An obstacle is an unrecognized opportunity.

I’ve come a long way throughout the years, and I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes. A person who never made a mistake is a person who never tried anything new was displayed on the wall of Jake’s old classroom, and I think that’s inspirational. I regularly tell my children that mistakes are learning opportunities, and that we become better as we learn from them.

All of which is to say that I do not shop at Costco without a list anymore. In fact, I go through my pantry and cupboards and make a very specific list, and I do not deviate from that list. If I don’t have vanilla extract on the list, I don’t buy it; the fact is I will not need to buy it for some time, since I have several Costco-sized bottles in my pantry as we speak.

Learning opportunities.

The last time I really went off the list, to my own detriment, was when I purchased a giant double-pack of plastic wrap. I rarely use plastic wrap, and I certainly did not need a gigantic double-pack. I purchased that double-pack in late 2013 and I JUST opened it a few weeks ago. Sadly, the quality of the plastic wrap is terrible, so I am doomed to decades of using crappy plastic wrap, since there is no way in hell I am going to throw it out. I will probably go to my grave with this plastic wrap still in my pantry. My great-grandchildren will come to clean out my apartment in the senior’s complex and they will look at the plastic wrap with wonder. What did Grandma think she was going to do with all that plastic wrap? Then they will take it upon themselves to use it up, and I just hope that it doesn’t have crazy monkey-paw powers.

Anyway, last week I went to Costco with my list in hand, and right at the door, right there, was a huge display of flower bulbs. As though struck by lightning, I stopped my giant cart in front of the display with wide eyes and palpable excitement. BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS BULBS was going through my head to the tune of that old Meow Mix commercial. I literally could not move. People were steering their carts around me probably wondering what just happened to that insane looking woman by the bulb display.

Now, bulbs were not on my list. I didn’t even know that bulbs were an option. I decided to make an exception to my rule and dithered for several minutes between the varieties of tulips, daffodils, hyanciths, and crocuses before finally settling on a mix of apricot and deep purple tulips, and a variety pack of yellow, purple, and variegated crocuses. After putting them in my cart, I had to pull over by the watch display and regroup. I felt the way a toddler must feel when fed a package of gummy bears, brought into Toys R Us, and told to choose two things. I felt slightly unglued and totally unfocused, and I had to read my list several times just to become in a normal Costco-shopping state again. After some time, I felt equal to the task, and went looking for the tamari almonds.

When I got home I immediately texted my husband to tell him I bought a total of fifty tulips and eighty crocuses; my mother then phoned and I told her of my exciting day. She asked, quite reasonably, where I was planning to put one hundred and thirty bulbs in my already-full gardens.

As they say in Pinterest’s inspirational quotes and public school classrooms, an obstacle is often an unrecognized opportunity. A stepping stone, if you will. The weather last Saturday turned out to be beautiful and warm, and so Mark and I spent a few hours digging around my perennials and shrubs, looking for spaces. One such unrecognized opportunity was my hosta garden. The kitchen window faces this garden, and during July, August, and even, sometimes, September, this garden is a thing of beauty: giant variegated leaves, a dogwood and a giant spirea shrub, colourful impatiens, and an inukshuk made from large rocks collected at my husband’s childhood home.

At all other times of the year, however, it’s a depressingly dull strip of dirt with leafless shrubs and the inukshuk standing all alone in the soil.

It is especially depressing in May, because all the other plants and shrubs, in their sunny locales throughout the yard, are green and lovely and in some cases, even blooming. If I’m lucky, there might be a half inch of hosta growth poking out of the ground and the beginning of leaves on the spirea. Since I spent most of my time in the kitchen, staring out at this barren wasteland of a north-facing garden, I really wanted to change it somehow.

Crocuses are the answer! If all goes well, in May I should have about sixty yellow, purple, and variegated crocuses popping up in the garden, hopefully bridging the gap between snow melt and post-frost planting time. It’s something to look forward to, since there was frost on the grass and roof this morning and it definitely feels like WINTER IS COMING. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the fall and try not to think about it too much.




  1. We were in Costco ourselves just the other day and bought mums (not on the list). After my husband planted them, he realized we needed more, and sent me back to Costco the next day. Now I couldn’t even lift the darn things, but lucky there was a Costco guy to help take them in and out of the cart and into the van (where the condom was, hehe). Our front yard, around the tree looks lovely now, with a variety of colours.

  2. I loved the BULBS BULBS BULBS part, and needing to pull over to regroup afterward. I IDENTIFY.

  3. I often finding it cheering to plant bulbs in the fall, as I am not a winter person and it lets me thing about spring. I haven’t done it this year yet.

  4. Gotta tell you, IF I sat like you did in that last pose I would never get up again. 😉 I can just see you grinning madly and sorting through all the beautiful bulbs.

  5. I always mean to plant bulbs and never do, aside from the one time I went mad with WAY too many grape hyacinth bulbs and was thereafter so sick of grape hyacinths that I never wanted to see one again. I should try again, on a smaller scale, with more variety. Maybe you could come and help me!

  6. smothermother says

    excellent monkey-paw reference.

    every. single. year. I see bulbs and want to plant them. and I never do. and then every. single. spring. I am disappointed when no little tulips of crocuses (croci?) a popping up.

  7. I love bulbs! I so need a yard.

    In Ottawa there was a house that had randomly planted crocuses all over their front lawn and it was so happy making to see those little bursts of colour coming up through the last of the frost covered ground. It’s brilliant if you think about it. The grass would barely be awake from its winter slumber, so the crocuses sang “SPRING!” and then when they were finished blooming the lawn would need to be mowed and it was all neat and tidy again until the following spring. 🙂

    I am happy you went on a bulb shopping spree.

    On a side note, since you have more time for volunteering 😉 we used to have a bulb sale as a fundraiser for the Things’ school. We would sometimes do spring bulbs and sometimes fall. It was well received. In case you need to bring something to the table at school. 🙂


  1. […] not chairing the SC/PA anymore, I started signing up to volunteer for field trips, I planted a whole lot of bulbs, and we went to Vancouver Island. Also, Jake turned […]

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