Desideratum’s Doggie Dish by Janet I Buck
When we bought a new home and cleared up any misunderstandings about who owned the bedroom closet, it was time to tackle the job of landscaping the backyard. The one thing we absolutely agreed upon was the concept of “low maintenance,” so we ordered six piles of bark and enough gravel to pave the Oregon Trail and make it accessible to those of us who think hiking and communing with nature is for idiots and ground squirrels. When it came to decorative choices, I left it up to my better half, since he was, I must admit, a veritable trooper each time I insisted upon moving the furniture around the living room until it learned to walk of its own accord.
I vetoed any suggestions of pink flamingos and that tacky plastic green carpet, but we did concur on the purchase of a few “decorative” rocks and an electric fence that was programmed to fry stray cats, tax collectors, and anyone who might be somebody’s mother-in-law (and not necessarily in that order). Rock shopping is, I must say, a little over-rated as a national pastime, unless your partner in crime knows how to spell “carat” and use a Visa card, but I acquiesced and went along for the ride. Since I didn’t make him take a hammer and chisel to one of those innocent cliffs up the road a piece, he was basking in the warm glow of matrimonial bliss. We ordered three pretty large lava jobs, because as rocks go they had some interesting texture and enough holes to make great coasters for a six-pack of empty beer cans on a windy day. Since backyards and power tools are a man’s domain, I retreated to my study when the delivery truck arrived. I should have raised my eyebrows a bit when I heard the orgasmic sound of an earthquake, but when I sit down to write, the only thing that stops me in mid-sentence is the sound of someone slipping a spoon in my last gallon of Dryer’s Vanilla, so I stayed put.
A half hour later, I went out to the kitchen for some coffee and realized that Mount St. Helens had just delivered a baby in our backyard; on second thought, make that twins. Now we’re not talking a little over-sized here; we’re not talking big here; we’re talkin’ Gibraltar, Stonehenge, and enough cement to re-pave all four lanes of a federal highway stretching from the northern tip of Alaska to the Mexican border.
I said, “Honey, these aren’t the ones we ordered; can’t we take them back?” That’s rather like putting The Queen Mary in your bathtub and expecting it to do a right about face in the middle of a thunderstorm. It simply can’t be done. While I believe in miracles and “moving mountains,” this one was a little out of my league. Despite the indisputable fact that moving furniture is every woman’s God-given right, you just don’t scoot twelve tons of granite six inches to the right, to the left, and back again so it’s perfectly centered under a window sill, unless of course you’re giving directions from a porta-phone at the other end of the state.
After he filled in the moats the delivery truck made in our next-door neighbor’s yard, my eternally optimistic other half said: “On the bright side, at least we won’t have any more weeds popping up, because if we can’t squeeze a credit card between the house and the back fence, those suckers aren’t going anywhere.” He had me on that one. I did say, “Honey, I know I’ve mentioned more than once that I’d like a decent-sized ‘rock,’ but you didn’t have to remove the kitchen, the bedroom, and the local mall to get it.” I’ve spent a good many years polishing my proclivity for making a “mountain out of a mole hill,” and now he goes and takes the wind out of my sails: I can make a fairly substantial fuss when I set my mind to it, but you just can’t top Mt. Everest sitting dead center in the middle of the backyard. When we put the house up for sale, I think I’ll write the ad myself and without even a smidgen of guilt: “Rock-bottom deal! Two hundred square feet of living space and an absolutely majestic view of the mountains right outside the bedroom window. If Saturday night sex gets dull, you can always go rappelling.” Then we’ll sell the place by the pound.
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