Run for the Hills

Photo courtesy of Wendy Irizarry

At first glance I thought this snake was so cute until I realized what his business in the birdhouse was.

The birdhouse itself has a story. It was given to my husband many years ago by a coworker who knew we loved to garden. Seems the birdhouse was built and painted by a little boy named Charlie. Charlie had Autism. And cancer. Building the birdhouse was a tremendous feat for Charlie, and I can imagine how proud he was of it. Sadly Charlie lost his battle with cancer, and the birdhouse sat in the closet until it came to us. We chose not to paint it, or alter it in any way, and hung Charlie’s masterpiece in a prominent place in our garden. A tribute to a little boy, and a reminder to us that life is precious.

What a great, but horrifying picture.  Thanks, Wendy.

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Mother’s Garden

Mother built the little path herself as well as a stone patio using little-old-lady-sized rocks. She does all her own planting.  I dig the big holes for her.  She does the rest.  She does have he perennial “rose covered cottage.”  She twines pink climbing roses over her porch rails.  They are mean.  It cured the problem of free-range kids climbing on the rails. Her neighborhood is full of them.  She sprinkles flour over tomatoes and warns the kids they might get poisoned.  It works.  She never loses a tomato anymore.  The neighborhood kids used to pick them and her flowers, but now they worry about the poison.

The Last Rose and Broken Jam

I got up yesterday with two major goals:  get a rose bush planted and get meat marinated that I’d be cooking Sunday, but first,  I dropped a jar of blackberry jam when I opened the fridge.  Scooping up the jam and glass in a dustpan, I set to work, annoyed at the delay in getting to my planting.  The dogs were rabid to investigate the broken jam.  Croc is fascinated by any type of tool, so he was determined to help mop. I had to keep running him off while he made a concerted effort to cut his feet.   It took three tries before I felt like the floor was clean.

I headed outside to plant that rose.  On the way, I remembered I wanted to pull up a few weeds growing around my favorite yard piece, Wireman.  I love him so much.  I remembered some large springs I’d seen in Bud’s shed and realized Mr. Wireman needed them.  He also needed an old watering can and a staff.  I thought he looked pretty good for a character with a caged man on his belly when I finished.  He also got a few more flowers.

My sister Phyllis  about then to let me know her dog Lily wanted to come visit her Cousin Buzzy. Of course, I was delighted.  Cousin Lily hadn’t yet met her new Cousin Croc, so that was something to look forward to.  I made tea and snacks.  All the dogs got along beautifully.  Croc is huge and gets so wild he’d break furniture and take out walls if we didn’t put a little damper on it.  Phyllis invited Buzzy to go home with her for the night, so he was ecstatic.  Left at home without his buddy, Croc was a little down in he mouth.

Marinating the meat for the barbecue took a while, especially since I had to empty the fridge to accommodate it.  Again, Croc wanted to help.   Not good.  I was whipped by the time I had everything restocked.  I headed out again to plant my rose and noticed my seven flower beds were screaming for water.  The rose could wait, but wilting flowers couldn’t.  They got their water.  

Bud was across the yard taking out a dead ligustrum.  It had never thrived after the  neighbor barbecued  too close to it.  I confiscated it, trimmed it, and buried it up in my flowerbed to train vines over.  By the time I gave up, it  92 degrees.  I was whipped.  It’s murder having ADD as you age.  I can never do all I want to. The rose would be first on my list the next day.  I slipped from my yard shoes, rinsed my feet under the hose, dried them in the laundry room, and stepped into the kitchen.  My feet stuck to the floor.  Obviously, three moppings weren’t enough.  Before I could start dinner, I had to give the kitchen floor another cleaning.  I never knew a pint of jam could go so far.

 

 

Chicken Poop Tea For Two

Why don’t men just say what they mean?  Bud and I have been married forever and I still don’t know how he thinks most of the time.  You need a little history here.  My niece generously gave me a garbage bag full of chicken poop.  I’d been coveting her chicken poop for a while, but hated to come right out and ask for it.  If you’re not a gardener, you probably have no idea what a precious gift chicken poop is.  Ferns love it.  There is nothing better than a delicious dose of chicken poop tea for your flowers and vegetables.  They practically slurp when they get their weekly dose and seem to fairly jump up.  I hurried home with my prize before she could regret it, with the intention of making myself a big batch of chicken poop tea.  I dug around is Bud’s shop and found a nice five gallon bucket.  He agreed I could use it.  It never occurred to me to mention what I wanted it for.

I divided that precious poop between that bucket and one of my own and filled both three-quarters full, covered them and left them to steep, one on the front porch and the other near the back patio.  In a week or so, I had a strong brew.  The lid prevented the smell from permeating the area.  It was potent.  I doused my ferns and other hungry plants weekly.  They loved it, competing to green up and put on new growth.  Adding water each use kept it coming.  The stuff was all I hoped it would be.

Then Bud started badgering.  “When are you gonna pour that stuff out?  It stinks!”  You can’t keep it here in that bucket.”

I wasn’t getting rid of it.  “Hannah, gave me this.  I need it for my plants.  I’ll move it away from the patio, but I’m not getting rid of it!”

”That s—— stinks.!  You need to pour it out.” He had the nerve to actually call it s—-!

”I’m not pouring it out!”  He stomped off.  He better have the good sense not to mess with my chicken poop tea! 

This went on for three years.  Several times a summer, we discussed my tea.  He never quite had the nerve to dump it, though he threatened several times.  That was a wise decision.  Chicken poop doesn’t grow on trees.  By now, this was prime stuff, very valuable to me.

This May, we were having guests.  I was fatigued, having spent several days getting ready.  Bud started up again, seeing my weakness.  “What are you gonna do with this bucket of s—-?”

I lost my resolve.  “I guess I’ll  throw it out!”  I thought he’d be ashamed and stop me.  He didn’t!  I gave my plants a final treat and emptied the buckets on my compost heap.

Yesterday as we dawdled over Sunday coffee in his shop, I spied that same blue five gallon bucket by Bud’s saw, full of lumber scraps.  “Is that THE bucket?  I didn’t think you’d still use it after it stood full of chicken poop for three years.”

”Why sure.  It’s a good bucket.  Why do you think I wanted it back?”

“You mean all that complaining was over the bucket, not the chicken poop?”

”Well, yeah.  It’s a good bucket.  I needed it back.”

”Why in the world didn’t you tell me?  I would have gotten you another bucket and kept my chicken poop? Buckets are cheap!  Chicken poop is priceless!”  Was this the same man who agreed to share all his worldly goods only forty-eight years ago?  I guess that didn’t include “good buckets.”

Chcken s——-!

My patio

 

 

Burn Baby, Burn

Sometimes Bud can be difficult.  One lovely day, we both headed outdoors.  I had my work.  He had his.  I busied myself, digging, shoveling sand, putting out flagstones. Meanwhile, he pottered about at some uninteresting task of his own, never even asking if I needed help. After putting the last touches  on my patio, I went for the water hose.  I felt smug at finding it stretched across the backyard, since he’s always after me about winding it back up, barely letting me finish what I’m doing. Nevertheless, I pulled it back around to my new flower bed.  Bud had even left the water on, just shut off by the adapter.  That wasn’t like him at all.  I’d have to mention it when I got through.

It wasn’t long before Bud tore around the corner yanking the hose, clearly in a panic. Rudely, he grabbed the hose and took off, not even asking whether I was finished. I followed and found him spraying a pile burning yard refuse that had almost gotten away from him. It turns out, he’d had the water hose nearby just in case and hadn’t noticed when me taking it when he’d turned away to pile on more brush. Fortunately, he got the blaze under control. Unfortunately, not before it consumed the nice sweeper he’d disconnected from his tractor and left near the pile. He’s much more careful with the new one he bought to replace it and thoughtfully tells me when he’s about to burn, now.

My project certainly turned out better than his.

 

Dirty

pig in slopI just get dirty. I don’t mean my shoes have little smudges. I look like I fell in the garbage every day. I don’t understand it. When I worked, I dressed and left the house just like everyone else. By the time I got to work, I had stepped in something, spilled coffee on myself, or rubbed up against something and gotten a spot on my clothes. As the day went on, I was sure to end up with ink spots on my hands and/or clothes and have a few spots. I sponged the worst off, but still got home a mess.
I wear my oldest clothes in the yard and make no effort to stay clean. After a few hours of digging, hauling, moving rocks, and planting, I look like I have been rolling in the mud. That doesn’t bother me in the least. When I am done working, I just drop the clothes in the washer, and get straight in the shower.
My mother and two of my sisters stay crisp and clean. Mother can wear white and work all day and look like she’s dressed for a garden party. My other sister is like me. She looks like she works on a garbage truck. What in the world do people do who stay clean? Is it magic?

Red Wagon War

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Mother and I went to one of our favorite stores the other day, Goodwill. I headed straight for the back to see if I could find a nice piece of cast-iron cookware. I am always on the lookout for cast-iron. En route, I stumbled up on this miracle. They were pulling a red wagon out to the floor. I grabbed it and headed for the front without even checking the price. It was a bargain, no matter what. I ran over a nice middle-aged gentleman on my way up.

“Oh, did you find that here?”

“Yes, I am so thrilled. I’m not even going to shop any more. I’m just going to take it and run.”

“How much was it?”

“I don’t know. I was so excited I forgot to look. Let’s see. Ten dollars! What a deal!” I was dancing a jig for sure,now.

Just about that time Mother walked up. “Oh, you found a red wagon! Did they have any more? I’ve been looking all over for one!”

“I know! When I saw this one I grabbed it!”

Clearly the man thought everything had its price. “My mother has been wanting one forever. Would you let me have it for forty dollars?” Mother looked at him with blood in her eye. She had her eye on that wagon.

“No Sir, If I’m not going to give it to my mother, I’d better not give it to yours.”

Doesn’t she look good pulling it around in my back yard?

I Am Whipped

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Saturday my two sisters and I went over to help Mother a little. She’d gotten a bit behind on her gardening and was starting to stew about it. She had a mess. There were about fifteen plants that were going to die if we didn’t get them in the ground immediately We worked frantically weeding, cultivating, fertilizing, and planting for several hours. By the time we were through, it looked good. I thought we were all done, but As I loaded my stuff in my truck, I stumbled over half a dozen more she had stashed in a front bed. I wanted to cry, but was too tired to dig and plant any more.
I went back over today to finish the planting and cut some small trees that had sprung up in her hedges. It was such a relief to get to a quitting place and have a glass of tea.
As I went to load my truck to go home. I found several flats of annuals sitting in the shade. I KNOW those weren’t there Saturday! She has no shame!