Letters to Holly

Monday, June 9

I Have a Garden of Hate

Most of Saturday was spent proofing research papers, and Your Sis has asked me to help with another batch later in the week. This gives me no joy. But I want to be a nice guy.

We spent Saturday night watching the current show with my theatre bunch. I noticed in the playbill that two people were listed as voice coaches, and I knew that one of them was a tiny Jewish woman from New York. Sure enough, the play started, and the actors were using a heavy accent. When we did the murder play this spring, I worried about using the original British accents. We had so much dialogue to cover, and I thought accents might prove distracting to us, and bad ones would certainly distract the audience. We dropped them. Unanimously, I think.

I wish they had done so in this new play. They spent to much time learning the enunciation, they didn't have the melody. You can use regional rhythms without mimicking the exact dialect patterns. take the movie version of The Odd Couple. You can clearly tell these men are talking in New York patter even though they don't use the stereotypical accents. This new play, set in New Jersey, saw almost everyone adopt the broad, nasal inflections and word warping. And their efforts killed the comedy. They had no punch or flow, and I blame the director. He also had a supporting character express shyness and social anxiety by twitching and hard blinking. He looked like a bird. What made the show fun was the in-the-round format, a style I always liked.

The show's content gave me hope that the sex-farce script I read last week, Don't Dress for Dinner, could be produced next season.

My plan for Sunday was to wake up early, water the garden, and assemble the fence. We went to the local mom-and-pop hardware store and bought fencing, stakes, and a replacement staple gun. I knew exactly which one I wanted: an Arrow T-50.

I had one in college to stretch my canvases, and it always worked like a charm. It was a workhorse. It busted during a move, but I had plenty of staples. I found one at the store and bought extra staples. We knew the area of the garden we wanted to contain was roughly 50 x 16 feet. I set everything in the garage to put together the next morning.

Again, I wake up early Sunday and I water the garden. I turn off the water, load the staple gun, and give it a test squeeze. Nothing. Tried another row of staples. Nothing. I had a busted staple gun, fresh out of the box. It was 9:30, and the temperature was already brushing against 80 degrees. The local store was, of course, closed. I drove out to the big-box Lowe's with my new box of staples and picked out the same model gun. I asked the stockman if we could try it before I left. He loaded it, squeezed it, and out popped a staple just as designed. I thanked him, I bought it, I went home.

The first thing I did was dig a small trench around the perimeter. For a good rabbit fence, you have to bury the bottom edge. I used a spade and a shovel to mark out my trench, and then I drove in my stakes, roughly every ten feet. I flattened out the edge near the compost pile, creating a facet. Now, it was 11 a.m., and it was roasting. I put off the fence until the weather was cooler.

About five hours later, I graded the garden soil and started with the fencing. That's when I discovered the heavy staples in the bundles to keep the wire together. It took a while to remove each one, and I yanked them out with needle-nose pliers like a dentist. Then I got to stapling the fence to the stakes. I got to the tenth stake when the staple gun broke. I fidgeted with the first one, still on my work bench, and it stayed broke.

Back to Lowe's. I showed the gun to a new stockman, and he said immediately "the head is jammed. Let me fix it." I watched as he hit it with a hammer for five minutes before telling the customer-service cashier to let me get a new one. She was new. She didn't know how to work that button on the register. She instead gave me a refund and told me to go around to another register and buy the new gun off the shelf. I did that, after testing the new one, and returned home. I went straight to the garden and hurried through the rest of the stakes before this new gun decided to go on strike. It took much, much longer than it should have. My fingers are swollen and sore, my back hurts, and I lost some weight sweating for hours.

Of course, I expect to return home tonight to find the fence wrapped around and trailing a stupid-happy golden retriever belonging to some neighbor. Or a coven of rabbits wearing bibs and sitting around the new plants with silverwear in each front paw.

I hope to plant the pumpkins, corn, and squash before the heavy rains predicted for this week. That means I go back to the garden tonight. Now that I have fencing to keep rabbits out, I suppose we're obliged to grow stuff that might attract the rabbits.


Anonymous said...

that is one great looking garden.
and that is one great looking fence.

Gregory said...

Just wait til it's smothered with corn, sunflowers, and frat-boy rabbits daring each other to sit in the garden.