Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Bring Me. . . a SHRUBBERY!"

We've lived in this house for twenty years now, so we figured it was time to do a little landscaping. The original shrubberies were nearly the size of the house and dead on the inside, and it was time for them to go. Well past time, in fact. At first we thought we could pull them out by the roots, so we tied a heavy chain around them and hooked the other end to the 4-wheel-drive truck and gave them a tug. Nothing, unless you call the chain sliding up the tree and laughing at us something. So we got out the little electric chain saw and cut them babies off right flat to the ground, if by "flat to the ground" you really mean "a good foot of trunk still there."

Then it started to rain again - we've had severe thunderstorms here almost every day this summer so far - and we had to stop. We're not finished, and everything looks lopsided, but some time before I die eventually, we'll get the rest of the gigantic shrubs out of there.

So, we went to WalMart and walked up and down the Garden Center aisles, looking at this and that and wondering what most of it was for, and saying intelligent things like "Look! Pretty!" and making fun of the lawn ornaments even while secretly thinking some of the little limestone kittens were cute.

I actually heard myself saying, "Look, Buddha is sitting with Mary the Mother of God, St. Francis of Assisi, and a segmented dragon. If only the world could get along like that."

Vaguely remembering that some of the homes we'd driven past for inspiration had some kind of black stuff lining the mulchy areas, we grabbed a huge roll of plastic edging and got in line at the checkout. It being WalMart, there was, naturally, only one cashier working and we were possibly 23rd in line to check out. Trying to check out in the local WalMart is kind of like trying to blast off in a NASA rocket. They SAY it will be five minutes, but you KNOW it's really going to be six hours, or even next week. "10, 9, 8, 7. . . OOPS, delay. . . . 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5. . . OOPS, sorry. . .10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3. . . price check. . . etc."

One of my former students saw us in line and whispered, "You don't want to buy that stuff."

"We don't?"

"No, you really don't. That stuff is horrible."

Then he gave me his business card and whatta you know, he was a professional landscaper.

He came out to the house and looked around and to his eternal credit didn't start laughing until he was back in his van and exiting the driveway. I mean, I have NO artistic sense at all. I know it when I see it, but I can't create it myself. Unless you agree with me that an old shower curtain liner does a pretty good job of keeping the weeds away from grapevines. . . .

It's too late to make a long story short so I'll just say this: we hired a professional landscaper to do the basic remove-the-top-layer, dig the little trenches, lay the landscaping cloth that costs more per yard than wedding-dress-satin, and spread the mulch. This guy was a really nice 7th grader and he seems to have grown into a really nice man, and although our conversation about how he now has kids who are several years older than he was when I had him in class might have upset me a little bit (darn mirror!) I think we've found another former student that we can trust with real-world stuff.

We like to hire former students whenever we can. Not just ANY former student, mind you, but you know what? Most of those former students who were hardworking and trustworthy as kids grow into adults who are hardworking and trustworthy.

It's not his fault that when I look at him, I see a quiet, smiling 12-year-old, sitting in the second row from the windows, third seat from the back, with two Matchbox cars on his desk which he won't touch until he finishes his quiz.

It's that memory of his ability to put off his fun until he finished his work that made me hire him.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:36 AM | |


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