Don’t touch the trees, or thermostat

By Tammy Keith Published April 8, 2012 at 2:14 a.m.
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— My husband and I almost never have a cross word - until spring.

That’s when our two areas of contention pop up like weeds - the thermostat setting in the house, and yard work.

My husband is a pruneaholic. The disease stays in remission until spring; then he’s obsessed with cutting things down to a nub.

I understand that sometimes things need to be thinned. Not scalped.

We disagree over when it’s time to mow, but wave the pruning shears under his nose, and he follows them like a dog with a bone.

He asked for a tall ladder for Christmas, and he gleefully climbed up and started hacking off the top of a tree in our front yard.

I knew he was itching to get the shears out again as we walked around the neighborhood and he critiqued everyone’s house.

“They need to do something with those bushes,” he’d say.

When we got to our own house, he complained about the tree in front of the window and one by the garage.

“I love that tree,” I said about the one in front of the window. I don’t know what it is, but it has red berries, and I think it looks fine.

“Have you looked at it? It’s too big,” he complained.

Yes, it’s a tree. They get big. Unless they live in our yard.

I knew it was only a matter of time, and one day I came home to find the carnage.

It was worse than I’d imagined.

My jaw literally dropped when I saw what he’d done.

Butchered. That’s the word that popped into my head.

It looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. The tree by the side of the garage just had chunks missing and blunt stumps sticking up.

The yard was stacked full of limbs.

It was embarrassing. I’m sure we were the talk of the neighbors. (Wouldn’t be the first time.)

An acquaintance came over to our house at lunchtime one day. I wasn’t there yet, but my husband was inside.

She sat in her car until I got home.

I asked her if she was afraid the “mad butcher” who had done that to the yard was in the house.

She looked startled.

“Oh, I thought that was storm damage” she said.

It took days for the sanitation department to haul the stuff off - I’m pretty sure they had to call for backup.


Then there’s the matter of my changing hormones. I used to be cold-natured. I can’t count the number of times when I’ve complained and he’s said, “Put on a sweater.”

Now, as I get dangerously close to 50, I get hot, especially at night. He has started sleeping with a quilt on his side of the bed.

“Aren’t you cold?” he asks daily.

Several times, I have gotten up in the morning after a fitful night’s sleep to find he’s raised the thermostat setting.

The other night before I went to bed, I wrote “Leave it!” on a sticky note and put it on the thermostat. It worked.

I’m thinking about putting a similar note on every tree and bush in our yard.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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