My friends -- I've been gone too long!!!
Do not despair. I did not fall off a cliff (as some of you might have hoped). I did not fall through a Black Hole or Space-Time Loop thingy (so much for sounding smart).
The reason for my absence is that nasty six-word letter that is clearly demonstrated to your immediate right:
This is actually our first home. Our "Beginner's Permit" into the world of gardening and heirloom tomatoes if you will. This is where it all got started. And no -- it didn't always used to look quite this bleak. But -- this is how it looks today. It looks a tad lonely -- doesn't it? In need of a splash of color? Perhaps...
But if I had been relating my gardening experiences five or six years ago -- here is what the same area would have looked like. This is where the first foray into gardening experiments took place. The first heirloom tomatoes planted by Bill & Venus Bird in our postage stamp sized backyard were planted here.
It's here where I learned about a Brave New World called the Brandywine. It's here where I discovered that not all tomatoes are red. Some are green with yellow stripes. You could have knocked me over with a Better Boy starter plant when I learned that tomatoes come in every color of the rainbow and a whole lot more.
The picture to the left is the same area -- taken five or six years ago I believe. Quite a difference in color and attitude -- wouldn't you say? We didn't have a whole lot of room back then. I called our little backyard experiment a "postage-stamp sized backyard" because it was barely enough to contain everything I wanted.
But it wasn't enough. We managed to outgrow it rather quickly. Once I discovered -- and the wonderful wife that is Venus also discovered -- her magic green thumb -- well - it didn't take long before we started drafting plans to move our garden exploits into the front yard. And we would have done that too -- had not fate intervened with a new backyard for the ages.
It's a backyard that is still a "work in progress."
It hasn't received much attention lately either -- but that's another story for another day. The focus today is on the first yard and the first home -- because that's where Venus and I have been buried under gallons of new paint and cleaning supplies.
We never wanted to be landlords. The housing market decided that. We never wanted to open up the house to renters -- because some renters leave behind a royal, bloody mess. Our last renters did just that -- which forced us into action.
There used to be a time when I would encounter people who owned two homes and thought, "oh, you must be rich." HA! What a silly, terrible joke that is. The fact is -- joke is on me. We might have the slips on two pieces of property -- but we are right back where we started at square one: struggling to make ends meet at the end of every month.
Still -- there are renters who do believe that "Bill and Venus must be rich," which might explain the layer of crap they left behind. How two dogs could leave behind a 20-year layer of dog drool on a window after just one year of occupancy is beyond me.
But that was just the start.
The landscaping and drip irrigation that Venus and I had patiently installed through the years had been dug up and chewed on in various places. Every sprinkler that went into every raised bed -- or led to a tree or bush had been chewed up and digested. The only thing left was a scrap of tubing here and a scrap of tubing there. It appears that some attempt had been made to repair the damage -- with duct tape no less (it can fix anything, just ask MaGruder).
Oh -- yes -- lets not forget the mini-geyers that erupted in every corner of the backyard everytime the drip system was turned on. Those open holes can shoot a stream of water 20 feet high or 20 feet wide.
And they did.
But the damage to the backyard was only one part of the story. The previous renters loved nails. At least I think they had a love affair with them. I found them pounded by the dozen into nearly every wall. How many pictures or crap could two people hang in the course of a year? Where did those bullet holes come from? Are those really bullet holes?
I think that -- because of the misguided perception that rental owners are indeed "wealthy people," the previous renters may have mistakingly believed that we could just hire someone to patch and paint every square inch of 1600 square feet of space.
Well -- they're right! The painters are named Bill N' Venus. Nice to meet you two. Our painting experience? Yes -- we painted a beehive in the bright color of "Hello Kitty" pink. Any house painting experience? Us? Really? Uh -- no.
But this is what happens when you deal with perceptions that have no connection to reality.
Now -- I can tell you good people -- that Bill and Venus are indeed "house painters." Not good house painters mind you -- not hardly. It's why this blog hasn't been updated in a solid month.
But I can tell you that we now own the experience of painting an entire house from top to bottom -- from the ceiling to the baseboards. And I can tell you this much:
Kids -- don't do this at home.
Hire it out instead.
Remember -- you're a rental owner. Which means -- you're rich.