Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Guest Blog

Howdy all!

I'm the husband of the Boss.

Patrice is a bit overwhelmed at the moment. We have a lovely family visiting us and she spent all day out and about with them. But being the consummate home Diva that she is, she made sure to prepare dinner before she left by putting a lovely roast in the crock pot. It's amazing how, even at the height of our business year, with visitors, she can juggle all of these things and plan a home cooked dinner for all of our hungry guests (and husband).

So it's absolutely understandable that she might forget the most minor of details; to wit, turning the crock pot on.

We had pancakes.

So... to give her just a bit of decompress, I'm placing here for your enjoyment (we hope) a little piece I wrote for a magazine a couple of years ago entitled:

Death Daisies

Yesterday morning, spring finally came to Northern Idaho. I'm not expecting it to last very long. But that's okay with me. In point of fact, I'm hoping that spring will be gone by dinner. After today, I'd just as soon skip summer and fall and head right back into winter.

Due to an excess of regional cooling, winter held on well into May. But spring finally sprung loudly this morning, waking me from my usual near-hibernative state, and Patrice and I were finally able to go out on one of those early-morning nature walks that used to make me glad I lived here on the edge of the wild.

Patrice is a naturalist by temperament and education, and she delights in the challenge of figuring out the name of practically every plant that she sees. She makes her plant identification by consulting the "Native and Medicinal Plants of Northern Idaho" identification book.

“Oh look! It's Ridikulous dorkus, or "Northwest Common Spotted Dogwattle.” Or something like that. I don't actually pay a lot of attention to what she says on these walks. After eighteen years of marriage, it's the cadence and the melody, not the content. And I usually avoid asking any plant questions because, against all logic and common decency, she will answer them.

This morning however, lulled by actual sunshine, I made the near-fatal mistake of asking, "Is it poisonous?"

"Absolutely!" she replied. Joyfully she read the description of the plant from her book. "The Northwest common spotted dogwattle can cause bleeding from the gums, incontinence, dizziness, and vomiting if ingested."

"Well who the hell would ingest it then?"

"According to this," she said, "it was used by Native Americans as a medicinal plant."

Somehow I don't find that surprising. My admiration for the Native Americans is second to none, but obviously someone had to be the first person to try eating these things. No wonder they were so quickly outnumbered.

"So, we got any other poisonous plants around here?" I asked naively.

"Oh golly yes!" (She actually does speak like that.) Patrice began to spin in a circle, pointing and calling out name after name.

"That's Crampberry, and there's Northern Spleenrot. That lovely flower over there is Pearlie Gates, and there's Clubfoot and Western Hairlip, and that is Buckle n' Bury. And that's Fools Onion, and over there is Devils Clubsandwich. Practically all of them can kill you."

I began to feel various internal organs squeezing in around my backbone for self-protection. "How about this?" I reached towards a lovely purple-blossomed stock.

"Don't touch that! That's False Hells-Hound. Let's see…'Symptoms include frothing of the orifices, nausea, paisley-vision, lockjaw, vomiting, total liquefaction, and of course, death'…just the pollen on a windy day can wipe out whole villages. Umm, it says some native people use it medicinally.”

"For what? Birth control?!!" I gulped. "If that's the false stuff, I wonder what real Hells-Hound is like?"

Flip...flip... "It's a lot like the False Hells-Hound, only it chases you. But don't worry. It's relentless, but not very fast."

Looking around wildly for stalking vegetables, I asked, "Is there anything around here that ISN'T poisonous?"

"Ah...no... Oh wait!" Patrice pointed at the ground. "That isn't."

"What? That grass?" I started to reach for it.

"Yes. That's razor vetch. It can cut you to the bone and causes a nasty infection. But see, the Native Americans used it for..."

"Medicine, yeah I got it."

The bright sunlight seemed to dim and the beautiful spring day took on an air of looming peril. I began to realize that I was surrounded by literally millions of pistil-packing faunaphobes, all no doubt recognizing me as the chief weed whacker from the previous year.

I can tell you, we hurried home after that. Patrice complained the whole way about our abbreviated amble, and I tried to avoid the vegetative menace that reached for me on all sides, eager to make me into personal compost.

At one point I was tripped by a cleverly-concealed dogwood (no doubt rabid) and fell screaming into churning field of white destruction.

"Run Patrice! Save yourself! I'm a goner!"

"Oh you big baby." she replied, "Get up. They're only daisies."

"Daisies, huh?" That didn't seem too bad. I joyfully gathered a handful together, delighted to find a plant that apparently didn't want my demise.

"Unless of course they're Death Daisies," she added.

"Death Daisies!" I hurled the bouquet away from me. "Now you're going to tell me that the Indians used Death Daisies medicinally too?"

"Of course not silly." Patrice sniffed. "Only a complete idiot would pick Death Daisies."

So now I'm sitting here in my house with the lights out, the curtains drawn and clutching a spray bottle of extra strength herbicide.

I am so ready for winter.


  1. That was a funny and clever piece of writing, HotB. Reminds me of the late Patrick F. McManus of Field & Stream magazine. He could take the truth and twist it just enough, too.
    More please.

    Anonymous Patriot

  2. Hilarious story. It played across my brainscreen like a Pixar short. And if I ever have the opportunity to tell someone at Pixar about it, consider it told.

  3. Extremely funny and cleverly well written! I can now fully appreciate the dreaded winter. If I could only find a spray bottle of extra strength herbicide.
    Karen M in Oklahoma

  4. Dear Husband of the Boss,
    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for starting my day off with a smile!! That was great.

  5. Too funny! And though I know you wrote it tongue-in-cheek, I'm sure there was an ounce (or two) of truth here and there. Like when you (dared) ask about the plants. (You know better, don't you?) And Patrice gets all excited in the telling. I am like Patrice when it comes to color genetics in horses (well most species, horses just happen to be what I know) ...and if my husband ever needs to ask me something, he always prefaces it with "ALL I want to know is ..." He thinks it is to no avail because I don't stop until his eyes start to glaze over. But the truth is, he IS getting the short answer version. LOL

    I get my come uppance (sp?) when I 'need' to ask a question about firearms. I have to be REALLY convinced that I NEED to know too, or I won't ask. Because the information that spews forth is overwhelming! My eyes glaze, the room starts to spin and I not only forgot why I needed to know ...but what the dern question was!

    You're a good Husband of the Boss to step up and make pancakes and then throw in a great little post to lighten the mood!

    : )

  6. Love it ! Thanks....

    But take heart in knowing your wife is not alone in this plant "sickness" . She and I share the same affliction. Lucky for you ....you can keep my husband company as you two are in the same boat . But it will be a battle of the wits as your sense of humor appears to be the same.


  7. Fun! Patrice said you were a good writer . . . and now I've seen the evidence for myself. Thanks for the chuckles!

  8. Too, too funny!! Thank you so much for the laughs this morning.

  9. I have a little of that Devilsclubsandwich in my yard. At least it keeps the Devilshellhoud from crossing the fence line.
    Thank you. This post was much enjoyed.

  10. HotB, you need to get the tractor fixed and have a large brush-hog mower at the ready so if this ever happens again. Then you'll be able to sit at the wheel and remind all those evil plants of the old Klingon proverb "that revenge is a dish served cold" then mow'em down.

    Keep up the great work you two!

  11. ooooh it is so good to laugh..thankyou

  12. Very, Very FUNNY!
    In my house, my husband is the one who can run off...he will telll me about his friend's, cousins, mother's, neighbor's, uncle who he met once...remember, I told you all about it...and he lost me when he got to the cousin...

  13. Testing....testing...one two one two..

    Don this was hysterically funny. I laughed a bunch.

    Hope this post makes it...I'm trying a different browser.

    A. McSp

  14. This city-gal laughed at your humorous post, while thinking better him than me.