The Great Flower Box Caper of 2015
Have you ever wondered what some of your favorite authors are really like? In person, I mean. Do you ever wonder if they are as funny or as nice as they sound by the way they write? Since I’ve started going to conventions, I’ve been blessed enough to meet a few of my favorite authors. Most have been the best experiences I could ever hope for, and some may have been having less than wonderful days. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what kind of person *I* am in real life, well, gather around, dear readers, because I want to tell you a story. It’s a true story. One of the rare few times I’ve done something that would under the best of circumstances land me a lecture, and under the worst, get me in Trouble. In this case, however, the husband’s ‘My Wife Just Messed Up’ radar must have been broken. I never got caught and since he doesn’t read my blog, and because I just HAVE to tell someone, I feel pretty safe recounting it here.
The story begins a year ago last fall when I bought a cedar flower box. Putting it on the front porch, I didn’t plant anything in it right away because it was coming into winter. But, being late in the fall, the flower box was on sale and, well, I like flowers. If you didn’t know that before, now you do. (Carnations are my favorite, if you’re curious.) Here’s something else you might not know about me: I used to be a social smoker. Back then I only ever smoked when around people who did. These days, I only light up when I’m under high stress and I don’t think my Dom knows about it. Er…um, back to the story.
In addition to getting the flower box last winter, a smoker friend moved into our house and I began to smoke a bit more often. Since there were now six of us living in this house and I don’t allow smoking indoors, my roomy and I would adjourn ourselves to the front porch and, as you can probably guess, it didn’t take too long before the empty flower box became a cigarette butt catch-all. During the winter when the flower box was full of rain and snow, this was no big deal. Now, flash forward several months to when the weather conditions changed. The flower box and its building butt collection dried out and, as I’m sure most of you have already guessed, I set the damn thing on fire.
We didn’t realize it at first. I was upstairs sitting in the computer room when I first became aware of the faint woodsy scent of something burning. I thought, ‘Huh, what an odd time of year for someone to need a fire.’ To me, that’s what it smelled like: someone was heating their house or maybe cooking hotdogs and s’mores in the back yard. Either way, I wasn’t too concerned. I went back to writing. Within seconds, however, the smell got stronger. Strong enough to bring my partner in crime out of his room and we wondered out onto the back porch to look around for the source. Suddenly, we were engulfed in an alarmingly thick cloud of smoke, but within less than a minute, as quickly as it had overwhelmed us, the cloud dissipated and was gone. Eventually, having never seen the slightest hint of a house on fire, we chalked it up to weird wind patterns and went back inside.
Flash forward an hour to when the dogs asked to go outside. Standing on the front porch, waiting for them to come back in, I looked down…and discovered the bottom of my flower box was nothing but a charred heap of ash. It had burned clear through to the cement of the porch. My first thought? “Omg…I’m toast.”
I ran and got my roomy and together we went outside to survey the damage. Once he’d finished laughing at me, we came to two major conclusions: First, we neither one of us wanted to have this conversation with my husband. You know, that conversation. The one that starts with a lecture on all the evils associated with smoking and ends with “From now on, take your smoking out to the end of the driveway…” And second, I didn’t want to get into Trouble. If you’re reading this, you probably know what I write and, therefore, also know what form of consequence “Getting Into Trouble” takes in my marriage.
So, I decided to hide it.
Tell me when you figure out where I *might* have gone wrong in this scenario.
The following morning, I met my husband on the front porch and, strategically positioned between him and the burned out remnants of the flower box, I kissed him goodbye and waved him off to work. Key the Mission Impossible theme song. Literally. My roommate put it on his phone; we had it playing the whole time.
The minute the husband’s truck disappeared down the road, we sprang into action. My roommate grabbed the trash bin and brought it to the porch where we broke what little remained out of the bottom of the flower box and dropped it in the trash. We then covered it with every ounce of household garbage we could find and swept off the porch. I was thoroughly relieved to find there wasn’t even a scorch mark on the cement. The rest of the flower box went into the back of the car, because no way in hell was I going to leave that kind of evidence lying around to be found.
Off to Lowes we went. No longer on sale, I had to spend $90 on a new flower box. Having gone that far, afraid the husband might wonder at how a flower box could look so new after having spent the winter exposed to the elements, I bought a bag of soil and a flower and immediately planted it in the new box the second we got it on the porch. Our porch now had a new box (with a single red flower inconspicuously planted right splat in the middle of it), but the problem remained: What were we going to do with the old bottomless flower box still in the back of my car, like a ticking time bomb sure to be discovered?
That issue actually solved itself. In a stroke of sheer luck and insidious brilliance, I remembered a derelict house on the way to and from the Lowes. Key the Mission Impossible music once again: We left it by the front door of that abandoned house and quickly sped off before we could be arrested for trespassing. When the husband got home, all he said was, “Oh, you finally decided to use the planter box for flowers. It looks nice.”
So, I got away with it. But, that’s not the end of the story. Two days later, as we were driving into town, we passed that derelict house and discovered someone had hung that bottomless flower box up at the front window by the door. I just couldn’t help myself. Key the Mission Impossible music one last time. Back to Lowes I went, this time to buy slates to make a new bottom for the box, more soil and more flowers. Twenty nerve-wracking minutes, half a dozen jokes about what I was going to tell my future cellmates when they asked what I was in for, and $60 later, we jumped back in the car and sped away having left that burned out planter box looking better than it ever had on my front porch.
Long story short, if you’ve ever found yourself idly wondering what kind of person I am as you’re reading one of my books, this is me: the Flower Ninja, beautifying Wichita one derelict house at a time.