The (Renovation) Honeymoon Is Over

Crazy Housewife

“The honeymoon is over,” said Dan, our contractor, as he walked through the front door at 7:30 a.m. on the first day of our kitchen renovation. I figured it was a statement about—how can I say this delicately?—ripping the bodice off my modest budget and having his way with not just my house but my bank account, too, after which he would lay there satiated, smoking a cigarette and talking crown molding. After all, he is a contractor, and that’s what contractors do.

But no. Dan’s not a brute. He’s actually a true-blue gentleman. I now realize that he was referring, instead, to my already tenuous grasp on sanity. Decades of experience had warned him that each day would bring me a little closer to the heavily medicated yet still-shrieking lunatic that I now am. (And no, that’s not normal for me.) Read more »

They’re Alive!

Herb Seedlings

“They’re alive! They’re ALIVE!” I screamed with demented scientist glee. “Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

When I left for NYC earlier in the week, I was certain my little farmer-in-the-dell exercise of growing vegetables and herbs from seeds would be for naught. I expected to find dry plugs of dirt in the pots I’d planted, with perhaps a few withered sprouts that had reached out their little arms to the sun, like an infant for its mother, only to be cut down in their youth from parental neglect. Read more »

I, Farmer David

Burpee Seeds

I have a complicated relationship with plants. Not all plants, just vegetables. And not vegetables themselves, actually, just the growing and harvesting of them.

See, I was subjected to indentured servitude on a farm in Swansea, MA, when I was 13 years old. Momma and Poppa Leite had felt the experience would be “good for you.” Besides, what else do you do with a depressed teenager who’s not only morose but terribly anxious? Considering it was the early ‘70s, my parents had two choices: hard work or hard-core meds. (Remember, this predated the age of mixologists MDs, so the drug of choice was Mother’s Little Helper: Valium. Plus, I’d gotten ahold of a copy of Valley of the Dolls that someone had left for trash, and there was no way in hell I was going to turn into Neely O’Hara—sparkle or no sparkle.)

So for three ballbusting years, I spent my summers bent over and picking peppers, green beans, zucchini, and summer squash; stringing and popping suckers off tomato plants; and slicing cabbages from their roots with perhaps the dullest, rustiest knife ever honed by man—all the while getting redneck sunburnt, scratching my ass (never relieve yourself in the middle of a poison sumac patch), and praying for rain, a tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster. Read more »

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