My Newest Venture

The newest member of my income-making family.
The newest member of my income-making family.

By all accounts, I am an entrepreneur.  With a little creativity and a lot of hard work, I’ve been able to earn funds from funerals and gather wealth from weddings.  I’ve written blog posts for profit and gardened for a little green.  I was lucrative at landscaping and remunerated for my readings.  In short, I am always looking for a way to make some money.

And so, when I bought my new-to-me John Deere L130 garden tractor last fall, I knew there had to be a way to cash in:  Enter my neighbor.

Having hired my kids to mow his yard each summer for the past decade, I knew he would be looking for a replacement mower after the boys moved out last autumn.  As the grass turned green this spring, I subtly dropped the hint that I would be happy to mow his yard, but only if he wanted me to.  I knew I could knock his yard out in record time with my new 48-inch cutting deck and teeth-rattling 23-horsepower under the green hood.  Reluctant at first, he was quick to sign on after mowing his yard himself for the first time this year.

I was thrilled!  A yard that took my boys 45-minutes to push mow would take me a mere 20-minutes of comfortable riding.  For very little effort, I would make quite a bit of dough.

For many years my neighbor paid my boys up to $25 per mowing job.  However, because we are friends, I’m only charging $20.  But problems started early on when my “friend” texted me one evening as the thunderclouds began to form on the horizon.  He wanted me to mow before the rain hit; a difficult task as I was just finishing my own perfectly manicured lawn.  The tension began to rise when I explained how his last minute request fit into my pricing schedule:

  1. The Friend and Family Rate ($20) = This is subject to change by how snotty you are if I don’t respond to your beck and call (See #4)
  2. The Convenience Rate ($35) = I mow at my own convenience
  3. The Use-To-Be Friends & Family Rate ($50 + the cost of gas) = (See #1)
  4. The Emergency Rate ($75) = My car payment is due so I’m mowing your yard whether you need me to or not.
  5. The It’s About To Rain Rate ($85) = You didn’t look at the weather and now you need your yard mowed right away.

This text request clearly fell into price #5.  However, the argument was entirely my fault.  I failed to provide my pricing schedule up front.  My neighbor was under the impression that every yard mowing came in at the Friends & Family Rate.

To alleviate any future confusion…or fist fights…I’ve decided that I should print business cards with my services outlined (weddings, funerals, lawn mowing) and the pricing schedule above.  I expect that I should soon be able to retire from my day job and simply drive around the neighborhood on my mower, cutting grass, performing weddings and the occasional funeral, raking in the cash as I roll!

My Yard, My Sanctuary

2013.05.12 Back YardFor the past few years, we’ve worked extra hard making our yard a place of refuge after a long day.  I honestly believe the hard work is starting to pay off.  It is a huge space that takes more than three hours to mow and results in a four-mile hike when the entire thing is done right, but the amazing results are worth every step.

Our back yard has become our refuge.  It is a place where we unwind on warm spring days, cool summer evenings and blissful fall nights.  When snow falls heavy, the boughs of the pines bend under the weight and birds gather at the feeders placed around its edges.

Our time in the yard isn’t simply a back-porch affair.  We don’t simply sit on the patio and enjoy a quiet dinner together at the table, listening to the gentle fountain trickle melodically.  We might choose to sit around the fire pit in the north-western corner, allowing the glow of the slowly burning embers to take us back to a more primitive time.  Some times we gather at the park bench near the pines and enjoy the view of the garden and our fresh produce, growing in the warm summer sun, a glass of wine in hand.

I have big dreams for the yard.  Many of my hopes and visions may never be realized.  I see a utility shed in one corner with a greenhouse attached.  I envision paths winding through dense growth, bird baths, beautiful flowers, islands of color and texture.  I hope for a space that is perfect for nature and people.

But for now, I’m happy with our sanctuary and the joy it brings all year long.  It is my place of peace.  It is the temple in which I find renewal and calm.  In many respects, it is my church.  There are no crosses or stained glass windows, instead we have crisscrossing branches of the willow and the dappled light dancing on the green grass through young maple leaves.  There are no pipe organs or majestic choirs.  Instead, we enjoy the tinkle and gongs of wind-chimes blown to and fro and a chorus of robins, chickadee and cardinals singing their hymns of praise from tall perches throughout the yard.

This is my church.  I would love it if you could come visit some time.  I think you would enjoy it as much as we do.