Learning lately

Sometimes I keep waiting for a big cohesive story to come along before I sit down and write, and then I realize that actually, I’ll be waiting a long time. And there are little tidbits I want to remember, in the meantime.

Things I Have Learned While Gardening
Cabbages like coffee grounds. Sometimes tomato plants fall over for no reason (but will stand up and grow again if you use a couple of supports). The same children who sometimes push store-bought beans around on their plates at dinnertime will argue over whose turn it is to go pick beans, and then eat half the haul en route. Watermelons are surprisingly hard to grow. As soon as I decide that maybe I DO like the parsley that came back from last year unbidden—because how could I not, with it growing so tall and lush?—it will start to bolt. Two seasons in, I’d say it’s confirmed: I suck at growing peppers.

(I should write a gardening manual, or something. I mean, wasn’t that incredibly useful?)

Things I Have Learned About Dollar Store Towels
They are made of magic! They LOOK like towels and they FEEL like towels, but they are WATERPROOF. Magic, right? (Note to self: Buy new towels, and spend more than $4 on them.)

Things I Have Learned About Pubescent Girls
The same child who will scream and cry that IT’S NOT FUNNY!!! when you dare giggle in her direction will laugh her head off at some intensely personal tidbit she just shared, and say that it’s okay to blog. When explaining why you will NOT blog any such thing, because, HELLO, that’s really kind of let’s-keep-that-to-ourselves-ish, she will become enraged that you don’t find her entertaining enough to share with the world. That same child will torment her younger brother at the grocery store until you turn around and hiss at her, repeatedly, to knock it off, and soon thereafter will zing him with, “That’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” When given A Look through narrowed eyes in response, she will add, “That’s none of MY business, either, and I’m SHUTTING UP NOW.” They find jokes about boobs endlessly funny.

Things I Have Learned About Fruit Flies
They love me. They love bananas. They love tomatoes. They are having orgies in my kitchen and laughing at me. They cannot, however, swim in vinegar laced with dishwashing soap. Guess who’s laughing now, punks?

Things I Have Learned About 9-Year-Old Boys
They are impervious to the smell of urine. It never stops being funny to say, “Is that alright with you, Monkey?” when a certain small boy has been buried in a book; watching him try to figure out how to answer can entertain the entire family for hours. They are extremely helpful (“Let me do that for you!”) but not terribly coordinated or good with long-range planning (“Well I climbed up here to reach so I could put the plates away, but now I can’t reach the plates in the dishwasher”). Sometimes they need a nap in the middle of the day for no reason other than it’s time to recharge. They are not too big too cuddle with their Mamas. They find jokes about boobs endlessly funny.

Things I Have Learned About Plans
Plans are good, but flexibility is better. Sometimes I have to work harder than I want to. Sometimes I get more time off than I thought I would. Sometimes I need to shut up and suck it up. Sometimes I need to take a break from planning. Sometimes a little hope is all it takes.

Things I Have Learned About My Husband
He is extremely patient with the exploding garden, waterproof towels, fruit fly infestations, my various neuroses, and also the children’s endless jokes about boobs.


  1. Otto

    Well, to be honest, the towels really got on my nerves. I may never shower again because of them …


  2. BethR

    Doesn’t EVERYBODY find boob jokes funny? I mean, come on! Even the word is hysterical :-)

    And Otto? Yeah, you threaten to do that and she’ll make you go live in the pool strainer with the snakes!

  3. exile on mom street

    How you not include even ONE boob joke for our reading pleasure?

  4. Crista

    I love that tidbit about Monkey and the plates! That is so totally something I would do!

  5. Christina

    Helpful hint with the cheap-y towels. most of the time you just have to run them through the washer a few times before they lose that “new” coating. Doesn’t work for all but, I’ve had good luck when working with towels bought for me by my ex-MIL.

  6. ks grandma

    Yes on the towel hint. Also, use vinegar in the rinse water, and avoid all “softener” products in both the washer and the dryer. Worth a try. Next hint will probably include cutting them to rag size and acting like that was the real plan!

  7. Aubri

    Towel hint gets another Amen… We’re still endlessly going to school over here… those cheap-o towels? Often times what we buy. Vinegar rinse, and lots-o-washin’ often does the trick.

  8. bob

    I wish more people had had your realization about towels (and earlier), my job wouldn’t require me to travel to Bahrain – and now probably Pakistan, which is where we make towels now.

  9. bob

    oh, yeah – also, fabric softener (as mentioned above) will cause towels to repel water instead of absorb it.

  10. ~annie

    Just buy new towels. It took the better part of a year for my Dollar General towels to learn to soak up water. Oh, and and I never used fabric softener on them.
    Does my need for a nap in the middle of the day make me a nine-year-old boy? I’d like that, I think…

  11. sillyme

    hate to spoil the party, but the vinegar rinse made me gag and when I dried myself with the vinegar rinsed towels, I had to shower again because my body smelled like vinegar. (I used a bedsheet to dry off) Because I don’t learn quickly, I tried different brands of vinegar even the cider stuff. Everything stunk. Now I just don’t use fabric softener on my towels -or socks. And my family loves me again.

  12. liz

    When I clean windows with vinegar, I desperately crave a salad with vinaigrette dressing afterwards. I think it would be worse if you dried off in vinegar.

  13. Lori N

    And for another trick with vinegar – red wine vinegar on sunburn helps relieve the pain. (Do not use on broken skin!) Of course, you also smell like a salad which has the added benefit of keeping people from touching you – unless they start craving salad – then all bets are off.

  14. Jane

    Why am I craving a salad? With vinaigrette?
    Also, thanks for the helpful hints with tomatoes and kids and towels and stuff. Now I have to go cut some lettuce from my garden…

  15. MomCat

    You mean this isn’t your gardening/life/boob joke manual, right here? That’s why I’ve been reading every day!

  16. Tammy

    Buy new towels. JCPenney has the best ones for the $$.

    Loved that you channeled Dirty Harry in your quest to eliminate fruit flies.

  17. Teri

    Ok, so the plan is to spend $4 on a towel that doesn’t absorb. Then spend $20 washing it over and over again to get it to absorb. Talk about stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime! Use the dollar store towels around the pool and buy new towels!

    Oh, and can I just say, jokes about boobs are endlessly funny for 40 yr olds too!!

  18. Boy Crazy

    Oh my gosh I am laughing out loud. I think you could be my BFF. The towels! Boys and their pee! FLEXIBILITY. Lovely husbands. :) And the best? Not having the time to pull together a long flowing story but blasting out some rockin’ little points of interest to get us through our days. Thanks Lady.

    -Elizabeth (aka Boy Crazy)

  19. Katie in MA

    Wait – you hang out with some people who *don’t* think boob jokes are funny? What is wrong with you?!!

    Watch: BOOBS! Ha ha ha. Try not to snicker. :)

  20. Lori

    I think I need to remember your advice on plans…

  21. 'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why

    Think boob jokes are funny? Try spelling them “bewbs”. Hi-lar-i-ous!
    BTW, pepper plants grow better for me in pts, and I always use prestarted plants in the cup (not the tiny plugs and never seeds – total waste of time). Also, they don’t like too much sun.
    Good luck!

  22. My Kids Mom

    No one else has commented on the parsley- you’re doing it fine. Parsley is a biennial which means it grows leaves one year (good harvest) and goes to seed the second year. If you plant some more seedlings this year you can get two rotations going and let them seed themselves. In our area you can have parsley year-round.

    My peppers are all dead. One cuke left to battle it out. Spend the money on good towels; you’ll feel like you’re at a spa. Worth it. (Kohl’s is a good place to buy them)

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