CAMP Out: Fay's Rehoboth Journal - Landscaping for Dummies
|by Fay Jacobs|
It's Spring at Food Lion Estates. If I'd known just how much of my disposable income would go for mulch, I'd be writing from my condo overlooking the ocean instead.
I didn't know it was possible to go to Lowes three times in a day. We socialize more over shredded hardwood than cocktails. And it's the same couples there every weekend. We've conducted entire friendships in the check_out line.
Have you seen the line_up of Subaru Outbacks in the parking lot? With the Outback becoming the standard vehicle for team lesbian (I love their ads: "Subaru: It's not a choice, it's the way we're built.") and mine constantly piled high with mulch, I hardly need the identifying rainbow sticker.
Of course, all that mulch speaks to the enormity of our task. When we bought this house off Old Landing Road, I assumed the Landing referred to something beachy and nautical. Hah. It's more literal. Turns out that my house sits directly on the runway of the old Rehoboth airport. We have so few trees a 747 could still touch down without incident.
So we've been landscaping. With a zeal formerly reserved for Bloomingdale's, I careened around Ronny's Garden World in Smyrna last month, acquiring all manner of variegated, compacted, dwarfed, pygmy holly things. I don't know much about plants, but all their names sound like medical conditions.
Meanwhile, back at the landing strip, while I was inside stretching the making of a couple of sandwiches into a full_time job, Bonnie got the stuff in the ground. Then she proceeded to connect a bunch of intentionally leaky soaker hoses (named, no doubt for their cost) around the planting beds. Oops, we were a couple of clasps short.
So I was re_deployed to Lowes, where I realized I didn't understand the project. Did I need male_female connectors, male_male connectors, female_female, female_to_male, male_to_female? Oy. It was like choosing from the list of Millennium March organizations. Finally, I grabbed a pansexual assortment so the gender identity specialist at home could decide.
Once those super soakers were all splurting, we moved on to the deck project. I was told that a ground_level deck was necessary so the dogs would have more deck to wipe off their muddy feet before completing the job on the living room carpet. Nonsense. The deck was necessary because Bonnie wanted to build it.
And the first thing she did was convince me she had to have a new cordless drill. Now I'm not intentionally stoking the fires of stereotyping, but what is it about girls and their power tools? No matter how many battery_operated screwdrivers they have, they want new ones. Bonnie lusts after Black & Decker stuff like it was baubles from Bailey, Banks & Biddle. I don't think my mate will be truly happy until every electric socket in the house has some kind of re_chargeable, chuckless, 14 volt appliance hanging out of it.
So once we bought the tools, the project could begin. Step One: level the playing field. Since the yard slopes ten inches from the house to the foot of the envisioned deck, Bonnie explained that we had to dig the Panama Canal along the house and transfer the resulting dirt pile twelve feet away.
I found this somewhat ironic since the last outdoor project we did, back in Maryland, required adding a yard of dirt to our lawn. Being math_challenged, I pictured a yard of dirt as the height and width of a yard_stick. Fooly, fooly. A dump truck deposited Mt. St. Victoire on the driveway. I still remember frantically being called into service to help spread the soil before a monsoon came and washed $300 worth of dirt down the storm sewers.
So now, in a stunning example of what goes around comes around, Bonnie's telling me we have to dig up a yard of dirt from one place and shovel it over to another.
"I'll dig and toss," she says. "You just tamp."
You know, when we had the boat, and needed to redistribute weight aboard, I was always sent to the bow as ballast. If you ask me, tamping is just the same unskilled labor as ballast, only for landlubbers. I was instructed to march around on the newly dumped dirt, packing it down evenly.
Dutifully I pounded on the fresh dirt pile, knees high, arms swinging, getting into quite a rhythm. In the midst of this backyard flamenco dance, Bonnie decided it looked like fun and soon the two of us were tamping and stomping in circles. The tired, thirsty Saturday morning herds diving past our house to the beach, must have thought they were seeing a mirage of Lucy and Ethel stomping grapes.
Naturally, just as the deck material was delivered to the cavernous backyard excavation, the rains came and continued for an entire week. Add two Schnauzers and God save the carpets.
Three times a day we'd lure the dogs back in from the mosh pit, grab them up before their paws or snouts touched any carpet or wall and toss them into the tub. One memorable moment at Schnauzerhaven Day Spa came when we lathered and rinsed the filthy pooches, then focused on cleaning the tub. Sadly, since we'd used all our limbs just to get the boys into the house without touching anything, we'd neglected the teeny little task of closing the sliding glass door. While I was scrubbing the damn tub, the beasts were right back outside rolling in mud, happy as pigs in....
So we went to Critter Beach and invested in puppy booties. Those were incredulous little dogs when we made them put boots on before going out to pee. At first they just stared at the foreign objects hanging on their feet. When they finally tried to walk, they shook their booty and high stepped like Budweiser Clydesdales.
Of course, if we didn't get the Velcro fastener closed tightly, they'd go do their business, come back for a booty check, fail to produce 8 for 8 and I'd be sent to the tar pits with a flashlight. There is no rap tune about searching for this kind of booty.
But after a week, the rains stopped, the yard dried and we were able to assemble the two tons of lumber and four pounds of deck screws. Whew. That was some serious screwing. But build it and lesbians will come help. And gay and straight men, too. Thanks to some hard_working friends, Bonnie's stamina and all those butch power tools, the deck was ready for its inaugural Margarita party last week.
But first we needed deck furniture and cushions. In the blistering Sunday heat, we did the Route One Triathlon: Ames to K_Mart to Lowes, agonizing over whether to buy blue umbrellas or green cushions. We were pulling out of Ames for the victory lap when I saw that the thermometer on the bank said 96 degrees. It was only May 7. The world was coming to an end. It didn't matter what color cushions we got.
But the world did not end, and the guests arrived for the blender's season opener. Ah, dusk on our beautiful new deck.
Maybe it was all that rain, or proximity to wetlands, but suddenly our garden party was beset by mosquitoes so big they had numbers on their sides. Quick! Get the Off! Light the Citronella buckets. Battle Stations!!! Dive! Dive!
At last, we discover the true origins of the name Old Landing Road.
I'll have another Deep Woods Margarita, please....and if you need me, I'll be in the house.
Fay Jacobs, a Vice Versa award winning columnist, is a regular contributor to Letters from CAMP Rehoboth. You can find more of her CAMPOut columns at www.camprehoboth.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 10, No. 5, May 19, 2000.