My name is Lori Stefanac and I live in Charlotte, NC with my husband and 3 boys. I am both a writer and a cartoonist at Lola is 40. Having no formal training in either area, also makes me somewhat of a liar. So, I’m a writer, a cartoonist, and a liar. That’s my background. And Lola? She is my alter ego. The biggest difference between us is that she never has a bad hair day and she has the ability to say things that I cannot or will not. She’s quite uninhibited that way. I’m a bit more polite. A bit.
So, unlike many moms that I envy, I am NOT a gardener.
I don’t know a daffodil from a dandelion…
Actually, I am pretty sure I have the polar opposite of a green thumb…
the “Thumb of Death”.
But I DO know that my yard needs work.
I figure I can at least do some simple weeding to clean it up, right?
You’d think so.
I start in the front yard under our willow tree.
Wow. Lots of weeds.
I start pulling.
Some come out easily root and all.
Most do not.
I am getting frustrated as weed after weed snap in my hand leaving the root firmly planted in the ground.
Several of the weeds are so thick that I am literally pulling using all of my weight, leaning WAY back until inevitably…
I am on my ass.
I’m sure it would be funny if someone was watching.
Someone was watching.
After being tossed on my ass for the third time, I look up to find a short, tan, sweaty (and clearly amused) man peering down at me.
He and his crew have been doing some kind of work across the street in my neighbors’ backyard for weeks now, although I don’t know what.
I didn’t want to ask them and appear nosey.
I was just waiting for the time to be right…in other words the house to be empty… to trespass over there and see for myself.
Because I’m not nosey.
“You trying to get the weeds out?”
No shit Sherlock.
“Yeah. Some of these suckers just don’t want to come out”
Then Master of the Obvious tells me, “You know, you got to get ‘em by the root”.
“Um, thanks. I know. I was trying to do that”
At this point I get up off my ass and dust myself off.
“Yeah” he continues, “you have a lot of weeds under the pine needles. It looks like someone didn’t rake the leaves or pull weeds and just dumped pine needles on top.”
This would be exactly why we fired the last guy.
“Yeah. That’s pretty much what he did. He doesn’t work for us anymore” I tell him.
“Well, my company’s going to be across the street for a few more days. We are building a pool for your neighbors.”
Ahh, mystery solved.
Probably a good thing too.
I still wasn’t sure how I was going to quiet my neighbors’ dogs when I hopped their fence.
“…but we would be happy to help you clean up your yard.” he says.
Pool builders AND landscapers! Way to diversify!
Kinda like the Dry Cleaner/Fortune teller up the street.
I refrain from kissing him smack on the lips because I am clearly not cut out for yard maintenance and I need a hero to save me from manual labor.
I am also in dire need of a manicure but I refrain from telling him so.
And there can be no doubt about my lack of gardening skills, after this gentleman adds,
“I saw you pulling THESE out. They aren’t weeds. They just need pruning. They’re for ground coverage.”
I now feel both foolish and wasteful.
“The vines?” he gestures, “they are going to creep up the tree and should be pulled.”
Stupid prickles on 95% of the weeds that didn’t want to go down without a fight and are taunting me as we speak.
“oh” I say.
I know. Brilliant and insightful.
But I have nothing to contribute.
I have already shown how skilled I am in nature with my three consecutive “ass plants” and can’t really redeem myself at this point.
By the way, did you see how I played on the word ‘plant’ that has been used as a noun until now, when I decided to use it as a verb?
I am so geniusy at word play.
Maybe you can give me your business card?” I venture.
“Sure” he tells me, “I’ll put it in your mailbox later. Don’t have one on me right now”.
I want to ask him to just pull a couple of the tree trunk thick weeds that continue to mock me and dare me to try.
I can hear them whispering,
“you want a piece of ME?”
But they will have to wait…
until I can find an axe…
or paid labor…
The guy starts walking away and I thank him for coming over and giving me his advice.
“You’re welcome” he says. And by the way?” he adds as almost an afterthought…
“You’re holding poison ivy”