12.6.09

The great cactus massacre


This neglected motley crew of cacti (one with brewer's droop) and aloe vera have been sat on our bathroom windowsill for the whole seven years we have lived here. Previous to that they were on various other windowsills. We (I) have been carting the cacti around since 1992. I was, frankly, sick to death of them. The conversation this morning, before I set off for my walk went something like this;

ME - "You know those cactus in the bathroom?"

ANDY - "Yes..."
ME - "I want to get rid of them, I can't stand them anymore."
ANDY - "Me either, I hate the ****** things."
ME - "So, the cactus can go in the compost bin and we'll let the aloe vera take their chances in the garden" (as the aloe vera have the saving grace of being useful for treating burns)
ANDY - grunted.
ME - (cheerfully putting my jacket on and collecting my camera) "So, you'll do that for me, while I'm out?"
ANDY (becoming alert and looking gleeful) "HA! You don't want to do it yourself - you feel guilty!!!"
ME - "Yes. That is exactly it. I don't want to be a cactus murderer." (Then followed a rather silly imitation of high pitched cacti voices crying out for mercy).

So I went for my walk, noticing that someone was selling gooseberries up the road, and cursed because I'd not brought my purse with me. When I returned, there was a sorry little line of dusty pots lined up like condemned men, in the back yard.

ME - "You didn't put the cactus in the compost"
ANDY - "No. Why don't YOU do it?"

I looked at them. And realised I couldn't, having visions of bewildered, scared cactus lying in the dark smelly bin, fearful of slugs and wondering why I had abandoned them. But neither did I want the ugly things. This dilemma occupied a corner of my brain for a few hours, until I popped out to the Co-op, and on my way home, had a stroke of instinctive genius. I went into the library, because they, surely, would know what to do? After all, it's not just any old library: it's the village library. I approached one of my favourite librarians, crouched on the floor, surrounded by reference books.

"I have a problem". She stood up and brightly asked how she could help.
"It's not your usual kind of question..." an enquiring gleam came into her eyes. I explained, finishing off with the admission that I could not bring myself to commit cacticide. And, as it happened, she did have just the answer. The sickly cacti, in need of much TLC, would be perfect for her father, who used to grow them in his garden abroad, but sadly lost them all when he moved back to England. As he is poorly himself, it will be nice for him to have something to look after. And she herself would be more than happy to take the big aloe vera; she has been looking for one after someone told her they were good for burns, and she has a burn now that needs treating. So, I bagged them up, keeping the smallest aloe for us, and now they are off to new and better homes. No cactus were harmed and everyone is happy. Which is why I love village life...there are usually answers to most problems.

36 comments:

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

Wonderful! It all worked out for everyone :) A happy ending and well-written so that you gave me a few laughs...thanks ~ER~

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

P.S. Just took a look at your webcam...I love it! Thats so cool, amazing what technology can do...~ER~

Suze said...

What a wonderful world village life is...a micropod of caring humanity.
I'm glad to hear you didn't have to commit cacticide...and dear little a. vera is sticking around.

Better be off...going to another side of village life tonight!

Liza said...

Lovely story...there must be a children's book in there somewhere! (I even feel guilty throwing flowers away when they've died)

Jessie said...

That's a lovely story. How I love a happy ending :)...ps I would have put them in the compost for you mwaahaha!x

gilflingsdesigns said...

oh dear i had to smile at this - only the other day as i was walking down the many streets of terraced housing here in middle england i was very perplexed at the amount of houses with forests of dusty, decrepit and positively ill looking cacti sitting on windowsills between the window and curtains that clearly are never ever opened - what a strange thing! I for one have never really had a love for cactus, so rarely have I seen any that are healthy.

oh and I am so glad you had such a wonderful time on your trip away - it look like such a lovely and peaceful place. and good luck with the 'deposit saving' - i think we are in the same boat you and i - we are hoping to get on that 'house ownership' boat someday soon too

tlawwife said...

I love that you went to the library!! That is why I love small town living too.

Sue said...

Just on my way to bed to read some more of 'Miss Read' Village Diary and popped in on the way... feel like I'm back in its pages!

If you don't know Miss Read you must borrow her from your lovely library - it is pure comfort reading - like a box of chocs!

Jackie said...

Do they know what to do with old pianos?

Syren said...

I love this story because that's exactly how I feel about weeding and pruning which is why I have such a wild garden. If I prune anything I have to try striking it. If I thin out a bed, I have to find new places or homes for those pulled out.
As for living in a village - I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. :D

word verification: rusticat - a classy villager ;) either that or a weathered metal garden ornament.

the casbah kitten/inside the casbah said...

You have such a talent for taking a simple little task and telling about it in such an entertaining way! I'm glad the cacti found good homes in the end too. Although I don't think slugs would want to attack them in the compost bin....

BumbleVee said...

One man's junk is another man's treasure....still holds true.

Even in the big city...if I don't want or need something anymore... I prop it(or them) against the power pole in the alleyway... usually several days before garbage pickup...and every single time...some kind person has picked up said castoffs. The last thing was a bicycle carrier that doesn't fit our present car or van... I've tried to sell it in a garage sale... give it away to friends...no dice. But.. took it out there and ...gone in a day...

Caroline B said...

I so empathise with you there - I tend to put unloved pot plants out in the garden to take their chances in a kind of botanical euthanasia (like the ancients taking their aged up the mountain in the snow..)as the compost heap is a terrible end for them. Sometimes backfires though - there's a very raggedy Xmas tree that is still holding on 2 years later...

liZZie said...

I've been looking at some whizzened horrible little cacti on a windowsill and am now thinking of dressing them up in sombreros and marching them doen to our villlage library - oops, only trouble is it doesn't open again until Thursday afternoon.

June said...

Aren't libraries great! If they don't have the info you need in a book or on the computer... there is usually someone who knows someone to ask.
Wish I lived in a village though...

Frances said...

I so love libraries, and also happy endings.

I agree with Sue that the Miss Reed books are quite fun, and give what surely seems to be a true picture of village life centered on a school, many years ago.

Best wishes! xo

Kari L√łnning said...

It's so much easier to pass along a plant than to decide it's fatal future. My garden is so in-grown and in desperate need of thinking, but here I sit rather than dig and move and separate. I do have a place for one plant a a friend for another ... but what of the REST of them???

natural attrill said...

When I first met Laurence (many years ago) he had a cactus that had lived in a cupboard for years, it was white, poor thing...
I see you have joined in made4aid, Toby has too, he's posted about it on his blog today. It's a really good idea, I hope the auction goes well and lots of dosh is made!
Penny.

Contessa Kris said...

Oh my goodness you crack me up! I couldn't quit laughing at 'Cacticide!. ha So glad they cacti have found a new home.

lettuce said...

my aloe vera look a bit like that at the moment

:o/

no friendly villagers to rescue them around here

janet said...

Too funny....When my man goes on a business trip..that is when I get rid of things he wants to keep..like unwanted plants ;-) I usually tell him " you have to go out of town sometime! )

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The very definition of a happy ending. I know exactly how you feel, for I tend to anthropormorphize just about everything. If I pick up a plum in the market, then decide another one might look better, ... I will usually still purchase the first one as well, not wanting it to feel badly.

Is there a doctor I can call for this???

Kim McBirnie said...

Girl! I can't believe it, I had exactly the same dilemma a few months ago. We bought cacti from Ikea when we were students and I just couldn't bring myself to hurt them now. They're currently languishing in the garage until I can summon up the guts to do something with them. I'm so glad it's not just me!
Kim xx

Jackie said...

Yes I have been outed! I saw your comment on Lyns blog. I must point out that some of the bulge is the blouse and not me!
(But not a lot)

Decadent Housewife said...

That brought a smile.

Rowan said...

Great story - I'm glad it had a happy ending:)

d. moll, l.ac. said...

I was really worried when I read the title......but all's well that ends well.

Mlle Miracle said...

You are funny, Gretel, you know that?
This lady at the library is a jewel, does she always solve your problems?

(The word verification for that post is "fackired", that's a message from your cactus, I'm sure)

Kayla coo said...

Hello,
Thanks for your tips on photo size on Jackies blog, very helpful.
Best wishes

Michala

Art Space Gallery said...

The cactus tale made very funny reading - glad they and the Aloe vera were rehomed in the end. Best wishes.

Lesley

TerryMoran said...

Oh, I am so relieved the Cacti were spared. I got quite concerned, you see, I live in the Arizona desert where only Cactus grow and I've come to find the beauty in them. Thank you for the happy ending.

acornmoon said...

You see, if you had stayed in South Devon you and your cacti would not have had such an adventure. All's well that ends well.

janet said...

Hello Gretel..I have an award for your blog! If you would like it...come see me ;-) P.S...you are under no obligation ;-)

Merisi said...

I confess to murdering the one or other plant in our .... care. :-(
I do feel terrible about it.

I am happy that you found a new home for your darlings! :-)

natural attrill said...

haha- cacticide.....
=]

would it not be succulenticide for the aloes though??

Toby,,,

Gillyflower Jewellery said...

Hehe, this made me laugh! What a lovely story with a happy ending :D Village life is the best, I really miss it now that I live on a housing estate...