Twenty Years of Grumpy Bliss

January 4, 2012 | By | Comments (11)

I know this blog is supposed to be about gardening. But today, I’m giving myself special license on a special day. As of today, January 4, 2012, Judy and I have been married for 20 years.

Ladew 6-11 016Judy, the temptress, gets us banished from the garden. Way to go.

I know what you’re thinking — what nursery did I order her from? Grumpy assures you she did not come in a box (at least, not one without air holes). Indulge me while I spin the story of our tumultuous and totally perfect two decades together.

In the Beginning

Most people assume that the Grumpy Gardener could only have met his future bride in a garden. In fact, Judy did not like growing things, especially flowers and bushes, as you could not eat them and were therefore wasting your time.

We met on a Sierra Club hike. The Birmingham, AL chapter of the Sierra Club was pretty much a singles group for Ostensibly Environmentally-Conscious Guys hoping to meet girls. Judy was a girl. She had just moved down from Nashville. She sat down on a picnic table and a bunch of OECG immediately  surrounded her. They reminded me of a pack of male cheetahs who had raised their heads, sniffed the air, and thought, “Mmmm. Me smell gazelle.”

Thanks to the OECG pack, I didn’t even talk to Judy that day, but I did look and listen. I discerned three important qualities about her destined to make her Mrs. Grumpy Gardener.

1. She was beautiful. (Aesthetic Grumpy.)

2. She had a good job. (Practical Grumpy.)

3. She had a terrific sense of humor. (Funny Grumpy.)

Eventually, Grumpy was able to pry her away from the loser she going with and convince her to go on a luxurious first date. I sat in her living room watching “Star Trek — The Next Generation” while she fixed me spaghetti. Ladies, it doesn’t get any better than that.

After dating her for about a year, I decided we should get married. Our incredibly romantic dialogue went something like this.

Grumpy: “I love you.”

Judy: “Thanks.”

Grumpy: “Do you love me?”

Judy: “Sure.”

Grumpy: “Then let’s get married. It’s the logical thing to do.”

Judy: “I concur.”

Of course, a woman can only maintain logic for so long. I discovered this when Judy set our wedding date. January 1. New Year’s Day. “The first day of the year has a special meaning for me,” she explained. “It’s a new beginning.”

“You do realize there are two fundamental flaws with that date,” I stated.

“What?” she replied. She really had no clue, so I clued her in.

“One — Everyone will still be hung over from the night before. Two — all the college football bowl games are on TV that day.” (This was before the BCS.) “No guy will come.”

After a marathon of convincing, she finally relented and moved the date to Saturday, January 4. It was a cold, dreary, overcast day — surely, a portent of things to come. Suffice it to say that just about everything the groom is responsible for prior to and during the ceremony, I messed up. The only two things I did right was give her the ring (which she had bought) and say, “I do.” (She bought my ring too. Grumpy is a cheapskate.)

The Rest of the Story

I can only describe our next 20 years together as 100% smooth sailing. No arguments, no cross words, no cyanide pills, no hairdryers accidentally dropped into the bathwater. Of course, there was that one unexplained gas grill explosion that burned off my eyebrows. And that humorous time during our honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies when I accidentally whacked Judy in the head with my walking stick, nearly knocking her into a raging river. But who among us hasn’t done that?

How has our time together changed Judy? Well, she now enjoys gardening just a smidge. She likes forcing paperwhite narcissus into bloom for the holidays — especially the part where you keep them shorter by watering them with gin. And she’s gotten used to me using her as fodder for this blog whenever I feel like it, including this famous shot of her promoting her healthy, organic lifestyle.

JudyJudy can clean my trailer any time.

But in addition to 20 wonderful years, there is one other thing she has given me for which I will be eternally grateful. That’s our boy, Brian. This fall, he will be entering Auburn University as the recipient of a Presidential Scholarship. (Sorry, Bama fans. His choice.)

Festivus cruise '11Doesn’t my boy fill you with confidence for the future?

As Brian’s chosen field of study is theoretical physics (I prefer real physics myself), I have charged him with discovering the elusive Higg’s Boson, the fundamental particle of all matter. Failing that, could he please just find me the remote? I swear those things just get up and walk away.

To Judy

KeithGrumpy often has a hard time expressing his true feelings about you, so for just a moment I have adopted the persona of my mentor, the always smooth Keith Stone. It was Keith, I believe, who penned these touching words in a children’s book that I read to Brian when he was little.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you forever, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

Love you, baby.






  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Muchas gracias.

    March 9, 2012 at 11:58 am
  2. landscaping surrey

    That’s great Steve…Congratulations..

    March 6, 2012 at 5:07 am
  3. Sash

    this has just become my new favorite blog!

    March 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Thanks for your thoughts, everybody! GHC, we have seen our future and they are us!

    January 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
  5. Bren

    Congrats Grump. It seems to me that two people both having a great sense of humor got y’all a long way. I wish y’all the best in your future.
    Oh and about that young man going to Auburn. Is there another school in Bama where he could have gone? Don’t think so. War Eagle.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm
  6. Henry H.

    Congrats Grump!!!!
    By the sound of it, you spit some serious game 🙂
    *And I agree with Beth……

    January 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm
  7. Colin

    Congratulations Grumpy! Two decades together is a wonderful achievement, particularly in this day and age. Here’s best wishes for many many more!

    January 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm
  8. Jean

    You have one fine woman there Grump. I think you are both lucky you found each other and that she nor Brian has put roundup on all your flowers for talking about them online. Wonder if she was feeling well the day you proposed? HMMM

    January 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm
  9. Nancy Buley

    Grumpy, you’ve outdone yourself with this ode to Judy. She’s an amazing woman, and you are a damn fine writer. Congratulations to you both.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm
  10. ghc

    Congratulations folks! My parents share your date and at ages 97 and 86, they are celebrating tonight in Asheville with two of their 4 children, dining on beef wellington, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, champagne, Johnny Walker gold and tiremisu…been married 67 years and slowing down but still living independently.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm
  11. Beth @ Unskinny Boppy

    Happy Anniversary to you and your lovely bride. Twenty years of hearing you rant about crape murder? She deserves a prize. 🙂

    January 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm

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