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Lawn Long Gone July 17, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Gardening.
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36 Hours Before Houseguests Arrive

36 Hours Before Houseguests Arrive

It was already 9 a.m. and Steve aka The Yard Guy still hadn’t arrived with his crew.  I was always under the impression that on a hot day, it’s best to get an early start in the yard.  Before the sun’s rays turn to UV 10 Death Rays. Evidently, Steve hadn’t heard of this, so I thought it best to call and give him a head’s up. 

“Hey, what’s happening?” Steve said, sounding way too casual. 

“What’s happening is nothing is happening because you’re not here,” I replied, trying to sound casual though my teeth grinding was now audible.

“I’ll stop by in 10 minutes so we can talk about what you want to do,” he said.  Click.  Wait a minute.  He’d said, “I” and not “we.”  What was there to talk about?  It was Monday morning and my friends from England were arriving in 36 hours.  I called him right back.  

“You’re not just coming by yourself,” I said.  The desperation in my voice was now palatable.

“I’m bringing the guys,” Steve reassured me.

Now, I’m not one of those conspiracy nuts, but this is my theory.  I believe when I called Steve, he and “the guys” were probably parked around the corner.  I imagine they were just finishing their breakfast burritos while waiting for my panicked call.  This way, at the last possible minute, Steve and his crew arrive like the cavalry come to save the day.  That is if the cavalry travelled in a big white dump truck.  

Just hearing the sound of Steve’s truck rumbling out in the alley set me to salivating like Pavlov’s dog.  I’m convinced this is all part of Steve’s Master Plan.  Can you see how brilliant it is?

“So what were you thinking you’d like to do?” Steve asked as though this was the first time we’d ever talked about the job.  

“We’d talked about DG,” I reminded him.  DG being decomposed granite, but if you want to sound yard savvy, you have to speak in acronyms.  Steve walked over to the cab of the truck, reached inside and threw a switch.  A mountain of DG poured out in the alley.  Talk about dramatic effect.  Voila!  I say that only because it sounds more dramatic than, “Aqui!”

Meanwhile, Steve’s crew had swarmed over the backyard, devouring all traces of rocks, roots, and the dreaded grass.  They moved so quickly, if I blinked, it was like watching time-lapse photography.  I retreated inside to sit in front of the fan.  “I think Steve is going to pull this off,” I said to my husband, Richard.  

I spoke too soon.  Here’s what Richard swears he observed.  Only two hours later, one of Steve’s guys gave a signal.  Richard even demonstrated by cupping his hands over his mouth.  It sounds sort of like an owl hoot, “Who, Who!  Who, Who!”  Indians always use this signal in the movies, even in the later films where they’re Native Americans.  According to Richard’s account, all of the workers immediately grabbed their tools and ran out the back gate. We’re talking minutes here.  Que pasa?

I tried to be optimistic. It was lunchtime and Steve’s truck was still parked in the alley.  But where were my worker bees?  “Maybe they got called away on a lawn emergency,” Richard offered.  But the only lawn emergency I know of goes by the acronym INS.   

Three hours later, Richard spotted one of Steve’s workers in the alley and shadowed him.  The man entered the back gate of the house two doors down.  Richard came home and announced,  “We have competition!”  In movies, when you want to find out who’s behind something, they always say, “Follow the money.”  

Well, the money led to Chris and Chuck, my two gay (as in two disposable incomes) neighbors.  They were hosting a sit-down party for 100 the night after our stand-up party for 35.  Their guests would be served $10 wine.  My guests would be shown where the beer can opener and corkscrew were.  At the last minute, they’d decided to tear out their front lawn and put in a new one.  There was also the small detail of having someone scale a 100-foot palm tree so it could be lit so as to be visible from outer space.  Ka-ching! This constituted a lawn emergency, so my backyard had been triaged.  

Unfortunately, Steve had dramatically dumped the load of DG out in the alley in front of our garage door, so we were trapped.  Late Monday afternoon he sent some guys down to shovel the DG to the side.  The cavalry then retreated in their white truck.  “Manana!” Steve shouted as he disappeared in a cloud of dust.

I woke up Tuesday and felt as though I’d received a shot of adrenalin directly into my heart (a la Pulp Fiction).   We had 12 hours. To ratchet the stress level up a notch, Richard was trying to finish the guest bathroom next to the garage.  It was tiled with slate and featured two holes.  We’d called Luis from El Salvador to help paint and grout.

My friend Christine called and made the mistake of asking how I was doing. I said, “It’s December 24th at the North Pole and all of the elves are on crack.” Alarmed, she drove over to see for herself.  There hadn’t been so Latinos from different countries assembled in one place since the School of the Americas disbanded.

One hour before we had to leave for the airport, Steve’s guys finally rolled the pieces of the fountain into position.  This was akin to throwing Stonehenge together in a day.  Richard flipped the switch, and water began to trickle.  We had lift off!

Welcome to Sunny California!


1. Catherine Sherman - July 18, 2008

It’s great to see photos of your backyard. It’s been so long since I’ve visited. Do you still have your blood orange and fig trees? Didn’t you have a key lime tree. We squeezed the limes into our drinks. Wasn’t that too perfect? What about the bird of paradise in front? The redbud? Your Meyer lemon tree was my favorite. Huge lemons, like grapefruit. And your fish ponds. So tranquil. I wish I could book a flight tomorrow, except it’s blackberry season here. If I’m lucky, I might be able to scrounge up enough from my bushes for a pie.


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