April 1st, 2006


Mystery Plant #1

There is a mystery plant at my new home.

Actually, there's a lot of mystery plants, including some kind of bizarre bromeliad looking thing coming up in the front yard. But we'll get to them eventually.

This is a Mystery Shrub. It is quite large, the size of a well-grown rhodedendron, perhaps seven or eight feet tall and maybe twice that around. It has a sibling on its far side that's rather smaller (the size of a medium azaelea.) The leaves are dark, glossy ovals, much like a rhody, set more or less palmate. It appears to be evergreen, and I had thought "Hey, probably a rhodedendron," upon first seeing it.

The flower buds, however, are like no rhody I've ever seen. Instead of the tight, artichoke-armored balls of the azaelea family, these are short little pyramids of small tight white-green balls (which I presume will eventually hatch into some sort of white flower.) They look like lilac buds, but smaller and more compactly wired. However, lilacs are not evergreen and their leaves don't look like that.

I'm stumped! And granted that it's a garden, it could be from any corner of the globe. Anybody know any good guides to Mystery Horticulture?

Confessions of a Tenderfoot

We've figured out why we're in such pain. It's Home Depot.

Specifically, their concrete floors.

We spent over an hour both days there, and both times, we came out of the store, sat down in the car, and went "Unnnnghgghhhhh." My dogs have moved beyond "barking," straight past "howling," and well into "whimpering uncontrollably."

My question is, how do people WORK there? I mean eight hours, even in good shoes (and we're both wearing quite decent shoes ourselves) and I'd be wheeling myself out on a handcart. Combined with some quality time spent on the ladder painting today, and James and I are like weary prizefighters duking it out for ownership of the Gimpfoot Belt.

But we got the kitchen walls painted. Which was exhausting. And while there was a lot of space to cover, it was space that went around walls and counters and cupboards and six freakin' doorways and was generally a pain in the ass to tape off and edge and whatnot, so I'm hoping that tomorrow's full day of painting will be easier, as the family room is just "tape floor and ceiling, apply roller," with none of the fiddly bits.

James is deeply impressed by my taping technique. I figure ten years of masking off the edges of paintings oughta have SOME benefits.

It's kinda funny. James is completely the handyman, and I am about as mechanically inclined as an injured rutabaga. This is fine by me, I've long since resigned myself to being an observer and hander of tools. I can tell a Phillips head from the other kind, and that's good enough for me. I do not long to master the table saw. I took shop long, long ago, I am confident that, like scuba diving, if I really really wanted to, I could apply myself to it and master the art--but sheesh, who wants to?*

But the minute the paint came out, suddenly James was the one out of his depth--"How long do I stir this?" "How long should I rinse this?" "Did I get all the paint out?" "Will this dry darker?" "Does this need another coat?" "Is this okay?" I was amused. Every now and then, it's nice to be the competent spouse instead of the one going "Is it supposed to be smoking like that?"

*This may be more a sign of my well-trained self-esteem than actual truth, mind you, but I don't mention that to me.