Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

This Old Woman Kicked My Grass

I’m distressed about my lawn – because my lawn is distressed. It’s in the most terrible shape at springtime that I can ever remember.  Of course, with my fading memory, it has probably been worse, I just can’t remember.

I don’t know why I am so concerned over the condition of my lawn.  It’s not as if I have nothing else to be worried about.  On the contrary, with a job, a new book, and just life in general, there is a sizeable list. And there are also many things to be happy about. I mean the Korean War might even be ending. And yet, every morning when I look out the window, I am filled with dread.

And it’s not my fault. I blame global warming and my incompetent lawn service.  Last August was hot and dry as usual, but there was little rain in September and the grass never revived.  And my lawn service is horrible.  The treatments consisted of some guy running wildly around my yard spraying some magic liquid all over it.  He looked disinterested and he finished the job much too quickly. It was so dissatisfying and unfulfilling for me.  I guess this is how a woman feels when, uh, well, you know.

The sad part is the lawn service has been terrible for years, I even wrote about this in my first book when I compared my lawn with the widow Cooper’s next door.  Last spring the fools did their first spray treatment the day before the last snow storm of the season. It didn’t take, putting my lawn at a disadvantage from the start. I don’t know why I didn’t fire them long ago.

Now part of the lawn problem is my fault. I put out an excessive amount sunflower seeds on the ground this winter to feed the many squirrels by my house. This patch of ground got smothered in shells and was predominately bare this spring. Even though the seeds did attract many wild turkeys to my yard, their fertilization attempts on this section of the yard proved to be futile. You may not be able to make turkey salad out of turkey sh!+, but at least they made an effort to help.

Still this obsession with having a good lawn is illogical. There is absolutely no reason for me to worry about it.  Am I going to be, like Bill Cosby, judged on my worst transgression?  Are people going to say: “Yes, he is a good author. But oh my gawd, have you seen the way he treats his lawn. He’s a monster.”

Should I really care what my neighbors think?  So I have the worst lawn on the block, and yes, some of my slacker neighbors don’t even pay for a lawn service. But there are only five houses on my street before my road ends.  So who am I trying to impress? Besides that, none of my neighbors have written one book, let alone two -- So there!

But the widow Cooper is laughing at my lawn.  Hers is vastly superior, the result of years of using an excellent lawn service. In addition, she has a grass professional, Jerry, mow her lawn.  His equipment does a much better job than my Cub Cadet.

And no matter what improvement I might make to my lawn; the widow Cooper would not be impressed due to an ugly occurrence which happened last September which I refer to as the “Oak Incident”. Of course, this starts off, as many things that I write about, with me intending to do something good and having the whole thing turn out bad.

There is a large “pin” oak tree in the widow Cooper’s front yard. Some of the branches pose a danger to my house if they would snap and others are now overshadowing one of my trees.  It was time to have those branches trimmed. Since the tree people were coming anyways, and there were dangerous branches overhanging the widow Cooper’s house, I proposed we have the entire tree trimmed at once. Because I was initiating this action, I offered to pay two-thirds (approximately $700) of the widow Cooper’s cost. It says right there in the Bible that you are supposed to help the widows and orphans and I was following that one to the letter.

We got an estimate, got an agreement from the widow Cooper’s son and made the appointment. My total involvement in this whole thing was only to write the check. A function I was well experienced in having raised two daughters.

The tree professionals arrived one morning. I talked to them briefly and they began to cut. I was a bit annoyed because I work from home and had an important report to finish before deadline. The power saws would be a distraction. But I am a professional at what I do, so I was prepared to labor through it.

About a half-hour later, there was a knock on the door.  The tree guy said there was a problem because the widow Cooper didn’t like the way they were trimming her oak. “You need to come out here and talk with her”, he said.   

I walked over to the property line. The widow Cooper was straddling her doorway and screeching up a storm about how the tree people were abusing her beloved pin oak. So apparently, the Widow Cooper knows more about tree trimming than the tree professionals, using professional equipment and professional techniques that were professionally servicing this tree.  Did I mention that these are professionals?

What happened next was undeniably my worst moment of 2017. In my defense, I was not supposed to be involved in the details of this project at all. And instead of working on my important report, I am wasting valuable time dealing with a crazy screech owl, shrieking at me despite my generosity.

There’s probably something in the Bible against yelling at widows and screaming for them to go inside and shut up.  I don’t have time to look it up, I’ll just accept it by faith.  While my behavior was atrocious, it did provide the tree crew, and the rest of the neighborhood with some splendid entertainment. The shouting match resolved nothing. So the tree guys continued cutting only the branches on my side of the property.

But that wasn’t acceptable to the widow Cooper, she was fizzed to the max and called the police. The police could do nothing because the tree people weren’t violating the law, they are professionals, remember.  But according to the tree guy, the widow Cooper referred to me as that “son of a b!+ch” over there, when screeching to the policeman.

“Son of a b!+ch”? 

Widda Cooper, are you kidding me?

“Son of a b!+ch”?

Is that the best ya got?  C’mon you’re bringing it weak. Even some of my good friends call me that on occasion. Uh, well maybe that doesn’t reflect so well on me. That’s not good for my argument here. So maybe just forget that I said that. Okay?

But “son of a b!+ch”?  No, seriously Widda. You gotta up your insult game if you want to play on my court.

The tree people finished what they could, but they couldn’t trim the highest, most dangerous branches without getting access to the Widow Cooper’s property. They suggested having my attorney draft a letter holding her responsible for any future damage to my house resulting from her tree. I declined doing that fearing the letter could cause her to suffer fatal heart attack. They would probably read the letter at her funeral and everyone there would mumble, “Wow, her neighbor really was a son of a b!+ch.”

The good news is I really like my new lawn service.  The guy rides around on a little scooter dropping pellets all over the lawn.  It looks like he is doing more work and it takes longer, so I am more satisfied with his effort.

I even planted some grass seed in the part of the lawn I had harmed, and to my delight it actually grew. I bought the seed, I tilled the soil, I planted the seeds, I watered it, and now I have grass!  Just call me “Farmer Don”.  I just hope I didn’t get too bad of a farmer tan doing all that work.  All right, I expect
I grew this. Me!
that maybe, just maybe, the turkey sh!+ may have helped it along. Growing this grass was the highlight of my week.  I valued this accomplishment much more than anything I achieved at work or with my second book during that time. I was as proud as a second-grader who won the science fair.

And due to the improved lawn treatment, the spring rains, and perhaps the abundant turkey manure, my lawn is looking much better!  I am no longer distressed about it. Which frees me up to worry about the next irrational thing in my life.

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