Monthly Archives: May 2013

My thumb is brown, not green

Here is another column, this one from June 2005.  I’ve actually had some success since this was first published.  Some day I’ll get a post written on my successful butterfly gardening.

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I really admire homeowners that are good at landscaping and gardening. But my thumb is brown, not green.

Oh, I try.  I really do.  We were lucky to inherit a beautiful rose garden from the former owners of one house.  I worked the garden, pruning and feeding the roses. In those pre-Internet days I hung out at the library and bookstores and around the local nurseries trying to glean information on raising roses.

Darn that Black Spot. After all that special food and loving pruning, who knew a fungus could destroy everything?

The previous owner of our current house apparently was quite a horticulturist.  Empty gardens and beds surrounded the house…empty because previous tenants had allowed everything to die out during the summer droughts.

This time I used the word “xeriscape” in my advice searches and planned to fill the beds with plants that didn’t require a lot of pampering. I found a couple clerks at the local nurseries who provided good advice (and had an absolutely awful experience with a nursery promoting its “experts” who come design your gardens). I’m continuing to educate myself on what appeals to butterflies and hummingbirds, and hope to see some around our yard someday.

The previous owner also left an extensive vegetable garden plot, so one spring my daughter and I planned a nice summer vegetable garden. Sadly, our plans always seem to correspond with the summers we have water rationing.  That year we plucked sweet, cherry-size tomatoes off our Beefmaster and Big Boy tomato plants!

Worried about the influx of insects I was seeing everywhere in the garden, I decided to purchase ladybugs from a local nursery. We released the ladybugs, which enthusiastically descended into the garden.  Apparently word of the bugs also spread to the local purple martin apartments and soon swallows, martins and other birds were visiting the household ladybug smorgasbord.  Of the 500 ladybugs we supposedly released, about 5 were still around the next day.

Later in the summer, some of the melon vines produced lots of blossoms. We actually had a beautiful cannon-ball-sized cantaloupe nestled among the vines. I watered it regularly and waited for the opportune moment to pick that little beauty.  The whole family was anticipating that first bite of our home-grown cantaloupe, when I went to the garden to pick it.  It was gone!  Plucked gently from its stem! Nowhere in the garden or yard!

Something with “hands” stole our melon from the garden. For a long time I figured it must have been a raccoon raiding the garden, but this winter I noticed the local squirrels were pretty capable with their “hands,” so maybe a squirrel plucked that fragrant, ripe melon and took it home for a family treat.

Recently my dad, who has a great green thumb when it comes to raising vegetables, offered to foster some tomato plants for me.  I heard my husband whisper to my dad, as they traveled out of earshot, “It’s probably just as well that you raise them for her. For anything that goes into the back yard, it’s pretty much a death sentence.”

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Mother’s Day 2013

I loved Erma Bombeck’s columns and through all the years, I’ve remembered this post.  How ironic that it, too, was published on May 12.  This is for my mom and aunts, all the moms I know, and the girls I know hoping to be moms.

The following column was Erma Bombeck’s Mother’s Day column for May 12, 1974.


When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of “overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

  • She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
  • Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
  • Run on black coffee and leftovers;
  • Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
  • A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
  • And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ’What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ’I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

“You are a genius,” said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.

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