So there’s a drought. On the bright side, the Brugmansia I tried hard to grow for 9 years or so is finally doing well, so well in fact, that it has taken over a small portion of my yard. That’s what happens when you plant something in the right place. It also helps there is a drought and the temperature hasn’t dropped below 49 degrees all winter and NOW it’s spring and no end to all this great weather in sight. Damn, oh well.
All these perfect conditions caused my angel trumpet to grow and grow and creep up the stairs to my tenant’s apartment. My tenant is so sweet she would never come right out and say,” Why don’t you trim that stupid plant? I practically need a machete when I walk down the stairs!” She would say things like “Do you need some help with yard work? I could start right over there by the stairs to my apartment.” or “Wow! That plant sure has grown! I can barely find my way up to the apartment.” Every morning the poor girl has to climb down the stairs and under my Brugmansia like Snow White in the dark forest, the branches grabbing her hair and pulling at her nice work clothes. I’m sure she expected me to be waiting at the bottom of the steps with a hairy wart on my nose and a red shiny apple.
At the beginning of the “winter season,” assuming the plant would die back on its own, I cut the branches back. But with this year’s absence of winter, the Brugmansia just kept growing and blooming and blooming and growing. Mirror, mirror on the wall who has the fairest Brugmansia of all? Tis my Brugmansia and it’s time to cut her back again.
During all this banter with the space-time continuum, I started to think about…well…time. And right as an interstellar tsunami is about to pound Anne and Matt’s space shuttle during a 23 year time-squandering sequence, I blurted out “Geez, sweet peas!”
Luckily the film was very loud, so my Tourettes moment went unnoticed. But my thought process was roughly as follows:
The chick I went to Costa Rica with, Erin, is tough. I mean, TOUGH. I thought I was
tough, but she puts me to shame. So when you hear your tough, seasoned travel
buddy scream from the bathroom, you know something is definitely wrong.
jumped up and yelled through the door “Are you o.k.?
but a huge spider just ran over my foot and freaked me out!”
opened the door, and there it was, crouched in the corner of the floor between
the toilet and the shower trying to appear much smaller than he was. Holy crap,
that thing was the size of my palm.
finished up and hurried out of the bathroom and out to the office to check out.
I still had to go potty. So I gathered up the nerve and took a seat…about six
inches from the biggest spider I have ever seen.
looked at him, all huddled up in the corner, and I actually began to feel sorry
for him. I decided that the maid in the next room was not going to think twice
about killing an enormous spider standing between her and the ability to clean
the bathroom floor. So I decided to save him.
had a large wide-mouth quart glass jar. I opened the jar and pushed it toward
the spider. I realized before I came within three feet of him that he wasn’t
going to fit. So, of course, I opened the bathroom window. I grabbed the
laminated mini-bar menu and climbed into the shower. I started to scoop the
spider towards the window.
I like to think of myself as brave and open-minded about creatures, but when that
f---ing spider jumped into the air like someone had it on a string, I turned
screaming and ran full force right into the tiled shower wall. The last time I saw a spider jump that high,
I was watching Arachnophobia.
peeked over my aching shoulder. The spider had settled back on the floor, so I
took a deep breath, picked up the menu again, and decided to keep scooping till
that fucker was out of there.
pushed the menu toward it. It jumped, and I scooped again. It leapt up again, and
this time I moved it within jumping distance of the window. I scooped one last time, and the spider flew (and
I sort of batted it) the rest of the way out the window. I slammed the window, ran out of the bathroom
and slammed that door too, as if the spider was now all pissed off and coming
back through the window to get me.
our way out, we decided to look at the view from our room one last time. One of
the toucans we had been hearing but not seeing for two days was sitting in the
tree outside the window, eating and sunning himself. Toucans are also known as “banana
pushers,” because of the way they look when they fly.
Maybe I love Costa Rica so much because the whole country seems like one big, outrageously beautiful garden.
I am undertaking a juice cleanse for my first three days here. Thank God I have the hotel gardens to keep my mind off my stomach. I may be getting a little loopy with hunger, but I keep expecting to see Indiana Jones come swashbuckling through here any moment now.
asked the chicken-dancing man once again if he was alright, and once again, he
was unable to produce a straight answer. So I asked him a different question:
“Excuse me sir, have you been drinking?” This question triggered a round of
wild arm-flailing reminiscent of a marionette having a spasm. He answered
with a word one wouldn’t expect from a tattooed sports car driver wearing all
black and chains. “No, I haven’t been drinking!” he insisted. “I’m
just . . . FLUSTERED!”
out of his car, Chicken-Dancing Man was running all around my yard while
running his mouth with his disjointed story. Apparently, he was trying to get
to L.A., he left his cell phone on his girlfriend’s dresser (no doubt right
next to his map of California and his crack pipe), and he swerved to avoid a
began following me around closely, begging me to use my phone. I told him to
sit down on a piece of lawn furniture while I went to get a phone.
lit on the chair for a split second, more like a hummingbird than a chicken. By
the time I had turned my back, he was up and running through what used to be my
fence, across the street to my neighbor’s house.
I walked inside my house, the phone was ringing. It was my neighbor asking if I
was o.k. and letting me know that she had just called the police on the chicken
dancer and was sending her husband over to help. I let her know that I
was fine, but that the chicken dancer was now at her front door. I could
hear him all the way from where I was, telling the same story about the rabbit,
the phone, the drive to L.A.
dialed the sheriff myself, just to make sure that there they were on the way,
and then I picked up my camera and walked back outside.
Dancer was on the phone to his father, supposedly.
this point, he was beginning to realize that his predicament was only going to
get worse by sticking around, so he hung up the phone and danced over to the
sideways Miata. He climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine. I
knew he wasn’t going anywhere, my neighbors knew he wasn’t going anywhere, but
Chicken Dancer seemed to think that if he revved his engine hard enough, his
tires would magically reconnect with the ground and he would be on his speedy
was just about this time the first sheriff pulled up.
sauntered over to the man in the slanted car and spoke to him for a few minutes
while the neighbors and I stood across the street making bets on what kind of
drugs were coursing through Chicken Dancer’s system.
another sheriff arrived, followed closely by a fire engine.
two more sheriffs showed up, I suddenly felt a twinge of guilt that I had no
doughnuts to offer. Then the EMT vehicle pulled in and unloaded their
gurney. They wheeled over to the Chicken Dancer, who was being quietly
interrogated by a large group of various uniformed men.
the time the CHP showed up, Chicken Dancer was having his person searched. It
was clear he would not be driving to L.A., or home, or anywhere that day.
Over the past several weeks I have been busily amending the soil, tweaking the drip system, and planting three types of vines all along my upper fence so that our family can enjoy more privacy and also so that the dogs would bark less at passersbys. Every morning, I would pour myself a cup of coffee and head up to the top of my property to check on them. I planted fast-growing vines, and could actually see them making progress every day as they stretched up towards the morning sun. Ah, those were the days of hope and prosperity…the blissful days before one man’s night of partying and addiction crushed my hopes, my dreams, and, well…my vines.
I was lying in my bed, cozy and happy in the knowledge that I still had another hour before I had to get up. And then I heard an engine revving up my hill, fast, followed by a loud crash. It got me out of bed alright. If I was a cat, I would have been stuck to the ceiling.
I looked out of the window and I saw a green sports car lying on its side in my yard and wearing most of my upper fence as a hood ornament. I heard the hysterical voice of a man.
I slipped on my Uggs (o.k. I lied: my Bear Claws. I am too cheap to buy Uggs) and my robe. Fashion was not my first concern. I ran down my stairs, secured my dogs, who were looking quite puzzled at the strange vehicle’s parking job.
I bolted out the door to my side yard. I approached the car and its flailing driver. He was talking loudly to no one in particular. He was tall, and tattooed, somewhere around thirty. He was sporting a large gold MC Hammer-ish chain around his neck. He had black hair, a black t-shirt, black jeans and giant black sideburns. Elvis meets Johnny Cash with a sprinkling of Sid Vicious.
I asked him if he was o.k. I never got an answer, just a steady stream of words. Words about a missing cell phone, a girlfriend, swerving to miss a rabbit, looking for Los Angeles, All the while the words were spewing, the Country Western, Punk Elvis was doing this strange flailing chicken dance.
I gazed past the flapping Elvis, behind him I saw his car resting with all its weight on top of my brand new vines.
I was staring up through a forest, sunlight barely squeezing through thick
branches, leaves closing in on me. I closed my eyes and thought back, back to a
time when life was simpler, before the forest, before I learned the secret of
Audrey lll making her way up to the second story of my house.
right, I did it, I successfully grew Brugmansia. We have been successful to the point of scary,
perhaps. She – yes, she -- has grown so
big she has taken over a small portion of my yard, making it difficult to climb
the back stairs over my garage. I have named her Audrey III.
Audrey lll just after I first planted her.
are the days of watching a spindly, anemic Brugmansia die miserably at the end
of the season. Now I have Audrey III,
who blocks out the sun, and who I also believe is planning to ingest me.
is the secret? What did I do different? I read that Brugmansia like to be
sheltered from the wind, so I planted Audrey III in the quiet walkway between
my house and my garage. Lo and behold,
she is now a heck of a lot bigger than I am, and still growing.
water her regularly, but I haven’t really fed her yet, although I have a
feeling she will ask me to any day now.
also has yet to bloom, but this may also be a good thing.
gourds are gourds that are shaped like enormous pears. After
they are dried, you can cut a hole in the lower portion, stick a perch under it,
and hang it in a tree.
birds, if they squint their eyes and lower their expectations a little, find
that they make good homes.
plant these gourds every year. Some
years are successful; other years, the gourds all succumb to mildew and die.
thing I consistently notice, even though I have read gardening articles that
try to say otherwise, is that if several gourds set on a vine, the one that
starts to develop first goes on to be a big strong gourd, while all the other
gourds on the vine wither and die.
kind of like the baby spiders that eat each other until there is only one
left. I think that happens, doesn’t it?
I have learned that if I want more than one gourd, I have to grow more than one
beginning of this summer hasn’t been great.
I tore my MCL, I came down with an evil flu which, three weeks later,
still inhabits my body in the form of a sore throat and an unrelenting cough.
threw my back out coughing, so now I limp around, coughing, with my head turned
at unnatural angle. I am...pathetic.
husband purchased most of the tomato plants in my veggie garden, and most of
them are growing quite nicely. Except
for eleven of them. Most of which are
look weird. They are short, stunted and hunched. Sort of like me, come to think of it. They are loaded
with fruit. The loaded part is great, but they appear to have stopped growing. What
is going on with these plants?
leaned painfully down, head cocked to the side, and read the tag. I saw one
little word that bummed what little stone I had left: “Determinate.”
what we have are tomato plants that will stay small and die shortly after the
majority of their fruit ripens. Instead
of the INDETERMINATE TOMATOES that I normally plant, also known as vining
vining tomatoes grow and fruit happily and bountifully until the first frost
kills ‘em. They regularly outgrow their containers and get so big that they
appear to be reaching out to devour one of my dogs.
would ever buy one of those stunted, hunchy, gimpy tomato plants?
turns out there is a place for determinate tomatoes. They are fine for
containers. They require very little staking,
stay small, and produce a high yield. Then they croak, and tomato season ends
two months earlier than necessary.
you want to piss off your garden-obsessive wife, then by all means, buy these
whimpy little determinate tomatoes for her monster vegetable garden. Then, wait
to read the tag until it’s too late to buy more tomatoes….