Three Leaves And A Stick

Me: Where’s the ice cube tray?
Ken: The what?
Me: The ice cube tray! Where is it?
Ken: In the freezer?
Me: No, it’s not. What did you do with it?
Ken: Why would I have done anything with it?
Me: Well, it’s not in here. Where did you put it?!
Ken: I sold it on EBay.
Me: Did you at least get a good price for it, KEN?!
Ken: Unfortunately, no.

5 minutes later…

Ken: I see you found the ice cube tray. Where was it?
Me (sheepishly): Behind a bag of frozen French fries.

Now, you may be wondering what on earth prompted such an overreaction to the missing (temporarily) ice cube tray, but the fact of the matter was that my orchid was starting to look a little wilty and I realized to my horror that I had failed to provide it with its requisite 2 ice cubes a week since the previous Friday. And under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have been quite so panicky except that I had recently returned to work after the holidays and discovered that the incredibly lush orchid given to me by my team for my birthday had succumbed to my neglect and all the flowers had fallen off. Here’s what it looked like when I initially received it—it was glorious, more’s the pity:

Destined to become 3 leaves and a stick.

Yes, once again, I was now left with three leaves and a stick. When they gave it to me, I was overcome with gratitude, but at the same time, I felt sad because I knew it wouldn’t be long before I committed yet another planticide. Completely unintentional of course, what we would call ‘involuntary plantslaughter’, but with the same dire results. Because the fact is, I’m just not good with houseplants.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my garden, and I love plants. As long as they’re outside. I have a rule in my garden—I will plant you and occasionally water you, and the rest is your deal. Most garden plants are just fine with this and manage to thrive without much help from me, aside from me making sure that weeds don’t choke them out. House plants are a whole other matter, though. I seem to have absolutely no knack with houseplants whatsoever. Unfortunately, for both me and them, I really want plants in the house. I haven’t had any for a while, aside from the straggly hibiscus that Ken’s mom gave me years ago, which spends all summer outside looking gorgeous then comes in for the winter and pretty much withers away under my care until the weather gets warm again, and a stupid fern that Ken won’t let me throw away. I got the fern as far as the front porch at the beginning of January, and while I was vacuuming up all the dead leaves, Ken snuck it back in the house, because I’m “only allowed to have one fern and if I can’t keep it alive all winter I can’t get a new one”. It’s like a test of character, or a Nietzschean struggle of the wills. Nietzsche once said “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, so I like to think that if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, I’ve done my part to ensure that the fern will survive. Last spring, Ken bought me a pot of daffodils as a gift and it sat proudly on the kitchen island until the lack of consistent watering did it in. Well, how am I supposed to know that it needed to be watered EVERY DAY? What am I, its mother? So the next time we went to the grocery store, I decided I wanted a replacement plant, and Ken was no help at all.

Me: Oh look! They have orchids—I’ve always wanted an orchid!
Ken: They’re $24.99. Are you really going to pay that much money for something you’re just going to kill?
Me: I won’t kill it!
Ken: Yeah, you will.
Me: What about this campanula? Wait, they look pretty fragile…
Ken: You’ll kill it.
Me: I don’t kill everything, you know.
Ken: (snickers) They have nice cut flowers. Get a bouquet—they’re supposed to die eventually anyway.
Me: Wait, there are orchids here for $14.99!…no, you’re right. It’ll die. What about these African violets? I had one once and it lived for a long time.
Ken: I remember that. It’s a good choice—it might survive.
Me: You’re so mean!
Ken: I have to be—I’m a member of the Vegetation Protection League.

So I got the African violet instead of the orchid. It was dead within the month. But in November, I received the wilting orchid in question from a friend who couldn’t be at my book launch, so she gave it to me as a congratulatory gift, and I was determined that it would live to see February. It will not. Despite my ice-cubing and sweet talking, it’s looking worse by the day.

But I don’t think it’s just me—I honestly believe that orchids are all destined at some point to become three leaves and a stick. In fact, I was in the kitchen at work on Friday, getting ice cubes for my orchid AS ONE DOES, and a new colleague was making toast:

Me: Oh hey, how’s it going? I just need to get some ice cubes for my orchid.
New Colleague: Oh, I have one of those. The flowers fell off, and it’s only a few leaves and a stick right now, but I hope it’ll bloom again.
Me: It won’t. They never do.
New Colleague: Sigh. I know.

But I will persevere, even if my orchid IS just three leaves and a stick, for the sentimental value. As for Ken, it’s a shame that he didn’t really sell my ice cube tray on EBay, because we’ve had it almost since we got married, and when I went to the EBay website, I discovered that he could have gotten fifty bucks for a “vintage plastic ice cube tray”. That’s enough for at least FIVE leaves and a stick.

77 thoughts on “Three Leaves And A Stick

  1. I bought an orchid for my granddaughter when she was recuperating from an operation. Idk if it’s still living. I too love flowers but am no good with them outside or houseplants. It’s one of those skills I had, lost and cant find now. Is there such a thing as a vintage ice cube tray??? Loved it, as you make my Sunday morning each week.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, my name is the Huntress, and I’m an involuntary plantslaughterer, welcome to our support group. Lol

    I AM A PLANT KILLER too, ugh. I mean I’ve raised three kids, and they made it into adulthood (mostly unscathed.) Why do I have such a hard time keeping stupid houseplants green and most importantly, alive?!?!

    I can’t even keep succulents, because they begin to freaking die! I’m glad Ken didn’t sell your ice cube tray, it’s got tons of sentimental value. And your right, orchids are definite divas. Actually I think all plants are. You know which ones aren’t, cacti, they thrive whether you water them or not. It’s really hard to have a large cactus on your desk though. People start to talk, bastards! 😤😜🤣

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I owned a landscape maintenance business for 7 years in the 90s, and worked in one for some 10 years before that, so I can honestly tell you without prejudice that (a) I suck with plants, and (b) I don’t like them, anyway. I won’t grow a good lawn, because a weed lawn holds up better and requires less maintenance. I like when the snow kills my shrubs and trees because then I don’t have to make the decision to kill them on my own. That would be first-degree planticide and your readers might think less of me for that.

    So I only adorn my abode with perennial things. Rams action figures. Darth Vader helmets. Vases. I buy Mrs C flowers all the time, but I always buy a new vase when I do because flowers die but vases, vases are forever.

    We have, like, 7000 of them now or something.

    So I can relate. Sort of. Except that I don’t lament the death of vegetation, I relish it. I guess you can tell Ken I’m the founding member and chairman of VAL. No fees, no dues. All are welcome. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  4. So I know this is about your green thumb (or lack thereof:)), but I’m laughing at you not being able to find the tray and blaming your husband. Just a couple of nights ago, I accused my son of moving the upstairs thermostat sensor. I was sure he was the culprit. And then found it in my jewelry box. My own absentmindedness was the culprit. I’m glad to know I have a soul sister out there!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There’s a reason I don’t have kids or dogs. I have very little ambition for taking care of things. My cats survive despite this because about all I have to take the time to do is feed them, and they’ll “kindly” remind me when it’s time for that. They don’t even really care if I regularly clean the litter box…. that’s just a matter of it I want them pooping everywhere, which…. yeah, I can manage to perform that task at least. I’d forget a houseplant as soon as it was in the house…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m calling the authorities. Horticultural Correctional officers are enroute.

    One word: Plastic.

    Truth be told, poltergeists do not like living things. Maybe you should have a sit down with your ghost.

    Every plant we’ve ever tried to host has been gnawed and gacked onto the carpet by the denizen cats that prowl the premises. “Bad kitty. That is not salad!”

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Someone once suggested to me that orchids, which are notoriously difficult, evolved the ability to create a desire in humans to not only grow them but give in to all their finicky demands. Your experience seriously undermines that idea. Although in your defense no flower last forever, even on a phalaenopsis.
    Some people just aren’t born with green thumbs, and some are. I even thought for a while that I had a green thumb, and I did, until the doctor gave me some ointment that cleared it right up.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think aloe plants make he best house plant because they require little attention I also have a philodendron that will go for weeks without water. I always like to remind people though that your tap water might be the reason your house plants die. City water my be treated with chlorine that will kill a plant and well water that is treated with a softener may have a high salt content that may kill plants.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. One of Tom’s co-workers and his wife brought a similar orchid to yours when they came to the hospital to visit Tom just after the accident. It so happens that during this particular (very long) stay, Tom’s brain sort of rebooted–during the time they spent with him, he went from completely bonkers to slightly lucid and sensical. That orchid represented hope, rebirth, and I knew like I knew my name that I’d end up killing it. Though I tried and tried, it couldn’t be resuscitated, and I was terrified that would end up being symbolic of his recovery. I still feel uneasy about it. I’m sorry we have this in common!! But at least you can take care of business in your garden. I’m 0-for-everything green! Thanks for the smile, as always.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sell the ice cube tray, the orchid doesn’t look that bad I reckon if you find the right place for it and water it nicely it’ll come back to life. I rescued one that was just a stick and now it has flowers and everything on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The only house plant I can keep alive longer than a couple of weeks are hyacinth, everything else is lucky to see the weekend. What is it about us that just can’t keep them alive? I mean I actually do better keeping a tiny human safe and sound…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. My husband has a green thumb. When he travels, he puts me in charge of watering the plants. Once he came back and found a cactus dead. He claims I killed it by over watering….if such a thing is possible. I claim the cactus had died a natural death, no foul play.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Orchids are such a rip-off plant. I realized I had to be a Nero Wolfe or a General Sternwood from “The Big Sleep” to care for such delicate things, and who wants to spend the time. What I don’t get is, how can they survive being in a grocery store but not live 3-4 weeks when you take them home?

    Liked by 2 people

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