• author
    • Heather Alani

    • March 13, 2014 in Columnists

    Ugly, stubborn and invincible — just like me

    My arch enemy

    My arch enemy “Japan”


    I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I’ve tackled obstacles that make some grown men cringe, all the way from fixing a toilet, sticking my hand in a septic tank, rolling in dirt to bang on the starter and even sitting in prison for two nights because of a suspended license. That’s a column in itself for another day.

    I never met a challenge that was too hard, too gross, or even, sadly, too beneath me until the summer I met my equal.  He was ugly, stubborn and invincible — just like me.

    In the back of my yard, there was an amazing space where wild thorny plant grew. In absolute innocence, I assure you, my mother said, “Turn that area into a garden. It’s easy — just pull the plants and turn the soil.” Those words echoed in my mind for the next two months. (Please insert wicked witch voice.) It’s easy she said. Just turn the soil, she said! Muwahahaaha! I love you, mother, anyway!

    I started a task that ended up being the equivalent of digging my own grave five or six times that day. Yes, I did, and I wanted to climb in by the end of it.  I dug roots out of the ground that made my Mr. Potatohead look small. I hurt in places I was assured were not even part of my anatomy, just  some supernatural inside joke. But, I did it. I dug the ugly monkey out! I was sure I could plant my garden the next day.

    Upon awakening, I popped the equivalent of a Tylenol overdose just to make it to the bathroom. I slipped on my fashionista garden Crocs to keep the Chinese women at the nail salon from turning up their noses at my dirt encrusted toes and exclaiming “Ew, you feet no good?! You no wash one year?” as they gather around in such a “non-obvious way” to look with appalled disgust at my garden-war-defeated feet. HELLO — poop face is poop face in any language ladies! (Insert eye roll here.) Anyway, I pulled all my seedlings together and with my pompous, undefeated head high, I headed out to start planting my garden.

    Good morning, mailman! Good morning, kitty! GOOD MORNING, JAPAN? Sprouts everywhere, little baby sprouts of “Ugmoplantio.”  It quickly turned into Pearl Harbor, as I fought to defend my garden from this intruder.  It took a grand two weeks before I reached the “I am going to dump gasoline everywhere and set fire to them” attitude. I was in full-fledged Alley McBeal mode.

    “Please, honey,” I exclaimed, nearly hitting my husband in the face as I flung my mock Croc across the room, “ let the neighbors know they need their fire insurance up to date.”

    I plopped myself down at the computer and Googled in utter defeat and sarcastically entered, “The ugliest stubborn plant in the world.” I actually giggled with utter amusement when my arch enemy popped up in an article called, “The Japanese Rootweed.” Holy crap-o-moly! They earned the nickname “strength” for their ability to push up through anything, even cement! I can’t do that!  I was an insignificant peon in the face of this abstruse plant!  I cried when I learned that every time I picked a root, a stem or any other part of this forsaken plant, it dropped tiny, evil spurs everywhere.

    It was the Devil’s sperm. No doubt. I had two options. Well, actually I only had one: cover the ground for three years to suffocate it. Since, ain’t nobody got time for that, I used my noodle and Option Two came fairly quickly.  Yes, you will be convinced of my need for psychiatric help when you hear this one.

    I ventured into my kitchen, climbed on a chair, then on the counter, in order to reach the odd looking strainer with holes so big I never understood what to use it for.

    Four weeks, I strained every inch of the dirt in my garden. (Yes, I noodle strained my garden.) Neighbors gathered to watch to make sure I was not burying anyone. When they realized I was harmlessly insane, they started bringing me “you go girl” gifts of  seedlings, beans and flowers, and even helped uproot some bushy trees.

    I do declare! I said, I do declare!  It was victory over Japan! Good ol’ Pompous Potatohead had fought the battle, but she had won! I planted, I toiled, and I even enclosed my garden with the 20 pound rocks we pulled from the soil. It was beautiful, it was mine, and the natives were seized, conquered and destroyed!

    my watermelonOr so I thought.

    Three days of rain and one good hot day later, my seedlings were under attack again. Bamboo everywhere!  Yes, it felt like a flaming hot poker stick was rammed with no mercy into my tender place, where the sun doesn’t shine.

    For the rest of the summer I battled Japan, but I grew the most incredible garden because the bamboo’s soil was so rich.  I reached the point where I actually came to respect that bastard, old bamboo plant.  I couldn’t beat him. He is ugly, stubborn and invincible just like me.

    See you next month for round two, Japan.  I have a surprise for you! (Insert evil smile.)

    • LOL. I would have given up. You are much stronger than me and stubborn.Great story.

        • Heather Alani

        • March 14, 2014 at 9:14 am
        • Reply

        My garden so was incredible blessed last year!! I harvested over 300 tomatoes alone! It goes to show if you never give up no matter how hard the task presented before you, eventually will reap the benefits!

    • I literally LOL’ed several times reading this column. I can see you the look of determined consternation upon your face as you rage on to conquer this beastly invader. This is a lesson well applied to any part of life. Never give up!!!

    • I laughed so hard I snorted. It was so un-lady like.

    • I remember when I tested the strawberries last year it was very tasty

      • Angela

      • March 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm
      • Reply

      Heather, so cute! This is a very entertaining read…it made me laugh, it made me smile! That Japanese bamboo didn’t know who it was dealing with! Better prepare yourself for war…gardening season is right around the corner! 🙂

      • Heather Alani

      • April 3, 2017 at 10:27 pm
      • Reply

      (update) three seasons of gardening later, bamboo still pops up!

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