Ah yes, my landscaping work. The back yard was a mess. There was a retaining wall that wasn’t retaining much, there were stepping-stones beneath inches of wet decaying leaves and muck, there was mud. There were bricks, rocks, slate and overgrown I don’t know whats. My raking just to clear the path turned into landscaping which turned into demolition of a retaining wall which turned into completely regrading the yard.
This required digging, and dig I did. I removed pounds of dirt, along with natural stone, and man-made brick and concrete. I made archeological finds — railroad ties, nails, barn and shutter hinges all likely from the 1800’s. I uncovered a mysterious large concrete block with an iron pipe through it — still don’t know what the heck that was, but it was too heavy and went too deep for me to move so I buried it again.
I removed brush and plantings gone wild. Dig around the roots, flip and pull. It was kinda cool. And I was transforming my new home from a very scary place to what I hoped would be a cute little Victorian actually worthy of saving rather than one step from the wrecking ball. The kids were, as usual, and like many of today’s healthy red-blooded children, inside. They were enjoying some sort of technology, while I toiled outside in the fresh air. I was on my own. No power tools. No help.
When I was digging and moving earth I pulled up some trash bag type plastic. Okay, I’d already pulled a lot of this stuff up. The prior owners used garbage bags as landscaping fabric. As I pulled I saw that the garbage bag had something light-colored in it –some white cloth. I wondered, “Now what could this be? A buried treasure, maybe?” I dug and pulled.
Just like with the shrubs gone wild, I dug around it, started to flip it out of the dirt, reached down (with gloves of course) for one last pull . . . and . . .
I’m not usually a screamer.
But when I pulled, the bag ripped open and the cloth fell out. The cloth was stained, had something stuck to it, something . . . that appeared . . . to . . . be —- HAIR !!!! This is what turned me into a screamer.
I ran inside to get a kid, any one of them would do. I needed a witness (well actually, support). The youngest ones were curious enough to venture out into the sun. And we, of course, did the mature thing.
We took a stick and poked at it.
Because, not only was it a cheese cloth like old world material, brown blood stained and showing bits of hair type stuff, it had a bulge in it.
So, we poked some more.
My optimistic child said the bits of hair like stuff was really mulch. Gotta love her — but the stuff was not mulch. I untangled the cloth with a stick, revealed and uncovered . . . some skin, a skull and bones. EWWWWWWW!
I had exhumed a pet of the prior owners. I didn’t need to call in CSI or NCIS or any of the Law and Order folks to figure that out. Thank God it wasn’t the remains of a human. Remember, this is the 150 year old house of Piss, Puke, and Porn — it could have been anything.
By the size and shape of the skull I surmised that this thing had once been a guinea pig, maybe a rabbit, possibly a kitten. It must have been a cherished pet at one time since it seemed to have had a proper burial — complete with a white shroud. And, I presume, it was resting in peace. That is, until I got to it. EWWWWWW!
There is a beautiful contemporary country song, sung by Miranda Lambert, featured on her album, Revolution, called “The House That Built Me.” It’s about a troubled adult going back to visit her childhood home to get grounded. Miranda sings to the current owners of her old house. . .
I bet you didn’t know under that live oak,
My favorite dog is buried in the yard.
Yeah, okay, Miranda. Love the song, it makes me cry. But as the new owner of the former childhood home of somebody, where somebody buried their pet in the yard and moved away — only to leave poor unsuspecting landscaping me to dig it up . . . well, it’s not quite the same sentiment.
More sticks and a shovel were used to dispose of the remains, remains that the kids now wanted to keep. I caved and we left the skull out for the rest of the day. Other critters must have carried it away during the night because it was gone by morning.
Just Me With . . . lots of dirt, a shovel, and apparently — a pet cemetery. EWWWWW!!!!!
This house had some bad mojo, no joke. See, What Happened In My House? Murder?
The front of my house is on a busy street. The back of my house is on an alley. Not too much privacy. But since purchasing this little fixer home, I’ve been dutifully working on the yard. . Last year with the help of a friend I put down a flagstone patio. I built a fire pit by myself. I put up a split rail fence. This year the plan is to plant something that would give us a sense of privacy. But on this day, I was simply moving buckets of rock mulch from one part of the yard to another.
It was a beautiful day. I was dressed in jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap, work boots, no make-up, glasses on but the lenses had transitioned to dark (so maybe I looked like I had on sunglasses). I wasn’t a beauty queen, wasn’t trying to be.
A man walked by, probably on his way to a nearby bus stop or train. Asked me if I needed help with my landscaping, said he really only does it as a side job, he’s in school right now. No, I say, I usually do it myself. (I was doing it myself, thank you very much.) He said he wouldn’t charge much, that he could plant and mulch for me. Again I say — I do it myself. Of course, I told him if I need him I’ll let him know. (I gotta stop doing that). He asked me if I lived alone, asked me if I was married, if I had a boyfriend, if I was looking. He offered, and I allowed him to, carry my bags of top soil from my car into my yard. Again, a woman doing exterior work, SCREAMS single to men. See The Snowman
Now, if you’ve read my previous posts you know that I am trying to open myself up to meeting new men. But does that mean ANY new man? Must I be indiscriminate?
He spoke fairly well and had all his teeth. (Could my bar BE any lower? Chandler Bing style) He wanted us to hang out, nothing big, maybe dinner or a movie. I said, “Can I think about it?” He wanted a way to contact me. Instead of offering my number, I asked for his number to put into my phone. He said he doesn’t have a cell phone right now, he dropped it in concrete. (This man was exhibiting the classic I don’t have a job giveaways — “I’m in school” “I don’t have a phone right now” and he appeared not to have a car in this suburban area.) Plus, though he spoke well and had a nice smile, he was sweaty, had a scarf on his head, had on a white tee and sweatpants. Since I don’t need a suit guy, his casual appearance is not a deal breaker . . . but his overall mojo was not working for me. Still, I gave him my number.
When he called the next day, he did not identify himself. (Poor phone manners, bad)
“Hey, are you busy?“
“Kinda, who is this?“
“Darren.” He said he wanted to talk, wanted to set up a time when we could get together and get to know each other.
I explained, truthfully, that I was in a store, and had a meeting that afternoon. Also, since I knew I’d be busy with the kids’ concert that night I asked if he could call tomorrow. Plus, I’d just found out that my Ex-husband is getting married again, in a horrible way and I didn’t feel like small talk right then and there with random alley walking landscaper guy. He said he’d call me tomorrow, but wanted to know whether he should call or just come by. (Dude, a call is sufficient.)
“Okay,” I said, “Nice talking to you, good . . . ” — click. He didn’t say goodbye or allow me to finish. (Poor phone manners, again.)
Bottom line: I don’t feel like talking to this guy. Is it because I’m justifiably not feeling him or it is because I’m still avoiding getting out there? Or is it because I was having a weird day, finding out about my Ex’s remarriage and all.
So, here are the red flags for me from Random-Landscaper-Guy-Wanna-Be. Everybody’s flags are different.
1. He lives in my neighborhood.
Frankly it’s not the best neighborhood, not the worst either, depends on the block and the house. He didn’t tell me which house he lives in. Still, he may know people I know or who know my ex’s family, some of whom live nearby, and I’m kinda turned off by going out with random dude. [Stranger Danger! Stranger Danger! — as my kids would say] Plus, what if I do go out with him and it’s not good — I may not want to see him walking behind my house routinely (I had a stalking incident at one time, so I’m a little gun-shy).
2. He had no phone.
Okay, so like most people I’ve lost/broken my cell phone before and had to go without for a couple of days, it happens — but it doesn’t happen for a long period of time. He offered no house phone number. I know, not everyone has one. But he offered no date or time frame in which he’d be getting his phone replaced. The last time I was “phone-less” I told everyone I’m getting my phone on [insert date].
3. When he called, it came up number WITHHELD.
4. When he called, he left no message, just called repeatedly.
Again, ‘Nuf said.
5. “Should I call or just come by.”
And again, ‘Nuf said.
I am seriously regretting giving this guy my number.
But since I don’t really want to go out with anyone anyway, is there anything this guy could have done?
YES!!!!!! If he actually lives “down the street” from me, there was no need for him to close the deal on the phone number right then and there. He could accidentally on purpose run into me later. Like later, when he has a phone. Like later, when he is not so sweaty, like later, when he hasn’t just asked me for work. The point is, it was not a classic Craigslist missed connections kind of thing. He knows where I live and reportedly, lives nearby. Moreover, he could have engaged me in conversation to see if we had anything in common, other than “I look good for five kids” (a pet peeve of mine, though I know it’s meant as a compliment) and “I look too good not to have a boyfriend.” As if not having a man to mulch for me was some sort of enigma he couldn’t comprehend. Again, I know it was meant as a compliment, but it’s all in the delivery. If he’d offered these “compliments,” wished me a nice day and walked away, only to see me another day, marveling how we keep running into each other, well, that would have been better. Still, even with the red flags, I was trying to have a conversation with this guy. I was trying to be open. And trust me, this is not the cabana boy – – romance novel- -six pack having- -strong muscular arms — looking man I could simply enjoy watching mulch in my yard. No sir, no ma’am.
Ugh . . . . . . I’m SO not feeling it now.
So, what to do if he calls? (To be continued, because . . . he did call again).
Just Me With . . . number WITHHELD and possibly on my way to Home Depot to buy some privacy plantings.