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From Her Garden to Neologistic Victory

by Bob Levey

She bought her home in Burleith about three years ago, and for the first time, Lili Froehling became a gardener.

"It has a good-sized front yard and back yard," she told me, during a victory lunch at Bistro Lepic in Georgetown. So she regularly tackles the job of keeping what's green green, and greening what's not.

"Dirt, bugs, that's what it is," Lili said. "But it's kind of therapy."

And it's a pathway to neologistic glory. Lili Froehling was the runaway winner of our March make-up-a-word contest, which had a gardening theme. Like about 3,000 fellow entrants, she took aim at this challenge:

You can spot him any Sunday morning in the checkout line: a homeowner who has vowed to take charge of his patch of earth. He's buying mulch, grass seed, work gloves, a wheelbarrow – all the better to till his garden. Of course, six months from now, his purchases will sit in his garage, untouched. This phenomenon is called...

Lili's winning coinage:

Oughta-culture.

That's a luscious twist on "horticulture." I knew right away that it was in the finals. When the judging was done, it stood alone.

Our winner works as a patent secretary for a law firm in Tysons Corner. She has lived in the area for 15 years and has been a bridesmaid in this contest several times. Now, bridehood. Richly deserved. Congratulations!

Almosts and Nearlies for March were:

Prograsstination: A veritable flood of these. I quit counting at 375.

Neglhedgence: Deborah Feigenson, of Rome.

Purporticulture: James L. Beller Jr., of Northwest Washington, and Tom Gabriel.

Inearthia: Ten of you. Former champ Susan Eaton, of Taos, N.M., was first.

Tillydallying: Dennis Koeppel and former champ Everett Rice, of Columbia.

Croptimism: Lisa Vieth, of Woodbridge.

Edenial: M. Lee Bragg, of Chevy Chase.

Lagriculture: Former champs Marlene B. Cohen, of Columbia, and Dawn Kral, of Waldorf, Monni Hammond and Mary Henningsen Frankenfeld, of Hayward, Calif.

Vegitarryianism: Elizabeth Hogan.

Lackadaisyism: Liz Rubin, of North Potomac.

Landescaping: Joseph A. Pappano, of Northwest Washington, then 10 others just like his.

Futillization: Lynda Gattozzi, of Bethesda.

Lawnguor: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

Plantasizing: Walter Smith, of Southwest Washington.

Cultiwaition: David Lindahl, of Fairfax Station.

Ughgronomy: Sidney Secular, of Silver Spring.

Till-a-blustering: Former champ Joe Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

Cultevading: Laura Baker, of Jefferson, Md., and (with a slightly different form) Sally Stokes, of Silver Spring.

Sluggardening: Carole McShane, of Ellicott City.

Acqweedescence: Former champ Jayne Townend.

Negligent Home-aside: Jim Buchanan, of Arlington.

Tillethargy: Greer Hoffman, of Alexandria.

Dissowciation: Victoria Sloan.

Laggardening: Jack Elliott, of McLean.

Lawntropy: The team of Jenny Bocchicchio and Phillip Kalmanson.

Gardenying: Don O'Brien, of Sterling, and (with a slightly different form) Meg Menke, of Barnesville.

Lawnnui: David Rines, of Fairfax.

And Malawngering: Zora Margolis.

Very nice, gang. Not nice enough to exempt you from doing your lawns this spring, but plenty nice just the same.

By the way, if you doubt that our town is full of people who buy gardening equipment and then fail to use it, heed the words of Anna C. Weight, of Chesapeake Beach.

Anna works in the garden department of a Home Depot store in College Park. She has observed "many customers purchasing seed, mulch, etc., only to return months later to state that they had never actually used any of it."

So why are they returning? To buy more? Washington homeowners can' t be that daffy – can they?

Anyway, as spring roars on, we do, too – to the April challenge. It is:

You have been married for eons, and you have always faithfully remembered your wedding anniversary. But one year, you forget. The next morning, when your spouse explains what a hopeless tuna fish you are, the guilt you feel is called... (Click to see winning entries)

Entries are welcome regardless of marital status and regardless of one's ability to remember anniversaries. First prize remains a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sanely near Washington.

Contest rules: You may enter as often as you like, on one piece of paper or several. Joint entries are welcome. So are entries submitted by fax (202-334-5150) or e-mail (leveyb@washpost.com). Entries must bear day and evening phone numbers, including area code(s). All entries become my property. Entries will not be accepted by phone or returned. In case of duplicate winning entries, I'll choose the one I receive first.

Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. Entries for the April contest must be received by April 30.

© 2001 Bob Levey (leveyb@washpost.com).
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.


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