Friday, June 17, 2011

The neighborhood crime report

We live in the city, and while we live in a charming neighborhood, there are decidedly un-charming city things that go along with it.

Like human feces in the alley, mandatory Christmas cards to the trash collectors, and crime - both large and small.

This week: One of our neighbors emailed Nick to say that two petunias had been stolen down the street.

The owner of the petunias looked out the window just in time to see an older woman scooping them out of the soil and putting them in her purse. I'm not sure why he informed our neighbor of this, but our neighbor responded by planting pansies as replacements.

His email to Nick was about something else; this neighborhood crime report was extra.

I immediately thought of Michael Ondaatje's grandmother, Lalla, the botanical burglar.

Nick, however, immediately thought of Jordan's grandmother. As in MY mother.

We were sitting in the living room, enjoying a glass of wine, when Nick read the email on his Blackberry. He read it aloud, then raised his eyebrows at me.


"You don't think Betty..."

"Don't be an idiot. Betty wouldn't steal flowers."

"Are you sure? She takes cuttings of other people's plants."

I was going to deny this, not because I think it's a big deal - she's always done this - but because he was acting like cuttings were like a gateway drug. One day, little snippings of plant shoots, the next day, swiping someone's oak tree in the dead of night.

But he said it with such certainty that I didn't feel like I could deny flat out.

So I was all, "What? Have you ever seen her do that?" (See how I'm tricky like that?)

"Yes, Lisa. She does it while we're walking down the street." (Um. See how he's observant like that?)

"Oh. Well, yeah. But that's completely different."

Seriously. It is.


  1. I'm a little in love with the mental image of Betty, dressed like a ninja, making off with a 40-foot oak.

    Also, I'm pretty sure Betty wouldn't sacrifice her purse for a couple of petunias. Think of the accessories!

  2. I'm with Jessica - love the Betty imagery! -HK

  3. You never know... we took my mom to the botanical gardens out here, and I had to watch her closely the entire time. It probably does start with one cutting and next? Betty might end up with a mugshot and you'll have to post bail.

  4. Sooo ... I've never had a garden before. And I don't have a garden now. But I do have these big planter-type boxes full of dirt on my patio. And I was thinking that I should put some flowers in them. But I'm a city girl. I don't even know where to buy flowers in non-bouquet form. So I was walking home yesterday and I noticed these adorable little purple flowers growing in the dirt beside the road and honestly, the only thing that kept me from digging them up for my patio planter boxes was the fact that I am hugely pregnant and unable to bend down without assistance. I'm just saying that IF Betty is the petunia thief, I'm sure she had a very good reason. Like, she wanted the damn petunias, NICK.

  5. In my rural neighborhood, the crime report goes like this... the husband tells me every night for weeks that in the wee small hours of the morning a car drives slowly down the our quite country road, braking at each little homestead. "Definitely somebody up to no good - casing the joint," he says, sagely and with complete confidence in his conclusion.

    Some weeks later, after a conversation with the neighbors, a mystery was solved. "It's the newspaper delivery," he admitted sheepishly. Diabolical stuff, I tell you!

  6. When I managed a building in Hollywood, I was SUPREMELY pissed when the beautiful little coral rosebush I had planted and lovingly tended, went missing. Seriously, I would have chopped a hand off for that theft.

  7. I don't live in the city. I live in a suburb called Thornton which is nor-east of Denver. (North-East, but nor-east to me since I'm from Maine originally).

    Anyways, we normally have no crime, but lately someone has been going around slashing tires and bashing off side view mirrors. It's a darn shame.

    We also have the Hank Hill type lawn and home care folks here. Tell your petunia stealer she needs to move over here -- there are some GREAT examples of flora here she could take. :)

    And yes, cuttings are different. You're not taking a WHOLE plant. You're helping the plant by taking some of its burden away. :) Just tell Nick, it's a horticultural thing. LOL. Maybe that might help???

    Good luck!

  8. Jessica - It is pretty funny and unimaginable, isn't it?

    She'd totally sacrifice a purse, I'm pretty sure. But she's not a flower stealer.

    HK - Thanks! :)

    Susan H - That is really funny. No, Betty's not a threat to swipe anything from any botanical gardens, and I'm quite confident she won't wind up with charges against her. It's just a little snip snip here and there.

    Hillary - I think taking those random flowers would be totally understandable and fine. I mean, if you could bend down that far. :) Betty most definitely did not take the petunias. I'd have been pretty horrified if she had.

    Keenie Beanie - That really makes me laugh. So suspicious! Oh, the newspaper deliverer? Oh. Nevermind.

    J - I would be pissed as well. Someone pulled out several of our boxwoods the weekend we were away. Luckily our neighbors noticed and put them back in the dirt, and they seem to be fine.

    Moue - Oh, wow. That's just terrible. Expensive, malicious behavior.

    Yes, cuttings are completely different. Doesn't hurt the plant, and you're making new ones!


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