Not A Pope Story; But He’s Still A Queen


So. Yesterday I got a call from Dr. Sam I. Am-Johnson, and she asked if I would come over to her house and mulch her leaves. She’s got a nifty assortment of native trees and the recent freeze has sent most of their leaves to the ground.

I like mulching leaves so they’ll compost and improve soil health and I needed to go over there anyway to pick up the Squirt. The two of us were going fishing this afternoon after we completed a few chores, and she loves to help me with yard work.

I told Squirt that we would mulch her mother’s leaves before we headed out and she said to me, she says, “Ich lie be es cotar al cesped, Heir Mooner.”

When I told her that mulching the leaves was technically not mowing the grass, she got snippy. “Que le importar una mierda? Ich meine, wer wirklich gibt eine Scheibe?”

“Who gives a shit? Well for sure Dr. Sam I. Am if she hears you cussing so much. You need to not spend so much time alone with Gram, little lady.” Then I added, “Mulching the leaves is the same thing as mowing the grass except the grass doesn’t need to be mowed, and we use the mower to mulch the leaves.”

She starts to ask me who gives a shit again, but I hold my hand– palm facing her in a “Stop!” signal. This signal was part of her basic training in puppy school. She obeyed, but started this vibrating thing she does when she’s pissed.

“Oh stop your hissy fit, and now. Let’s go mow the grass.”

That calmed her and we started mulching the leaves. I noticed that nobody else on her block had done anything about their leaves, and that Sammie’s house would stand out when we finished. Have you ever noticed how all of the leaves from your trees stay in your own yard, but the neighbor’s leaves manage to work their way onto your property? I have always wondered that when I mulch at Sam’s house.

We finished the job and decided to have an early lunch and went inside. We made some chicken salad and ate that with homemade pickles and cold Carta Blanca beer. As we sat down, the sound of a gas-powered leaf blower barged in on our conversation, and Squirt started vibrating.

“Don’t worry sweetie, I made them get their engines fixed.”

This last summer Squirt and I had a run-in with the workers for the landscape company that take care of many homes in the neighborhood. The Squirt had displayed her unhappiness with one surly employee by clenching his balls in her sharp-toothed mouth. The initial dispute was over the outrageous volume of smoky pollution emitted from his leaf blower.

We finished lunch, cleaned our dishes and headed out to finish with our errands. The landscape crew had just finished work on the neighbor’s yard and were loaded into their truck. They whistled and waved, and shot us the bird, so Squirt started barking angrily and chased after them. She quit chasing when she got to the curb and stood there to angrily bark some extra at the quickly disappearing truck.

That’s when I noticed that the neighbor’s yard was free of leaves, and that we had a fresh-laid load covering half of what we had just cleared.

Squirt stopped barking and came to stand at my side. “Mother fuckers,” she said.

“You have got to stop cussing so much young lady. But you are right. Dirty rotten mother fuckers.”

So. I got out the big plastic leaf rake and wheel barrow, donned my leather work gloves and went at it. We were just finishing spreading the last load of leaves back on the neighbor’s yard when the wife drove up and parked.

“Mooner Johnson, what in the hell do you think you are doing?” And then a moment and, “I’m calling the police.” And next, “You inappropriate son-of-a-bitch!”

Needless to say that we missed our fishing trip, what with the two leaf mulchings and two leaf movings and the lengthy conversation with the police, we ran out of time. And also with the grounding Squirt got when Dr. Sam I. Am had to leave work to come home and extricate us from the jaws of justice.

At least I didn’t get arrested, and I have Sammy to thank for that one. I do have to wash all of the neighbor’s windows and paint their house, which brings up a recurring question about my life.

Why am I always the one that gets in trouble? Manana, y’all.

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