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Schlumbergera (01/16/2013)
By Frances Edstrom

My poor Schlumbergera. For those of you who threw out the encyclopedia set but are without access to Wikipedia, that’s the species to which your Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus and Easter cactus belong. My Schlumbergera has languished for two and a half years, since we moved into our house in the semi-country.

In town, this plant, a gift from my friend Joan, was a real over-achiever. It bloomed in November, December, February, April and sometimes in the summer, too. But in the new house? It simply collected dust next to the kitchen sink. I tried moving it to another spot, but nothing happened.

Then last week, I noticed a bud forming, and now a flower is opening and more buds are appearing. Now I have a Martin Luther King Jr. Day cactus. As far as I can tell, it’s the only one of its kind.

I think this Schlumbergera is a lot like humans. It’s taken me a long time to acclimate to the new house. Every now and then I long for the old place, where I knew where all the junk was buried.

My brother-in-law came over to the house, and I asked him to build a fire in the fireplace. He asked for the fireplace tools. I couldn’t find them. I looked in the logical places (as if I think I am a logical stasher of junk), and found no tools. Now I can’t remember if I actually brought them to the new house or we decided to get rid of them and buy new ones for the new house. So here I have an inspected chimney sitting over a nicely built fireplace—with beautifully dry logs in it—and no tools to build a fire and tend to it.

I often forget where my clothes are, too. Not that you’ll see me out and about naked. But sweaters I was sure I packed and brought with me, shoes I remember, and my brown mittens. I hate to make a big stink about it, because every now and then I’ll look in a drawer or a closet I was sure there was nothing in, and voilá, there are the clothes I was missing. We once had a friend who was a fisherman in Alaska. He lived on his boat, which by necessity must be well-organized. Dexter wore jeans and a green plaid flannel shirt. We never knew if he had but one shirt and one pair of pants, or several, because he was never seen in anything else. I am sorely tempted to try his approach.

In fact—and I would only reveal this to my closest friends—I am confident that I know the contents of only one drawer in the house at all times. The junk drawer! It is beautifully organized. All the various pieces of junk—pencils, pens, paper clips, safety pins, rubber bands, etc.—are segregated and easily at hand. Why? Because of a design flaw, in order to open the junk drawer, I must first open the dishwasher. It is such a pain, the drawer rarely gets opened. I’m sure I could live a much simpler, organized, rewarding life if there were more design flaws.

Think how simple my life would be if I were more like my Schlumbergera and my friend Dexter and stopped doing the expected thing. 


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