Chainsaw Massacre

There’s something about a chain saw.

Julie has an electric one.  I also have one but never put the chain on the saw.  It just seemed like so much work.  And I didn’t really have use for it at my old house.

But now…

There is some sort of medium sized tree/bush in our new back yard.  One limb was dead as a doornail.  It was about three times the width of my arm (I have fairly small arms).  It’s been bothering me since we bought the house in April.  So last weekend, I decided it was time.  Time to amputate the limb.

I removed Julie’s chainsaw from the cardboard box.  I plugged it in. 

I like my fingers and have great respect for things that might remove them.  So I was cautious.  I’m not a reckless guy.  I don’t shoot stuff.  I don’t punch stuff.  I don’t chase snakes – if I see one, I run.  But dang, when I saw the teeth of this electric beast, when I began to chop, it was invigorating!

Julie suggested I wait to tackle the limb at a time when she was home to help.  Ppppfh.  What could she do to help?, I thought.

It wasn’t really planned.  I was just working in the yard and the tree yelled out at me, “REMOVE THE BRANCH.  DO IT NOW.”  I couldn’t not respond.

Julie was at the grocery store when I started.  She returned before I finished.  She came outside.

“Honey, I can help.  I don’t want it to fall on the house.”

It WON’T fall on the house!  Ridiculous assumption.

“I’ll be right back.  Let me unload the cold items.”

Nice thought.  What was I going to do?  Just stand there and wait for her to return at some undetermined time?  Ppppfh… no.  I was so close to completion. 

My training in physics suggested the branch would fall away from the house.  My intent – the slant at which I was sawing – clearly would lead to a safe landing. 

As it fell over the porch, bending the handle of our built in gas grill, I was stunned. 

Well that didn’t go as planned.

Julie came running.

“You just couldn’t wait could you?”

“It didn’t hit the house!” I responded, as if it had fallen exactly where I had intended.

VICTORY! – well, sort of.

I don’t know what it is about a guy and his chain saw.  It’s an incredible feeling to cut, to tame the wild.  A rush of sorts.  And really, who has time to wait for the groceries to be unloaded?  It’s just not reasonable. 


I’m not very mechanical.  That is actually an understatement.  I am not mechanical.  That is actually also an understatement.  I am like negative-mechanical.

I like numbers and I enjoy people and I can bake a fairly crusty pound cake, but I can’t fix a dag gone thing. 

Stuff with nuts and bolts, screws and gas – just not my thing. 

I try.  When I first purchased a house I painted the entire inside – 2,500 square feet.  I intended to coat the walls and ceilings.  I did as well as the floors, bathroom fixtures and myself.  It’s not for lack of trying.  I have every tool you could ever imagine – thanks to my father who desperately wants me to be a fixer.  He got that in my brother who can change car oil and install a garbage disposal.  Man, I wish I could do that.  If I could I’d have one in every sink in the house just because…

The other day I pulled out my lawn mower to cut the grass.  It was difficult to crank.  It’s only like twelve years old – why would it be so difficult to start?  I don’t ask a lot of it, just crank once a week, cut and then it can sit around doing nothing the rest of the time.  I even give it like four months OFF every year.  How happy I’d be if all I had to do is work a couple of hours a week in the warm months.

Julie, who is .05% more mechanical than I am, suggested I check the oil.

I put gas in it, and now, now after only a decade, I have to ALSO check the oil?  I took it to the shop several years ago for a tune up.  It just seems like this mower is expecting a lot considering its output.

I screwed off the oil cap, and it did indeed look a bit dry.  Sort of like my skin in February.

I had oil, so I filled it, screwed the cap back on and again tried to crank.

It did start, but a huge poof of white smoke billowed from its undercarriage.  It looked like a smokestack from a tire manufacturing plant.

I was told by my woman that perhaps I’d overfilled.  That seemed unlikely to me – I just put as much in as the container would allow.

A neighbor walking his dog passed by as the plume wafted away from our drive.  He had a smile on his face.  Julie’s brow was furrowed.  Our neighbor said in a supportive way, “Don’t worry.  He’ll figure it out.”

And I did.  I siphoned ¾ of the liquid out and gave the mower a rest.  Thirty minutes later she was cutting like her typical old self.

Julie thinks we need a new mower.  I think she will make it another year or two.  We have a small yard.

One might think that a guy who couldn’t fix things might be more prone to buying new stuff when in a situation like this.  However, more than my disdain for fixing, is my disdain for spending money. 

Even I can see the contradiction in my philosophies.  And yet, it’s unlikely I’m going to change.  Engrained. 

I HATE Grass

I have to move to an apartment in downtown Raleigh.  I cannot live through another growing season.

When we moved into this house, the lawn was lush… fertile fescue for days.  Walking through the yard was like walking on a Persian rug; like Rapunzel’s hair between your toes.

Not today.  Now it is like walking through an emptied bag of tortilla chips.

Back in the day I looked forward to the fall.  I’d rent an aerator.  It weighed 8,000 pounds.  My neighbor and I would unload it in the driveway.  I’d turn it on, and it would drag my 175 pound self in circles, little dirt clogs galore.

In 2017, I pay to have it done.  A group of men three times my size show up and within 20 minutes, the job is complete.  All I have to do is water.

Sounds easy, huh?

I do not have a sprinkler system.  I have hoses in the backyard and hoses in the front yard.  Everywhere a new hose connects, the water spews out like Aphrodite’s fountain.  I have a rather large yard.  It takes four shifts of each sprinkler to wet the full quarter acre.  Within a week, my yard is a mud hole.

I had to buy slip on Sketchers to keep from ruining my tennis shoes.  Sketchers?  Seriously?  My MOM wears Sketchers.  “Well, I just found this cute little pair of slip on Sketchers at the Rack Room.  They are sooo comfortable.”

You know it is bad when you and your mother are wearing the same kind of shoes.

I turn the sprinklers on, one in front and one in back, come inside and set the stove timer for 45 minutes.  I then head out to reposition the hoses.  Because I WORK, most of my sprinkling is at night.  Darkness just adds to the mystique.

Invariably, I get soaked.  I suppose I could turn them off before I move them, but that seems like an awful lot of work.  Instead, I get in a starting track pose, watch the sprinkler head rhythm (holding my iPhone in my mouth for light), count to three, and run toward the head.   It’s like sneaking up on a king cobra.  With the water leaking from all orifices, I never win!

Yesterday I shoved the plastic gadget in the ground and watched long enough to make sure the water was headed in the right direction.  When I returned 45 minutes later, the sprinkler had fallen over.  Water was shooting straight in the air and most of the seed that was intended to get wet was dry as a bone.  I cursed the Home Depot and started that round again.

They say you should water in the early morning.  That would mean I’d have to wake up at 5:00 AM to ensure the job gets done.  I could take soap and save on shower time.

And one more thing… how is it that on Monday the sprinkler sprinkles in long straight spurts and on Tuesday, the same dag gone head is spewing in vast short circles.  It’s like Danny DeVito and Lurch.  I don’t understand.  It should be consistent.  No one touches it in the off days.  At least I don’t think they do… hmmm.

This is dangerous work.  I have fallen due to slick conditions, been attacked by an enormous bush that someone should have trimmed, and been shot in the eyeball with a stream of dirty water.  Thus, this time next year, I’m headed to the concrete jungle.  Downtown Raleigh, here I come!

Stinkin’ Leaves


Raking!  AHHHH!

I really think God made a mistake when he created trees.  Not the tree itself, they’re necessary and in most cases very attractive to the eye.  But why did He have the leaves fall off?  Huge, huge mistake.

Why can’t they just stay on there?  They could still turn colors.  I’m even fine with them being brown in the winter.  Imagine, green for spring and summer; multicolored for fall and then brown in the winter.  Actually, if He was really concentrating when He tackled the whole tree deal, if He would have really thought this through, He would have had them turn white in the winter.  Now wouldn’t that be nice, huh?

I think the whole seven days thing really cut into his creativity.  He would have much greater success had he taken billions of years to create our world.

When we first bought our house, I raked until I had hemorrhoids.  I literally thought my insides were coming out.  I had blisters on my hands the size of quarters.  I couldn’t hold the offering plate when it came by my pew at church  after a Saturday in the yard.  He should have thought these things through.  Less leaves, more financial support for the kingdom.

I have this obsession with grass which does not help the situation.  I work so hard for the green, aerating and seeding, which has to occur in the fall.  And then, without fail, those dang leaves fall.  We go through this every single year.

Since we’ve lived on Smallwood Drive, we’ve lost about 7 large oaks in hurricanes which has drastically cut down on the number of hours I spend with blower and rake in hand.  Thank goodness.

I don’t have any warm memories of playing in a big pile of leaves as a kid.  I don’t think they have trees in Fayetteville where I grew up.  They don’t have much fescue grass either.  In the sandhills they grow centipede which would grow over your children as they play in your yard.

I think I’ll move back home.  Less leaves, great grass and likely less discomfort in the derriere.

Purchase Danny’s Book:  Laughter, Tears and Braids or at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

The Weed Man Comes

MY backyard grass - it's all like that.

Side yard - it ain't easy being green!

Front yard - don't ya' just want to lie in it naked?

Posted by Danny

My grass looks FANTASTIC.  And when my grass looks FANTASTIC, I feel like the King.  My neighbors must be green with envy!

Every morning when I take the kids to school, I encourage them to look at the lush lawn before them.  As we drive through the winding neighborhoods that dot our trip to their higher education, I point out all of the yards that don’t look as good as mine.

“Look over there girls, C R A B G R A S S…”

See those brown spots???”

“I bet they have sanspurs…”

After mowing on Sunday, I ran down to the basement to ask Jesse if he’d noticed my terrific turf.  Not looking up from his computer, he grunted. 

Jealousy does not become him.

And to top it off, my azaleas look like The Masters.

My yard, not The Masters!

I have to admit, I don’t do it all myself.  My secret?  The Weed Man comes and fertilizes every other month.  Yep, I contract it out.

I sort of feel like I’ve had yard plastic surgery.  Once my father-in-law harassed me for having a lawn company take care of my weeds.  “Don’t waste your money like that – a real man takes care of his own weeds.”  Guess who also hired a weed guy?

I was with True Green for a while.  They should be named False Brown.  I don’t know what they put on my yard – I think it may have been rice.  Whatever it was, my weeds were more healthy than Jack Lalanne – well, before he died.

I aerated my yard two years ago on my own.  The aerator is shaped like a lawn mower but weighs six tons. 

You press a gear on the handle and the damn things starts darting through your grass like a tractor-trailer – poking holes in the ground as it goes.  There’s no pushing an aerator – it’s sort of like being tied to an angry bull.

I felt like a cartoon character – hand griping the handle, feet dragging along behind, body in full slant toward the ground.

And after all of that work, and all of the money to buy the seed, I had nothing but dirt by late March. 

But not anymore!  The Weed Man cometh and The Weed Man taketh away (the weeds that is!)

Lawn of the month, here I come!

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