What do salad bars, home decorating and gardening have in common?

Well, let me elucidate.

To everybody else out there, I can understand your puzzlement when you reply “huh?” But to me, they go hand-in-glove, foot-in-sock, square-peg-in-round-hole. I can’t do any of them, and yes, they’re all related in a weird sort of way.

Each involves coupling the best combination of elements with their natural habitat, those habitats being my salad bowl, my house and my yard.

I am the world’s worst shopper. When it comes to shopping of the real or window varieties, I have the interest, tolerance and attention span of a slightly drunken gnat, and I just want to get the thing done in Olympic record time. None of this “personal best” nonsense. I go for the gold every time.

My back yard, as you know, consists of two very large sweet gum trees which drop evil and sharp seed balls religiously every winter. The only reason I have anything remotely associated with a flower back there is that my darling daughter, Madam, and her mate, the Beckster, swooped in an en-daffodiled and be-peonied my puny garden beds.

Out front we have some hedge type plants that I couldn’t care less about, but just keep on keeping on, so I let them live. Our old maple died, so I replaced it with a crabapple, remembering fondly the huge blooming tree I had back in Sydney. Comparatively speaking, some four years later, my KC crabapple still lives by its name bestowed upon it soon after planting. That being “stick.”

Then my lilac up and died, so I replaced it with a tree-ish hibiscus. Sounds all very lovely doesn’t it? Except nothing goes with anything else. The hibiscus is a gorgeous pale mauve color, but it sits up against a reddish brick chimney. Talk of clash of the colors. My “stick” is quite pretty, but it’s sitting there with not much else, and then its tiny pink blossoms blow off with the first hint of a spring breeze, and I’m left with a stick with attachments. I believe they’re called “leaves.”

And so it is with home décor. I find something I need and buy it without giving a nanosecond’s thought to what goes with what. I don’t know where I get my complete lack of talent in that regard. I have brothers- and sisters-in-law who are geniuses in the decorating department. They can take a length of sacking and make it look fabulous. I could take a length of silk and make it look like a discarded piece of sacking without any trouble at all.

And – are you catching onto the theme here? Salad bars. Little containers full of everything you could ever want in a salad, and yet, no matter what I do, the bits never merge into something not only tasteful, but artistic. My salads always end up shrieking “hey, I’m green, I’m good for you, sit down, shut up and eat me.”

Oh well, we can’t all be winners. At least I can string two words together. Most of the time.

Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at anniedearkc@hotmail.com.