Around the Bend: Thorough job cuts into leisure time

<p>When it comes to projects around the yard, my husband Mark has an annoying habit of doing things in what I call “the hard way” — or what other people might call “the right way.”</p><p>He refuses to admit this is a problem. He insists it’s reasonable to draw up detailed plans, gather the proper materials and tools for the job, and take the time to make the project look good and last a long time.</p><p>There’s no reasoning with him.</p><p>Because of his compulsion to work in a methodical fashion, he bristles at my casual approach. When I throw something together and say, “That looks good from a distance,” or “That’ll hold if the wind doesn’t blow too hard,” he glares at me and clenches his precious tape measure until his knuckles turn white. </p><p>It happened this past weekend, in fact. I had intended to put in 30 baby strawberry plants — a Mother’s Day gift — using my standard gardening method: Hack a divot into our rock-hard Addison County clay, stick the plants in, say a prayer over them and let them fight it out against the weeds.</p><p>But Mr. Perfect, naturally, had a “better” idea: building raised beds. Fine. I figured we could nail up some scrap boards into rough rectangles, lay them on a spare patch of ground and dump some dirt in them. We could start after breakfast Saturday and be finished and back on the porch by 10 o’clock for a late-morning cup of coffee.</p><p>But in Mark-speak, “building raised beds” meant more. Much more.</p><p>He had all kinds of radical notions, such as that the beds should be set in a sunny, south-facing location that had been leveled and cleared of weeds, boulders and rusty tricycles. The beds should be well constructed, of uniform size and spaced evenly and parallel. And they should be filled with premium topsoil to give the strawberries a good chance of surviving, even thriving. </p><p>When he gets carried away like this, it’s best just to humor him. So Saturday morning we spent several hours sorting through a huge pile of scrap lumber to find just the right boards, which Mark cut to exact lengths with the precision of a scientist.</p><p>As he checked and rechecked his measurements, I mentioned something about “just eyeballing it” to save time. He glared at me. When I said the strawberries would grow even if the beds measured 36 inches wide at one end and 36.25 inches at the other, he squeezed his tape measure hard and gritted his teeth.</p><p>He then assembled the frames, screwing them together in a manner that assured no man, beast or atom bomb would ever put them asunder.</p><p>Next, we started the groundwork, which entailed a lot of tractor driving, shoveling and heavy lifting. This continued until dark and started up again first thing Sunday morning.</p><p>At that point — nearly 24 hours after I had begun losing interest in the entire undertaking — we began setting the four raised beds in place and loading them with topsoil. Mark hummed a tune, apparently thinking we were having fun, unaware that real fun involves little or no shoveling.</p><p>The work went on all day, finally ending when we planted the last strawberries well after sundown. The falling darkness emphasized why I hate to do things the right way: It cuts into your leisure time.</p><p>I went back to work Monday sunburned and tired, complaining that I had wasted my whole weekend working with Mark on a project I could have slapped together in a couple of hours. A coworker pointed that instead of feeling resentful, I should be grateful that Mark had taken the time to create attractive and durable structures that would provide us with years of healthy strawberry crops.</p><p>I guess I felt a little gratitude.</p><p>I got home and was grudgingly admiring the sturdiest raised beds in the state when Mark joined me. I said, “You did a wonderful job on these. But I’m sure glad this project is finally done.”</p><p>“Not quite,” he said. “Next, we have to mulch the beds and the pathways.” </p><p>I sighed. When translated from Mark-speak, it didn’t mean “Grab a shovel, we’ll be done in 15 minutes.” </p><p>It meant, “You can kiss another weekend goodbye.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100