Det. Frank Drebin: Is there a ransom note?
Capt. Ed Hocken: Yes. The butler found it. It was tied to this window and thrown into the rock garden.
Police Squad!, "The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand)" (3/18/82)
A few weeks ago my neighbor and I decided to coordinate some of our gardening activities this year. With a little luck it would keep the overall cost down and ensure that both families got lots of produce. She volunteered to start all the seeds during Spring Break (because we were away), so we’re looking at stuff that wants to get planted soon.
Last week S (my neighbor) and I went to the OrangeBoxOfTools to get some landscaping timbers, since I wanted a raised bed for the vegetable garden this year. Keiko is pretty good about staying out of gardens; sometimes I have to train her by using the cheap wire fences for a few weeks. But last year the vegetable garden looked kind of…I don’t know, forlorn, being at ground level and all. Plus, the raised bed helps with moisture retention in the soil and is thereby a bit more water-conservative.
The bed I wanted to build is 16 feet long by 4 feet wide by 9 inches (three timbers) deep, so we needed to get 15 timbers in all, and have the OBOT guy cut three of them in half. My worry was getting these things home, but S said it was no problem, we’d take her truck.
In her parlance, "truck" is a Lexus SUV wagon. It’s got space, but I’m not so sure about this. She swears they’re all going to go in this, and I acquiesce. We go in the Lexus. We get 15 timbers for me, a couple more for her, a bunch of 60d nails (about as big as you can get it before they start calling it a "spike"), and a few odds and ends she needs for the kitchen that she and her husband are renovating. On this particular trip that meant one of those huge buckets of joint compound and a sheet of lattice work.
Here’s an aside: the names of the nails used to be the cost per 100. Thus, a 60d nail would cost sixty cents per 100. The "d" is pronounced "penny" and don’t ask me why. At some point–not that long ago–they simply standardized the names into representing specific sizes. So a nail that used to cost 60 cents per hundred now retails for eighteen cents each.
So here we are, in front of OrangeBoxOfTools, and this is where we discover that even when you put the back seats down, there still isn’t enough room for the timbers. Well, if you have to tie the tailgate down, that’s the way it goes. "No way," she said. "I’m not driving around like that." Now, even if you take side streets all the way (as we do), we’re talking no more than five minutes’ drive altogether. This isn’t a hardship. But for S, where there’s a will there’s a way. For her, the way is pushing the timbers through into the front seat area, and stacking them atop one another. After the first eleven we had to start a second row, which rested on the left side of the top of the passenger seat. The cut ones were much easier, of course; we just tossed ’em into the back area. And the lattice was tied to the roof of the car. We used about 700 miles of twine to tie that sucker down. If we’d attached it crosswise, the car would have actually caught air and taken off like an airplane. Which would have been cool except for the part where the wind would die down and we’d fall like the Neo-Nazis’ Ford Pinto did in The Blues Brothers.
That was last weekend. During the week, S. called around to see whether she could get a decent deal on topsoil. I figured I’d need in the neighborhood of two cubic yards of the stuff, and she needed about half that. She contemplated a lot of different ways of getting it, including buying an entire pallet of bags. But in the end, S got someone to deliver three yards in bulk, dropping it in the alley behind our properties. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I didn’t get all of it into my planting bed before the rains came yesterday. And as you know, there was a LOT of rain. I actually emptied several gallons of water from the wheelbarrow I’ve been using. So at this point, I’m looking at a lot of mud (maybe a half a yard or so) in the alley that still needs to be moved. That stuff is going to be heavy when I get back to it.