“Which do you like better?” I ask. “Mucking out the barn and shopping for drawer pulls?”

“That question can’t be answered. You can’t put an “and” in the middle of an “or” question.”

“Yes. I know that. I am an English major, remember.”

“Who didn’t graduate,” Larry whispers. If I could change the font on this blog, I’d type that in tiny little letters to indicate sotto voce. “I heard that,” I say. “I was tying to make a point that we have to do both, and the funny thing is, we’d both rather muck out the barn, which . . .”

We are driving home from San Diego and are tired. Been at “Adult Band Camp,” or I have, that is. Larry, dear kind Larry just schlepps me here and there on banjo related stuff and we drive because I REALLY hate to fly, which, of course, is the only way a person or persons should travel to Adult Band Camp.

We are snappish. I’m sullen, to be more accurate. We don’t exactly have the same priorities, and I’ve been going on about improving the soil in the orchard. “We have to till in the clover, it’s green manure and we shouldn’t use those commercial nitrogen fertilizers because, and . . .”

What Larry hears is that I propose to till under the clover we lovingly planted this fall. Greening now, baby clover and she wants to just grind it up? And we’re going to rake the clumps again by hand? Don’t you remember how hard that was? The soil is just fine for the trees.

“I’ll do the raking myself, then,” I say, and sink back into my seat. Watch the Imperial Valley go by. Dead trees because there’s no water. Acres of newly planted trees. What’s going on?

But time passed, and yesterday, we spent the day working in the barn. I drove the tractor back and forth, impatient to actually try it outside. The new fence is up and it looks, well, see for yourselves:


Of course, everyone has problems. Bad Bob was at it again:


Dead battery. Fortunately, Matt, Fence Guy, was there with his truck and although it’s embarrassing to have to ask (what are these people doing with a tractor if they can’t even keep their truck running?) Matt was able to help.

Therefore, we were able to drive down to Shonnards and enquire about spraying the orchard trees with copper sulfate. It’s approved for use for organic fruit. “When should be be spraying?”

“Now!” says Shonnards. “But not until you’ve pruned. You’ve pruned, haven’t you?”

Well, no. But we were just going to. Absolutely. Get right on it. We do have the pruning book we acquired at pruning class last spring, so we will study it when we get back to Portland, and hope it won’t be too late for spraying. In the meantime, I bought a pressure pump and a little pot of the copper sulfate concentrate.

“How many trees do you have?”


“You’re going to need a back-pack sprayer. When you’re up on a ladder . . .” Um, no. They’re DWARF trees, and if there are any ladders in the picture, Paul-the-Godsend, or similar, will be wearing the back-pack.

Larry has been waiting in the parking lot, engine running, and winces when he sees me arrive with the new equipment. “Look,” I say. “Why don’t we just say that I’ll be in charge of the orchard. You can mow and saw and fell and split and other manly stuff.”

“You’re the one who decapitated the first apple tree,” he says. “You need me.” Of course, he’s right.

Today, we shopped for drawer pulls. Ugh. “We are not going home until we have picked out every single pull and knob and faucet and shower head.” Somehow, we got it done.

We both prefer barn-mucking.