I spent my sunny, 80-degree Sunday afternoon washing rocks for Fred. Last summer, when Fred fixed up the yard at his house, he dumped bucketfuls of gorgeous white stones on either side of the walkway leading up to the front door. It looked great— he really had a talent for landscaping, I thought.
Then came fall. And we discovered that we are bad suburbanites. We didn't touch the yard as leaves fell, and then over the winter weeds sprouted through the pretty rocks and come spring, you couldn't really see the rocks for the jungle that had taken over the front yard. There was lots of work to be done and as Fred shoveled, raked and pulled this weekend, I sat down in the cement driveway and sorted through mounds of dirt and weeds that he had scraped up to find and clean the rocks.
Why not buy new rocks, one might ask (and I did, repeatedly). Because Fred had spent a few hundred bucks on these and they would be perfectly good once they're washed off. (Did I mention he's cheap?) Three hours into this slow and tedious process, I was about 1/14th of the way through all the rocks. My pants were wet, the skin on the pads of three of my fingers had worn off from dragging them on the cement and were stinging, and my back muscles were stiff from hunching over. I felt like a 12-year-old child in a Guatemalan sweat factory.
I had a lot of time to think as I was sitting there and the thought that continued to replay in my head was: "How did my life come to this; washing rocks by hand in suburbia hell?" And the resounding answer: "You said 'yes' when Fred proposed."
Fred is the consummate handyman. If he knows how to do something, or can figure it out, why hire somebody to do it for him; and more importantly why spend money that you don't have to spend? It's a charming characteristic, until I become part of the solution as well.
I have a feeling that won't be the last inane project I'm assisting on, but I have to admit the yard—and the rocks— look great. I just made Fred promise one thing: That we'll move before the weeds begin to grow again in the fall. I love him a lot, but not enough to wash rocks again next spring.