I swear, more people visit this site when I don’t write anything for several days.

What’s that supposed to mean?

I’ve been consumed with yard work since we returned from Kentucky last weekend. Our new backyard wasn’t landscaped at all — no grass, just some crappy trees, lots of North Carolina clay. Our builder put sod down in our front yard with about as much attention to detail as the TV cable that was never connected, the door trim that doesn’t meet the floor and the chair-rail moulding that was never sanded.

So last weekend I rented a truck from Lowe’s and hauled about five yards of dirt, and about a yard of play sand for Ella. That kid goes to dirt like I go to barbecue. Saturday morning, at 9:30, she was covered head to toe, sliding down the giant mound of soil in the driveway.  I filled in the bare spots in the tiny front lawn and planted grass seed.

Yesterday, my neighbor and I drove to Ether, N.C. He’s in the landscape biz, and arranged for us to buy plants directly from a wholesale nursery. We rented a U-Haul, and I brought back 23 shrubs of various sizes and species and four trees, all for less than $400.

OK, this is really sad. Five years ago, maybe seven or eight, I would have been much more excited about NCAA basketball at this time of year, or maybe planning a camping trip. Now I worry over the right variety of fescue and obsess about the different viburnum, camellia and hydrangea.

And how is it that I can work my butt off until 9:30 at night, digging in the dark in dirt I had to buy, and love it, but hate to get up in the morning and go do things for a few hours that I actually get paid to do? I don’t hate work, I hate working for someone else.  But I digress.

Within the next few weeks we hope to have two big ugly sweetgum trees cut down and hauled off. Then we’ll have space for a swing set, or whatever they’re called these days — redwood jungle gyms and climbing walls and spiral slides. And the things they’re missing — no teeter-totters to crack your … if you’re a boy, no sharp rusty metal edges to slice your arms open with, no chains to pinch your fingers, no metal slides that burn your bare legs on August afternoons.

Kids these days are soft. Smarter, with fewer tetanus shots, but soft.