The thing I probably like most about landscaping is that you're never quite sure what you'll be doing day to day. Take for instance yesterday. It was 7:34 a.m. & I had just shelved myself on the chair in front of the computer, preparing to be "productive"- when I saw that I had a voicemail on my phone. It was my friend Dan telling me that he and most of his crew were down with one of those creepy viruses and could I fill in to place rock for another landscaper he was subbing for. He'd been using my skid steer anyway and the other landscaper was Teri Sims (aka "The Garden Artist") whom I'd worked with in the past, so I said sure and threw on some grungy Carharts and headed out to east Boise.

No sooner had I gotten on to the freeway when it started raining. Rain plus the clay we entertain ourselves as calling "dirt" around here equals something with the consistency of thick snot. The not-so-suppressed 10 year old in me started getting excited about the prospect of sinking the John Deere in a huge mud pit in the backyard of some upstanding neighborhood. Besides, for once I was charging hourly and could forget about my usual preoccupation with margin.

Strapped in the skid steer, straining to understand Teri's instructions above the clatter of the diesel engine, my insouciant attitude evaporated along with my confidence. Setting 500 pound boulders with forks is hard enough when it's my design I'm trying to implement, but here I was trying to wrap my little brain around her vision & I was struggling. "Serves you right creep" I said to myself, remembering my impatience instructing my own crew when they were in the skid steer. The truth is, when I set rocks in front my crew I usually only get it right about half the time. But that's the beauty of being the "designer"; I reserve the right to change my mind (even if it's the boulder that's chosen to change it...).

Resigning myself to be exposed as a fraud, I took a deep breath and did the best I could. For the next two hours, Teri patiently pointed and explained as I clunked around like an over sized ape with no fine motor controls. Predictably, I got stuck trying to place the last rock. Not fun. Rather embarrassing actually.

I finally got the tractor extricated from the mud pit and Teri was gracious enough to pretend that I had set all the rocks just the way she wanted. In truth, I've always been a little jealous of "The Garden Artist's" super-landscaper pseudonym. But she's earned it, if nothing else than for the patience she showed towards me.

Now about that invoice...