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I have seen Bill sell $50 hosta to mean Jewel Malden for $7 just to keep her coming back every Tuesday. Bill is tickled by everybody but he likes her especially. This week she hemmed and hawed over varieties as usual, snapping at Bill to Make sure you don't overcharge me now sir. She says Sir but you can hear she means Boy. He leaves her alone to rummage through the greenhouses, she does not take well to being accompanied, I've tried, she doesn't like me, and she knows everything Bill could tell her anyway.

She is clearly devoted but she never shows any excitement. Businessike though the plants are only for her own pleasure, she has been coming here for years and I have pieced together enough of her life to make unfair assessments of her character. Mostly she is just cranky. Husband dead, daughter in LA, she lives alone and grows things with no enthusiasm that I can see.

This time she was grumbling to herself over hosta not big enough or too expensive or something not to her liking, and then let out a shriek, a happy one, it sounded like. She was delighted and I thought maybe she'd just found the new flats of White Christmas, heavier-leafed and thicker at the base than usual, a nice crop, but when I went over to see, she was holding up a flat of boring old Guacamole, ordinary, she must have a million of those but she was in rapture. She showed me the little box turtle that had climbed into the pot (why?), shell the size of a silver dollar. She begged to take him home, said he could live in the pond with the goldfish and grow fat and lazy sunning on the rocks and she just had to have him, could she please? I did not give her a look I just said He's your turtle. She squealed and bought the turtle hosta too, no haggling over price.

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