Saturday, May 21, 2011


I was suspicious before, but am now convinced, that the biggest impediment to successful gardening is not drought, or wind, or weeds, or blazing sun.  It is surely the gardener's family and other unnecessary hangers-on.

Allow me to provide a timely pertinent example.  Last night, when my daughter was returned by a shaggy-haired but amiable creature she refers to as her boyfriend, they had driven around so much that she was afraid that he wouldn't have sufficient fuel to make it to a gas station.  Since my daughter's curfew is long after her gardening father is soundly nestled in dreams of formal rose gardens, my wife wisely chose not to awaken me for such a dire need, but she then proceeded to move from the merely inadvisable to the completely unthinkable.  She entered my domain of tools and associated man-stuff and gave my beloved 5-gallon gas can, which contained a couple of errant gallons of gas, to the boyfriend and my daughter to add to his car.

This morning, as we were waking, She Who Steals Gas Cans (Mrs. ProfessorRoush) mentioned to me that she wasn't sure they had put the "lid" back on right.  Sure enough, I went out to find that the first (lower) cap containing the spout was in place, but the upper cap, the one that actually seals the can, was missing.  I located it in the driveway, destroyed from being driven over, as pictured at the right above.

God evidently thinks that it is not enough of a trial that the other inhabitants of my household destroyed a critical part to an heirloom gas can that I have successfully used and cared for over 20 years. It is now evident to me, after an exhaustive search around town, that all gas cans are now sold with a #(*@&$ CARB-complaint nozzle that helps you spill gas all over creation.  "CARB," if you're not aware, stands for "California Air Resources Board," a group who has evidently conspired to create self-venting and self-sealing standards for gas cans that make it impossible to actually get the gas out of the can. So, once again, thank you, California, for taking the lead to screw up and regulate another simple process because of a minor percentage of idiots on the planet.  I had to purchase one of these spouts recently on a kerosene container so I could douse and burn a few cedar stumps.  The "non-spillable" spout leaked so much kerosene everywhere that every time I lit the match to burn a stump, I was unsure if just the stump or also my pants and shoes were going to go up in flames.  It makes for some interesting dance steps for fire-starting, I'll guarantee you.

 So, having already searched the local hardware and big-box stores for a non-CARB-compliant gas can, I spent the morning wandering nomad-like among garage sales, a modern Diogenes searching not for an honest man, but for a gardener-friendly gas can.  I finally gave up and found them for sale on the Internet (GOING FAST!) for $30.00, approximately 5 times the cost of the CARB cans found locally, but worth every penny. I briefly considered sinking my entire retirement fund into hoarding the remaining planetary supply of these essential pieces of plastic, but ultimately I planned to buy three; one to use and two to keep hidden and locked away in the attic.  I figured that, given that I'm 52 years old, at an average 20 years use, if the final can got destroyed after I'm 90 it would be somebody else's turn to fill the lawn mower anyway.  Alas, when I hit the "purchase button" they were "out of stock."  Evidently they did GO FAST!  In the meantime, I can't think of a decent garden use for my old friend, so I've given it an honest burial in the garden, singing "In the Sweet By and By" to it so as to complete a heart-rending ritual known only to modern, middle-aged, gardening fathers.


  1. I hate those CARB gas cans! I spill gas every time I fill up the mower and then, since the gas tank is under the seat, I spend the next 15 minutes or so wondering if an errant spark is going to set me on fire while I'm mowing. Horrible things. I'm impressed that your daughter and her boyfriend were able to fill up a car with one, though. Every time I've tried to do that it's been an absolute mess. The spouts don't quite fit into a vehicle right (not that they fit into anything else, either).

  2. I haven't gotten to that point of need yet. However I do have an old (2004) non Carb (sound like a diet food) 5 gallon can I used to put diesel in (one time while renting a skid loader)that I would be willing to barter for. starts, seeds, slave labor, etc., etc.

  3. Professor, I hope you learned your lesson - never again to go to least not while women are around.

  4. Good point Sherry. I knew that lesson well in my younger days but it seems to be fading....

    And Greggo, I'll start working on a barter you can't turn down....but it'll take some thinking because the easiest starts for me are roses; and you only grow two of them. Which of the two hundred I grow to choose from?

  5. Good question. Two hundred? You are a glutton for punishment. How about 'the Fairy'. That has nice foilage.


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