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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Growing Pains

Amy's lawn thriving under special care.

Around this time of the year, when there’s still frost on the outdoor dog in the morning and air conditioners run like a spider-chased schoolgirl in the afternoon, I like to venture down to the Lawn & Garden department at the local Sow ‘em & Grow ‘em Store.  People who should never own fertilizer are wandering past the bags of peat moss, clutching pots of distressed dahlias, and murmuring, “Wonder if I need manure?”

It’s like Disneyland for clueless people.

All I want is a bird feeder.  Winter and fat Cardinals have not been kind to the little plastic number that hung in my yard all winter, and I need someplace to leave the offerings for the sparrows that exercise the dogs by flitting around just out of Labrador reach.

Here in the South, whimsical lawn ornaments are popular among the population.  By whimsical, I mean ugly and offensive.  By population, I mean my neighbor (you know who you are, Danny) who used to borrow a goat the last week of every month so that he didn’t have to cut the two square inches of grass that grew beside his cultivated kudzu patch.

My other neighbor has a patch of lawn decorated by a wishing well, two wooden farmer misses bending over to show polka dot bloomers, a bevy of plastic geese, and a charming white toilet holding a cluster of cheerful daffodils.  These folks may have lawn furniture in the family room, but the porcelain in the front yard holds a place of honor.

Driving back home with my tiny plastic birdfeeder, I can’t help but think about my own yard.  I won’t feel comfortable calling it a lawn until there is something growing in it that wasn’t thrown from the window of a passing car or spontaneously springing to life over the septic tank. Algae doesn’t count as lawn, even the easy-care kind.

I guess everybody celebrates Spring in their own fashion.  In Augusta, the Masters has acres of azaleas, all across Amsterdam we find fields of tulips.  But in my little corner of the country--just below the Bible Belt and just above the Sweet Tea Bag; we have our pottied plants.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rottery Ticket

When it comes to spring cleaning, I’m more the undercover type than the show and tell type.  I’ll train the Labradors to lie coyly on the coffee stain on the carpet when visitors drop by to avoid having to mount a frontal attack on the living room shag with a shop vac.  But when it comes to cleaning out the refrigerator, there’s nothing to do but roll up your apron strings and confront the leftovers head on. 

Long ago, the Captain of our Compost Heap labeled our vegetable drawer “The Rottery,” a secret place where lettuce goes to die.  So this spring, while everyone else is planting rows of green beans and tomatoes, I’ll be making room in the vault for the new kids in town. Because the dogs might be willing to lend a paw when it comes to the coffee on the carpet, but they have no interest in helping to hide the bodies of the radishes in the refrigerator.

Monday, March 5, 2012

May I Have This Dance?

Not us. Not before. Not during. Definitely not after.

I've heard of stepping on people's toes, but this gives a whole new meaning to the term "toe jam."  The Captain and I have taken up dancing. And cheesecake. For us, all dancing is dirty dancing.  But not in a good way.  Join me at An Army of Ermas and please feel free to cut in.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Many Happy Returns

For Lisa who is competent enough to do taxes, from Amy who can’t figure out her own phone number without a graphing calculator.

“What are you doing?”

“Our taxes. I thought I’d give you a break this year and do them myself.”

“You know you’re not allowed to touch official forms.”

The Captain has been a little skeptical of my ability to fill out forms ever since I took our oldest child to school and registered myself for first grade.

“But these explain everything.”

“Did you read the directions?

“Not exactly. I’ll figure it out as I go along.”

“Like you did with the garden last year?”

“Good grief, I thought those were the kind of tomatoes you’re supposed to grow upside down. Haven’t you seen the commercials?”

“Yep. I've also seen the ones for amazing weight loss and englarged. . .”

“Very funny. But it turns out I’m racking up quite a bit in deductibles.”

“You mean deductions. Deductibles are the things that makes us pay to go to the doctor. They replaced co-pay. Sort of like getting rid of the cat to bring in a cat that costs six times as much to feed.”

“Well, I should have a nice little nest egg to cover that. Kitty litter counts as a deduction, right?”

Judging by his expression, I think I'm going to have to start from scratch.