Keeping up with the Joneses

Sipra - Allen, Texas
Entered on April 22, 2008
Age Group: 65+

After months of scouring the DFW metroplex for a house, we finally closed on one in May 2007. This triggered off the alarm to get started on the innumerous things associated with moving house. In the midst of preparing an assortment of ‘To do’ lists, hubby dear informed me that he had three business unavoidable trips to take before we moved, that he had to move office in between, and reminded me of our upcoming vacation in the last week of May! I barely had time to mouth a silent protest skywards.

The next three weeks saw me pack, phone, shop for and install (alarms, appliances…), turn on utilities at the new house and off at the apartment, and sort the apartment into – furniture, suitcases, brown boxes and trash bags.

No sooner had we moved than we walked into a notice – from the Homeowner’s Association – on our front door. Our grass was too tall, it stated. According to the Association’s Constitution or some such authority-invoking or fear-inducing (depending on whether you were addressing or being addressed) printed matter, the grass could not be more than 3 inches tall in your front yard.

Unpacking forgotten, the palm-sized communication marvel and I called every Mowing Services in the yellow pages. We got two replies – an automated voice that said I was important, but…, and a human voice that stated that I would have to buy a package (hello… I just need someone to cut the grass…). Only three days to our vacation – I couldn’t even begin to imagine the height of the grass if it were left ‘as is’ for ten more days. Some section in the HOA penal code could get invoked; perhaps even the EPA could get concerned – well, with the grass that high, there’s no guessing what kind of wild life my front yard might begin to support..

Next day, hubby dear came home at lunch and we went shopping. Wallets lighter by a few hundred, the car boot was soon overflowing with mower, edger, weed-eater, leaf blower, and refuse bags. Back home, it was time to cut the grass, and keep up (down) with the Joneses! Gas in the tank, the starter yanked at – the mower was soon chugging. The next instant, hubby dear’s lunch break ended. Mower and me went hurtling in all possible directions of my front yard in a close imitation of Donald Duck (or was it Daffy?) and his runaway mower! Few zigzags and some ant bites later, mower and I had bonded – my yard mimicked hubby dear’s chin with a two-day-old stubble. Neither the HOA nor the EPA seemed intimidating. Not anymore. My front yard looked as manicured and immaculate as that of the Joneses.

Well, almost! I had only finished mowing. The edges needed attention. It was back-from-work-hubby dear’s turn to take a tool-laden spin around the yard. He plugged in the edger, while I went in to enjoy some iced lemonade. A couple of sips later, I heard silence. Thinking the equipment had tripped a fuse I went out. There were two men armed with cordless tools striding down the sidewalk towards our yard. As I gaped rudely, they trimmed and edged our lawn with an élan that came from a sustained love affair with Home Depot. Then their leaf blowers blew the trimmings into one scruffy pile. And, hubby dear? He stuffed a refuse bag and said that he was getting acquainted with the neighbors!