Rage Against the Machines

December 15, 2022
In the race to the bottom that is the rapid decline of our body parts, my sweet hubby and I are tied at the moment. Equally creaky joints, although my knee replacement will probably happen first. Steve’s vision definitely trumps mine (he doesn’t even wear his glasses much these days), but I can out-hear him by a country mile.   
That good hearing of mine, though? It’s a mixed blessing. I am noticing that certain types of sounds are grating on my aural nerves more than they used to, sounds largely made by some other denizens of our fair suburb. Children at play? Dogs barking? No problem! But for some reason, motorized yard tidiers are driving me nuts.
As a little kid, I fell asleep to the lullaby of horns, sirens and occasional bursts of gunfire in Manhattan. When I re-settled out of the city, I breathed a sigh of relief: no more loud noises after bedtime!! And, generally, that’s true. Post midnight, it’s pretty darned quiet here in Oreland.   
But during the daylight/early evening hours, it’s a whole ‘nother story. For that is when some of my fellow Orelanders emerge from their houses, armed to the teeth with massive and ear-splitting ammo. Lawn mowers!! Weed whackers!! Leaf and snow blowers!! It’s a veritable symphony of industrious but annoying sounds! At times, I can focus on my writing, or cooking dinner, and ignore the cacophony for a while. But it’s always irritatingly THERE, right outside, the uninvited guest at our backyard barbeques, stealing our serenity, making normal conversation nearly impossible.   
We are far from house-and-garden proud; if our yard ever made it onto a map of beautiful properties, it would be a mistake—or a blooming miracle. But at least we have this going for us: we don’t make a lot of extraneous noise outdoors. Not for us the driveway screaming matches of my youth (in Atlanta we lived next door to Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell’s cousin. Luckily, Willis himself was not a writer; otherwise, the Cunningham dramas might well have been chronicled for all the world to read). You can ask our sainted neighbor Annemarie—for a family with five children, we Seyfrieds really weren’t too bad. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed greeting her without always having to apologize because of a ruckus.  
It’s mid-December. This should be the lull, right? It’s not snowing yet, and the leaves are down and out. Nothing, I gather, is growing much. So what’s with all the loud electric garden implements NOW? Why are weeds still being whacked and lawns still being manicured? I can imagine a few meticulous homeowners, even after every last blade of grass has been cut down below a nub, still hauling out their machines and running over the bare dirt.    
And I’ll go ahead and say it—it’s overwhelmingly men, out there revving their motors. So guys, it’s break time! And good news! Santa’s bringing you all rotary mowers, snow shovels and rakes! Ho ho ho!  

    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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