Nocturnal Ninja

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a light sleeper. Even while I’m dead asleep, part of my brain is alert for the merest whisper of any unusual sound.

Which is why I jerked awake a couple of nights ago with all my attention focused on the pitch-black corner of our bedroom. I’d heard something moving!

The last time I heard something in that corner there was a mouse skittering around, so this time I was instantly at DEFCON1.

But the sound that woke me hadn’t sounded like skittering. It was more like the surreptitious brush of fabric against the wall.  And that was impossible, because that corner is filled by a large peace lily plant (and by ‘large’ I mean ‘gargantuan’ — over four feet across).

I stared wide-eyed into the darkness, my half-awake brain conjuring ridiculous thoughts of some ninja intruder who had somehow bypassed our security system and sneaked through our closed bedroom door.

After a few heart-thumping moments, I woke up enough to realize that nobody could turn our noisy door handle without waking me; and if some ninja was actually skillful enough to do that, s/he wouldn’t be careless enough to brush audibly against the wall.

By then all was silent. I stared into the gloom for a while longer, but my eyelids were drooping. I’d tossed my clothes on the chair before I went to bed.  Maybe they’d shifted.  Whatever.  *yawn*

I was dropping back to sleep when I heard it again: the Surreptitious Rustle!

I bolted up in bed and grabbed my flashlight, glaring into the plant corner and seeing… a plant. Nothing else. No movement.  No ninjas.


I turned off the flashlight, assured my drowsy and slightly incredulous Hubby that everything was okay, and lay down again.

And then… *RUSTLE*

What the HELL?!?

After another foray with the flashlight, I finally remembered that I’d watered and rotated the plant before I went to bed. It had been thirsty and a bit wilted, and now it was rehydrating and straightening up. And in the process, it was rearranging its big leaves against the wall.

I fell back on the pillow with relief, but I still didn’t sleep well with that monster plant crouching in the corner and quietly shifting position. And I may or may not have heard it mutter, “Feed me, Seymour!”

So from now on I’m sticking to my usual routine of watering plants in the morning. At least in the daylight I’ll be able to see them coming for me.

Any ninjas in your world this week?  (And if there were, would you even know?)

The ninja peace lily. I think I’ll name it Audrey…

Crazy Plant Lady

I’ve mentioned before that I have a major addiction to houseplants; and like most addicts, I didn’t realize how bad it was until I started to recover.

(Okay, that’s a lie.  I’m not recovering; it’s just that the realtor has staged an intervention and I’m pretending to go along with it.  Shhh, don’t tell.)

I was actually feeling proud of myself because I’d gotten rid of my really big plants last year.  The nine-foot fig tree and the Norfolk Island pine had gone off to good homes, so the plants we dragged out to the Island last month were only in the four-to-five-foot range.

Our house seemed so empty without them – the place echoed.

But like any other addict, I still had an emergency stash.  I’d kept some smaller plants here, reasoning that they’d be a nice decorating touch when we spruced up the house to sell it.

Fast-forward to a couple of days ago when we were discussing home staging with the real estate agent, who assured us that renting new furniture and a truckload of tchotchkes will make a big difference in selling our house.

We haven’t had any staging consultants in yet, and the realtor gave us some examples of changes they might suggest.  After a few moments I spoke up cautiously.  “What about plants?”

“They’d all have to go.”


And exactly what did she mean by “all”?

I mean, really; I hardly have any plants left in here.  There’s only a Christmas cactus and a couple of anthuriums and a jade plant and nine African violets…

A little palm tree and a peperomia and a shamrock…

A sword plant and a Chinese evergreen…

A heartleaf philodendron and a couple of variegated corn plants and a few pothos vines…

Oh, and the big Boston fern, but it’s up high so it doesn’t count, right?

And I guess there are the four new hibiscus shrubs that we started from the trimmings of the bigger ones…

Yep, this is after we’ve moved out “most of the plants”.  I’m beginning to understand how much of a problem I have.

I can only imagine what an ugly scene it’ll be when the home stager tries to confiscate my last scrap of greenery:  Like an alcoholic who’s down to her final bottle, I’ll be alternately defensive, confrontational, and weepy.

Friends who live on the Island have assured me that I’ll begin to recover out there; that the ability to garden outdoors almost year-round will slowly cure me of my need to live in a jungle of houseplants.

I hope that’s true.

Meanwhile, can anybody hide an inch-plant for me, just for a little while?  It’s tiny, I promise…

* * *

P.S. The Never Say Spy audiobook is finally available – hooray!  It’s available through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

…You Know; The “Thing”…

Ever notice how inanimate objects tend to acquire names?  For me, it all started with Fred.

I don’t recall anyone in our family ever naming a plant or an inanimate object, so when I discovered that my ex-father-in-law (may his delightful soul rest in peace) called his houseplant “Fred”, I was bemused.  Fred was a Norfolk Island Pine, and, when pressed, my father-in-law said he didn’t know why, “He just looks like a Fred.”

Being the creative sort that I am, I called every Norfolk Island Pine I subsequently encountered “Fred”.  I have a Fred in my living room even as I write this:

Fred. Not the original.

And then there was Rodney.  A few years ago, I was having trouble with voracious sparrows that decimated my garden peas.  The instant the sprouts dared to poke above the ground, those rotten little sky-rodents would swoop in and chow down, leaving nothing but lifeless stumps behind.

So I bought a “scare owl”.  For those unfamiliar with the foolish hopes and dreams of gardeners, a scare owl is a life-sized plastic owl, painted with realistic markings and fierce yellow eyes.  The idea is that smaller birds identify the threatening presence of a bird of prey and flock off.

Yeah, right.

The sparrows perched beside the scare owl on the deck railing, chirping insults and taking turns shitting on its head.  I promptly christened the owl “Rodney”, because, like Dangerfield, he got no respect.

I don’t usually apply permanent names to inanimate objects.  They get lots of temporary names, ranging from “the thing” (as in, “…you know; the thing…” when I can’t think of the correct word on the spur of the moment) to “useless piece of shit” or other less complimentary terms that would require an f-bomb alert at the top of this post.

I will admit to occasionally addressing my cute little blue MP3 player as “my little sweetie” when I’m in a particularly fond mood.  I do love my music.  But if the batteries run down at the wrong moment, it’s right back to “useless piece of shit”.  I’m fickle that way.

Lots of people seem to name their cars.  Friends of ours named their red car ‘Scarlet’, and I had a hand in naming another friend’s new SUV ‘Lucy Blue’ (from Bob Seger’s Tales Of Lucy Blue).

Like Scarlet and Lucy Blue, it’s usually pretty easy to trace the origin of the name.  Even Rodney makes sense once you hear the story.  With the exception of Fred, most naming seems to have some logical basis.

Which is why I’m sure you’ll understand the moniker I applied to the desiccated cactus that’s been languishing on the corner of my desk waiting to be thrown away:

Meet Dick Prickly.

Anybody else name their cars/plants/inanimate objects?