I Saw Something Nasty

I saw something nasty today, and it wasn’t in the woodshed as in Cold Comfort Farm. Not that I have a woodshed for something nasty to happen, unless my garage could be considered a woodshed since I do have some wood in there. Just boards, though. No firewood. Still, as far as I know, nothing nasty has yet happened in there.

No, the nasty thing was on my lawn, and it horrified me. Bindweed! Not just one, but several of them. Of all the weeds to find, that is the worst. Others you can dig up or pull up or even ignore in the hopes that they will disappear in the mowing, but bindweed? That thing grows like a . . . well, like a weed. And you can’t get rid of it. The more you pull it up, the more it spreads, though apparently, eventually all that pulling will dissipate the weed’s energy and it will become more controllable.

I have a bad patch of bindweed in the back corner of my yard, but I have been mulching that area with the grass clippings because mulch can help control the weed. I can’t do that on my lawn, of course, because a thick mulch might kill the lawn, and if not, would certainly be unsightly.

I’m not really sure where the bindweed came from. The grass is so thick that I doubt any seeds could take hold, so perhaps the bindweed was in the soil beneath the sod and pushed its way through like a couple of tulips did. Whatever its origin, the weed is there now. I’ll just have to patrol that area of the lawn daily and hope I can keep on top of it.

That wasn’t the only nasty thing I found. This area is swarming with feral cats, due in part to the loss of funding for the spay and release program and in part to the neighbor across the street who feeds the cats. The cats used to use my front easement (between the sidewalk and the street) for their litter box, but now that I’ve covered it with rock, apparently, they’ve moved to my lawn. It’s surprising because I wouldn’t think grass would something they’d gravitate toward since they can’t bury their waste as they tend to do.

Luckily, nasties weren’t the only things I saw today. There was plenty of beauty — the grass, of course. The plants that are doing well, especially those that will bloom this summer. The larkspur that’s going to seed. (That might not be pretty, but it sure makes me feel good to think of all the larkspur that will grow from those seeds next year.) And the wildflowers.

Although the wildflower areas are small rather than a field, they are every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped, with not a nasty thing in sight!


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

What a Day!

I don’t know where I get the idea that I don’t do much. Perhaps because there are times when I lay about, such as the rainy day a couple of days ago, but today wasn’t such a day. I woke this morning at 5:00 a.m. (Not by choice, you understand. It’s just when my body decided it didn’t want to sleep anymore.)

It is now 5:00 p.m., and this is the first time I’ve managed to sit all day. Well, I did take a break for a quick meal, and I’ll be eating again soon, but for the most part, I’ve been on the go since I awoke.

After I exercised and straightened the house, I did a bit of weeding, then a friend came to pick me up so we could check the roof on our absent friend’s house. It’s still holding up despite the rain we had. We made a couple of quick stops at food stores, then she dropped me off and I put the groceries away.

By that time, the morning dew was long dried, so I hauled out my lawn mower. The mowing is easy. The hard part is emptying the grass catcher. It seems a very long way from the northwest corner of my yard to the southeast corner where I need to dump the clippings, and since the grass got long and thick because of the rain, I had to empty the catcher about ten times. The good part is the mower mulches the clippings, and I need a lot of mulch to try to suffocate the bindweed that proliferates in that far corner.

While I was resting after my hard work, I got a text from my neighbor asking if I wanted to look at her “yard pretties” and see what I wanted since she loved to share. We wandered around her lush yard, and greedy me, I said I wanted a bit of everything except the climbers. Although ivy and Virginia creepers are pretty, I don’t want to deal with keeping them in check. Once I finished admiring everything in her yard, we came over to my place and looked at everything here. I ended up giving her some larkspur and wildflower seeds, and promised to give her some New England aster in the late fall when I divide them.

She was glad to see I still have so much uncultivated yard. She can thin her plants as much as she needs to because she will have an extension garden to fill up. (That’s what I’m calling that unplanted area, her “extension garden.”)

I still had a couple of errands to run, so she promised to send the plants over to me when they were dug up, we said goodbye, and I headed out again.

Despite the offer of plants, as I passed the hardware store with the racks of plants out in front, I stopped and browsed and bought. Just one four-pack of petunias to fill in an area that cried out for a bit of color. I’m not totally obsessed.

What a day!

I must admit, I was so exhausted after all my exertions that I didn’t plant the flowers, even though it wouldn’t have taken long.

While I’m admitting things, I might as well admit I never thought spending so much time (and money) on a yard would be worth it, but I do so love to wander around my paths and see what’s new. There’s always something to look at, and what’s even better, it can’t all be seen at a glance. Knowing so many elderlies who are property-bound (not housebound exactly; they just don’t feel comfortable straying too far from home), I wanted to make sure that if the same thing happened to me, I’d have things to look at as I wandered around my yard. As I’d hoped, with each curve of the pathways, I get a different view. Even better, I don’t have to wait until I’m property-bound to enjoy the scenery.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

A Witness to My Life

This morning, I cleared away the patch of seven-foot-tall weeds that had been growing unchecked behind a construction rubbish pile in my yard. Having them gone — both the weeds and the rubbish — makes me feel so much better! With the weeds growing like that, it made me feel slovenly, which isn’t at all how I like to think of myself.

I was going to pack it in when the work was finished, because I really did overdo it in my zeal to finish the task, but then clouds came and obscured the sun, and it felt cool enough to do a job I’ve been putting off.

I never considered bindweed a weed — it looks like small morning glories, and is pretty when it covers a field, or even when it entwines itself around the links of a chain-link fence. The problem with the fence is when the season is over, the plant dies back but leaves the vines wrapped around the links. I worked a bit on clearing off the fence the past couple of days, but so much of the weed was still left to clear off, that today, in the coolness, I got out a chair, sat down, and picked and picked and picked all that weed off the fence.

It looked so nice after it was finished, I hoped someone would notice and tell me that they noticed. I felt silly thinking that — I’m not a child, calling to her mother to witness some derring-do, “Lookame, Mommy. Lookame.” And yet . . . it is nice to have our feats noticed, even if they are as trivial as a clean fence. To be honest, I think it’s more than just nice. I think it’s a fundamental need.

In the movie Shall We Dance, Beverly Clark (Susan Sarandon) says: “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet . . . I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things . . . all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’”

Jeff, of course, had been the witness to my life. He gave it meaning by that witnessing. After he died, I used this blog as my witness, writing about grief and all that I went through because of his absence. This witnessing of my grief gave it importance — because of what I wrote, I connected with people in a similar situation, and we helped each other get through each new phase of grief.

I am still using this blog as a witness to my life, telling about all the large and small things that make up my life, but even if I didn’t have this blog, I’d still have a witness: me. I witness my own life. I see what I do. I see the end result of my labor and, in this case, I appreciate the cleared fence.

Incidentally, the lack of tall weeds — or any weeds — by the gray slag and along the other side of the fence is due to my labors at the beginning of the week where I dug up all the waist-high and shoulder-high weeds.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

At War With Weeds

The weeds are definitely winning the war in my yard. For every one that I manage to eradicate, another three take its place. I don’t want to go the poison route — with more weeds than anything else here on this property, the amount of weedkiller necessary to do the job would probably be strong enough to kill me, too.

So, it’s one weed at a time, though I have been mowing some of them just to clear a space for me to walk.

Oddly, some of those that seemed the most innocuous have turned out the be the most frightening. Since I can’t dig up all of them, I’ve started with those that have seed pods similar to dandelions, because once those take hold, you never get rid of them. I’ve pretty much been ignoring a weed that seemed to have a shallow root system, with skinny “arms” and sparse leaves, that lays flat on the ground. I thought that with all the wind around here, it might not be a bad idea to leave those weeds be so that they could hold the soil in place.

Bad idea! Today when I was out weeding one of my garden patches, I went ahead and pulled up some of those weeds, which turned out to be a monumental task. Each one of those “arm” had grown to about two feet, and at each intersection where a leaf grew, the plant grew a root. Even worse, in some cases, it tied down plants that were in its way. I’d never seen anything like that. I thought bindweed was bad. Bindweed looks like miniature white morning glories, and if they are in a field, they lie flat and look pretty. If they are in a garden, they grow monstrously long and strangle any plant they can climb. Unless I want to resort to poison, the bindweed will always win, but I can sort of keep on top of it. Goat’s head is another plant that is prevalent around here, but I know what it is, and can — mostly — keep on top of that one, too. But this long, skinny plant that ties itself to the ground and to anything in its path is something else again.

I have no idea what the plant is called — I spent the past hour searching online for information about it without any luck — but I do know I have to be more vigilant about pulling it up. If not, I’ll wake up one day and find my whole house wrapped up in the tendrils of that weed.


The thought is enough to give me nightmares.


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