Metro-East Living

Put me in, coach: Spring training around the house

Spring training is in full swing.

No, I’m not talking about a month in Florida tossing around the ol’ horsehide. Spending hours in the batting cage getting my stroke back. Digging hard for second base and sliding in head-first. Or learning the new sign for a hit-and-run.

I’m talking about a couple hours on weekends in my backyard, tossing 3,672 ol’ gumballs into a trash can. Walking instead of driving up to the bank so I don’t have a stroke. Digging hard in the garden, then sliding rear-end-first into a lawn chair. And learning the signs — shoulder pain, clicking knee, blisters — that it’s time to quit-and-run into the house for a cold one.

I don’t know if I’ll even make the neighborhood team this year. The new neighbors were out raking and pruning and spreading their pre-emergent herbicides as soon as the last snow melted. Energetic rookies trying to make us veterans look bad. It’s working. My wife has already threatened to trade me to Detroit for a player to be named later if I don’t get up off the couch and get to work.

So many spring jobs, so little time. So little spring in my step.

This weekend, for example, I’m supposed to wash the cars. Get off all that white road-salt grime that’s been on there since we saw the first flurries last November. I fugure it could still snow up to mid-April, so there’s no sense wasting the effort if I have to do it all over again.

I crossed out the WASH ME some wise guy wrote on the side of the Sentra and drew on a snowman.

Maybe I’ll rake the leaves out of the bushes instead. That’s another useless job. No matter how many times I rake, the next day, all the neighbors’ leaves mysteriously find their way over to my bushes. My bushes are leaf magnets. I have a leaf blower now, but it’s no match for the magnets.

My wife has me working hard on the fundamentals, like washing the windows. She has me working on my strokes, a la Mr. Miyagi: vinegar water on, vinegar water off. It’ll brighten up the place, she says, and we’ll actually be able to look out and see what the neighbors are doing.

But I know that no matter how well we clean them, the windows will be dirty again next week. Rain. Pollution. Birds making a rest stop on their journey back north. It will all be back as soon as I put the squeegee away.

Besides, if we wash the windows, the neighbors will be able to see what we’re doing, so much for watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns in just gym shorts and black socks (me, not Raymond). I’ll have to start closing the blinds again.

And, if washing the windows brightens up the place, visitors will be able to see the spot I missed painting over the refrigerator. The spider web connected to the ceiling fan (another job for the leaf blower?). And the muddy dog prints on the wood floor.

Scrubbing the carpets in the spring used to be as inevitable as the swallows coming back to Capistrano.

Bad news for El Birdos: We finally got rid of almost all of our carpet in favor of faux wood floors.

I miss the old carpet because it held so many fond memories despite my best spring cleaning efforts. The wine stain from the Thanksgiving get-together. The mud our son drug in on his shoes from a rainy soccer game. A spot of glue from the boy’s science project. (It survived at least six carpet cleanings.) That little white spot from when our friends brought the new baby over. The Kool-Aid stain from when I was eating in front of the TV during the Super Bowl and leaped up as Kurt Warner completed another bomb. Kool-Aid, unlike the Rams, never lets you forget.

I think it’s time for some real spring training. This weekend, I’ll string up the hammock, tune in the Cardinals grapefruit league game and ice down a couple of cold ones.

I’ll keep the leaf blower handy in case there’s no wind to rock the hammock.