The Bucket Shrub

Sucking The Life Out Of The Holidays

My husband found four shrubs and a palm tree by the side of the road. Well, it’s not really a palm. It’s some kind of giant fern with a weird (PORN NAME ALERT!) hairy trunk. And it’s like four feet tall except now it’s dead. Or maybe it’s just resting, what do I know about plants?

We have some neighbors who have a lawn care business and generally leave the carcasses of shrubs and other assorted flora in the Designated Trash Spot which is the fence at the culvert. This is the best place in Memphis to find and leave Stuff. Chuck and his friend Alan hauled out our busted washing machine a few months ago and by the time they’d finished a beer to reward themselves for the manly job they’d done, the sucker was gone. I once saw this great end table and by the time I circled back around to pick it up, it was gone. I saw a middle aged woman in a Mercedes sedan try to pick up two club chairs and put them in her trunk. It’s like the FAO Schwarz of junk. On Black Friday.

I don’t know why these particular plants were put out to pasture. They were all healthy. The four shrubs have been sitting in their pots in front of Chuck’s garden forming a nice hedgerow. But it’s Christmas and I’m Southern. By law, I must decorate the house in some fashion. Usually, I just put a ribbon around a bottle of Jim Beam and call it a day. This morning I stuck a shrub in the ice cream freezer.

Part of Chuck’s dowry was a White Mountain ice cream freezer. You know the one. Wooden bucket, loud motor. He comes from a big ice cream-making clan, but that’s another post. Believe me. I really liked the bucket and being a gal on a budget, I stuck it at my front door and threw some greenery in it. It looked really cool. Then, of course, I let the greenery turn brown. You’ll know my house by the ice cream freezer full of sticks decorating the front porch. Oh, and spring before last a squirrel nested in it. So that was nifty.

But this morning I looked at the pumpkins (from his garden, thankyouverymuch) and frost-bitten croton and thought, damn. I should be embarrassed. I mean, I’m not. But I should be. So I grabbed a shrub, threw out the nest and the pumpkins, and now my porch is about a quarter of the way to being festive. I’m going to hang some glass balls on my bucket shrub. Maybe put a wreath on my door. OBVIOUSLY, I will be putting Fernando The Yard Flamingo in his Santa outfit. By that point I’ll be exhausted and need to recouperate by watching Love Actually for the 4,593th time. And I’ll probably require a cheeseburger.

Then I’ll wait with a finger or two of bourbon for a really pissed off squirrel to come banging on my door wanting to know how in the hell I thought I could evict him without proper legal notice.

As I Was Saying…

tweet yallYeah, so didn’t make it back quite in the time frame I imagined. I’m just not going to get into why because it’s really just not that interesting. I mean, I know I’m not generally interesting anyway, but this is like hearing someone else’s dream not interesting. It’s like listening to someone describe a dress not interesting. Have you ever noticed that when someone describes what she’s going to wear, it never looks like you think it will? There’s a lot of that going on in my world.

And yet here I am. IT’S ALL FOR YOU, INTERWEBZ!

I just want to say that I hate spring. I mean, I hate summer more. Especially August. But summer is at least honest. You know you’re going to be miserable in summer. You know you’ll spend three months peeling your thighs off hot car seats. You know you’re going to shower three times a day because walking out to get the mail makes you sweat through your caftan. And your mailbox isn’t even at the road. You know there are bugs as big as toddlers that are just waiting patiently to suck the life out of you by biting your ankles…just like toddlers with wings, in fact.

No, I hate spring because it’s too damned optimistic. Spring is all about promise, but it’s like the promise of that pub with the sign “Free Beer Tomorrow”. And now we’re into June and it’s going to be 95° this week with 876% humidity. You know what that means? There’s nowhere for the sweat to go. So you spend a little time outside and you turn into a Syracuse salt potato but without the creamy interior. Spring is crafty like a ninja. One day you’re sweating your bippy off and the next day you’re digging for wool socks. One day everything’s all green and fluffy and the next day it’s like Colonel Kilgore decided he wanted to smell victory so everything’s charred.

Also in Memphis, as in much of this part of the world, the hotter it gets, the more we all start sounding like Blanche DuBois. The heat turns our brains syrupy and ridiculous memories start oozing out our ears so then we’re like Blanche DuBois at the end of the play. And we start using the term “branch water” too much.

I’m going to be writing more regularly this summer, although I’ll just tell you up front I’ve got some obligations that might make that more difficult in the immediate future. BUT DO NOT CRY, GENTLE READER. For just like bangs and STDs, you’re pretty much stuck with me from here on out.

Not That Kind Of Quiet

I’m cheating on my library. No, it’s not because of the e-book thing. I have to schlep out to Colliervile two days a week and the library out here is good for hanging out. I’m a city girl. I like being inside the 240. The Memphis Central Library is within walking distance of my house–not that I ever walk there. I think about walking there, but I guess that’s kind of not the same. Anyway, one of my favorite places to sit is up on the fourth floor of the library, especially when it’s rainy. It’s not so much that the view is stellar. I sit where I can overlook East High School and the scrubby little strips of cellphone stores and nail places on Poplar. I just think it’s amazing there’s this big building full of books that could answer any question a person could have. AND THEY’RE FREE! They just GIVE them to you. Unless you’re me. When the weather is extremely hot or cold, there are a lot of scruffy men draped across the pleather chairs. They always seem to be eating Hot Fries. Back in April I was up there on a rainy morning. Several men were sitting around complaining about wives and trading stories about church services. The men began talking about work. Most were retired. It ended up that two of the men had worked for the city during the sanitation strike, but didn’t know each other. I tried not to act like a creep, but HISTORY! I had to listen in. And that’s why I love the library and Memphis. I can look out over a high school that looks like something out of a John Hughes movie while listening to people talk about being there the last night of Dr. King’s life.

The library in Collierville has carpet that cost more than my house. I don’t know how new this place is, but it doesn’t smell like a library yet. You know the smell. Paper, mold, dust, the reference librarian who still wears Wind Song. This library smells like a hotel. But credit where credit’s due. The outlet situation here is superb. There are many places to plug in one’s computer. Of course, today I seem to be the only person here using a computer which doesn’t belong to the library. Downside is I don’t get to bond with a harried grad student when we make a deal to watch each other’s stuff while we go to the restroom. I think I could just leave my stuff on the table if I need to go. I appear to be the youngest person here by at least fifteen years. If the old guy behind me wearing seersucker shorts and suspenders tried to make off with my laptop, I could take him down. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I could totally trip him with his own cane. And don’t think I wouldn’t do it. I have many important pictures of kittens cuddling with pandas downloaded on this machine.

It’s nice to be able to spread out. I might bring a snack next week. I find every task more enjoyable when snacks are involved. I’m kind of lonely though. The people-watching situation here is sub-par. The quiet here is a real quiet. Not the quiet of kids just sprung from school and eager to check Facebook. It’s not the quiet like when I try not to yell because they keep moving the 300s and 700s.  And everyone smells nice. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with that.