Monday, June 8, 2009

Lots of Misc

Have you ever read the garage sale section of the newspaper and seen the magic words people imagine will send loads of prospective buyers their way with fists full of cash?

Lots of Misc

It's at the end of every ad, and quite frankly, I find its meaning ambiguous at best. "Lots of Misc" could mean every piece of my grandmother's German china or it could mean seven bottles of my grandmother's Miss Breck hair color from 1968. You never know. Which is why I stay away from garage sales that just give an address and Lots of Misc.

With that said, today's post is a hodge-podge. It is miscellany at its best, so do your best to wade through. Hope you find something you like.


Have you ever noticed that in the Midwest, a man is not a man until he owns a riding lawn mower? And once he owns one, which he will call "the tractor" (although it is clearly not a tractor), he will find any opportunity to use it. He will spend hours of his precious Saturday mowing all five acres of his property to a precise 2.5 inches height. Not that he'll use the 5 acres. Not that he'll golf on it or chase his children on it. He just wants to have a ride on "the tractor".

With that said, Midwest men have a virtual age of 7 where tractors are involved.


Here's a unfortunate realization I've made during my last seven years here...

In the Midwest, there is nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition. It makes my East Coast daughter-of-an-English-major's blood curdle to hear my Midwest friends and family ask for someone's location.

Where you at?

It has been spoken into Nextels and Blackberries thousands of times in my town alone, just this morning. I am fortunate that my husband is sensitive, in that he understands my revulsion for the phrase and tries not to use it. The rest of the population, however, is oblivious.

Though my skin crawls, my mind feels assaulted, my inner grammarian wants to shout, "Listen to yourselves!!" I suffer in silence.

But the moment it comes out of one of my children's mouths... I swear to you, I will declare war.


Now an admission: When my mother and I talk on the telephone, we inevitably compare garden notes. She always seems so impressed with the way my garden is progressing. But, honestly, I can't take credit for it. It's the soil and the weather.

Is it any wonder that Midwest farms are so productive? The soil where I live is as black as coal. I could grow a lollipop tree from a scrap of paper and a grain of sugar.

So, as much as I go on about my garden this and my garden that... I am keenly aware that my garden is as successful as it is only because of where I am, not necessarily what I do. What I do helps, to be sure... but the key to garden success is the same as the key to real estate success -- location, location, location.


This weekend I noticed some newcomers to our little plot. I was pulling alfalfa from the garden -- it had grown as tall as I am and was blocking the sunlight from the lance-leafed coreopsis just coming into bloom -- when I noticed a small, grey creature as small as one of my daughter's shoes. Our bunnies have had their babies.

They. Are. Darling.

I love that they have found a home in our wildflower garden (not our vegetable garden, like last year!) There is nothing as cute as watching a bunny chew on something -- even if it is your entire pea crop. Fortunately, thanks to the bunny hutch fencing we chose for our vegetable garden this year, we don't have to go through that again.

Also, my eye caught a flit of yellow as I looked out the window this morning. Our goldfinches are back. This year, I want to get a picture of them. Looks like I'll have to camp out for a while until they get comfortable with me... or until our sunflowers bloom. At current count, there will be 14 of them in the wildflower garden.

It's a good year to be a goldfinch.


A bit of news that is pressing on my mind today... I found out this weekend that one of my best friends back East was attacked by a man with a gun in broad daylight. Without going into detail about it, she is bruised but okay -- never underestimate the power of screaming your head off.

But if you're a praying person, please keep her in your prayers. She is feeling a good bit of fear right now.


Today, the kids have the day off. They go back to school Tuesday and Wednesday for Field Day and the last day of school. Then, we're off for the summer. Part of me can't wait for the schedule to ease up. But, part of me is ambivalent about the portion of our time that will be spent "adjusting" (i.e. bickering). Summer vacation is fun, but sometimes my children need some time to get used to sharing the same space.

The bigger they get, the smaller our house seems.


That's it for now. Hope there was something in there of interest.

If not, I'm sure I could dig up a couple of half-filled Avon perfume bottles, a pair of used Odor-eaters, or a paperweight shaped like a human heart.

I'll give you the lot of them... Got a nickel?

- Midwest Mom


  1. I think you probably have more gardening skill than you are admitting to having. (I almost ended that sentence with to...ha ha). In addition to location though, I think gardeners have the courage to plant things. I know lots of people who admire my gardening efforts, and they say, "Oh, I can't grow anything." Well, I kill things all the time, or they simply don't come up from the ground. Gardening is about experimentation and the courage to put something in the soil. And after that, it is trial and error.

  2. We live in Ohio, and for some reason that's considered the Midwest. Honestly, I don't really get that.

    My hubby would dearly love to own a riding mower. Given the size of our lot, it would be ridiculous. It would make his heart happy though--that is if we had anywhere to store it. :-)

    Our soil is clay. See? Not really in the Midwest.

    I absolutely love little bunnies. Too cute. Have fun watching them.

    I'm so sorry about your friend. How horrible. I'll definitely keep her in my prayers.

    I wish you a wonderful argument free summer. Yeah, it won't happen here either, but we'll still have fun.

  3. GardenMom,
    I have to agree with you that good gardening is patient and courageous. People don't realize that I have had my share of unfortunate planting; there are times when a plant just doesn't thrive. The key is to learn enough about what a plant will need *before* you decide to plant it. Of course, there is something to be said for just scattering seed in fertile ground and waiting to see what springs up, too. I like pleasant surprises.

    Mom24 - I love Ohio. I have friends with a farm in Adamsville, and we always drive through to see our family in Pittsburgh, PA. Just because your ground is clay (we have some here... our town was founded by men who started a Brick factory) doesn't mean you can't grow beautiful things. Just mix in sand and compost to lighten the soil. ... and I have to say, I love the miscellaneous nature of your comment today. Here's your virtual nickel. [ O ]

  4. We have 9 acres and own a real John Deere tractor as well as a riding lawn mower. My husband refers to both as tractors. I never know which one he's talking about!

  5. I used to live in Chicago, and I could never understand why people there thought "do you wanna come with?" was acceptable...but it was the day I found myself thinking I could go for something from the "pop" machine that I knew I had to move back East!

  6. ~kris~ That's funny. Maybe you should name them? The Deere could be the Hulk and the mower could be SpiderMan (is it red?) How would that sound for your (age 7) Midwest Man to say. "Honey, I'm going outside for a ride on SpiderMan. I'll be done by dinner time."

    Liz - Oh, we do the soda/pop and lollipop/sucker discussion at least weekly. There are some battles and East Coast girl just can't win.

    - Julia

  7. Wonderful garden of thoughts today! I love it! I'm doing a blog on the nip and tuck of the English tongue later this week, featuring all of the words/usages that make MY skin crawl so I know what you mean about AT. It wasn't a part of my original essay but certainly qualifies in my book!

    Riding mowers? We have one at the lake house. Hardly any grass growing there since we are only up randomly, but he will get out there stirring up the dust "as if"!

  8. Ah, summer.
    My husband is obnoxious about his mower--it's true.
    My fave is "What you got there?" Everyone says it here.
    Sorry about your friend--but she was brilliant. NO ONE attacks someone making a fuss. It's true of any potential victim--resistance IS good self defense.


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