Every weekend is mulch buying, mulch loading, mulch unloading, mulch bag dragging to here and there, mulch spreading and then more mulch calculations. "Well, don't you wish you'd just ordered it by the truck and had it delivered?" Mom said when I told her our weekend project. "Well yeah but we don't want to pay the delivery charge. We'd rather be mules for the Mulch Cartel every Saturday until we collapse our stinking, dirty selves onto the couch by 8:00."
This Saturday had bouts of pouring rain, steady rain or threatening rain. When the rain had slowed down we went on a mulch run at a nursery center. This particular one happens to be the only one in town to carry the kind we want for the back path Mark dug, and so we bought and loaded ten more bags. No shopping around we agreed. We'd only get the mulch and then go on our other errand.
That errand was to a local home improvement center that has a Friends and Family sale every spring on hanging baskets. The 8" baskets of flowers are $4.99. If you are in the "club" the price is $3.99. I have been going for years but always alone. The Big Daddy isn't interested in flowers. He's planting crops to sustain us for the long winter yet to come and flowers are a distraction. This time, though, since it was on the way home from the nursery center he got to witness the Hanging Basket Sale for himself.
There is nothing I could say to prepare him for what lie ahead. "Wait inside," I said like a mum talking to their toddler. "I'll go back to the nursery and come back when I'm finished. Don't go out there. You will see things you can't unsee and it will traumatize you."
I took a deep breath and said, "I'm goin' in."
In the pouring rain I trekked outside to the nursery. With such lousy weather I didn't think there would be many people there, but crammed down the aisle like refugees waiting for a bag of rice and fresh water from the Red Cross were dozens of gardeners. Surging forward when the metal gates opened to reveal dozens of ten foot tall rolling racks of hanging flower baskets, the frenzy started. Some people had carts so crammed on the inside with baskets that they had to hang their baskets on every inch of the perimeter on the outside. Twice I saw two carts start to tip from the weight of all those hanging baskets.
I quickly decided on my color scheme and got four baskets of orange zinnias. When I spotted some various coleus walking by I asked where I might find some of those. "In the back corner," the woman said. I never found the ones she had and stopped looking when a woman in her 60s was scaling the side of the rack to get to the baskets on top as it was rolling forward.
It was then that I feared for my life.
The Big Daddy must have thought I'd gotten lost and wandered out there in utter amazement. "This is all for baskets of flowers?" "I know," I said. "It's sick, isn't it?" As if I wasn't fully participating. We threw some tomato plants and a peach tree in our cart and headed out of Dodge.
Exhausted from the rain, the mulch hauling and the flower pot recon mission, I came home flopped on the bed and turned on the t.v. I settled on Hoarding: Buried Alive. Twin sisters up to their necks in garbage were being forced to clean it up or have their property condemned by the city. When the shrink and the hazmat helpers came along to start hauling stuff out of the house the fragile sisters lost it. Shoveled out garbage was thrown onto the lawn including books that were headed for the dumpster. "Look at this," one said to the other picking through the garbage. "They say we can't even keep these. Sis, they're throwing our library away."
And by library she meant the pet urine soaked books with mildew all over them.
"Who do those f****** think they are trying to take our library away from us," Sis yelled back. And so they got out some paper and pencil and wrote down the name and author of every book in that pile so they could replace it. Even that didn't go so well when the writer twin couldn't keep up with the reader twin. "Why don't you pay some f****** attention to me so I don't have to keep saying it twice? Can you f****** do that?"
Whoa, Nellies, I thought to myself. Where do they find these people who are so knee deep in mental health issues that they have to keep bringing home crap they don't need until it's stacked to the rafters?
The next day Maggie called me to go to Target. "Let's check out the Lilly Pulitzer stuff," she said. "Yes, let's," I said back and I washed my stinky mulch hair and put some makeup on so I'd be pretty enough to try on Lilly's expensive-resort-wear-gone-cheap for the masses.
Twenty minutes later she called back. "Forget it. It's sold out everywhere."
"Sold out???? It's the first day and the store's only been open for a couple of hours."
"I know but everybody says there's nothing left in the stores or online."
There I sat with my freshly washed hair, my sparse eyebrows filled in (with a bit of lip gloss to boot) and longed for a sister by my side to ask, "Who do those f****** think they are taking all the pretty flowered dresses away from us???"