Saturday, February 12, 2011


            Been an interesting week. And I mean that in a good way, not in the Chinese-curse sense of “May you live in interesting times, snark, snark.”

            Know that old saw about not being able to teach old dogs new tricks? It’s totally bogus, and I have proof—the queen of the neo-Luddites learned how to prepare cyber-slides for Power Point presentations. She not only understood the process, she enjoyed doing it. Yes, I mentioned this little accomplishment last post, but I’ve worked on it, and refined my technique since then. I whipped out two different sets of slides for the pair of clubs Tim and I had the privilege of addressing this week with an absolute minimum of angst and/or fury.

Power Point presentation # 1
(not shown due to technical difficulties)

            Those who have witnessed my tortured relationships with machines won’t believe things went so swimmingly.

            There was one tense moment when I somehow managed to lose everything—stupid Microsoft—just as the “Jeopardy!” theme music came up. My resident geek rushed in and hit the “restore” button (or something like that), saving the presentation and my half-hour with Alex Trebek. (Actually, it’s only 22 minutes with Alex: the other eight, relentlessly cheerful people try to sell me cars, prescription drugs, furniture, mufflers for the car and eggs. Does strident advertising sell anything to anyone?)

            Our first outing, on Wednesday morning, was the St. James Service Club. Unfortunately, their spanking-new Community Center hasn’t worked out all its bugs yet, especially where the electrics are concerned. So our inaugural Power Point presentation had to wait. No worries, Tim and I belong to the tiny minority of Americans who fear death more than public speaking. We get a little Donny-and-Marie shtick going on, and actually have a good time talking to groups. For St. James, we just followed the outline without the pictures.

Power Point presentation # 2,
a smashing success

            In Boiling Spring Lakes on Thursday, however, the Garden Club had the necessary technology up and running. Having big pictures to point at worked really great, I thought—kind of fun. Our computer-enhanced presentation was well-received. The amorphous disaster I feared never happened. Cool.

            Thursday afternoon, the rain stopped long enough for me to get outside for a few hours. (The alternative was a nap. Weather-enforced physical inactivity has been driving me nuts, so I opted for staying awake.)
Started out by sawing the four lowest limbs off the Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus) on the corner of our house, to keep them from beaning Tim when he mows. That’s our main tree-pruning criteria: if a branch whacks either of us in the head more than once or twice, it’s history. In the front yard, our Sargent’s crabapple and ‘Natchez’ crape will be receiving similar ministrations soon, too.  

After hauling the severed limbs to the lot next door, I dumped the dead stuff out of the last three summer pots along the sidewalk and moved them. I’ve envisioned a blueberry patch in that bed, to be planted in another five or six weeks. One thing I’ve learned about myself from vegetable gardening: if it’s out of sight, it’s likely to be out of mind as well. The potted cucumber vine by the front door and the lettuces and beans on the back deck got more attention than anything else I grew last year, pickleworms, army worms, and all. I shall capitalize on this knowledge.

Pots emptied and moved, I turned to the main event—marking out the new bed along the north side of our property.

The new bed,
viewed from the east
 Burdened with a succession of town governments with delusions of grandeur and led by flimflammers, Oak Island recently completed its top-of-the-line sewer system, so high-tech and complicated, rumor has it that ours is only the second like it in the world. (The first is alleged to be somewhere in Sweden.) This is lovely in theory. What the town fathers glossed over is that there’re only 8200 of us to cough up the requisite 150 million dollars. Can you spell “kick-back” and “overrun”? Long story short, hooking up to this Rube-doggle left Tim, me and our next-door neighbors, the Fraziers, with a 40-foot long and ten-foot wide sand pit. What better place for a lovely blended border of some of my experimental specimens—red buckeye (Aesculus pavia), sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonicus), maybe seven sons tree (Heptacodium miconiodes)—this year’s Great Sunflower Project ‘Lemon Queens,’ vines like Malabar spinach and hyacinth bean, veggies and fruits?

The new bed,
viewed from the south

On Thursday afternoon, I broke ground. With my shovel, I drew an outline in the sand of a 24-by-seven-foot oblong running west from the houses toward the street. Finally satisfied with the shape, I dug out a little trench around the edges. Then I retired to the other side of our property to scrabble around in the pile of spare flagstones we’ve accumulated over the years, loading the wheelbarrow with likely candidates for a path through the bed between our yard and Fraziers. Once the stones were placed to my liking, I began cleaning up the edge, cutting roots, pulling out grass and weeds and the odd rock. By five o’clock, the knees of my overalls and my gloves were wet through, and the knees on my legs and my hands were thoroughly chilled—time to quit for the day.

I’m pleased by what I got done. I meant to be out there today, but was prevented by a kerfuffle with the town’s Water Department in the morning and, after lunch, the absolute necessity of cleaning our house before a representative from the Health Department shows up with a clipboard and a disapproving glare. Well, there’s tomorrow, complete with good forecast. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for dropping by. Stay tuned.


No comments:

Post a Comment