Hey from Chicagoland!
I have been maintaining Japanese gardens professionally, first in Guelph, Ontario, Canada for 4 years and now in Chicagoland, for the past 5.5 years. Many of you know the garden that I take care of, called Sansho-en (not sure how much more info. I'm allowed to give) - it's quite large, almost 4 acres of land (3 islands) surrounded by a large, artificial pond. Not only do I do the daily maintenance, but I also am required to lead tours for the general public, write articles, give interviews, train workers and volunteers and teach classes.
Despite the "professional" title, I am a rank amateur compared to many of the people on the forums I've participated in. I met several of you all at the Japanese garden conference in Seattle a couple years ago. I have a million questions, but not a lot of time to spend chatting, so I tend to pop in and out of the forums on rainy or excedingly cold days when being up in a tree is uncomfortable or dangerous.
Cheers! I have great hopes that this forum will be much more pleasant than the others turned out to be!