Free Mulch The Sequel - SunGlo Photo

Free Mulch – The Sequel

It was another beautiful morning in paradise…well, it was only if you were careful enough to completely avoid being anywhere around me. To say El Grumpo was alive and roaming the halls of our abode would be an understatement. I had skipped my normal dose of morning coffee so I could get an early start on today’s activities…big mistake.

My intent was to head over to the local park for another load of “free for the taking” mulch. If you remember in my original story “Free Mulch and a Bonus”, I had some problems with the Mulch Shoveler’s Union. Therefore, to circumvent yet another strike threat, I opted to make this trip without my helper, the loyal union member. No, it’s not union busting, nope, it is just plain old down to earth survival skills…well, that and the fact that I am basically a devout coward.

Even though I missed having my morning coffee, things were moving along smoothly. As I was loading my vehicle with equipment I would need for obtaining my “free for the taking” mulch, I heard a truck with a loud muffler start-up just down the road. As I glanced over, I noticed it was one of those air conditioning repair trucks, you’ve seen them, a small pickup truck with a topper on the back that has compartments for storing tools and supplies.

Now, the street we live on is just two lanes, but it has a landscaped median between those lanes. Therefore, if you back out of a drive on the west bound lane and want to travel east, you have to go to the next intersection and make a U-turn.

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As the air conditioning truck reached our intersection, I glanced over and gave a friendly wave to the driver who, at that moment, was looking directly at me. In return, the driver gave me one of those weird, not so friendly, “what are you staring at” looks and started his U-turn. Wrong thing to do on a “no coffee” morning. The next thing I knew I was muttering a not so nice “And I hope you have a lousy day too” and went back to loading my vehicle with the equipment.

Just as I placed a stack of buckets in the cargo area, there arose such a clatter…er, a…I heard crashing, banging, and thumping noises from behind me. As I turned in the direction of the noises, I discovered the less than friendly air conditioning technician I had waved to, had neglected to close his trucks right-side storage compartment doors.  As he stomped on the gas to complete his U-turn, everything that was stored safely on the shelves came flying out, making a not so gentle landing in the street.

Instantly, a feeling of guilt came over me for wishing the guy a bad day and I quickly ran out into the street frantically waving my arms above my head, whistling, and yelling for him to stop. He didn’t, no he just kept on going as if he was late for his coffee break. UGH, now I really felt guilty.

I walked out into the intersection and started picking up the items he had lost. I had no idea what to do since I had not even noticed the name of the company painted on the side of the truck. Oh, if only I hadn’t wished the guy a bad day…woe is me.

As I was standing in the middle of the intersection deciding what to do, a guy on a motorcycle came cruising up the street. Yeah, you guessed it he gave me a really weird look. Before you ask, no, I did not wish him a bad day too…I had learned my lesson…well, for today anyway. I guess I did look a wee bit strange standing in the middle of an intersection, a confused look on my face, and my arms loaded down with rolls of wire and all kinds of odd-looking air conditioner parts.

Not knowing what else to do, I decided to walk down to the house where the technician had been working. It was when I arrived at the front door that I realized I had a problem…no, I didn’t have to go to the bathroom…gees, remember I hadn’t had any coffee. No, my arms were full of crazy looking air conditioner parts so I couldn’t knock and the doorbell button looked as though it hadn’t worked in years. I finally just kicked the door with my foot. Oh, was that ever a bad move.

Suddenly my head started vibrating and my ears began to hurt. Whatever they were, they had to be BIG. Every time they barked, the glass in the front door would rattle and so would the lonely little brain in my skull. Just then I heard someone unlock the door and it slowly opened just enough for a guy to stick his head out and say over the beastly roar, “Yes, may I help you?”

I explained about how his air conditioning technician neglected to shut his trucks side compartment door, and how all his “stuff” came rolling out. Of course, I omitted the part about wishing him a bad day. The guy gave me a strange look and said “Oh, a…” Not wanting him to open the door so those giant beasts could get at me I said, “That’s okay, I’ll just put all this stuff down here near the door.” He got a knowing smile on his face and said “Good idea, great, thanks” and the door quickly closed. He must have been able to read the “I’m a devout coward and I don’t want to be eaten by your Godzilla creatures” look I had on my face.

After escaping the den of the beasts, I made my way back home and finished loading all the equipment I needed into the back of the Yukon. Just as I opened the driver’s door and had my foot on the running board ready to climb aboard, I heard the Godzilla creature owner yell down to me “Thanks again”. Just to be safe, I quickly jumped into the driver’s seat before I turned and waved a “Your welcome”. I figured if his beasts got loose, I’d be in a good position to quickly slam the door and hit the lock button before they got anywhere near me. I was not taking any chances…hmmm, I wonder if they eat tires.

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It took no time at all to travel the four blocks to the park and I was now making my way over to the “free for the taking” mulch bin. Judging by how much the pile had been reduced it was obvious that my wife Ann and I must not be the only ones that recognize a good thing when they see it. Ya know, sometimes I just amaze the heck out of myself with my quick thinking.

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In no time at all, I had all my equipment unloaded and had started the process of filling up containers. Since my helper, the loyal union member was on strike and did not come with me, I had no one to chat with or try my corny jokes out on. In no time at all, I was bored to tears. I tried holding a conversation with myself but that was no fun, I already knew everything I was going to say and even all the punch lines to the jokes. On top of that, there were no dragonflies or anole lizards to distract me. It was just the pile of “free for the taking” mulch and me, all alone out in the bright sunlight.

It was at that point I realized I had a problem…gees, you have a one-track mind, no I did not have to go to the bathroom. It was just the opposite, I had forgotten to bring along a bottle of water. Beads of sweat were rolling off my forehead and worse than that, rolling down the middle of my back into my shorts, UGH.

I tried to ignore everything and tell myself I am half way done, just hang in there. However, that was like trying to carry on a conversation with a person that has a big wart on their nose. As much as you try not to embarrass them by looking at it, you become fascinated with the shape and wind up staring right at it.

I was thirsty, I wanted water, or iced tea, or anything that would wet my whistle. On top of all my misery, I suddenly became aware of a large fountain on the other side of the dividing wall. I could hear the cool water running and it was driving me crazy. I made the mistake of looking around to see if I could get a glimpse of it…big mistake. There it was as big as life and all that cool water shooting in the air just going to waste. Once again, I tried to ignore it, but the wart just seemed to keep getting bigger. Finally, I just started shoveling faster so I could get away from this water torture…and the wart.

As I was loading up the last bucket, I started laughing. Had I brought along a bottle of water I probably would have drank it all by now and the noise of the fountain would have caused a much more urgent problem…gees, now all of a sudden you don’t know what I’m talking about…here’s a subtle hint “Getting rid of the water I drank”, does that jog your memory.

Finally, I was sitting in the driver’s seat with the air conditioner blowing at full force heading back to the house. As I arrived home, I made a mad dash to the refrigerator to get a bottle of ice-cold water. Once I had taken care of my parched throat, I started unloading the mulch and spreading it in the garden areas. Things started to look a lot better.

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As you probably figured out, I am not a big fan of doing yard work, but I was beginning to think this was well worth all the aggravation. Well, that is until I stepped back to admire the work that Ann and I had done. With the weeds under control and all the new, clean, “free for the taking” mulch in place, it kind of made some of the other things that needed attention, jump out and say howdy.

The front garden looked great with the exception of the rather large swamp lily plants. They definitely had gotten too big and looked quite scraggly. Now I guess I am going to have to figure out how to trim them back.

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The more I looked, the more things I noticed needing attention, the hibiscus bush, pigmy date palms, and copper bushes all needed trimming. Then there were the small weeds in the seams of the circular driveway and walk…gees, does it every end.

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On top of all that, I still have to weed and add mulch to the gardens on the east side of the house. More trips to the “free for the taking” mulch pile, but that is a whole other story.

Hmmm, maybe it’s time to look into artificial turf, plastic trees and shrubs…or better yet, an apartment or condominium.

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As I continued looking around, I noticed a lot of new growth on the little bush by the side of our garage door. I remembered the incident that occurred last time I saw that and hoped it was not the beginning of what happened in my short story, “Too Much of a Good Thing”. That would pretty much put an end to my yard work for a while…hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe that really would be a very good thing…wonder if I have a fertilizer in the garage.

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Another great adventure comes to an end. It doesn’t get any better than this…well, unless you’re talking about having lots of your friends read and enjoy your dumb stories. That might just be a step up from this story.

I guess as we travel the road of life, we can never be really sure which way the road will turn…one thing’s for certain though, getting “free for the taking” mulch still comes with a price tag, it is called hard work.


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