Week 1 of this “vacation” means “not working the day job,” not, “not working.” After receiving solicited landscaping bids ranging from $15,845.00 to over $47,000.00, I decided to keep the cash on hand and build some “sweat equity” by doing some landscaping on my own. I do have “landscaping” experience. Well, I mowed lawns for a few summers during high school. It was a decent summer job. Chico and I would get picked up at his house by “Bo,” the proprietor of “the Village Gardner” landscaping company. We’d get coffee and later laugh about how Bo would get coffee and donuts all stuck in his walrus moustache. We’d mow lawns all day and between jobs Chico and I would entertain Bo by making up passages from cheesy romance novels… “She throbbed with anticipation as he entered the dim room, his manhood glowing like a lantern in a lighthouse on a storm stroked night.” Yeah, we made up some doozies and kept us all giggling through those endless summer days.

My landscaping skills advanced during college for AAA Landscape in Tucson, now a multi-million dollar operation with a mission statement. Landscape construction was the AAA gig, but it was desertscaping and again I was a grunt. That’s the rub, or chafe, depending on whether you’re doing manual labor in the summer heat… I can still do the grunt work; even if it leaves me staggering by days end and humorously disabled for hours afterward. It’s the artistic part I’m worried about. I’d like my home to be a cheese-free zone. I’d like to avoid a landscaping version of “Dogs Playing Poker.”

Anyway, the decisions on plants and trees and flowers will come later. In the past two days, I’ve come to know the love that dare not speak its name: chainsaw. Yesterday I prepped planting beds, including a most exquisite root canal of a nasty giant weed that had devolved into a hideous beast badly in need of extraction. Today I had six yards of Hemlock mulch and 3,000 pounds of ¾” golden brown stones delivered. Shoveling a ton and a half of rock in five hours today has my back feeling like it has endured a spinal tap. Not to worry… 3 Advil have me half alive and ready to dine out with the Kylester.