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Since I have three girls, I can’t speak from experience, but my understanding is that boys tend to solve their disagreements with fisticuffs and then move on with their lives.

I can, however, attest to the fact that girls use their verbal skills during an argument and often quite loudly. I’m not sure anyone hears anything anyone else says, but it definitely gets said. And then brought up again in perpetuity. There is no letting it all out and moving on with their lives.

One of my best friends, Valentina, and I are a combination of the two forms of conflict resolution, and it’s great. We say how we feel, often quite loudly, then move on with our lives. It’s very refreshing.

I spent this past week doing my best to ignore the flowerbed underneath the two trees in our front yard. It was quite overgrown and way past the point of driving this particular anti-nature girl crazy. However, something needed to be done about it.

“Hey, whatcha doin’?” I texted Valentina.

“Depends. What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Wanna come over and hang out?” I offered.

“Sure. I’ll be there in an hour.”


And off to Home Depot I took myself. I wasn’t planning on “doing” any nature, but I was A-OK with picking out the flowers. A quick stop for needed sustenance and I was home with time to spare.

When Valentina arrived, I was sitting on the porch with six packages of bulbs arranged in front of me by height and color. Oh, and I was on my second glass of vino.

“What are you doing?” Valentina asked.

“Planning the flowerbed and waiting for you.”

“Waiting for me for what?”

“To clean out the flowerbed and plant some bulbs.”

“I thought we were going to do nothing,” Valentina said.

“I didn’t say we were going to do nothing.”

“Yes, you did,” she said getting a little feisty.

“I said I was doing nothing,” I explained. “That has no bearing on what’s happening at this moment. I can’t help it if you misunderstood.”

“Misunderstood?” she yelled.

“Settle down,” I patted the air. “I put all the tools you’ll need next to the flowerbed.”

“We’re supposed to be hanging out!”

“We are. Outside. It’s beautiful today and you get to sit underneath the tree and enjoy nature.”

“You’re not sitting with me?”

“Oh, no. I’ll be on the porch. It’s October and the snakes are migrating from the prairie back to their dens. I’m not going anywhere near the long grass and dead flowers.”

Valentina used her outside voice. “Why do I have to be the one doing the yardwork?”

“You’re short,” I said.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“You’re literally 4’8”. You don’t even have to bend over. If there’s a snake you can just run away. You don’t have to worry about getting off the ground first.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“Tell me something Thomas doesn’t tell me every day,” I said, lifting my glass in honor of my ever-supportive husband.

“I’ll drink to that,” Valentina said grabbing a bottle of wine. “Hey, this one’s already empty.”“It’s not what you think,” I handed her a glass of wine and over her shoulder I saw my nemesis. “Oh, no. Don’t turn around.”

And, of course, Valentina turned around. “Hey, isn’t that the neighbor that trapped you underneath the garage door?”

“Yes. Don’t make eye contact.”

“Hi,” Valentina waved at my redheaded archenemy.

“Stop it!”

“If you’re making me clean your flowerbeds — ”

“And plant bulbs,” I added.

“And plant bulbs,” she smiled slyly, “then I’m inviting over the neighbor.”

“That’s so uncool.”

“Isn’t it?”

“What do we have going on here?” my neighbor asked taking in the bulbs and wine. “Day drinking again?”

“Umm, it’s 2 p.m. I think it’s perfectly fine to have a drink,” I defended myself.

“If you say so.”

“Besides, you day drink every weekend.”

“That’s because I’m watching football.

“Today’s Tuesday. There’s no football.”

“Whatever,” I said.

“Are you trying to do something,” my neighbor flicked her hand toward the flowerbed, “with that?”

“Yes,” Valentina said.

“Good luck,” my neighbor pursed her lips. “You have a lot of work to do.”

“It’s not that bad,” I said.

“It’s atrocious.”

And my good friend, Valentina, raised her glass, “I’ll drink to that.”

Here’s the thing, my neighbor is a Master Gardener. Like, her yard is beyond beautiful. Like magazine worthy, but there was no way I was admitting that to her.

“You’ve already finished one?” my neighbor pointed to the empty wine bottle.

“It’s a gardening tool,” I said. “The instructions gave different depths to plant the bulbs. I’ve marked off the inches on the neck.”

Valentina and my neighbor looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“I’m repurposing!”

So, Valentina and my nemesis bonded over my ridiculousness (their opinion, not mine), and in three shakes of a rattlesnake’s tail my flowerbed was looking good.

I’ll take the win.

Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years in Champaign and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.