My house didn't seem small until my kids became teen-agers. Now everything seems too small, including dinner, my bank balance and the size of their beds.
It would not make sense to add more furniture to this house, any more than it would make sense to add more people. The result is I have had to find another outlet for my decorative urges, so I have moved outside.
As my husband has observed, I appear to be furnishing the yard. I prefer to call it accessorizing the yard.
We don't exactly live on the Ponderosa. It is a modest corner lot. And I have planted more beds than my kids make in a week, carefully choosing perennials, shrubs and grasses in a range of heights and blooming times.
But something was missing until I discovered garden ornaments, and that discovery has opened up a vast, unexplored area of shopping. I have added the requisite sundial and there are enough birdfeeders hanging about to make the birds, and squirrels, think they have stumbled on a food court.
But when I discovered a birdhouse cobbled together with the architectural remains of ancient New Orleans churches, I was transported to a higher plane.
No cement bunnies for me. No sir. I am on the hunt for really different yard stuff.
No St. Francis statues. I want a bust of horticulturist Carolus Linnaeus. No clay pots. I am searching for the perfect antique window boxes.
Recycled plastic Adirondack chairs? Don't be silly. I found a fan-back arm chair made from bent cypress cane. You wouldn't want to sit in it, but it looks perfect in my shade garden.
I have a flying frog on a spring-loaded poker that a friend brought me from Europe. (I am choosy about friends, too.) My bird bath is cobbled together from two pieces of hand-thrown pottery, and my trellis is a wrought-iron sculpture. The obelisk never got out of its box. Pyramid trellises are just too common.
There are wind chimes hidden in every tree, but I draw the line at cement turtles, hedgehogs, angels or children, as well as little signs that say "Welcome to My Garden."
There is no grinning clay sun hanging on the deck wall, but I do have a faux dragonfly fossil hanging on the picket fence. (Dragonflies are the new black in garden fashion.)
I haven't seen a weathervane I like, but I found a potting table to die for. Decorative lawn wheelbarrows? Uh, no thank you. But I did see a patio fireplace that looks like the tower of a medieval castle.
I have gardening books and gardening calendars (though I could use a flower press). I keep a gardening journal, I subscribe to gardening magazines and gardening sites are book-marked on my computer. I guess these things will have to suffice until I have the out-building potting shed to which I long to escape.
There is a surplus of housing for birds, butterflies and bats these days, but I found a woven bee skep that is just the different touch I need.
I have the perfect pruners and a weeding knife that looks as if it came from a samurai's collection, but I haven't found the decorative outdoor faucet that will cause people to murmur appreciatively.
I don't own wellies or even garden clogs, if you are still looking for gift ideas. And I would love a gourd birdhouse. Pink flamingos won't do, no matter how John Waters they are, but I would consider a pair of verdigris cranes.
You can see that garden shopping has put me in an acquisitive frenzy. I have to keep telling myself, too many decorative ornaments and my yard will look like a gardening photo essay on acid.
But that was before my sisters sent me a wreath made of dried hot peppers and a three-story bird townhouse.
"Honey," I queried my husband recently, "doesn't this yard seem awfully small to you?"