Sunday, August 28, 2005

Out on a Limb

"Whatcha looking for?"

"Band Aid."

"Oh, cut yourself?"

"It's nothing."

"Let me see."

"It's Noth-Thing!"

"Let. Me. See."


"That's a cat scratch. Were you bugging the cat again?"

"No I was not bugging the cat again!"


"OK, I was engaging the cat in some meaningful play."

"Ah. Did you poke him in the ribs or pull his tail."

"Tail. And he's a lot faster than he looks. I don't know why we waste money on cat food. He could bring down a buffalo."

I looked over at Sandy as he lay on his back on the carpet. One eye open, watching me, he slowly flexed his right paw and extended his claws half an inch.

They say cats can't smile. They are wrong.

Truth be told I was looking for any excuse, even getting shredded by the bucolic Sandy, to avoid trimming the trees out front. The other day in the mail we received a Ding Letter from the Housing Association.

Ding. Tree branches too low. Ding. According to rule T-255.12 sub-paragraph G ... and pages later ... no shorter than eight feet ... Ding.

Eight feet. Bah! The poor little tree is barely eight feet tall. What am I supposed to do, chop it off? I shuffled out to the curb with my tape measure and ran it from the street to the lowest hanging branch: 7 feet 11 and 255/256ths of an inch tall. Rats. I'll have to trim half a leaf. I knew I should have voted against the Housing Association buying those laser range-finders, but they looked so cool!

I went into the garage to find my tree saw. On my way back to the street I noticed a sign in our neighbor's yard. Huh? That's weird. They just moved in two weeks ago and already their house is up for sale? I've given up on neighbors. Come and go, who cares? I go to work at dawn and return at nightfall and I'm gone on the weekends. Never met the neighbors. Frankly, don't care to.

I looked more closely. It wasn't a For Sale sign. Worse. Much worse.

"Yard of the Month"

I let out a string of expletives that should have brought down an immediate bolt of lightning and checked out their yard. Two weeks ago it had been overgrown and ratty, even by Housing Association standards which specify the Pantel green range of colors your lawn should be (see rule G-307.22 sub-paragraphs b-h). The neighbors had hired a crew to come in and clean the place up. Today it was mowed and had a dozen wilting pansies planted around the scraggly live oak tree.

Our yard, by contrast, was neatly mowed, the correct shade of green with geraniums and hibiscus providing bright contrast to the azaleas. All that, no doubt, eclipsed by the low-hanging branch. As I stared at the offending limb it appeared to bend even lower while the rest of the tree shrugged up and down as if chuckling.

"Very funny," I muttered and shuffled back into the house.

Sandy was stretched out on the carpet asleep. Dead to the world. His little chest rose and fell rhythmically. "He's out," I thought. Still grumped about the neighbor getting "Yard of the Month" and my unfaithful tree I noticed that Sandy's tail was outstretched and within grasp. I bent down and...

"Whatcha looking for?"

"Another Band Aid..."


Amy said...

Your home owners' by laws are more simple than mine! :)

Unknown said...

lol! i can just imagine it! that poor cat!

Anonymous said...

I'm a Candy Land resident, too. We got a 'ding' letter from The Gestapo about a TREE SWING in our front yard.

These people must have a thing about trees. It's really unhealthy!

Anonymous said...

Hey cuz, guess what? I got yard of the month for August, sign and all. I hadn't worked in the yard since June, what's up?