December 11, 2012

A Canuck in Kantuck: Story of the giant jars

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Flipping through a Restoration Hardware catalog can be a dangerous thing for anyone to do, but I find it’s particularly in the spring that I am susceptible to making grand purchases from it during happy hour.

It was on one such gin-infused evening that I sat out on the porch with my husband and decided, if we were really going to get serious about things, it was time we purchased some planters. By planters, I mean pots from which, in my mind at least, flowers would burst out with bacchanalian gusto and colorfully transform the view from our deck.

So, since Restoration Hardware has a 24-hour sales line, I picked up the phone and bought three. Three, as the sales girls called them, Mediterranean jars, one handled Mediterranean storage jar, one ribbed Mediterranean storage jar and one olive jar featuring a lion’s head.

“See?” I told my husband. “This is exactly what we need. A mini Greece in our back yard. Finally, a little culture.”

A week later they arrived.

Now, putting this story on pause for a minute, I’d like to ask you, dear readers, to ponder the definition of the word “jar.” In my book, a “jar” is generally a very likeable sort of container that contains very likeable things, like a jar of jam or a jar of jelly or even a jar of coins. Always - and this is just implied - a “jar” is assumed to be of a reasonable size.

Now, I knew the Restoration Hardware people were using the word “jar” as a fun way to describe a pot and I also knew these pots were going to be considerably larger than an average jar.



I should have realized I was in for some trouble when the deliveryman rang the doorbell before he even started unloading the truck.

“I’m going to need a wide berth,” he said. “Can you move your car onto the street?”

When I’d done so, he started reversing the truck into the driveway, that universal back-up beeping singing through the neighborhood. Then he rolled up the garage-type door and revealed three giant crates that each looked like they could contain the Trojan horse.

Now, by “giant” I mean “giant” in exactly the opposite way that Restoration Hardware calls a “jar” a “jar.” By “giant” I mean precisely what the definition of the word means: Very Big.

With considerable force, three men unloaded each crate into the driveway, and started dismantling them. Even with the gargantuan proportions of the crates though, I still did not gather that I had created a very large problem for myself. Instead, I told the guys where I wanted them to place the planters and went humming back into the house.

When the guy rang the doorbell again, I was even a little annoyed, wondering just how much direction unloading three jars takes. It was only when I opened the door that I finally understood the gravity of the problem. I had told the men to place one of the planters on the top of the front step. Well, they had, except that the girth of the jar was so large only half of its base actually fit on the step. The jar, like its crate, was giant. So big that, if I were so inclined, I could actually climb inside- something my stepdaughter Gabrielle begged to do in the following days - and live a very nice life inside it.

“OK, so we have a problem,” I said. “These are ridiculously big.”

“Yeah boy, they’re big, all right,” the mover said.

“I’d like to return them, please.”

“Sure,” he said, handing me some forms. “You’ll need to crate them up and send them back. Shipping is on you.”

He looked doubtfully at the shards of crate that still lay in the driveway.

“Want me to leave these for you in case you can put them back together?”

Committing the ultimate error, I said I did. So there they sat in a heap in the driveway until my husband came home from work.

Needless to say, his homecoming that night did not kick off with a kiss and a hello.

Also needless to say, the jars are still here and no matter how many flowers I planted inside them this summer, they were still too big.

But last weekend, as we decorated for Christmas, we got the idea to stuff the jars with leftover boughs from the Christmas tree. As Gabrielle and I stuffed and stuffed, the jars started to come to life and after we’d added holly and magnolia clippings to the arrangement, were suddenly beautiful.

So, I ask you, dear readers, what lessons do I take from this experience? As far as I can see, there is only one: Buying on a whim from the Restoration Hardware during happy hour in the spring really is a wise thing to do.


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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
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