Category Archives: Lexington-Today

Funeralville II

I’ve been watching parts of various stages of President Bush’s funeral over the last few days.

I have wept a bit for a man and a family I did not particularly admire.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

Maybe I was moved by the fact that he was my President. He was the President of my United States, duly and fairly elected by my US countrymen. He was not inserted in the White House by gangsters from another country. That’s a good reason, but not a particularly high standard.

Maybe I was moved by his family life and his faithful devotion to the singular partner of his life. That’s another good reason, but not a historically high standard.

Maybe I was moved by President Bush’s volunteering for military duty at the age of eighteen in defiance of his parents’ college plans for him, at a moment in history when the rightness of our country’s military activities seemed clear and the success of those activities were far from clear. It was no time for bone spurs.

Maybe I was moved by President Bush’s advocacy for the rights of, and his lack of mockery of the disabled. I mean, who would do that?

Maybe it was simply the passing of a man more competent, more dutiful, more loyal, and perhaps kinder than I will ever be…
…but then…
I’m not President.

<< snort! >>

Can you imagine?

Electing someone President who’s not more competent, more dutiful, more loyal, and kinder than you are yourself? What would be the point of that?

That would be enough to make you cry…
…or resist.

An Opera House…in Kentucky?

You Can't Take It 10It would have been about 1:00 in the afternoon on a weekday in 1970…
…in an opera house…
…in Lexington, Kentucky.

Why was I there?

Was it to see a production of Carmen, or Madama Butterfly, or Rigoletto?

Nah!

I was there for the weekday bargain matinée at the Opera House Movie House on a fairly sketchy block of North Broadway. For a $1.50 I was settling in for a cinema mini-festival of the Barbra Streisand/Jack Nicholson classic; On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (she sang, he didn’t…thank God) followed by Waterloo featuring Rod Steiger and Christopher Plummer in the mud (neither sang as I recall…thank God).

The theme of this film pairing is strikingly apparent; tedious films employing and contrasting singing and cannon fire as mediums for selling a ticket or two…and maybe a tub of Buttercup Popcorn.

Frankly, I don’t recall much of the afternoon that was indelible in an uplifting way. I recall a long afternoon of affordable and forgettable flicks. I recall dimness, not just in the screening room, but in the lobby (skimping on lighting – a double savings; lower electric bills and less spent on actual housekeeping). I recall passing on the Buttercup offerings; the dim lighting couldn’t obscure the sharp, refinery whiff emanating from the butter(?)-dispensing mechanism. I recall the occasional skittering noises of the legendary rodent cleaning crew in the dark rows of the screening room celebrating the discarded remains of the Buttercup offerings.

Hey!
Buck fifty.
Two films.
You get what you pay for.
Plus Yves Montand and Ivo Garrano…and Mickey and Jerry (without Tom).

Well…that was then.
Eight years later, at age 27, I’m playing the 70+ year old Grandpa in Studio Players’ production of You Can’t Take It With You on the Opera House stage – same building. The seats are new. The balconies and boxes are gilded and populated with Lexington theater-goers. The lights are bright. The lobby, halls, staircases, carpets, and aisles are proudly pristine. No Buttercup products are in sight (or in smell).

What happened?

In the 70’s, the Opera House was attacked by ice storms, gravity, and old age. The wrecking ball loomed.
The city of Lexington and a group called The Opera House Fund said “No.”
A serious architect, and a serious Lexington, and a serious Opera House Fund (thank you Linda Carey and W. T. Young) redesigned and restored the structure – not to a museum roadside attraction, but to a thriving driver of Central Kentucky’s performing arts community.

A year after the success of You Can’t Take It With You, I played a deliciously young and foolish Cornelius in Studio Player’s production of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker in a Saturday afternoon performance to 54 (count ‘em!) attendees in a house that seats about a thousand. Another fairly grim afternoon in the Opera House, but at least the grimness was in striving for something good, not in hygiene or affordability.

I should mention here that in both of these shows I got to work with my friend Paul Thomas. Paul has retired a myriad of times from the teaching profession and is now the House Manager of the Opera House. I believe the Opera House muckety-mucks value his participation, but are unaware that his best and highest use is ON-stage, not off. Such is fickle fame.

In 1981, I urged everyone to “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” in Lexington Musical Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls. This was a notable production for Paul’s vocal exploration of musical scales of which Schoenberg never dreamed.

In 1982, Paul and I played in Brigadoon, also for Lexington Musical Theatre. Paul demonstrated a technique for holding a gun that the NRA is still trying to explain and justify.

Both of these edifying experiences were on the Opera House stage.

In 1987, I had the totaling fulfilling experience of playing Dr. Watson to my friend Eric Johnson’s Sherlock Holmes in the world premiere of my friend Chuck Pogue’s luscious script; The Ebony Ape, on the Opera House stage in an Actor’s Guild production. A two-story set, perfect and beautiful costumes, Fred Foster, Julieanne Pogue, Martha Campbell, Rick Scircle, Matt Regan…a glorious time for Mrs. Leasor’s little boy.

This was also on the Opera House stage…thank you very much.

A year later, in The King and I (a Lexington Musical Theatre production directed by my friend, Ralph Pate), Janie and I appeared in our one and only show together. She was lithe and lovely. I was…not so much, but I got to sing some beautiful songs for which I was not particularly suited (not, alas, an uncommon occurrence).

This was also on the Opera House stage. Sorry…but look at Janie! Isn’t she fine?

Carousel 01Now…
…skip ahead with me to 2006.

I’m asked to play the Star Keeper in the University of Kentucky Opera Theater’s production of Carousel at (you guessed it) the Opera House.

Well, I guess I could.

I walk out on the Opera House stage, count the stars – the stars!– , revive the protagonist and inspire him to return to life and assure his daughter that she’ll “Never Walk Alone.”

Whoa.

This is a far cry from 1970 and Waterloo and…

“On a clear day, rise and look around you and you’ll see who you are.
On a clear day, how it will astound you that the glow of your being outshines every star.
You’ll be part of every mountain, sea, and shore.
You can hear from far and near the words you’ve never heard before.”



Well…
…maybe…
…not so far.

Election Night, 2016

I remember Election Night 2016…searingly.

It was to be a coronation of Hillary Clinton, and a continuation of progress made over the previous eight years.

Ms. Clinton, perhaps, had not run the most inspiring campaign. She kept it civil. She didn’t lie every day. She kept it smart. She didn’t rely on help from a foreign country – a 70-year sworn enemy of the US.

Could she have done more? I guess you can always find more to do, but at the time, it seemed enough.

President Obama had not delivered on 100% of all we hoped. He had only provided health care for millions, prevented a banking meltdown, reversed the worst recession of my lifetime, hunted down the mind behind 9/11, sparked hope in my LBGTQ neighbors, and gave us eight years of no war and no scandal.

Could he have done more? I guess you can always find more to do, but at the time, it seemed enough.

Besides, look at the opposing candidate. The US would never elect someone who;

– Lied every day – about things large and small.
– Mocked the afflicted.
– Hid his tax returns after promising to release them.
– Lied every day – about things large and small.
– Selected a Vice –Presidential running mate that did not believe in evolution.
– Paid women to hide extra-marital affairs. The plural used to be superfluous but the bar has been seriously lowered.
– Lied every day – about things large and small.
– Referred to refugees from Mexico as rapists.
– Spoke of his primary opponent (from the same party, mind you) as having an ugly wife and a father who conspired to assassinate Kennedy.
– Lied every day – about things large and small.

And the US didn’t elect such a person.

But…
Part of the US did…the part that voted.

I watched that evening in November, 2016 with slack-jawed disbelief as John King on CNN puzzled over inexplicable returns from the Panhandle of Florida.

As Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin returns came in, it became clear what the eventual electoral outcome would be and the dread set in. Within six hours we had moved from being on the verge of a golden age of progress towards a world of our parents’ (The Greatest Generation) dreams to a possible end of the greatest experiment of democracy the world has known and a naked plundering of the nation’s treasure and ideals.

Much of my adult life has been spent being a manager of people, locations, money, time, and products. When crises emerge, they are challenges to be met and fixed. Thus, my first thought was; “How do we fix this?”

The next morning, as Janie learned of the results, the look on her face flickered from disbelief to fear to “Whose ass do I need to kick about this?”

That day and the next, I talked young people off the ledge. I had met them during rehearsals for RAGTIME with UK Opera Theater a couple of months before. They were excited about casting their first presidential votes. Now they were crushed.

It was a tough holiday season.

A friend who voted for Clinton openly wept at our dinner table.
Another friend, a teacher, a lifelong Republican, for the first time in his life declined to vote at all rather than vote for this choice of candidates. He was dismal and lousy company – pondering retirement and slouching towards hermitude (I don’t think that’s really a word, but it’s accurate).
One acquaintance had voted Green. A guiltier aspect I have never seen on a human being, though I do remember a similar look on Lilly, my former dog, when confronted with a seriously compromised Birkenstock sandal.

Since his inauguration, Mr. Trump has done little to ameliorate the fear and much to exacerbate it…and doesn’t seem to care.

All along the way, Mr. Barr has abetted Mr. Trump, with his votes and with his silence.

How do we begin to fix this?

In Kentucky, in 2018, we can deprive Mr. Trump of Mr. Barr’s vote and his permissive silence.

Plus, we can replace him with a bright, energetic Kentucky voice, who seems less interested in party affiliation and personal power than doing what’s right for the country.

Yes, I’ll be voting on Tuesday.
Yes, I’ll be voting for Lt. Col. (Ret.) Amy McGrath.
And yes, I’ll be voting for her replacement in 2020 if she can’t meet expectations.

That’s how we begin to fix things.

I’m old. I fear we will not be able to repair the damage done in the last 21 months to the environment, to our world leadership, to our security, and to our civility in my lifetime, and yes, I’m bitter about that.

But the old hippie in me growls we must begin.

We begin on Tuesday.

Whoop!

Linden House

We had a houseful last night thanks to Janie.

Janie lives for Halloween. She likes me pretty well, and she adores Chloe, her pup, but she lives for Halloween.

The house is filthy with skeletons; human, rats, cats, and avian. Most of the bones twinkle, glow, and/or make noise. Any drawer, door, or toilet seat screams or plays Wagner. The shower is defended by knife-wielding shadows. Books on shelves shuffle…by themselves. Doormats screech – witch’s hats flutter (be careful, they’ll putcher eye out).

It’s a feast of shrimp and sausage and potatoes and onions and eye of toad and hair of newt (whatever a newt is)…and a cornbread to die for (and you may – but hey, it’s Halloween)…and yes, a gluten-free-but-what’s-use-in-living version of cornbread which everyone tells me is wonderful and I believe them…from a distance.

And then there’s the passing of Janie’s Treat Cat Box. You must reach into the razor-toothed mouth of the cat to get your treat – an unforgivable cruelty to inflict upon a guest assembly that has lived through Jaws and Banksy’s “Girl With a Balloon”. But it’s a foolish and brave group who’ve swilled more than a bit ‘o bourbon, and chardonnay, and prosecco, and cabernet; all of which are notorious courage-boosters.

And so the giant punch-balloons, and eyeball-rings, and head-syringes, and bloody saws, are deployed and depleted and, since thankfully no one requires a ride to the Emergency Room, we retire to the living room, de-activate the noise-makers and the stories begin.

Let me be frank about it.
It’s not a group spring chickens.

They’ve done a lot, been through a lot, seen a lot, and thought a lot about what they’ve done, seen, and been through. They’re verbal. They have vocabulary. They’ve had wine. The stories are unhurried and ever-changing.
It’s a great time to live.

Chloe, the pup is in heaven. She thinks everyone came to see her and every story is about her wonderfulness. She drifts from lap to lap.
It’s a great time to live.

I could relate some of the tales…and get sued…or arrested.
Rather, I am struck by how much theater has been collected this evening within these walls.
These non-theater walls.

When and how often I have been enveloped by a concentration of theater experience in a non-theater space. How desperately magical some of those congregations have been.
Then it occurs to me I’ve actually lived in such a place.

I had a college-ghetto room in a house on Linden Walk about 1971. It was an old house divided into rooms for rent – six or seven rooms that couldn’t even spell AC, sharing two bathrooms (tub-no shower, hook-and-eye on the door for imagined privacy – hey, it was hippie days, let the fantasies fly).

I recall my rent being about $1.25 per day. For real.

It was a little over a block away from the Fine Arts Building on the UK campus, around which, in defiance of Copernicus, the universe revolved. Thus, it was unsurprising that, with one exception, every tenant of the house was connected to the Guignol Theater. As far as I was concerned, this was Ground Zero for the future of American theater…whatever Ground Zero meant in 1971.

Besides me, there were two fellow actors living together downstairs. One was gay and later became a monk (for real), one was Pan incarnate (at least to hear him tell it – O the glorious filter of memory!). It was a reality show in the making before we’d ever even heard of reality shows. The assistant costumer for the Theater Department lived down the hall. Two actresses lived across the hall – their credits; Viola in Twelfth Night, Antigone in Anouilh’s Antigone, Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan’s The Rivals.
It was a theater-infested house.

Except for one room.

She was demure.
Lower-case letters can’t really serve adequately here.

Work with me…
…she was demure………

She might’ve been attractive. Who could tell?

She would emerge from her room on Monday mornings, head down behind her books, and proceed with mission out of the house until late in the day. There was no “How d’ya do”.

Until Saturday night…

On Saturday nights someone would visit her in her room. I never saw him, or her, or…
But I, along with the rest of the house heard…

It began as a plaintive sigh…

…and proceeded quickly to a; “whoop…whoop…Whoop…Whoop…WHOOP…WHOOP!…WHOOOP!!…WHOOOOPP!!!…WWWHHHOOOOOPPPP!!!!!”

It was stunning.
It was athletic.
It was humbling.

It was far more dramatic than anyone else in the house could produce.

I still don’t know who she was, but when I was 20, she was a God to me.
She still is.

A Shaggy Endorsement

janie 86 chloe-futon
Vote for McGrath…woof!

Kanye West gibbering in the White House…

A man who repeatedly yells of his fondness for beer in the US Senate inevitably confirmed by that Senate to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court…

Children in cages by order of the current US President…

People like the neighbors I grew up with, in an arena screaming “Lock her up!” as the current US President looks on encouragingly…

The tsunami of lies nightly from the current US President…

The current US President…

A congress that supports the current US President…

My US Representative that has voted with the current US President 97% of the time…
These make for a raw day.

Or…a good day to talk to the dog.

I’ve written about Chloe the Wonder Pup before (see “The Homeward Three-Step”). She‘s not a beauty, ‘cept to me. She’s shaggy. You wanna grab some shears and make a sweater. She usually has debris spackling her face. She is flotsam and jetsam and blind love personified. She can howl like a banshee at squirrels…they shake…with laughter.

“Chlo, my girl, whaddaya think about this mess?”

“Piss on it! Is Chuck out in his yard?” (Chuck is our neighbor on the corner for whom Chloe has a totally inappropriate passion.)

“No, He’s at work. I’m serious here. The country seems to be tearing itself apart because of this current President.”

“Is the current President here? Is Joanna here? (Joanna is our mail carrier for whom Chloe has a totally inappropriate passion.)

“No, he’s not. He’s in Washington. And Joanna won’t be here for another hour.”

“Why are you worrying about someone who’s more than five blocks away? How far away is Joanna?”

“Closer, probably. Are you saying I should worry more about the people nearby?”

“Well, duh. You can’t do anything about the far-away guy. You could however, change that local Representative guy. That sounds useful.”

“So, you’re suggesting voting for McGrath?”

“Well, duh!”

And that’s my shaggy dog story for today.

My Un-Silent Planet

The planet on which I live is not a silent one.

It moans…
…parents of another language resort to non-verbal sounds of despair over their separated children housed in cages in the land of their dreams.

It keens…
…of past things loved and lost…times, mates, values (imagined and real)……whole species.

It shouts…
…for teams; “GO BIG BLUE!”…for charismatic leaders; “LOCK HER UP!”…for artificial seasonal landmarks; “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

It laughs…
…at the happy foolishness of friends…and…at the misfortunes of strangers…dammit.

It whispers…
…words of love…and words of mere seduction.

It vows…
…”I do”…”I will uphold”… “I will defend”

My planet does all of these sound-producing things and more.

It also sings.
It sings of love and death and life and hate.
It sings of celebration and it sings of despair.
It sings of birth and marriage and graduation and waking up on a sunny morning.
It sings of forests and highways and deserts and oceans.
It sings of God and it sings of the Devil and it sings of the people caught between the two.
It sings of the planets and it sings of the girl next door.
It sings to inspire and it sings to console.
It sings.
It sings!

My friend Dr. Everett McCorvey has a sign in his studio. It reads;

“God likes me when I work.
He loves me when I sing.”

I cannot attest to the scientific accuracy of his sign, but of all the gods I’ve read about and studied, this rings 100% true. I believe every breath and every cell in my body is made better when I sing. What god worth his salt wouldn’t cherish that? And if that’s true for li’l ol’ me, how much truer is it for the whole planet? Every breath, every cell made better by singing.

Singing is the best thing my planet does.

I sing every day.

I sing everywhere and for no reason at all.
I sing to the dog and the cat – they are bewildered by it and react to it like most humans confronted by things they don’t understand: they hate it. But since I feed them, open rebellion has been avoided. Lord help me if the kibbles run out.

My wife, Janie, tolerates it with saint-like patience. I am aware that obscure Sondheim lyrics while loading the dishwasher and the noir growlings of Tom Waits while driving the car can be unnerving, but so far, she hasn’t applied for a concealed carry license…that I know of.

Thus, I add to the un-silence of my planet.
I invite you to do the same.
Throw your head back.
Cut it loose.
Wail!
Sing!!!

GN 04

I Found a Patriot

I’ve been asked to walk house-to-house to defend my country.

I’ve been asked to send money to defend my country.

I wish I could.

I’m a retired geezer lacking the energy or funds to do either.

But I have a voice and the desire……and yes, perhaps a bit of fear.

The best case scenario for what’s happening in Washington is that our country is being plundered for its treasure. Our current elected officials are pursuing revenue streams instead of good deeds. Rentals at Trump properties, golf cart rentals, sales of MAGA gear, NRA contributions, junkets to watch the eclipse, campaign funds redirected for parties and vacations, new dining room tables, intensification of marijuana and immigration prohibitions that augment prison populations that benefit the stockholders of private prisons (including the Attorney General who makes these decisions), a tax cut of which 80% of the cut goes to the richest of our population, the sale of our precious park lands…our park lands, dammit!

This is the best case scenario.

The worst case?

The weakening of our country and our democracy. The abandonment of our world leadership to Vladimir Putin, a known gangster.

This can be fixed.

But it must be fixed in a lot of places.

One of those places is in Kentucky. Just as in WWII, everyone must do their part. Our part is to elect Lt. Col. (Ret.) Amy McGrath.

Amy McGrath has fought for her country. It is a habit for her.

Her habit is not to fight for bankers, or payday lenders, or Democrats, or Republicans, or conservatives, or liberals. Her habit is to fight for her country.

I believe this to be true.

I will vote for her.

AND I will hold her accountable for my beliefs.

Somehow, I’m not worried about that part.

Shelter from the Storm

Whoosh!

That was a storm!

It may have been a genuine eyewitness-authenticated “frog-strangler”. I went out après-cataclysm and inventoried the frogs in our pond. I’m missing two. Perhaps they’ll reappear after a jaunt to Oz, but I’m doubtful.

Vanishing with the frogs was electrical power, internet access, and cable TV to the house. Quel horreur! I wasn’t sure how I’d survive till the generator kicked on thirty seconds later and gave me enough light to find the pizza delivery phone number.

Janie fled the state, leaving me with a compromised house, instructions on feeding feral cats three miles away, and two depressed critters (oh man, we have to put up with the white-haired geezer all week!)…and a giant plate of brownies for the ciné-cabal assembling at the house Saturday night.

She’s a complex woman.

I waved as she drove away to the relatively storm-free Finger Lakes. Bob Dylan’s protective heroine in his wonderful song “Shelter From the Storm” came to mind.

“In a world of steel-eyed death, and men fighting to be warm, ‘Come in,’ she said, ‘I’ll give you shelter from the storm.’”

Not my lady! She’s hittin’ the road, Jack, and won’t be comin’ back till the electric coffee-maker’s perkin’.

I confess.

I felt bitter.

Then I turned and walked into my generator bubble of quasi-comfort and munched on a couple of muffins she’d baked and left for me (I gave half of one to the depressed dog).
Shelter from the storm…it can take many forms. One form may be a roof, or a hedge, or a generator, or a muffin…or a gathering of friends.

The clan assembled Saturday night to enjoy three of the many good things in life; laughably-lousy films, any pizza, and each other. It’s a group of geezers of an age yet undetermined by carbon-dating. They’ve suffered some losses. Some physical; alacrity, hue of hair (or hair itself), stamina… Some of the heart; Sidney, Georgeanne, Tonda, Glen, Craig, Harlan… They’ve also gained from the years; thoughtfulness, vocabulary, timing, patience…waistline inches…

They are a group that has done and continues to do much. They teach, act, think, write, care, sing, paint, think, direct, care, speak, manage, organize, think, and care. In the stormy outside world they are looked to for answers: they are authorities in various fields. Tonight, however, they gather in the shelter of each other’s company to laugh.

And laugh they do, often and raucously, loudly and sometimes inappropriately.

Their moms would probably be ashamed.

I’m proud to know ‘em and thrilled I can bribe my way into their busy company occasionally with pizza, bad flicks, and shelter from the storm.

Life Under the Hedge; 2 – A Chinwag

Janie and I live under a four-to-seven-foot high hedge of trumpet vine on top of a six foot brick wall.

This would be a good moment for you to read the previous blog entry concerning the hedge; Life Under the Hedge.

The hedge is lush, green, and geographically greedy.
The hedge is insidious, persistent, and smug.
The hedge is reassuring, constant, and protective.
The hedge has tendrils, flings seed wisps that fly like Saharan dust, and networks well.
The hedge is sentient.
The hedge is chatty.

“You did a helluva job on those Japanese beetles this afternoon.”

“Thanks. You see what they’re doing to our knockouts? They’re shredding the leaves!”

“They’re determined. They’re hungry. But you took care of ‘em. You looked like a gunslinger out there with your hose set on ‘JET’, bangin’ and splashin’ ‘em off the roses. It was impressive. You were like a Master Blaster Gardener. I didn’t know ya had it in ya.”

“Mock if you must, but it got rid of the bugs.”

“Granted. The filthy beetles vanished……and returned in ten minutes…still hungry…still determined…and somewhat less filthy for the shower you provided.”

“@#$!%&^*”

“Eloquently put. Might you have a Plan B?”

“I do, as matter of fact. I’ve got some spray coming that should take care of the problem. It’s an organic soapy insecticide spray.”

“An organic soapy insecticide spray… Doesn’t quite have the same terrifying ring to it as ‘Raid’ or ‘Agent Orange’. I’m imagining you in a Master Blaster Gardener baseball cap and a white Windex-type spray bottle screaming; ‘I love the smell of an organic soapy insecticide spray in the morning! It smells like victory!!’……feeble.”

“What does a hedge know about Apocalypse Now?”

“I have tendrils. The Lowe’s next door watched it on Netflix last week. I was diggin’ the Doors music, but Brando and Hopper jumped the shark for me. It’s a great film, but Conrad’s story is better.”

“Agreed. Hey, wait, what does a hedge know about ‘Heart of Darkness?’”

“You have it in your library.”

“…AND you have tendrils…”

“I also have dim hopes for your organic soapy insecticide spray and fear for your self-esteem and the roses. Might you have a Plan C?”

“Ya know, you could help. Isn’t this what a wall is supposed to do? Keep out unwanted foreigners?”

“No, no, no. First of all, I’m a hedge, not a wall. The wall has no tendrils. The wall doesn’t talk and a wall can’t stop hungry and determined. Stop listening to Trump. You were raised better than that.”

“Yes…yes, I was……”

“Let’s see how the organic soapy insecticide spray works. Maybe it’ll be sensational and we can brainstorm a different name for it.”

“How ‘bout Master Blaster?”

“I said ya looked good with that hose.”

“…gotta get a hat…”

“That’s the ticket.”

Life Under the Hedge

Janie and I live under a hedge.

No, we’re not hobbits…though it’s a tempting notion.

No, we’re not deluded…I’m pretty sure.

No, we truly live under a hedge.

Almost 20 years ago, we built a brick wall behind our house. By design, it has missing bricks in a pattern that enables you see through it. It has a mighty trellis on top of it and an iron gate with a heron silhouette.

When it was completed, on the guidance of the wall’s designer (our friend, Sanford Pollack), we planted trumpet vine next to the wall. We didn’t quite follow Sandy’s guidance as faithfully as perhaps we should have. His suggestion to plant one vine was utterly disregarded. It looked so puny. So…we planted six.

As the vines grew and became one, we threaded it into the wall itself and eventually, into the trellis. We removed any trace of green below the trellis, but let the vine run amok above.

The result?

Today, under the trellis, the vines are 1-4 inch woody snakes entwining the bricks. They resemble Hugh Lofting’s line drawings of trees in his “Dr. Doolittle” books or the various dancing trees in Fleischer cartoons. Those squiggly sequoias support the hedge above the trellis.

The hedge is about 30 feet long and ranges from 4-7 feet high above the trellis, reaching a peak of about 13 feet above the ground, and is quite impenetrable. It’s dense, green, and celebrates each summer with hundreds of clumps of butter-yellow and orange-red trumpet blossoms. I’m told it was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite garden plant. I share his opinion except when I’m combatting the hedge’s myriad “volunteers” that insinuate themselves everywhere at the rate of several inches a day.

I love living under the hedge despite the constant battle with its efforts of expansion.

– It’s on the weather side of the house and garden. Its mass offers at least the illusion of some natural defense against natural assaults.

– When cirrus-eyed poets from pre-drone days wonder at “How many colors of blue make up the sky?” and speculate on eyes watching us “make love well” from above, I’m happier with the illusion of privacy the hedge offers.

– In winter when the vines are denuded of their foliage, I’m encouraged when the hedge becomes a chattering condo for tiny nesting birds, though the heron gate beneath suffers the indignity of the resulting guano rain.

Yes, I love living under the hedge, and weirdly enough, despite my determined eradication of its invasive offspring, I think the hedge patronizes me and thinks me to be of some interest.

Otherwise, why would it speak to me?

(Cue the theme from “The Twilight Zone”)