Tag Archives: gnomes

Gnomes With Homes

As mentioned a few weeks back, my friend and cohort Amanda Thomsen just announced the impending release of her new book Kiss My Aster at the end of the year. In order to celebrate, I once again tried to mail her something I found for her about three years ago, but wasn’t able to send until now. In the past, she had various flimsy excuses as to why she couldn’t give a mailing address, usually involving words such as “stalking,” “restraining order,” and “a shotgun full of rock salt if you show up here,” but I suspect she’s learned to trust me a bit. Either that, or the praying mantises in the back yard need feeding. I reciprocated her trust by sending her…a garden gnome.

Porcelain gnome

Now, this isn’t just any garden gnome. Strictly defined, this is a fossil gnome. Jason Cohen, the co-owner of Curiosities in the Lakewood area of Dallas, has a penchant for finding all sorts of little odd things, and one of his many suppliers came across a spoils pile from a German porcelain factory that produced dolls and other household items in the early Nineteenth Century. When figures either misfired in a kiln or broke afterwards, they were dumped out into a huge spoils pile behind the factory, and weeds and vines rapidly overgrew the pile after the factory shut down. The way Jason understood it, construction of a condo building led to a bulldozer moving a big chunk out of the hill, and this must have been one hell of a hill, and passersby collected as many of the figurines and fragments as they could find. Most of these consisted of full doll figurines, doll heads, and various disarticulated limbs, and I personally claimed a head about the size of my thumb that was intended to have inset eyes and hair. (I need to get photos of this, because I really need a life-sized version of this for a Euphorbia project.) This gnome, though, was a bit special.

Why is he special? It’s not because of his distinctive patina. He actually cleaned up quite nicely after being buried in earth and mud for nearly two centuries, which says a lot for modern porcelain cleaning techniques. He was unfinished at the time he was buried, so that’s not it. Just take a look at the side, though, and it’s painfully obvious.

Armless gnome

Yep, Juergen here was a casualty, probably of the Great Gnome/Flamingo War of 1877. Oh, sure, historians may tell you that the worldwide stock crash of that time was due to excessive Prussian speculation, but the reality was that this was the year the war between gnomes and flamingos went global, probably aided by the development and distribution of the Winchester repeating rifle a few years before. If I had the time, I’d build him a prosthetic hand, and then he’d be a fossil cyber-gnome.

Sadly, though, I had to send Juergen to Amanda right away, because he couldn’t stay. I personally felt sympathy for him, but as a dedicated flamingo loyalist, I couldn’t defend him from my highly loyal forces.

Gnome vs. Phororhacos

In the ongoing garden war, the gnomes need to learn one very important thing. Unless one talks about worms, moles, or cane toads, every potential threat is, by definition, Death From Above.

Death From Above

I’m living in my own private Tanelorn

A few extra observations for the weekend, because I’m getting paid by the pithy comment. (Go ahead and laugh. Eating fresh grass cuttings and bowls of hot bluejean soup on the front porch of a refrigerator box builds character.)

Firstly, I’m an involuntary teetotaler: I can’t drink, but I’m fascinated by many of the aspects of the history and production of wine and spirits. This scares my family at times, as the filthiest four-letter words that could ever be uttered within range of a Riddell for the last 500 years are “last call”. It really scares my youngest brother, as his appreciation for and consumption of various forms of alcohol is generally exceeded only by the likes of Keith Richards. A few years back, he and I got into a conversation about whether sherry or port barrels should be used for scotch whisky aging, and I thought he was going to have a seizure when he realized I knew more about the meaning behind the term “the angel’s share” than he did. All I know was that milk came out his nose when he choked, and it was 20-year single-malt before it spewed out his nostrils. It should also be noted that I was wearing this shirt at the time, so I caused more damage to the lad than I’d considered.

It’s with that boy-in-the-plastic-bubble attitude that I peruse the commentary of Dr. Vino, and I discovered that he and I have common ground after all. Namely, to deal with the winter doldroms in Chicago, he’s become an enthusiast of moss gardens in rose bottles. I have only two things to add: number one, I’m going to have to do a post on purchased and constructed terrarium tools just for this sort of circumstance, because I know exactly how to fix his schmutz problem. Number two, when I do this, I prefer Jack Daniels bottles for one good reason: they’re square, so they can be set on their sides without worrying about their rolling. Other than that, we’ll have him growing merlot cuttings before you know it.

And the other installment involves the never-ending garden gnome/garden flamingo war, which now involves the police. Specifically, we now have garden gnomes in police custody for their own protection. Custody for their own protection, instead of cries of “KILL IT WITH FIRE!” as sane individuals are wont to do. I mean, c’mon. We have mooning gnomes. We have zombie gnomes. We have gnomes with guns. When are we going to back off and let the flamingos fight this out with saturation nuclear bombardment, before the gnomes get us all?

“Gnomes…WITH GUNS!

Okay, the ongoing cold war between gnomes and flamingos just went hot. Namely, some sicko is giving gnomes M-16s. I guess it’s my perogative to fit the local flamingos with air-to-surface missiles, just to give them a fighting chance, eh?

EDIT: And just in time, we have the flamingo opposition. I suspect this will only end with nukes.

Gnomes vs. flamingos: the war continues

I see that the garden gnome/plastic flamingo war picked up a bit. I guess the gnomes couldn’t figure out what “Phase 2” was.

Appropriate garden sculpture

With many thanks to Darren Naish, THIS is what I call appropriate garden sculpture. The only way I’m working with garden gnomes if if I’m allowed to recreate the outdoor morgue scene from The Walking Dead.

Gnomes vs. Flamingos: The War Continues

Elizabeth Licata at Garden Rant made a very interesting point about the ongoing garden gnome invasion, particularly her quote “It’s an interesting paradox: the most fanciful products of the human imagination are marketed to consumers as a way to replace imagination.” It’s something the Czarina and I have discussed quite often, on our human need to make threatening figures cute and friendly. I’m sure that my paternal ancestors along the England/Scotland border from 500 years ago or so would have laughed themselves sick at the idea of welcoming the fey into their houses and gardens, but we’re also a culture that’s okay with sparkling vampires and cuddly Cthulhus.

Now, it’s not just that I’m a firm advocate of making gardens potentially threatening again. I also loathe garden gnomes, with the possible exception of one that yells “It’s a hippie he’s killed! Hey, everybody, he’s killed a hippie!” at passersby.

My friend Debbie Middleton feels the same way I do about garden gnomes, but she’s a firm proponent for lawn flamingos. She and her best friend conduct neighborhood sorties to aggravate the other, leaving tortured and mutilated plastic and ceramic fragments on the other’s front lawns and porches. I sympathize with Debbie, but I also figure that the war is already lost. How can flamongos stand against gnomes?

Now, the odds are improved by making flamingos less cutesy. Much like gnomes, flamingos have mutated from fairly impressive birds into pink hobbits; the only thing worse is the habit of turning hummingbirds, some of the most cantankerous and belligerent avians on the planet, into charming garden art. (Anyone who’s actually spent time around hummingbirds knows that most have no fear whatsoever of man, beast, or god, and the Aztecs portrayed their war god Huitzilopochtli as a hummingbird for good reason.) Real flamingos aren’t exactly war machines, but they’re still a match for a group of gnomes. We need to pep them up a bit.

Thankfully, palaeontology offers a few options, keeping the basic theme, and in the process making your garden into something that would have scared the hell out of Edward Drinker Cope. We can go for a bigger wingspan or better filter-feeding ability. We can shift families a touch and go big. Or we can go postal or go Aotearoa. We can even go point-blank surreal.

(That sound you hear in the background? That’s the sound of the Czarina, weeping bitterly into her breakfast tea while reading this.)

Even better, you have possibilities for scenes with this sort of lineup. Really dislike the fact that your neighbors constantly peek over the fence? Give them something to scream about. After all, there’s no reason why you can’t re-enact the inevitable gnome/flamingo war in resin and metal, with just the right Late Seventies/really bad cocaine design, right?

Alternately, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do this with a Texas theme, using Ray Harryhausen for inspiration.

(Again, that sound? That’s the sound of the Czarina’s extremely sharp elbows sliding out of their sheathes, moments before she plants both into the top of my head. This may or may not be accompanied by her bellowing “WAIT A MINUTE, Sparky!” seconds before she strikes.)

I’d best stop while I’m ahead. I’m truly afraid that this might go too far, and someone gets the bright idea of mixing garden design with Warhammer 40,000 gaming. I don’t think our species’s collective psyche could handle the strain.