As you may know, the house we live in now is the first house we have ever owned. That is because before this, we lived in Los Angeles, where the average price for a home is 95 billion dollars.
Because I was always a renter I never had to worry about yard work. Some landlord always had to worry about the grass and the trees and the flowers. It was kind of lovely.
But you know, I started noticing our yard was getting a little overgrown, and I thought, "Where is that negligent landlord with the gardeners?" and then I realized I was the negligent landlord. And that's when I became obsessed with the ivy.
You don't know how I wish I had before pictures of the ivy in our front yard.
Oh, yay! Guess what I found! Remember at Christmas last year, when I made the lit balls? Okay, ignore those and look at my ivy in the foreground (you can click on the photo to make it bigger).
See that--that HUMP in the foreground, there, covered in all that ding-dang ivy? What you can't see is that it extends to the front of the yard and chokes to death the two azalea bushes up there, too. The hump is not a troll or that scary thing from The Lady in the Water, it is an old stump.
So about a month ago, I was walking past that ivy to take the dog for a stroll, and I kicked that stump, and do you know it gave way? Turns out it was rotting.
That's when my obsession began.
Ever since then, I have been out there with my free time, stomping that stump, chopping at it with an ax, chipping at it with gardening tools, and when I finally got it almost gone? I started pulling out that ivy. I mean, I know ivy can be pretty, but it is just so randomly there in the front yard, looking weedy and ridiculous and like it's up to no good.
Sometimes I thought I was gonna break my teeth, I would be pulling so hard at those ivy roots and they'd come out so violently. Sometimes I'd have to get the shovel, and DIG the roots out. Oh, there is nothing quite as satisfying as hearing the crack of a root when you have gotten to the bottom of it.
Now, I understand that this looks depressing and bare, but I have since raked and today I got new azaleas and some other blooming plants, and some mulch, but really, the POINT of this photo? Is that you know what you don't see any more? You don't see any ivy! You don't see any stump! It is all gone because I removed it! With my bare hands! And several gardening tools.
I put some of these in, and if anyone knows what they are, could you tell me? Because I bought them at the farmers market and I have no idea what they are, but they are doing great and I think I'll get more.
Oh! And while I'm on the subject of gardens--and this will only amuse you if you read me when I lived in TinyTown--Marvin forwarded me an article from the TinyTown News Record Intelligencer newspaper (no, honestly. It has like 80 names and it's four pages long). My garden club got abandoned on the side of the road recently and they had to call to get someone to pick them up, and naturally it made the paper. Here is a picture of my club! Look how cute! How I miss my garden club.
At any rate, getting back to my current life, by the time I dug and mulched and planted and Miracle Grew today, it was pitch black and I can't show you how nice everything looks, but I can tell you this. Yesterday someone was driving by and he pulled up to my front yard.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said. "I live in this neighborhood."
I was all, oh Lord. What has one of my animals done?
"I just wanted to commend you for all you've done for this yard," he continued. "I am so glad you got all that ivy out."
I could have kissed him flush on the mouth and made him a Salisbury steak. I told him how I really didn't know what I was doing and how much his compliment meant to me. We had a nice chat where he said he thought he might have met my husband but he didn't think so because the fella he met was so young, so I had to endure that humiliation, as usual, where we are George and Barbara Bush and I look 110 compared to Marvin.
Nevertheless. What I learned is, when you fix your yard, it's not just for you, it's for all the people who live around you who have to look at it.
The other lesson is, marry a man who looks hagged out.