Summer Lawn Labors Lightened
By Anthony Buccino
In the time it takes my 6-year-old computer to grunt and grumble
In spite of hoisting 1,000 pounds here and 1,000 pounds there during the course of a recent homebound vacation, the honey-do list barely seemed to shorten regardless of the number of things I dutifully x-ed out with a thick marker.
The 1,000 pounds of top soil were lifted once into the back of the minivan, then driven cross-town where they were lugged across the lawn and slashed open in broad daylight and spread around the bushes just like in the photos from those comfy home magazines.
Perhaps there is a special section in the back of those magazines on how to fight off the creepy-crawly bugs, ants, pinchy bugs, spiders and flying no-see-ums to thusly escape with all of one’s own bodily fluids intact.
It’s awful tacky to read those magazines all the way to the back while standing at the supermarket checkout counter and never actually buy it. But in the world of beautiful homes and well-trimmed gardens that is the price we must not pay for keeping up with the Smiths next door.
The one way everyone seems to concur to solve every problem these days is to “look it up on the Internet” where there are answers for questions you haven’t yet thought of asking. According to some recent e-mail, there’s an expert on everything somewhere on the net.
The task for the net minders is to click away forever through the surf of get-rich offers, adult offers, lose-weight offers, Mega-mailer offers, make-millions-with-your-own-web page and read-this-twice offers all in the optimistic hope of drinking from the holy virtual grail of net wisdom. And somebody, not you, will make a lot of money, too.
But the law of weights and balances applies as equally on the net as it does on the minivan, that is, if you try to put too much weight in the back or download too much cyber stuff, you’re going to crash.
That’s why, besides not being Hercules, the bags of topsoil were brought home in 10 40-pound bags and then 12 40-pound bags, and then four more 40-pound bags.
Might I add that this was the only way to get the job done and enjoy that homebound vacation with the dear ones during the hottest week of the year.
Whenever I discover a great web site packed with terrific information that I want to download or printout so I won’t be on-line too long reading it, all it takes is a click and my computer invariably goes into that red-light-on-and-humming mode that I’ve been told means something is happening here, but I don’t know what it is, do I, Mr. Jones?
In the time it takes my 6-year-old computer to grunt and grumble through its download, I could go out, buy a few bags of topsoil, bring them home, spread them around, wash up and water the lawn, too.
That’s when I find, upon returning to my Chisel-In-The-Stone brand computer that some time, very shortly, in fact, after I left, it had turned itself off. In layman’s terms, it looked at the bags of topsoil and said, “Forget it.”
Of course, my computer doesn’t speak. I could only imagine what it would say if it did, “Dust me! Oil me! Tickle my keys!”
But by turning itself off when I ask it to look up something, it is telling me that I’m trying to put a 4-by-8 foot sheet of plywood into the back of a RAV-4. No matter how I try to bend the plywood, it still ain’t going to fit.
A few years ago when this little computer problem surfaced the expert guy at the computer store told me I needed more memory. Of course, I told him my memory was fine, it was the computer that wasn’t working. Rim-shot.
He said something about were the ram roam and that there were three ways to fix it. He said I could give him a lot of money and he could give me some chips to improve my memory. People get arrested and go to the prom with a guy named Bubba for deals like that, so I asked about option two.
Plain and simple, he told me, my computer that I spent thousands of bucks on and jammed with every programming doo-dad I could afford along the line, my computer was incredibly outdated for today’s work and the only solution was to junk this one and give him a lot of money for a brand new computer that would likely be outdated before I checked out at the register.
Now, a computer that has served me for years and withstood lightning bolts, floods and still helped me write a book, is not something that can be plucked like a dead azalea and tossed to the curb. No, I could never let that happen to this great old computer.
As I cleared away the old growth bordering the flower beds, the computer solution came to me like a jab in the eye with a sharp stick. In fact, it was a jab in the eye with a sharp stick but I avoided it in the blink of an eye, so to speak.
Anyway, according to the garden philosopher, the answer to more memory in my computer is to clear the old growth of programs and files I haven’t used since Florio was governor and that would give me room to remember stuff while I save my pennies in that old canned soup jar.
Before you know it, I’ll have enough memory to check out all those great web sites and learn the secrets of a beautiful garden and how to make millions e-mailing annoying notes to cyber-strangers. Maybe I can earn enough millions to pay a landscaper and buy a new computer.
First published in Worrall Community Newspapers on July 3, 1997.
Adapted from RAMBLING ROUND Inside and Outside at the Same Time
Essays, photography, military history, more
New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.
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