Smile Politely

Coulter v. Mulch

Holy crap, I just looked at the calendar and it’s going to be the 4th of July next week. This summer is coming and going faster than a high schooler at a pornographic magazine rack. I suppose it’s going so fast because I’m actually enjoying it. I should really start having a shitty time so the summer appears to last longer. Let’s get it on.


I took my usual sort of vacation last week, the kind of vacation where I sort of work and then sort of really work and then sort of get really drinky. I’ve found I’m just not especially good at taking an entire week off at a time and doing nothing. Instead, I take a week and work a few hours on the regular job in the morning and then take the rest of the day to work on a personal project. It seems sort of stupid because it’s not really a vacation at all, but on the other hand, I don’t have a bunch of shit to catch up with when I go back to work full-time.

This summer’s personal project has become landscaping around the house. Trust me, that is no freaking vacation at all. For some reason, I think I felt it would be relaxing. I pictured myself getting in touch with the earth in a totally Zen kind of way. I imagined I would build little streams and gardens and my life would be a far richer experience than it had ever been. Instead, in true Coulter fashion, I started ripping shit out of the ground with reckless abandoned and I didn’t stop until the front yard looked like Omaha Beach.

There were a lot of nice plants growing all around the place a few years ago, but chaos happened and stuff started growing out of control. I can only assume this had something to do with all of the weeding I never did. Either way, something had to be done and I mistakenly thought I was the man to do it. I started out by going to buy some mulch. I bought eight bags initially, you know, because I’m a moron. Eight bags of fucking mulch will cover an area roughly the size of a sheet of fucking paper.

I have no idea how much mulch I eventually used because I stopped counting somewhere around a thousand. I also got several little bricks and those sorts of things. It all seems so cheap, a couple of dollars for mulch, a dollar or so a piece for bricks, five dollars a roll for that weed paper, and it just doesn’t seem like much money. It begins to seem like a lot, however, when you make 50 freaking trips to Menards to buy the same thing over and freaking over again. The cashier even got to know me by name … if I changed my name to sweaty, dirty, irritable guy.

My back hurt and each evening it felt as if I’d done 200 deep knee bends. This is because I had. Still I managed to do it and actually make some progress. When it was all said and halfway done, it looked like this.

…far better than I ever expected, in other words. I’m not really sure what sort of theme it is, besides possibly Pee Wee Herman meets the Flintstones, but I have to say, it’s really growing on me. This works out fine, because there’s no way I’m doing something like that again for a long assed time. I’m sure I’ll look back proudly in five or six years when the rest of it is finally finished.


Of course, all of that yard work did help out in some way, as it kept me from stopping by the Taste of Champaign. I know it’s a pretty easy target, but being an easy target is completely why a lot of people who live in town see it as some sort of bad joke that gets told every year and never really gets funnier, or gets totally funnier, depending on how you look at it.

To be honest, that’s completely unfair because I haven’t gone for quite a few years. I do talk to friends who go and ask them how it was. They usually say, without hesitation, that it still sucks pretty hard. I used to live right by West Side Park and that alone can make a person dislike that little festival. Back then I mostly sat on my porch drinking beer and yelling at people for parking illegally. I sort of miss those days, but not all that much.

It’s far easier now to just act like a large portion of the town and pretend it doesn’t even exist anymore. My guess is that it won’t be long before that thought becomes a reality.


Cliff Lee has been doing wheelies in the pumpkin patch for six innings now and the Phillies make a call to the bullpen.


It is with heavy heart that I notify you of the passing of my friend, Scooter the turtle. We babysat him for a couple of weeks about a year ago and, I say this with all sincerity, he was an awesome little guy. He will be greatly missed by the Talbott family. I almost cry thinking about all the strawberries he won’t be around to eat.


  • I’m glad everyone is so excited about soccer. It makes it that much easier for me to despise.
  • If you ever volunteer to work at one of those charity carnivals, make sure you don’t get caught in the spunk tank.
  • I hear another Burlesque show is coming to Mike and Molly’s on July 28th. That seems sort of fun. The group was doing some fund raising on Friday when I stopped by. It was like the awesomest bake sale ever and the tiny corner of a Chile brownie I managed to wrestle away from lady tasted quite good. I hope to eat a full one at some time in the future.

Buona Sera, senorina, kiss me goodnight.

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