Tag Archives: Gardening

Three quickies; steroid cream, ruined pizza and walking for wine

I’ve got a rash man …    

I’ve talked before about how much I love gardening. I love picking out the weeds, watering the plants, pruning and every other aspect about it. The minute the weather here in Germany indicates it’s not going to ice over again in a plant–killing freeze, I’m buying trays full of plants and soil and fertilizer. I’m dusting off the old gardening pots from last year and it’s game on. It’s actually a fight between my wife and I to get me to come inside on the weekend. I don’t want to come inside during summer to watch a movie, any movie, maybe even the best movie ever made, because it’s summer.

Recently I cut down a diseased tree. I chopped it up into manageable bits and then carried them to the fire pit and burned the remains.

I compost. That’s why I have a pitchfork and, fuck you Facebook friends, it’s not a garden fork it’s a pitchfork. OK, maybe it’s a garden fork, but who cares. It turns over decomposing bits of plant flesh and stuff.

Not shown, garden spoon and garden knife.

Not shown, garden spoon and garden knife.

My point, is I’m exposed to all sorts of nasty stuff when I work out in the yard. None of it bothers me, not even a little bit. In my 40-plus years on this earth I think I’ve had a reaction to something I touched exactly twice. Two rashes. Both of them were cleared up in a day or two. No medicine, no doctor visit. Just me, outside, drinking beer and manning through it.

So yeah, this is about a rash I have.

But it’s not from the garden or the great outdoors. That wouldn’t be funny. Well it would be funny, it’d just be less funny.

This rash is caused by carrying two bouquets of flowers made by a professional German florist through the town of Weisbaden. Two of my office coworkers are leaving soon and as part of a going away luncheon for them we presented their wives with bouquets of flowers.

Because I’m not a smart man I parked kind of far away from the event. Like a 20-minute walk away. But so what, it was a gorgeous day and a bit of a walk never hurt anyone.   I carried the flowers on the left side of my body tucked under my arm against my chest. I felt the water the florist had the flowers soaking in soak through my shirt, but shrugged it off. It would dry off when I arrived at the restaurant.

Not going to bore you with the going-away particulars. Blah, blah, things went well, blah, blah people were bid adieu. But the next morning, weird as shit, I’ve have a giant ass rash that itched to no end. Two weeks later and a bit into a tube of steroid cream I’m still inching.

Yeah man, I’ve got a rash.

Pizza fail of epic proportions

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me. I’m wanted in the state of … oh wait, never mind I cleared that legal issue up years ago. What you really don’t know about me is that years ago I really got into making my own pizzas. Really into, as in I bought a wooden pizza paddle, a pizza stone, made my own dough and pizza sauce. If I thought I could’ve gotten away with it, I would have slaughtered my own pigs and made my own pepperoni.

What I mean is I got into it hard. Then I moved to Europe, did it once or twice, and completely forgot all about it.

We, as you might know, recently had some visitors from the U.S. More about their visit in a moment, but the husband of this duo likes to make his own pizza as well. I’m here to tell you he’s a punk ass amateur. Sure, sure the pizza’s good, but he makes it in a pan like some kind of savage, doesn’t include meat and flicks his own boogers into the sauce.

OK, that last bit isn’t true and the pizza is in fact very good, but it reheated my interest in making pizza. And by reheated I mean my wife said I had to make a barbeque-chicken pizza and I agreed because it’s best not to anger her.

So I dropped some yeast in some water with some sugar, tossed the pizza stone in the oven to preheat, mixed up my dough and kneaded that stuff until it was spot on. I tossed flour on the cutting board and formed a perfectly shaped pizza. I had a slight edge that was brushed with olive oil and then I added the chicken and the sauce.

This was going to be perfect and the stone was just about hot enough for me to …

Oh shit.

Can you see my dilemma? Yeah I have fully dressed (heavy) uncooked pizza on a cutting board and now I had to magically transfer it to a super hot pizza stone. I knew, I knew, I knew I was basically fucked.

I'm still a little freaked out.

I’m still a little freaked out.

Every attempt to move the pizza on to the stone from the cutting board only damaged it further. Shortly before the end, I could plainly see the cutting board, counter and pizza stone through the now demolished dough. Barbeque sauce and grilled chicken were everywhere and it was a hopeless, destroyed mess.

I shoveled the whole thing into a trash bag and drove to Pizza Hut to purchase BBQ chicken pizza to go.

The less said about my wife’s reaction the better.*

A matter of trust

Germany, Germany, Germany. You never fail to amaze me. We’ve talked before about the flower fields here where you pick your flowers and the Germans trust that’s you’ll put your money into the deposit slot.

Did you know they do the same thing with booze?

Bet you didn’t. I bet you didn’t partially because they don’t anymore (sort of) and partially because I really think you didn’t know.

I don’t know where I’m going with this whole bet thing, so let’s drop it.

Remember that couple who visited? Sure you do. You just read about it. That’s what I like about you, you remember shit. The great thing about that couple is they lived here for years and years. When they come to visit there’s no one pestering me to visit Paris, London or Rome. They’ve done that, we’ve done that and we aren’t going to do that.

The bad thing about them visiting is that they like to do shit along the Rhine river. Bike along the Rhine, walk along the Rhine, drink along the Rhine, eat along the Rhine. They like the Rhine.

The Rhine has some serious history associated with it. There’s a lot to know about it. Roman forts, Napoleon advances, that time I peed in it while drinking heavily, the Rhine’s got a lot going on.

What it doesn’t have going on, for me at least, is my having any fucking desire to do anything alongside it anymore. I drive across it at least twice a day for work and let me tell you, when I finally leave here, giving that bridge the finger will be a fine feeling indeed. Fuck that bridge and it’s traffic congestion. Stupid bridge.

But anyway, hike and bike they wanted to do and as much as I’d rather read about how awesome the Rhine is, my wife and I really love these two dorks so yeah, I’m hiking and biking along with the best of them.

One of the hikes snakes along vineyards, through woods and, of course, offers spectacular views of the valley. It’s a good hike. Midway through, after about an hour of hiking, there is a little cabin. By little I mean literally little. Think large doll house little. This “cabin” has walls built of stone and a wooden roof. The door opens and inside is free booze. OK, not free booze, but bottles of chilled white wine and small glasses. You’re on the honor system to pay for each bottle you drink as you enjoy you chilled glass of white vino and enjoy a spectacular view.

I’ve been to this particular outlook many times over the years and they’ve recently added one feature that reminds me of the U.S. It’s a card swipe that verifies the age of the person opening the door (as if no cunning underage teen could defeat that stellar system), but other than that,  it’s still basically an honor system.

I'd have a better photo of this event but, like I mentioned, we were drinking.

I’d have a better photo of this event but, like I mentioned, we were drinking.

And, much like the flower picking fields, you know what I did? I fucking overpaid because that seemed like the right thing to do. That and I got tipsy with two Germans, a Romanian, an Italian, my wife and our friends while enjoying an awesome view of the Rhine river valley.

Dagmar also flashed all of us her boobies on the ski-lift back up the mountain so, yeah, it was an awesome hike.

* Post Script.  The pizza story happened two weeks ago and I tried to make a good pizza this weekend as a way to make amends for the abortion of dough, chicken parts and barbeque sauce that was the first disaster.  It didn’t go well.  Admittedly I had drank a few beers.  Dagmar graciously gave me a recipe for the pizza sauce but all I heard was, “here’s a tube of tomato paste.”  I thought it was weird to make pizza sauce with just paste but I smeared the entire tube of paste onto the crust (on the stone this time) and dutifully spread it around before adding cheese and other toppings.  It was eatable but yeah, I’m back at bat for strike three in the pizza making contest this weekend.

Oh how far I’ve fallen.


Impossibly (un)Rotten Tomatoes

Every spring I get a giant garden boner and start obsessing about plants.

Yeah,  that’s what I’m going to write about, gardening. No one is coming here for Kim Karsashian wedding news so there shouldn’t be any complaints about my garden boner.

I blame my love of gardening — or more truthfully — thank, my mom. Her love of gardening rubbed off on me. In my youth, my family and I lived in a modest home in a middle-class suburb of Phoenix and despite the lack of “farmable land” Mom always made a go of gardening. She even enlisted me in my teen years to dig up and till parts of the backyard in a desperate attempt to scratch out a few fresh vegetables from a meager 15-by-15 foot plot of land under an unrelenting Arizona sun.

While I toiled away, I pretended I was busting sod like some 1823 explorer in northern California,  and she enjoyed cheap labor. It was a win-win.

It mostly worked. Despite my father’s insistence that whatever was planted was just another obstacle to mow around, a decent bit of veggies could be harvested and I always found that cool.

I didn’t want to eat any of them, mind you. God no, they might interfere with my diet of Big Mac and weed.

My mother’s love of plants never left me and for that I’m thankful and always look forward to springtime. That bug has long since also bitten Dagmar and it’s become a mutual labor of love.

Because we move around a lot, Dagmar and I plant our gardens in containers. Over the years we’ve amassed a fine collection of pots and every spring we dutifully drag them out to the backyard and carefully discuss the planting options for each container.

Then we go to the gardening store, collectively lose our minds, buy a shit-ton of plants we hadn’t planned on along with some potting soil and come home.

Once home, I unload the plants from the car while she lines the backyard with plastic bags explaining to me that this is how Martha Steward gardens. I then call Martha Steward a fucking retard because who cares if potting soil gets on the lawn. Dagmar then storms inside the house mad at me for debasing the benevolent Martha Stewart and I’m left to pot my plants in peace for three minutes.

Page 27, "Use a trash bag to protect your lawn when potting a new plant."  Seriously look that shit up. Actually while captioning this I asked her and now she claims she saw it "somewhere".

Page 27, “Use a trash bag to protect your lawn when potting a new plant.” Seriously look that shit up. Actually while captioning this I asked her and now she claims she saw it “somewhere”.

Once I admit that Martha Stewart isn’t an idiot and Dagmar admits that potting soil isn’t bad for a lawn, we get down to the serious business of arguing about root balls. Specifically, how much you should fuck with a root ball.

I think that our new family member should be introduced to their new home by gently loosening the root ball of the plant. Dagmar prefers some sort of “fuck your roots, you’ll grow new ones” approach.

So while I gingerly shake the soil from the new plant’s roots, Dagmar prefers the “kill the old soil and roots with fire” approach.


We’ve had mixed success stories obviously.

One of our recent plants never looked good, not even the morning after we planted it. (She planted it, of course.) Throughout the week it looked worse and worse. When I finally checked on it I discovered she’d separated the plant from the roots. Physically broken them apart and hadn’t realized it.

Point mine, honey. Point mine.

Back to the story.

I bought one of those gimmicky tomato plants sold in gardening stores that already has a bunch of cherry tomatoes on the vine. Some are ripe, most of the tomatoes are still green, and fuck, why wouldn’t you buy one of those?

They’ve got tomatoes you can eat right now!

They’re perfect because they’re so easy. But yeah, nothing good is really ever easy is it?

When you garden you can expect failure. Some plants don’t get enough sun, some plants get too much water, some plants have their roots molested to death by Dagmar and some plants can’t handle being peed on a few times by some drunken ass from the house.

You know, failure.

The gimmicky tomato plant was a failure. Inside of a week, the leaves looked like hell and the branches drooped. Although the tomatoes themselves looked awesome, the plant was in that, “well that’s going to die” phase anyone who’s been around a blade of grass longer than a week can recognize.

Dagmar and I debated the plant’s root treatment. She accused me of just pulling it out of the plastic pot it came in and sticking it directly into the ground. I accused her of violently attacking the roots like a vicious tomato plant hater.

We unceremoniously ripped it up from the stem because neither of us knew why it was dead. It was an impulse purchase, it was a gimmicky impulse purchase and yeah, it was almost dead.

Dagmar cried, I said a solemn prayer and … who am I kidding, I just took the mostly dirt-free root ball plant to the back of the yard behind the shed where I dump all the failures, ash from our BBQ and urinate when I’m drinking outside.

The dead plants are all piled up behind the shed. I like to call it composting and not dumping, but really, it’s just a pile of dead plants. I occasionally poke the pile with a stick, sometimes I pee on it and rarely do I give it a second thought.

The gimmicky tomato plant went to join the natural order of things in that ungodly pee-infested “compost” pile.

End of blog post right? I made some fun jokes about how my wife and I differ in our methods of gardening; you now know I pee in my backyard;  I worked in a Fuck-Martha-Stewart reference; and shit let’s crack open a beer and high-five, blog is done. Fuck those tomatoes!

But it isn’t — because that shit happened like a month and a half ago and look at it now.

See, root ball destroyed

See, root ball destroyed

OK, OK, I’ve since hung the “dead” tomato plant on a tree branch, but shit, after like three weeks back there (I pee back there more often than I’ve let on), I started to wonder why the tomatoes weren’t rotting.

I’ve tossed tomato branches from normal tomato plants (started from seeds or bought as starter plants) into similar piles and the fucking tomatoe’s rot right along with the rest of the plant.

This is some weird Chernobyl shit right here. Why (and this photo was taken last week*) do those red tomatoes still look delicious? The leaves and vines are withered and dead. Why do the green tomatoes not rot and fall off or more importantly look exactly the same as the day I tossed them back there?

What the hell is going on in my garden … what kind of madness is this?

* Okay since writing this, the tomatoes have started to rot. They’re getting kind of gross now in fact. I’m not at all sure what the point of this whole thing was, I thought the tomatoes weren’t rotting, but it turns out they are? Fuck, no idea. Let’s just all forget this and move on okay?