During a brief spell of unemployment last summer I spent some time observing my neighborhood while I dug in my garden. I noticed that nearly every house got a visit from a lawn service and/or a maid service. Most of them have both. It's not quite a Desperate Housewives neighborhood, but it's close.
"Ohhhhhh!" I thought. "That's why our house is the Addams Family house/yard of the block!" Also, we have foxes.
I thought my suspicions were confirmed when we were invited to a dinner party two doors down. They are very friendly, both work full time and have two small children. Yet their house was impeccable. The next weeks I spied, trying to figure out which maid service they used so that I could beg my husband to keep up with the Jones'. It turns out they were one of the houses that didn't have help. Shit.
We're constantly working on our house, though, especially the outside. The big patches of brown in that back porch photo were from trees that had to be chopped down, and we worked on filling them in with sod this fall. The two bushes by the shed are hopefully the location for new blackberry bushes this spring. We're encouraging the foxes to stick around, however, because they keep the bunny and kitty population under control.
The inside of the house is another story. Yesterday the above mentioned neighbor Dad came over to retrieve his daughter from a play date and I was horrified when I looked at my own home from his perspective. I haven't cleaned up the Christmas mess, we have (clean, I swear!) linens and rugs hanging over our railing. We look like trashy people who moved into a beautiful home and are living beyond our means. We have nice things and take care of it all, but the clutter is unflattering to say the least.