Wednesday, July 11, 2007

There's a tear in my beer

Certain things around the house can make me catch my breath in wonder and surprise, even though it's a pretty ordinary house.

I. The other day I was morosely poking around under the giant leaves of the huge cucurbita vines that have taken over the vegetable garden and are now on the march across the yard, trying not to stab myself on the prickly stems and hoping to discern what type of useless fleshy masses they are likely to produce (squash, which nobody but me will eat; gourds, which nobody but the squirrels can eat; or pumpkins, which can at least be carved into amusing faces), and a beam of sunlight shone down on this, a pumpkin (I am pretty sure) already the size of a basketball.

There is definitely something macho about your garden producing something this big.

II. A couple of weeks ago, when we came home from vacation, I raced around the back to check on the tomatoes. For a Baltimorean, there really is no point to gardening if you are not going to grow tomatoes. The most grizzled old men in town will discuss varieties and methods and share ripening tips like they were on public television, and then their wives will smugly gripe about having more tomatoes than they know what to do with come August. It's kind of cute.

I have had little luck in this yard with my tomatoes - one year the chickens ate all but the Romas, and last year the vegetable garden just wasn't getting enough sun - but this year I bought good little plants from a good company and planted them near to where the chickens used to be, in a spot that gets almost all the sun there is.

Before we left on vacation we had a few good-sized green ping-pong balls on the plants, but when we came back?

I had my first tomato sandwich of the year today: a sliced Big Beef tomato on white bread with mayonnaise and salt, and I ate it standing over the sink gazing blankly at the back yard, just like every Baltimore summer since I was old enough to make my own sandwiches.

III. I was using a Sharpie to make out a grocery list this morning (honey, children's vitamins, white bread) when the kids started talking about tattoos.

"Hey, You guys want Sharpie tattoos?" You don't have to ask this twice in our house - they were all over the idea.
"Ok, I'll give you Sharpie tattoos." Mr. Four asked for a star, so I gave him your classic tattoo-museum star.
"[Big Man]? What will you have?" And he pointed at the band around my forearm, and said "I want one of those."

I drew one of the stylized Bronze Age seashells from my arm on his shoulder, and I don't know who was prouder, me or him.