Surprises. Mostly Pleasant.

I made good use of my day off and mowed the grass. The hardest part of using any bit of machinery seems to be cleaning the machine after use, and this mower, because it’s a mulcher that chops up the grass after it’s cut, seems to get “gunkier” than most. I never can clean all the grass gunk (for lack of a better word, and believe me, I’ve been on Google looking) off the underside of the mower. The second hardest part is emptying the grass catcher, mostly because it has to be done so frequently. This grass grows fast, and it is densely packed, so there is a lot of it. I’ve been using the ensuing mulch for mulch, so in some cases, I had to pull weeds before I dumped the clippings. The easiest part of mowing is . . . mowing. Though even that isn’t as easy as I’d hoped. Still, the whole project doesn’t take long, just a little more than an hour, so it’s not all that onerous.

After I finished with the grass, I watered the bushes and other plants that didn’t get a drink yesterday, then I planted hollyhocks. I have a lot of seeds grown from last year’s hollyhocks, and even though I planted them in the fall as my neighbor (who gifted me the original hollyhock seeds) suggested, none came up. A few minutes online gave me a different method — to soak the seeds overnight, then just lay them on the ground without covering them with dirt. Apparently, they need the light to germinate. So that’s what I did. I have plenty more seeds to experiment with if these don’t sprout.

When these tasks were finished, I roamed my pathways, looking for anything new, and I found some nice surprises.

The first rose of the season! I have never been able to find out what kind of roses these are. A rather lengthy bout of online searching didn’t produce any definitive results, though some people call this five-petaled flower a simple rose, a prairie rose, a shrub rose, a native rose, a wild rose, or any number of other names. All I know for sure is that it is some type of rose.

This allium grew among the lilacs. I didn’t even know it was there since it had never bloomed before. It’s so pretty with the purple allium, the green leaves, and the white lilacs.

The honeysuckle is in bloom, too. This honeysuckle is an old one and has been here for many years, perhaps even decades. It’s a bush, not a vine as many honeysuckles are, including a few I planted a couple of years ago.

I was also surprised to see an iris blooming. Before the fence was built, I’d tried to transplant some of the irises that would be caged between my fence and the neighbor’s garage, but most of those transplants seem to have died. This is the first time an iris I planted actually flowered.

The only unpleasant surprise was a pile of dirt off to the side of one of my paths. I thought I’d somehow shoveled dirt onto the path when I dug up some weeds, but when I started to push the dirt back where it came from, I discovered the real culprit of the dastardly deed. Ants!! Red fire ants are building a home. Considering how vicious the bites are from those ants, I’m lucky I managed to remain bite-free. If they continue to deconstruct my landscaping, I’ll have to do something about them, but I really don’t want to. I’m one of those people who literally won’t hurt a fly, or any creature, for that matter, but I make an exception for any that hurt me.

Luckily, my surprises were mostly pleasant ones.


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

The Moral of the Story . . .

I’m feeling a bit disgruntled this morning and fed up with people who don’t show up to work when they say they will, and who don’t even call to cancel. The mechanic was supposed to come get my car and fix the brakes today, but I can’t get hold of him. I did have a hunch that he wouldn’t be here because his shop was closed yesterday. He and his family have been having problems with both The Bob and the vaccine, so that could be the problem. Though I’m only guessing. I’ll call next week and find out what’s going on and make a new appointment. And the worker who was supposed to be here this week to continue the various jobs that have been scheduled has been on again and off again — mostly off. I texted him a little while ago to see what’s going on but haven’t heard back.

Even more disgruntling, the heat is keeping me from working off my frustration, either by walking or working outside. All I did today was water a few things that seem to be desiccating in the heat and take a few photos.

One special pleasure is my friend the toad was basking in the shade today. I startled him yesterday and didn’t want to disturb him by taking a photo, so I was pleased to see him again today. Although he turned his back on me, he did hold still while I took his picture.

I’m especially delighted with the honeysuckle blossom. I planted the seedling last fall, and not only did it survive the winter, but it seems to be thriving.

The hollyhocks are really starting to pop.

The trumpet vines are doing well. They always do, though they die back in the summer and begin anew each spring. If there is a need for full disclosure, I have to admit that I photoshopped out the ants. For some reason they love these blossoms, though I don’t see that they do any damage

I enjoyed seeing the striped gazanias when I was in California, but the only gazania I could find that was suitable for this area was a plain yellow one. Still, it’s cheerful, and even better, it’s a perennial, so it will be interesting to see what it does in the coming months and years.

Another plant that is flowering, even though I bought the starter plant a mere two weeks ago is this dark purple osteospermum. I’d never heard of it before, but the color intrigued me. Oddly, both the gazania and the osteospermum are called “African daisies,” though they are different genera.

I am disappointed at the brief flowering cycle of the prickly pear cactus, but since I didn’t plant them for the flowers, I am grateful for the blossoms that I do have.

This virtual tour of my flowers has helped with the frustration, though it did not help get the jobs done. Luckily, there is always next week. Or the week after.

I suppose the moral of this story, assuming there is a moral, is to enjoy the things that come my way and try not to be frustrated by workers who don’t come my way.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

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