In addition to a fantastic shower, my Aunt Sharon has a beautifully manicured yard.  I’ve seen botanical gardens with large full-time staffs that were less ambitious than this undertaking.  Sitting on her back patio makes me feel like I have the key to my very own Secret Garden.

The giant blue hosta leaves arch over the brown mulch and kiss the thick grass.  Pebbled pathways tumble through the lush ivy to end at the foot of moss-covered benches.  Box hedges and fences hide any signs of neighbors.  A giant crab apple tree reveals her fruit with sudden bursts of red as the wind rustles her leaves.  The only thing missing was a silly, hand-painted concrete mushroom!

Fortunately, I’d packed a whole mess o’ humongous fungus to hand out as hostess gifts and as a special thank you to my cancer-comrade cousin (who provided more comfort than I can ever convey during all the fun of diagnosis and treatment).  As I unpacked the stone spores with Rocco and Dad, I commented that I was going to request that the recipients send me photos of the ‘shrooms in their gardens.  I thought photos with actual greenery might have more marketing value for lawn ornaments than the random snaps I’d been taking of the shroompire spread out on my ottoman.  Dad had his Crocs and camera ready faster than you can say, “One spore my homies.”

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“Back yard,” he answered. “Photo shoot.  Set ’em up.”

Good thing I hadn’t said anything about wanting another tattoo!  He’d have been sharpening a paper clip and disassembling a ball point pen in three seconds flat.  That adorable man just loves helping his family get whatever their hearts desire.

So we spent HOURS strategically placing the ‘shrooms throughout Auntie Sharebear’s yard and taking snaps.  Leaves were twisted and bent to highlight the shapes of the ‘shrooms.  Each slab of concrete was twisted to showcase the more intricately painted pattern pieces.  Dad seemed to take thirty to forty shots of each set up, stopping to adjust the shutter speed and experimenting with the flash.  We even had Aunt Sharon show us her modeling skills by perching atop a bench with a polka-dotted shroom beneath her.  Triumphant we returned to the house to get dressed for the day’s adventures.

The next morning, we attempted to move the photos from Dad’s camera to Bubba.  Massive fail.  All photos lost.  Boo.  Hiss.

So what does D.O.D. (Dear ‘ol Dad) do?  He grabs the Crocs and the camera and trudges right out the back door, bee-lining for the shroompire perched on the edge of the patio.  Since he worked so damn hard, here’s a few of my favorites: