Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Laughs and Titters at my Own Expense

Sorry I cannot give proper credit for this wonderful cartoon...I did not draw it but I have loved it from first sight  and I will tell you that I was sicker than that doggie looks..

This was me yesterday......I knew when I could not get out of bed in the morning that I must have the latest version of the 24 hour Flu. Everything hurt and the..... uh..... frowing up I had done during the nite gave me a further clue. Worse yet, I knew my cats had no intention of or talent for curing me or giving me comfort....

Today I am delighted to report that it probably WAS the 24 hour flu because I am considerably better.....tenks gott.   (10 hours in bed and 14 hours on the living room couch moaning piteously seems to have taken care of most of the awfulness......today I am back with the assortment of  familiar unenhanced aches and pains with which I started )

I don't know why I am inspired to write today about a muddle of things where the joke was on me.  Like, for instance,  my feeling of  incredible ignorance when I first  realized that there were plants other than the ones you ate.

When I was a child we lived in a  typical red brick row house in Philadelphia.....semi detached is what they were called, which meant that you had only one common wall and, on the unattached side, the walkway led to a small back yard where you hung the laundry on Monday, Wash day and in the middle of it was a small  patch of lawn lawn   (Tuesday was, of course, Ironing Day.....you guys with washers and dryers simply won't understand....)    What you did with it the rest of the time was up to the individual and in my Grandma's world it meant browsing the Burpee's Seed Catalog all Winter and spending every spare minute of the rest of the year on one's knees digging in the dirt.  Come Spring she would take out a bunch of little paper envelopes, some Burpee's and some handmade holding seeds from last years blooms,  and she and my Mamma would begin the kneeling process.   For  all I knew or cared they might have  been praying to the Plant Gods.....I thought they were crazy to be scrabbling in mud when they could have  been playing Street Ball or jumping rope. Flowers were pretty, but......no match for jumping rope.

However, when June came around I did admire and enjoy the plethora of gorgeous blooms of every kind which sprang up like magic and obscured what had once  been just muddy beds and made my Grandma's back yard the envy and talk of the neighborhood..   Of course, the downside was that I would be summoned  to water the flowers once in a while and, worse yet, when the Japanese Beetle Plague happened one year, I was instructed constantly to go out and find those wretched little hard  shelled monsters that were eating up our roses, pluck them off the plants and deposit them in the beetle traps that hung from every wrought iron Laundry post in the yard.  I really hated that job (not  because I was a caring person with kind thoughts for the  beetles) but because the little creatures tickled scrabbling inside your closed fist and made me a bit uneasy and queasy.   I tried not to think about it, but I knew what I was doing was no favor to the beetles......

Fast forward about 30 years to when I bought my first "property" and I discovered that houses other than those in Philadelphia had lots of muddy beds around the back yards and, yes, even the front and side yards too.  And California was worse, in one way, than Philly had  been, in that "stuff" seemed to grow almost all year round, not just in April through September.  What was a person who got no great turn-on from mud to do?  Before I knew what was happening to me I had bought a bunch of 6-pack growing plants from the Hardware Store   (who knew from Plant Nurseries?)  and found myself one June day on my knees in front of a stretch of dirt.   It was that moment when I realized that my fate was sealed.  First, I remembered that I had forgotten to find out what the prayer was that one had to utter in front of every bed of dirt to turn it Green and, worse yet, I did not have a clue about how to grow things.  As  I squatted there pushing Petunia plants into little holes in the ground I heard someone behind me laughing derisively.  I turned and found a lady on the sidewalk observing me and shaking her head.  Oh, God, was she going to tell me that the flower part was supposed to go above ground?   Well, not quite, but she gave me a bit of advice about how far apart seedlings should be planted and left still shaking her head and saying over her shoulder.....It is better to plant young plants when it isn't 101 in the shade at noon."   "Too  bad", I thought, "they will just have to deal with it."  Amazingly, the petunias survived and thrived and I was smug and arrogant and thought I knew the secret of  The Green Thumb".  Yeah, sure.

Fortunately, my comeuppance did not happen with an audience.  I had secretly snapped off a few springs of a neighbor's huge geranium bush and shoved them into a pot of earth as I had seen my Grandma do with all sorts of plants, and, miracle of miracles,  I found that they grew.  My smugness and arrogance knew no bounds.  A few weeks later the geraniums even blossomed!    Merciful heavens, that thumb thing must be heredity in the genes, I decided.....it might  be well not to get too cocky.

But, when I saw some little black seedy looking things on my geranium plants I decided I would snatch them up and reserve them for planting when I had more time. Who needed  Burpee's?   I did not bother to make a little paper envelope....I used a  Baggie.  Several days later I collected a bunch more of the little black seedy looking things and when the weekend came and I was off work I planted some of them in a pot and set them on the railing of the porch balcony.  Each day as I left for work I examined the pot I had put on the  balcony  beside the pot of flourishing geraniums looking for my first born.  Nothing.  As days stretched into weeks and the flourishing geraniums began to look just a bit peaked I began to wonder.  Maybe it wasn't a gene thing after all.  Then I examined the geranium plant more carefully....it was still producing those little  black seedy looking things.....but it definitely did not look happy doing it........and the stems were looking absolutely....well strange and lumpy.  I bent down and looked closer as one of the lumps moved forward a millimeter and left behind it a little black seedy thing.   A Eureka Moment.  The End of my smugness and Green Thumb arrogance.  All I can say is, tenks gott the seeds I planted didn't grow or I would have ended up with a huge crop of Geranium Worm Turds!