It was Oct. 4 and I had not been home more than an hour or two when my wife made a sudden announcement. “You should check out the Fox Valley News in today’s newspaper,” she said as she buzzed around the kitchen, seemingly busy with something and avoiding eye contact. I asked her what she meant and received the same reply. “You should check out the Fox Valley News in today’s newspaper.” Being a guy I did what comes naturally. I stretched out on the couch for a well-deserved rest and replied, “I will do that later.” When I read the newspaper that night I received a real surprise. There on page 7 was a photo of Rose Lodoen smiling and posing with samples of her fall garden produce. Reading the caption that accompanied the photo shocked me. It stated, “Rose Lodoen is challenging Wayne Litke once again to match her tomatoes. She has some pretty hefty potatoes as well.” Looking again at the photo and the massive size of Rose’s tomatoes and potatoes I realized that I had been set up. A conspiracy of the worst kind had taken place and two women I trust had taken advantage of my good nature.
Flashbacks of crazy events in May came to life as I recalled how my wife had refused to let me help plant her garden. Then Angela told me I could plant some squash or melons in the back alley, but I would have to pull up irises that I had transplanted there in an effort to beautify an ugly section of alley. When I refused, she didn’t hesitate to do the dirty work herself.
Seeking to distance myself from her aggressive and unusual behaviour, I built a couple of garden boxes in the front yard. However, her heavy-handed green thumbs soon prevailed and she took control of my green space and planted flowers, lettuce, asparagus and potatoes. Then she complained about not having enough space for seven or eight tomato plants and was letting them wither away in the hot sun. Seeing the little ones wilting and beginning to turn a sickly shade of yellow was more than any person should have to bear. Therefore, I did what any man would do and rescued the helpless seedlings. New homes for the helpless plants were found along our east fence and in a large pot.
I tried to give the little ones the attention they deserved, but it was simply impossible due to my work schedule which took me out of town. Despite receiving a minimal amount of attention and sunlight, my foster plants grew and actually produced several fine offspring, but they were a little undersized. They simply were unable to reach their full potential due to their delayed growth and lack of nurturing in the early stages of life.
I provide this detail for discerning readers and sleuths who can now begin to see how I was set up – snookered. Yes, I fell victim to a conspiracy conceived by an angel and a “rose by no other name.” As of Oct. 4 it became very clear to me that Angela’s fertile garden was made off limits in an attempt to prevent me from growing any award-winning vegetables. That is why she booted me to the back alley and told me what I had to plant (squash or melons). When I did not play along and built garden boxes, she invaded my space and even went so far as to plant potatoes so I had absolutely nothing of my own to compare to the massive, bowel-blocking spuds that Rose produced.
Since Angela “forgot” to water my tomatoes when I was away, they simply could not reach the steroid-enhanced size of Lodoen’s tomatoes. They actually look more like small pumpkins than tomatoes in the newspaper. That might sound like sour grapes to some readers, but remember we are dealing with vegetables (not fruit) and two gardeners who have a reputation and past history that is recorded in archived issues of this publication.
There is no doubt in my mind that the two women got together and hatched a plan that would totally shut down my gardening options. There is no other logical explanation for my wife’s unusual behaviour and Rose’s challenge in last week’s newspaper to match the size of her tomatoes. Therefore I find it ironical that something kind of creepy and sick (in a genetic sense) went on in Angela’s back alley garden. There, beneath the raspberries and sunflowers that towered overhead, some scary cross-breeding took place that resulted in spaghetti squash with pumpkin innards. I call them squashkins. The pumpkins that grew appeared normal, but were driven over by vehicles or liberated by another party, so I never had a chance to examine their internal organs. Pictured in this column is one of the quality tomatoes I grew and a larger, less firm variety that Angela insisted I include in this column.
All I can say is, “No more Mr. Nice Guy,” in the summer of 2017. The gloves are coming off.