Monday, March 14, 2011

Latest Addition to the Garden

When I started this blog I promised myself it would be about the garden, writing and Art Web. Family and kid type stuff would have to stay in the land of Facebook. But sometimes there are strong crossovers. My gardening and writing attempts have become part of our daily lives, so bear with me.

This weekend my husband Ed and I celebrated our 11th anniversary by building a grape arbor for the garden. We have been talking about this for a long time but the project didn't come to life until we found the right material. Split cedar pony rails satisfied his need for clean lines and structure but were rustic enough for me.

My choice of materials gave Ed some trouble because the rails have a bit of twist in them. But he added another set of horizontal lines at the top to distract the eye from the wonky north post. I love it. The effect looks a bit like a Japanese shinto arch. It does a nice job of transitioning between our square vinyl village house and my hodge podge garden with its fence woven from tree trimmings

Yes, I know I'll have to wait three years for the grape vines to mature. I'm ok with that. Each year the Garden of Good Intentions has become a larger part of our lives and I like that its starting to tie in with the rest of the yard. I also like that every year I see more and more tomato cages popping up between landscaping plants in our neighborhood. Craving a few pieces of fresh produce from your own yard is no longer such an eccentric idea.

The arbor was a fun project. We didn't really have a plan. Just five pony rails, a post hole digger and a three day weekend. Ed still needs to climb the ladder with the chainsaw (eek) and trim the tops. I have to build the screens for the sides so the arbor also provides some privacy and looks good until the vines mature. But it was fun solving a puzzle together.

I think this is what makes Ed one of the first readers I turn to. We are used to solving problems together. But the problems that parenting and family life bring have stress with them. So its nice to work on an issue that has no baggage like crooked lumber and uneven ground in the garden or wonky plot lines in the writing.

Random garden whimsy picture - is it a pea trellis or a camel?
Matching the right reader with the right phase of the text is important. At the beginning of Billington Ed was enthusiastic and encouraging. But hearing about the text every day burned him out as a reader. It wasn't that he didn't want to help or didn't care. He just couldn't keep track of all the changes and was inundated with the text.

We came up with a simple solution for reader fatigue. Ed only reads manuscripts on Sunday morning. I'll make him a pot of cafe con leche and he gets to sleep in. When he wakes up there is a manuscript and a red pen waiting for him.

This has worked out great for both of us. It gives me little self imposed deadlines that keep the text moving and it keeps him from going snow blind to the work.

Writers need readers. But we need to be careful and nurture those brave rough draft readers.

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