A few LA Times visitors sent me mail. Many of them wanted to know how to get to The Booth. The following exchange was too good not to share.
Reader: I don't have 4 wheel drive, so can I go anyway? It seems as if I should try. Or maybe NOT!!!!
Me: (Stuff about 4WD vs 2WD snipped) But hey, if you get stuck you just keep walking to The Booth to call Triple A -- and then try to explain where you are ... and why.
Reader: Thanks for the advice, but I'll pass on the trip. P.S. I could use my cell phone to call AAA.
"Honey? Can you pull the rest of those bushes out of the front bed?" With such innocent words are the wheels of destruction set in motion.
Beth's been on a rampage over the last couple of days, hacking down and then pulling up all the bushes in the bed lining the front of the house. I was all for it -- it was bound to make the place look better (it did) and somebody other than me was doing it. I have to give that type of situation Two Thumbs Up! Unfortunately, there were a few leftovers when she was finished -- bush trunks she couldn't get out on her own -- so of course it fell to me to get them. Hence the quote we opened with.
With my home improvement history and last week's bush-pulling debacle at Tim's house, I think you all can see where this is going, can't you? Oh, It's even better than that: this time I used an ax.
There were two clumps of... well, bush trunk or root or whatever you want to call it. Basically, two leftovers that simply would not come out of the ground. I weighed my options: Call Tim and his winch to come over and yank the entire bed halfway across the street, dynamite, or hack 'em out with an ax. I opted for the ax. In retrospect, I think maybe I should have tried the dynamite.
Did I mention that there's a water pipe cutting through the middle of the bed? Some schmuck extended the pipe about two feet out from the wall so they could put a faucet on the outer wall of the bed. Not too bright, sez me. What do you do in a flowerbed? Dig. What do you not want to put six inches below the surface where there's going to be digging? A pipe.
Have I set the stage sufficiently for you? A pipe in a flowerbed, a bush that won't come up, a klutz with an ax. All the elements were there for a Chuck-style disaster -- and an entry!
The first bush came out pretty easily. I hacked away at it for about ten minutes and it finally gave up the ghost. The second one? A little more work. I hacked. I whacked. I tried levering it out with a shovel. Broke the shovel, snapped the handle right at the head. Hacked and whacked some more. It was disintegrating, slowly but surely, but it wouldn't come out. At all.
Through all this I was painfully aware of the danger. Me, Mr. Home Improvement, whose every project ends with bloodshed, wielding an ax. I had fears of losing a finger, or maybe a toe, or since this was me doing it, maybe even a limb. But I pushed on, because what else can you do? You can't let your fears rule you, right?
I was also hyperaware of the pipe, especially with the first bush, which was right next to it. Every time I swung the ax. I thought to myself "Don't hit the pipe." Every time I put it down to wipe away the sweat, I thought "Don't hit the pipe." I chanted it a little as I worked, sort of a 90's gospel for klutzes: "Don't hit the pipe." And miracle of miracles, I didn't hit the pipe.
Until I was done.
I'd finally killed the last bush. I hadn't lost a finger or toe. Nobody had been hurt, no blood had been spilled, nothing had gone wrong except for breaking a cheap shovel. I'll admit it, I was pleased. I thought a corner had been turned. My unlucky streak was over.
Then I swung the ax one final time, to bury the head in the dirt, where I figured I'd leave it until after I'd washed up. Burying the head right in, you guessed it, the pipe.
Corner turned? Streak broken? Huh uh. I still got it.