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RIP MowerJune 14, 2010


My friend Esther has this in the front yard of the house she's currently renting. HAHAHAHA. Seriously, if I had this in my front yard, I would laugh every time I came home.

Instead, we have grass. I hate that grass. In our familial division of labor, it has fallen to us that Lala does most of the work in the back yard (BUT I DO THE TOMATOES I LOVE THE TOMATOES DON'T TOUCH THE TOMATOES) and I do the front yard.

Well, we have a gardener now. Or gardeners, rather.

I never thought we would. I thought we'd kill the lawn somehow and put in veggie beds or desert/native plants (we live in a hot zone of Oakland), or that I'd just keep mowing it with the gas-powered lawn mower I bought four years ago on Craigslist. It was the worst mower in the world and always took more than a hundred pulls to get it started, but it worked once it was running.

Then the mower died. And wonderful, perfect, best-of-all neighbor Sam moved (we are still in mourning). After the mower gave up, Sam would have pity on us every once in a while and do the front yard for us. We gave him huge hugs in return, which weren't enough, but it was all we could think of (besides giving his tinkering son our spare screws and loose bolts -- Sakai loved making things). But after his family left, the grass just got higher and higher until the tallest weeds springing from the evil bermuda grass reached past my waist. I wish I was kidding, but I'm not.

One day last month, I lost it. I drove around my neighborhood, looking for gardeners. When I found a team working nearby, I asked them to come over. They did the work in about fifteen minutes, mowing, trimming the edges, cutting back the camellia bushes, and weeding the flower beds (without pulling up the flowers). The loveliness of it all almost made me cry.

So now we are People With Gardeners. I never thought I'd say that. (Now, People With Housecleaners, YES. I'm living for the day we can afford that. I would hire a person to come in every day and scoop the litter, I swear to God. I hate that chore so much.)

But it's so nice to come home to. Nicer, I think, than that mower above, but I'm not sure, because that is HYSTERICAL.

And in the back, I've ripped up my square-foot garden and put in tomatoes and basil and some squashes and beets. This is what it looked like earlier this month:


That foxglove and those greens were taller than I was. A rainy winter and some sun made them shoot right up. I can't believe how well plants do in those little short boxes. Lala has done a ton in the yard -- you should see the glass bricks she liberated from her father and made into a border. I'll show those another day.

Gardening. I like it. I should do more of it, in fact. (We need salad greens! Note to self to plant some!)


I am a Person with Housecleaner! Well, I think of her more as my Amazing Bulgarian Cleaning Dynamo, because she (a tiny little woman with three times my energy at twice my age... no, not nearly twice my age actually, I'm older than I thought) comes in for just 2.5hrs a week and blitzes the place - our great big 4-bedroom, 3-storey house, home to one messy baby and one very furry cat - and she makes it *sparkle*. Is magic. Is so very, very, very worth it.

The more I work, the more I dream about things like house cleaners (and if I had a yard, I'm sure I'd include gardeners). There are just not enough hours in the week to do everything that needs to be done, and you know what? I'm learning to be okay with that. I mean, it's got to be better to pay someone to help me clean than to sit here stressed out while my apartment is a giant mess and I feel trapped...right?

It's ok to hire out chores you hate! I've been taking my laundry to wash'n'fold for years and I've never regretted it! Yes, I probably could have bought a washer & dryer by now with the money i spent on that, but then I'd be doing the labor and I'd have to put in hook-ups in my apartment building. No thanks.

Have you read "Farm City"? It might give you some ideas of what you can do with your yard. Personally, I am of the "food not lawn" philosophy, although I have not applied it to the front yard. Yet.

I can't wait for housecleaners. My husband has asked for them. Just once a month for the bathroom and the floors. As soon as the credit card is paid off! That chard is amazing!

A few years ago, my mom decided that she needed someone to come clean the house. She is still working but my dad is retired and I think she got really tired of coming home and picking up after him. The first time Stella came, my dad was home and was such a pain in the next that Stella said "Mr. John, I will not hesitate to put you outside". I think that was the moment that we all fell in love. She is a wonderful woman who is now more family than anything else. And Pop just gave the toast at her huge family birthday party (she no longer wants to put him outside). It was wonderful and kismet and I hope you have the same experience with your gardeners.

Maybe you could invest in a self cleaning cat box and name it Helga and pretend it is the kitties' maid. "Oh, Helga the litter box is so fresh and clean and odor free. Whatever would we do without you?" Of course, that would only work if all of the cats would use the same box. (My lone cat has 2 boxes and my friend has 5 boxes for her 3!)

I had a housekeeper come by every other week and then she got less interested and dropped me. Last spring I paid to have two young men do a bunch of clean up the yard stuff and I agree, it's amazing how quickly it can get done when it's not me stopping every 2 minutes to see how it looks!

I love to garden but don't like doing the yard. So I have someone come do the yard and trim things up and I prune and feed the flowers and plants. I'd like to actually get rid of most of the front yard and make it all garden. But the backyard has to to stay for the dogs.

As for a housekeeper, It is SO on my list of things to afford some day! Hey, I like doing what I do at work and hate cleaning the house. I'd rather work harder and longer so that I can afford a housekeeper. If only I could find a housekeeper that has instructional design needs then I could trade services.

You just needed a scythe for your lawn! I love mine. Mowing with it is like spinning. Meditative, rhythmic, soothing, but more physical.

Yay for you and gardeners- I would love to have a gardener. I love to garden but can't even reach my toes right now (8 mos pregnant) and am prowling for someone to weed my garden :)

After years of postage stamp size yards in Oakland, I wanted YARD when I moved to Reno. I promised my dogs a Park. Well the first year it was Fun, next year not so much, then keeping up with it became a 24/7 project. I now worship my "lawn guys" they accomplish in about 30 minutes what takes me all day! The only thing I wouldnt give up for the lawn guys would be hair color!

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