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February 28, 2003: And now there are more

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A few years back I wrote about why I have a stone goose on my front porch, dressed in a little frock and wide-brimmed straw hat (with a handful of other outfits, including a Halloween costume, lurking in the hall closet for when I feel the urge for a change of pace on the porch). The reason, of course, is because somehow it became a family thing, and even though neither of my sisters or I would really ever go out and *buy* a stone goose for our porches, well, we have them. And it wouldn't be right to not at least dress them appropriately for the seasons.

In yet another strange twist of humorous fate, Richard's family has now joined my family in setting a new 'tradition' for outdoor home décor. In a way, I suppose this is technically Richard and my fault, since we're the ones who not only procured the gnome in the first place, but also had it email Richard's dad with daily updates and pictures on its progress as it traveled around the world to come live with him.

So I suppose none of us were the slightest bit surprised when the single family lawn gnome was rather abruptly joined by three new ones – one for each of Richard's sisters and one for him as well.

Last weekend Richard and I drove down to meet with the rest of the family for his parents' 23rd wedding anniversary. His youngest sister brought along her new boyfriend, ensuring that he would be rather thoroughly inducted into the wackiness that is my in-laws.. Lest anyone think I don't appreciate them, I should point out that my own family is wacky in a marvelously similar way to Richard's – one reason why I think I ended up with the coolest possible in-laws ever.

Anyway, while waiting for dinner to arrive, Richard's mom and dad pulled out three narrow gift bags and passed them out to each of their children, noting that these were thank you gifts for making their marriage so interesting. I think we all knew what they were the minute we saw the shape of the bags, and sure enough, once the tissue paper was removed, the bags revealed lawn gnomes for everyone.

The new boyfriend seemed to take the gnome-gifting in stride – probably because we had all just finished rather merrily regaling him with the tales of the lawn gnome/haggis escapades of this past Christmas. He also didn't even blink an eye when some of us started singing one of the songs from Chicago in the restaurant, or when Richard and I began composing our own little tune about the gnomes. As we were leaving, his oldest sister commented that if he could survive all of that, he must be okay.

The gnome spent all of last week in Richard's car since we'd both gone directly from the dinner to our respective hotels for another week of mollusk training fun. Today, however, after Richard made it home, the gnome was placed in the front yard, amid the tangle of branches and leaves that is slowly taking over the berm there. Richard put him next to the silly little grey and lumpy toad figure we found months ago, so at least they'll have company.

Like the stone goose, if we'd had our preference, neither of us would have chosen to actually buy a lawn gnome for our very own. But, well, just like the stone goose, it's now a family tradition. And hey, I'm looking on the bright side. At least I don't have to worry about dressing the gnome.

This is Gnigel the Gnome. The 'G', of course, is silent. He and Herman (that would be the little toad) seem to have hit it off quite nicely. We've received no pictures so far of the other two gnomes (Balthazaar and HeyZeus – don't ask), but I have it on reasonable authority that we are the only ones who have actually put our gnomes in an actual lawn. We're just that wild and crazy, you know.

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