How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

 The Week of Corrective Behavior seems to be going quite well around here, considering that I do not take criticism well.  (That is not, you understand, my own assessment.)   

Dearly Beloved  prefers not to be the main character in my musings, a pronouncement  he made after putting  the coffee urn in the fridge and the V-8 juice on the coffeemaker burner.   I shall try to be more circumspect in keeping my more bumptious  prepossessions  under control.  (I love the Dictionary Word of the Day feature. Two more times and this one will be mine, according to my eighth grade English teacher. )

Yesterday, someone in the house pointed out…and rightly so…that if I would put things away when I wasn’t using them, he would be able to squeeze a cereal bowl onto the kitchen table.  Currently it holds my sewing machine, a pile of fabric and notions, my knitting tote bag, and the stack of library books I picked up yesterday.   I always seem to have a “but. . . ”  in these situations.  Someone also suggested that I use too many “BUTS” and should try to correct that. 

“Use AND instead,” he suggested.

I start too many projects before giving enough thought as to the odds of my actually completing these  undertakings.   I flit like a moth among them.   They aren’t just indoor projects either.  My bitten-off-but-unchewed projects extend to the great outdoors.   I don’t go looking for trouble, but I’ll see something that makes me think, “I should be able to do that” and I’m off again.   Having talented, accomplished friends poses a challenge to a flitting moth.

Dirtwom, (yes, it’s spelled right and no, her mother didn’t name her that) has created a lovely garden, a popular site for tours.  My friendship with her is a case in point.  We met when we lived in Tennessee where  she led the Master Gardeners group, worked at the Botanic Gardens, taught water aerobics,  had a retail job and a string of other activities I can’t even remember.  We’d see her, along with Mr. Dirtwom, regularly at baseball games.   She made it all look so easy.  Whenever  I would have occasion to be at her house my eyeballs moved like the old Selectric typewriter ball as I frantically made mental notes of all the things I’d like to try in my own yard.

She fretted about what she saw as the problem of too much hardscape–a double drive and two-car garage facing the street.  To soften this, she placed large planters on either side of the garage doors and planted Dutchman’s Pipe and Five-Finger Akebia vines to grow up a wire and above the top of the doors in a ruffle of green.  The vines were well on their way up the wire when we moved.

The houses in our current neighborhood of beach houses-not-on-the-beach all have stucco walls to hide the garbage bin from street view.   Our house, however,  is situated on the lot so that the garbage can, the utility meters, the sprinkler system panel– the “underwear”  of our house–are still in plain sight of anyone who goes up our neighbor’s front walk.  

When we had our yard re-designed, the landscape people suggested putting a vine on that stucco wall.  It looked bland in  the hot afternoon sun and wasn’t enhanced by the mildewed euonymus growing in front of it.

I remembered Dirtwom’s arrangement.  The woman worked all day and was a regular at baseball games.  How hard could it BE to train a couple of vines?   I went for the idea like a fly on dog poo.

The crew put in a few screws to hold the  wires and although they couldn’t find Dutchman’s Pipe, they planted an Akebia vine and jumped back as it began its march up the wall.  To hide our underwear from the neighbor’s house, they installed a wrought iron trellis at a right angle to the wall so that the vine could sweep around. 

Let me explain further:  Just  the name of the plant attracted me.  It’s a Japanese plant–Akebia quinata–with five “fingers” in its leaf pattern.  There is also Akebia trifoliata which has only three fingers.   We’d gotten our Japanese dog, an Akita while we lived  in Tennessee,  I’d learned of this plant in Tennessee, so that meant I could remember the NAME of that plant.  If that’s not enough, it’s common name is Chocolate Vine.  Think I’m apt to forget that one?  The signs were all  there.

The planting was an overwhelming success, meaning, that by the second season the vine had long broken all the wires but one and sagged heavily in the middle.  By the third year, wires didn’t matter anyhow, since it had already  grown up and over the the wall at the corners and was gobbling up the trellis on the side.   The fourth season I kept having to pull it out of the sprinkler control box and un-entwine it from the  meters.  The bumptious  (once more and it’s mine) vine took over the espaliered pyracantha and grabbed hold of the screen door at the side of the garage.   Garbage collectors had to fight it for the can. 

Dirtwom didn’t just “happen” to encapsulate hers in a planter, did she?!  One little overlooked detail. . . !  Don’t you hate it when that happens?!

When we drove into the driveway this trip, one long vine waved sassily to us from at least two feet above its perch atop our tall blue juniper, a gesture I found obscene.   It was reaching for the chaste tree in an attempt to cut us off completely from that side of the yard, its treachery having no bounds. 


 Armed with two pairs of bypass pruners only because I don’t carry six-shooters,  I tackled  that monster and cut it down to the ground.  At that point I found so many creepers running along the base of the wall that had they been electrical  wires, they could  power  Tokyo.  Couldn’t pull them out, couldn’t  dig them out.  Project now under delay for an indefinite period.

Dearly Beloved had looked perplexed when he saw what I was doing.  

“Why are you doing that?”  he asked casually from his perch on the neighbor’s fence. 

“LOOK AT IT!!!  I HAD to!  The cars were next! “

He shrugged.  “I liked it.”

HONESTLY!  Sometimes that man can be a real AND-HEAD!!! 

It ate the training wires years ago and swung freely.
It ate the training wires years ago and swung freely.
It not only hid the garbage can, it roofed the whole area.
It not only hid the garbage can, it roofed the whole area.
It wasn't about to give up without a fight.
It wasn't about to give up without a fight.
Entering through the side door was quite difficult.
Entering through the side door was quite difficult.



Was someone here in MANAGEMENT???
Was someone here in MANAGEMENT???
The Akebia's bumptious (TA DAH!) impulses curbed, temporarily anyway.
The Akebia's bumptious (TA DAH!) impulses curbed, temporarily anyway.











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