Friday, November 30, 2012

Gardening on a Wet Day

I wanted to garden this week but it rained Wednesday.  It rained yesterday.  It rained today. So this is all the gardening I'm going to do:

Long live dry (indoor) rock gardens!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Those People"

“Your front yard is looking less dead,” our retired neighbor bellowed from his porch.
“Thanks, Harold,” I said closing my car door, the hot engine still clicking from the commute home.
“What’s that green stuff growing up front?”
Harold looked at me with wide eyes.  “Onions?”
“Yellow, white and—”
Slam!  He disappeared behind his front door.

Clearly Harold did not approve.  Yes, we were “those people” the ones who planted onions (shocking!) in the front yard, in the primo spot right next to the house usually reserved for roses.  In his eyes Mr. Wonderful and I had suddenly transitioned from fixer-uppers to (gasp!) farmers.  And if there’s one thing suburbanites, at any age, dislike it’s farmers.

“You hoo!” our smiley neighbor said pausing before our yard in her sneakers.
“Hi Mary, out for a walk?”
“Did you know you’re the only house in the whole neighborhood with a supermarket produce section in the front yard.”
“I didn’t know—”
“Well you are,” she said with a sniff.  “I’d never plant food in the front yard.  It’s so… ratty,” she said waving her arms with a pleasant smile.

The division of garden planting goes back to caveman days.  Beautiful ornamental flowers were planted in front of the cave and ugly kitchen plants were relegated to the cave’s back rockyard, as far away from sight as was hominid possible.

But times had changed.  For one, people weren’t wearing animal skins anymore and two, everyone was a foodie now and foodies loved… food.  So why not plant edibles in the front garden?  Onions are rather good looking plants… if you close your eyes.

The next day Charles waved from his front garden.  “I see you planted onions—”
Here we go again!  Another annoyed neighbor.  “I can explain,” I said crossing the street to him.  “We love food and why not plant what we love—”
“Look at this,” he said pointing to a spiky purple plant in the middle of his gated front yard. 
“That’s an… artichoke,” I gasped.
“Yeah!  It’s beautiful and delicious!” he said laughing.  “We planted one when we first moved in and now we have half a dozen.  Have you ever eaten home-grown artichokes?”
“No,” I said smiling “But I think I will now.”

The thing about a diverse suburban neighborhood is although lots of people may not understand what you’re doing, maybe one friend will. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Calls

Hello?  Oh, it's Black Friday.
Then what am I still doing in the kitchen?!
It's time to go shopping!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Training a Fighter

“Jackson has become a real tiger,” I announced over a late dinner.
“Uh…huh,” Mr. Wonderful said buttering his bread.
“I’ve been working him for weeks.”
“Hmmm,” he said putting his knife down.
“Jackson can fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”
“Our old cat is not Muhammad Ali.”
“How do you know?”

Ever since Jackson had whimped out with the opossum last summer, I had taken it upon myself to help our domestic feline get in touch with his inner tiger.  I was convinced that under Jackson’s fur-and-fat fa├žade lay a natural-born killer… a killer of anything beside his daily dose of kibble.  And all I had to do was awaken it. 

I started with the ribbon and the stick.  This was a very high-tech training device that consisted of tying a red Christmas wrapping ribbon to a thin, old tree branch on one end and to a mouse-shaped, catnip toy on the other.  Every day after work I’d swish the stick around the kitchen floor and Jackson would chase it trying to grab the catnip.  With his clawed paws he was excellent at catching the toy.  Although once he had it in his mouth he couldn’t hold onto it.  I looked closer at Jackson’s pie hole and discovered he had just four teeth: two on top and two on the bottom.  FOUR teeth!  It was a wonder he could even chew kibble.

Evidently a small number of teeth in an adult cat’s mouth was a sign that it had been separated from its mama too soon as a kitten and never received the appropriate calcium to grow the rest of its chompers.  So Jackson was… an orphan.  And as everyone knows, orphans made the best fighters.  It was his destiny!  Besides who needed teeth when he had claws like ninja daggers?

Through the ribbon and the stick, he had developed quick paws.  I continued his training.  

I told Jackson to be a good fighter, he needed independent exercise.  He abandoned the ribbon and the stick and graduated to real bugs.  When a fly flew inside Jackson followed it throughout the house.  When it flew above his head, out of his reach, Jackson waited below.  Hours later when the fly eventually landed on the floor Jackson pounced, popped the bug in his mouth and chewed it like he was eating taffy. 

He had developed patience and was better than a can of Raid.  I continued his training. 

The cat was committed to becoming a fighter.  He stayed awake longer—now sleeping just 29 hours a day—which gave him time to hone his skills.  In our neighborhood lived several feral cats and one evening a feral feline jumped the fence into our yard and peered inside through the glass French doors.  Jackson lurched toward the unwanted visitor, slammed his head into the glass and tumbled to the floor in a heap, while the unhurt feral cat looked on with amusement.  What our feline lacked in brains he more than made up for in commitment. 

He had developed strength—or at least was too dense to feel pain.  I stroked Jackson in my arms and set him on the wood floor.  He had successfully completed his training.  I deemed him ready to fight.

“Your story is entertaining,” Mr. Wonderful said pushing away his dinner plate.  “But if this cat sees another opossum, I’ll be you $20 bucks he’ll roll over and play dead again.”
“Deal,” I said shaking Mr. Wonderful’s hand as our tiger cat lifted his leg and licked his butt.
Then out of the darkness and through the glass I saw an opossum wobbling toward our open house door! 

“It’s back!” Mr. Wonderful yelled.  Jackson leapt to the door and barricaded his body in the open doorway.  His sudden appearance and massive fighting-tiger size shocked the opossum, who turned on a dime and scurried back into the darkness.  Fast.

At the door Jackson sat guarding his home and us.  My heart beat with pride.  He was my prize fighter! 

“He’s no Cassius Clay,” my husband said watching our tiger.  “But you can teach an old cat new tricks.”