Friday, November 11, 2005


Several years ago, my family and I moved to Central Florida after nearly thirty years in the Midwest. Once we determined which area we wanted to live in, we purchased a home. This house, built in the mid 80's, was well established and cared for and the previous owners had used the same lawn and pool services for years. Services? I don't need no stinking services. You've got to be kidding. They obviously didn't have any healthy teenage sons who would look for nearly any opportunity to walk around the yard sans shirt to show off their latest tattoo masterpiece to an audience of imaginary teenage girls. These former homeowners couldn't possibly possess the Midwestern farmers "do it yourself attitude." After all, I used to drive by suburban farms, occasionally and had once seen a farmer. I reasoned this couple was probably in need of counseling to help deal with low self esteem issues. What could possibly be so hard about controlling a few pests, weeds, mowing the lawn or adding a few chemicals to the pool, every so often?

As far as greening of the lawn, they obviously didn't know about the secret to a perfect Midwestern carpet. Milorganite is a fertilizer-like compound that is manufactured in Wisconsin. Now let's define manufactured(and "fertilizer-like" and "compound"for that matter). Milorganite stands for Milwaukee- organic- ite and is produced by your basic Milwaukee-ite. It is a solid by-product of their metropolitan sanitary district. In other words, it's poop, dried poop. Milwaukee, Wisconsin dried poop, to be precise, derived almost completely from the remnants of their diet, which of course, consists almost solely of cheese and beer. I used to try to draw some correlation between the quality of each years Milorganite batch to how well the Packers had done but was pretty much unsuccessful. In the North, all you had to do was liberally spread Milorganite around your yard, 4 times per year and you were the envy of greens keepers for miles around. Once, I even made an application when there was still snow on the ground. It created a bazaar scene, when, in my zeal to defeat my yard impaired neighbors, I actually had bright green lawn poking through the ice. How do you mow that?
In Florida, Milorganite did work it's magic and make the lawn greener, however, it seemed to have a slight side effect. In the Midwest it would make the lawn so thick and lush that it would eventually crowd out the weeds. In Florida however,.....we will only accept partial responsible for creating a new species of weed. Did you ever see "Little Shop Of Horrors"?

The pool also would be no problem at all. After all, I had watched the pool guy drive by and throw handfuls of chemicals, seemingly from his truck into the pool and our water was always crystal clear. Once I took over the maintenance, it took just a little while for my wife to get used to hearing the neighbors refer to our pool as the emerald isle. She even got used to standing in murky water, feeling something touch her leg and screaming, "what was that?"

As well as all these other tasks had gone , it was reasonable to assume the "pests" would also succumb and submit as easily as the rest. Most people think of alligators, sharks and rattle snakes when they think of The Sunshine State. In the future, I have an addition for you to consider....Invicta Solenopsis..AKA Red Bugs AKA Red Ants AKA Fire Ants. These little rascals seemed to be everywhere(in my yard). The first time I mowed my lawn(unable to locate a tattooed child), I noticed some small mounds that seemed rife with a little ant activity. They were so industrious and purposeful in their mission...."ouch, that little bugger bit me or something!" I gently crushed his little body against my burning ankle and continued mowing my lawn but made a mental note to revisit his little ant village later and take care of his relatives.

Lawn tools in Florida must be of the heaviest dutiest variety. In fact for a yard implement to survive in Florida, it must make regular visits to Barry Bonds physician, if you get my drift. If you don't buy the most steroid laden utensil available, it will either be dead or back at Home Depot before nightfall. With that thought in mind, I gleefully ripped open the box on my new 240 MPH CATEGORY 11, BEYOND HURRICANE STRENGTH, NUCLEAR POWERED LEAF BLOWER and began to clear my yard of grass clippings, small trees and years of debris. In using my new 240 MPHC11BHSNPLB, I think I inadvertently uncovered some Mayan ruins and possibly the skeletal remains of a woolly mammoth or two, but that's for another story.
Anyway, armed with my new toy I visited the soon to be former village of the little bugger who stung me on the leg. My thinking? Why spend the time and money to remove the aunt hill(*note to self-there is no way to remove these demonic insects from hell) the proper way. I'll just blow them all to smithereens with my brand new toy. Which is exactly what I did. Within the blink of an eye, the entire mound was gone from sight and mixed into the swirling breeze due to the hurricane force, nuclear infused winds of my leaf blower. Now, let me ask you a question. What happens when you take a foot soldier and put him into the sky? Right, one word, AIRBORNE!!! Soon, many of the little monsters that I thought I had offed were dropping on my head and down the back of my shirt, like a bad shower. As the pain and stinging began to sink in, I started to run around the yard, screaming and rubbing my head and back on anything that I thought would scrape the aunts off. As a final desperate effort, I dove headlong into the emerald isle. My wife responded by screaming, "What was that?"

Once the swelling and bleeding had stopped, I moved on to remove the vines that had encapsulated our pool enclosure but I digress.....

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