Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Phantom or Decapitator?

All afternoon I’ve been hearing the high-pitched whine of phantom hedge trimmers and racing to the window only to see a FedEx truck or a rattletrap Chevelle speed off into the distance and not--as I had hoped--Bob the Tulip Decapitator and his earthly hedge trimmer. All this to-ing and fro-ing did not do wonders for my new high-efficiency plan, as you might imagine.

Some background: For about a month, I’ve been planning to do something about the 25-foot Little Shop of Horrors-style hedge in our backyard. I’ve been dithering and dithering about it, because l half-wittedly planted a bunch of perennials very close to the base of the hedge, which consequently makes it difficult for anyone to trim the hedge without tromping on the plants. Anyone but me, of course. Only I, Rozanne, would be capable of placing the ladder so that it didn’t slice through the center of a foxglove or smoosh an emergent delphinium. And only I, Rozanne, would be capable of collecting the bushels and bushels of trimmings without trampling every other plant in the garden in the process. So I borrowed a hedge trimmer from a friend and promptly did nothing.

On Saturday, I finally forced myself to tackle the onerous task and recruited B to help. I think it is safe to say that B and I are not cut out by nature to handle these sorts of jobs. A) We have two ladders--one that is too short and another that is too tall. B) The borrowed hedge trimmer was a garage sale special that probably still had its original blade (circa 1978). C) B found my “slash and slash again” technique to be unnerving and ineffective. D) I found B’s “slice, dismount, and survey your handiwork from a distance” technique to be maddening and slow.

After about 45 minutes, we gave up. I called the guy who cuts our lawn, Bob the Tulip Decapitator--so named because he gets a little overzealous with the edger. Obviously, he was not going to meet my standards for plant coddling, but the hedge has gotten so plump and tall that it is blotting out the sun and shielding the plants from the rain. Something had to be done. The Decapitator told me he would come by today to trim it, no problem, since he was going to do our neighbors' hedges anyway. Perfect!

Last night I had the genius idea that I could cover the emerging plants with old plastic nursery pots (I knew I was keeping them for some reason) and thus protect them from the wrath of the Decapitator. This morning I looked out the window at about 10:00 AM and there he was, in a cloud of smelly gray exhaust, sculpting the neighbors' azaleas. I love it when people show up when they say they will!

So eager was I to get the whole thing over with that I dropped what I was doing and went out to tell him that all was ready. He told me he needed to finish up with the neighbors and then he’d ring my bell and we could discuss it.* I went back to work. Around noon, I went to the kitchen for lunch to find that the Decapitator had vanished. How could that be? Well, maybe he just went to get lunch. I tried to concentrate on work, but I kept being interrupted by phantom hedge trimmers, which made it very difficult to stay put and focus.

I know it sounds ridiculous to flip out about something this trivial. Clearly I must be a little bit psycho, but I cannot stand waiting for people to arrive, especially if I don’t even know if they are going to show up. It unhinges me. It’s all to do with being in control of my time. I have things to do and places to be! I need to be able to schedule my time as far in advance as possible, and thus it is essential that I know when people are going to arrive, preferably to the hour, minute, and second. I can’t just sit here waiting on an errant Tulip Decapitator! Actually, I did need to just sit here and concentrate and work, but still. I couldn’t focus properly until I knew that that hedge was being dealt with, because I want it over and done with so I can get going with my spring garden tasks and plans. Time is the tyrant!

The real problem here is not that I’m a control freak, though I am. The real problem is that all the Decapitator would have had to do was ring my doorbell and say, “You know what? I’m not going to be able to trim your hedge today. How about tomorrow?” Or Friday or next Monday? Just communicate a bit. Is that too much to ask?**

*What’s to discuss? Isn’t hedge trimming pretty straightforward? No. It is not. I needed to give specific instructions (I’m a Virgo), and I wanted to be sure that he understood that I would do all the clean up.

** I ended up calling him at about 4:00 PM. He had a perfectly good excuse that I would have readily accepted and that would have dispelled all phantom hedge trimmers and allowed me to work in an efficient manner. I now have a vague promise that the hedge will be trimmed by the end of the week. I’m trying hard to be Zen about that.


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