01 June 2009

Mr. Ugly

A little while ago, Matthew and I made a date of a late evening stroll through the old-timey main street of a neighborhood not too far from our own. Everything was closed, so we were actually, literally window shopping. It reminded me of Germany and Lebanon at the same time, because we did that in both places. Not much reminds me of both places at once. Yeah, it's pretty much just babies and window shopping.

Anyway, we stopped to look in the window at Plowsharing Crafts. Like other shops nearby, their window display was attractive. I noticed, tucked in at the corners, clay pots. They were nice and big, pretty colors too, and perfect for being indoors or out. And since Frugalein must be satisfied about this kind of thing, I also noticed the price tags. Reasonable prices. Not a dime more (actually, several dozen dimes less because you don't have to pay tax at Plowsharing) than what I'd have to pay for the same product somewhere else. I made a mental note, because Mr. Ugly needed to be repotted and taken out for the summer.

Who is Mr. Ugly, you ask? Well, actually, his real name is Herr Häβlich, but Häβlich isn't the easiest thing for my kids to pronounce plus they sadly have no idea what all those sounds mean, so we anglicized it. This is a picture of my Mr. Ugly that I took back in February. He was overwintering in the dining room and has grown quite a lot since then.

Late last summer, my neighbor invited us to come see her Night Blooming Cereus open up on a still and cool summer evening. A few weeks passed, and then she brought over a mason jar with cuttings from the plant. They rooted well and I planted them in the only unused pot I had and kept it in the dining room. Not more than a week later I had my parents over for dinner. When my mom walked in and saw the plant she instantly (and delightedly) declared that I had a Mr. Ugly plant.

Apparently, years ago, she had a plant like this. One of us named it Herr Häβlich (we all had German in High School, so it's anyone's guess where that name came from) and the name stuck. Mom had no idea that it was a night bloomer, though. Her Mr. Ugly stayed in the house year-round, so he never got the chance.

Earlier today I went back to Plowsharing shortly after they opened, selected a large pot, and brought it home. While I was there I found out that the store is run entirely by volunteers, they're a non-profit, that they have been in St. Louis for nearly three decades. To me, that's almost as impressive as the help they have provided to people who need it. Fair trade allows artisans throughout the world to benefit from the sale of their products in wealthy markets like the one down the street from me. From now on, when I need a gift for someone in town, Plowsharing will be my first stop.

This evening (I had to wait for sundown. I just can't take the brightness or the heat or the skin-burning.) I repotted Mr. Ugly into the Plowsharing pot and found a place for it outside where he will get just the right amount of sun.

1 comment:

joe said...

mom's plant came from a yard sale. his name was mr ugly long before i gave it to her. i thought he was indestructible, but a year in the basement finally killed him.

i miss you, mr ugly. rest in peace.