How often do people get to play in the dirt for a living? Luckily, I’m one of those people, and I have to admit the dirtier the job the better. I’m a landscape designer, and my company, Taken by Surprise, Garden Designs, specializes in one-day backyard makeovers.

On a makeover day, my schedule goes a lot like this:

5 AM: Hit snooze button eight times.
5:30 AM: Skip blow-drying so I can lie back down for a few more minutes.
5:45 AM: If my teenaged stepson Riley is staying at my house, I make sure he’s breathing (I’m terrified of SIDS despite the fact he’s 15 1/2) and make lots of noise to wake him up so he’ll get to school on time.

6 AM: Head to work. Stop for coffee. Curse how hot it is. Dribble at least three times.
6:15 AM: Wish I’d taken the time to blow-dry. Pull hair into a ponytail.
6:20 AM: Stare at to-do list. Need more coffee.
6:30 AM: Recon at office with employees. Load trucks.
6:45 AM: Ply employees with coffee and donuts. Sugar and caffeine are great motivators.
7:00 AM: Pray everything at job-site goes as planned. Months of preparation go into every makeover.
7:30 AM: Start the makeover!

9:30 AM: Field call from Tam, my office manager, who wants to know if I’ve found another dead body. I tell her not yet and to call back in a couple of hours.
9:45 AM: Find bathroom. Too much coffee!
10 AM – 12 PM: Thank the heavens above that I have the best employees around, ex-cons that they are. Quick lunch break.
12:30 PM: Field call from my mother asking if I’ve found another dead body yet. I tell her that I’m still digging.

1 PM: Stress that this job will never get done.
2 PM: Pray the soon-to-be-surprised homeowner doesn’t come home unexpectedly and drop dead of a heart attack (it’s happened before—so now it’s forever on my worry list).
3:30 PM: Glow with pride at changing landscape.
4:00 PM: Last minute touches.
4:15 PM: Thank my lucky stars I didn’t find a dead body.
5:00 PM: Tear up as homeowner arrives for the big reveal.

5:30 PM: Back at office. Thank everyone for their hard work. Eat leftover donut.
6:00 PM: Paperwork. The scourge of my existence.
6:15 PM: Try not to think about going home to an empty house. It’s no fun being single.

7 PM: Arrive back home and spy my sprightly septuagenarian neighbor, Mr. Cabrera, with his girlfriend (and all-around pain in my tushie), Brickhouse Krauss, smooching on his front porch.
7:15 PM: Wash my eyes out with soap.
7:30 PM: Long hot shower.
7:45 PM: Wonder why I even own a blow dryer.
7:50 PM: Throw in a load of wash. Try to get coffee stains out of my shirt.
8:00 PM: Field call from my mother. Promise her no dead bodies were found today. Refuse to promise not to find another ever again. I seem to have a talent for finding dead people.
8:30 PM: Forgo a proper dinner for some cookie dough.

9-11 PM: Sketch designs, watch TV, avoid watching the news (too depressing), and head to bed.
11:01 PM: Set alarm. Apologize to it in advance for the abuse it will take in the morning.
11:02 PM: Think about how I have the best job, best friends, and best family in the whole world.
11:02 PM and a few seconds: Wish I wasn’t sleeping alone.
11:03 PM: Think I’d die a happy girl if I never saw Mr. Cabrera and Brickhouse kissing again.
11:04 PM: Blessed sleep.


You can read more about Nina in the TROUBLE UNDER THE TREE, the sixth book in the “Nina Quinn” mystery series. The first book in the series is A HOE LOT OF TROUBLE.

Heather Webber grew up in a suburb of Boston, where she learned early on how to ride the T, skip rocks in the ocean, and root for the Red Sox. As a young mother, she tried her hand at writing novels and hasn’t looked back. These days she lives in southwestern Ohio with her high school sweetheart and their three children. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.

** Heather is giving away one e-copy (Kindle or Nook) of the first book in the series, A HOE LOT OF TROUBLE. To enter, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the comment box with your comment. One entry per person. Contest ends on December 15th at 6pm EST. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator and will be notified by e-mail and has 2 days to respond. The author will e-mail you the book. **

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

%d bloggers like this: