Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I should just stop while I’m ahead. While I still have a head, anyway.

You know, the image that typically comes to mind when you hear the word “gardening” is of a bucolic, loamy field blowsy with pink and yellow flowers. Maybe your vision features an attractive retired woman in a giant floppy hat pruning a rosebush, about to herald the benefits of Boniva to the camera. Or, perhaps you think of a beloved grandfather in overalls picking raspberries, okra, peppers, and tomatoes in a well-tended berry & veggie garden.

You don’t typically think of “bandages” or “blood” or “bruises the size of a Dodge Grand Caravan.” So far, our spring gardening misadventures have included the following casualties:
  1. A sprained lower back from simply bending at the waist to set a flat of sunflowers on the ground.
  2. A bruised upper back from falling down the back stairs while trying to balance six potted plants. (Actually, it’s a temporary “stair,” as we still haven’t installed concrete steps like normal people. But this incident mirrored almost exactly the time I fell down the front stairs this winter. I openly wept in the yard after both falls because pain trumps embarrassment. This time, instead of asking my dog to take a dump between tears, my crybaby line was, “I don’t care about a TV stand…I just want some back stairs!”)
  3. A scraped forearm, thanks to the same back stair.
  4. A gruesome, bloody stubbed toe, from walking into the screen door. Thanks, flip-flops!
  5. Jason scraped four inches of flesh from his shin while digging a trench in the backyard.
  6. I also generally look and smell like a landfill, which is painful in a different way.
My gashed toe left drops of blood on the bathroom floor, which Daisy immediately licked up. Which can only come to no good. Now she’s got a taste for my blood. So if I died alone in the house and was undiscovered for weeks (like, if Jason took a vacation without me or something), Daisy would probably have my face half-eaten by the time he got back.

This is dangerous work. I should just spend summer on the couch watching HGTV and fantasizing about The Yard That Could Have Been. At the rate I’m going, I may sever a limb just going out to get the mail. One of my favorite aunts accidentally mowed her own big toe off with the lawnmower several years ago … and then she drove herself to the hospital. My god! Think about that. I stub my toe and I’m prostrate on the living room carpet, the mere thought of applying foot pressure to a gas pedal giving me hives. (Paying $3.50 for a gallon of gas also gives me hives.)

I guess I’ll have to live with the smell of Ben-Gay, Bactine, and self-pity for the next few days. I take comfort in the fact that my pathetic backyard efforts have already yielded three butterflies for the season: a mourning cloak, a monarch, and a red admiral.

Oh, who am I kidding. I can’t lie to you. The butterflies came for the decrepit lilac that was probably planted the year our house was built (at the dawn of time), along with the man-eating bridal wreath spirea--the sheer size of which suggests a certain level of radioactive material in the ground.


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  2. (Ooh, on a side note, I love your blue paisley-ish background.)

    And I am going to be all self-referential here and provide you with this this link that proves you and I are twins, at least in terms of our mutual clumsiness. Do you mind if I call you clumsy? I know I am.

    I am truly sorry about your physical woes. But I am also laughing. Because you always make me laugh.

    Especially about Daisy eating your face.

  3. Do you really think you should be brandishing sharp objects while surrounded by all that fecal matter? I'm just sayin'...

  4. Yikes, when I first read this line "This time, instead of asking my dog to take a dump between tears" I thought it said "ears"! Thank God I was wrong!

    Hey - hop on over to my place for a sec. I'm having a contest and there's still time to enter. Weeeeee!

  5. Do they make full body armor for gardeners? You'd be a trend setter, you know.

    Til then, for God's sake, be careful, would ya?

  6. Speaking of injuries: Has anyone figured out why I would plant a Crimson Pygmy barberry bush six inches tall, and think it would stay pygmy? It's fifteen feet high and eight feet across, and we can't get the tractor out of the garage, but neither can we trim it back without losing a hand. Duhh?
    I was feeling sorry for myself, with itchy peely sunburn and two imbedded ticks, until I read this. Cover yourself in foam rubber, Jess, finish planting, and then come trim our Wisconsin-sized barberry for us?

  7. Gardening. Sigh. I always make big, complicated plans for my garden and then I decide that laying on the couch reading detective novels is actually more fun. But this year. Maybe.

  8. I'm sorry to hear about your gardening injuries...but think of it this you're a survivor! You've taken on the challenge of the wild and emerged whole...beaten up a bit, but resolve unshaken. Are you sending queries to "Outside" magazine about this story? Perhaps even Oprah...I'm sure there's a message of self-discovery in there somewhere!

  9. >>Now she’s got a taste for my blood. So if I died alone in the house and was undiscovered for weeks Daisy would probably have my face half-eaten by the time he got back.<<

    Hoop and I once discussed that very same thing about our dogs. I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't mind. I'd be DEAD afterall.

  10. I've always wanted to learn how to garden, but really, the whole thing scares me. Reading this didn't help!

  11. Oh Jess...I'm so sorry. I hope that you're okay. As "okay" as Jess Riley can be, which for the selfish sake of the rest of us, I hope that you're not that okay.

    If it helps, I throw my back out while sneezing, or sometimes I do it just sitting there. It's like the back goes, "Let's fuck with him."

    Two weeks ago, I pulled a hamstring, or bolognastring, or salamistring while jumping rope. Then, I fell off a sidewalk and hit my head on a tree.

  12. I bought some Gerbera Daisies for the courtyard of our building. Everyone, meaning me, forgets to water them, including the people hired to do this.

    Since I have a bad ankle that won't go away, I have taken to watering them from the second floor. I take the blender pitcher and fill it with water and then stand over the pots and let the water go.

    I have scared the crap out of a few of my neighbors, which I find endlessly amusing. One guy was barbecuing about 3 feet away from the flower pots and when he heard the water hit he jumped about 6 feet in the air.

    Good times.

  13. i stumbled in from allison's site...nicely done!

  14. I go the HGTV route myself. Life is too short. Did you ever notice how, well, dirty dirt is? Not to mention it often contains bugs and creatures.

  15. Jess, I haven't been here in ages and I'm sorry that your gardening exploits were so painful. I try to garden as little as possible, since I end up killing everything anyway. Good to visit here. Be careful out there!

  16. I should say, "Be careful, Jess, it's dangerous out there and I hope you are feeling better, dear" but I'm sorry, I'm laughing like an idiot. Your poor Aunt drove herself to the hospital and her toe was laying in a lump of grass in the yard? I drove myself to the hospital with an ankle broken in two place (thanks to my dogs) but it was my left one and I drove an automatic.

    We always dream of the perfect day for a perfect garden. But we never dream of blood and Advil.

    Be careful out there! Guffaw

  17. I really couldn't concentrate on anything you wrote after Daisy licked up your blood. Ewwwwwww!!!

    Now I am wondering if my dogs would eat my face off if they tasted my blood! You may want to keep some garlic around for your little "dogpire".

  18. Less gardening, more writing!

    (Much safer that way, don't you think?)

  19. This is precisely why I don't garden. I have two Black Thumbs of Death and I am so clumsy I'd definitely lose a limb trying to prune a rose bush or something.

  20. That is why I don't garden! Actually, that's why I'm not allowed near most sharp instruments.

    I've still got my letter opener, though. I'm holding on to that. Despite the gouges in my fingers...