Friday, January 23, 2009

High Crime

In the interest of self-reliance, I planted a garden in October. It was very easy. I went to Home Depot and bought 5 already half-grown tomato plants and a few packets of seeds, including peas, corn, carrots and lettuce. My garden bed is only about 6x4, so the corn was a bit of a stretch, but you never know.

I also bought one bag of mulch. I'm not really sure what mulch is, but it sounds very healthy for vegetables. After I lugged it home, I read on the back that one bag of mulch only covers 1 sq ft of garden, so only about 3 of my seeds got any benefit from that. I chose which seeds got to go in the mulched section of the garden by playing Bubblegum, Bubblegum, In a Dish with them. That took kind of a long time.

Another thing I got at Home Depot was a tomato cage. When you put your tomato plants inside one of these cages, it's supposed to help them grow tall and straight. Even though I had 5 tomato plants, I only got one cage, because I stand up for freedom when I can. The plant that I put in the cage is tall, but sort of depressed. The rest are short, but free and, I believe, quite happy. Like my short friends.

I planted on a windy day. This was not a problem when I planted the peas and tomatoes, but I guess I didn't realize how small lettuce seeds are. Yesterday I saw a random head of lettuce growing in the retention basin across the street, and I'm pretty sure it's mine. When it gets a little bigger, I'm going to pick it at midnight so nobody will know how careless I was with my seeds.

After a while my peas blossomed and the lettuce seeds that made it into my garden grew. I even had a few tiny green tomatoes. It was shaping up to be just about the best garden ever. Then it got cold. I think my plants didn't like the cold, because their development was suddenly arrested. So I made a super cute quilt to cover my garden bed. Then I forgot about my garden for a few days (or maybe weeks), and when I finally uncovered it again, my plants were all dead.

My sister is a scientist and she says that plants are living organisms. As most of you know, I have a deep fear of going to prison. So let's just keep this incident to ourselves.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winning is Everything

I really want to win something. And I don’t mean I want to win a big promotion or win the heart of my true love (no offense, honey). I mean I want to win some money, or a new car, or the NCAA bracket picks at work.

I think my urge to win stems from the fact that I am a very competitive person, and yet I have no talents. So, I have spent my whole life wanting to win but never actually doing so. I never win at sports, I wasn’t even close to being my high school valedictorian, and the jokes I submit to Reader’s Digest are repeatedly rejected. And just so you know, their rejection letters aren’t that nice, either. How would you feel if you got a letter that said:

“Sending us the same joke 53 times will not change our answer. It is not a funny joke. It did not make us laugh. Stop sending us jokes. In fact, don’t send us anything. In fact, we are canceling your subscription and purging your entire history from our files.”

I recently decided that if I can’t be good at winning, I can at least be good at entering. With that in mind, I made a New Year’s resolution to practice my contest-entering skills for 10 minutes per day. After only 9 days of practice, I can already see measurable results. For example, I took my redial speed for calling in to radio contests down from 3.9 seconds to 2.7. I also created a Word template that allows me to quickly print out contest-entering postcards in a flash. When I went to my contest-entering support group, I couldn’t stop the tears when I was recognized as the most improved raffle ticket crumpler.

It’s equally important to be prepared with a plan in case you actually do win something. The other day I told my husband that we needed new pajamas. Not to spice up our love life, because really, how much spicier could we get, but in case Publisher’s Clearinghouse rings our doorbell early in the morning before we are dressed. It would never do to be wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt with paint stains all over it on national TV. And my pajamas aren’t so hot, either.

With all of my obsession for winning something, you may be surprised to learn that I never play the lottery. I just feel that handing a dollar to a corner store clerk lacks the challenge that a true competitor needs. At least with a radio contest you have to remember the phrase of the day, or the last 800 songs they played, or where Beth hid the bottle on the station's website. Plus, I only enter free contests. I mean, come on, I can’t just be throwing dollar bills around willy nilly. I’ve got postcards to buy!