Based on a true story. Names have been changed.

Lottie and Dottie are best friends and they love to do little building projects together, making a great – if slightly wobbly – team.

So, the day they embarked on an ambitious project to build cold frames for their gardens,  they not only underestimated the time that would be involved but also the facets of their characters that contributed to it taking four times longer than it should have.

Dottie, you see, is all about detail, precision and finesse; she’s a perfectionist, while Lottie is a bit slap dash (to put it kindly).

Lottie, who should not be trusted to accurately read a tape measure (especially without her glasses), should also never be allowed to handle sharp objects. She is, though, extremely useful for aspects of a project that require brute force such as hammering, carrying heavy pieces of lumber or bending something until it cracks in two. (Actually, the latter is generally more of a consequence than a valuable contribution to the project).

Dottie believes firmly that you should always measure sixteen times so you only have to cut twice (usually) – and she always has her glasses on! She does not acknowledge that the phrase ‘good enough’ exists in the English language.

So, when Lottie suggested in passing that they were not building a forty-storey skyscraper but rather just slapping some two-by-fours together, she received a look from Dottie that she calls the ‘beak’. It’s somewhat akin to a bird of prey looking down at you from its perch high up in a tree as if to say, ‘I see you crawling around in the undergrowth, but it would not be worth my time or dignity to swoop down and scoop you up’.

After such a withering look, and because frankly she had been standing about daydreaming while Dottie had been engaged in tightening, untightening and re-tightening the same screw for the past ten minutes, Lottie decided to try and be useful. She grabbed a metal square, ostensibly to check on the angle of Dottie’s corners (which drew another beak) and in her haste dropped it on the flip flop housing Dottie’s left foot, the toes of which thankfully sported nail polish, so they wouldn’t show the bruises.

Startled, Dottie let go of the piece of lumber that she had not secured with five oversized clamps as was her usual practice, because Lottie had been whining about needing a tea break.  Consequently, the falling lumber bounced off Lottie’s right knee that alas had just shed the brace she’d been wearing since their last build together.

In an irony of bad timing, the neighbour just happened to wander by the back lane at this exact moment to find Dottie and Lottie entangled in a bizarre, ritualistic dance that involved whooping sounds, hopping on one foot and holding a knee to their chests. Before they had a chance to explain, the neighbour had hot-footed it to the grocery store to regale the whole community of the fact that those two nincompoops (you see they already have something of a reputation) had joined some kind of crazed cult, so everyone should lock up their small mammals because the pair would likely be moving to ritual sacrifice any day now.

At the end of the day – well several days – Lottie and Dottie muddled their way through the build and found that their differences complemented each other very well – funny how that happens, huh? They ended up with a number of perfect (well the ones that Dottie built) cold frames that are still coddling their cold-averse seedling babies every year as they wait for warmer weather, and it can be a long wait.

But if their projects have taught them anything it’s that they both have limitless patience!


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