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A Garage Sale Assortment of Topics

Do you like digging through boxed rubbish at garage sales looking for that proverbial pearl among the oyster shells? (My mother once found an antique china doll head at the bottom of a mixed box of Tupperware and fabric. Cost – 50 cents.  What a deal!)  Anyway, if you enjoy digging through junk to find something of interest, this post is for you.

Per my garage sale analogy, let’s start digging.  Feel free to skip topics that don’t appeal:

The Backyard Garden (Tupperware dish #1)

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Fuzzy photo of potted plant that died in our recent freeze. Pretty ugly, right?  Moss looks good though!

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Cutting taken from the plant (Citronella) above before it died.

Basically, as most gardeners know, winter is a time of rest when it comes to gardening.

Other than coming up with garden ideas to implement this spring—installation of a new/used arbor, clean-up of dead foliage, weed removal, etc.–there is little to do in my backyard.  Not only that, but I’m still prohibited from bending over more than 90 degrees because of the hip replacement.  Thus, the henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), bed straw (Galium verum), and cherry laurel seedlings are able to wag their tongues at me with equanimity because I can’t pull them out.—YET!  Just wait.

A close friend told me she needed an arbor and could get me a sturdy one for about $50.00.  She had (emphasis past tense) connections to a cheap labor source that could weld one for next to nothing.  Hey, I liked that idea!

Unfortunately, her labor source is leaving, so the idea fell through.

My next-door neighbor suggested I contact the local high school to see if they have students who would weld one for me. When I looked on-line, I didn’t see that this high school (or even the local community college) had any sort of welding classes so I’ve given up on the idea.

Pandora’s Box, a local store with a WIDE variety of antiques, junk, new & old stuff, and plants, will hold its annual end-of-the-year sale starting in the middle of February.  I will go there to look for an arbor.

My Bathroom Reno.  (Skein of yarn with knots)

I signed a contract to renovate my MAIN bathroom on November 11th with a completion date of December 9th.  (Start and completion dates are written in the contract.) The primary goal was to add a shower in anticipation of my hip replacement.  Secondary goals were to remove the awful chipped & missing pink floor tiles and to replace the ceramic tile that was falling off the wall above the bathtub.

Today is January 17th and the photo below shows where “we” are at this time.

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Both BEFORE and AFTER my hip replacement, I have been “bathing” in the sink you see below.

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This is the sink in my half bath, a former closet.

So what happened?

I’m a patient person, but we are now a month behind schedule, and the contractor hasn’t been showing up—a week here, three days there.  He also doesn’t call.  When I call him, he tells me he hasn’t abandoned the job.  He tells me he lost my phone number.  (Really?)  He says he’s been sick (a cold, food poisoning after New Year’s, allergies, a muscle pull, a week-long migraine, etc.)

He must think I’m pretty stupid.

He also mentioned he won’t make money off of my job and that he will just breaking even…. but that’s not my fault.  I didn’t bid the job nor was his bid the lowest.

On the positive side, I have most of the new construction material at my house—the floor and wall tile, the bathtub and bath fixtures, the vanity top, the mirror, and so forth.  The new plumbing is installed and the bathroom has been rewired to code.  Also, I don’t think I’ve paid the contractor more than where he’s “at” in the job.

Bottom-line:  If he doesn’t get his a$$ in gear, I will type up a contract for him to sign stating he’s relinquishing the job, and that I don’t owe him anything.  (I don’t think he’d want to go to arbitration and yes, I have experience with arbitration.)

I do have another contractor to replace him if this happens.  Still, I’ll wait a little longer…

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Bathroom floor tile above.

Front Porch (Tupperware dish #2)

I have what could be a very cute front porch if I put effort into fixing it up.  When I first moved into this house, the porch held a bunch of stuff that had nowhere else to go. I’ve slowly worked to clear that stuff away.  At one point my 10’ long-leaf pine potting bench sat under this porch.  I’ve now re-purposed that bench, which has great shelves, for use inside my house.  The bench is too nice to leave outside in the elements.

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Contractor’s stuff is everywhere, but you get the idea.

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New fan on front porch ceiling.  Ceiling is old-fashioned bead board.

So what do you think?  Should I add a cute seating area or a porch swing and some hanging plants when it warms up?

My Writing (Ugly green ashtray)

It’s probably obvious I like to write. Sometimes my writing reminds me of those people who can’t stop talking.   (Help, I’m writing, and I can’t shut up!!!)  Not good.

Some 15 years ago, I took college-level courses in writing and did well, but that was 15 years ago.  My skills along with my brain have shriveled since then, what with a lack of practice, a heavy workload, an abundance of stress (dying husband), moving twice, and frankly my entrance into the post-menopausal years.  I’m not as sharp as I once was.

BUT, I still want to write.  I’ve been looking to join a writing group in my area.  So far, I’ve come up empty-handed.  Last night as an alternative, I looked at taking an on-line writing class to brush up on my skills.  (Not cheap.)

Ironically, one of my sisters teaches online writing classes.  (FYI -She has a book coming out soon, which I’ll let you know about when it’s on the market.)

My sister and I aren’t particularly close in age or outlook…Wonder what she’d do if I signed up for her course? Would she have a cow or kick me off the roster? Not to worry, her course is on flash prose and I that’s not where I need the help.

Fifteen years ago, I’d written a still unfinished 350-page fictitious novel loosely titled Fifty Ways to Kill Your Contractor based on the experience of losing 175K in a home renovation.  No, I’m not kidding.  This bathroom reno. isn’t my first rodeo with the unpredictable and sometimes seedy world of home remodeling contractors and builders.

Now, however, I want to write about child abuse.  Something along the lines of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

If you’ve not read The Glass Castle, I highly recommend it.  Most people who’ve read it can’t put it down.

The Garden Club (Two yards of colorful cotton fabric)

I’m still working actively to establish a new garden club in my little town.  I’ve researched no less than three venues I can use for free—a room in the public library, the Ben E. Keith room, and a room in my church that boasts the added benefit of audio visual equipment.  I’ve also created a mission statement and a survey/questionnaire.  I want to touch base with a local master gardener to gain her input before I go further.

Book:  Whiplash How to Survive our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe (Cell phone charger)

The lettering on the cover of Whiplash is intentionally fuzzy.

This book isn’t an easy read.  If you have some science background it helps tremendously.  Honestly, I’m a bit of a Luddite, but I need to at least stay abreast of what’s happening technologically and otherwise.

I am halfway finished with the book.  Rather than giving you my “take” on it, here’s a link.

Miscellaneous photos below for your amusement (You’re now at the bottom of the garage sale box: Chewed up dog dish, paint roller, & key chain)

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Sunset seen from my back deck.

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Another sunset photo.

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Photo taken from the front porch with side view of the Kolstad Inn, a Bed and Breakfast.

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Cool basket purchased at a thrift store for $6.00.  I will use it to gather produce from my garden.

Bought this basket last week when I had cabin fever and absolutely HAD TO get out of the house to maintain my sanity.

Thanks for reading!!!!

 

 

Looking Beyond the Surface

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A random photo of the backyard.  More pecan limbs have been added to the Hugelkultur berm.

Yesterday, I was finally able to walk down my deck stairs for the first time since having a hip replacement three weeks ago.  I’d been looking longingly from my backdoor and windows into the backyard, but I wasn’t able to go down stairs because I had to be re-taught and practice how to walk up and down stairs.  Incidentally, I have 8 stairs plus a landing to navigate from the deck to access the yard.

Being house-bound has been a struggle.  If I could, I’d spend 12 hours of every day outdoors. ~ Grin. ~

So yesterday, I was able to investigate the “state of the backyard” where my garden lives.  It wasn’t a pretty picture.  The weather has not been kind.

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Another random photo of the backyard taken today from the deck.

I found large and small pecan tree branches everywhere.  The wind blew off my potted plant coverings leaving them exposed to 15 degree temps, and the dogs moved some of my brick and rock edging out of place, plus there were leaves lying on every surface imaginable such that there are places you wouldn’t even recognize as bordered garden beds.  Oh, and the Parsley Hawthorn tree I’d planted was broken in two.  It will survive. It just needs time to mend.  It reminded me of me.

On the surface, my garden is in a current state of chaos and at this time, there’s not much I can do until I’m allowed to bend over.  (I’m not allowed to bend at the waist more than 90 degrees.)

Still, I’m optimistic.  All of those tree leaves hide the bulbs and seeds I’ve planted.  All of those leaves act as insulation for both my potted plants and the plants in the ground who also have leaves that are brown but whose roots are very much alive.

At some point, the dead leaves can be raked or swept off of the surfaces where I don’t want them, and they will eventually decompose into rich compost.  I’d hazard to say that by mid-summer, one would never know the leaves were even there.  Nature provides its own winter blanket if we, humans, don’t pull it off.

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More leaves above.

And here is where I’d like to veer off the garden path to encourage everyone to look beyond things that are of a surface nature.

I am selective about what I read and listen to. I’m selective about what I believe and don’t believe.  I try to look beneath the surface of most things—advertisements, local and national news, corporations with agendas, gossip, etc.  I no longer watch television. I want to live my own life, not watch someone else living theirs (real or fictitious).    I encourage you to look beyond the surface of what you are told and what you see as well.

If I read a news story on the Internet, it’s because I think it’s worth my time. If 25 noisy ads pop up (surface leaf clutter) as I’m waiting to read or hear a story, I either turn off the sound or leave the page.  (These ads eventually turn into compost and go away.)  If I want to buy something, it’s not because some advertisement tells me I need a product.

I listen to NPR (National Public Radio) to get much of my news, which works for me, but may not work for you.

Most importantly, I don’t subscribe to the stuff that I believe litters the surface of so many lives.  I’m not a Facebook fan.  I don’t need Facebook as an interface to friends and family. And if I call someone who never wants to talk, and who will communicate ONLY through a text (surface communication), then I won’t pursue them.  Here’s a link and short video regarding text addiction.  If I’m going to be addicted, I want to be addicted to real life stuff—gardening, creative endeavors, lunch with friends, volunteering, and most of all, interacting with people in person, which seems to have become unpopular. Do I care if I’m unpopular?  No.

Finally, if I subscribe to a blog, it’s because I think the blog offers substance below life’s leaf-littered surface.  For me, reading blog posts I enjoy is like reading nonfiction short stories.  I often learn something valuable in the process or feel a connection to the writer and that’s never a waste of my time.

As you go into 2017, I encourage you to examine what’s below the leaf-littered surface to find the good stuff.

You’ve Got See This!

V0043259 Cobra-lily (Arisaema fimbriatum): inflorescence and leaf. Wa

Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Cobra-lily (Arisaema fimbriatum): inflorescence and leaf. Watercolour.

I recently became enamored by the photo of a cobra lily I saw in Fine Gardening Magazine.  No, cobra lilies aren’t native to my area, and yes, I think it’s important for me to buy natives, but as I’ve said, I’m not a purist.

To make up for my wayward non-native ways, just yesterday I purchased seeds on-line that I think will assist my backyard wildlife,  that is if I can get them to germinate.  They are Victoria Salvia  Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’, Joe Pye Weed Eutrochium purpureum, Verbena bonariensis, and Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa.

Back to the subject of cobra lilies.  There are many varieties and none of them seem to be cheap, so over the last few days I’ve been casually trolling the Internet to compare prices.

If you only click on one link in this post, it should be the next one.  Suddenly, I ran across this cobra lily from Plant Delights.   Maybe you already knew of it?  I didn’t.

Wow!  At 10K , Arisaema Trumpeteer is far beyond my budget. The customer reviews of this plant are also rather mixed.  One commenter wrote it doesn’t do well in a mix of natives and non-natives.–Bummer.

Feel free  to let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

Pet Peeve – Is it a Matter of Taste,Upbringing, or Culture?

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Very old photo of newly sculptured piece created from copying old architecture.  The artist’s link is here.

Note:  I apologize to those of you who commented on previous blog posts because I didn’t see your comments. I’ve now approved your comments.  Thank you!

I have begun four different unpublished blog posts that meander in four different directions.  Oh well.  Maybe I’ll finish them and maybe not.

I realize not all gardeners see things in the same way.  If we have different tastes in our garden styles and décor, it’s okay.  Some of us seek low-maintenance. Others want formality.  Some pursue a smooth contemporary look while others like a wild look (me) by using natives or creating an exuberant cottage garden.  None of these styles are necessarily better than the other.

Aside from garden style, gardeners also hold different tastes in their décor.

So when I tell you of my pet-peeve, YOU—especially if you are an American–may not see it as an issue.

I think gardens benefit from focal points and garden art. Magazines and designers certainly say so. Here again, preferences differ.

My father is Dutch, and I lived in Holland for two formative teenage years even though I was born in America to an American mother. Because of my two years in Europe, I’m familiar with OLD architecture. I’m not speaking of “old” in what Americans consider old. Many Americans think old is 30 years—as in something that was made in 1980—I kid you not.  However, I’m talking about “old” as in over 100 or 500 or 800 years.  I find I’m drawn to old architecture and older forms of garden decor made with earthy materials such as clay, concrete, stone, and iron.  If I could purchase history to put in my garden, I would.  I also like unique and/or quirky pieces of garden art.

My reality is I live in a country with a shorter history than its European and continental cousins. Furthermore, in the part of the US I live in (Texas), there are few aged hardscapes compared to what can be found in England or Italy, and even fewer easily found aged items to use as garden art—statues, chimney pots, mill stones etc.

Honestly, I am so very envious of the countries who have long histories with artists and craftsman who then and NOW still make lovely pieces to sell.

I’m not saying the U.S. doesn’t have artists, but finding garden decor that I like within my budget isn’t that easy.

I believe the making of art is a tradition in other countries, and one that seems to be dying in the US. Where are our real craftsman and artists?  I don’t see them much.  Why don’t we value them more?  Further, it’s sad in my opinion, that unless you have deep pockets, you can’t afford “good” art in the U.S.

Addressing my pet peeve point:  For the average home gardener, US garden decor seems to consist of mass-produced resin pieces made in China.

Now I know many fine people who have resin statues, plastic animals and plastic furniture in their gardens such as plastic gnomes, fairies, ducks, Adirondack resin chairs etc.  I am not faulting these people

But the truth is I don’t like plastic “anything.”  Will these plastic pieces last hundreds of years?  Will they last two?  No.  Are they really art?  No.  But this is what the public is offered by places like Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, big box stores, catalogues and so forth.

You might comment that I’m looking in the wrong places for interesting long-lasting garden decor—and you’re right–but I have to say the “right” places to find terracotta, fine ceramics, concrete items (not massed produced) and iron pieces don’t exist where I live.  Perhaps there is a garden nursery or two that takes garden art on consignment or an auction that sells antiques, but I don’t see this much.  And I see very few local artists who produce art specifically for the garden.

Yes, I could buy a concrete cowboy boot at my local big box store. It would match another 100 houses in my area with a concrete cowboy boot in the yard.  Is this art?  Is it American?  Is this a unique piece?  I suppose that depends upon who you ask.

Why are we primarily offered plastic or flimsy metal pieces to put in our gardens? Do we like plastic that much?

Maybe the problem is we, Americans, haven’t been exposed to what beautiful art really is.  We aren’t taught that it has value and merit.

Another thought: If you were brought up by a working-class family in a working-class area, it’s doubtful you would be exposed to much old-world garden décor or any art of any kind.  Makes sense.   Thus, everyone goes out and buys plastic because that is what there is an abundance of.  Our craftsman (the few that are left) don’t make these items.  The Chinese do.

Another WordPress blogger in a different country posted a photo of her lovely terracotta dragon.  I could never find a terracotta dragon made here (in Texas) and if I did, it would cost a bazillion bucks.  (I did find one made of copper that still cost close to a bazillion.)

Question:  Are other countries bombarded with plastic garden décor?  Is their garden “art” made by China too?  I’ve yet to see plastic pieces showcased in lovely English or Italian gardens.

And most sadly, did we Americans pick our new president (based on our upbringing) in the same manner that we pick out plastic garden décor?  Was he the best and cheapest Wal-Mart had to offer, and we just didn’t know any better?  (Okay, I apologize because this is NOT a political blog.)

Finally, if I were to put any of these fine copper gargoyles or dragons on my roof with the exception of this one, the local people would look at me funny.  Plastic garden art seems to be the status quo, and NOT just here in my small town.  Big city folks have plastic stuff in their yards too. Then again, this is America, and like it or not, people (at least at this moment) are free to choose both the garden art and the president they like the best.

 

Germination of a Garden Club

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For years, I yearned to be part of a garden community that nurtured its garden members by providing both social connections and garden knowledge.

When I lived in the big city, I joined two garden clubs, but they didn’t work out the way I’d hoped they would.

One major problem was the majority of garden clubs in my city held meetings on a weekday at 7 pm, and I worked.  This meant on meeting days, I rushed home after work arriving home around 5:30 pm to let my dogs out, eat dinner, water plants, and then turn around and drive 20 minutes in the opposite direction to attend one of these meetings.  By the time the meetings were over, it was close to 9:30 pm. I usually got home a little before 10 pm.

Separately, one of the garden clubs I joined had been in existence for some 40 years.  Club members were all well into their 70’s and 80’s and had known each other forever.  These were lovely ladies who held a secret:  They didn’t garden at all.  They were no longer physically capable of gardening; however, rather than letting the club die, they continued it as a monthly social gathering.  After a year, I left these ladies as I felt the club didn’t meet my needs as a gardener.

When I moved to my current town, I heard there were two area garden clubs, and I thought seriously of joining one, that is until someone informed me these clubs were extremely competitive.  I don’t garden competitively.  It’s just not my thing.

Fast forward to the here and now.  After reading a post, Dying on the Vine?, Part I & 2, on the Garden Rant blog, I’m seriously considering starting a garden club of my own.

Below are some of my loose thoughts on the subject.  (Feel free to chime in with additional suggestions):

Club Mission:

To share and promote garden knowledge garnered from individual members and others through talks, field trips, attending plant conferences and listening to outside speakers.

To promote *support* rather than *competition* between garden club members.

To promote cost sharing when possible with regard to the purchase of plants, mulch, compost, etc.

To promote friendship between gardeners

To assist fellow gardeners twice a year in their garden if needed (a garden “work day”)

To share resources such as plant cuttings, seeds, pots, etc. when we have extra to share.

Other Stuff:

Meetings once a month.

I need to secure a venue.

One time only $3.00-$5.00 due for membership.  (Used to help defray the cost of door prizes.)

Small door prize through a raffle at every meeting.

Informal group.  No formal reports, Robert’s Rule of Order or long recorded meeting minutes.  Simple member votes on issues.

I will provide the “eats” for the first 6 months to a year until the group gets off the ground.  I would do all clean up after meetings.

I will survey the group to see where their interests lie and hold subsequent meetings that cover those interests.  We will go on field trips to popular nurseries, plant sales, garden tours, places that sell garden décor, and so forth.

I’m not sure how to lure younger gardeners other than through social media and honestly, I’ll need to rely on someone else to create a Facebook page ‘cause I don’t have a love affair with Facebook.

And now I need to figure out a name for the club.

Being Truly “Hip”

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Above: Christmas cactus gift from friend.

I wish everyone who reads this post the very best!!!  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (Chanukah), Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holy Days, and blessings for all on this day regardless of religion!

As I type, I have my backdoor open and can hear the melodic warble of a bird (not sure what kind).  It’s lovely.

I am now 10 days post-op from my hip replacement.  If I am able, I’ll try to take some photos of what Christmas Day looks like outside.  That’s probably as much as I can offer garden-wise.

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Above:  Current view from my back door into the backyard. More about the orange house in another post.

I have been blessed by the love of many friends and neighbors in my journey to regain my ability to walk.  These folks have been my legs and hands when mine were worthless.

While not garden-focused, I invite you to hobble around with me a bit (you don’t have to use a walker or a cane) while I tell you what this hip replacement has been like SO FAR.

First, I can honestly say I was scared to death about this surgery, and this comes from a former nurse who has experience with previous surgeries.  To allow someone to saw off the upper portion of an essential bone (akin to the drum stick of a turkey) that I’ve lived with for over 50 years and throw it away bothered me. A LOT.

My raw feelings were that my chosen hospital, East Texas Medical Center (Tyler, TX), was like a giant anonymous chewing machine.  You, the patient, go in for your pre-op assessment and are unemotionally prodded, pried, and poked.  The “human-ness” in my opinion had pretty much been taken out of the process:  When I cracked jokes, for the most part, no one laughed.  When I made a mistake, it was instantly pointed out.  And of course, I was made to wait for over THREE hours (10 am to 1:35 pm) to see the hospitalist who assisted me in cultivating a “piffed” (pissed and miffed in one) attitude.  Note:  If you’ve not been in the hospital for a few years (and I hadn’t), hospitalists are the newest thing since latex gloves.

Surgery day was fairly routine.  A friend dropped me off, paperwork got processed, and the hospital staff walked me up to the surgery suite to hook me up to my surgery bed.

I became a bit emotional when I witnessed another family praying for their family member prior to surgery.  My family was absent. However, a good friend surprised me by showing up at my bedside.  She and her friend prayed for me, and I felt a lot of love. This was important.

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Another view from the back deck.  Note the position of my Garden Lady’s head (middle of photo).

With both general and regional anesthesia, the first 24-hours were a breeze.  I was also relieved to know no one on the surgical team passed out when they viewed me in my natural state.  (That view’s a shock even for me.–I try to avoid looking whenever possible.)

Post-op my feet didn’t realize they belonged to me and steadfastly refused to work.  It felt strange to stare at them asking them to move and finding that they had taken the day off.

I’m not a TV watcher at all, but ended up watching endless reruns of The Property Brothers and Flip it or Flop It (Yes, I know that’s not the real name of the show).  I think I can now live another 20 years without seeing these shows again, but I have to admit I learned something:  For the Flip It or Flop It gang, it’s all about tearing out at least one wall in every house to open it up and going with light and bright surfaces in the kitchen.

I spent an extra day in the hospital because of those non-operational feet mentioned above. On the 3rd day, I was more than ready to go home.  Another close friend, dressed as an elf, picked me up and we were on our way.

Having to depend completely on someone else for almost everything was humbling.  Do our plants and animals feel this way?  I realize they don’t have our brain, but still…

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Above: Messy view from just outside the back door.

So now I’m home, and my wild lab puppy is being good by not jumping on me or on the bed although I realize this is because she’s got aspirations to be a garden designer as she’s rearranged a few things in the back yard.  Oh, and did I mention, my “Lady of the Garden” has become Linda Blair of the Exorcist?  Her head is currently facing the wrong direction.

The minor back yard fixes (fallen over pots, fallen tree limbs, the Garden Lady) can wait until I learn how to walk down the deck stairs again.  No one’s looking anyway, so who cares?

It Takes a Thief

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Stealing is wrong.  I believe this with my whole heart.

While I’m far from perfect, I’d like to think I am not a thief.  For example, you could leave your 30K diamond ring along with its appraisal on a table in your home with me in it, and if you left, the ring would still be there when you returned.  That said, there are times when I’m sorely tempted, not by jewelry or money, but by plants; plants that aren’t even rare or valuable.  Does this ring a bell with you?

Case in point:  For a while last summer, my walking group decided to walk inside the local mall because of the heat.  In the mall, were all kinds of planters containing real plants, several of which held pothos ivy.

Now, I’d been wanting to purchase pothos ivy for a long time but could only find it at the supermarket in planters with other plants, and those planters were pricey.

Pothos ivy is anything but a rare plant. Seems everyone has it and grows it as a houseplant, except for me.–Wa-wa-wa!

My sad little story about pothos ivy goes back to 2003 when my mother passed away, and I inherited hers.  It grew in a lovely blue pot used as the centerpiece of my kitchen table.  It looked great…and then one day, it appeared scrawnier than usual.  What the heck?  I couldn’t figure it out.

The next day whole parts of the plant were missing.  Huh?

Cutting to the chase:  A housing development going in next to my neighborhood had recently cleared away all the trees and underbrush causing both deer and rodents to invade our ‘hood.  Field mice (9 to be exact) found favor in my home and proceeded to eat my entire pothos ivy along with all of my bananas (in the pantry in a basket) leaving nothing for me. It took a week to figure out what was going on and by that time it was too late.

I eventually caught all of those rodent thieves, but it took awhile.

Along my “plant journey” I learned pothos ivy can actually live as a plant in an aquarium, and I wanted to try some of it in this capacity, but I didn’t have any.  So back to the mall:  The temptation to cut “only a small piece” off the mall’s pothos ivy was strong.  Would anyone notice?  Would anyone even care?  I knew better.

Most likely you’ve heard this in some form or fashion before:  What if everyone cut off a 4” piece of the ivy?  It was wrong, and I knew it.  Despite the temptation (which was there each of the six rounds I made through the mall), I left the ivy alone.

I have old friends who don’t feel as strongly about theft as I do.  For example, when confronted with a plant admired in a plant nursery, one former friend would break off a piece and slip it into her pocket or handbag.  I always felt this was wrong, but I never confronted her.

First of all, I never saw her do this.  She told me she did this.  Secondly, had I said anything, it would have instantly ended the friendship.  Who was I to judge?

I, too, have some grey areas when it comes to the realm of plant theft.  Read on.

While I would never break off a piece of a plant growing inside your garden bed, I wouldn’t feel tremendous guilt breaking off a piece of your plant if it grew over your bed, onto the sidewalk, and into the street.

I encountered this exact situation with a wayward Lady Banksia rose who decided to take over the world.  I didn’t feel much remorse breaking off a piece of her in the street and trying to root it.  (No success.)  She needed trimming badly, and the house she belonged to was a rental such that no one ever cut her back.  At the time of this writing, I’m sure she’s still a “street walker.”  ~ Grin ~

However, the following examples are two grey areas where I may have crossed the line into plant theft.  Feel free to wag your finger at me.

Beside the Walgreen’s I patronized, was a vacant 1930’s house.  No one lived in this house (some 6 years) ever since I set my eyes on it.  At certain times of the year, when I’d sit in the Walgreen’s drive thru,  I spied flowering bulbs (daffodils and irises) in the home’s un-fenced backyard.  Unexpectedly, the old house went on the market and the next thing I knew, it was being dismantled.  This was in early to mid- December.  Actual photo taken of the scene of the crime.

When I watched the house being taken apart, I decided to meet the demolition crew to ask a few questions.  They told me a store planned to build on the land the old home occupied and that the house was being prepped to be moved.  I asked them who I should contact if I wanted to dig up some plants.  They were clueless.

Well, I mulled this information over for a couple of weeks, and I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

On the evening of January 1st at the cusp of dusk, I parked my car in the church lot behind the old home, looked toward the Walgreen’s drive thru to see how many cars were in line, snuck through the shrubs with trowel and bag in hand and began to dig.  Although the bulbs were not in flower, their little green heads poked through the debris just enough making them easy to spot.   This would be a breeze.

I dug up as many as I could, which in reality weren’t that many—perhaps 10 daffodils and 6 or 7 iris rhizomes.

Regardless of whether you believe in God or in Karma or in nothing at all, I was reprimanded almost immediately.

Unbeknownst to me, I was sitting in a fire ant bed.

The ants quietly crawled into my shoes and up both ankle socks. They also crawled up the outside of my pant legs, onto the derrière of my jeans, and then down into the nether regions where my underwear lives at which point they let me know they were pissed.

I wasn’t too happy either.

There was NO ESCAPING them.  It was agony.  I seriously contemplated getting naked, but the number of drive-thru cars at Walgreen’s now stood at 3, and I didn’t want to scare the folks who might be getting refills on heart medication.  Since I couldn’t tear off my clothes, I started hitting myself on the butt as I ran for the car with my ill-gotten booty.

Once home, my husband who didn’t accompany me, thought the ants in the pants were hilarious.  He winked and said, “Well, you see, that’s what you get for stealing!  You Plant Thief!”

Turns out the daffodils were Erlicheer (1934)  and the irises were cemetery irises.

Was this theft?  Yes.  All I can say in my defense is the new store owners would have paved over these plants without blinking an eye. I stole them, but I also saved them.

Fast forward a few years, when the commute from work morphed into an adulterated version of the Hans Christian Andersen’s inch-worm song.

Everyone was moving to Austin, TX and ALL of us inched together along South Congress Avenue during rush hour.

Daily, as I crept home, I would pass a Chinese restaurant.  What made this restaurant memorable was the small shrub rose growing outside its front door.

The rose, even from a distance, was a pleasant sight.  It seemed to bloom at the start of spring and on into the summer, and its petals were an unusual cerise with white.   I’d never seen anything like it before or since.

For two years, I drove past the rose, and I’d always glance its way to make sure it was still there.  One day, I noticed a “For Lease” sign in front of the restaurant.  It had either moved or gone out of business.  (My gut says the latter.)  For the next 9-10 months, the sign remained in place.  The restaurant, back then, was not in a GOOD area of town.  That’s since changed.

Anyway, I’d pass that rose and although it wasn’t mine, I’d worry about it.  Was it being watered?  My guess was not. Would it survive such neglect?  Would the new tenants keep it or tear it out?

I mentioned the rose to my husband, and he agreed to sit in the car as a “look out” while I took a cutting or two.

We showed up at the restaurant sometime around 8 pm.  Even at that hour, the traffic was brisk.  I got out of the car with hand pruners and wet paper towels ready to wrap around the stems and lopped off two 6-inch cuttings.  And I swear as I turned to get back into the car, someone from the Exxon station across the street yelled out, “Thief!!!”

Rose Crime Scene Link here.

My face turned red with embarrassment.  I’d been caught in the act.  I was, indeed, a thief.  That was NOT MY rose.  I was severely conflicted.  How could I claim to be a good person who always paid for the copies I made at work, yet at night steal pieces of a rose that didn’t belong to me?

Of the two rose cuttings, one did “take” but later died when I transplanted the poor thing into my caliche soil.  Karma again?

Sadly, the new renters (Emprego de oro Mexican restaurant) did remove the rose or it died.

Because of my guilt, I confessed to my priest about the theft, and asked for forgiveness.  He actually argued with me that it really wasn’t theft since I didn’t take the entire rose, but only pieces of it.

And you?  Have you ever coveted a plant that wasn’t yours so much so that the angel on your left shoulder was seduced by the devil on the right?

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Robert Wagner in It Takes a Thief:  “Let me get this straight, you want me to steal?