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    The fairy gardener
by Jim Edminster

This is an image I wouldn't want to see but since it's already out there I thought I might as well tell you all: I have some metal deck chairs which haven't been painted in years, way beyond shabby chic so I decided to paint them.

Got some Moroccan blue paint and discovered it was as hot as, umm, Kansas outside. I might be 71 but I'm no dummy ( I thought ) so I took some chairs up into the air-conditioned house, put papers on the kitchen table and floor. Went to find my paint clothes and couldn't. Hmm. Well, no one can see me; I live alone and the cats don't care so I took off all my clothes and painted. Doorbell rang—it was someone touting a religious charity. She said it was very important so I opened the door—she saw a naked, old white-bearded man smeared with blue paint. "Is it still important?," I asked. "Noooo," she screamed running down the walk. I finished the chair I was painting, waiting for the police but they didn't come. They like blue, anyway.

Here's your recipe for this column: I thought a simple summer dinner for several people would work—a sandwich, a salad and a dessert—A ) a grilled cheese sandwich made of sourdough bread, an interesting white cheese ( your choice ) and thin-sliced beefsteak tomatoes. Make sandwich, butter and grill. ( For a more exotic sandwich, substitute a jalapeno relish for the tomato. ) B ) a chopped cabbage salad with a liberal sprinkling of celery seeds and some fine wine vinegar for dressing. ( You could add ponzu to the vinegar for a different flavor. Ponzu is a light soy and lime juice mixture available usually in foreign food sections of markets. ) C ) Dessert is instant chocolate pudding with sections of cuties, those seedless tangerines slipped in and sprinkled with grated coconut.

Read more story below....

I have a friend, Cara, coming over who I met in contra dancing. She's into homeopathy and tinctures and such, and she wants to check out my giant jewelweed. ( Jewelweed is a "cure" for poison ivy. ) She's also going to check out other plants in the yard especially perilla ( shiso or beefsteak plant ), the purple Japanese herb used in wraps and coloring pickles. She's also borrowing my extendable tree saw—she has a large locust tree in front of her apartment whose dead branches are rubbing her windows and roof. Locusts are fairly nice street trees with their small leaves and moderate shade but because of their domestication they have a pronounced tendency for their lower branches to die. ( And you wouldn't want a wild locust—they have thorns up and down their trunk that would stymie a bull elephant. )

So what's blooming in my wild Garden of the Blue Horses? Fifteen-foot-tall rose of Sharons in pinks, purples and whites; lilies of all colors; and phlox. ( It's my own "strain" that doesn't get mildew because, for 25 years, I've cut down any phlox with mildew before it went to seed. Now none have it. ) The yellow jewelweed is starting to catch up with its prettier foreign cousin, Indian balsam ( pink and white flowers like miniature orchids ). The potted four o'clocks and cannas are up and running. The astilbes bloomed in pots but they'll be planted under the redbud tree ( from my mother's yard in Kansas ).

The window boxes are combos of purple wave petunias, chartreuse creeping jenny and multi-colored moss roses. Even the houseplants ( outdoors on vacation ) are getting in the spirit of things: my crinum lily, which has a bulb the size of a football, has just finished its foot-tall multiple bloom and is now reverting to its dracaena look-alike status. But, good God, Gertie—look at, of all things, my mother-in-law tongue! Blooming and pretty! Guess she's hearing the feminist vibes in the air. ( I am, too—I've painted several chairs in purple and red in honor of, one hopes, the new madam president! By the way, if you don't know what purple and red stands for, ask a woman! )

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