Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mr. Pham's Patio Project

I told you a little while ago about how I hired Mr. Pham to do whatever the hell he wants with my yard. I had given Mr. Pham a vision of what I was looking for, and he didn't seem to hate that vision, although he did yell "NO" at me a few times as I was explaining some details of the vision. Then he took money from me, marched to his truck, and drove away.

Over the next couple of weeks I would come home from work to find Mr. Pham ripping giant bushes out of my yard and hauling away concrete that I didn't even realize I had back there. On two separate occasions The Perfects yelled over to me to ask what Mr. Pham was doing back there. I told them the truth: "whatever the hell he wants."

I had my own problems dealing with the dying grass situation in my front yard, one which Skylar is convinced is evidence of a hate crime. When I asked him what someone might hate about me he just said "EXACTLY" so I'm probably offended.

Finally, I left town for the Half Ironman, wondering when Mr. Pham might be done.


I had my race that Saturday and when I got back to the hotel room, exhausted and sunburned, I picked up my phone and saw that I had 6 missed calls from Mr. Pham.

I was worried that there was an emergency so I quickly called him back. Mr. Pham answered, and then proceeded to speak this entire conversation in the same high-pitched voice one uses to say things like "someone's birthday is coming up!" when hinting to their kids that a surprise awaits.

Mr. Pham: Helllooooooooooooo?

Eli: Hi, Mr. Pham!

Mr. Pham: Um . . . are you . . . um . . . home now?

Eli: No, I'm actually out of town.

Mr. Pham: Oh . . . um . . . was you . . . um . . . home yesterdaaaaaay???

Eli: Not really. I left town early yesterday morning.

He sounded deflated after I said that.

Eli: Did you finish?!

Mr. Pham: Um . . . maybe there's surpriiiiiiise for youuuuuuuu!

I could barely contain my excitement. I told Mr. Pham that I would call him the moment I got home the next day.

Meg told me recently that her favorite thing is someone who takes pride in their work. If she met Mr. Pham, she would probably fall in love with him and they would ride off into the sunset in a truck full of gardening tools and never be heard from again. Except for when she sends me angry texts about scheduling.

Mr. Pham is so proud of the work he does that five angels get their wings every time he mows a lawn.

And he has earned that. Because I got home from my race and saw that Mr. Pham had turned that swampy, weedy, messy, corner of my backyard from this:


to this:


And you guys are probably not sufficiently appreciating the change because the before photo does not do a great job showing you how disgusting this area was. It was full of weeds and dying plants and bushes and remnant concrete pieces to an old dilapidated pond and a surprising amount of rebar. It looked like a construction site in Chernobyl.

Mr. Pham had carefully cut each brick to perfectly fit around the curves. The entire thing was carefully leveled. It looks like it was done by a machine.

I called him and told him I was impressed. He laughed and yelled into the phone. I couldn't understand most of what he said, but he spoke about a thousand miles per second, asking if I noticed various details.

He came back the next day to finish a couple of little things. I brought him to the front yard to show him my hate-crime-grass-seed project, and told him that I was ready to give up on my seeding attempt since it looked so spotty and messy.

He said that he had tried to tell me weeks before that my grass seed wasn't going to work on those hills, but then said "I try to tell you again and again. But sometime I think you no understand me."

Understatement.

Language barrier or not, I love Mr. Pham.

I'm working on getting the place further landscaped and decorated. My mom surprised me on Sunday with another treasure from my Great Grandpa Hinckle. This is his old plow he used for many years.


Skylar and Lynne helped me get some lights up.


 Another treasure from my parents:


And a wind thingy from Bob and Cathie.



When I bought my house in 2014, the best advice I got was from my dad who told me that I would feel a constant urge to get every landscaping and home improvement project done but that I shouldn't feel like I needed to get everything done right away.

Three and a half years later, I'm working on a new corner, with many more to come.

~It Just Gets Stranger

27 comments:

  1. Are your parents and Bob & Cathie different?

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    1. I was thinking the same thing...

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    2. They are the same

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  2. Pride is not the word I'm looking for
    There is so much more inside me now...

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    1. That's what SHE said...

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  3. I thought the bricks we're stamped concrete because they were so perfect.

    The urge your dad speaks of is so true. I hold it responsible for the 'This will only take a weekend' delusion that my husband and other young homeowners I know suffer from. It's how we've ended up buying mulch by the pallet and also pretty much the whole reason we own a truck.

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  4. We started renting our house in 2010 and then bought it in 2014. We've slowly been tackling projects since then. Year one - Living room, dining room, hallway and stairs, two bedrooms. Year two - kids play room. Year three - remaining two bedrooms and half bath. Year four - full kitchen gut and remodel (that was extensive - and exhausting). This year - second floor full bath and back yard.

    It's all a work in progress. I suspect we'll be done when we're ready to sell it in 10 years.

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  5. Looks like you're ready for that Stranger Reunion you promised us this summer. Hashtagisthisworking

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    1. You all should just crash the family reunion I don't want to go to because my family planned the week of my birthday. If 500 Strangers show up looking for cake no one will miss me if I take off for Jackson Hole by myself that weekend.

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    2. That could very well work, aside from the slight hitch that our biggest motivator to crash your reunion would to be hang out with you! (Maybe ditch after the cake? We'll cover.)

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    3. The Suzzzz - but WE WOULD MISS YOU!

      It's not a Strangerville Reunion if you're not there!

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    4. Well I'd invite you all to Jackson with me but our townhouse only sleeps 6 and I think the HOA would be miffed if I had 500 friends camping in the common areas.

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  6. Or, you could just live in a white bread ghetto, work 60 hours a week, and spend all your time at the gym or somewhere other than your house so you are completely exhausted and feel zero desire to keep up with the joneses or make it fancy because all you do there is shower and sleep. Saves a lot on renovation costs. I mean I like my house and there's nothing wrong with it that a gallon of gasoline and a match won't fix...but I probably don't even need that because I suspect any day now one of my neighbors will fall asleep smoking in bed and take us all out with them.

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  7. I'm assuming the fence in the picture is NOT in the Perfect's yard?

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  8. Duuuuuude. That looks SO nice. I think my favorite parts are your great grandpa's plows and the strung lights. (So, I guess the decorations, but the patio looks beautiful too! :) ) Great work, all around.

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  9. Oh my, oh my, oh my... Okay... the blocks looked good. I was like, "Well, that looks good..."... THEN... I scrolled... Lights... decor.. it literally brought tears to my eyes. It's beautiful! I want to hang out on your patio! I want to get married in your back yard, and I'm already married! haha! One word: Magnificent. Enjoy!

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  10. Off topic, but can we send some Stranger love and support to our commentator Amy Rose? Her sweet little pup is going to the vet today to have one of his legs removed up to the shoulder because of a tumor. Any virtual hugs (or advice) would be appreciated.

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    1. Oh no! Sending good vibes your way, Amy Rose!!!

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    2. Many many hugs to Amy Rose!

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    3. Aw that Sucks Amy, how did it go?

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    4. Thanks everybody! From the vets point of view, it went great. And he came home that evening and cried all night. Today we are keeping him steady on the pain meds so he hasn’t been crying as much. My husband is out of town and I have between one and seven kids running through my house at any given time so... thank heavens my mom came out to visit -her timing was impeccable. I wish I could post pictures here for you to see. He’s on my instagram though, if you want to take a peek at him. (a.rose4801) He’s a tough old man.

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  11. Aw, thanks Mimi! I am not having my favorite day it’s true.

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    1. I'm so sorry. Surgery and recovery can be such a nightmare -- I've been going through that for 10 days now with my Labrador who had a hematoma in her ear. Between head wraps that keep needing to be changed because she flips the ear out, that blasted cone, and refusal to take her medications I'm at the end of my rope. And this is minor compared to a tumor removal she had from her leg last year. I'm so, so sorry and I hope that your pup's recovery is not awful.

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    2. I am sending hugs to you and healing to your pup! It is so hard to get them to take their pain meds. But they are such sweet, brave souls.

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    3. Amy, how is your pup doing? I hope he and you have adjusted well. My dog (the above-mentioned Lab) is FINALLY almost back to normal. She got a horrible skin infection on her head from being wrapped up so much with hot spots that were making her absolutely miserable. But we're out of that tunnel now. So I hope that your pup is also out of the tunnel and all are adjusting well together. [Francie]

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  12. Professional landscape designer here. Two thumbs up, Mr. Pham!

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