Watching Things Grow

The problem with a wet spring is that the weeds are everywhere, and they grow like . . . well, like weeds. If it would dry out enough, I could mow the weeds in the yard to give me a semblance of a lawn, but in some areas of my property, I have to dig them up by hand. The biggest culprit is the end of the driveway. The driveway slants down to a gravel bed, which is nice, but at the end of the gravel is a depression where water and weeds gather. You’d think this was a swampy part of the state the way the things are proliferating, but unfortunately, when the dry heat of summer hits, it won’t make much difference. It will slow the growth somewhat, but these are all-purpose weeds. They will grow no matter what.

Even though the depression on the edge of the driveway is outside my property line according to the surveyor, the building inspector and code enforcer go by a different measure — the utility poles — so it should be possible to extend the driveway out a bit more to meet the graveled alley. I can take care of the weeds now, but as I get older, I sure as heck am not going to want to be pulling up weeds for hours on end. I suppose I could poison them, but I really don’t want to resort to such drastic measures, so I’m hoping that graveling them over will solve that particular problem.

On a more positive note, the constantly wet soil is giving the old seeds I planted a chance to germinate. The radishes are coming up in clumps, so it won’t be long before I have to thin them. Even more than having to get rid of weeds, I dislike having to pull up perfectly good seedlings. Maybe, if they aren’t too close, I can try to transplant some of them. Or leave them be. The radishes probably wouldn’t grow big enough to eat, but the green swath sure would be pretty.

Surprisingly, the Pee Gee hydrangea bushes the Arbor Day Foundation sent me in thanks for a small donation are all doing well.

They are tiny and perhaps fragile, but they did survive the winter, so that’s especially good. It’s amazing to me that any gift from them is growing because the bare root trees they send with a membership are notorious for not doing well. Mine all died, as did three of the five lilacs I got at another time. (I thought all were dead, so I planted other lilac sprigs in the same area, and two of the lilacs decided to come back to life.)

When the bushes grow up — the lilacs and the hydrangeas — it will help with some of the weed growth because the bushes take up a lot of room.

Meantime, I enjoy watching anything grow, even weeds, as long as they don’t encroach too much on areas where they could be damaging.


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.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

So Much Excitement

Yesterday I found, taped to my front door, a bright yellow paper with “Special Notice” blaring across the top. It turns out it was from the public works department stating they would be smoke testing its sewers. They went on to say that it was done periodically to locate sources of sewer odors, leaks, and breaks in sewer lines, but no one who has lived their whole life around here had ever experienced such a thing. If the sewers had been tested previously, apparently it wasn’t something they told people about.

The smoke is supposed to be harmless, but I was still worried about it coming out of my plumbing, as they warned it might. Since there was a three-day window for this “smoking” to be done, I wasn’t sure how to know the test was being done. Obviously, if I had a problem with my plumbing, I’d be able to smell the smoke, but if everything was fine, would I know when it was finished?

As it turns out, there wasn’t a problem. I was outside weeding when I noticed smoke coming out of a neighbor’s ventilation pipes and a couple of heavy pickup trucks with hard-hatted men driving up slowly up and down the alley. I went inside and to see if there were any signs of smoke and to hunt for strange odors. There seemed to be a bit of a smoke smell in the bathroom, but it was so faint, it was hard to tell if it was really there. And there was no smoke that I could see. I opened the windows to air out the place anyway, because “harmless” doesn’t always mean harmless. Still, it’s nice to know that my plumbing is in good shape.

As if that weren’t enough excitement, I went back outside after opening the windows to pull more weeds. (It seems that for every flower there are a hundred weeds, but it’s worth it to see those few colorful blooms.) Beneath a spreading bush, I found a few double tulips. They must have been planted when the bush was young to be hidden so. I’d noticed the tulip leaves the past couple of springs, but this is the first time they bloomed. What a lovely legacy!

I also hoed an area where I plan to plant some flower seeds. The seeds are old, so they might not do anything except feed the birds, but it’s worth a try. I was going to go ahead and plant the seeds today because the weather forecast calls for above freezing temperatures for the next ten days, but I decided to be safe and wait for the average “last frost” date, which isn’t for another week.

Besides, after all the concern with the sewer smoke and the effort at pulling weeds, I’d had enough excitement for one day.


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

Better Home and Garden

I spent yesterday morning moving my tools and such into the garage. You’d think it would be an easy task, because an unhandy woman shouldn’t need a lot of tools, but I’ve ended up with a slew of things. Some I bought. Some I inherited from various folk. Some were gifts. Some came from people who thought I should have a tool collection. And so now I do have a collection. I have way more screwdrivers and wrenches than I will ever use, more hammers than I have hands, a power drill I used once, an electric screwdriver. Long-handled garden tools, of course. Oh, so many things! (I have a hacksaw and a Japanese pull saw, but I don’t have an electric saw. I might need to rectify that omission.)

Now the tools are nicely arranged in the post-WWII steel kitchen counters that apparently once resided in my kitchen and now sit comfortably in my garage. This opened up my utility/sun/exercise room. And what a difference! Ever since the old garage was torn down, all my tools and storage items were stashed in that room, so now not only do I have a garage, I have my sun room back. Unfortunately, since that exercise equipment has been freed from the confines of all the storage, I no longer have an excuse not to use it.

I spent the morning giving the room a thorough cleaning, and have mostly reclaimed it. The only thing still in the house that doesn’t belong there is my battery-operated lawn mower. (Though maybe I’m wrong here? Maybe all houses need an inside lawn mower?) Because of the steep drop out the back door, I can’t move the mower to the garage by myself, so next time the builders come, I’ll ask them to do it. And then, the room really will be mine again.

After that cleaning stint, I went out to the yard to pull weeds. It’s not a chore I particularly like doing. The problem isn’t that it’s a never-ending job or that it’s hard work or that it seems futile. The problem is that I can’t help wondering who am I to decide what plants get to live and what have to die. But I overcome my nicety and do what has to be done. For a while, anyway, until exhaustion sets in.

The tarot card I dealt myself for study today was the seven of pentacles. Some readers say the card means loss and disappointment. Others say it’s about efforts that come to nothing. Still others mention perseverance and planning, as well as affirming my long-term vision and helping to show that I am not confined to seeing results in the short term. Sounds like weed-digging, doesn’t it? I’d expected more from my Tarot studies than such mundanities.

Still, the mundanities — sorting and cleaning and weed pulling — all help to create a better home and garden (and garage!) for 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