Decades ago when my good friends Barb and Dottie moved to Wasilla, Alaska (you could not see Alaska from the front of their Quonset Hut) to teach and homestead in the Matanuska Valley, they soon learned, to their dismay, that no one had status until they had shot their first moose. There was even a provision in a teacher's contract for "moose" day, so that if you shot a moose on the way to work you got a paid day off. The story of how they achieved that is hilarious, but for another day.
Here in Oakmont I'm learning that residents are without status unless one has at least a couple of tomato plants in his/her garden. "Go to the nursery and get four tomatoes and two peppers," my gardener ordered last week. I don't even eat peppers, but I complied, meekly, working seriously to be accepted as a person of worth.
When I got to King's Nursery I was blown away by the spectacle of roses on parade, but obediently bought only the veggies. However, the special of the week was something I could not resist: two thousand lady bugs for $4.99. Once living on on Cathy Lane I purchased lady bugs but they disappeared within a day, so I vowed to get better results this time. I misted them softly with water, as instructed, chanting the whole time about their beauty, their voracious appetites, and in general my adoration of them. I tried to isolate some of the females (larger than the males) and proceeded to name twenty of them after my friends, starting with Arlene, then Beth, Claudia, Danielle, and so forth. I got stuck on Q, U, X and Z, but that was ok. I explained to the chosen ones that they were adopted and that I would nourish them with abundant aphids and protect them from my neighbor's insecticides, etc. In turn they needed to stay home for at least most of their short lifetime which is only about six weeks. They were released at the rising of the new moon on a dampened carpet of rose leaves amid the tasty blooms of my old roses which you saw in last week's blog.
They must have taken my lecture seriously because the next morning I found Mildred not on a rose bud but on the side of my teapot in the kitchen. I scolded her and carried her to the slow growing Ingrid Bergman. That was three days ago. Can I find any lady bugs munching away today? Nary a one. Maybe they didn't like their names.