Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh, Francisco....

Katie bar the door. I've got it bad for a short hispanic guy named Francisco.

Perhaps a little background might be in order. MrG and I bought our little house in June ten years ago. It's an older home in a lovely established neighborhood where the neighbors all keep their yards and homes nice and neat. The little lady who owned our home first was a skilled gardener and clearly knew what she was doing and what looked good and thrived in the yard. So when we bought our home, it came ready made with a lovely backyard. It had beautiful azaleas, rose bushes, Indian Hawthorne, and nandina.

Please note that I said "had."

I putzed around for the first five years or so, keeping the flowerbeds weeded and mulched and trying not to kill too much. When I finally got pregnant, the combination of the summer heat and prenatal discomfort knocked me for a loop and I sort of threw in the towel. It's a lot of work and hard on the bod.

The final straw for me came when I was about seven months pregnant. I was in the back yard pulling up pansies when I unearthed a squiggly mound of grass snakes. I would like to note for the record that "mound" means about the same as "whole lotta."

Before you say it, no, the snakes are NOT more afraid of me than I am of them. Trust me on that one.

After I launched myself, seven months pregnant and big as a house up out of the flowerbed and across the back yard, I decided it was ok to give myself a pass on the yard work for awhile.

Turns out that gardening with a young baby/toddler/preschooler is no damn walk in the park, either. So that pass lasted about three years. Don't judge me, people.

During that time, Mother Nature, who we have already established is a real bitch, took over in our back yard. The azaleas kicked the bucket. Saplings began to spring up in my flower beds. A nandina ran wild in the northeast corner. And the more it grew, the more unmanageable it became. Vines crept and weeds grew and mulch turned into dust before our very eyes. And I didn't have a clue how to make it all go away.

A summer or two ago, I paid a yard guy to come out and clean out the dead stuff for us. Not so smart, as it turns out. Although it desperately needed to be done, and although it was all dead and NEVER. COMING. BACK, I did not consult my better half about the yard work beforehand. James the yard guy cleared it all out, and I thought it was beautiful. MrG came home, took one look at the carnage, and proceeded to have a wall-eyed hissy fit. He did not agree to it, it was not ok with him, and by gosh, he was not happy. At all.

It was at that point that I threw my hands in the air, walked inside and refused to negotiate further on the yard. Do what you want, I said. Tear out the flowerbeds and sod the whole damn yard. Pay some nubile young thing to weed the flower beds in her bikini. Better yet, till it up and put concrete on it. I'm done.

We changed yard guys after James and ended up with a very nice man named Francisco. He calls me Meeeeesus Garseeeeeya, which I just love (have a shot of tequila, then say my name in your best Taco Bell accent and roll that R, and you'll be close!). He also does nice work, shows up on time, and always locks the gate when he's finished. He's polite, he gives me what I need, and he never rolls his eyes or makes a face at me.

What more could a girl want in a man??

MrG came to me a couple weeks ago and said he was going to talk to Francisco about the flower beds. He had this grand ambition about pulling out the beds and sodding. He and Francisco had a chat in the back yard, away from us women folk, and MrG, who had been hell bent that the flower beds needed to come out, headed inside with the news that Francisco had deemed the beds nice enough to keep. He would come on Monday and begin to clear them out. Once they are clear, he says, we can go forward with a plan.

As LittleG and I turned the corner onto our street today in the crimson steed, we noticed a big stack of green stuff on someone's yard. It was an awfully big stack, and I thought, hmmmm, someone's had some work done.


It took me about 100 yards to realize that the big stack was actually a ginormous stack. And it wasn't someone who had the work done. It was us. Goodness gracious.

I'm pretty sure Francisco and his pals spent the whole day here. A dead tree is gone - the only sign of it is a stump in the back yard. Saplings? Gone. Overgrown nandina? Trimmed and tamed. Crepe myrtles? Pruned. MrG was even excited to know we had a fence back there. I knew we did, because I wrote the check for it. But it was still nice to see.

I walked into our back yard, and for the first time in about three years, did not have the weight of total disregard for our home and property. What this morning felt overpowering, ugly, and out of control, was now neat, clean, and shapely. For the first time in about five years, MrG and I had an open, honest, direct communication about our plans for our back yard. And no one even cursed.

Our yard is now a blank canvas. I can put my own flowers and plants there. They can be the story of our family. And I hope beyond hope that I pick sturdy, strong varieties, because God knows I kill everything else.

I am excited at the prospect of nice clean flower beds. Maybe some new rose bushes. LittleG has requested some daisies (my favorite flower), and I would love to put a little patch of vegetable garden out there somewhere. And now we can do it. And it won't push us to the brink of divorce.

So thank you, Francisco, for being my yard guy. You did in a day what I couldn't do in five years. And you did it so MrG wasn't grumpy about it. I have no idea what this is getting ready to cost me, but frankly, it will be a whole lot cheaper than a divorce or a new back yard.

Given my propensity for the hispanic fellow, you had better watch out pal, cause Meeessus Garseeeeeya love you long time.

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