June 9, 2009

The Garden that Love Built; The Scarecrow that Crack Built

(Psst. Don’t forget, BOTH of the contests to win free books end tonight at Midnight EST.)

My blog, Faster Than Kudzu, is the natural habitat of all things hyperbolic. An understatement is a rare and welcome creature, so brace yourself, Bridget, I see a shy little understatement peeking over the wall. Oh, look. He came in. See him? He’s hiding on the other side of the semi-colon; I do not like to garden.

To give you an idea how under this statement truly is, I shall reveal to you that my facebook peeps and I recently played around with a HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ME quiz app. One of the questions on my quiz was

2) Which of these loathesome things do I like best?
a) Maggots
b) Yogurt
c) Gardening
d) Roaches
e) Dentist's Chairs

All those things are loathsome to me, but the correct answer, the LEAST loathesome of all those loathsome things would in fact be A) Maggots. Most people guessed gardening, but no. I actually have nothing particular against maggots, and many particular and sincere hatreds associated with gardening. As a child, when naughty, a common punishment was weeding. Now, when I crouch in a garden, my stomach muscles tighten, and I begin to feel I have been a very bad girl. (Not in the good way.)

Also I don’t like vines or vine-like plants like squash plants with thick leaves because I am absolutely sure there are roaches in them, lurking about, hoping to leap onto my hands with their rustle-y roach feet and run straight up my arm. Also, plants turn brown and die in my house, and this hurts my feelings. And I purely hate HAIRY LEAVES. They shouldn’t be. It makes me suspect they SWEAT. I do not want to touch hairy sweaty leaves…You see how it is?

But at the same time, I WANT to not loathe gardening, because last year Scott and I became Communist Presbyterians and our church is currently growing a vegetable garden and donating the produce. Putting in a vegetable garden is such a pragmatic, un-aesthetic thing to do to a church yard, and it is SO EXACTLY like this church and the people there it is pretty much a tangible metaphor for who they are---who we are---as a community.

The garden is emblematic of the reason we dubbed it the Communist Presbyterian Church the first time we visited. (Communist Presbyterianism is not ACTUALLY a denomination. As far as I know.) It’s a pet name. It took about 67 minutes of being there before we fell in love with every single Pinko in the building. We visited ONCE and haven’t missed a week since, because we wanted to be better people ourselves just from the being around them.

This little community---they have ideas. They say things to each other, things like, “Hey, we have all this LAWN, maybe we should use it to grow organic produce for folks who don’t get a lot of fresh veggies….” Then other people rally round and start getting fencing and seeds and putting the time in until it ACTUALLY HAPPENS. That’s why we’re there. In a bigger sense, I believe that’s why we are here. So.

It makes me wish I didn’t loathe gardening.

I went to see Mary, one of the women who has made the garden happen, basically to tell her how COOL I think she is, and she tried to enlist me into the ranks of the rake-holders. There I could not go. I said, “I really would rather be baked and eaten by file-toothed Morlocks, but, that said, is there anything ELSE that is not actual gardening I could do to help the garden?”

Her eyebrows raised and she said, “Can you make a scarecrow?”
And I, clearly poisoned by the secret wad of crack a demented barrista must have slipped into my latte, forgot that I am NOT crafty or mechanically or constructionally inclined, and said, “Sure I can!”

So, this week I made a scarecrow.
She is very very scary, I will say that.
She has demonic goat ears, trampy pink lipstick, pigtails, broad shoulders, long apelike arms, and no feet. She is held together via prayer, yarn, staples and an indecent amount of duct tape.
Her name is Jezebel:


The kids helped a LOT. They learned very little about how actual, well constructed scarecrows are made, but on the plus side, I am willing to bet that their here-to-fore profanity-limited vocabularies have really benefitted from listening to me try to make the freakin’ hands stick on. But we got her done and today we went by church and our friend Robert helped us ground her.

It is my dear and worthy hope that she does not fall into chunks before this growing season is over.

It is my dear and worthy OTHER hope that she puts many crows directly into terrorized therapy, so that the beans can peacefully and far-from-me do whatever it is they do on their creepy, hairy-leafed, roach-coated, loathsome vines.

Posted by joshilyn at June 9, 2009 8:10 AM

She is WONDERFUL, though I can't help mentioning her perch looks a little uncomfortable and brings to mind many many comments I won't make.

Posted by: Julie at June 9, 2009 8:46 AM

I particularly like her ears. And I LOVE Maisy's outfit. AND I have seen ONE (1) photo of your husband (where you are leaving the church after your wedding with your glorious Queene Anne's lace filled bouquet), but does Sam look EXACTLY like him or what???

Posted by: Roxanne at June 9, 2009 8:47 AM

Awwww, I think she's CUTE! Looks like she's got stuffing in her. If she does fall apart, I bet she'll line a lot of bird's nests.
I'm a dedicated gardener. I grow my own annuals and some perennials every year, many from seed I harvested the year before. It is like a foreign language, though, in that I understand not everyone "gets" gardening. For me, it is as hard to comprehend why someone wouldn't get it, as it must be for you to see why someone would. *Offers olive branch* I couldn't write a book if my life depended on it.

Posted by: Eleanor at June 9, 2009 8:48 AM

And I second Julie. I think the mere sight of Scarecrow Jane's perch alone might cause many old crows (both the feathered and none feathered) to need some therapy.

Posted by: Roxanne at June 9, 2009 8:49 AM

She is stuffed with Hay. So. If she falls into chunks the hay will do whatever hay does that isn't littering. Biodegrade? Be eaten by rabbigts and wild sheeps? Become mulch?

Posted by: Joshilyn at June 9, 2009 9:02 AM

Ah, she is WONDERFUL, and so are you!

Posted by: Jen at June 9, 2009 10:12 AM

Heh. I understand your gardening hatred, as I have many of the same feelings and skills. And yet, I can't seem to stop myself, I keep planting seeds (then just buying the plants when there are no sprouts or excessive slugs eating what few sprouts there are). Then watching as they are overcome by weeds and parasites and lack of watering. What is wrong with me!?

Posted by: Brigitte at June 9, 2009 10:12 AM

I have to say, as a theatre production professional, i have made my fair share of actual-size human body parts for all those Shakespearean and Greek tragedies where people drag corpses around and hack off heads and the like. It is no mean feat. For a first-ever body, she looks great! Besides, she doesn't need feet, mean or otherwise, with a pole up her boonda like that.

I guess since it is a church garden, you'd want to shy away from the visual pun of having one of her hands shooting the bird.

Regardless, bravo to all y'all on the successful scarecrow construction!

Posted by: Rachel at June 9, 2009 10:16 AM

Well, I'm no crow, but I may very well need therapy after seeing her. She's scary! And that pole up her (heh, Rachel) boonda is scariest of all. Um... ouch.

On the whole, it's a job well done.

Posted by: Aimee at June 9, 2009 10:32 AM

Oh, heavens, this made me LOL Out Loud!

Thanks, because I needed it. :)

Posted by: Damsel at June 9, 2009 11:13 AM

Oh thank you for always making me laugh! Reading your blog is a highlight of my day!

Posted by: Kathy at June 9, 2009 11:20 AM

Re: Maggots.

You have obviously never innocently stuck your poor, bare, unsuspecting hand in a bin of potatoes only to wonder "Potatoes are not supposed to SQUIRM are they?" and then pulled your poor hand out of the potatoes to notice that you are now covered in maggots.

Also, you have obviously never cooked your organic wild local rice only to discover (after taste testing) that it was riddled with maggots.

I do not think it is possible to be so benign about maggots when these things have happened to you.

Posted by: megan at June 9, 2009 12:55 PM

As your crafty friend, I must say...job well done, Tulip! I look forward to meeting her in person next week! ;)

Posted by: Amy-Go at June 9, 2009 1:03 PM

1. Would you clone those Commie Presbyterians and send them to n.w. Wisconsin, please? That is a church I could support. I would happily pitch in on their commie pinko activities. Wait. Do they require that members actually believe in their God? That would be a deal-breaker.

2. I think scarecrows usually have a crosspiece that runs through both arms and the shoulder, making the arms look like they are forbidding the crows from entering the garden. You might want to work on that.

3. I think this is my favorite FtK post evah.

Posted by: kmkat at June 9, 2009 1:21 PM

Your Commie Presbyterians have a Vermont sound to them -- does Vermont, where it is still 1972, send out missionaries, maybe one starter-CP, like sourdough starter?

My friend constructed a truly frightening nun-in-sunglasses scarecrow, but I can see where that might be a problem on a chuch former-lawn...

Posted by: rams at June 9, 2009 3:04 PM

I feel the exact same way about gardening. Your scarecrow looks great.

Posted by: Alison at June 9, 2009 3:06 PM

My gosh, you have got to be the funniest person around! I loved Between, Georgia. The birthing scene had me in stitches! I just finished gods in alabama. Totally different, but definitely with your unmistakable mark. Loved both of them. Now I'm going to read The Girl . . . but this one is way different! I look for your sense of humor in your books, but I'm thinking I'll have to start reading your blog for my daily dose of your southern humor (you know, the whole girl dies in the pool thing isn't exactly a laugh a minute). But that's all good. I like it that you're diverse, and that I won't know what I'll get when I pick up one of your books.
So, hey -- do you love my hair? =-)

Posted by: Teresa Wells at June 9, 2009 3:39 PM

...wondering if anyone should mention that someone named their blog after a creepy, loathsome vine? ...nah, I wouldn't mention it.

Posted by: Lulu at June 9, 2009 5:33 PM

I had a friend who worked in a nursery, and for three years running he gave me beautiful, wonderful, magical plants for my birthday.

I killed each and every one of 'em.

He finally started giving me pictures of unicorns.

I love your scarecrow, and I think she looks brave and determined! Well, and deeply uncomfortable, as has been observed above. I don't know about crows but it certainly scares ME.

Posted by: Fran at June 10, 2009 1:26 AM

Who sacrificed the cool button-up overalls? I believe I had a pair like that in the 80's!

Posted by: pam at June 10, 2009 6:44 AM

The thirift store sacrificed them to me for a donation of 3 bucks. :)

Posted by: Joshilyn at June 10, 2009 8:41 AM

She is a LOVELY scarecrow! Although I wonder if her trampy-pink-lipsticked mouth looked quite so TENSE prior to the- ahem- placement of the supportive device. I have heard of supportive undergarments, but that is above and beyond...

And if the crows become immune to her terrifying charms, I have heard from other gardeners ( the loopy, devoted kind who always have dirt under their fingernails and in the cuffs of their overalls) that metallic pinwheels (from a local party store) and used aluminum pie plates on longish strings, which the slightest breeze will cause to move in a way that crows, deer, and other wildlife find very objectionable, can be duct-taped to the garden fence supports for added protection.

AND they don't require any latte-crack, cursing, or hand-holding. (I am SORRY about the "hand-holding" pun. I couldn't resist.)


Posted by: JMixx at June 10, 2009 11:57 AM

Best Scarecrow ~EVER~ !!!

Posted by: Chris at June 10, 2009 2:44 PM

The scarecrow is adorable...and her hair looks just like your daughter's. A job well done!

Posted by: Avallia at June 10, 2009 11:20 PM

Your love for maggots is well documented. I have personally witnessed you throwing them treats, and watched as 8-10 of them followed you like sweet puppies. I have seen them return your affections by saving you from murderous slimes. Maggots and Joss: the most loving relationship in the world...

...of Warcraft.

Posted by: Jill at June 12, 2009 6:06 AM