Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A box, a shovel, and an enthused nerd

I am fickle about a lot of things: cats, capers, coconut, and clowns to cover just the C’s. On any given day, I could love or hate them. There is always one thing, however, I find forever amusing and endearing in an “Aw, shucks, here we go again/now THIS is why I love this boy” sort of way: Matt’s endless, and seemingly boundless, list of new hobbies. That, and his amazing head of ridiculous hair, is what drew me in, and his kindness and nerd-tastic ways are why I married him (thus my “Nerds Make Better Lovers” hoodie I sport).

He is an ebullient explorer of our world, whereas I’m a hardened cynic. “Shut UP!” I’ll screech at full tilt as he practices his Mongolian throat singing, and he’ll happily bounce into the next room and practice for the next half hour until he’s ready to regale Penny and I with a concert. Our expression is half bemusement and half nervousness that someone walking by will hear.

I play the role of cheerleader tempered with a dose of the rational: “Fine, you can juggle those pins in the house but no, you’re NOT getting juggling knives, no matter how ‘dull’ you purport they are,” and “You want to build a giant MAME cabinet?! Fine, do what you want – but keep that thing out of my living room!”

At any given time, Matt has four to five ideas swimming around in his head, and I have no idea which one will emerge victorious. A few years ago we visited an aviation museum where Matt, wide-eyed and gape-mouthed, learned there are “Build-Your-Own-Helicopter” (as in full-size, person on board) kits. He mentioned it would be the perfect hobby for retirement. As a person who is scared to board a 757, I’m am still bracing for that one.

So I was delighted (DELIGHTED!) when last year he started showing interest in gardening – square foot gardening, to be exact (I love food, and anything involving food I take instant delight in). Square Foot Gardening is a method coined by Mel Bartholomew, whom I think Matt has a very ardent man-crush on (see the post a year back when I detailed his man-crush on David Brooks, which still has me scratching my head). Matt owns two of Mel's books and abides by Mel's teachings by building - to spec - two 4'x4' boxes that are roped off in 1' squares. In each square my husband plants a different vegetable (those truly worthy vegetables get a few squares).

Now, gardening is a huge step up in terms of usefulness compared to most of his hobbies (think unicycling, tight-rope walking, and his lucid dreaming quest, and yes, he partakes in all three). I was positively euphoric when he started buying seeds, and only slightly less enthusiastic when he spent more time with his seeds upstairs than with me or the dog. You see, the boy had to grow his veggies from seeds and nurse the seedlings. He did this in our spare bedroom upstairs and spent the latter part of the winter monitoring them nightly. He'd emerge, sullen, an hour later muttering things like, "I'm worried about my broccoli." (And yes, its comments like this that sort of make me swoon.)

But then things got ugly. He plucked those big, wooden boxes down on our large - and very open - side yard that faces the street and several of our neighbors' homes. I'm a big proponent of saying I don't care what people think, but of course I secretly do. When we first moved into the house I approached one of our neighbors who was gardening. They have a stunning yard fit for Home & Garden and HGTV. The first, and only, thing she said to me, with her nose upright and her lips pursed, was "That's quite a yard you have to take care of," and turned back to her weeding. The comment was thick with condescension but because I am a sophisticated lady (cough) I waited until I was a few yards away to whisper "bitch". That's just how I roll.

Three years later I still haven't spoken to that neighbor, although, along with several neighbors, we did have the privilege of receiving a note in our mailbox asking us to keep the noise down and not mow our grass because she was having a party one Sunday. If I was the person I WISH I was I would have certainly turned on the mower for a quick minute or two just to freak her out a little. Instead I told Matt not to mow on Saturday.

Back to the gardening boxes: I was okay with them (a bit clench-fisted, but okay), until Matt decided a few things: first, we needed to erect a fence around the boxes so the deer wouldn't eat the garden. Fine. Now, secondly (notice how he's strategically doing this in small steps) he said the beans need a trellis and built something akin to a soccer net on the boxes. It is white and stark and looks like a poor man's sports equipment. I was not thrilled. In fact, I ordered him to take them down.

Unfortunately, he's putting them back up this weekend.

But he's just so damn cute and earnest about this gardening thing, I can't say no. So, back off, neighbor - we're doing some square foot gardening here.

(Photos of his foray into gardening to come.)


  1. Matt, You need pea brush., it's all there, with videos. Kathryn and the hoity toity neighbor will love it. But Martha can't help with the doors eating the garden, although I'm sure she can opine about deer. MONG

  2. Hopefully, Matt has the lettuce,peas,onions in by now. Tomatoes in 3 weeks DONG

  3. Well, he has no "pea bush" but his beans are looking spectacular!