Mom and the ocotillo

I like to tell tales about my dad because he’s nuts. He also really likes the abuse. Any attention is good attention when it comes to my dad.

I don’t say too much about my mom, but she’s a little crazy, too. She married dad, right? Must be a little nuts. But for mom, all attention is not good attention. She gets pretty mad if I tell tales.

But then, I’m not totally sane either, so every once in a while I cannot hold these stories back – they just bubble up. And mom’s ocotillo is a good story. A couple of years ago there was a freeze in Arizona and a lot of the plants in mom’s yard died. Mom hired a landscaper to replant the lot. All looked good, but one large ocotillo never took off. When planted it was about 9 feet tall, with no leaves. Mom was confident it would bloom any time.


When I would point out that the ocotillo was dead, she would get pretty annoyed with me. This October it started to tilt about 10 degrees off center (see picture 1). Mom no longer said it was alive, but she said she wouldn’t get rid of it until she had something else for that spot. So we looked at the dead ocotillo. And, continued to look at the dead ocotillo.  

I understand this logic. When I have something around the house that’s really bugging me – a light fixture, a door, an ugly ceiling fan – I will remove it and let the dangling wires, for example, remain. This type of ugly annoyance provides massive incentive to find the right light or door or whatever for the spot. I guess I got that one from mom. Don’t try this in your home if you have no problem looking at ugly or annoying stuff; if it becomes invisible to you. You’ll need to figure out a different plan to get through your to-do list.



Last weekend we went to a big art fair, and mom hit the jackpot. She found a nine-foot sculpture made primarily out of scrap metal to take the place of the ocotillo (pictures 2 and 3). It is the perfect size and really gorgeous!

Why is it that making purchases at art fairs is so much fun? Is it talking to the artists or walking around with the sun on your shoulders (in Arizona)? The feeling that most of the goods are one of a kind? Buying directly from the creators themselves? Fresh air? Crappy fair food? Whatever it is, art fairs rock. With the Christmas season coming up, would you consider art and craft fairs for your shopping? Bet you’ll have fun.

And Portland has a couple to try this weekend: the Little Boxes Black Friday Shopping Event, and the Mud Sweat and Cheer All-Ceramic Holiday Pop-Up Shop.

Have at it!

Portlander Nancy Ranchel is a self-described accountant, design fan, serial re-modeler, compulsive re-user and blog writer.