Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Dust and Diesel

Contractors and work crews. Dust, diesel, PVC and trenches. They have us surrounded. In a courageous attempt to conquer our yard we have hired Mission pools, Leon Landscaping, and Absolutely Accurate-demolition. They each demonstrate astounding confidence in their own skills, knowledge, strength, wisdom and ability to do anything better than the 'other guy.' Evidently my own understanding of flora, design and general survival skills are somewhat lacking. They take great pride in contradicting my choices and opinions. Geoff is not immune either; apparently most of what he knows is 'a nuisance, trivial or plain ignorant.' They even laughed at our tractor.

I want a yard that is low maintenance and drought tolerant, but they show me gardenias, rhododendrons and topiaries. I have enough trouble finding time to get my own haircut, shower and take vitamins; I don't want plants with needs more pressing than my own. When I call a plant by its common name, they correct me and offer the Latin name. Likewise when I throw out the Latin name they give me a pregnant pause and a patronizing grin, "oh, you mean daisies?" I just told the pool salesman that I want to contract the deck work with our landscaper, rather than him, and he insists that was his suggestion from the beginning. My memory is challenged by his remark, because I recall that from the very start he wanted to do all the concrete work. He made quite a presentation promoting himself as the best candidate to finish the pool deck, as well as redoing all the existing patio. Now that he knows I have found a better deal, he can't help pleading a case for my failure to heed his 'actual advice.' If this is confusing, just remember: 'if it is a good idea, it is theirs, and if it is a bad idea, it came from me.'

For twenty years Geoff and I have been the 'Dynamic Duo' of do it yourself projects. He has a vast capacity for learning new skills and executing professional level jobs. What I lack in ability, I make up for in perseverance, hot glue and really good chile rellenos. It has worked for us. Now we are stepping aside and letting the experts step in. We have to remind ourselves that our help is mostly not needed. I sign checks and Geoff wistfully watches the heavy equipment and digital surveying gadgets. All in all, the process is almost as entertaining as it is stressful, and I do manage to find opportunity to laugh quite a bit. We have all been riveted by the challenge of removing the 50 ton boulder from the middle of the pool. Again, each man has been supremely confident that either he could get that s.o.b. out, or that the 'other guy' could not. In the end it took 3 different approaches, and we got half of it removed. Now we will have a bench constructed around the remaining shelf of granite. Sometimes God makes design choices for us. Geoff came home from the office to watch the big Caterpillar dig out the remaining rock pieces, and I'll be signing an addendum check for extra gunite, rebar and deliniation tile.

The chickens are bigger and more boisterous. The boys are healthy, riding bicycles, making movies, drawing tractors and growing. I drove the tractor down to the pasture, scooped a bucket of soil and brough it up to fill my whiskey barrels. Now I have planted zinnias, basil, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini and Anaheim peppers. When the yard is finished, I will grill chiles outside and fix my husband and friends a platter of chile rellenos. Life is so very sweet.

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