Category Archives: Gardening

One fish two fish red fish blue fish.

HEEEY! How’ve ya’ll been? ? I haven’t been at the Magic Bus Stop for a spell — did you notice I was gone? I sort of went out and got me a LIFE and all — you know, doing things like being a cheerleader at a mud race and taking a cross-country road trip and serving beer at beer festivals  and eating free pie at a school that gives you letters to attach to the end of your name like you’re SOMEBODY — that kinda stuff.

But I’m treading water between gigs this week, and guess what I did? Guess! Guess! Go ahead! I MADE A HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER!! I am so damn awesome (thanks for noticing that too!)!

Now I remember I once said that I’m no photographer and that’s still true; even more so now than before. I’m also appalled that I’m writing about having made a thing, an object, a gee gaw, since I’ve pretty much tossed out the concept of ownership of mostly useless stuff.  But I have to show you this feeder. So, enough of the self-flagellation and on with the exposé.

This fish-shaped wine bottle has been traveling around the yard for a couple years while I mulled over what I could do with it. This morning the veil was lifted from my sleep-refreshed eyes and veritable working drawings rolled out on my mind’s drafting table.

I filled the bottle with sugar water dyed red. I cut a synthetic cork to about half its length and made a hole through the center length of it by twisting a drill bit into it (it was too much trouble to fire up the Dremel to drill the hole). I narrowed the end of the cork a bit (with scissors or utility knife) so it could be wedged easily back into the bottle opening. Then I inserted a piece of Evergreen styrene tubing through the hole in the cork and into the sugar/water solution about an inch, leaving a quarter inch or so protruding at the opposite end. This tubing is available at any hobby store or I bet you could probably also use a narrow straw. The tube has to go all the way through the cork and well into the liquid because the liquid has to rest in the straw so the hummingbird can get to it. The liquid will drip occasionally from the straw. A piece of yellow tape slipped around the protruding straw end  simulates a flower.

To hang the feeder, I made a bottle harness from fishing line. Did you know that fishing line is the new duct tape? I could probably hang from it.

And, behold, the whole gizmo worked. The resident hummingbird has been kissing the fish all afternoon — look for yourself! Tell me this isn’t just too cool? Now go make your own!

Kiss the fish!

Kiss the fish!

(Special thanks to Dr. Seuss.)

Shoveling up a cumbia in the rain.

I’ve been relocating my garden. Most of the fuzzy, silvery (read unappealing to deer) lambs’ ears from the back yard notgarden are being transplanted, shovelful by shovelful, into an instant garden in the front of the house. This is a time-consuming process as I must step back frequently to evaluate, ruminate, and procrastinate over the direction and flow of the plants, the angle and quantity of rocks and geegaws subsumed into the making of the new garden, and to clumsily punch the minuscule button on  my MP3 player with my muddy garden glove to bypass, or circle back to, a particular song. As always, I was accompanied by that electronic companion, comforter, personal trainer, and virtual Lucifer himself ever ready to distract me, magically squeezed into a purple 1.5″ x 2″ case; my MP3 player. On this typical Sunday morning consisting of neighborhood silence and solitude so thick and clinging as to seem post-apocalyptic, my garden slogging was backed by Ingrid Michaelson singing cheerily against my brain about broken hearts and broken parts and Sheryl Crow reminding me that “all I wanna do is have some fun” and Pitbull rasping that I’m” groovy, baby” and he wants us to” make a movie, baby” and Haley Bonar voicing my exact wish that “I could be my former self, she’d be a fun girlfriend — she got a bad reputation.” Suitable music for gardening, or the end of the world, in case this day actually was and I didn’t recognize it.

The morning’s mucking about was slow going and it was evident the game would soon be called by yet more rain. My $1.25/bag  soil was going to be  nickel-a-pound mud if I didn’t lay the traveling lambs’ ears lickety-split into the dirt to be held in place temporarily by the oval marble cutouts scavenged from somebody’s bathroom sink installation. I continued digging and pulling and wheeling back yard to front.

And humming. And singing.

Raindrops began falling around me. I saw their impressions on the pollen-glazed driveway more than felt them. There would be no stopping the transplant slog just yet, though. I’d been carting this garden around for weeks between rainstorms and traveling. At this pace, autumn would be here before I got this project done. After autumn, the world does end, nearly, for me.

Digging and wheeling, digging and wheeling. Singing. Punching the replay button on the MP3 player with ever dirtier gloves. More singing.

The rain continued upping the ante.

The Blazers queued up on my electronic Lucifer, playing their jaunty “Cumbia Del Sol.” I’d steadfastly cast tempters Ingrid and Sheryl and Pitbull and Haley behind me, but the Blazers held out the ultimate apple. “Cumbia” — a dance form; “del Sol” — the sun.

I looked at the substantial expanse of waiting dirt. Just another wheelbarrow or two would allay my procrastination guilt. At least two more days of rain were forecast. The trees stood near me aloof and dripping and mute amongst their brown leaf carpeting, the sole witnesses to my labors aside from an occasional road biker blazing past.

So, what really mattered here?

I bit the Blazer’s apple.

I poked the volume button. I dropped the shovel.  Stepping over the wine bottle garden edging, I proceeded to trample the nearby clover with my own cumbia, dancing alone and upright and madly in the front yard, dissing the dreary sky, seeing a cartoon-bright sun in my mind. I danced opposite the grubby me reflected in the house windows. I danced among the imaginary crowd on the backs of my eyelids. I danced with my back to every self-imposed Puritanical “should,” hoofing gleefully with the Lucifer of right here and right now. I danced because I could, and because I couldn’t not dance.

And there it is. Don’t wait. Drop your shovel or your phone or your loneliness or your disease and dance, with your eyes closed and your back to your Puritans if necessary.  Whatever’s in your garden, weeds or prize roses or just dirt, nothing’s going anywhere. Right now is all that really matters. Don’t let the chance to be happy, to have fun for just this moment, slip away. Never let that chance get away from you. There’s no replay button for it.

 

Listen to my temptations:

Ingrid Michaelson, “Be OK” 

Sheryl Crow, “All I Wanna Do” 

Pitbull, “Back in Time” 

Haley Bonar, “Bad Reputation” 

The Blazers, “Cumbia Del Sol” 

Bite me.

The Culex mosquito-borne West Nile virus has been much in the news lately, accompanied by hand-wringing, chest pounding, and gnashing of teeth by garden bloggers, environmentalists, and dragon fly enthusiasts screeching in unison about the evils of DEET and its sprayed application over wide areas: how it will knock down beneficial insects, schoolchildren’s test scores, and vaporize every unsuspecting pocket dog set down on the ground to pee. Never mind those few unlucky individuals who contract the virus; sometimes the human herd needs to be culled.

I’ve just come inside from my notgarden, because I have been most thoroughly sucked by every female mosquito within a one-mile radius. It is a very rare occasion when I can go outside and not be set upon by these thirsty mothers (or mothers-to-be).  Almost never can I venture out of doors without first saturating myself  or clothing with repellent; what possessed me to do so today will likely remain one of the great unanswered questions of my life, along with “why did I sell my moped?” But this morning I went to the notgarden to tidy its unruly minty locks, wearing long pants and an oversized, light-colored tee shirt. No perfume, no hairspray, no deodorant was present to attract unwanted guests.  I spent 45 minutes outside and thought I might be holding my own against the mosquitoes since I didn’t see any landing on me.

Wiley beasties, they be.

I have a bite on my ass large enough to be a third cheek, administered through my pants and underwear; bites on my elbows, on the inside of my thighs, on my knees- — all accomplished by that needle-nose poked through fabric. I stopped counting the bites on my exposed forearms because the tally ups the itch factor. When I serve as an entree to insects in this way, the bites swell significantly and I shake as if in shock. My only recourse is a swift retreat to the indoors followed by a calming down period as the swelling levels off and receeds.

Organic or natural mosquito repellents such as Skin So Soft, cedar oil, and citronella are commonly cited as viable alternatives to products containing DEET.  Using those products on my skin is akin to placing salt around the rim of a margarita; they aid in transforming me into a mosquito libation. Even DEET is not 100% effective for me, but it is BY FAR the most effective means I have of being able to go outdoors comfortably. The environment in which I reside is damp, if not outright wet. My neighborhood is heavily wooded and admits little sunlight. Leaf litter, renewed most generously and most constantly, provides an excellent source of housing for mother mosquito. I’ve wondered at times why I so rarely see anyone outside near my residence; perhaps the answer lies in the insect population. 

I want those people advocating the exclusive use of organic or natural insect repellents to come to my neighborhood, get in my skin, and stand in the middle of my back yard for five minutes. I want them to see just how impossible it is to eliminate all sources of standing water in an area like this. I want them to try to remove the many years’ worth of leaves and debris that host the mosquitoes. They’ll be lucky, since my geographical location hosts little West Nile virus, so they won’t have much chance of having to endure its fever, vomiting, anorexia, or myalgia, or its possble repurcussions such as meningitis or encephalitis.

While those folks are standing out there in my doppelganger giving blood and starting to itch and swell, I’ll be spraying my real self with Deep Woods Off as I prepare to finish weeding the remaining half of the notgarden.

Go ahead. Bite me.

Gallery

Sunday in the notgarden.

This gallery contains 14 photos.

I had this idea I’d be a legitimate gardener when I moved to Virginia, someone who grew peppers and tomatoes and onions. Usable land was one of the prerequisites for the house we’d purchase once here: it had to have land I could … Continue reading