Why Our Neighbors Hate Us

Well, hate is a strong word, but they couldn't have been happy.

Let me back up.

For the first two years of home ownership, I was dedicated to HGTV. I couldn't get enough of those "Fix My Ugly House" shows, in particular . . . the reveal.

Camera pans across the room Before. White walls and venetian blinds and Fisher Price toys scattered across mauve carpeting. Camera pans across the room After. Colorful paint and bamboo storage bins and happy crying ladies.

In the spirit of the reveal, here are two Before & Afters. This is what happens when you ignore your life to write a novel. (Not shown: Me eating salt and vinegar chips for dinner because Jarrod is on tour and I'm too busy/lazy to cook anymore. Totally sad.)

Vegetable Garden, BEFORE:

BEFORE we realized our backyard looked abandoned. (I love Jarrod's thumbs up. He loves mowing SO MUCH. Ha!)

Vegetable Garden, AFTER:

AFTER two days of weeding and a bad sunburn.

It's not pretty, but at least it's tidy. We don't have time for a big garden this year, so we mulched over most of it using whatever was lying around -- black tarp, pine bark, grass clippings, newspaper. We also finally put in the little plantlets that had been dying on our back porch for the last month.

Puny, but alive!

Before you judge me, you should know that even though our backyard may not be beautiful, at least we take care of the front:

You didn't know I was a Vanderbilt?

Moving on . . .

Sable, BEFORE:

BEFORE her summer haircut, but AFTER we realized the people who named her (not us) didn't know what color "sable" was.

Sable, AFTER:

AFTER removal of several pounds of fur (even though, inexplicably, she looks fluffier), but BEFORE I figured out how to eliminate red eye on Photoshop.

And because I can't show one dog without showing the other, here's what Pip has been leaving on our floors lately:

Thanks, buddy. I'm gonna put some blue hair in your water dish now. What do you think about that?


  1. I just finished mowing our yard and yeah, Jarrod and I have a lot in common in our love of the mowing. Oh. Wow. So much...fun.

    Hey, if we buy you and Jarrod a bus ticket out to Portland and let you sleep in the back yard will you build a vegetable garden for us too? We'll even feed you 2 meals a day of luke-warm gruel! What do you say -- quite an offer, eh?

    P.S. - Your doggies look adorable! :)

  2. Sorry dude, but we work for a minimum of THREE bowls of luke-warm gruel a day, plus one mug of watered-down ale EACH.

    We have standards to maintain.

  3. Hey, I'll be visiting your other two family homes in Newport this Summer!

    Me being plant, vegetable, grass, you-name-it challenged, I think your garden looks A-okay!

    I can see the difference in Sable's coat! Maybe the previous owners thought Sable was a, uh, sable, and not a dog? I'm sorry, I couldn't help it.

  4. Thanks, Deb! I have a complex because my home used to be on the local GARDEN TOUR, and as soon as we took over, um . . . we basically killed everything. Whoops.