Evolution of a yardman

SOME THINGS just stick in your mind.

As a kid, a century ago, living with my family in Florida, one of my responsibilities was mowing the yard. I was not fond of it.

That ended when I graduated from high school and headed off to college in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt. Ahem!

Flash forward about a quarter century. I bought my first house — in Houston, Texas. It had a yard. Two, actually. One out front abutting the street and another out back abutting the rear neighbors who, strangely, in my nine years there, I never met.

Once again, I was faced with mowing a lawn, and here’s where the moment came that sticks in my mind.

I was mowing the front lawn for the first time, and a neighbor across the street walked over. I mentioned that I had not cut a lawn in decades. Her response was: It hasn’t changed any, has it?

I laughed. No, it had not.

clippersI mowed that lawn for nine years until 1995 when my then-wife divorced me for an illegal-alien yardboy. Just a coincidence that. She worked at a plant nursery.

I moved into an apartment and then another. No yards. And then I moved to Mexico in 2000, renting a two-story house that came with its own yardman. Indeed, I was not confronted with a yard that needed cutting until 2003 when we moved into the new Hacienda.

My new lawnmower was not big, and it sported a Briggs and Stratton motor. Those engines have changed little since I was mowing in Florida. They are clunky. A couple of years later, I bought a bigger, better mower from Sears that came with a good Craftsman motor.

For about six years, I mowed the grass. I got older. I got my wife to chip in, 50-50. I got older. That was when I hired Abel the deadpan neighbor to cut the grass. I still did the edging with a weedeater. I got older still.

About a month ago, I hired a guy down the street who has his own gas weedeater to edge the Hacienda lawn. I am out of the yard business in all its aspects. Last week, after removing the extension cord, I hung my electric weedeater on a wall. That’s all she wrote.

I’ll hit 71 very soon. It’s interesting to watch life wind down.

Time to smell the roses, which hopefully are not growing overhead.

Barry & Bill

TODAY’S TOPIC is two guys who are totally different.

Barry Hussein Obama of the Oval Office and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. In most areas, I oppose the former and support the latter. But there are exceptions, which is why I am not a textbook conservative.

barryLet’s look first at Cuba. Barry is tearing down the wall between America and Cuba. Yes, Barry blinked first, and that’s a good thing because the shunning of Cuba has gone on far too long.

It can be argued that the Castro regime would have collapsed by now were it not for the U.S. embargo, which endured so long due to the Cuban expats in Florida, a state with lots of heft in the Electoral College.

True, Barry got little from the Castros in return for blinking, but no matter. Someone had to blink. I salute Barry for that. As have almost all the former dictatorships in Latin America, Cuba will liberalize, but in a positive way.

First, the Castro boys have to die, and that won’t be a long time coming.

Barry just did another good thing. He is freeing 46 imprisoned felons, most incarcerated for drug crimes, some for life, because they were nonviolent offenders. Most, I’m assuming, are black, which is why, of course, Barry is taking the action. It’s a race thing for him. Be assured.

The War on Drugs, started in the Nixon Administration, is a total failure, creating far more problems than it solves, and that’s assuming it solves any problems whatsoever, which I doubt. Any 12-year-old who wants drugs can get them easily today on the streets of America.

Outlawing anything that people really want  will invariably create a crime wave and violence. It happened during the Prohibition of the 1920s — the War on Booze, a perfect analogy to the War on Drugs.

You cannot outlaw sex, chocolate, cigarettes, booze or drugs, and only a nation with a Puritanical streak would even attempt it. It is dumb.

Try to restrict it to adults, tax it brutally, whatever, but if you attempt to eliminate it, you will come to utter grief.

billSo hurrah to Barry for liberating some drug dealers, especially those with life sentences. O’Reilly thinks this is a bad idea.

He supports the War on Drugs. He cites reasons that could equally apply to another War on Booze. There is not a single thing you can say against drug addicts that you can not equally state against alcoholics.

Wrecked families, careers, violence, crime, rest equally in the grip of alcoholism as they do in the embrace of drug addiction. Both are grave problems, but most people drink responsibly and — and you may not believe this — many, probably most, people use drugs responsibly.

So Barry has freed some non-violent drug dealers who should not have been imprisoned in the first place, certainly not for life, and he’s cracked the wall between the United States and Communist Cuba, proving he’s not a complete, brain-dead doofus.

And I don’t know how O’Reilly feels about the opening to Cuba.

He is almost certainly against it. An error.