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Mowing the House, Or Green Grow the Houses, O

22 Feb

I always thought mowing the friggin’ driveway was  challenge.

I’d like to meet the person who has to do this house in Wales. I showed it to Brute. He said it made his wheels feel sore just looking at it.

How do you mow this?

How do you mow this?

How do they do the fiddly bits around the windows?


We and the Tree

23 Jun

Trees. Ya gotta love ’em or cut ’em down, or at least part of them.

A beautiful lakeside ash has storm damage. Of course it’s at the top, the unreachable, unscalable, unclimable top. I’ve tried yanking it, swinging from it, swearing at it. Nothing worked, except the last choice felt really good for a while, a very short while. The brown, dead leaves are a blight on my sense of aesthetics.

We and the tree. Mr Bill and yours truly, happy, optimistic. Before the truth but not the branch came crashing down.

We and the tree. Mr Bill and yours truly, happy, optimistic. Before the truth but not the branch came crashing down.

Calling Mr. Bill. You might remember him from a few years back helping put on the boat tarp. Among others Mr Bill has three exceptional qualities: he’s tall, not afraid of heights, and when asked he said OK.

We put the ladder on one side of the tree and climbed and cut and hacked and sawed and cursed. We put the ladder on the other side climbed, cut, hacked, sawed, and swore. Swore at heavy ladders, fumed at twigs and limbs that scratched and gouged. I think the tree was laughing at us. Stupid tree.

We and the Tree. One of us knows what he's doing. Hint: not the one at the bottom of the ladder.

We and the Tree. One of us knows what he’s doing. Hint: not the one at the bottom of the ladder.

Well we ended up with a lot of debris and trimmings all over the yard, but that damaged branch was unreachable and uncuttable. Haughty in its deadness.  in short, the damned thing is still there, mocking us. Maybe sometime this decade it will just fall down itself and break its stupid tree-neck, probably while Brute and I are underneath mowing the lawn.

Ah well, Mr Bill had to go back home and climb up on his roof to help adjust his TV satellite dish.

We and the Tree. Sad conclusion. Me taking out my frustration cutting firewood ouut of tree bits

We and the Tree. Sad conclusion. Me taking out my frustration cutting firewood ouut of tree bits

Me? I got out the chain saw and started cutting up the debris for firewood. Varooom, varooom, cut, gouge! Take that you stupid tree bits. Ha ha. I have the power. You, tree, are not the boss of me. Take that, and that. Varoom, varoom! Oh, I think I’d better quit. I’m hyperventilating and I need some comfort food.

Zucchini Bonanza and Nature’s Bounty

27 Aug
A week's worth of zucchinis

A week’s worth of zucchinis

S-S asked me to check on the zucchinis in our little garden today. Lucky I did. Look at this week’s crop!  The largest is about 30 cm long. I grow them because I can and they have beautiful showy yellow blooms.

Now if only I liked zucchini.

Summer Solstice, Adventures in Gardening, and a 3 for 3 Strikeout

21 Jun

Summer solstice and long days, at least when you can see the sun. Daylight from before 5:00 am to well after 10:00 pm, at least when you can see the sun. Oh, I said that already.

Today was actually a gloriously sunny and warm day. S-S wanted to go to the local market and visiting. The local market was almost empty but then we went late. Visit number one was to in-laws in Spruce Sands. Nobody there. Visit number two to relatives in Loni Beach, again nada. Visit number three to friends in Lake Forest, zip. Three for three, well nothing else to do but do something around the house.

The Garden Jungle I Removed

The Garden Jungle I Removed

Major revelation: sun, warmth, no rain, 3 for 3 strikeout; why not fix the garden? Duh, OK if you say so. Summer solstice and this is the first opportunity to do anything major in the garden. If life has given you procrastination lemons then  make lemonade, or in this case iced tea, powdered version.

Plantains, dandelions and grass. The wicked trio. Yank, curse, pull, curse, dig, curse. Getting into a rhythm is what it’s all about. That is what was going on as I did the “big” garden. Tomatoes, zucchini, spaghetti squash, swiss shard and bush beans to start

Oh, The Humanity! Petunias Decapitated By Deer.

Oh, The Humanity! Petunias Decapitated By Deer.

S-S was working on redoing the old strawberry patch to turn it into an herb garden. She hasn’t let on yet what was going on in her mind. More lady-like thoughts perhaps?  Basil, parsley, thyme to start. However, she did notice that the petunias in a tub planter had been decapitated by deer. Then there was some unlady-like muttering, including talking about getting a gun. Don’t mess with S-S.

Summer Solstice Irises Only Three Weeks Late

Summer Solstice Irises Only Three Weeks Late

But there is good news. The irises have finally come out, only three weeks late but they have arrived. Columbines reach through the forest of ferns to add a delicate touch of colour.

Seems everything survived the long, bitter winter. Life is amazing

A New Business Idea Gone Poof

11 Jun

Just came back from a trip out west. Beautiful weather, beautiful views. No commitments.

Coming back, however, to that cultivated weed called grass, un-mowed for 2 1/2 weeks, is something else. The grass was not growing alone. But  perhaps, I thought, there is a business opportunity.  The pitch would go something like this:

My Field of Dreams. My Very Own Organically Grown Dandelions

My Field of Dreams. My Very Own Organically Grown Dandelions


Dandelion U-Pick

Organically grown Dandelions

No artificial chemicals. Only nutritious septic field effluent or pelican poop fertilizers

Tasty, healthy. High in vitamin C and other stuff

Great for salads, wine-making, coffee substitutes and other stuff

Only $1.00 a ton. Bring a bucket, a bag or other stuff

Get it early before the whole crop goes poof!

Some of My Dandelions Gone Poof

Some of My Dandelions Gone Poof

Others, however, had more mundane ideas. S-S, who is usually my muse, said, “Just mow the d–n grass,”  or somewhat similar words.

Brute Rarin' To Go

Brute Rarin’ To Go

Then there was Brute, eager to go, slice and dice anything in his path. So eager in fact he started first time. No huffing, or puffing or coughing. No post-winter warm-up hiccups. Just an immediate growl of happiness. Look at the smile on his face!

The gods were against me. I mowed the lawn. No “Dandelions ‘R Us” empire. Ah well, S-S and Brute are happy. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. I feel a ‘Bat Outta Hell’ Meatloaf song coming on. I should quit now.

Happy Victoria Day Weekend

19 May
Victoria Day 2014

Victoria Day 2014

Grass, that cultivated weed, is growing and green. Brute is happy to get out of the shed to mow and mulch. The first of the flower pots is swinging from the branches. Ice still covers the lake.

‘Nuff said.

Me and the Tick or Arachnophobes and a Rubber Hose

6 Apr
Dog Tick with its Pound of Flesh Still Attached

Dog Tick With Its Pound of Flesh Still Attached

It is now getting closer to that time of year when I will have to awaken Brute and start attacking that cultivated weed called grass. It also means the start of tick season. Those vampirish little denizens of trees, bushes and grass. Just waiting to drop or jump onto you. Thus the “inspiration” for this post.

Several months ago, before the snows came, before glaciers smothered the driveway, before … Oh, I digress, you say. Anyway, a long, long time ago I noticed S-S staring at my body. Foolish me. I entertained fantasies of her admiring my (c)hunk of a studly form. Stupid me. She was checking a spot on my back that seemed to be growing larger. So, sometime around 2:00 a.m., I could feel her eyes burning into my back, in the dark and could hear a muttering, “Hmm, oh, hmm, eew,” and the like.

“OK,” says I, “to get some sleep, let’s check it in a better light in the bathroom.” So there I was, back exposed, with S-S getting closer, and closer and closer to look at the spot. When her nose was almost touching said spot – FFWWUUMMM – out shot 8 legs, instantly and suddenly. I, of course, blissfully unaware of proceedings heard a 100 decibel screech and the stomp of S-S running out of the bathroom, shrieks down the hall, screams into the bedroom, howling again down the hall, and finally, only a deathly hyperventilating, a panting and puffing. Slowly I turned, step by step, to look upon a face, white, ashen.

“It’s, it’s, it’s got legs…!,” pants my own Florence Nightingale.

“Then you will have to get some tweezers and get it off,” says I, the soul of calm, masculine courage.

“Me!” croaks Flo, “but it’s got legs!”

Soon the awful truth hit her: I couldn’t reach to do it myself, and unless there was someone living in the crawl space under the house, she was it.

With her head turned away, one eye closed, and the other barely open, my very own Flo eventually  managed to get the tweezers placed, just so to remove my new body appendage plus a chunk of flesh for good measure. I only gave one manly bellow of agony and hardly cried at all.

Daddy Longlegs, Pre- Spider-Whacker Intervention

Daddy Longlegs, Pre- Spider-Whacker Intervention

Flo’s, I mean S-S’s fear of 8-legged crawlers also showed up when we used to sleep in the V-berth of our sailboat (that’s in the pointy end, at the front). Spiders love being near water, therefore, they love boats. We used a length of rubber hose to keep the hatch slightly open for a nice evening breeze. S-S discovered that this hose made a great “spider -whacker” and she would beat the blankets and pound the pillows, and smack the living daylights out of spiders, seen and unseen, present or absent. That worked fine, as long as I wasn’t in bed at the time. If I was, it sounded like some nautical S&M party. I think the yelling kept more spiders away than the spider-whacker. Who knows what our neighbours on the dock thought of these goings on.

There are then two life lessons arising from this post: fear her fear of spiders; and it’s safer to mow the driveway than the grass.

I’m In A Tree But I’m No Tarzan

28 Aug
Climbing and Pruning In the Trees. It's a jungle Up There

Climbing and Pruning In the Trees. It’s a jungle Up There

Swinging from trees is not my idea of a good time. It’s not so much the height. I just don’t want to end up as a statistical splat on the grass. Or as a newsline: Stupid Old Guy Falls Out Of Tree. The question you are probably asking is, “Why am I up in there in the first place?”

Well  it seem that one of our ash trees was having some trouble keeping  it limbs up where they should be. Several days ago one of its big branches just collapsed. A few days later another one decided to go. Both just hung there, held up by a few splinters, bark and other branches. S-S wasn’t volunteering to climb up with a chain saw and pruning saw, so the job fell to me. Oh joy, six metres in the air with a chainsaw buzzing inches from your face! I can’t really blame S-S for her lack of interest but why was she digging out the insurance policies and taking paparazza pictures? Anyway, the branches were eventually completely detached from the tree by yours truly so I moved on to phase two: painting with pruning paint.

Yes, It's really me up there, not a stunt double. What was I thinking?

Yes, It’s really me up there, not a stunt double. What was I thinking?

Pruning paint looks easy on the surface but there is a learning curve. Memo to self: make sure the paint spray nozzle is pointing away from the face before pushing the  nozzle button. Spray, spray, spray, occasionally hitting the tree. It also helps if you are upwind of the spray, not always an easy thing to do once you are already six metres in the air. Spray, spray, spray again. Smells like black enamel paint. Hhmmmm? Ordinary black enamel spray is cheaper. Hhmmm? If I was really into this stuff I might check it out. Other enquiring minds will have to follow up on that.

Trimming the Maple

Trimming the Maple

Inspired by the success in not killing or maiming myself I decided to tempt fate and remove a few small, ugly, low branches on one of our maples. Saw, saw, cut, cut. Hey, I’m getting pretty good at this. Then spray, spray, spray. OK re-read original memo to self about where to point the nozzle. Slow learner here.  But at least the maple looks good now.

You might admire my cool. official tree-pruning outfit: hat, jeans and t-shirt. You might not have noticed but the t-shirt seems to have shrunk in the wash. Most of my t-shirts seem to have shrunk that way. Another country mystery?

Squash Gone Wild!

17 Aug
Escaped Squash Gone Wild in the Caragana Hedge. Look For the Smaller Squash Near the Top

Escaped Squash Gone Wild in the Caragana Hedge. Look For the Smaller Squash Near the Top

I think I made a bit of a tactical error this summer. I planted two spaghetti squash plants instead of the usual one in our small enclosed garden. Usually the sole plant grows in a controlled fashion and produces a gourd or two, enough for us. This year it’s like college kids on spring break. Two plants drunk on sunlight and the other’s company, growing drunkenly wild all over the place. They’ve grown into the hedges and are climbing up two metres into the tops of the asparagus that we have let grow to a seed stage. They are crowding out the tomatoes, shoving aside the beans, and smothering the swiss chard. The picture to the left does not really do justice to the orgy of growth.  The camera cannot capture it all but the pic does show two squash growing in the bushes outside of the garden fence.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really like the way S-S, an excellent cook by the way, prepares squash. But it looks like we are going to have squash pancakes, squash fritters, squash relish, squash casserole, squash surprise and lord knows how many other squash thing-a-me-bobs to digest.

S-S says perhaps we should only try one plant next year. Perhaps an acorn squash for variety and give the rest of the garden a fighting chance. Sounds like a good idea, one that shouldn’t be squashed. You can all groan together at that one: 1…2…3 Grooaann!!. There now, doesn’t that feel better.

Fishflies, Enough Already

30 Jul

What gives? Here we are in the 3rd week of fishflies! Usually they come in late June or very early July and are gone in a few days. This year it’s like Chinese water torture! Everyday they keep on coming back and back and back. Going outside is almost impossible. Trapped by a host of horny insects. They swarm, they attack, they smother, they coat they crunch, they smear. They even get in your underwear. (Hmm, that almost rhymes.) Where was I?  Some friends came for supper over the weekend. As their car pulled into the driveway, yes that infamous driveway, the swarm was like a biblical plague of locusts, almost darkening the sky. Cleaning them off is guaranteed to create a thick, indelible smear. When the surface is light-coloured they smear as blackish-brown but when the surface is dark they smear as light yellow-white. I don’t know how they know how to do this. I do know it will mean extensive siding, deck and window cleaning when they have finally departed after their orgy. Mexico is looking really good right now!

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I’m disappointed in Brute. He’s been hiding out in the shed during the infestation. Something about being a vegetarian and only doing grass and weeds, not animal-life forms, even if they are stupid life forms. Fortunately the grass has gone dormant; however, small poplar trees are trying to gain a foothold on the lawn. The entire lawn is covered with a jiggling,vibrating mat of brown bodies.  I don’t think Brute realizes the next time we mow he will be mulching these same stupid pests before his blade even begins to suck up grass; that when his wheels and underside are thickly coated in  twitching and dying bodies he will begin to smell like a fish factory. And guess who he will expect to clean him off. Why can’t he be calm and rational like me?