My Own Secret Garden

Every morning, I get up, turn the alarm system off and open up the back door to let the dogs out.

Okay, MAYBE there have been some mornings where I have forgotten to turn off the alarm system and consequently set off VERY LOUD SIRENS, which will wake you up faster than a dose of the best espresso, boy I'll tell you what. I like to think of it as a not so gentle reminder of my idiocy. Whatever, I am still getting used to the new house.

Anyway, the dogs run around the backyard checking any messages they might have, and I dump out the giant blue bowl of water from the day before. A little to the bougainvillea, and the rest off the side of the porch, then I clean the bowl out in the slop sink and refill it with fresh water.

The backyard is lovely...if you like dirt pits, broken concrete, some kind of thorny bush and the occasional bug ridden orange off The Orange Tree That I Don't Know How To Take Care Of Yet. Our "garage" is currently cleverly disguised as an abandoned mouldy shed with a flourishing spider population. My friend Allen suggested that as an improvement we chain a rabid pit bull to the side.

Eventually we will landscape everything - I have dreams of Japanese inspired gardens and high wooden fences with flowers spilling over the sides - but landscaping is last on the list of priorities in terms of Things That We Need To Do To This House. Number One is currently painting the exterior, since if we don't do so by July 2007, they will cancel our insurance. 0_o This, coincidentally, is on another list called Things That Would Suck Balls.

In October, my father in law came for a visit, and in preparation of his arrival, I hired someone to clean the wild vegetation out of the backyard. I know that, based on my poetic description above, you think it sounds like paradise now - but, truly, you should have seen it before. It was overrun by weeds and thorny things. The dirt pit is a marked improvement.

One day, I looked over the side where I had been dumping the water to find something green pushing out from the soil. For a moment I made the assumption that it was just more weeds - but upon a closer look - I realized that they were no such thing...

They are rose bushes!

Our house was built in 1910 and has only had 2 occupants. Ms. Rosie bought the house with her husband in 1950 and lived here until her death 3 years ago at the age of 93. We purchased it from the great-grand niece that had inherited it. Everything is in excellent condition - in terms of the original fixtures and features that have been preserved from the Arts and Crafts era at the turn of the century, but the place needs a lot of work. I think it's obvious that she loved the house, but was more than likely not able to take care of it as she got on in years.

The month before our actual move in date, I spent almost every day working on the place. It felt like a weird, giant art installation that I would travel to every day and put my time in by priming, sanding, painting, drilling, scrubbing and polishing. I slowly became intimate with every nook and cranny, and felt the beginnings of a long, committed relationship taking root. I realized that as I found myself nestled in the oddest places -- repairing bits of broken tile, flat on the floor buffing the wooden floors, curled up inside the cabinets of the built-ins scrubbing every bit of dust and dirt out of the corners, I was silently repeating over and over, "Don't worry, I am taking care of your house. I love this house." It was involuntary.

So when I saw those rose bushes pushing their way back up towards the sun, finally free of the choking weeds, I couldn't help but think that she answered me, and the message that the tiny plants were passing along was, "Ms. Rosie likes you"