Plant Speed Date: Spathiphyllum

(Plant Speed Date is a series in which I attempt to introduce you, the reader, to as many plants as possible in a short period.)

Hello, My Name Is: Spathiphyllum spp.

My Friends Call Me: Peace lily

Turn ons: Medium to rich well-drained soil, high humidity, shade

Turn offs: Full sun, dry air, crowded roots

What I Do For a Living: Hang out in your house, bask in the tropical shade (USDA Zones 10-11), improve your air quality, look pretty

My Best Features Are: It’s a toss-up between my lovely white flowers and my striking dark green foliage, darling. But you don’t have to choose – keep me happy and I’ll give you both.

My Exes Would Tell You I:

  • Poisoned their cat. Like all the worst lies, this one is half true. Despite my common name, I’m unrelated to those dreadful Liliaceae – that family of cat murderers. I’m one of the Araceae family and proud to be so. That said, cats that dare to chew on my lovely leaves tend to experience some stomach upset. It’s best for both of us if we’re kept apart, really.
  • Am a diva about dryness. True, if harsh. I love my humidity. The closer to 80 percent, the better. Also, if I don’t have enough to drink, I’ll simply become too limp to stand. It’s not drama, it’s communication, dear.
  • Don’t mind being rootbound. I absolutely do. What do you think I am, a common hoya? Just divide me out every spring and share my glory with your friends.
  • Scratched their DVDs. I’d put them back in the case if I had opposable thumbs, STEPHANIE.

How to Make Me Yours: Many local nurseries and florists carry my kind. Or find a friend with one and ask for a bit. (I do not take well to being “propagated,” like some members of my family. Pothos, I’m looking at you.)

Fund future plant speed dates here.

Plant Speed Date: Vinca minor

(Plant Speed Date is a series in which I attempt to introduce you, the reader, to as many plants as possible in a short period.)

Hello, My Name Is: Vinca minor

My Friends Call Me: Periwinkle, myrtle

Turn ons: Medium to rich well-drained soil, average moisture, shade

Turn offs: Full sun, being told to keep my runners to myself

What I Do For a Living: Make a fabulous ground cover (USDA Zones 4-9), fill weird shady holes that would otherwise go bare, make deer look for something else to eat, conquer my foes by spreading throughout an entire shaded lawn or wooded area.

My Best Features Are: The cute little flowers I produce in spring. Usually they’re blue-purple, but I offer varieties you wouldn’t believe. Also, I’m smaller and tougher than my big sister, Vinca major.

My Exes Would Tell You I:

  • Killed their lawn. A total lie – grass doesn’t even like the kind of places I love to grow.
  • Refused to leave after multiple attempts at eviction. Totally true. There’s no getting rid of me, but why would you want to? I’m your woodland true love, baby. My only real enemy is glyphosate, but who wants that in their yard? Not us!
  • Bloom for like five minutes a year. It’s not MY fault you don’t pay attention when I’m telling you spring is coming. Next time, stop ogling that daffodil with the big pistils.
  • Stole their car. Pfft, don’t leave the keys in the ignition next time, BRAD.

How to Make Me Yours: Find a patch some neighbor has planted and grab some runners in the spring. (Asking permission is nice, I guess – I never ask permission for anything.) Or buy plants at a local nursery.

Fund future plant speed dates here.

I Have So Many Questions About This L.L. Bean Catalog Cover

I love L.L. Bean fall catalogs. There’s something cozy about them.

The fall catalog I received this week, however, gets worse the longer I look at it:

The L.L. Bean catalog cover I'm analyzing.
A truck is parked on a dirt road next to a field. The field is bordered by woods. A man stands in the back of the truck, holding an armload of firewood. A woman stands on the ground beside the truck, holding a crate of apples. Both people are smiling.


First: Why is everything so CLEAN??

I’m not talking about the clothes. It’s a clothing ad. I expect the clothes to be clean. I’m talking about everything else.

The truck bed is spotless. That split wood looks like it’s been run through some kind of industrial wood dishwasher. And there is no way in Jonathan Chapman’s personal hell those apples just came straight off a tree.

I mean, let’s talk about these logs.

One of my major fall chores is splitting, hauling, and stacking firewood. I do a lot of splitting, hauling, and stacking firewood this time of year. Between my house, my parents’, and my in-laws’, it is not unusual for me to handle ten to twelve cords a year.

(A cord is 128 cubic feet of wood, or a pile four feet high, four feet wide, and eight feet long. A rick or “face cord” is one third of a cord, or the amount of wood that fits in the back of a 1984 Chevy S-10 pickup (no cap). The More You Know.)

In other words, I know split firewood. And I do not trust this firewood.

Real firewood – something this dude had actually split and needed to haul home – would be dirty. That stuff is covered with bugs and half-shredded bark and actual dirt. Hence, the truck tailgate and bed would also be full of dirt – not to mention dents from all the times you just threw your wood in there instead of placing it in a gentle, geometrically pleasing pile like this one.

Also, there is no way anyone would load up an entire truck to haul three armfuls of firewood. This is enough wood for nothing. You can’t even roast a good marshmallow on this wood. This is three hours, tops, and that’s only if he soaks it with the garden hose before putting it in the wood stove.

This isn’t firewood. This is “rustic decor” from a Williams-Sonoma catalog. Each of those logs was personally hummed into existence by Gwyneth Paltrow herself and costs $200. This wood is-


What the hell is that?

Is that…a hatchet?

Am I supposed to believe that L.L. Bean Man split all this firewood with a hatchet??

Hatchets are not for splitting wood. They’re for felling small trees (large ones if you are poor or desperate) and breaking down kindling so it’ll actually fit in your stove. To split wood by hand, you need a splitting maul.

A splitting maul has a longer handle and a heavier head. It’s a two-handed instrument. This thing? Not a two-handed instrument.

Nobody in the history of humankind split firewood that prettily with a goddamned hand axe.

(In fact, I’d bet an L.L. Bean catalog that firewood – if it is firewood – was split by machine. I have split firewood that prettily by hand, but I usually don’t.)

While we’re talking about things on this way too clean truck tailgate, let’s talk about these apples:

That is not an apple crate.

That is a wine crate.

I’m sure you’re wondering now “Why does it matter? What’s the difference? It’s a rustic crate. Big cottagecore vibes. Just seeing it is turning me into a pumpkin spice latte.”

Apple crates don’t have full sides. They have slats with rather large gaps between.

The purpose of the gaps is to allow air flow among the apples, which reduces your chances of rot. The slat-and-gap design also reduces the number of places in which the sides of your crate touch the apples – locations rot begins (especially since apple crates are almost always damp for some reason).

This crate is stifling those apples. She’ll be lucky to get them home.

Also, it weighs twice as much as an ordinary apple crate, and an ordinary apple crate when full weighs about 30 pounds.

It gets worse, though. Of course it does.

I’m really not sure which disturbs me more here: That she’s hauling sixty pounds of apples in a wine case, or that I have no idea where she got them.

There’s not an apple tree in sight. I mean, look at this. Do you see an apple tree?

No, you don’t. Because there isn’t one.

Apple trees have a distinctive shape and color, especially in fall. Not one of these trees is an apple tree. The tree right above her head isn’t even deciduous!

And even if one of these trees were an apple tree, it wouldn’t produce apples like the ones in that crate. An apple tree growing at the edge of a clearing, at the height of these trees, has gone feral. It’s not producing fruit at all – or if it is, it’s small and sour, not obviously hybrid like whatever is in that crate.

This means that not only did this woman just haul 60 pounds of apple and crate to this truck, she did it from quite a distance away, while L.L. Bean Man here hung out in his truck and played with sticks.

No wonder she’s smiling. It’s that or kill him.

I’m still buying that hoodie, though.

Buy me a pumpkin spice latte so I can go split real wood with real tools.