Friday, May 05, 2006

A small talk about fence building.

At issue is the garden fence in the yard of our house. 50 years of gardening have gone on here and none of the pensioners wish to have that streak broken.

We had our usual bi-yearly run in with the Doma pravlenye, the local housing organization. You have heard about these people in several other articles in which I vented about Mss Molochko, our local psycho tyrant administrator. This year was no different from any other. Mss Molochko came around when the snow was still on the ground and started taking pictures of the fence around our garden so that she would have some good ammunition to start a protocol against us. I actually caught her at it but when I approached her to ask what she was doing she smiled her little Nazi smile and scurried of to wherever rats like her live.

But inevitably her complaint was that she didn’t like the fence we have around our garden. I the end, their purpose is to drive off the old people who garden the spot and this yearly harassment is don I suppose to hasten their demise by inspiring a couple of heart attacks or strokes to thin out the population, but the protocol suggested that we remake the fence so that it is a bit more uniform.

This garden fence is of course made up of all different sizes of wood because it was built over the course of time during the Soviet Union, a time when there was not a lot of emphasis put on how attractive something was, and things such as garden fences were seen for what they were. But these days we are told that we are now “in the center of town” and therefore have to have some sort of meaningful and city like image about our humble little plot. I often wonder from which reality these doma pravlenye people work, but in any case, they make these protocols like I make bowel movements and so we have to deal with them.

But then again the fence was in great need of mending because of the gas company’s having removed three meters of storm fencing when they changed the gas outlet in the yard. When they took down the valve house, they also took with them their fences, which were also out fences and so there was a big hole over there. Now legally you could make no claim against them for doing this, but it did put us in a bind insofar as closing that three meter gap. So you know it was late in the year and we didn’t have a lot of money, so I just threw something together to keep the kids out and that was that until Molochko showed up with her town-paid-for digital camera and started incriminating us lasciviously.

Now I am not the sort to leave things hanging so I got to work early getting this fence thing straightened out. My idea was to simply build a new fence on the place where the old gas fence was and then continue that line all along the back of our fence which would basically solidify the garden and remove a lot of unsightly places where we had our ageless catch as catch can fencing. However on the day I actually got started, I was told that that protocol had called for small fencing all around and that what was still standing from our old fence needed to come down.

I was against this because that tall fence does a pretty good job of keeping children out of the garden and rebuilding the whole of the fence would not only be really expensive, but would basically work as an invitation for people of the town to come and steal our fruits and vegetables. So Tanya and I went over to the doma pravlenye office and had a long talk with Molochko’s boss. It was not a bad meeting as meetings go, it had a few ups and downs, but basically we all understood each other: The city was not in principal against our garden but I did not want to either destroy a perfectly good fence or build one that invited kids onto the land. In the end though, she asked me top stall the project until she spoke to her “architect”. This was several week’s ago.

However during that time several things happened. Firstly, the kids ripped a hole through the storm fencing that remained in one part of our garden and it became potato planting time. How all of this goes together is that it became our chance, due to the necessity of transporting our seed potatoes up to the farm, to call on a taxi with a towing cart. And, as we don’t really have the money to play with, this would also be the one chance we would have to transport those fencing screens, an old gas stove and a lot of junk which could be used at our dacha. We did this and I am not going to talk at this time too much about Tatyana’s breaking the big tow on my right foot by dropping that stove on it.

But in any case I did what needed to be done and I pulled out three fencing screens that had been there for maybe10 or fifteen years down and dragged them over to my staging area to wait for the taxi to come and drag them away. This of course was not part of the original plan which would have allowed for the new boards to at least be on the property before taking down the old material, but then again that plan was made before the doma pravlenye people had gotten us all tangled up with their protocols in the first place. Now though we have Not just one, but two more gaping holes in our garden. Well no problem, I had been ready to buy the wood for the fencing a month earlier but had only stalled because I was asked to wait by the doma prolenye people. They had not said anything, it was now potato time and those new gaps where the fence was supposed to go meant that I needed to rebuild the fence now and so this is what happened. If they wanted to complain, they would be doing so about brand new fencing and so really, they would not have any sort of argument.

But even this plan went awry this morning. I bicycled, broken toe and all over to the wood yard at the end of Pinsk. I smiled at the director that I had been so long in coming back, but I was here to pay for half a cubic meter of fencing and transportation to our house.

“Can’t do it.” He said to me. “All of the wood is gone.” I looked around the yard and could see that the place basically looked exactly the same as it had a month earlier including exactly the wood he had tried to sell me then. He caught the look of disbelief on my face and went on to say that all of the wood had been bought by Germany two weeks earlier. All that was left were some rather twisted scraps and I could have those if I wanted for only twice the earlier asked for price.

“Why does selling one lot of wood to Germany mean that you have to double your prices? This is Belarus; everything is subsidized. Where can you justify the market hike?”

“What can I tell you? We sell, they buy.”

“But they have money, we do not.”

“They have money and they also have your fence. Complain to them.” And with that he walked away. Nice guy.

Now what? We made some phone calls and tried to find more wood around town at the local saw mills but everybody was sold out for fencing material. We looked through the local paper and found one or two possibilities, but we will have to wait until Sunday to go and check it out. In the meantime, I have taken hard looks from two different grandmothers over my opening up the fences and have been hammered with questions as to why I have not yet began building this new one. And doma provlennya showed up to ask about the situation. Not me, but one of the grandmothers. Good grief, as Charley Brown was want to say.

So this is actually a rather serious issue and I really hope I can get this cleared up in a hurry.

They say good relations are all about good fence mending. I guess we are going to get a good chance to find all about whether or not this is true this week.

PS, I have been posting news related essays on he bottom of the BHTimes. If you haven’t already seen these, please check them out and drop me a line as to what you think.

More soon…


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home