Thursday, April 29, 2010

I have a green thumb.

And at the moment, big old green Hobbit feet.
I really need to remember to wear sneakers when I attempt to mow the grass.
And to shave. I really need to remember to shave the tops of my feet too.

I have been working on our backyard for about two years now. It's a big project. Mostly because there was nothing there before. It was a blank canvas for me to create my masterpiece upon.

And over the last few years I created something of a little garden. Not so much an oasis, but more of a oh-that's much better than it was.

Don't ask me what I'm planting. My thumb isn't that green. Aside knowing the difference between perennial and annual, my knowledge of plants is limited.

Basically, I use the IIPIPI Method. IIPIPI stands for "If It's Pretty...I Plant It." I'm not totally brainless about it, but I also don't agonize over the details. If it's pretty and I like the color, I put it in the garden. If it's a perennial, I know it will come back next year, I can split it and it will make more versions of itself. I figured out for the most part what works in full sun and what doesn't and I like being in charge of the hose. It's like being in charge of the remote for the tv...except that its outside. I guess it's a guy thing. Freud should have looked into men who garden. Maybe he did. I don't know. But what guy who was watering the garden hasn't put the hose between his leg while it was on and screamed "Look Ma! No hands!"

Really? Only me. Damn.

Here's what I like. I like color. I like things that will come back next season. I like really pretty river rocks as accent pieces in the garden (and I have traveled the state in search of just the right rocks and have conducted clandestine missions-my girlfriend humming the Mission Impossible theme-to retrieve said rocks from rivers and streams) I like levels and flower beds created in organic shapes.

I like digging in the dirt. Now,I don't know what it is about digging in the dirt I like exactly, but I like it. I like it a lot.

I think digging in fresh soil with my bare hands appeals to my inner child. And I'm all for making him happy and not afraid to let him loose every now and then. I think letting your inner child out to play is a good thing, and as long as little sailor suits and babysitters who smell of cheese aren't in my future, I will continue to do so.

Here's what I hate. I hate big plastic birds or animals as decorations. Don't get me wrong. Pink flamingos are fun, and there is a place for them. That place is just not my garden. I also don't want an army of trolls, gnomes and other little folk in my garden.

I had a little gnome once. His name was Chad. Chad had a little wheelbarrow. One day, after indulging in some wild berries, a crazed squirrel took Chad's innocence. It is for Chad that I don't have any little folk in my gardens. I miss you.

I do have a birdbath and can't say that I don't enjoy all the activity that my cement addition has inspired. Washing the dishes, I get to see the whole show. It really is just like the community pool, I have come to discover.

If you watch long enough you will see the fat kid who takes up the whole pool and won't let anyone else enjoy a good splash or wing wash. There are the gossips, who sit on the sidelines, dipping their feet in occasionally, all the while chirping and squawking about something somebody did somewhere to someone else. There's the stud who puffs out his chest and turns all the ladies' heads and there is the lone loser who had too many worms and poops in the water in front of everybody.

Yep. Just like the pool at the Y.

I find that working in the garden is a wonderful form of therapy. It's very zen-like. Peaceful. Except for the neighbor's dog who won't shut up and you try to hush by throwing dirt clods at him. Hypothetically.

Strolling through the backyard, lush green grass under my toes, I become at peace with the world and for that brief period of time, all is well. Birds are singing. Traffic seems hundreds of miles away. I look into the fire-pit I created and imagine a beautiful fire under summer skies. Sitting there with my lady until we become sleepy from having looked into the dancing flames longer than we should have. Or until the fire department shows up and six guys with extinguishers trample through the yard and tell us that someone complained about the smoke and they have to put out the fire.

Stupid neighbors.

and that's Jody with a "y"

Feeling nostalgic, I decided to stop by and see my old friend Dr. Frank Burns today.

The purpose of my visit was to have Frank prescribe me different medicines. One that I am currently taking barely makes a dent in the pain and the other makes my arms flail like Ray Bolger's as he danced If I Only Had A Brain in The Wizard of Oz. My hopes were that Frank would be able to switch me over to better drugs. Even as I am typing that it makes me realize how much that sounds like something a junkie would say.

It had been a while, but as I walked down the monotone hallways, everything came back to me in a warm flush. How would he react to me just dropping by? Would he even remember me? And how could he since we've only really made eye contact once?

As soon as I opened the pine door to the Happy Land that is Frank's waiting room, it all came back to me. Seeing all those smiling faces sitting there in those yard sale waiting room chairs, I realized how much I have enjoyed not being here.

I double-checked all my paperwork because I know that any misstep...any lost prescription...means Game Over. Pack it up and move on down the road. I had my stuff together. And quite frankly, no pun intended, I was surprised that they even agreed to see me today without an appointment. Sometimes though, you have to roll the dice. I rolled 7's today and won a few minutes with Frank. Which is sort of like winning the Big Deal on Let's Make a Deal and discovering that you had won 1300 pounds of SPAM.

As I sat in the waiting room, the several people sitting around me, squeezed into their little wooden chairs from the 1970's, began telling Frank stories. Which are sort of like the stories you might read in Penthouse Forum because in the end, whether the actual happenings have been exaggerated or not, someone is getting screwed. The only thing missing was the pizza delivery guy and that music. Yeah. You know the music I'm talking about.


It was apparent that everyone hated Frank. The older woman next to me, someone's Me-Maw I'm sure, suggested in so many words that all Frank needs is to have sex with someone...and fast. One thing I can't imagine is the kind of woman who would end up in bed with Frank and the other thing I don't want to imagine is Frank in bed.

I guess somewhere there is somebody for him...on craigslist...towards the back...near the end of the ads...where only the desperate and truly depraved go.

The time passed slowly and we all shared the one TIME Magazine there was, tearing out a sheet as we read it and passing it along to the person next to us.

Finally, the door to the inner sanctum opened and I heard my name. Well, sort of. I heard someone trying to pronounce my name and doing a really bad job at it. It's simple. MATZER. It's MOTT with ZER. Like mozzarella without the ella and adding a zer. I would expect a Hindu man with 87 letters in his last name to at least appreciate my situation and unique name and try a little harder.

But that's Frank in a nutshell, isn't it? No hard work for him. He's not breaking a sweat for anybody. Just balls.

Frank and I finally had our little one on one in his office which was decorated in the style of boxcars from the 1800's. Sparse and cold, yet unfriendly and uninviting. The only thing missing was a stack of pallets and maybe prison bars.

Big shocker! Frank actually asked me how I was feeling. It actually took me a second to find my jaw to answer. I looked around by my feet and finally found it under his desk. I thought to myself, "My God. Frank is acting like a human being!" Was Ashton Kutcher gonna bust out from inside the closet and tell me I was being punked? Were there pigs causing problems at Richmond International Airport?

It did't take long for my answer because as I began to answer him, Frank turned away and starting asking me more questions. That "it-would-be-so-much-nicer-if-you-weren't-here' tone came back in his voice. His eyes glazed over. Then it hit me. He had thought I was someone else. Maybe his parole officer? Or the guy who was blackmailing him with those photos of him wearing a little girl's party dress and being pelted with bananas. (I don't know. I saw it in a movie once)

Yep! Frank was back to his old self. Ignoring me for the most part. Staring at his computer. Asking me questions but not really caring about the answers. You know. Playing coy. And he smelled great too. Like booze and band-aids.

He was hinting around that he wanted to stick another big needle in my neck but I wasn't buying. It didn't work the last time. It just hurt like hell, my neck felt like it was filled with cement and then my headache came roaring back the next day. Maybe that's what they taught him in that school that he went to after successfully drawing Buddy The Squirrel from the back of that matchbook that said "WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A DOCTOR?"

Nope. No needles for me today. Just a couple pieces of paper that only a pharmacist will be able to decipher.

I could tell Frank was disappointed. Or aggravated. Or angry. Or asleep. Shit. At least he was breathing. More's the pity.

After about ten minutes, when all the small talk had deteriorated into long moments of silence and stares out the windows toward the sunlight, Frank dismissed me. In my hand were the three new prescriptions he had written for me. We looked at each one last time (in my head was this little Terry Gilliam/Monty Python-esque animation of me catapulting Frank into the mouth of a monster that lived in a lake of fire.

Maybe Frank was thinking the same of me? I don't know. I may never know. He plays his cards pretty close to the vest. Like the way a zombie does. Besides, he never blinked or showed any signs that he had a pulse. He just closed the door behind me and, I can only assume, went back to cruising craigslist for the future Mrs. Dr. Frank Burns....and for the best price of bananas by the pound.

and that's Jody with a "y"


  1. Well, here's hoping Frank's prescriptions are more capable than he is!

    Thanks for the walk in your garden. Got a few real belly-laughs out of that one!

    Love from AZ!

  2. I, too, love to dig in the dirt. Most of my experience in this area was for the purpose of removing dandelions and horsetails. So I'm good at uprooting, not so good at rooting.

    I avoid doctors, adhering to the pilot's philosophy that there are only two possible outcomes from a visit to the doctor: no change, or grounded. I don't like the odds.

    I pity the doctor with no social skills. The best software engineer is the one who knows how to talk to his computer. And does, frequently.