Born in a Walmart parking lot… The Urban Yoke

March 1, 2011

Ever notice how a shopping cart is almost exactly the size of a car’s trunk? Both can comfortably fit a body and/or the spoils of a Sunday morning mission to Walmart. This revelation came too late for yours truly, who recently found herself stranded in the middle of a snowy Walmart parking lot with a cart’s worth pile of loot heaped at her feet, but no car, no trunk, and no options – and stubbornness can only take a girl so far.

Behold... The Urban Yoke (and delightful shadow angel - who watches over those of us foolish enough to buy more than we can carry)Just then, a small sedan pulled up out of nowhere. The driver opened his door and leaned out. “Are you ok? Do you need a hand there?”

Now, I’m a great believer in chivalry; I take an opened door with all due grace and appreciation. But I draw the line at accepting rides – however fortuitous – from strange men in Walmart parking lots, men who quite possibly spend their Sunday mornings trolling said parking lots for bodies to fit snugly into their trunks.

“No thanks,” I said, with all due grace and appreciation, “I’m fine. It’s just a question of logistics.”


Now, I’m also a great believer in creative problem solving. I took a fresh look at all my available resources (excluding the man who gave me a weird look before driving off). Eureka! And the ‘Urban Yoke’ was born! Note toilet paper back padding. After a joyous stroll home (ok I’ll be honest here, it was still one heck of a trudge) I pulled the hubby out of bed to come take a picture of my genius. He also gave me a weird look, especially when I described my vision for an ergonomically molded, carbon fiber version for Mountain Equipment Coop. I guess some of us are just ahead of our time….and other people don’t buy more than they can carry, sigh.

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The spider plant monologue revisited

July 23, 2008

Remember the pledge?

I made a commitment three months ago to our office spider plant. For the first time, I allowed myself to become emotionally involved with a plant and to take on primary responsiblity for its care. That’s a lot for a professed brown thumb to take on!

I’ve always been to plants what Lucrezia Borgia was to her relatives. Yes, that poisonous! They’ve always been a complete mystery to me, just like babies. I water them; they die (oops, not the babies!). I water them less; they die. I water them more; same ol’ same ol’. Can you believe I actually spent a summer working in Home Depot’s Garden Center? Don’t even ask! Pure irony. Putting on the orange apron every morning was terrifying. I was a fraud, a joke. My cash register was the stocks and, man oh man, did my customers ever let the fruit fly!

All the panic and anxiety of that summer came rushing back as I turned my cart into Walmart’s Garden Centre last week. But there was no turning back. I was on a mission of love. After finally establishing a working watering routine (months of trial and error), my adopted charge had gone and outgrown its pot! It was also time for one of its babies to start on solid food. They grow up so fast lol. I found Walmart’s potting soil, and everything else I’d heard I might need for the task, and got out of there as quick as possible.

I couldn’t believe how nervous I was when it came time for the actual operation. My heart was racing as I gently knocked the plant loose of its old green plastic pot. I turned the ball of roots over in my hands, and ever so carefully…

…I screamed and threw my precious spider plant across the desk.

No one ever told me roots can look just like gross white maggot worms! When the dirt settled, so to speak, I finished the job. The smell of the potting soil, and the feel of it under my nails was a delicious novelty. After patting down the soil and blowing the dirt off the leaves, I felt a fierce and entirely unexpected sense of accomplishment. I’d seen the same emotion on my Home Depot customers’ faces a hundred times, but I’d never understood it. So this is why people spend their weekends on their knees in the dirt?

Yes. And I discovered something else. I never knew how much life energy is held in a plant. With both my hands in the dirt, all my senses were drinking in pure chlorophyll scented “life”. I felt powerful, generous, and connected – a thrilling combination. My original goal had been only to keep my spider plant alive, and even that was asking myself to do the unprecedented. I want to do so much more for it now. I want it to grow and thrive and be as brilliantly green as it can possibly be, and I want to line up its babies in a rainbow of bright tiny pots along my kitchen widow sill at home.

I took a risk three months ago. It was touch and go for a long time, but my spider plant is alive and (as you can see below) multiplying. I’ve let a part of my identity go, the running joke is over. And I’m more than ready to move on. Goal met: I, Cymbria, can take care of a plant.

So go ahead… set a goal. Just don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty ; )

We've come a long way baby!

We've come a long way baby!

(photo source: Cymbria (ps.check the view!)