Seriously, green beans. Chill out.

What the flying figgity lawdamn cuss word?

Neglect your green beans for a few days of margaritas, a modicum of partying in the back with visiting friends…

and partying in the side…

…and maybe the other side, too…

The point is, leave your green beans on their own for just a little while and they will hide out in the shadows, multiply, get full of themselves,


Wiggle wiggle it.

Green beans. Don't be alarmed.

To put this into perspective, I have man hands.


Hand on the left = grown 6'5" man. Hand on the right= me. So don't mess.

Hand on the left = grown 6’5″ man. Hand on the right= me. So don’t mess.

So these beans, nearly as fat as my man fingers and twice as long, are not goofing around! These are some meaty beans. They got some junk in the trunk. They are, however, still delicious–surprisingly, not pithy or stringy at all. I’ll cut them up tonight with a batch of beets I harvested today, too.


See? My hands are so big, I can’t keep them out of the picture.

In other news:

1. Screw it. You win this round, weeds.

She is of zero use pulling weeds.

She is of zero use pulling weeds.

2. Gladiolas wpid-20140731_111558.jpg

3. Bell pepperswpid-20140731_111533.jpg

4. Who knew squirrels would dig up your onions? And for no reason other than squirrels are assholes.

5. Speaking of assholes, Paris Hilton the Cat is gone. Her family has moved to West Virginia and now there is a poop-in-my-garden-box sized hole in my heart. Sure, she was a mean-spirited, filthy, spiteful, pink-collared, entitled, brat of a cat, but she was my Nemesis. I guess you could say: Paris Hilton, you completed me.






Paris Hilton: The enemy at our garden gates.

First off, y’all should know that Paris Hilton is a cat. An adorable cat. With a pink, rhinestoned collar. Which is the first reason I’ve named this deceptively adorable cat, Paris Hilton. But the second and third reasons are the reasons why Paris Hilton is my enemy. My nemesis. The Big Bad of my garden’s 2nd season.

Reason number 2 (there’s a pun here, you’ll see why in a minute) I call the cat Paris Hilton: Remember when Paris Hilton the Socialite ordered the pilot of her private helicopter to touch down on some poor German family’s farm?

A source told Britain’s More magazine: “She gave the farmer a bit of a shock. Her bouncers even blocked the farm door so the family couldn’t go inside their own house while she was using the loo.” The star then allegedly spent another ten minutes on the startled farmer’s porch, so she could smoke a cigarette. The unnamed farmer said: “She was cold as a fish, and cursed about the weather.”

Well, just like Paris Hilton the Socialite who feels entitled to pee wherever she wants, Paris Hilton the Cat thinks she’s entitled to use my garden boxes like her own private loo. And she smokes. Okay. She doesn’t smoke. But if she did, Paris Hilton the Cat would leave her butts everywhere.

photo credit:


And Reason 3 I call the cat Paris Hilton: SHE WON’T GO AWAY!

So, right now I’m sitting in my garden chair, keeping watch. Paris Hilton the Cat will slink in, that’s sure, but I’ll be ready. WE WILL HAVE BEETS!

In other news:

1. I threw a tantrum, so the kids helped me weed.

2. Last night we ate homemade strawberry shortcake with strawberries fresh from the garden.

Homemade shortcakes, y'all! And real whipped cream.

Homemade shortcakes, y’all! And real whipped cream.

3. The Stella d’Oro daylilies look lovely in the strawberry patch:

Stella d'Oro daylilies

Stella d’Oro daylilies

4. The plum sticks are growing leaves. Yay!

Japanese Plum Stick. Now with leaves.

Japanese Plum Stick. Now with leaves.

5. I treated the columnar apple tree with Neem Oil. We’ll see if we lose it to the Fire Blight. (“Out, damned spot! Out I say!”)

6. We’re already on our second harvest of radishes.

It's a radish.

It’s a radish.

7. And this is our front-yard garden, Year 2 Day 26:

Year 2, Day 26

Year 2, Day 26



The horror! The horror! (Fire Blight)

the horror.

The horror.

Whelp…not even two weeks into the season and my adorable little columnar apple tree has contracted this:







Fire Blight.

the heart of darkness.

The heart of darkness.

Which I’m 99.3762458% sure has something to do with the tree next door:






As far as I can tell, you have three options for controlling fire blight: 1. pruning out the damage until all that’s left of your adorable little columnar apple tree is a sad nubbin left in the ground. 2. organic copper fungicide  but only if I’d thought of that about two weeks ago (for the do-it-your-selfers: combine 3 and 1/3 tablespoons of copper sulfate to 10 tablespoons of dry or slaked lime and one gallon of water. For people like me: attach hose to overpriced product purchased at Lowe’s) 3. burn the whole neighborhood down and start over. I’ll probably try the fungicide before the arson, but I’m worried that my apple growing venture has already gone to seed (ha.)


ONE: Realizing that there was a bit of open sky between the fairy tree and the maple in the back part of the yard, I planted two semi-dwarf Japanese plum trees, which according to my research can take a bit of shade.

Japanese Plums

Those sticks are actually plum trees.

TWO: The rains have caused a weed-splosion. Thank goodness the kids are out of school today.

Even weeds look pretty in pictures

Even weeds look pretty in pictures

THREE: My daughter has planted her own garden box with spinach and carrots, which we put in a patch of sun just in front of the Nanking cherry “pie bushes.” (Also, where the hell did all the  cherries go? The branches have been stripped clean! Whaaaat? How? And by whom?)

Blaisey's Box

Blaisey’s Box

FOUR: Squirrels are assholes. I mean, if they’re gonna pick the strawberries, they should eat them, at least. But no. They look you in the eye while they take one bite of the berry and throw it to the ground, still staring at you when they pluck the next one from the vine.

FIVE: And this is the state of the garden, Year 2 Day 13:

Year 2, Day 13

Year 2, Day 13

Let’s talk about poop, baby…And tomato blight.

I’m feeling some pressure this year because last year’s garden was such a torrid success (TEN whole re-pins of that picture just above, people! TEN!). Particularly since last year’s tomatoes all got the blight (leaves that shriveled and fell off, black spots that eventually consumed the fruits entirely. Pure EVIL). No way I’m planting tomatoes in the same spot again. Though I have done some research on blight, and–according to those in the know at the Athen’s Farmer’s Market–the Amish farmers spray their plants with a baking soda/water solution once a week. Their tomatoes look beautiful. Trust the Amish. Which is good advice for lots of situations.

Still and all, tomatoes are overrated in our family. I mean, what do you do with bushels of tomatoes once salsa loses it appeal and your neighbors hide when they see you coming? Well. You freeze them. Except now we have bushels of frozen tomatoes stuck to the floor of the freezer because someone unplugged the freezer and they sort of melted into a pulpy mush. And then someone plugged the freezer back in without cleaning anything up. Of course. It’s a tomato glacier down there, which is to say: permanent. At least until global warming takes care of them.

So. No tomatoes (Well. Except for two plants that I’m hiding away in the back of the yard. I mean, let’s be honest here: it’s not really a garden without tomatoes). But I’m afraid that without such green, thick, tallish, luscious tomato plants behind the fence to anchor the whole composition, the garden will look like a dog with the mange.


I’ve decided to replace the tomatoes with asparagus. Here’s the trench and the mass of asparagus roots I haven’t yet planted.  I’m not convinced they’ll grow, but I’m planting fifty asparagus plants that I hope will create a feathery hedge behind the fence and a carpet of firm and delicious asparagus spears beneath. Pretty soon, three years or so, our whole family (and our neighbors) will have eight weeks worth of stinky pee.


Which reminds me.

Image courtesy of


In Party in the Back news. This weekend my mother-in-law gave my daughter a game called “Doggie Doo” for her seventh birthday. It’s a game where you feed a wiener dog bites of neon, slimy goop, then roll the dice to figure out how many times you get to squeeze the dog’s leash to force air into the wiener dog’s bowels and try and blow the goop out of its backside. The winner is the person who collects three turds on her or his shovel. The pooping dog was a real hit. We had the Director of the University Creative Writing Program, three grown-ass men construction workers, my oldest son’s girlfriend who gave the wiener dog mouth-to-mouth whenever the dog got, um, “constipated”,  and a seven-year old all holding miniature shovels up to a plastic dog’s butthole.


I’ve married into a family not nearly as tight-lipped about bodily functions as the one I grew up in. My spouse, my in-laws, my children–it’s poop, poop, poop, all the time, poop. The other day my spouse came home from the job site to “rest” in the “restroom” for a little while (he’ll only poop in two places: home and WalMart), and my youngest daughter said, “Daddy, are you home?”

“No, sweetheart,” he told her through the closed door. “I’m just here to  use the restroom for a minute.”

There was a long pause and then she said. “Um, Daddy?”

“Yes, sweetie?”

“Do you want to talk about poop?”

“No!” he said. “I don’t!”

And neither do I.




Our Front Yard Garden. Year two. Day one.

May 15th, the first safe day to plant thy tender seedlings, so sayeth the Farmer’s Almanac. This is what our front-yard garden looks like today.




But. We had NEGATIVE 22 degree weather this winter! Whaaaat? In Athens, OH, our little sub-tropical Appalachian hill town? So, you know, some things are bound to go to shit. My thighs for example. It was a loooong winter.

The pee teepee. I mean, the pea teepee went to shit. (Or whatever–let’s face it, we have kids, dogs, cats, drunk college students roaming the sidewalks, a construction worker who brings his crew home to drink beer(ssssss) in our yard, and me who’s just old enough not to give a damn anymore. So both things, pee and pea, are probably true)

DSC_0638 The quaint little arbor we made from the branches of a Rose of Sharon tree we cut down?

It went to shit. Though we probably should’ve used something better than hot pink dental floss to lash it together. It wasn’t classy. Or effective.



This is one of our dwarf peach trees. Yep. Gone to poops. There was some sort of gross jelly-like orange goo all around it’s base, which is probably a strong indicator that the weather wasn’t entirely to blame. Seriously, the goo–it looked like marmalade–and it was disgusting.

DSC_0629 (Also, look close. That’s actual bird poops on the dead peach tree. Talk about adding insult to injury.)





Good news is the strawberries are doing great.

DSC_0624The blueberries have buds.

DSC_0609And the Nanking cherries have tiny little fruits clinging to the branches.

DSC_0612In a very adorable side note, my six-year-old calls the Nankings “pie bushes.” But then again, she has a rich inner life. With an imaginary mother who bakes. She also has a stuffed cat named Muffin, which is maybe supposed to make me feel guilty or something.