My mother should have been a botanist. Everything in Mom's world revolves around flowers, trees, plants. If it's green and likes dirt, she loves it. Frogs are the only exception.

I'm not sure which one of her numerous gardening magazines her latest ideas came from, but I hope their subscriptions quickly run out. I have never been a huge fan of flowers (the only ones I like are those purple groundcover that taste like honey when you suck the pollen out), so her latest projects could send me up the chimney.

I mean it. Even when she's not busy drawing up plans for her hoop house (a miniature greenhouse made out of plastic stretched over the two halves of a broken hula-hoop), Mom is focused on gardening. While the rest of the world worries about war with Iraq, Mom sits on the floor, cutting newspaper into strips and wrapping them around the salt shaker, making pots.

Yes, pots. Flower pots. They are held together with masking tape and will be housed within the soon-to-be-completed hoop house. One seed will be planted in each newspaper pot and they will germinate in there, awaiting the day their roots break through the newspaper, after which they will be transplanted into the ground.

This by itself doesn't seem too bad. But Mom plans to make 250 of the things. This means that when the plants - all of them flowers, you can bet - are ready to be transplanted, there will be close to 250 more flowers in the yard.

I am not ready for this kind of invasion. Neither, I feel sure, is the grass. It will have nowhere to grow. (The only plus side of losing the entire lawn to Mom's flowers is that the lawnmower will become obsolete. This, in turn, will enable its operator to spend what was formerly lawn mowing time on more favorable activities inside, away from the flora, activities.

Despite it all, I have to admit I am kind of glad Mom found something to do while it's still too cold to spend time outside (although I do hope no one stops by in time to view a session of hardcore cutting, rolling and taping). The weather seems to be warming up now, though, so the pots may be put on hold. Sunday, she spent the whole day digging a hole for a tetherball pole that we don't have the ball for yet (everywhere they checked won't have them in - until May).

So far, I haven't helped at all in the manufacture of Mom's newspaper pots, although I have inadvertently crushed several under the rocking chair. But Becca and Rachel have made a few, and I fear I'll be falling under the spell of the newspaper and salt shaker soon. Mom will be happy to have my help. It takes a long time to make 250 of anything.

This is lucky. The longer it takes her to plant the seeds (which she has, to my horror, already bought), the more time I have to spend in our yard, sans flowers.

My time is running short; green things are popping up everywhere. And none of them are frogs. I guess for now I'll have to put up with the flower girl and her kind. Maybe she'll plant some more of those purple honey flowers.

Sara Phinney is a sophomore at Pendleton High School and can be reached at

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