Monthly Archives: July 2008

Good neighbors make good fences…

I see I haven’t posted since the Fourth and I’m now asking the question repeated at this time of year by every student and teacher: Where the hell has the summer gone? But I know what happened to July, at least, and the result is edging my backyard, all tall and white and vinyl-y and, yes, just a little bit crooked in a good, full-of-personality way. In other words, after two years on a tie-out for Ricky and one year for Violet, we have a fence and the dogs can run free. Of course they’re staying mostly inside because it’s mid- summer and hot out, but it’s the spirit of the thing that matters.

I spent the week after the Fourth doing pre-fence work: getting a building permit, arranging for the local utilities to come out and paint squiggles on my grass,* buying mason’s twine and wooden stakes and a mallet and brushing up on my Pythagorean Theorem so I could lay out square corners. And yeah, my corners were square. I had to dogleg the longest run of fence, though, because the TV/Internet service company seems incapable of burying cable in a straight line. I had to fence a 30″ x 40′ strip of my property to the outside of the fenced area …. they ought to give me free TV!**

On Sunday 7/13 and Monday 7/14, my very nice neighbor gave up his days off and brought his brothers-in-law over to put up my fence. I paid them, although far less than their effort, patience and good humor deserved; I also fed them sodas, deli sandwiches, Gatorade, and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. I worked, too, mostly fetching and carrying (including carrying most of the fencing materials from my driveway to the backyard) and only once or twice inadvertently screwing something up. However, I worked nowhere near as hard as these three guys did. They were fence building gods.

And here they (guys and fence) are:

Matt — neighbor, BVU grad (before my time), public school art teacher, tattoo artist, tattoo-receiver, and all-around nifty person.

Rogelio — brother in law, smart ass, and, according to the others, smooth (or at least, persistent) guy with the ladies.

Henry — brother in law, middle-school student, junior smart ass, has deadly aim with the hose pistol grip.

And here is the fence at the end of day one, also known as G#@%&*t!!^#>>@ Tree Roots Day. The rented auger ($86!) was at one point stuck in the ground (as in, I was wondering how to artistically incorporate it into the fence) for an hour. We had to make mud all around it to get it out. Another neighbor*** came over with a spade and a chainsaw and helped the guys remove a section of root about as big around as my knee.

Oh, in the afternoon of the first day, Sue, wife to Matt, sister to Rogelio and Henry, and fabulous neighbor in her own right, joined us for a bit.

The second day of fence was about putting in the slats and crossbars and the gate and pretty much looked like this all day:

And here’s the finished (more or less) product:

I spent the next couple of days using white vinyl lattice to block up a couple of spots where we’d had to allow gaps in the fence. Then I ended up lining the bottom of the back run and one side with green garden wire because Ricky can make himself incredibly small when in full rabbit-chase mode. Then, having secured the yard, I spent 4 days just lazing around and popping migraine pills, at which point I realized just how stressed out I’d been over the whole thing.

Now, I’m cleaning the house — one room per day, windows and everything, and then I guess I’ll have to start preparing for school. And so passes another summer.

Did I mention how much I love my fence?

*and on my neighbor’s grass, in places that in no way could be imagined as part of my lot — the electric guy must not have wanted to go back to the office.

**No way I’m wrestling a mower over the fence to trim that area, either. I’m going to kill the grass and next spring plant it with hollyhocks and bee balm.

***In the past, I have ridiculed the seemingly universal male habit of gathering around, say, a balky car engine and pretty much just staring and chatting. Occasionally someone reaches out and wiggles a wire. Then more staring. I still don’t understand this masculine ritual, but hey, it helped put my fence up.


Thoroughly satisfying 4th….

Yesterday was simply lovely. After a leisurely morning, I rode my bike over to a colleague’s house to watch the parade — they’re right on the route (the lakefront) and they have an open house every year on the wonderful front porch of their fabulous craftsman bungalow. I chatted with friends and loved on the hosts’ huge and puppyish yellow Labradoodle, Stella. I took my knitting and during the parade I conquered the tubular cast-on, which I had tried and ripped out two or three times the night before and wanted to learn so I can start a pair of socks. Even though I forgot to bring a scrap of contrasting yarn, I did a beautiful tubular cast-on while (more or less) watching the parade, petting the dog, chatting with friends, and eating chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies.* Truly the knitting foo was strong with me yesterday.

After the parade, I walked up and down the lakefront with some friends, looking at craft booths and hunting funnel cakes. One place was selling some very nifty decorative metal garden poles — whirlygigs, weathervanes, hanging solar lamps, etc. I fell in love with a whirlygig that was so overwrought and tacky it was cool, but the price was prohibitive. There was, however, a purely decorative sunflower that caught my eye, and was quite affordable for my teeny budget….

So after biking home, I got Violet and we drove the car back. Lots of people had brought their dogs and I knew Violet would be well-behaved and would adore the people and excitement and I was right. Lots of people stopped to pet her and ask what kind of dog she was and to generally compliment her happy calm and we both ate that up. And I bought the sunflower, which is now presiding over my new rock garden (pics later).

As if that weren’t enough for a nice holiday, about an hour after I got home, there was a knock on the door. The young couple next door were hosting some of their friends (all former BVU students) for a BBQ and wanted to know if I’d join them in a game of croquet. Of course I would! I even explained some of the baser points of commando-croquet** and the game got pretty wild. I lost, of course, but had a blast. Then we played bocce ball, which I’d never done before, and I was pretty good (but my team still lost). Everyone there was nice and funny and both Violet and Ricky came out for awhile to be cooed over by the girls. Astrid cat had to be chased off after she sauntered across the lawn during bocce ball, almost getting brained (at which she didn’t even flinch, but continued to saunter).

The hosts even asked if I had planned on going to the fireworks, but I told them that I was going to celebrate my independence by reading a novel. Which I did, stretched out in my living room with the bird and the dogs and a lovely breeze wafting through, an icy drink nearby, a more-than-halfway-done rock garden out front graced with a metal sunflower, and fencing materials to be delivered on Monday. My house. I love it.

Yeah, it was a great day.

*Since chocolate chip cookies are neither pure vegetarian nor low fat, they aren’t on my diet, but when you KNOW you’re going to indulge in your yearly funnel cake at some point, such distinctions are pretty meaningless.

**I’m proud to say that the High Desert Commando Croquet Classic, inaugurated at my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party in 1994 and continued yearly by me, Andy, and Kurt over Memorial Day weekends, still goes on in Reno every May, despite the fact that Andy and I have moved on.