Friday, April 23, 2010

Serene is Clean

Camille Minichino, aka Margaret Grace, aka Ada Madison, is a woman of many talents: She's a brilliant scientist, talented author, generous teacher....

She's also that oh-so-rare creature in the Bay Area, a woman who is not afraid to say, right out loud, in front of anyone who cares to listen
: "I hate the outdoors. Mountains, oceans, the wide open: blech....Give me Manhattan any day!"

Around these parts, that's pretty close to sedition, if not blasphemy. At the very least, they're fighting words. Is Camille/Margaret/Ada daunted? No, she is not. As far as I can tell, she's not afraid of much...except maybe dirt. And worms. And birds.

So naturally, when the topic of "gardening" came up, I just had to ask for her take on the subject.


I've never understood the concept of playing in the dirt.

Dirt is, well, dirty. And gardens are nothing if not dirty.
Aren't we always trying to remove dirt from our lives?

We bathe, wash our hair and our clothes, and in some cases even our kitchen floors. We suck up dirt with vacuum cleaners, flush it out of our eyes immediately upon contact, scrape it from under our fingernails, and hope the kids don't drag in too much of it.

When you say, "I've got some dirt on her," you don't usually mean you've heard she's won an Edgar or that she's asked you to be her maid of honor.

And consider dirt's synonyms: crud, dreck, dregs, filth, gook, gunk, mire, muck, scuz, sleaze, slime, smudge, smut. "Serenity" and "soothing" are not among them. You see my point.

All this is why I never step into a garden on purpose.

Then there are weeds. How can you tell a weed from a plant? Darned if I know, except gardeners have it in for weeds. They're like serial killers of any green things they didn't plant themselves. We have weed killer, but not fern killer or boxwood killer. What's up with that?

I've seen my neighbor pull up one perfectly good-looking green thing and plant another that looks pretty darn close. I don't get it.

You'll never catch me weeding. Live and let live, I say.

Friends of mine garden (v. trans.) food. They spend hours and get dirty planting fruit and vegetables. Hello! There are people who do this for us. I think they live in Nebraska. Anyway, somehow, they deliver clean, dirt-free, bug-free berries and tomatoes.

I'll admit my brother-in-law's tomatoes taste better than the ones from the truck that comes from Nebraska, or maybe it's Iowa, but my brother-in-law's tomatoes are dirty. I won't touch one until someone else scrubs it clean and cuts it open, lest I find, eeek! a worm.

Worms are even worse than dirt because they can follow you around if they choose, like a wormy guy.

And don't get me started on the birds, often found in gardens, with their high-pitched voices and lack of potty training. Geesh.

There's one garden that I do like. My miniature version. Notice I've labeled the sack, "soil," which is cleaner than dirt. The whole scene is pretty clean, in fact, except for the bloody boots. They probably belong to a gardener who just murdered a weed.

In case you're wondering if I'm really serious about all this anti-gardening stuff, here's a photo of my back yard.

Since I don't like to go outdoors when it's sunny, my husband took it for me. He says the green things are weeds and I believe him.

The other things that are growing there are an FM antenna and a satellite dish.
Garden-wise, I call this serene!

Thanks, Pens Fatales, for letting me play in your garden today!

Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned writer.

As Camille Minichino she's published eight novels and a short story in the periodic table mystery series, featuring GLORIA LAMERINO.

As Margaret Grace, she's published five novels in the miniature mystery series, featuring GERALDINE PORTER.

As Ada Madison, she's poised to release a new series, academic mysteries featuring SOPHIE KNOWLES.

Visit them all at


Sophie Littlefield said...

gardeners as serial killers - i LOVE it!!

you're one classy broad. :) and a heck of a lot of fun to road trip with.

Anonymous said...

Welllll, I do like grass, with or without weeds. Green is good here in the Northeast where a winter blankets yards in snow and everything is the same color - grayish umber even if we're lucky enough for some sun some days. I also like barefoot in the grass! xoxo

Camille Minichino said...

Barefoot in the grass? Just shoot me.

Sophie, we need more road trips, where I stay in the car and you bring me (clean) food!

Gigi Pandian said...

We now have a garden, and it's attracting slugs -- SLUGS!!! Bleh.

But Camille -- Seriously, a fresh salad just picked in the back yard tastes so much yummier!

Adrienne Bell said...

Camille, thank you for coming to visit. Though, I have to admit, I love dirt, the feel of it, the smell. I wish I was a better gardener. I don't even mind the creepy crawlies. But for some reason the growing things, they don't like me.

Camille Minichino said...

Thanks for the welcome, Adrienne!
I can't figure it out, though -- you always look so clean!

Camille Minichino said...

Gigi, I'm willing to sacrifice a certain amount of yumminess for the sake of never meeting a slug.
No wonder I love chocolate -- you don't have to grow it in the dirt. Or maybe somebody in Nebraska does??

Ann Parker said...

I have fantasies of planting a garden... but in my own patch of suburbia, the "garden" is basically dirt and weeds. Right next to the wishful patch of dirt is the ever-present lawn, but you can't eat that.
Thanks for a fun post, Camille/Margaret/Ada!

Camille Minichino said...

Surely there are more ... uh ... pleasant fantasies! :=)

Unknown said...

I'm a little late but thanks for visiting!! :) Loved the miniature.

And I will say that I have overcome my aversion to creepy crawlies because I love ripe-off-the-vine tomatoes more than I hate bugs. :)

Rachael Herron said...

I'm late, too (traveling), but SO HAPPY about this post. I think I like gardening, but deep down, I know it's really too dirty for clean little me.

camille Minichino said...

From reading your posts regularly, Rachel, I think we are (scary for you) alike in many ways!

Martha Flynn said...

Ah, I hate nature, too!!! HATE IT! But I love to eat....and since food comes from nature I find myself at a constant crossroads.