A Few ‘Over Groan’ Words

It happens about this time every year. Despite meaning well and good intentions, I’ve again become the neighborhood pariah.

Situated smack dab between the two-story modern with the terraced wall and the wrap-around deck to my west, and the venerable ranch on the east, with the two stately oaks in front and the neatly trimmed front lawn, lies my sprawling home –– Shambly Stadium.

I mow my one-acre yard — front and back — every week, rain or shine, and still somehow my property looks overgrown and shabby. It is lush with volunteer trees, brambles, and twining vines filling every scratch of sunlit soil or sod. I have accidentally accrued an entire registry of unwanted weed varieties and woody-stemmed plant species, enough to rival any botanical garden.

It is never my intention to let my landscape get away from me. It’s not like I rush out each year to buy the first copy of Better Homes and Jungles. I care about my residence, even though you can’t always see it from the street.

I could use the excuse that my home is more than 60 years old. However, there are older homes on my street that are kempt, if not immaculate. I could also use the fact that four of my five neighbors are now retired or approaching retirement, so they have lots of time on their hands for yard work. The fifth neighbor, however, works two jobs, is studying for his real estate license, and has two preschool age children. Explain to me why his yard looks gorgeous and mine doesn’t, will you?

To be honest, I actually like having a wood lot in back. The extra revenue gleaned from harvesting the giant walnut trees –– the ones that the squirrels planted for me by burying the seeds –– could come in handy when it comes time to shuffle me off to the home.

I save money on curtains, too. Curtains are totally unnecessary when right outside your window is Tarzan’s front yard.

On the other hand, it bothers me that the neighbors talk about me. I hear them use words that I know are directed at me. Words like:

Hedge Fund


Money needed for the law suit. You know, the one when I can’t see around the untrimmed bushes by the driveway, and back into the mailman?



The extreme fear that my rickety deck will collapse under the weight of one more



Suggesting that I don’t know who planted the clinging vine now engulfing my neighbor’s fence.



The giant hole in my vegetable garden that I fill with sardine heads, like the pilgrims did.

Zero-Turning Radius


Failing to correctly install the steering shaft into the steering gear on my mower, and running through my neighbor’s privet hedge.

Porch Swing


Action taken to ward off carpenter bees while sitting on my porch.



Trimming tree branches with a pole saw.



Medical bills from the above.

When I hear these words coming from my friends, it upsets me. I’m half tempted to stop pulling out my poison ivy, and let it roam across the street. But then, I like my neighbors. I wouldn’t want to do something rash.

– John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media