Now to get our new fence built.
Through the years we had hired plenty of itinerant handymen to tackle small jobs at our house, some with great results, others not so much.
As a result we literally couldn’t think of anyone who might be willing to tackle such a small job without charging us a fortune.
Until we asked our neighbors just below us.
Their garden was always immaculate (we had tried to hire their gardener for years, to no avail) and the lower floor of their house was positively crawling with lattice.
Surely they would know someone who could build our little fence.
I called Corinne at her home outside Annapolis one afternoon to get her thoughts.
“Sounds great,” she said when I described the project. “I know we spent a fortune building the retaining wall between our two properties, but there’s still not a lot of privacy between our houses. A lattice fence would be perfect.”
And she knew exactly the guy to build it—her gardener’s cousin Geraldo.
“Si, I can do,” Geraldo crisply informed me when I called him later that day. “When I start?”
I liked his eagerness.
Even more, I liked the way he presented himself when he stopped by the house a couple of weeks later to discuss the project in person. He was cordial and businesslike and cut quite a dashing figure appearance-wise—short, slim and debonair, with an expression of intense concentration.
Michael observed that we had discovered the Puerto Rican Ben Kingsley.
And he totally got our fence concept. “Is nice,” he said. “You draw good.”
“Thanks,” I murmured, feeling like Margaret Bourke-White must have felt when Gandhi gave her props for her photos.
“We have to sink these posts in deep,” he said with dramatic emphasis. “Very deep.”
He was so persuasive I imagined us drilling through to China…
…but it turned out he only meant four feet. In concrete.
Concrete? The price just went up. A lot.
“You like the lattice work I designed?” I asked, unashamedly fishing for compliments at this point.
He named a price, we shook hands, and I went inside to break the bad news to Michael. “Bad” because the amount was about three times what we had expected.
Why didn’t this surprise me?
Frankly, what did surprise me is that Geraldo was on-site early the next morning with a small crew, measuring, digging and pouring concrete. He tacked my drawing to the trunk of our mango tree and consulted it often. Aw shucks.
Two days later the fence was built. It looked exactly as we had imagined.
In my opinion, the Puerto Rican Ben Kingsley rocks.