, will be calling in Alex’s prescriptions, impatiently waiting for the ads about shingles and pneumonia shots to finish so that I can punch in the numbers to refill his medications.

Even though Martha’s life seems much more glamorous than mine with her plans to “Host friends for picnic” on the 10th and “Brunch” on the 25th, I wouldn’t trade my life for hers. She’s busy growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables in her garden while I’m busy helping my son grow and bloom into a fine young man, in spite of autism. My month may be more mundane, but I’m certain that the harvest I will reap will be much more fulfilling in the long run. Besides, I’m not big on gardening, wine, or cats. Instead, I think I’ll harvest some Bic ballpoint pens today for Alex before we plant ourselves on the couch to watch 1100 miles of auto racing with the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Coca Cola 600. Now, that’s a gentle reminder, helpful tip, and an important date!

“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” Isaiah 58:11

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