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Coffee Break with Liz and Kate » Headline, writing a good college application essay »

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m once again attempting to grow my own garden for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that of self-sufficiency.  But it would appear that that there are those in my family who insist on mocking my efforts, making light of what I consider a serious endeavor.

Case in point: the other day, I informed my parents that I’d planted some white half-runner green beans – a statement that was received by hearty (not to mention insensitive) laughter.

“How funny,” they’d both said. “You mean white half-runner bean -singular?”

Needless to say, it was with great one-upsmanship that I sent my dad a photo of the beans soon after they’d sprouted.

“Who’s laughing, now?” I’d texted.

At that point, I’d decided this was no ordinary garden I was raising. It was a challenge. I’d show them, I thought. I’ll have white half-runners, zuchinni, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs like there was no tomorrow.

Then came the email late last week with this subject line:

“Mary, Mary quite contrary. How does your garden grow?”

Attached was a photo of dad’s first tomato of the season. I suspect he’d used a telephoto lens to capture the itsy bitsy fruit, and found it humorous that he’d send such a photo. Who was he trying to impress? I wondered. I decided not to dignify his email with a remark, which prompted him to text me about an hour later.

“Why haven’t I heard back from you?”

I couldn’t believe he was fishing for a compliment. Things were about to get ugly. I just knew it. So I responded. Finally.

“About your lone, teeny, tiny tomato? Really, Dad??? I can see this is now a quest for top garden.”

Then came the official challenge. Yep, he went there:

“The race is on.”

“It is on,” I responded immediately.

There is a chance that I’ll need a cheering section, here, as I’ve yet to get a bloom on my tomato plants (although I had plenty on the cucumbers and zucchini). Another issue could be the fact that I’m relying on the generosity of rough ground and some veggie potting soil. My parents, however, have brought in their re-inforcements, which include a giant specialized tomato-growing planter, that has it’s own watering system, trellis, and layers limestone, fertilizer and soil for the richest and largest tomato plants known to man. They’ve invested a small fortune while I’ve invested 95 cents per plant plus the cost of a bag of planting mix ($3.50).

With their tactics in mind, I could probably disqualify them now. But I prefer to beat them and remind them I am working at a clear disadvantage, here. What’s more, I’d like to point out that until last year – their first attempt at gardening in years – the last time they gardened was when my brothers and I were little kids. I believe that was the year mom canned her own ketchup, only to throw every jar out after her concoction ate through all the lids. Who do they think they’re kidding, anyway?

Not to mention I just realized that my cucumber plants are already producing (wait for it) cucumbers! Tens of them, I tell ya. Yes, Dad. It is on…


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