Online Dating 4

It occurs that not everyone reading this knows a lot about dating sites, so here’s a primer: upon signing up, the user is prompted to create a profile. One is encouraged to add recent pictures and create a thorough biography, including hobbies, musical preferences, goals in life. After screwing with this for over four years I can tell you it is not easy. I love writing, but not about myself, and frankly if not for my looks I may have never seen a response.



Many of these sites also offer tedious psychological profiles to complete, ostensibly to engage algorithms which provide compatible matches for the user’s review.  I have zero interest in the recesses of my mind. If there’s one thing my vapid ex illustrated, being a good person means exactly dick in maintaining a relationship.  At times in a profile I have referenced the fact that these presentations are not accurate simply by virtue of being written, and that they should be as succinct and generic as possible, and that the respondents should let physical attraction determine whether to meet in person.



As I scroll through the tales some of these babes put out it becomes evident that many disagree – some of their profiles are virtual articles and seem heavily influenced by cheap romance novels or cheesy greeting cards. As a denizen of the pacific northwest, I can also expect a percentage who want nothing to do with dissimilar viewpoints. That’s just as well, because although I am faithful to my beliefs it doesn’t define me, but it is depressing that it has come to this point.



Of course, since I’m discouraged beyond the point of actively dating anymore, this issue is a moot point to me, but I do enjoy the academic exercise. It’s foreign to me to experience that level of vitriol – when the democrats were in power it never occurred to make opposition to him a deal breaker towards a relationship. Interesting times.

Lawns Are Doomed

40 years ago I began my landscape career as a mow jockey, eight hours a day pushing a 21″ Snapper mower. The more seasoned workers got to use the triple reel ride-on Toros on the larger turf areas, leaving the rookies to mow the smaller panels adjacent to office  and apartment buildings.

It was never fun, but I was a young man beginning a new career and went home each day tired but content. I took pride in creating straight lines and not leaving clippings on the hardscapes, weeds pulled and trash picked up.

In the 1980’s there was still small concern in the Pacific Northwest regarding irrigation and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides – the goal was green grass without weeds, and contractors provided it, or lost the job to someone else. It was a competitive market in a strong economy.

Somewhere along the line the environmental movement started to zero in on golf courses, and soon all turfgrass became an issue due to the resources needed to keep it green and beautiful. The fact is, in my region the use of cool-season turf means fighting the natural habit of the plants to grow dormant during the summer with ample irrigation and fertilizer application. At the same time, I was growing weary of the effort required in my job and became sympathetic to eradicating turfgrass as a landscape staple.

I read that the EPA estimates that Americans use one third of our water to irrigate their lawns, and although I don’t necessarily buy that statistic, one thing that does offend me is seeing sprinklers running along and water streaming down the sidewalk, due to poor timing or adjustment.


Online Dating Part 3

So I read my last couple of posts on this subject and realize how uncomfortable the reader may be because of my disclosures. I apologize for that, but my purpose  was to establish legitimacy. After all, if a guy is willing to admit his feeble ability in this regard he is apt to be honest throughout, don’t you think? Darn right.  


I’m keeping my hand in just for shits and grins – every other week or so I tweak my meager profile on the one site I retain. To quote the world’s greatest rock ‘n roll song, ”can’t you see I’m on…a losing streak?” My purpose has devolved to observer only.


I wonder what kind of insight there is to be gleaned from the women on the site, without having to actually meet and waste more money on gas and overpriced coffee?  Obviously my policy of not messaging isn’t going to be useful, but I must tread carefully.

Please stay tuned.











Online Dating Part 2

I hope I didn’t come off as vituperative wrapping up the first segment of this topic, but I’m trying to put my finger on my lack of success with women.


Maybe it’s just karmic reckoning, but that doesn’t explain everything. Regardless, that’s all the navel gazing you need to withstand.


One thing I’ve noted in female profiles is this tendency to put out a veritable wish list regarding their ideal man. These often veer away from substantial items like non- smoker or owning a car to matching hopes and dreams and into that ephemeral desire for a soul mate.


My contention is that soul mates are made, not born, especially at my age. Friends first is another trite entry in half of these profiles, and nobody has explained to my satisfaction how a pal becomes a lover. Of course one must enjoy the company of both relationships, but I subscribe to the inverse.


If I still maintained a profile, the headline would be Friends Last.

Online Dating

Perhaps you are aware of the observer effect,  “the theory that simply observing a situation or phenomenon necessarily changes that phenomenon.” (Wikipedia) I find myself wondering if something similar is at work in my experience in online dating sites, because in retrospect my behavior is at serious odds with my own expectations.


No, I don’t present misleading facts about myself, never pretend to be wealthy or saintly in any way. Used to happen when I first started doing it, out of sheer desperation more than anything else; attempts to reflect the flowery and hopeful prose I read in women’s profiles.


I read advice on how to get responses, changed my profile often, and met a lot of women in the process. My results were mixed, and the reader should know that I will not seek out any input from other single men. One reason is because I know very few, and the other reason is the observer effect.


The first woman I actually discovered is the only one I still keep it touch with, although it’s infrequent, and if you asked couldn’t give you an exact count of futile meetings. There were several relationships that showed promise, some of which vanished like a fart in the wind. Others I screwed up myself one way or another.


The last three shots fall into that category – the first was with a woman from FirstMet, a Facebook related site. She was cute and curvy, very sexual, and never went anywhere without her stupid little dog. She was in the nursing profession, yet the only gigs she could find were as a private caregiver, and it never seemed to work out.


F- – – – – –  was lng about 58 miles from me, which in and of itself wasn’t a problem, although her refusal to even consider meeting closer bugged me, because hour and a half drives each way was tedious. She was staying with a friend’s friend, an old guy with a huge property up in the hills, with surveillance  everywhere.


Because of this, I had to pick her up next to one of the guy’s barns up the hill from the house, the only spot not covered by his cameras, and there she would transfer stuff from her car to mine. This included the all the crap for the dog;  food, water dish etc.  Recall what I said earlier about desperation.


Suppose I can expand on that – without going into lurid details, I worked alone to save a twenty-five year marriage out of fear of true solitude. After defining oneself as half of a couple for longer than that time, the prospect was naturally unsettling. I can’t help but wonder if that dogged pursuit is the reason for my failure.


In spite of F’s sensual and accommodating nature we never really consummated the relationship; she had a physical characteristic I couldn’t abide is all I’ll say. Shame on me that her living situation, excessive drinking, refusal to drive beyond her mailbox and constant canine companion never entered the equation. I began to suspect that I’m a superficial and shallow individual, because F wasn’t the first woman I disappointed.


The other, and more hideous explanation is that so much time with only one woman has left me unable to perform with any other body type – it’s not like she retained her twenty-one year old body over the years; she did have a couple of kids, but that was a gradual metamorphosis. Thinking I need to find a clone of a woman I have grown to detest is depressing enough to end today’s musings, but I will recover.

Thinking Out Loud

I have been following the H2-B visa issue, specifically as it relates to the landscape industry. I signed a form letter to my federal representatives which was sponsored by a professional association, and yesterday received an e-mail from my congressman.

I didn't expect a personal reply, but by the second paragraph realized it was a diatribe against the opposing party and absolution for his own on the entire immigration issue. 

I get that they are related, but the visa program is designed to help employers find seasonal workers they need, allowing foreign nationals to make a living. I would prefer to avoid political tussling on the subject, but maybe that's naive. 

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts.


Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Green?


Sometimes I watch a television show featuring an earnest young man prowling a home improvement store, looking for telegenic shoppers in need of a landscape renovation.


More often than not, the subject is a couple who agree to let the host follow them home to see their yard.


(I’m not going to speculate on behind-the-scenes maneuvering occurs, it has no bearing on my point).


As one would expect, we’re treated to the sight of some ugly and poorly planned landscape display; tattered and weedy turf, a weather beaten deck or cracked patio, and unhealthy trees and shrubs.


Perhaps the hapless homeowner has taken a stab at a renovation in the past, only to give up when one chore reveals the need for another. I’m sure some of my readers can relate.


Brandishing a clipboard the host joins the couple in their backyard, eliciting a wish list from them as they amble around tripping over slag and stumps, finally shaking hands all around as he advises them to gather friends and family to provide labor.


The next day a gaggle of folks in work clothes are waiting as the host pulls up, accompanied by a gang of contractors in enormous pickup trucks.


He shows the couple some elaborate plans and sketches and organizes the volunteers, and before long concrete is  demolished and removed, scrubby plants are yanked out by the roots and, and at last there is a blank canvas.


Over the years I have seen some incredible work; ornate patios, elaborate outdoor kitchens and structures that would be the envy of Hugh Hefner.


After water features and fire pits are installed and plumbed a panel truck pulls up in front, and all hands are assigned unloading a plethora of plant material, which is frantically placed in the ground at the direction of a dungaree clad contractor.


At last they present us with the before and after shots, which of course are amazing. However, what I am struck by is the tableau of grasses, shrubs, trees and vines taking up every inch of available space.


This illustrates an issue I have encountered more than once in my career – overplanting.



Humans tend to seek out gratification as quickly as possible – they don’t want to wait years for their landscape to fill in to lush maturity, and I commiserate.


The problem arises when the landscape is neglected or mismanaged. Plants have as much mass below the surface as above – observe your crowded plantings and imagine the root system, essential to the health of every conceivable plant.


Roots that grow into a poor soil profile do a poor job of supplying necessary nutrients and water, and eventually decline and death.


Plants need space to grow – air circulation curbs a variety of pests and fungal issues, and overgrown shrubbery can be a security concern.


What is the solution? Must one sit gazing forlornly at his spare and meager landscape, comforted only by the fact that future generations will appreciate it?


Be assured, there is no need for that scenario. At the very least, go ahead and jam your spaces chock full of big healthy shrubs, grasses, vines to your heart’s content.


You can remove plants as necessary – if you don’t need to dispose of a beautiful specimen or three, consider transplanting them to another space, or offer them to someone else.


(I recommend observing proper techniques for this, but that will be a future subject).


Another solution is the use of containers – they can be moved about as growth occurs, but be aware that these can easily become root-bound, and may eventually need to be planted in a permanent location.


Containers are also ideal for seasonal plantings, and can be moved around for special occasions.


If the installation is suitable, careful pruning and thinning can help keep plants within their boundaries, and if there is a nearby fence or room for another support and its habit is conducive, consider espaliering the plant.


Although it is feasible to maintain your own space if so inclined, I would advise the reader to seek out the advice of a professional if you are unsure about some course of action.


Ideally this would take place with an on-site visit, because there are factors that can’t be observed by a photo, description, or even a video.



Prevailing winds, possible pest infestations, and many other conditions should be discerned to make proper recommendations.



A final thought about the show that inspired this post – I find myself wondering what it would be like to revisit some of these efforts a few years hence, after situations had time to develop.


I suspect that some of these folks are confronted by the effect of over-planting, and repairing the consequences would be a great show idea.


I want at least producer credit if one is created.