Tag Archives: gardening

To Beet Or Not To Beet?

11 May


It’s time to decide whether to join a community supported agriculture (CSA) for when black thumb takes root and flourishes in my little garden the way it has for, well, ever.  For all the years.  And while I assume that it’s tough being an oddsmaker in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, I can pretty much guarantee that here in my garden, it’s Black Thumb to win with Tomato Blight to place and Gardening Is Like Setting Dollar Bills On Fire to show.  (And they’re off!)

It’s not an easy decision given that I still have parsnips from last year’s CSA in the bottom of the vegetable drawer which, while a testimony to their freshness, are also an indictment of my family’s (and friend’s and relative’s as well as complete stranger’s) eagerness to work with the parsnip.  (Side note: this is also a testament to my mad refrigerator cleaning skills in that cleaning the refrigerator makes me angry.)

There’s a reason you don’t see bookstores with parsnip sections.  Bookstores are rare enough; but a bookstore with a parsnip section?  Never gonna happen.  The parsnip is the Jim Gaffigan of carrots (big and pale) and even though Mr. Gaffigan has written two books (including “Food A Love Story,” that practically wrote itself and includes such prize-winning sentences as: “[t]here’s never a strike at the Cheesecake Factory,” and “the Waffle House vibe feels more like that of a halfway house or a mobile home than an actual house,”) he remains an acquired taste.  Unless Starbucks introduces a Mochaparsnipaccino (“freshly-dug parsnips layered between Columbian roast coffee and FairTrade Peruvian coco.”  Venti, $7), the parsnip and the bookstore shall never intertwine.

Joining a CSA also means that every Tuesday from June to November the seat belt warning will continually chime because the passenger seat will be so weighted down with vegetables, other than parsnips, that the on-board computer will assume I have an unbuckled teenager sitting beside me.  It’s usually during potato and onion weeks when this happens although occasionally the chime stays on when I am merely transporting grapes (also known as cases of wine).

Of course picking up the cabbage and kale (so very much kale) from a “drop off” adds a certain mystique to otherwise boring (and often gassy) produce.  Also it’s fun to ask the intern if this is the good s*** that you talked to the “grower” about and, also, is it seedless?  (Because sometimes the jokes are just for me and I often dwell in Greenwich Village circa 1978 in my mind- when I’m not sleeping.)

Sleep rock thy brain.  (Hamlet, Act III, Sc. 2.)

What do 3285 days, Jerry Lewis, ground bees and Santa have in common? Nothing. Unless you’re me. (A full-circle essay brought to you by Fresh Air and Sarcasm.)

3 Mar

blog image styx

I didn’t eat pizza for nine years.  Mostly because it was the last thing I ate before getting the rotovirus and the vivid and colorful memory of “rotovirus + pizza” remained in my brain for 3285 days until my brain reversed itself and told me that a slightly charred crust with mushroom and eggplant is wonderful and that they have vaccines for that other thing now.

It’s kind of like how I will not listen to Styx because they also once made me puke and I didn’t even have a stomach bug.  Instead I was trapped in a car where the driver honestly enjoyed listening to a grown man/boy sing “I’m SAIL-ing A-way” with that weird inflection that makes me angry as well as nauseous.  And then there’s the whole use of the word “lad” which, unless you’re Frank McCourt or Flannery O’Connor, you have no business using.  So there’s that.

But what I really would like to discuss here is the reason I will never again work in the garden.  Of course, when I say “work” I don’t mean the kind that transpires in an office (did that and am proud to say that my biggest accomplishment there was dismantling the “Secret Santa.”  By refusing to participate and clearly articulating the reasons why, I was able to single-handedly kibosh an office ritual that had devolved into a high school popularity contest where there was always one person who completely disregarded the established budget and made the rest of the rule-followers look like misers).  Really, in 1999 I got a drug store brush and comb set while the woman who sat one cubicle over got a “Cashmiracle” opera-length scarf and she neither attended “La Traviata” nor saw the face of Jesus appear in the wet cement sidewalks outside her apartment.  So there’s that too.

I mean the kind of work that is often performed at home, outdoors, for free.

See, when the bees attacked, I had been contemplating dinner (see “crust” above) while picking up sticks (see “puke” also above).  I’ll tell you what I wasn’t thinking: “boy there sure are a lot of angry, brown bees coming out of the ground over here where my hand is.”  I was also probably not thinking: “I wonder if Styx will ever play live again and does anyone care?”  (Answer: July 24, 2015 @ SPAC and no, no one does.)

It sure would have been helpful if I had paid more attention to those bees, though.

Because when they went crazy and started stinging everything around, I was still trying to figure out how Dennis DeYoung, et al, ever became popular the first time around.  And then, just for a moment, I thought that maybe the bees had somehow intuited my thinking about Styx and were having a horrible, angry reaction of their own.

Finally, I screamed like a girl (because I can) and ran inside like Jerry Lewis (because that’s how I run).

Which is where I should have been to begin with.

And where you’ll find me this spring too.


An old-timer walks into the grocery store…

29 May


…and, upon seeing you, wags her finger.

This can’t be good.  (Old timers in these parts are known for being forthright.  And loud.  It’s like they yell about everything– even a NICE DAY loses some of its JOY when you’re being yelled at about how lovely the LILACS smell.)

So, imagine Spouse’s surprise when, instead of hearing how the Boy is overdue for a haircut or that the country is being handed over to the Socialists, the old-timer merely shakes her finger and tells him that his gardens “look beautiful.”  (Side note: while both thoughts are somewhat true, I hardly call tweaking immigration policy so that young children can receive an education “handing over” the Constitution.  Plus the Boy looks nice when he is shaggy.  Also, the minute I tell him that he needs a haircut, he’ll decide to grow his hair in protest of the lack of expansive immigration reform.  Just watch.)

Anyway, at least she didn’t yell about the gardens.

Now back to me.  Because while I may have been away for a week or two, the world has not stopped revolving.  Even I know that.  However, if the world is still revolving, make no mistake: it’s revolving around me.  (And Bono.)

Don’t you think that in deference to all my hard work on my hands and knees with icy, numb fingers and achy, cold knees, don’t you think that Spouse was obliged to respond with something like: “Oh, yeah, my wife does all of that.   She plants tons of bulbs in the fall as I sit and watch slow-moving, plotless indie movies (“Wendy and Lucy”) while eating chips and other salty snacks right off my belly.  She’ll spend hours scouring bulb catalogs and plotting color schemes, studying the paintings of Renoir and Rothko to find a certain shade of poppy red or flax blue as I stretch out in front of the wood stove and nap (also on my belly).  She’s an awesome little thing, isn’t she?  She looks so fine and grows flowers- I truly don’t deserve her.”

Don’t you think he should have said something like that?  And LOUDLY.


He said “thanks” and then brought home a bunch of items that weren’t even on the list.

Oh, I had some finger wagging of my own to do.

And, as an old-timer in training, I may have yelled.

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