Thursday, March 31, 2016

April. Otherwise Known As the Month In Which Martha Presses Her Table Linens and I Scoop Monkey Balls out of My Yard

I didn't know until the April issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine came in the mail that Martha Stewart and I have a lot in common. 

Side note: I am not typically a Martha Stewart Living magazine reader, but a few months ago my husband got an email from our credit card company announcing that if we didn't use a bunch of accumulated points, we would lose them forever, and the only thing that we seemed to be able to use the points for was ordering magazines, and so now we are receiving Martha, Self, Dwell, and Us Weekly in the mail. Side note two: My husband threatened to order more magazines but I told him that four is plenty (see: my recent de-hoarding obsession), and he was forced to order Cigar Aficionado, Wine Enthusiast, and Guns & Garden for our friends, possibly now our enemies. 

But back to Martha. I was joking before when I said we have a lot in common.   

And nowhere is this more starkly clear to me than on page 2 of the April issue which has a feature called Martha's Month: Gentle reminders, helpful tips, and important dates.

Martha's Month

I read this page with interest, thinking that maybe I should put together a calendar page for myself too, and write out my own gentle reminders. I have that vague naggy feeling that April will be a busy one, a mish mash of the writing project that I'm slowly picking my way through, a handful of writing workshops to plan, organizational stuff for my new SCBWI Regional Advisor position, and all of that sandwiched around general housekeeping and yardwork that must be taken care of, ASAP, most importantly, my vegetable garden.

But before I can even begin work on my vegetable garden, my husband and I have to deal with the mud bath that is our backyard. 

(Our backyard, last year, after a rainstorm. This was the
day that my husband and I crafted a shark fin
out of cardboard and set it afloat upon the surface of
our new mudpond, which just goes to show how
artsy-craftsy we can be. Take that, Martha.)

Over the past few weekends, dealing with the mud bath that is our backyard has involved digging a fifteen-foot long ditch and lining it with stones so as to create our own dry creek bed for excess water collection. 

Next up on the To-do list: scooping up piles of dog poop left behind now that the snows and waters have receded. 

And collecting the monkey balls that dot our muddy lawn like landmines. 

Monkey balls, as I am sure you know, are the sharp edged fruits that drop from the monkey ball tree. (I just looked this up for my own edification and because I was wondering if they are really called "monkey balls." Weirdly, the answer is yes. Officially, the tree is the American Sweetgum and the fruit, in addition to being fondly referred to as monkey balls, is also known as "bommyknockers" "sticker balls" and "gum balls."

Whatever you want to call them, I highly recommend that you do not step on them with bare feet.) 

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that, according to our calendars, while I am "picking up monkey balls" and "navigating piles of dog poop," Martha will be "making fresh ricotta" and "going for horseback rides" and "baking homemade treats for the dogs" and "visiting Maine for the weekend."

It should be a fun month for both of us. 

three fewer bommyknockers to pick up



  1. I've never heard the sweetgum balls called "monkey balls" before. Interesting! My favorite thing about the sweetgum is that its Latin genus name is "Liquidambar," which is one of my favorite words ever. I actually used it as an internet name way back when.

    I can picture a spread in Martha's magazine about turning your backyard into an aquatic paradise. "Festive shark fins add a touch of whimsy to a natural pool ... while a hand-dug swale allows for the positioning of stones in an artful composition. As a bonus, the swale collects stormwater runoff! Collect the leavings of your sweetgum tree and spray-paint them gold and silver for ornaments this upcoming holiday season."

    1. OMG. You've got me wanting to run out into my yard and spray paint my monkey balls. Funny confession: I have been collecting them and putting them into jars. Also, Liquidambar is a good word.

  2. Our "dry" creek is at least 40ft long. I still want to dig those hole with the post hole digger. I will need my potato farmer to scrap the mud from the blades as I dig.

    Blog that.

    1. I have no sense of measurement apparently. 40 feet. Who knew? And, I absolutely refuse to be the blade scraping Potato Farmer ever again. You're right though, it's a topic for another blog :)

  3. Yes, it's a dog poop time of year. Also, we have a ground bee infestation. Not sure what Martha would make of that...

    PS -- Love the shark fin. :)

    1. Thanks, Yvonne! Yeah. Can't see Martha touching dog poop or bees. On second thought, I am betting she cultivates her own honey :)