The Mislaid Plans of Wives and Men

Last summer the hubs and I took a field trip to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (aka Paradise) in Mansfield, Missouri. It was a fun day. There’s a whole little village built around the store, with much more for sale than just seeds. But seeds were our target acquisition, and we spent a good hour browsing the hundreds of varieties of just about everything that will grow in Missouri, before making our selections of…I don’t really remember.

Seed store

I do remember we both were excited to the point of giddiness about the prospects for what we could do in the yard the next spring. In my mind, 2018 unspooled ahead of me with a level of organization I’d never before achieved. Seeds started indoors in February. In the ground in April. I did a lot of reading about optimal conditions for indoor seedlings and mentally bolstered my self-image as a budding urban homesteader.

What really happened was  – well, a lot. Much has happened between our seed purchases and now. I got a second job. This is good. We needed the income stream. But it takes time. And my son started experiencing some medical problems that have turned doctor’s appointments into a time-consuming mother-son hobby. And winter has just gone on and on and on. And…all those excuses aside, my husband and I both forgot where we put the seeds!

We’ve looked in the usual places, and then some unusual places. We haven’t been able to find them. Now I can’t even remember what I bought. I’m pretty sure the spouse went for heirloom tomatoes and possibly some varieties of sunflowers. Me? I can’t say. Basil? Another herb? Maybe? Some kind of flower, I think — possibly nasturtium. I like nasturtiums. It’s likely I’d decide to grow those.

But not this year, apparently. I guess, if we ever get past the danger of frost and I ever find the time, I’ll go buy a few things from a nursery to stick in the ground. And the seeds will eventually turn up, right? And then it will be a delightful surprise. And I’ll be able once again to ignore the stark divide between the self-sufficient homesteader I want to think I can be and the real, disorganized, there-would-be-world-famine-if-everyone-gardened-like-I-do person I am.

I have an acquaintance who really is an accomplished homesteader. She cans. She makes her own soap. She raises her own sheep, shears them herself, spins the wool, and then knits it into blankets and clothing. Me? I buy seeds and mislay them.

To comfort myself, I try to remember the things I actually do well. Um… I excel at word games. And I can alphabetize like nobody’s business. If you ever need things put in alphabetical order, I’m your person. And if you need someone to daydream about gardening, I’m also your person.



I Grew Food!


During the years I was sandwiched – raising my kids and in charge of my mom while also working a paycheck job – I wondered what I would do with myself once I came out the other side and ever had a minute. In that time period, which I refer to as the Whack-a-Mole Era, a lot of things got neglected on the domestic front as I spent all of my time and energy handling one crisis after another. My husband was working long hours during this time, too, and our house got the bare minimum attention to keep it livable, while I tried not to notice how my physical surroundings were falling apart.

Now I do have some minutes occasionally, which gives me the leisure to look around my house and see all of the things that could be better. Add in the fact that I’m an introvert who spent years with no time to myself. These days I find myself with a desire to simply be home and focus my energies there.

One of my efforts this year was growing a few plants. My husband has always been the gardener. I’ve helped with weeding and harvesting, but never actually grown any food myself. I’ve put in a couple of shrubs and I plant annuals every year along our walkway, and that’s about it.

This year I decided to try starting a few things from seed. My greatest hope was to put in milkweed, as food for monarch butterflies. Beyond that, I thought I’d start simply with a couple of herbs for us, some to be put in the ground and a couple in planters.

I bought peat pots and staked claim to a spot by a sunny window. I got great starts with half a dozen each of milkweed, cilantro and basil. Three basil plants survive to this day. That’s right, every last milkweed and cilantro shoot died. But I have basil! Two in a pot and one in the ground. Yesterday, I harvested some leaves and cut them up into a pasta salad. For the first time in my life, I ate food that I grew myself.

I also threw in some of my husband’s banana peppers.

It feels good, mastering a new accomplishment, feeling somewhat competent in basic survival skills (if I don’t think about the cilantro or milkweed.)

If the apocalypse happens and the grid collapses, you can depend on me. I’ll supply the salad garnish to keep us all going.