PREEMPTIVE

unkempt

"I don't like noise", exclaims Sage at dinnertime.

"I like tiet", he continues. He pronounced it like "diet", but with a "t".

"You like what?", I ask.

"Tiet", he repeats. I look over to Cinnamon for an interpretation.

"Quiet", she translates. I ponder the significance of his thought and reflect on them how they also make noise. The realisation is lost on them.

We tried to ignore the sounds of the chainsaws and gas blowers as the new landscape company decided dinnertime was the best time to trim the shrubs and run their loud machines.

Earlier today, while the kids were in school, I purchased a small pair of Fiskars pruning shears at Home Depot after locating the air filter for the air conditioner. Once home, I began the fastidious process of trimming the overgrown branches as two men walked in front of my patio - one guy instructing the other guy on how to trim the shrubs. A strange coincidence they would be doing this today of all days. I wondered if they noticed my clipping the branches. It was long overdue.

branches cut

My plan was to preemptively trim the side of the fence facing my patio, preventing anyone from coming inside the patio and stomping on my plants as had happened last time. I was unaware today would be the day the landscapers would do work. I was meticulous, yet somehow a worker felt the need to open the gate, walk onto my washed patio, and squeeze by the peach tree. I thrust open the door and stared. Hard. He smiled. I said nothing. It's hard to be angry at someone who smiles at you. He was, after all, only doing his job.

All was fine until a mere 20 minutes later, after I finished reading "Madeline" to the children for their bedtime story. As I went downstairs, I heard more noise of the gas blowers and saw my gate being opened again. I stared in disbelief. Two workers were there this time. Different ones from the smiling worker. One entered the concrete slab patio, his footsteps heavy from the work boots he was wearing. As one guy blew the shorn leaves onto my patio, the other guy blew them out in the opposite direction. How that makes any sense is beyond my comprehension.

This time as I swung open the door, I looked hard at the guy standing with the gas blower hovering over my delicate plants. I told him I'd just washed down the patio. He didn't hear. He didn't care. He continued to walk around my patio for another five minutes. I was irritated. As I closed the door, I stood at the window peering through the slats of the blinds. I watched as the hem of his pants brushed by the tips of the aloe plant. One wrong move and he would break them off. Mad does not describe what I'd feel. There was nothing I could do. The place is not mine.

I wonder why I bothered. Why I spent the money on plants and planters and an irrigation system - the timer which somehow broke after three weeks - only to have my little piece of paradise trampled upon and violated. A tiny space that was supposed to be my own. A space, that when I moved in, was bathed in sunlight but is now blocked by the imposing new townhouse still in construction mode.

trimmed shrubbery

Then I remembered something Cinnamon told me a while back when I said, "One day we will have a "real" house." Her words brought to mind the true meaning of home when she replied, "This is a real house."

Paper hair - from paper towel rolls

Paper hair - from paper towel rolls

And when I look at my children, I remind myself a house is merely a building whereas a home is comprised of those inside.

Sage crown