Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Negotiation That Worked

by Leann

Spring has definitely arrived in south Texas. I have the used tissues to prove it. But part of the allergy problem is spurred by everyone and their distant cousin working on their yards. You know, pruning, edging, mowing, mulching. Things I do not do. I don't even have a brown thumb. It's black ... or maybe that color that shows you've voted in an Iraq election. I could kill a house plant in someone else's home.

But my husband loves to be outside. Every year he plants a large vegetable garden consisting of mostly tomatoes. We usually end up with enough tomatoes to feed an entire homeless shelter for the summer. That's to avoid mistakes. The more you plant, the better the odds that you will have plants that survive a freak late frost or even chemical warfare in our neighborhood.

This springtime ritual has been going on for many years. He visits every possible place that might sell tomato plants. (This after trying hard to grow them from seed for a few years. We don't talk about that.) Then he visits the same stores again ... and again. Needless to say this takes plenty of time and energy. And that means that our prune-the-shrubs-fest never seems to happen. Our shrubbery has gone jungle. In fact, some of the bushes have grown so high that no light comes in the house--the windows are obscured. I'm betting the neighbors think we are actually in the witness protection program.

But I understand about priorities--and those tomatoes are a priority. They make him happy. His grandfather was a farmer and I think growing vegetables is in his blood. But the shrubs. Yikes. So this year, when a landscaping crew was cleaning up a neighboring yard, the head of the crew came over to me and asked if I wanted our yard done. Um, that would be a "You bet I do." But this is dicey. See, my husband doesn't really want to do the pruning and shaping and cutting (he has a bad shoulder for one thing) but he doesn't want anyone else to do it, either. It's the guilt. He feels he should be doing it. And that, my friends, is how it never gets done. Then the tomatoes always win--as well they should.

So I got brave--yes, this can be a sore subject--and was able to try a different approach. It went like this: "I know you want to work on your tomatoes, but the yard really needs work. I had an offer. Can I tell the guy yes?"

Hallelujah it worked! Or maybe I'm giving myself too much credit. I think what worked is the realization that some things are a little much now, that we've worked hard and saved our money for moments like this. We are able to pay for someone else to do that which we hate or is just too much work. It's a good feeling if you allow it to happen. But of course, like me when the people are coming to clean and I must clean before they clean, he had to mow and edge first. But after all the work was done by both my husband and the landscapers, man does our yard look magnificent. Mission accomplished.

And now, drum roll ... the winner of the Name That (fictional) Cat contest is ISIS! A cat named for the goddess that she thinks she is. Thanks everyone who helped. Do you like it?