those people

I meet Scott at our back gate. “There are signs up on the mailboxes by our house.”


“The neighbors. They put up signs saying the land is,” and I air quote at him, “starving for water.”

I whisper, “You know it’s about us.”

It got hot this summer and we let our grass go brown, although we prefer ‘golden’. It was mowed, just not watered. We live in a neighborhood where most people tend to their lawns and shrubs like it’s an extension of them, watering and pruning to perfection. While I appreciate lush green grass I also appreciate conserving water and not spending my summer creating the ideal lawn.

I overheard our neighbors talking about us. Retrieving their mail, shaking their heads. Tsk. Tsk. They need to water it every day. It’s the summer. What are they thinking? They will never get that back. Cluck. Cluck. Hose in hand, I watered our cedars (yes, there was some watering going on. I’m not completely cold. I even pruned the roses) as my face burned with shame and my head filled with everything I couldn’t say. I’m sorry I let the heather go. I know they’re kindling now, but we have plans. Big plans! We’re going to tear them out and put down rock. River rock. We are nice people! Also, grass is a weed. It will grow back. It rains here 80% of the year!

After my mental tirade I slunk back to the house. I was upset at being upset. I thought I was stronger, way past caring about what people thought of me or, rather, the state of the yard. It wasn’t personal, yet I felt attacked. Much to my dismay, I was 15 again. I still want people to like me. I want to fit in. I’m not a boat-rocker. We’re fairly new to the neighborhood and now our brown grass invited judgment. We were those people. Waving my hands at Scott, I said, “We have to fix it. People hate us.”

He said, “No. We’re going to make our own sign.”

On an 8×11 sheet of paper we crafted and typed our reasons. We placed our sign about the importance of conserving water in between the pleas about our starving land. Go golden to stay green. We took a small stand.

It was silly. My overreacting. All riled up over a yard, a few signs and some nosy neighbors. I get that I’m crazy. I need to let things go and I’m terrible at letting things go. I could use more so what and who cares. Sometimes it’s the little things that are the greatest illustrations. The lawn became a lesson. I don’t have to conform. I’m allowed to be different. And, at 37,  I still need to stick up for myself.

I’m linking up with the speakeasy at yeah write – a place where you can just be yourself.

swept up
in Homeland
I am hooked on this show I’ve been watching on DVD. Is anyone else out there watching?

37 thoughts on “those people

  1. christy

    I LOVE that you made your own signs! Go Heidi Go! This made me love you even more than I did before!!! I’ve always been a big fan of standing up for myself and others – and this is TOTALLY something I would love to do if given the chance. 🙂

    I’ve never even heard of Homeland!

    1. heidi Post author

      Thanks, Christy!! I love your enthusiasm and love that you’re on my side. I didn’t realize people could be so fanatical about green grass!
      Homeland is on Showtime, a drama about the CIA and a prisoner of war who comes home after 8 years, and nothing is quite as it seems. It’s all very gripping.

  2. tara pohlkotte

    oh, i am with you in each uncomfortable part of this with you, heidi! I would wish for it not to matter for me. I would even give a good scathing sarcastic reply to my loved ones about how it didn’t. but it would. i love your sign. and your stance. for the record, our grass could out gold yours but i’d love ya no matter what the color of your lawn. {ps – you could also make a sign that said: we let the grass stay greener so you’ll stay on your side of the fence.} 🙂

    1. heidi Post author

      Haha!! Love it. I don’t get what the big deal is and I know there are many people who feel the same way we do. It’s just that you only hear from the disgruntled people. Thank you for the sympathy. I’ll take it. 😉

  3. Jen

    Lol Heidi, I love your sign! I seriously hope that whole “water the grass all summer idea” dies out with the baby boomers. Its so outdated to do that. Grass goes dormant and then it recovers when it rains here ALL. Winter. Long. Anyways I also understand the not rocking the boat thing too, major avoider of conflict over here, so way to go!

    1. heidi Post author

      Jen, I know you would appreciate this. They’re upset that we’ve let the hydrangeas go too on the side of the fence. We’re going to pull them out, but, you know, we’re busy and haven’t had time yet. The front of our house is nice. I think that should count for something. Anyway. It’s intense over here. It makes me long for our previous house in FL where no one cared! And you know how much work that yard was.
      By the way, I made Scott put up that sign in the dark so we wouldn’t have to face anyone. I’m such a chicken.

  4. Ann

    The only upside of the drought this summer was that we didn’t have to mow! Watering grass during a drought should only be a metaphor.

    1. heidi Post author

      Ann, I know! I was just saying how great it’s been not to mow. And this “Watering grass during a drought should only be a metaphor.” is awesome. I need to put that up on my next sign.

  5. Abby

    Ugh. Nosey neighbors are the worst. Good for you for taking a stand! My wilty petunias and brown-around-the-edges basil salute you.

    1. heidi Post author

      Abby, love it. I will take that salute. 🙂
      I just had another neighbor ‘mention’ how the land needs watering. This time instead of halfheartedly agreeing, I told her the grass will grow back as grass is a weed. I can’t even believe this is what my life has become. Arguing about the grass.

  6. christina

    hehe i love your husband for making your own sign. 🙂 awesome.
    in that type of situation, when you have to see the same people day in and out, it’s hard not to worry about what they think… but so glad you and your husband stood your ground. even if it was golden. ;D

    1. heidi Post author

      Hi Christina! Yeah, I need a thicker skin. But, you’re right, it’s tough not to care when you are surrounded by people who care.
      LOL to your last line…well said!

  7. Kim at Mama Mzungu

    Not crazy at all dear! It’s human to care about what other people say about you – especially when you overhear it. Especially when its people who live right next to you. But you have the moral argument and they just have an aesthetic argument. And “good on you” for putting up that pithy and hard-to-argue-with sign. “Go golden to say green” PERFECT!!

    I just spent a few months at my parent’s house in the states and coming from a place where rain water is precious and means food, I was appalled at how much water was used in their neighborhood simply to achieve a nice shade of green grass. It’s a strange habit that hopefully will be replaced with more rock gardens and the like…

    1. heidi

      Hey Kim!
      I can’t take credit for that slogan. It’s from an environmental group out here – it’s perfect and, like you said, hard-to-argue. I actually find the amount of water use appalling.
      It has been a lesson to me, though. It’s okay to rock the boat once in a while and not everyone will like me AND that is okay. It’s such a small, dumb thing, but I was surprised at how much this bothered me. I think it’s the judgment of it all that gets to me. Over something as ridiculous as a lawn. People are crazy.
      Thank you for your kind words.

  8. Nicole Janzen

    People are idiots, as my husband says. Really, yellow grass is such a traumatic issue that they have to point and make you feel ashamed. That is just to petty.
    I have to admit, I would feel the pressure to fix it as well. I love that you guys put up a sign and stuck it to them. That is awesome!!!

    1. heidi Post author

      Thanks, Nicole! I don’t get the obsession with the perfect lawn. I mean, I like a pretty yard too, but it’s a little intense around here. I have to admit I still feel the pressure to fix, but I’m not backing down.

  9. Laverne

    I have to say… A sign to proclaim your feelings about your lawn is a pretty bold move. We have the same thing by us. The urge for men to be men they must spray their lawns with chemicals, mow and water it consistently so that it looks green and perfect. I’m all about a nice lawn but not only can I thnk of many other things to do and the fact that I would love to pay a landscaping cpany to make my front lawn look beautiful… I suck at gardening and tend to kill innocent plants. Boy that was off track. It’s hard to not care what others think. It’s nice to be liked and feel liked. It’s also takes a strong person to stand up for what they want and what they feel!!! -LV

    1. heidi Post author

      Hi Laverne,
      We are terrible with our plants, too. We got a gorgeous hanging basket from my sister-in-law and it was beautiful for about a week..week and a half. It died a slow death. I’ve been keeping up with things that don’t require too much water, but I just refuse to water the grass. It does feel awful to be judged, but I’m trying hard to stand my ground here even if it’s an unpopular decision.
      Thanks for weighing in! 🙂

  10. Kerstin

    OMG Heidi, I can’t even tell you how this hit home for me.
    Literally with watering the lawn (and we live in the freakin’ desert and hopefully I’ll have the $ by next year to finally replace the whole front lawn with rocks), but also in other ways.

    I’m sitting in front of my computer crying like a little girl. That’s probably because I’m crazy as well. I am almost 41 years old and still can’t let things go… know that I have to stick up for myself and I do, but I always feel like I’m outside looking in, struggling to find my place. At work, on Twitter, on my blog. It’s exhausting.

    I love that you guys made that sign, that’s awesome.

    1. heidi

      Kerstin, I hear ya. Isn’t it amazing that after all this time we still struggle with the same things? Well, that’s my story anyway. I am great in crisis, but aim some judgment at me and I’m undone.
      You are not an outsider here. No way. Ever.
      I sure like you.

    1. heidi

      Hi Nichole! Yes, wheat! I like that and it’s exactly what it looks like – short wheat. The sign is such a small thing, but it was my way of fighting back. 🙂

    1. heidi

      Thanks, Stacie! It rains here most of the time, but we happened to get this long stretch of sun with no rain. And I think everyone lost their minds.

  11. Kate Coveny Hood

    So funny – I would probably be too wimpy to respond. But I could probably pull of the “who cares.” I’ve found that since we moved to suburbia, I’ve been VERY good at saying “who cares.” Or it might be since I had three children (which coincided with the move to suburbia)… Either way, I’m not too concerned with what people think about me these days. It’s a very nice way to live.

    1. heidi Post author

      I need more of your attitude, Kate. I’m not kidding. I’m getting better, though. Walking on my brown grass with my head held high. 😉

  12. stephanie

    Good for you, Heidi, standing your golden ground. It’s incredibly difficult when people pass judgment and you know it shouldn’t matter, but it does. I live in an area where it rains only a couple of months out of the year. Water is a huge issue, the lack of it, I should say. I’m so over the top with promoting water conservation that my niece, in feigned frustration, said to me as I reached to turn off the faucet while she was brushing her teeth, “If you say one more thing about water, I think I will go crazy.” We still laugh about that. She’s 11 and still sometimes forgets, then sees the look on my face and reaches to turn it off. It’s funnier than it sounds. (Thanks for your vote of confidence on my post on the challenge grid. I sort of feel like you describe in this post. I think I’ll take a break. I appreciate your support.)

    1. heidi Post author

      Thank you, Stephanie! I appreciate the support. I really do.
      Your post was such a good one. You, my friend, are a gifted writer.

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  14. Delfin Joaquin Paris III

    I live in Chicago and have a little six pound Chihuahua. I am not exaggerating when I disclose maybe I have picked up her poop maybe six times in four years. I’m not sure if that qualifies as “going green.”

  15. Alexandra

    Oh goodness, what a golden post.


    When we KNOW who we are, we no longer will be swayed by what we think others think about us.

    When we KNOW who we are.

    We also went golden, to stay green.

    And again, my friends are on the internet.

    The right choice is not always the popular choice.

    So sorry about this. All the clucking. The stupid clucking over YOUR business.

    I can’t believe when I read things like this, but I see it go on. Every day, in my life, too.

    Remember this, please: it has helped me so many, many times, my lovely lady:

    “Once you know exactly who you are, other people’s perceptions of you will carry no weight. Self belief brings with it total freedom.”

  16. Julia

    I can not believe this! Good for you for putting up a sign!! Love that you took a stand and your husband for being on board. I’m afraid mine would’ve told me to get over it, which would’ve made me feel even more silly because I’m sure I would have reacted exactly the way you did.
    PS- We never water our grass in the summer. It always grows back.

  17. Robyn

    Heidi, I water our plants, but not our 6×6 swatch of lawn. It’s 50% moss…I kinda like it that way. I think ours is one of the better looking yards, so I don’t get judgement about my lawn. But our strata cries about “home value” regarding others. I’m a big fan of native plants that don’t need special treatment.
    I unload on Chris when I face judgement and he reminds me it’s none of their business. If we could time it right, I’d come by as some neighbor was being an ass, and I’d pretend to be a stranger gushing about your gorgeous lawn. 😉

  18. Gina

    When I first learned of Homeland in April, my hubby was out of town. I watched all 14 episodes in 36 hours. I told him and some friends and they all did marathons becoming addicted. It was the show I most anticipated this fall. Needless to say, I’m way more than hooked! The premiere was good.

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