Busy with Business and Other Things

The past few weeks have been horrendously busy.

First I was busy with business, which is always fun. (NOT!) Our business had to endure a state audit. State auditors are notorious for having a lack of a sense of humor, but I’ve had a state audit with this woman before and she’s rather nice. So we talked and joked in between getting serious. There were a few failings, but nothing of consequence. Mr. Demonic was responsible for losing two very important pieces of paper that should have been in the files. (I made copies, but entrusting Mr. D to shuttle these two pieces of paper back to the other location was my bad. I’ll never do that again!) Ms. State Auditor let it slide, since last year at this time I drove to a far western suburb to hand her the originals. We are not so old as to forget something like that. She has a copy, even if we do not.

The sun has been out, it’s not been too hot, so I’ve spent every dry moment outside firming up the garden. So far the color bowls are finished and the tomatoes are in the ground. I moved rocks from one side to the other, but feel a need to move them again. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

The Zen garden is coming along. I’m at a loss as to the type of gravel to get. Sand is too light and will blow away in the wind, and slag is too ugly. Pea gravel is too big. This all has to be complete before Tuesday, because that’s the day I’m going to San Francisco for my son’s graduation (YEAH!), and after that, I’m thinking the temperatures will rise and the humidity will be deadly. By that time, I’ll want to sit on my deck and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Good news! The two koi we thought had perished in the severe Tundra winter actually survived! I guess that electricity we spent on the pond heater helped. We didn’t realize it until after I’d purchased three replacement fish. Now all five are happy as pigs in a poke.

The cat is spoiled, the dog is too, thanks to Mr. D. Now if I could get him to warm up to the cranky lovebird… Ms. MiniD is returning home for the summer and it was a mad rush to finish her room, which is now spic and span, sporting a new paint job, crown moulding and adult furnishings.

My first novel has been shuttered, but I’ve been poking at the second one and plotting out a third. Also playing around with a short story or two, which I’m not very good at.

Now, if I could only find the time.

News Flash: It’s Way Cooler Under the Tomatoes

Yesterday was Sunday, so in the early morning, I went out to weed the garden.

As I related in a previous post, Mr. D loves to water. Not just the fruits and vegetables, he waters everything. Grass, weeds. I don’t think he knows the difference. He just likes to sprinkle everything, including the muddy, barren area that has recently been dug up. After it turns from mud back to dirt, the sparrows come by and take a birdy dirt bath. By the dozens.

Mr. D waters by hand too: I think he likes to gaze upon the foliage.  So, combine a huge water bill with temperatures in the 90s, and what do you get? Answer: a boatload of cucumbers (I was going to say “butt-load” but that image was rather distasteful) and lots of weeds.

Thankfully, part of my vegetable bed is right below an ancient oak tree, so it gets shade in the early morning, before the sun heats everything up.

I hadn’t even looked at my tomatoes, since I’ve been up to my armpits in grapevines and cucumbers. (Another weird mental image.) We have a tangly vine thing called a creeping Charley. It makes me want to hate all Charleys, but I know that’s a gross exaggeration. I found that my tomato plants have become trellises for the creeping weed, which is a rather annoying green thing. I usually like green things, but not this one. It would take over my yard and then my house if I let it.

My tomato plants tower over me now. I’ve found out from working under them that it’s a good ten degrees cooler under there. They make a rather interesting leafy bower.

I would have stayed longer, but I’m allergic to tomato plants. Not the fruit, just the leaves. Besides, it only took an hour or so, and I was all Charley’d out.

Zen and the Art of Plant Management

Since a lot of the drama of the last few weeks have passed (incoming relatives, graduation party, super-secret internet party, a band of Mexican landscapers digging up my yard, daughter off on her vacation), I thought I would spend a couple of hours today weeding my garden.

All it takes is three weeks of rain and three weeks of neglect and the weeds get the word and take over the plot.

I’m sorely out of shape, or I’d still be out there. As it is, I managed to eradicate the thigh-high ones. I also lifted the netting veil from the area that is my grape vines and strawberry bed. The grapes had gone hog-wild and the strawberries, now finished with fruit bearing, have decided to make a move and spread out into the rest of the garden.

Naughty, naughty strawberries! Bad grapes!

As I lifted the netting, I found berries and vines entangled in the net. At first, I was gentle, and tried to extricate my plants with minimal damage. That proved to be an exercise of futility. I went back to the garage and rummaged around. Armed with a sharp tool, I returned and started hacking away. Well, not really hacking. I know how to prune a grape vine, and mid-July is not the time to do it.

My grapes are pre-teen grapes (when I had purchased them three years ago they were little more than scraggly sticks with a little bit of root). Now, just as my son was at the same age, they are taller than me, but unruly.

The strawberries are like toddlers. They want to go toward other areas of the garden, places that they shouldn’t be. They don’t seem to want to repopulate their own space, which has plenty of open ground. I gingerly placed the little shoots back where they should be.

My cucumbers, which are now taking over the garden, managed to become snared in the netting. Take my word for it, that was a long way to travel, people. Yesterday, I picked six or so, and today I picked six more. My husband took off just now on his motorcycle with a box of them to give to our employees in Funkytown. That still leaves six, with more on the way.

I now wish I had a deal with Kroger to sell cucumbers. I’m fairly sure I could keep them in cukes for the rest of the summer.

On the far end of the vegetable garden, I found some creeping Charley had taken over a rose bush. (I planted roses next to the grapes. Someone in Napa told me that it’s the thing to do.) It was rather interesting trying to yank that mess out of the ground and not get hurt. I followed the vines around to the other side of our fence, where there is an alley. Well, I intended to follow it around. First I had to machete through the wild grape vine that had grown over the gate.

I was thinking “What the hell?” I mean, I had trimmed that thing down at the beginning of the summer. It grew back twice as thick. Again, I took out my trusty cutter and hacked it back so I could exit the yard. On the other side of the fence, I saw that the errant grape had started growing into the alleyway. (I wish the thing had berries. It doesn’t though.)

If you’ve ever cut through thick underbrush with only a small cutter, you know that you have to pick and choose what you do and when.

By this time, it was only 10 o’clock and I had only made a small dent. I didn’t feel badly though. I felt one with the universe.

Besides, tomorrow is another day.