Avoiding for Mr. Peepers

Special to The TelegraphJune 27, 2012 

Ever had a “helpful neighbor”; one who has each and every one of your concerns on their mind 24/7? My 90-year-old mother has one living near her home in Florida.

We’ve been doing some work lately on her 1950s home and he’s been observing from a distance, but curiosity got the best of him the other day when we were putting down some sod. About an hour into the job, here he comes -- big grin, cup of coffee (it was early) and about to burst with suggestions as to how to lay the sod.

I had never seen him lay a single piece of this stuff, and he mostly observes what we’re doing, but when a guy walks up with a big ol’ cup of coffee and a grin you feel obligated to give him an ear. I had laid sod before, front and backyard, so I considered myself somewhat of an expert in getting the stuff put down, but one can always get better at what they do and I could tell that if he didn’t get this thing off his chest his health was at risk.

I will admit the backyard is once again a litter box, but I blame this on my mother’s lack of watering skills, and the wild cats someone insists on feeding -- not sod placement. So here comes “Mr. Home and Gardens” with the first words out of his mouth being, not “good morning” but “You know you’re going to have to put a lot of water on that.” I wanted so much to say, “Duh” but I smiled and said, “Really?”

This elevated “Mr. Green Jeans” got to help desire to the next level and in the next few minutes, and while I keep on hauling the sod, he suggests redesigning the front yard. “Your sprinkler will need to go about there.” Right. “You can get a splitter and attach it to a couple of cheap hoses. Put it where the birdbath sits.”

Sweat, sand and dirt are running down my glasses as I visualize moving the hundred pound block of cement called a birdbath. “It wouldn’t hurt to fertilize, but not too much. It looks like this grass could use some iron.” The price of a pallet of sod just went up. “Looks like you’ve got some weeds in that. You’ll need to mow with the blower pointing outward to prevent weed seeds from taking over.”

I suppose I could pull up what I’ve laid and request weed-less sod but -- naw, we’re going with weeds, at least they’re green. Mulching is obviously out of the question. “They carry all that stuff at Lowe’s, you know.” Me having all the attention deficit problems of today’s eight-year-old, I am in no way going to a Lowe’s to become more confused. Some days I feel as though I just learned how to drive.

“You look like you could use some water.” That was the first sensible thing he’d said all morning. Something, perhaps a moment of divine inspiration, causes him to look up. “That roof’s gonna need replacing soon.” Like I said, Mom’s 90 and our definition of “soon” is a whole lot later than his; probably in the area of not in this lifetime.

Then “Mr. Peepers” comes up with the crown jewel of his morning presentation. I suppose it may have been the reason for his visit in the first place. I’d been at it several hours by now and was probably dehydrated, causing hallucinations, because I thought I heard him say, “Oh, by the way, I’ve installed a security system with lights that should cover your yard, too!”

Guess we can get rid of the neighborhood watch volunteers, but we’ll definitely lock the doors. Thank goodness he finished his coffee about the time he got into his own home improvement plan. The man loves coffee and we don’t, so he went home and I sent mom to Lowe’s for a splitter.

Sonny Harmon is an educator at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.

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