The Grass From Hell

I malign this poor grass. Bermuda grass is only the grass from hell if you’re trying to dig it up. It’s a chore, that’s for sure! Because of it’s extensive — and deep — root system, it takes several stabs with a shovel to get deep enough to pull out even a small chunk of the grass. And it does come out in chunks of soil and roots.

I imagine this ability to bind soils makes it a good grass in windy areas, such as this one. I certainly don’t lose any topsoil (assuming there is any at all in this ancient yard) during the high wind storms. The deep roots make Bermuda grass hard to kill with neglect. Even if it turns brown in the heat of summer, it will always come back with a touch of rain. Despite that — or maybe because of that — it is heat and drought resistant. When I figure out what areas of my yard I want to be green, I’ll water the heck out of the grass and end up with a lush looking lawn.

For now, I know one area I don’t want the grass — it’s between the two sidewalks and would be hard to mow. Besides, that island will make a great zinnia bed. And so the grass has to go, though to be honest, right about now, I’m rethinking that plan. I’ve worked a couple of hours today and yesterday, and oh, am I exhausted! To say nothing of sore and weak-kneed. The area is approximated six feet by sixteen feet, and I’ve managed to dig up maybe 24 square feet so far. Lots of hard shoveling! And even after digging up all those roots, chances are the grass will come back because not only does it have such an extensive root system that it’s impossible to get every bit, it also propagates by seed, and there’s no telling how many seeds are left behind. No wonder the preferred method of removing the grass is to zap it with Round-up, but that’s not anything I would ever consider.

I have a hunch this is the wrong time of year to be digging up grass or doing any gardening other than planting a few things that prefer to be settled in the fall, but the way I figure, I’m here now, the grass is here (and by no means green, not even on the other side of the fence!), the ground is still faintly damp from the recent though long-melted snow so the digging is a mite easier, and it’s a good reason to be out in this perfect fall weather.

The weather will change again next week, but with any luck, I’ll have most of the island grass-free, ready for spring fertilizing and planting.

I did mention, didn’t I, that we planted my greengage plum trees? (Well, my contractor and his helper did, I just stood around and pretended I was working.) I had an extra tree (I’d ordered it for a friend who no longer had a place for it) and without any better idea of where to put it, we planted in the middle of the island. I’ll have to prune it every year to keep it small, but that will make the fruit easier to reach — assuming there is fruit and assuming the birds leave any for me. In a way, it will be like a birdfeeder without all the work and the mess. (Though I am sure there will be other messes, but I don’t want to think about that.)

If by chance, I’ve whet your appetite for digging, you are welcome to join me in my yard tomorrow around mid-morning. I have an extra shovel.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
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Oh, My! The Pressure!

Oh, the pressure!

It’s not just that today is Halloween, because no one comes to the door anyway. The next street over is where the activity is.

It’s not just that I had three big trees to plant, because I had help planting them.

It’s not just that this is the last Saturday before the election that might change our lives forever, because at this point, there’s nothing I can do about it.

It’s not just that daylight savings is ending with all the problems the time change brings because, well . . . there’s nothing I can do about that either. I could of course not change the clocks as I did (didn’t do?) one year when I was young and just deal with the wrong clocks, but since some clocks change themselves nowadays while others don’t, dealing with two different times is more confusion than I need.

It’s not just that today is another warm day in a string of warm days after the big freeze — that’s not where the pressure comes in; it’s that I had to drag out my hoses again as if we were heading toward spring rather than winter.

And oh, yeah, speaking of winter — it’s not just that winter is around the corner.

It’s that tomorrow begins a new month and I have to pick a tarot deck to use for the month. (I pick one card every day to see what it can tell me, though usually what it tells me is that it has nothing to do me with.)

Oh, my! The pressure! It’s not the same for normal people who have but one deck (or not decks at all). I have dozens of them! I suppose I could continue using the deck I’ve been using, though that one doesn’t really speak to me. Actually, none of the decks I’ve used so far seem to strike a chord, so I’ll have to keep trying out the various decks. I figure a month gives each deck a good tryout, and so here I am, back at the beginning of all this roundaboutation with me needing to pick a new tarot deck for November. I guess I’ll just close my eyes and grab one. And voila! That lessens the pressure.

(Out of curiosity, I looked up roundaboutation because MSWord says it’s not a word, and to be honest, I thought I was making it up, but it is actually a word that has been in use since the 1800s. Who knew?)

I hope your day is a lot less pressurized than mine. I’d say Happy Halloween, but I don’t know if saying that is acceptable any more or if it’s been changed to something more specific for those who subscribe to identity politics or something less specific for those who are too sensitive to deal with other people’s business. I sure as heck don’t need that kind of pressure, so I’ll just say, “Have a Happy ___” and let you fill in the blank.

***

Bob, The Right Hand of God is now published! Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God. Or you can buy the Kindle version by clicking here: Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?

Seedling Forest

We’ve talked before on this blog about the changes that are happening or might be happening because of having to wear masks. Without being able to see smiles, we don’t connect as well with others. Without being able to see mouths forming words, we don’t hear as well. (Which is a serious problem for the hard of hearing.) Without the humanization of faces, we are in danger of becoming dehumanized. And, as I’ve been discovering, they make us cranky, especially me.

I’ve been shopping at the local market partly as a rebellion against the closures — it seems so wrong to keep Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, and other corporate businesses open, but forcing smaller businesses to close their doors. You’d think the local grocer would be pleased to have such a loyal customer, but what was once a pleasant experience has become decidedly less so. Out of the last three visits, twice I was overcharged, twice the clerk was rude, twice I ended up fuming and thinking that maybe shopping at Walmart isn’t so horrible after all.

(This rudeness is something I’ve often wondered about when it comes to small independent stores. They don’t offer the discounts that the major stores do, they don’t offer service, they don’t smile or make the visit anything more than a ho-hum shopping trip. They act as if they’re that pretty girl who knows she’s pretty and so has to do nothing to foster a relationship but accept one’s homage.)

Today the shopping experience was especially unpleasant, and I know it was the crank factor.

The skies are cloudy, though there are no clouds — that cloudiness is the smoke drifting here from the fires in Colorado and California. Because the air is still, the smoke just hangs around. (Such irony! There have been strong winds most of the summer, and now that we need to move out the smoke, the winds have disappeared.) Although I can see (and taste) the smoke, I can’t smell the air — I am allergic to smoke, so my poor aching sinuses have closed off my smeller. It’s hard enough to breathe without the mask, but once that’s added, oh, my. So not fun! (Hence the tendency toward crankiness.) I should, of course, have thought of this before I went to the store, but I needed to drive my car and I wanted to get various healthy snacks to take to work tomorrow. (We always have an afternoon snack, so I’ve been eating things that are in her house but aren’t on my diet, such as cookies. I don’t have to have them, but the sharing of a meal is even more important than the snack itself.)

So what does all this have to do with my seedling forest? Not a whole lot, really, except that it pleases me to be growing trees at a time so many trees are being destroyed. Admittedly, these seedlings will not in any way offset the millions of trees being burned, but then, there’s not much any one person can do about any of the horrors that are defining our world today — the fires, the riots, The Bob, wearing masks. Still, it’s something.

Most of the seedlings are locusts that planted themselves in my yard, though one was grown from a seed in the pot itself. Previously, I’ve tried transplanting the seedlings into the ground directly, and they just died. (I have a hunch it has to do with the harsh sun burning their tender shoots before they got over their transplant shock). Oddly, the seedlings seem to like the pots. A couple of the seedlings are Kentucky coffeetrees, new additions from my next-door neighbor. Apparently, these trees are rare in this area, and her next-door neighbor ending up cutting down his coffeetree (to the horror and sorrow of the tree cutter) as well as a couple of my neighbor’s trees (a property line dispute, which makes me even happier that I had my property surveyed), so she and I are trying to repopulate the area with these gems.

Planting trees seems such a hopeful, non-cranky thing to do, and best of all, I don’t need to wear a mask to tend to my seedling forest.

***

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

Planting Hope

I received ten flowering trees yesterday that the Arbor Day Foundation gifted me when I sent a donation. (It wasn’t really a donation, because I only sent the money to get the trees.) If you have ever responded to such an offer, you will understand the irony of the term “tree.” These seedlings might someday be trees, might even be the beginning of a small forest in my yard, but for now, they are nothing but skinny little twigs between six and twelve inches long with barely a growth that could be considered a root.

I’ve planted seedlings from the foundation before, and not one ever grew to babyhood, let alone achieved grown-up-tree status, but even knowing that, I sent the money. I figure I wasn’t out anything except my donation, and maybe not even that if the foundation really does plant trees with at least some of the money they receive.

Of course, these “trees” came when there is no way I would take a chance on injuring my knee further by digging holes, so I considered not planting them, but a teenager a few houses away agreed to do the work for me. That was a double blessing, not just because having someone else plant them saved my knee, but also perhaps because the trees will not immediately realize who their caregiver will be. And maybe, just maybe, when that realization dawns, one or two of them will decide they like it here anyway.

Even if none of the seedings live very long, it’s the thought that counts. Planting trees is like planting hope — hope for a future, and a more beautiful future at that.

And all of us right now can use a bit of hope.

***

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.