The Tucson/Denver friends who found us a house to rent are a power couple. The Woman is a real estate broker who, after holding the #1 sales position at a prestigious but decidedly cult-like agency for two years, started her own business and is going gangbusters. The Man started making money by buying and re-selling auctioned ATV’s one at a time fifteen years ago, and is now in the process of renovating million-dollar residential properties five-at-a-time in what could pretty easily be considered the hottest real estate neighborhood in these here United States.
The Woman was our agent for this, our first ever home purchase. The Man gave us a personal pre-purchase inspection, walking through the house and nodding, standing on the back porch and nodding, then giving us this glowing review: “Yeah there’s nothing wrong here. I’d say go ahead with it.” Then standing out in front next to his truck I asked what he’d do as a considered plan-of-action on this property. “Oh, I’d knock it down and start over. Maybe keep the cellar walls.”
But we’re not those people. We were going to have the inside painted, replace the weird tiny bathroom sink with one made for normal-sized human beings, wall off the one big bedroom to make two out of it, and buy a nice rug. The rest would be updated by us, with extended no-interest credit offers and elbow grease, over the course of the next hundred years or so. Obviously I couldn’t just scrape the entire brown and sadly ignored back yard and replace it all as the Man would have done – that would have cost many more piles of borrowed dollars. Anyway, as the outdated and misleading Zillow pics showed, there was a spectacular yard buried somewhere underneath this decayed mulch and tangle of brambles. And I’m not the sort of person to shy away from unrealistically ambitious projects. I’d fix it. I had a shovel.
I’m a project manager and an artist. Those two skill-trees were cultivated exclusively, in my brain, for many years; they were merely cordial acquaintances. But at some point I realized those two trees are really part of the same organism, and symbiotic. There’s this obsessive, “artistic” project-making habit that serves as therapy, and this PM thing that people hire me for that is also obsessive, but in a way that has commercial value. Both are about making things, organizing things, prioritizing things, developing / streamlining processes, and systemizing / optimizing the use of particular skills. When “pure” art and PM realized that no, they weren’t just platonic old friends, they were right under each others’ noses the whole time, this was a sort of epiphany for my wrankled brain in existential terms of applying Artistic standards to Quotidian enterprises. Which is to say that, yeah, I could let the dogs have their way with the damn yard, set the sprinkler timer, and update the mulch via Google reminder. That would leave me lots of free time to scrub the baseboards. But instead, I kicked around this brown-on-brown yard, this collection of ignored intentions, and threw down the Ace non-leather gardening gauntlets. I’d treat myself to some long-term dirt therapy.
So, where to begin?