Friday, November 8, 2013

Leaf Blower and Marriage Maintenance

Several years ago during a hot and humid Saturday in the middle of August I stepped back inside my house after finishing up some routine lawn care when I noticed my lovely spouse smiling at me from her comfortable position on the couch. Had we been newlyweds I would have instantly assumed her beaming smile would have been the first sign that the rest of that afternoon would be spent behind the locked door of our bedroom. Instead, being a relatively old married couple, I looked directly into her overly happy eyes and braced myself for whatever new weekend destroying chore her mind had developed while I was outside mowing the lawn and using the weed eater to make our curb look presentable.

The former is a given but as for the latter the pod people we live among are obsessively fixated on creating a surgically precise cut between the edge of their lawns and the beginning of the curb. I actually give less than a rat's rear end but indirect and unspoken peer pressure along with the occasional neatly worded letter from the president of the home owner's association force me to try and match their compulsion at least three times a summer. With the curb trimming chore out of the way I had every intention of plopping my nonconformist butt in a chair and watching some television but my wife's mysterious smile had me nervous.

"Do you know who you look just like right now?" She said clearly about to laugh at her own brand of cleverness.

"No," I said wondering where her train of thought was heading while desperately hoping it would eventually involve both of us getting naked. "Brad Pitt," I said silently thanking some exceedingly small portion of my brain that is smarter and quickly than the rest of the grey matter residing between my ears.

"God no," my wife responded finally breaking into a laugh, "you look like Bill Murray's character from the movie Caddy Shack."

"How nice," I responded sarcastically walking towards the bathroom to go take a shower. While I was obviously disappointed that sex was not on the agenda I had no real problem with being compared to Bill Murray. For me the former SNL alum has always been culturally sophisticated, extremely intelligent in an unconventional manner, besides being outrageously funny in a off-kilter way. To show how slow on the draw about what my wife actually meant about the comparison it was several minutes later and I was out of the shower and getting dressed when the truth finally dawned on me. Truth be told, I couldn't really disagree with the idea she was trying to convey.

See one of the reasons I hate doing yard work is that I am terrible at it. While the pod people I live around actually enjoy the serf-like existence required to meticulously imitate the idea of an 18th century English Lord's estate I can easily count off a couple of thousand other activities I would rather be forced to perform. But hey, if they get their jollies obsessing over the tint of their lawns, falling autumn leaves, or stemming a crab grass invasion good for them, its still a semi-free country. I, on the other hand,  would rather go to the beach, play with my kids, or have a root canal done by a dentist who once worked for the East German secret police.

The source of all my problems can usually be traced back to my lawn equipment. If you were to observe the pod people around me you would discover that everything they use is top of the line. Their riding lawn mowers have huge vacuum attachments along with GPS tracking and nifty cup holders. The weed trimmers they use have telescopic view screens allowing them to cut single blades of grass. As for the leaf blowers they use, the damn things can put out category five hurricane winds.

  On the other hand, my lawn equipment is not up to their standards. Besides that I somehow have an ingrained talent at breaking the stupid things along with having no real ability at fixing them. Because of that there were a few years I went through push lawnmowers like penny candy. That had to deal with the fuel, or my lack of adding an ethanol stabilizer. As for weed trimmers I actually had one catch fire while I was using it. I'll just say it was an electric model and leave out the rest of the details despite the fact witnesses to the event say it was extremely funny.

Leaf blowers have been a special pain for me from the moment they first arrived at the local home improvement store. As with the rest of my lawn care trials I admit I have been my own worst enemy but leaf blowers have always seemed an abomination. To me it just seems insane how people freak out over autumn leaves falling on their precious lawns. However since I am forced to comply with home owner association rules I buy the cheapest model that will allow me to get by with the barest minimum of effort.That has finally come back to bite me in my ass.

With the trees in my front yard shedding their leaves a huge section of the neighborhood curb is now in danger of being covered over. To calm the inhabitants, and keep my wife happy, a couple of days ago I dug out the two-cycle leaf blower I own, fueled it up, and prepared once again to do battle with nature. But as I pulled the cord that starts up the damn contraption it broke leaving me no way to get it going.

Like a good suburbanite I pulled out my tool bag with the idea that the leaf blower would be simple to fix, no such luck. Believe it or not the pull cord on my base line Poulan leaf blower is an utter nightmare to replace. Thirty minutes into my initial repair attempt I found that the pull cord assembly is in the very middle of the unit requiring every nut, bolt, and part to be removed to gain access.

Needless to say for me this goes way above and beyond the call of suburban duty. After several days of quiet contemplation on the subject and reviewing a You Tube video showing how to successfully replace the cord without losing your mind the issue with the leaves has not been solved. They continue to pile up and I am sure the pod people are probably worried the world will end because of it.  My wife is also getting nervous because she wants to keep good relations with at least a few of the neighbors which requires me to keep the house and yard looking at least semi-decent.

As for me, I do have a rake but that seems awful excessive at this time. I told my wife I am hoping for a very windy day, which would blow the leaves down the street, or for her to give me wild monkey sex which would supply the proper motivation. We'll certainly see which one happens first.            


MikeP said...

“With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to homeowners associations I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.” -William Lloyd Garrison

Akelamalu said...

LOL you do make me laugh! Hope it's windy!

The Bug said...

Ha! We rent & when we were looking for houses in our new town one of the neighbors saw us checking one out & came out to specifically discuss how the previous tenants didn't care about dandelions & how awful that was. Needless to say we moved to a DIFFERENT neighborhood where they're just happy we're not selling crack out of our house :)

R W Rawles said...

Years ago, when I was a wall-to-wall tennis player, I had to drive by rows and rows of well-maintained lawns on the way to thecourts. On Saturday mornings, the residents were out on their hand and knees, pulling, trimming, planting and what not. I dismissed them in my mind as "civilians". I guess my problem was that my parents liked to watch things grow. . . . . I'm not that a good spectator.

Pixel Peeper said...

We do the absolute minimum of yard maintenance. Mowing and a little trimming, and it's all good.

When I mow I pretend it's exercise. I can almost hear the coach's voice from my gym: Tuck in those abs! Strengthen your core! Work those triceps and quads! You can do this!

Anything to get me through it...


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I am unbelievable happy that we had the foresight to move into a neighborhood without a homeowner's association. I loathe the idea of a snooty set of ruled dictating what I "should" do in my own yard. Our yard looks okay, but it will never win Yard of the Month. Our lawn is more or less green. Most if it is weeds, but hey! At least they're green! Suits us.

Fun post. Here's to some well-aimed winds blowing across your yard.

Beach Bum said...

MikeP: I have a half-assed idea sometimes to attempt a coup in my subdivision and overthrow the corrupt rule of the association.

Akelamalu: Yeah, you caught my meaning!

The Bug: I am quite proud of the dandelion collection that springs up in my yard every year. I have no idea why the lawn care fanatics are so against them.

R.W.: Truthfully, I should look for an old fashioned hippy commune. I figure that is one place I would probably fit in with the people.

Pixel: Yeah, since "The Walking Dead" started when I use the weed eater I imagine the grass is zombies.

Susan: The one comfort I take in all this is that from talking with residents in other subdivisions my attitude is not that uncommon.

MikeP said...

Power to the unmowed!

lime said...

in absence of the wild monkey sex AND a functional leaf blower you could really blow the minds of neighbors and use a snow shovel. no i am not kidding. mr. lime does that because we live on a heavily wooded acre...but i never nag him about it. i don't care if it gets raked or not.