Plant Pests (some pests are people)
pictured above Farfugium "Shishi Botan"
Hortensia sat watching her Kindle, an episode of Detective Morse. She just adored that program. She sat comfortably, sipping on the cup of ginger tea she had poured from her lovely stainless steel thermos bottle. She could get many cups of tea from just one fixing, rather than having to make a cup of tea one cup at a time. It gave her more time to just sit and be. The phone rang. Sighing, she leaned forward to pause the program. “Another telemarketer?” she guessed. She picked up her phone and looked at the caller ID. She sighed. “Almost as bad. It’s Shishi, Shishi Botan. What does she want NOW?” Short, squat and quite unremarkable, except that she could ramble on senselessly for hours if not stopped. Shishi was one of those people you wished didn’t have your phone number. Hortensia resignedly pressed the Talk button. “Hey, Shishi. How are you?” in an almost monotone voice. “Oh, hi, Hortensia! I just thought I’d give you a call and see what you’re up to. What’s new? Got any new plants? Got any extra cuttings of anything fun? I killed all my other plants, forgot to take them out of the sunporch when it got cold. Hey, you know what? Have you ever heard of that luck plant, that Japanese — oh, I mean, Chinese luck plant, or money plant. Yeah, Chinese money plant. It’s a peppero- uh, peperom - “ Hortensia interrupted her, annunciating slowly and clearly, “Pie-lee-ah pep-per-ro-mi-oy-days. Yes, Shishi, I have heard of it.” How Shishi never learned how to spell or pronounce most plant names, Hortensia could not understand. Shishi’s surname had been Ligularia, but was changed to Farfugium when her mother had remarried. Shishi probably couldn’t even spell her own last name — most likely why she always introduced herself as only Shishi Botan. Shishi interjected, “Oh yeah, yeah, that’s right! It’s Paleo peperomia. Now I remember.” “Almost, Shishi. Maybe just stick with remembering Chinese money plant.” Hortensia replied, not hiding her irritation. She sighed again and rolled her eyes. Shishi prattled on, undaunted by Hortenisia’s sarcastic tone. “So have you seen that money plant, Hortensia? Do you know where I can get one for cheap? I looked online, and they are so expensive! I could never afford those prices! I heard they make lots of babies, though. I thought if you had one, maybe you had some babies and you could give me one?” Hortensia looked on her shelf in front of the window at the little plant sitting there. It was her own little Pilea peperomiodes, but she wasn’t going to let Shishi know that she had one, not yet anyway. Well, Shishi, I have to get going. I’ve got an appointment and I can’t be late. I have to drive down to Great Barrington. If I run into one of those plants I’ll let you know. Bye-bye, now!” Not waiting for a reply, Hortensia hung up the phone went back to her movie and sipping her ginger tea. If she waited for a reply, she knew she’d still be sitting there 20 minutes later, still trying to end the phone call. The episode of Detective Morse ended. Hortensia settled herself down into her chair and looked about her for a moment. She again looked up at her precious little Pilea peperomiodes, then decided to check it to see if it needed watering. She was gazing at it admiringly from different angles, when she spotted an abnormality on one of the leaf stems. What?! There was no time to lose! This was a travesty! A tragedy! A potential disaster of immense proportions! Of all things, it was one of the worst things that she could ever have imagined! No. It just could not be possible. One of her worst nightmares was happening right before her very eyes! No, no, NOOOOOOO! (to be continued … )