José the Gardener, like any shrewd villain, did not come to my house thinking it was his last day on the job.  Oh no, he most certainly did not. SixScreen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.31.14 AM months ago—leaf blower in hand, the volume on his iPod maxed to drown out my barking and a trashcan for the weeds—he showed up like it was a regular Saturday. What he didn’t know was that I had had enough! Enough of him rummaging through my yard, trimming my perfectly good rose bushes and throwing away priceless pieces of garden hose I’d spent the better half of three years collecting. In what universe can such reckless behavior go unchecked? Answer: Not this one.

The week before I’d met with a business lawyer about starting my very own LLC.  I had registered my new business name—Bogie Green Paws, LLC—and was ready to officially dive into the landscaping business.  Sure, blogging was my bread and butter but my passion was (and remains) the great outdoors. With summer looming, and no forecast of rain, my goal was to educate the people of Southern California in garden hose safety and water conservation. I had a plan.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.31.49 AMSo when José asked to speak to my mother I knew she’d do the right thing and fire him on the spot. He rang the bell and I barked like Lucifer himself was making a house call. As my mom walked outside, I reminded her to stay strong and do the right thing. They started talking for what was probably minutes but felt like hours. My mind raced. Did she know getting rid of him was the only way to make my up-and-coming start-up thrive?  Did she know that he literally took fifteen of my favorite garden hoses and tossed them in the recycling bin the week before? I sat patiently by the door with one ear pressed up against the wood trying to catch any details I could.

“Your last week?” I heard my mother say with concern in her voice.  “Good girl, Mom,” I thought, “make him think you feel bad about giving him the boot.”  But then I heard her spout off a bunch of words I didn’t know like “retiring” and “Adios.” I’d look them up later.  When she walked back inside she looked sad.  I wondered if José had put up a fight.  SheScreen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.33.07 AM looked down at me and said, “This is José’s last week, he quit.”  

Dreams DO come true!!

For a minute, I went nuts. I raced outside in circles in the yard.  I grabbed what garden hoses were left and gave them a good chew, then asked Robert if he wouldn’t mind working for Bogie Green Paws LLC.  When he didn’t say no I told him he was hired. But there wasn’t time to celebrate—we had work to do.  Immediately, I went to my favorite spot in the middle of my rose bush and took a nap. Becoming one with nature is the key to successful gardening. So is humility.

Fast forward to last week when I was nominated “Gardener of The Year” by my clients and peers. Is it because my roses Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.31.29 AMcontinue to grow despite no water ever running through a single garden hose? Is it related to my diligent surveillance of the property on a 24/7 basis?  Does it have anything to do with the fact that I was politically correct enough to hire the world’s first rubber chicken assistant gardener? I might never know. But I am so incredibly grateful that others have benefited from me getting my paws dirty. Long story short, I’m just doing what I love.

But before I get too attached to this award—before I frame it—I’d like to dedicate it to a man that I once truly despised.  For without him, I may never have become so committed to the cause of environmental justice: José, this one’s for you.