Tag Archives: Stratton Greenhouses

Hey, at least it’s evenly dented!

Our 1997 Dodge Caravan had survived nearly 15 years of life with nary a scratch on its exterior. Its bright, shiny, red paint belied its age. But look inside and the picture changes a bit.

The gray upholstery and carpet are showing signs of wear and tear, as are its innards — a second transmission, third set of tires, and so many serpentine belts that we have single-handedly financed the retirement of the CEO of whatever parts company makes the belts.

Years of travel with two teenaged drivers should have produced some dings along the way, but the only major trauma during their years at home occurred when the hubs and daughter number two were returning from her job at Stratton Greenhouses. Their version of the story was “The deer just came out of nowhere, just dropped from the sky.” Said deer left the van totaled, but the good body doc fixed it up right as new.

As the girls moved on to Athens and Bowling Green, then Kent and Cincinnati, the Caravan morphed into a moving van. Still…no dents.

But, as so often is the case with cars, fate interferes.  I’ve learned not to question these things…acceptance is best.

But…sigh…there are now two rather hefty dents on each rear side panels of the van. Both show signs of having collided with something painted white. Well, hey, at least it’s evenly dented.

As I understand it, here’s how this little scenario played out.

First, while the hubs was removing the middle and rear seats from the van (preparing it for yet another moving spree), one of the seats tipped over and smacked one of the rear lights.

A few days later, wearing his Chamber CEO hat, the hubs was —  as he puts it —  working “in the line of duty,” delivering signs to the Christmas lighting contest winners. It was dark and he backed over a post holding two mailboxes.

Lest you accuse him of a federal offense (which it is), rest assured, he reported it immediately to the owners and our insurance agent.

In a burst of insight, he pointed out that his procrastination in repairing the broken rear light saved us $70 because it most certainly would have been smooshed again in the mailbox fiasco.

Perhaps a month later, the van was parked on the street in front of our house when someone backed into the other rear panel, producing the matching dent. Said offender was remorseful and offered to pay for repairs. Why bother? Then we’d have to fix both sides.

At 15 years of age and showing 156,000 miles on the odometer, Big Red is showing signs of age. Most days when we start it up, the dashboard no longer lights up. But one smack to the top of the dash, and up come the lights.

It’s cranky in the cold, squeaky in the heat. The heat only begins to blast warm air after we’ve driven an hour or so. The air conditioning? Nada.

But hey, Big Red is part of the family. We won’t put it out to pasture until Gary Kirtland and Jim Kinn pronounce it hopeless. And those big dents? Like age spots, you can try to hide them, but why bother?

The curse of the Mother’s Day plant

Last Sunday, the rain let up just enough that I decided it was time to do some planting. Despite a hankering for a new high-rise raised bed, I’d decided instead to do mostly container gardening. Having done this successfully several years ago, and bolstered by an article posted on the Stratton Greenhouses Facebook page, I headed out to the playhouse.

Okay,technically this is no longer a playhouse, but since I like to play in the garden, we still call it that. My dad built this A-frame “cottage” about 18 years ago, intending it as a playhouse for the girls. He told me we’d be lucky if it lasted for two years, but since my dad never did anything halfway or shoddy, it still stands.

Anyway, the toys housed inside have been replaced by gardening tools and equipment, pots of all sizes, bags of potting soil, and assorted spiders and bugs. So…Sunday, I shoved aside the spiders standing guard at the door and grabbed four big clay pots and a bag of potting soil.

This was to be an early planting of succession crops (I made that up to sound like I know what I’m talking about). In one pot went mesclun (a “gourmet” blend of greens, and in another pot I planted spinach. Then because I wanted to compare the success of basil grown in a pot versus that grown in my herb garden, I plopped some basil seed in the third pot. In the fourth pot, I mixed a handful of year-old buttercrunch with spinach.

Container garden pre-squirrel attack

Despite the fact that it was likely to rain within a few hours, I dutifully sprinkled water over the four pots. In the back of mind, a niggling voice festered. “Maybe you should put screens over the pots….just in case.” Since I’m so good at ignoring little voices I took some pictures of my pots and pleased as punch, went into the house to announce the start of my 2011 garden.

The next day, I was talking to my youngest daughter on the cell phone as I walked home from work. As I approached the patio, I excitedly told her about the plantings. My happiness suddenly turned to howls as I realized one of those wretched squirrels had decided to feed on my newly planted seed.

Her response? “Mom, it’s the curse of the Mother’s Day plant. Remember?”

Pot post-squirrel attack

Oh, how I remember. Long ago, when she was about six years old, she’d planted a flower in a tiny pot at school and brought it home to give me for Mother’s Day. She and her dad had hidden it in the garage, locked the door, and forbade me to enter the garage. They forgot to tell that to the furry creature hidden somewhere in the dark recesses of the garage.

The next morning, the two of them sneaked out to the garage. There was a loud scream, followed by angry cries of frustration. Somehow, they’d unknowingly locked a raccoon inside the garage and he seemed to think that flower was his breakfast.

I honestly think if the raccoon had hung around, Anne would have grabbed the nearest shovel and smacked it.

It was Anne’s version of Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.” A Mother’s Day I’ve never forgotten.

Twenty years later, she’s obviously still hanging on to her memory of that day, but with a humorous twist. And so…there you have it…the curse of the Mother’s Day plant. Guess I’ll have to wait until after Mother’s Day to re-plant.