I woke up the day after my Water Carnival show down all Zippity-Damn-Doo-Dah. I was confident that Barbara Gray had been vanquished for at least a couple of months. I held on to that happy thought until 10 a.m. I had dropped my kids off at school, gone to a meeting and was pulling into my driveway when I smelled something God awful. I put my car into the garage and got out to investigate. That’s when the full force of the odor began an assault on my olfactory system. Imagine the worst dirty diaper you’ve ever changed then multiply that by 1,000. I followed my nose and it took me right to Barbara’s house. She had a landscape crew literally shoveling shit all over her lawn. They were spreading manure in the flower beds, around her trees and shrubs, even raking it through her grass. Yes, I know it’s just super environmentally friendly to fertilizer with manure, but Barbara wasn’t just fertilizing she was carpeting her entire yard with bovine refuse. As I stood in her lawn breathing through my nose a neighbor walked over and said, “This is just horrible!”
“I don’t know how Barbara can stand this,” I said while gagging. ”Who wants cow poop all over their yard?”
“Oh, didn’t you know? She’s at her lake house until next week. I’m supposed to keep an eye on things for her until she gets back.”
“What?! Barbara has left town and we’re stuck with crapapalooza.”
This whole landscaping with nature’s number 2 got my snarky senses tingling. Something besides the crap didn’t smell right. I walked over to what seemed to be the head landscape guy and asked if he knew when the order was placed for the manure spectacular. He said, they got a call late yesterday afternoon from Mrs. Gray requesting her yard be “liberally fertilized with cow manure.”
“She said she was going green and wanted to experiment with cow manure as a total lawn fertilizer. I told her it was going smell something awful, but she didn’t’ seem to care.”
I stood there and thought, “Well, well, Barbara you think you can one up my Water Carnival with a strategic crap bomb. We’ll just see about that.”
I thanked the yard guy, sprinted inside my house and then took a couple of minutes to enjoy breathing again. Once I was no longer light-headed from a lack of oxygen I got on the phone to do some research. My first call was to the landscaping service Barbara uses. I identified myself as a writer for the website – I Want Yard of the Month.com. The nice lady that answered the phone seemed thrilled to be talking to a “journalist.” Now some of you may remember that I’ve used this whole writer for a website thing before (I Hate People – Part 3) and if you’re thinking I’m lazy because I’m reusing strategy think again. I use it because it works. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – never underestimate how much people like to talk about themselves or have someone ask their opinion. I shared with the woman that I was a neighbor of Barbara Gray’s and was fascinated by her use of cow manure as a fertilizer. I asked if this was a new trend in suburban landscaping.
“Oh no, we do use cow manure in flower beds, but this is the first time someone has asked if we could do their whole yard. It usually isn’t done on the entire yard because of the smell and the neighbor’s complaints. There are some HOA’s that don’t allow it.”
“Really? Some HOA’s have a problem with it – interesting. Now, I haven’t noticed my neighbor using cow manure before. Do you know why she changed her weed and feed methods?”
“You know I really can’t say. I do know that her phone call yesterday afternoon took us all by a complete surprise. It’s was so, how do I say this, so un-Mrs. Gray. We even tried to talk her out doing manure over her entire yard, but she insisted.”
“She just decided to do it yesterday. Wow, you guys work fast! What time did she call?”
“Oh, it was right after 5 o’clock, but Mrs. Gray is one of our best clients so we try to keep her happy.”
“Hmm, I bet you do. Now, is there a downside to using cow manure besides the odor?”
“Well, if you’re not careful about the quality of the manure you can get what is called weed seed transfer. That’s when the vegetation the cow eats ends up in it’s poop and those seeds can then end up in your yard.”
Upon hearing this my heart skips a beat and I experience the thrilling rush of retaliation. I try to contain my joy and say in a voice that’s as normal as possible, “How devastating. You mean if you’re not careful you could end up with a yard full of weeds?”
“Yes, there’s a chance that might happen, but then most people don’t use cow manure all over their yard.”
I thank the landscape lady profusely for her time and promise to send her a link to my article just as soon as I post it online. I then quickly call my neighbor who is keeping on eye on Barbara’s house for her and ask if she knows exactly when Barbara will be back. I find out she’s gone for an entire week. Excellent. I then change into my navy blue capri track pants, throw on a t-shirt, shove my size 11 feet into men’s flip flops (They’re way cheaper people.) and head to our city’s one and only organic nursery. I was off to buy some seeds. Why organic you ask? Because I wanted to buy dandelion seeds and I knew the organic nursery stocked them for the deluxe crunchy set who make their own home-grown dandelion wine. (Yuck.) I was planning on liberating some dandelion seeds right into Barbara’s yard and that was just the beginning.
Field of Dreams
I was greeted by a very attentive garden employee. She was named Saffron Luna and of course, that prompted me to ask if that was the name on her birth certificate. It was not. I told her I was helping my daughter with a school project and she had to see which kind of weeds would grow fastest in a manure based soil. Saffron was full of great suggestions. While dandelions were a no brainer she also suggested thistles, something that was a cousin to crabgrass, clover, chickweed and various nut and onion grasses. Unfortunately, all they sold were the dandelion seeds, but she know the local Ag Extension office (for you big city types the Ag office in the simplest terms is a cooperative education outreach for farmers) would have some, if not all of, the weed seeds. Mother Nature had my back because not only was the Extension office more than happy to load me up on “lawn combatants” they also didn’t charge me a thing. The gentleman there said, “He was pleased to help any youngster with a scientific endeavor.”
Yeah, I know I should have at least blushed or hung my head in shame for fibbing, but I had bigger issues at stake than the truth – revenge.
The trip out to the country and back took up most of my afternoon and I barely was on time picking up my kids from school. I warned them as they exited the car to use their backpacks to cover their face and not to commence breathing until they were inside the sealed pod that is our house. Based on the fact that, at times, they’re both morons they didn’t obey me and I was serenaded with my daughter screaming, “My eyes are bleeding!” and my son moaning “It’s the Killing Fields!” To punish them for not doing as they were told I ran into the house and locked the door making them beg for mercy before I would open it. They were locked out for all of 30 seconds, but you would have thought both of them were having limbs amputated. After they calmed down and did a nasal wash I explained that Operation Retribution was in high gear. This is when I was betrayed by my own flesh and blood. My daughter had the nerve to announce, “Mom, this is all your fault! If you hadn’t made Mrs. Gray so mad with the Water Carnival we could all breathe outside.”
My son added, “I would think about doing Operation Give Up because not being able to go outside or open your windows trumps water balloons.”
I shook my head in disgust and said, “Really, this is what you two are all about – giving up, quitting, hugging defeat. I’m seriously doubting that you two are my children. There must have been some kind of switched at birth at the hospital because anyone with my DNA surging through them would not be this lazy. Oh my God, or worse, you both are acting just like Nana! This isn’t the time to quit. This is the time to shine. To let your opponent know just what they’re dealing with. I telling you two, I‘ve got this.”
Then I misquoted Winston Churchill (big time) and made, what I thought was a stirring closing argument.
“We shall fight her in her yard, We shall fight her in the HOA, We shall fight her in the fields and in the streets, We will outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.”
As usual they were not impressed, but I tell you, I gave myself chill bumps.
Before the Dawn’s Early Light
At approximately 3:45 a.m. my alarm went off and I got out of bed ready to begin phase one of Operation Retribution. Because I had slept in my super sexy nighty – an XL man’s black Hanes T-shirt – I already had on most of my camouflage outfit. All I needed to do was pull on my track pants, lace up my tennis shoes, leash up our black dog and I was good to go. I slipped out of the house with a dog poop bag filled to the brim with the lawn combatants and then using my elderly dog with bladder control issues as an excuse to be roaming the neighborhood at such an early hour I set out for Barbara’s yard. Once I got there I began pouring seed from the poop bag into nice little rows. I felt like a 21st Century Johnny Appleseed. Everything was going great until something touched my shoulder.
“Holy Crap!, I whispered screamed, ”Who sneaks up on a woman in the middle of the night?”
“Sorry,” said my 60ish down the street neighbor said. He was smoking and I guessed that’s why he was up. I knew his wife didn’t allow him to smoke in the house. “I was just so curious about what you were up to I had to come and take a look-see.”
Hmm, what to do, what to do. Should I confess the truth or try to cover up my actions? My neighbor, James Robert, is a retired English professor. He’s got a cool, aging hippie vibe. He and his wife do new age things like travel the world watching sun sets while doing yoga on top of a mountain. He’s also pretty attractive for an older gentleman. Not NCIS Mark Harmon attractive, but really who is? I decide to go with confessing. Barbara has given him plenty of grief over his xeriscaped yard so I knew there was a good chance he would be all over my plan. I would also throw in that I was just giving karma a nudge. So, I spilled the beans/seeds.
As soon as I’m done he starts laughing his ass off. He’s so loud I’m shushing him, like I need more neighbors outside – not. After he calms down James Robert bends down to pet my dog and says, “I think I can help you in this little plan you’ve got going on.”
“Oh, you’re going to help spread the weed seeds?”
“Nay, I can do better than that. What would you say if I planted some weed?”
I gave him a confused look and said,”Well, I’m already planting weed. I have clover and chickweed and…”
He interrupted me with, “No, I mean real weed.”
I looked at him again, still confused and then I got it, my eyes bigger than the full moon. “Ohhhh, you mean weed, weed, marijuana! I gasped and said, “You want to plant pot in Barbara’s yard?”
At this point I was experiencing a wide range of emotions from giddy delight to having Mrs. Stick Up Her Butt growing pot in her yard to the fear of being busted. I can see it now, “Local Mother of Two Arrested in Pot Sting – Feet to Big for Women’s Prison Slippers.”
My delight overtook my fear so I went for the follow-up question. “Just how would you do that?”
“Easy, I might possibly have access to a couple of marijuana plants that perhaps I could put in those front flower beds right over there.”
“Like full size, already grown plants?”
“Yes, full size plants.”
“Okay, I can’t tell you how happy this is making me, but I can’t have any part in being anywhere near marijuana. If you do this I can not help you. I’m going to have to go all Mission Impossible and disavow any knowledge of your actions.”
“No problem. Give me the rest of your seed bag and take your doggy inside. I’ll take care of the rest.”
I felt like I was right in the middle of a drug deal or something. My heart was thumping out of my chest. “Okay,” I said, very cautiously, “I’ll just drop my bag here and go back to my house. It was good talking to you. Tell your wife hi for me” and then I turned tail and ran home.
I was extremely worried that I may have crossed a line so I woke up my husband and told him my story. He looked at me with sleepy, pissed off eyes and first said, “You were out in the middle of the night with seeds in a dog poop bag spilling them on a neighbor’s yard with our dog as your co-conspirator?”
Then you accidentally meet up with James Robert and he volunteers to plant pot in Barbara’s yard.?”
I’m thinking his grasp of the story is remarkable for someone who just woke up and say, “Yes.”
Did you ask him to do it? Did you see the plants? Did you see him plant the plants?”
I answered, “No, no and no.”
“Then go to sleep. For all you know he was just yanking your chain and P.S. you’re might need to go on some kind of medication”
“Not going to happen. I don’t think there’s a medication for making someone un-awesome.”
He said, “You do know your awesome is probably a textbook case of crazy,” and then he rolled over and went back to sleep.
I couldn’t. I was too wired from my nighttime excursion. I got even more excited the next morning when I took my dogs on an early than normal morning walk and saw about half-dozen pot plants standing tall and proud in Barbara’s front flower beds. Good Lord, he had done it! Barbara Gray was now a pot farmer.
Yes, there’s still more, much more – coming soon.