I now have a yard.
Let me explain.
For many years I have owned a succession of houses with little or no yards. They were lovely, big old homes, but completely devoid of any green space. Well, that changed recently when we bought a new house, and guess what it came with? That's right, a huge backyard.
Now to get to work on it.
I have grand plans for my yard. I am certain it will end up being my magnum opus. Or not. I dusted off my old, rarely used mower and gave the yard its first trimming. So far, so good.
The yard is hemmed in by a large fence. I bought a weed eater. I thought this would be great fun. I pictured myself swinging it with great aplomb, lopping off the errant weed here and there, giving my personal opus its final, well, "magnumosity."
But this chore turned out to be problematic. It was erratic. I constantly had to stop and pull out more cutting twine. The cord kept pulling out of the outdoor outlet. Twigs and sticks were flying everywhere. It was not a success.
I then moved on to a more-specific form of landscaping. Topiary design.
The front yard of my house features several large, lush bushes. I thought this would be my supreme palette.
I had visions of creating topiary images so stunning that I would certainly win the "Yard of the Month" award in my new neighborhood. I did not own a hedge trimmer, so I went and bought one. It is a monstrosity that evokes a jagged, horned sea monster. I planned my landscaping objectives carefully. Yes, this would be a yard to behold!
I approached the largest bush in the yard, one taller than me, and turned on my artist's tool. The hedge trimmer was so powerful that the first time I turned it on I was literally pulled in behind it. I struggled mightily to extricate myself from the demon shrub, hoping that none of my new neighbors drove by the house and saw my size-13 sneakers sticking out from the green bramble.
I decided that my topiary theme would be animals. A deer, a rabbit, a unicorn and a cat. Four bushes. Four works of art.
I gained control of the hedge trimmer and went to work. Switching, cutting, carving, trimming and molding my way through a wonderful afternoon of unbridled exuberance.
I felt the ghostly presence of that great trinity of legendary landscape masters, Olmsted, Vaux and Downing urging me on at every cut and snip. I even chuckled to myself as I remembered the movie "Edward Scissorhands," and soon I began to morph into somewhat of a Johnny Depp-like character (albeit with real hands).
Bush debris was flying through the air as I whipped the power cord around as easily as Will Rogers handled a lariat. The muscular drone of the hedge trimmer signaled to my neighbors near and far that "a man was on a mission." It was exhausting, but by God, I was doing "yardwork!"
I turned the monster hedge trimmer off, and the mid-afternoon air went silent. I smugly walked into the center of the street to view my masterpiece. Yes, it was time for the big reveal. I whirled around.
"Um, where is the deer?" I said silently to myself. Is it that one? No, that's the cat. I think. And why does the rabbit look like a deflated football? And where is the horn on the unicorn? In fact, where is the unicorn? The bushes on my front lawn looked as if a drunken tornado had danced through the area. Nothing made sense.
All that work and what to show for it? Just a mishmash of twisted branches, a wet T-shirt, a floppy sneaker and a sore knee. I was sad. No "Yard of the Month" award for me. Oh, well. As they say in Cleveland, "there is always next year."
Whenever I call my mother in Sidney and ask her what she has been doing, she says, "Oh, I have been out doing some yardwork." She has said that every day for over a half-century. My mother-in-law, Phyllis Newell, possesses the greenest thumb of any human being I have ever met. She loves doing her "yardwork" and has turned her Hartwick homestead property into a botanical masterpiece worthy of any Thomas Kinkade painting.
Yard work. Actually, I think it is a bit overrated.
I'll catch you in two ...
"Big Chuck" D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at email@example.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.
I now have a yard.
- Big Chuck
Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old
I asked Cam Morris, head of Eastern Travel/Oneonta Bus Lines, how many years her company has been handling the Safety Patrol trip to Washington, D.C.
My pal Brucie, savior of Sidney's hospital
Ask any hospital administrators if they've ever heard of a closed hospital in New York state that has ever been re-opened. They will say, "Impossible." In a half century of going through records you can't find any.
Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'
We just came back from a weekend in Manchester, Vt., and my wife insists that something "magical" happens when you pass the state sign. "I think they spray 'Vermont Vapor' out of the sign or something," she opined, "something that actually changes us."
Selections from the virtual mailbag
Well, it's time to open up the email bag, and it's really full!
Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'
In 1969, I was "The Doughnut King" in Sidney.
- Monday, March 11, 2013
Opera great's visit still a thrilling memory
Opera singer Marian Anderson (1897-1993) has been called the "most distinctive American voice of the 20th century."
- Monday, February 25, 2013
Film clip a window into Oneonta's past
One of my radio listeners sent me an astonishing piece of video recently. I posted it on my Facebook page (go to Facebook, search "BIG CHUCK") and it has been viewed by well over 1,000 people in just a week.
- Monday, February 11, 2013
Many made stop at upstate naval base
My father was in the U.S. Navy. Not for long, but he did enlist out of high school in 1944. He did his naval training at Sampson Naval Training Base in Romulus. Shortly after Dad's basic training, he was honorably discharged because of a health issue. So, although his service was brief, I needed to find out as much about it as I possibly could.
- Monday, January 28, 2013
Local foods worthy of national spotlight
Well, President Obamaâ€™s second inauguration is over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction.
- Monday, January 14, 2013
Remembering lives of the not-so-famous
I write about 25 columns a year for this paper. And I must admit, this annual one is always my favorite. A lot of famous people left this world last year, including General Norman Schwarzkopf, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, singer Andy Williams and TV's George Jefferson actor -- Sherman Hemsley.
- Monday, December 31, 2012
Canines create unforgettable moments
Last year, I used my holiday column to pay tribute to my dog, Stella. The darn dog actually received fan mail after that, and has insisted that I do a shout-out to her canine colleagues each year around this time. So, to keep Stella happy, here goes.
- Monday, December 17, 2012
Nothing like an old-fashioned movie theater
What is it about a movie theater?
- Monday, December 3, 2012
Chuck's daughter returns to a town full of memories
My daughter Frances, OHS Class of 2000, came home for Thanksgiving last week after not having been in her hometown for nearly five years. I asked her to be my "guest columnist" to share her thoughts about coming home for the holidays. I hope you enjoy her story.
- Monday, November 19, 2012
Time to move on after grueling campaign season
Nobody likes a presidential election campaign better than I do. But this one darn near took a piece out of me.
- Monday, November 5, 2012
One nasty hurricane more than enough for one lifetime
Hey, Sandy! Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
- Monday, October 22, 2012
Latter-day stunt men still knew how to thrill
What is it with all these crazy stuntmen all of a sudden?
- Monday, October 8, 2012
Andy Williams, last of the great crooners
When singer Andy Williams died a week ago, it truly was an end of an era.
- Monday, September 24, 2012
Senator's farm was all I imagined
Many years ago, when I first arrived in Oneonta, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was the senior senator from New York state. His top aide, Ross Frommer, used to come into the radio station for interviews and to tell my audience about the various legislative efforts involving "their senator."
- Monday, September 10, 2012
Family's history includes ancestor who knew Lincoln
- Monday, August 27, 2012
Making up for lost time on Facebook
If there ever was a true-blue phenomenon, it is Facebook.
- Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old