You know, your old pal Jean likes to think she can take a joke. After all, life is short, and it's important to have a sense of humor about things. But those pranksters who stole the "Think Spring!" display from the balcony of my apartment really and truly crossed the line.

Yes, Jeanketeers, you read right. Sometime last night, some world-class Grinch (or Grinches) managed to climb onto my second-floor balcony and take everything I had so painstakingly set up. They stole every plastic flower, every blade of artificial turf, the stuffed bunnies, a darling painted wooden birdhouse, a deck chair, a lawn sprinkler, and not one, not two, but three rainbow-striped wind socks! Gone, too, is the hanging sun I cleverly made by blowing up a balloon, draping it with wet papier-mâché strips, letting it dry, and then popping it. I poured my soul into that sun! Now that and everything else is gone.

I'm not really upset about the monetary loss, even though I paid full price for the birdhouse and little birdbath with the resin frog family sitting in it. It's the sheer mean-spiritedness of it that gets me. I spent hours in the freezing cold strapping everything down, wiring the flowers to the turf so the wind wouldn't blow it all away. I even covered it with a tarp each night so the snow wouldn't fall on it. This had to be a premeditated crime. (Sorry to use such harsh words in what is normally a source of lighthearted entertainment, Jeanketeers, but this is serious business!)

It's been a long, tough winter, especially in my neck of the woods, and I thought it would put a smile on the faces of neighbors and passersby alike if I reminded them that spring was just around the corner. Yes, I thought I could spread a little sunshine... literally! I even made myself part of the act, braving the icy chill in my Hawaiian-style floral smock and sun-hat (with longjohns underneath, naturally!) and waving to passing pedestrians and motorists! I actually got a couple of people to honk or wave back. (And I'm not even counting the guy who wanted me to show my nay-nays!)

Dressing up the porch was the cutest creative idea I've had in ages. It was even better than when I made those duck-headed Easter baskets out of bleach bottles and pom-pom balls for my brother Kevin's children back in '99. I later heard from my mother that he threw them away because there were bleach fumes. But if you ask me, I'd say Kevin, a born-again Christian, really got rid of them because he thought they were idolatrous!

As fun as it was for me, there was a deeper personal reason why I put up this display. You see, growing up, I never had a lawn. For most of my childhood, we lived in a three-bedroom house, but shortly after we moved in, my parents had the entire yard paved. Not with patio-type flagstones, but with cement. My father didn't want ants and termites, and he thought having grass would increase the odds of them entering the home. He also stripped the ivy from the house and chopped down the oak trees, including one with a treehouse built for the previous residents' kids.

It wasn't really much fun to play in a paved yard, and the neighbor kids made fun of me about it, so I spent a lot of time indoors. But, you know, it wasn't that bad. That's when I discovered my love of writing and began a lifelong love affair with daytime-TV programming. (At the risk of showing my age, let's just say I was probably Dinah Shore's youngest fan!)

I still don't have a yard to call my own: Hubby Rick and I only have a small second-floor apartment, so that balcony is the sole outdoor exposure we have. It was kind of a disappointment at first, but then I thought, why not take the lemons life has dealt me and make lemonade? Isn't that the definition of being a good sport?

And while we're talking definitions, perhaps the five-star fink who took my display would like to brush up on the definition of good citizenship. There might be a big war soon, and we on the homefront need to be as kind and helpful to each other as possible. I'm not saying what happened to me was necessarily terrorism, but in my book, people who commit cold-hearted acts like stealing perfectly innocent "Danger: Chipmunk Crossing" signs are as anti-American as they come.

Ever since the crime, I've been wondering: What if someone had broken all the way into the apartment, intending to steal more than just what was on my porch? I recall hubby Rick stumbling in shortly after 3 a.m. last night, later than usual because he had today off. The theft must have occurred after that; otherwise Rick, as pickled as he was, would've at least noticed the display missing. I like to think of myself as a feminist, but sometimes I wish Rick would act more gallant and defend my stuff. He wasn't around last Halloween when someone smashed the six jack-o'-lanterns I carved to spell "BE SAFE." And, once again, he was nowhere to be seen when I found the missing Baby New Year 2003—a doll I had specially dressed and mounted to our front door—shoved in the trash behind our building with its legs sticking in the air.

Old Jean may be down, but she's not out. I'm offering a reward, no questions asked, for information leading to the safe return of my display. A pan of my world-renowned Cocoa Almond Caramel Coffee Toffee Fudge Bars With Melted Peppermint Patty & Butter Creme Icing awaits the Honest John brave enough to track down the culprit. Any takers?

Beginning March 1, the Teasdale balcony will be magically transformed into the Emerald Isle. And it will stay that way right through St. Patty's Day, even if I have to dress up hubby Rick in a leprechaun outfit and put him on 24-hour guard!