Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Heading For A Knockout


Dave got me a pickup load of compost and parked it in front of the house and then he left, which is why we're still married. If he'd stayed home, he would have been unable to prevent himself from being helpful.

What I need to do is prepare portions of my garden a square yard at a time, taking into account what needs dividing and what needs transplanting and what is so invasive that it needs to be given to a neighbor at least three doors down, and then I need to shovel compost one wheelbarrow at a time in the same way the troops deal with the Taliban: clear and hold. It's work, but a lot of the time--as seen from the house--I am motionless. I am squinting. How tall does that thing get again? Is this the yellow thing or the blue thing? Should this be getting more sun? What was I going to put in that spot? Wheels are spinning like crazy in my head, but from the house, I look like the poster child for inefficiency. Dave, on the other hand, is as efficient as Holy Hell.

"Hey, tell you what. Why don't I shovel out the compost and we can knock this thing out in no time!" he says. And it's true. The man is not lazy. He could empty that pickup truck and have the street polished shiny in twenty minutes. The wheelbarrow would follow him back to the shed at heel. Tools in the neighbor's shed would straighten themselves up out of pure respect. He's a machine. He dumps the wheelbarrow and picks it up like it's a five-gallon bucket to shake out the last dribs. He's already got the shovel and returns in a minute with equal parts compost and zeal. "Where do you want it?"

I want it right here, in this tiny little patch, with care taken not to cover those itty bitty leaves of the hardy fuchsia coming up. Don't step there. Don't step there! There's a hosta there. There! Right there!

"I don't see anything."

I know you don't see anything. You have to take my word for it. Get your size thirteens out of there.

Dave whips the wheelbarrow around and returns a few seconds later with another load. "Where do you want it?"

Here's the thing. Listen up. I want it right here where I'm pointing, and then I want to think about things
for a while, and then I want to weed this patch and dig up that perennial and divide it, and in another half hour or so, maybe, I'll want another load. And so on. By the end of the day I will have this little section done, and the truck will still be three-quarters full. Just the way I want it. Instead, we are headed toward a state of mutually assured exasperation. I will feel stampeded, and Dave will feel thwarted.

Dave cannot stand it. He looks at the truck. There's a job, and that means it needs knocking out. He knows that truck could be empty in twenty minutes. It doesn't matter; we don't need it for anything. But it could be empty. All clean. All done. Knocked out. He will grow more and more helpful and agitated and at some point will demand, edgily, to be assigned a clear patch he can dump ALL the compost, and then I can just go ahead and fuck around with it till the cows come home if that's what I really need to do. I try it that way but there's even less of a hurry moving compost that's already on the ground somewhere, and the next spring there will still be a hump of dirt there with really enthusiastic weeds sticking out of it.

It's true we're wired differently, but it's also true that we have both spent over thirty years training for different jobs. Dave was a hod carrier, and I was a letter carrier. When he got to work, stuff needed moving. Brick, block, mortar; it started out here and needed to go there. He and his buddies knocked
out a job. They worked hard. The quicker you could do it, the sooner you could go drink beer. I also started every day with things that needed moving. Letters. But I couldn't take ten trays of random letters and load them in my truck and dump them off somewhere. I had to take each letter individually and poke it into a little hole in a sorting case and then pull it all down again and strap it out and walk it all over the neighborhood and try to get the addresses on the letters to match the house numbers. People were persnickety about that. It was fussy. It wasn't something you knocked out.

Plus, hell. We were proud U.S. letter carriers. We didn't have to finish a job to start drinking beer.

44 comments:

  1. I can so relate to your problem! For my own sanity, I had to give up working in the garden. His fantasy is the two of us working together with him barking orders and me following behind.

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    1. I respond promptly to orders barked, but ultimately it does not work out well for the barker.

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  2. Wait... he finishes a job before he starts drinking beer??? Doesn't he know how to multitask? Sheesh!....

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    1. Some people are so focused. In his defense, he does give beer a lot of attention when it's beer time.

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  3. Where to start? My letter carriers who don't sort, don't read, and probably start the day with beer? (The letters on our block appear to be delivered randomly). My former garden, which I'm in the process of converting to a 'low maintenance landscape' ? ('I'd rather be painting"). My compost heap which is more square feet than my garden? (yes, there IS such a thing as too much compost). My husband, who can't see plants underfoot whether they are itty bitty fuschia leaves or full grown branches of a middle-aged rhododendron? (I'm in terror when he pulls out a ladder). YOUR garden looks like the perfect place and you look like you enjoy it perfectly . . . once you chase your husband off the premises. Will be watching for more pictures thereof (garden, not husband).

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    1. I'll see if I can find an excuse to slide in more garden photos. With regard to the letter carriers: I retired in 2008 and NOTHING is my fault any longer.

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  4. I am in AWE of your garden! Beautiful and obviously well- tended. Congratulations!

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    1. The most interesting thing about my garden is there isn't any lawn in it.

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    2. No lawn! How fabulous. I'm trying to get to that point. Your garden looks great, plants everywhere, some paths and NO grass. Love it!

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    3. Here's how "no lawn" happens. You keep digging out more space for the flowers and eventually you're mowing a punctuation point.

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  5. And, if during some of those pauses, you are also aligning the words for the next blog post, It does not mean you are just standing there, doing nothing. A lot of work doesn't show on the outside.

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    1. Almost none of my work shows on the outside. It's kind of a cool gig I've got going.

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  6. Your garden is beautiful - I'm so envious! Hubby and I have agreed on a division of labour: he works in the greenhouse where the only plants are big tomatoes and peppers that he planted so he knows exactly where they are. I do the rest.

    We agreed on this after several years when I couldn't figure out why the plants I put in the front flowerbed just seemed to wither away and vanish. Turned out he was "weeding"...

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    1. Have you ever planted statice? Definitely not safe around weeders, in its early stages.

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    2. I tried many times, but it never seemed to grow. Hmmmm...

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  7. I could feel his frustration as I read this. That truck needs to be dumped!

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  8. We have this convo with the yard and garden, with moving and sorting goats and chickens into the various pastures, with furniture....

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    1. I always thought goats sorted themselves. The things I learn!

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  9. I think Dave would've gotten along well with my dad. Dad's idea of the perfect yard had the buildings at exact right angles in the corners and very little else. He wanted to be able to mow in long, straight lines without having to go around anything or do any "detail" work. He reluctantly put up with trees, but battled constantly with my mother over her attempts to plant flowers and shrubs. I thought she was going to wring his neck when she caught him mowing over the shoots from the peony plants she got from her late mother's garden.

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    1. There was some early talk about a concrete yard, possibly with a basketball net at one end. He even (earnestly) explained that you could make concrete green, if that helped.

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    2. Actually, my dad spent a lot of time *removing* concrete from the yard. The previous owners of the property were quite enthusiastic about lawn statuary and garden ornaments, and the gent laid concrete pads for each one. He also paved the parking area, the dog run, and the paths around and through their veggie garden. Dad didn't like mowing around concrete, either. The sledgehammer got a real work-out.

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  10. Dave's a smart man. And your garden is magnificent. You're both doing it right.

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    1. You're not supposed to be watching us doing it, jenny o.

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  11. Your blogs hit so close to home....And your garden looks much lovelier than mine.

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    1. It has its moments, and it's in between moments right now.

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  12. I can't believe you have such a wonderful garden and this is the first I've seen of it. Lovely post. Some people just shouldn't work together.

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    1. One should be in the garden (five months out of the year) and one should be in the kitchen (always).

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  13. And, no one ever used the expression, "to go masonary," so he obviously doesn't realize what trouble he could get into.

    Masonary? I thought about masonic, but that's a whole 'nuther thing.

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    1. It's only because no one wants to pick a fight with a bricklayer.

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  14. Lordy lady, you need a smaller garden! (But it's beautiful). You garden the way I paint - slowly and carefully! Also - when you pass into the great oblivion - can I have Dave???

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  15. The garden is my province. I "employ" a Man for assistance with heavy work.This is the proper order, especially if said Man expects food and drink at the end of the labours.

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    1. I have to tread delicately. I'm the one expecting food and drink.

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  16. You've got finesse! Looking at those pictures of you with a shovel reminds me of our hard working road crews.

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    1. Puts them in a whole new light, don't it?

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  17. I LOVE your garden. Mine is making progress, I've planted several bulbs in pots. I have more pots and more bulbs, but Saturday is still a couple of days away.

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    1. I love gardens with lots of pots. They're hell to keep watered, though.

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  18. Obviously, what you are doing works well. The resulting gorgeous garden is proof. I fantasize about having a beautiful yard with lots of flowers, but within a short time, I become bored with watering and weeding. So my yard looks like a football field and has been used that way many times. Not so good for flowers.

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    1. If I had kids or grandkids or a heart, I'd have something like that that people could use. I'd have a badminton net strung up. Instead, I get the occasional adorable tot coming through and have to tell them not to walk on the rock walls because they'll crumble. I get to be a "get off my lawn" person.

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  19. Good grief Murr! Now that is one ambitious garden. Remind me to never show you my "garden"... a trio of tomato plants, some herbs and weeds, weeds, wonderful weeds. (If only it were "weed")

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    1. YOU CAN GROW TOMATOES? If I could grow tomatoes I wouldn't grow any of this other shit.

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  20. I really had to smile at the different viewpoints of you in the same spot!

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    1. I thought it was a fun idea. Glad you noticed.

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