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.


I felt foolish this morning, going out to water in the 45˚ F chill this morning. I felt even sillier being outside in a heavy coat in the middle of May, but that’s the weather we were dealt today. I considered putting it off, but the next two days are supposed to be even chillier than today. The low tonight is 36˚, which is way different than yesterday’s high of 93˚.

By the time I did several tasks, such as pot the bamboo, plant a lilac in the hole (a hole is a terrible thing to waste!), and pull a few weeds, it started to warm up, and by the time half the lawn was watered, I was able to ditch the coat. It was still cool, but pleasantly so.

It was an interesting morning with lots of visitors. A couple of hummingbirds stopped by to sip from a few larkspur flowers. When I lived out in the country with Jeff, I developed a dislike of hummingbirds because the species that lived there were very aggressive, and they often dive-bombed us. Unlike those hummingbirds, my little visitors were polite, drank their fill, and took off without once trying to attack me.

The bumble bees that visited also left me alone, even though we skimmed by one another on several occasions.

A couple of the feral cats in the neighborhood came to sun themselves on my lawn. (I’ve discovered the older of these two black cats stalking among my larkspurs. I sure hope it’s not after the toad that lives there!) I ran them off because I sure don’t want them getting too comfortable around here, though there’s not much I can do about it when I’m not outside. A neighbor who lives next to the crazy cat man (I don’t imagine he’s crazy except for feeding the myriad cats), is almost choking from the smell of cat urine. So not something I want to deal with. Still, the cats, while not actually polite, did take off running when they saw me.

And the people I bought the house pulled up to the curb to talk to me as I was watering out front. They couldn’t stay to explore, but they were impressed with the way the place is looking. And it is looking good. I’m not sure how much credit is due to me since it’s been a collaboration with me, the contractor, some workers, and nature all playing a part.

My final visitor was (drum roll please) . . . me! After I finished my morning’s tasks, it was too nice to go inside, so I wandered my paths, enjoying the scenery, including the newly bloomed roses.

Most of the places I’ve lived the past thirty years had great long-distance views — mountains, Grand Mesa, desert, or city lights, so one of the reasons I got into this whole gardening thing was that I wanted to create a view so I had something to look at other than neighbors’ houses.

Apparently, even though the yard is a perpetual work in progress, I have accomplished at least part of what I set out to do.


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.

Wild Life

The wild life in the title of this piece doesn’t in any way refer to my life, which is about as tame and domesticated as one life can be. The wildest I ever get anymore is following the adventures of various fictional explorers who seem to be that fabled “only one man” who can save the world. Do I care that these characters are men rather than women? Absolutely not. It makes no difference to me. The so-called gender bias in such fiction doesn’t affect my life in any way. I still am who I am (whoever that might be) no matter what biases are present in any novel I read. I glean what I need to from the story and then get on with my so very tame life.

The wild life mentioned in the title are, in fact, wildlife, just not the sort of creatures we normally consider wildlife. I haven’t seen any bears or lions, coyotes or even any of the skunks that live around here. My wildlife sightings consist of the daddy longlegs that stared down at me from the ceiling over my bed, the flies that sat on my lap when I perched on my bench outside surveying my kingdom, the feral cats that chased the squirrels eating from the birdfeeder next door, the half-grown rabbits that played tag in the middle of the road, the hummingbirds that sipped from a pink wildflower growing in with my bushes.

(A short diatribe — why is it that with all the books I have on weeds and wildflowers, and with all the resources online, I can never find out the name or nature of any strange plant that shows up in my yard?)

I also saw two turtledoves cuddled on a wire, their heads together as if whispering sweet nothings to each other. I’ve seen photos of turtledoves behaving that way, but never in real life. No wonder they’re considered a symbol of love! I didn’t have my camera with me at the time, and when I went out later, they’d move on to more important bird-ish affairs.

And I saw the first tarantula hawk of the year. Can the tarantula migration be far behind? I have yet to see even a single tarantula since I moved here, even though this area of Colorado is supposed to be tarantula heaven, but perhaps if I get up early sometime next month, I can go on a tarantula hunt.

Meantime, there is always my backyard to entertain me with its myriad wildlife.


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

The World Outside my Fence

I walked to a nearby store today to pick up a few items. What used to be a short walk (a half-mile round trip) turned out to be a far piece since my knee is still not in top shape, but I did walk. Yay!

I even saw a couple of friends who were also running errands, which is another yay, but they told me of a new law in Colorado — that everyone above the age of ten or those who were medically exempt had to wear masks in public, and I’d forgotten mine. Oops.

I have a surgical mask on a ribbon that I generally wear around my neck until it’s time to go into a store. Because of allergies, I can’t wear one for very long otherwise my sinuses protest and I start gasping for breath. Lately, though, I haven’t bothered, and apparently, there’s been a twenty-five percent increase in local cases of the Bob, from 4 to 5.

That’s one thing my friends and I marveled at — that the local economy was destroyed for a mere five cases of the Bob. That’s it. Five cases.

Well, if it makes the power-wielding folks happy, I’ll wear a mask when I’m around others, though there is no way I can have been infected by The Bob. And yeah, I know — people can be contagious without knowing it, but I’ve pretty much only seen one person the past couple of weeks (the garage-builder), and from what I can gather, he doesn’t see many people, either. The chances of one of us near-hermits coming in contact with the one person who recently became infected with The Bob seems minuscule. Still, being the quintessential “good girl,” I’ll do what I’m told. So, a mask it is.

The interesting thing to me is that if I hadn’t come across my friends this morning, I still wouldn’t know about the new law. There is a rather pathetic newspaper, but it comes out only once a week, so the only place I’d been able to keep current about local affairs was a town news group on Facebook. Which means, as long as my Facebook boycott lasts, I will have to continue relying on chance encounters to find out what’s going on. (Some people are trying to get a more focused newspaper going, and they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, but I have a hard enough time writing just for me. And besides, the isolation due to The Bob has regressed me to my default mode and killed any desire to make the effort to be around people.)

To be honest, I don’t care — can’t care — what’s going on in the world outside my fence since I have no control over any of it. (Now that I think about it, I don’t even have any control of what’s going on inside my fence. The feral cats have staked out my bare earth spots as their latrines. Weeds take over when I’m not looking. Friendly plants grow or not according to their own whim.)

I sometimes wonder if we’d all be better off not knowing anything beyond our immediate environs. Does knowing make anyone happy? Does not knowing make anyone feel more isolated?

Maybe I’m just making excuses for my own predilections. Still, next time I want to know what’s happening beyond my property, I’ll go for a walk, and if I need to know what’s going on, I’m sure someone will tell me.


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