Monday, October 25, 2010


Tonight every curling yellow tomato blossom and each fuchsia rose petal will sink below the dew point and engender tiny crystals lodging across their surfaces, sharp as white picket fences.

I hate first frost. Our kitchen is cluttered with green tomatoes and half-formed bell peppers, culled this evening because some hope is better than no hope. I'll place them in crowded bowls and line the dark of our coal room with each chartreuse sphere, a promise of ripening that I can't even intend to keep. Who knows? Maybe some will redden before the rot sets in.

Forty-five. The number of roses and buds I stripped from their bushes just now, violent splashes of flaming orange, pale yellow, pink, violet, scoops of sherbet in glass vases. They rest now, a week only, atop my dead grandmother's dining table. I'll throw them away soon enough.

See how morbid I become in frost? I'll be better tomorrow in the newness of fresh snow beneath crimson oaks. Taking Hunter for a walk, the golden weeping willow leaves will flutter lightly to brush my upturned face.

In five months, our first tulips and daffodils bloom. We'll till up the soil again, imbue it with black flakes and creamy pebbles, the tiniest bits of hope. And those seeds will bloom.

Monday, October 18, 2010


A couple of weeks ago the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints held its annual General Conference. Speakers addressed a wide variety of issues, including improving the quality of time spent as a family, increasing personal spirituality, sound financial management, and service in our communities. The talk that I appreciated most, however, was on the subject of gratitude.

In this talk, President Thomas S. Monson quoted a Greek philosopher (Epictitus, for those of you who are Greek philosophy buffs...which I AM NOT!) who once wrote, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." Then, after reading Jesus' story of the ten cleansed lepers, President Monson recounted the story of a poor family whose Thanksgiving celebration during the 1950s always included an inventory of their summer harvest, as preserved in their barn. That story moved me deeply and I've been thinking about it ever since.

A complete inventory of all that I have would certainly bore you to death AND either A)make you bitter with envy or B)make you send an anonymous donation to my poor house (depending on our relative positions in life), so I won't make one here. But this is an inventory of the Bell's summer harvest:

*24 quarts cherries
*26 quarts tomatoes
*16 quarts pears
*24 quarts peaches
*14 quarts grape juice

I'm very grateful for those gleaming jars, tucked up all cozy like in our coal room.

We only grow enough grapes and tomatoes for canning. I'm most thankful, then, for generous neighbors.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Puppy Love

Q: What's the worst thing that can happen to a backyard?
A: Two Border Collie puppies.

Enter, Diablo "Baby D" Robinson. This perp looks too tiny for trouble, but comes armed and dangerous with needle-sharp teeth and razor-wire claws. His favorite hangout is in the tomato garden, but he can also be found in any other fenced, off-limits location. He's even been located scaling Kris's cargo pants, dangling from the back pocket flap. Baby D has a ruthless streak and will launch full-frontal assaults on knees, ankles, or dogs ten times his size. This puppy has a nose for trouble and should not be underestimated...no matter how adorable this mugshot is.

Baby D doesn't operate solo. His accomplice? Real name unknown, this bruiser has been living under the alias "Fatty." His special skills include hypnosis via droopy puppy dog eyes, super-puppy ability to fake his way through a lie detector test, and deceptive calm. It has also been noted that Fatty can compress his body into eerily small packages for worming beneath fences, which is particular dangerous when giving pursuit during a high speed chase.

These puppies are known to have been involved in a two-week long crime spree, aided and abetted by one Hunter J. Bell. Damage included one flower pot, three petunias, four panels of lattice, one 2'x 2' patch of lawn, and 670 lbs. of fecal matter.

Their most recent heist involved the kidnapping of two middle aged white people, last seen Colorado-bound. The biggest problem in apprehending and punishing these worn criminals? Undercover agents in Utah have been purchased to the puppies' payroll with an overabundance of cuteness.

Can you blame them?