Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2, 2010
“Of gardens and neighbors”

BACKYARD -- What? Say what? Just a second, let me cut the throttle back on this thing. -- Oh, right. I’m sorry. I thought sure I’d be through mowing by the time you showed.

Let me make one more pass over by the Jungle Gym, and then I’ll join you for some serious thoughts. Uh, rambling, not-so-serious thoughts. Right.

Lawn chairs are just inside the backdoor. Water would be nice. Lotta water. Kay’s not here, so grab some bottles inside the door of the fridge. And leave my wallet alone. You joker readers you.

I was going to take us up to the rooftop this morning, but it’s scorching up there. Let’s just sit here under the old oak and— ah, thanks. You know, nothing is better than a good ol’ cold Coke when you’re hot and tired. But, this water is good, too. More water! Thanks.

Some of you may think it rude of me not to shut the lawnmower off the minute I spotted you, but the Hayters are a people who never kill a mower until the mowing job is complete. I don’t care what’s happenin’ around us, or what’s up ahead, we keep that engine roaring. You can do that if you tie the throttle down. That was Dad’s invention.

There’s a small-engine hex somewhere in our DNA. Seems history has taught us that we can never be sure if the mower, leaf blower, chainsaw, weedeater will ever restart. “Mow like it’s your last mow job.” That was one of my Dad’s quotes. “If I see those two bikes parked on the driveway one more time, you two knotheads will be skipping to school till your senior year.” That’s another. Neither of us knew what it meant. Parents could be so vague.

Anyway, because of the small engine hex, I don’t stop my mower until I’m through mowing… and I’m through. If you hadn’t showed when you did, I was going to get out the weedeater. Not now. I’ve got company. I’m so thankful.

Did any of you get a load of the new neighbor over yonder? I told Kay that I was going to bake a cake for our next new neighbor. I just think it’s the nice thing to do. I’ve never done it, but I sure intended to this time. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. I fear it would upset the other neighbors.

Seems Kay and I have been here longer than the families around us, and like I say, I didn’t bake them a cake when they moved in. If all of a sudden, I made a cake to welcome the new neighbor, well, the others might get their feelings hurt. You know how neighbors are.

What’s sad is that Kay and I were never greeted with goodies when we moved to a new place. No, cakes, cookies, cashews, towels…

When we moved to the Austin area 20 or so years ago, the two co-eds that lived in the townhouse next to us did drop by to say hello. Just cute and sweet as they could be. I was glad they weren’t coming over to try to sell us something, ‘cause I would’ve sure bought it. Cute is what they were.

We got to know them real well the night of the big fire. Turns out one of their ex-boyfriends firebombed one of their cars outside the townhouse. It lit up the night. The girls came running over scared and crying. Needed some serious comforting. Thought of Uncle Mark. Maybe Aunt Kay, too.

The flames got so close to the complex that we all had to evacuate over our back fence… in our pajamas even. Well, Kay and the girls were in their PJs, but I managed to locate my shorts. I don’t wear pajamas, nor will I climb a fence in my underwear. I just won’t.

Our white Honda in the junk yard after the big fire.
The fire ended up destroying our car and one of theirs. No one could prove it was a boyfriend, but I think we all knew. Boyfriends can act so stupid sometimes. Movies have been made about it. Fortunately, Uncle Mark was there. It’s what I do.
My truck after the firebombing. I cried for weeks. The insurance settlement didn't help.

All of that was way too much information for you. I realize that. Just wanted to share. Oh, and speaking of sharing, I’d give you some vegetables if we had any. Did you notice the garden out front? Well, go notice it. I’m getting another water. – So, what do you think? Sad isn’t it?

We got only three tomatoes and two small thin-skinned bell peppers. A bird got one of the tomatoes, while some weird creature got one of the peppers. Chupacabra. That left us two tomatoes and one pepper. Makes me wanna cry.

I told Kay I didn’t want to have a garden this year, but she was determined. I didn’t put my foot down, ‘cause I knew she would sulk. That’s what I do when she won’t agree with me on stuff.

Does your spouse ever sulk? Don’t you just hate that? It doesn’t bother Kay all that much. She’ll just ignore me until I get over it. She ignores a sulk. There is nothing fair about that.

So, I ended up digging a garden, planting the ‘maters and peppers and… well, you see what we got. Heartache. Had I not planted a garden, Kay would sit down at the supper table tonight and say, “Well, we could be eating homegrown tomatoes right now, if you had only planted a garden. But, noooo.” She’d say something like that.

Since the garden turned out to be a big stinker, one might think I should gloat. Do the ol’ I-told-you-so thing. No, if I did that, Kay might sulk. Better to just maintain the peace. A peacemaker is what I am. A thirsty peacemaker. More water! Uncle Mark needs water, here! -- Next time.


To see a Buca di Beppo review go to You Tube and type in “Mark Hayter” and click on the picture of Brad wearing a black hat. The goober. You can contact Mark at

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