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From mucking to mowing

Posted: Friday, Oct 25th, 2013

Bobbie Lippman

When you need help, do you come right out and ask for it, or beat around the bush, or whine pathetically or try to do whatever needs doing yourself?  I’ve been struggling with this issue, especially now since Burt left me to go it alone.  You steady readers know I have a bizarre sense of humor, and today I am sharing two instances related to that old saying:  “Do not engage mouth until brain is in gear!” 

Instance No. 1

Back in the ’80s, we moved from Los Angeles to South Beach with our cat and two rescued Russian Wolfhounds. We fenced a large chunk of the doublewide lot and called it The Barnyard.  Because the original owner had a horse, the property came with a small barn, and you do not want to waste a perfectly good barn, so we started accumulating miniature goats.  Someone dubbed our place “The Home of Tall Dogs and Short Goats.”

How I loved that little barn full of sweet smelling alfalfa and straw.  Even the goats smelled nice, like baby powder, and I was not dumb enough to have a billy goat around. They are the ones that smell terrible.  But any barn occupied by critters needs an occasional mucking out.  I even enjoyed doing that, and Burt would often pitch in and help. Is this how pitch forks got named pitch forks?  Never mind.

One month, I found myself housebound due to surgery on a detached retina.  Our good friends Dave and Linda Miller, of local radio station fame, called to ask if there was anything they could do. I jokingly said, “Sure Linda, you can muck out our barn.” Believe me, I was kidding.  The next day, Burt said it would be good for me to get out of the house, and we’d go for a little drive.  We were not gone long, but imagine our surprise when we returned and the Miller van was there.  So were the Millers and all five kids who were in the barnyard with wheelbarrow, rakes, brooms and Dave with a pitchfork, getting the job done with the questionable help of goats and dogs. It was a stunning sight, and that barn ended up so clean Burt and I could have moved in and set up housekeeping. Obviously, Linda had taken me seriously.

Before I get to Instance No. 2, which is very current, there are so many “angel helpers” in what my daughter Rocki refers to as my village – people who step up to help without me even having to ask.  A perfect example are the Littlehales, who insist on driving me for visits with my retina surgeon.  We have a good time, although poor Chuck can’t get a word in lengthwise because Patti and I never stop talking.  

You know I also have another Charley in my life – our aging standard poodle. Burt and I thought it was time to make “the big decision” not too long ago when Charley stopped eating and just slept for two days. His hind legs are giving out, but when Burt died, Charley decided to hang around and keep me canine company.  However, he can no longer withstand going to the groomer, and I can’t lift him into the car anyhow.  Kudos to Charley’s long time dog groomer Gloria McCreadie at Amore’s in South Beach.  Last week, Gloria insisted on coming here to cut Charley’s nails and do a bit of hair clipping to tidy him up. A poodle has hair, not fur, and it just keeps growing and growing. Gloria did this as a friend and refused to let me pay her.  Talk about a random act of kindness.

Instance No. 2

In L.A., there’s a funny saying about gardeners. Many people need them and often use the term “mow, blow and go.”  When we lived there, a guy showed up once a week, mowed the lawn, trimmed the hedges and used a power thing to blow all the leaves and crud from our yard into the yard next door.  Then the neighbor’s gardener would arrive and blow all the leaves and crud back into our yard.  So much for life in L.A.    For three years, a young man has been coming here to keep the place looking nice, but no more.  Long story.  No need to explain why, but it is just one more thing I have to deal with on my own.  One night, while driving to a meeting with my neighbor Janet Anton, I jokingly mentioned that our grass was almost knee deep.   “Oh,” said Janet, “I love to mow. I’ll come over with our mower and do it!”  Huh? What? Not only did Janet show up the next day, but so did her husband Al, in their truck with a power mower, edger and blower.  Just like that long ago scene in the barnyard, I was stunned to see these good neighbors efficiently getting to work.  Of course, I wasn’t about to sit and watch and joined in to do some serious weed pulling.  When Al fired up his power blower, he blew all the pine needles and crud in our driveway into a neat pile, which will now bio-degrade on our property and not end up in our near neighbor’s yard. 

Yes, I’m learning to ask for help, although so far friends are stepping up faster than I can ask.  But I do need to put a clamp on my sense of humor and remember: “Do Not Engage Mouth Until Brain Is In Gear.”  Unless, of course, I seriously need something done.

Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her dog, Charley, and a shelter cat named Lap Sitter. Bobbie can be contacted at bobbisbeat@aol.com

For the complete article see the 10-25-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-25-2013 paper.

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