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From the Valley: Trails Of Plant Manager


By the time you read this, I’ll have made the trip to northern New York to join my wife on the St. Lawrence River. My wife left several days ahead of me as I had some business to take care of first. (And no, it was not that I just wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet of being alone.

My wife and I enjoy each other’s company too much to play that game.)

That last-person-to-leave scenario encompasses the responsibility of watering all the plants before leaving. Simple chore, you’d think. But, although we have less than half an acre of land at our house, my wife, Kathie, somehow manages to plant ten acres of flowers, bushes and whatever. How she does it .... I don’t know. (This, from a gal who can get poison-ivy thumbing through a Burpee seed-catalog.)

As the temporarily-appointed plant-manager, I quickly found out how hard the job is: like trying to get the hose to reach water boxes on the 2nd story of a barn/shed we have out back - in 90 degree weather, no less. I was beyond exhausted after this seemingly simple chore.

When I called my wife to boast of my accomplishment - and remark how amazed I was at her ability to do it on a regular basis - she asked “You actually watered the plastic flowers in those boxes?”

For the front-yard (real) flowers, I bought an expensive automatic watering-system. It had a timer that comes on every day, a couple of times a day for as long as you want it to (run). I bought the expensive one because the outside of the box said “Simple to use - 3 easy steps.”

That’s what I needed: something simple. My wife was worried that I’d have trouble with it.

Naturally, those “3 easy steps” were explained in a 57-page manual. And the print was so small I stared at it for an hour before I realized it was in Spanish. I then had to go on-line and learn the language. That was step 2.

The manual explained that if I had any trouble getting it to work properly, I could go on-line to for further directions. By now, that ‘easy’ come-on was in the rear view mirror, light years away.

If they really wanted to make it “ 3 easy steps,” they should have said:

“Step 1 - Walk over to trash-can and throw this unit out now,immediately.”

“Step 2 – Accept the fact that you’ve been had and move on.”

“Step 3 – Call your neighbors and see if any of them can water your flowers while you’re away.”

When I’ve been pulled in hook, line and sinker like that, it drives me nuts. But my wife’s philosophy of “it is what it is” and “it’s all good” has helped me cope over the years. Her demeanor has taught me to expect and accept life’s inevitable pitfalls.

But since she wasn’t around, I took a 20 pound sledge-hammer to the damn thing and pounded that piece of crap into oblivion. It was so twisted when I was done that even wouldn’t recognize it. I then scribbled a note and duct-taped it to what was left. It said “Step 4.” THAT part … WAS easy! (Note: embellished story. It was only a 16 pound sledge-hammer.)

That night, I called my wife, again, to let her know I was packing and getting ready to leave. She said not to hurry, she was enjoying the peace and quiet of being alone. Alrighty then.

She asked me how the new watering system was working out.

After a slight pause, I said “It was a big hit.”

“See?” she boasted, “It’s all good.”

“Yup,” I added,” “it is what it is. And it was downright smashing.”

And that’s ... the way it looks from the Valley.

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