Wow, what a lot of good suggestions for my bit of “play” money in the previous post! I can tell that my readers are of an impeccable breed who really just want to help others. Help others get facials, massages, and pretty shoes, that is. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I had to chuckle over all of the iTunes suggestions. I don’t own an iPod. That was actually one of the things I was considering, although I worried about where I could set it down in my horse-drawn buggy. Anyway, it’s sort of a moot point, now.
[Here you must picture me sighing heavily, tossing a meaning-laden and sorrowful look in your general direction.]
What? Oh, right. I suppose you want to know why. Well, if you insist.
The day started out well enough. After weeks of clashing schedules, bad weather and general illness, I was finally slated to go on a nice long training walk with my walk buddy. I was pumped and ready to go.
You know, when I was younger, if I wanted to go for a walk? I went for a walk.
Now, if I want to go for a walk, I have to find the right shoes, get inserts for those shoes, locate proper socks, invest in a knee brace, remember where I put the knee brace, apply anti-chafing substances to my tempermental feet, fill up the water bottles, don hat and sunglasses, and stretch first or risk hurting myself in a way that will reveal that truly, I am old and decrepit before my time.
So I did everything I was supposed to do and we headed out and had a marvelous time. On our way out of my neighborhood, we passed a landscaping crew doing “spring clean-up” over at a house around the corner.
I don’t know if this is true in all areas of the country–in fact, I grew up not all that far from here, and I don’t remember this being a facet of life at my childhood home, but maybe it was and I was oblivious–but here in New England, “spring clean-up” is A Big Hairy Deal. I live in a very, um, tree-intensive area. Basically I live in a pine forest, with the occasional oak or maple for some variety.
If a person were to stay right on top of grounds maintenance throughout the fall, that would help, but spring would still reveal all of the pine needles and leaves that fell after the first snow, as well as all the tree branches that fell down during storms.
If a person were me, they would watch the yard fill up with debris in the fall and say, “You know, I bet it will snow soon, and then I won’t even be able to see all of that!” And then, in the spring, when the snow finally melted, they would say, “Oh. Shit.” Ahem.
Anyway, we tromped around for an hour and a half and when we looped back towards my house, the landscapers were still there, and they had one of those big yard vacuum thingies that was sucking up all the debris. And I saw that big hunk of machinery and went weak in the knees. I crossed the road and walked right up to the man who appeared to be the ringleader and turned on the charm.
Him: *still working with loud machine*
Me: Um. HEY! EXCUSE ME!
Him: *turning machine off* Yeah?
Me: Hi! Um, do you think you could maybe come down to my house and give me an estimate on my yard when you’re done here?
Him: Ayup. Where d’ya live?
Me: Just down around the corner there.
Him: Close enough for me to zip over on the tractor?
Me: Sure, it’s only about a block.
Him: K. Whatcha looking for?
Me: Just clean-up. Basically if you can suck up the debris with that thing that’d be great.
Him: Gimme the house number and I’ll come over in half an hour.
As we traversed the last block, I reminded myself that I had built this into the budget already. It’s okay, I told myself, in the face of mental calculations… this was money already marked for this. (There’s a part of me that knows I should suck it up and spend a week getting the yard back into shape and save the money, but it is generally overpowered by the part of me that knows I would set out to clear the entire acre and end up sobbing in a pile of pine needles after the first hour. And did I mention I’m allergic to pine? Because I am.)
Back home, we stretched out our screaming legs (yes, they screamed), and in no time at all, Yard Guy pulled up on his tractor. (Sex-ay!) He circled the property and gave me an estimate. I made sad eyes and he knocked 20% off. I asked him when he could do it. He said his crew could be over in an hour. I said great.
My friend left and I took a shower and then started some laundry before sitting down to work. Before I knew it, my yard was filled with sweaty men! They had the yard vac, they had rakes, they had a rider mower. It was like watching ants demolish a pizza crust. They gathered and carried and vacuumed and it was a thing of beauty. I could barely tear my eyes away from the window and get back to my work, but I did–content in the knowledge that I needn’t feel guilty for spending this money.
And then the doorbell rang.
I opened to the door to find Yard Guy, looking very uncomfortable.
Him: Yeah, um, do you know you’ve got some water bubbling up in the yard?
Me: I… what?
Him: Do you have an irrigation system?
Him: Oh, GOOD. Phew. I thought maybe we busted a line or something.
Me: Wait, water WHERE?
Him: In back there?
Me: That would be… the septic tank.
Him: Do you know why it’s bubbling up?
Me: Well, I’m going to take a wild guess and say BECAUSE SOMETHING’S BROKEN. Generally I frown upon bubbling water in the yard.
Him: Heh. Yeah. Well. You should probably come take a look.
We walked around back together, where his crew was all standing around my soggy septic area, admiring the small spring that now gurgled there.
Him: See? It’s all soggy here.
Me: I see. I’m doing laundry, that’s where it’s coming from. I guess I should turn the machine off.
Me: On the bright side, at least it’s laundry water and not raw sewage!
Me: *suddenly acutely aware of four pairs of eyes on me* Yeah, well. You guys broke my yard! Jesus, be more careful!
Smooth is my middle name.
Now my yard is beautiful and ready for spring, if you’re willing to overlook the mud pit.
I wrote the landscapers a check and called the septic people and remembered that I had violated the cardinal rule of tax refunds: I came into some money and I ANGERED THE RESPONSIBILITY GODS by considering spending some of it on something non-essential. My ex pointed out that as soon as he filed his taxes his boiler broke, and then as soon as his refund arrived, the dishwasher died. One of my friends got her refund and immediately had to buy four new tires for her car.
And so yes, I understand that this is just how it goes, but it still sucks that my “frivolous expenditure” ends up being “having the septic filter unclogged.” Not that I’m complaining. At all. Nice appliances. Good appliances.