A Snake in the Grass

Today, I finally attacked a flower bed in front of the house. It had suckers growing out of the day lily clumps that were three feet tall. As I cleared the area and got a view of the apple tree four feet away I was startled by the sight of a garter snake. It lay all twisted along the roots of the tree. I decided to leave it alone. It hadn’t moved and as I inspected it more closely, I saw it was wounded. He/she/it had a very large laceration across it’s body. Most likely he/she/it tangled with a weed whip used by the lawn service to trim the borders.

I made a fatal mistake and showed the critter to Lovely who immediately wanted me to execute the poor thing. I calmed her by telling her that he/she/it was wounded and probably wouldn’t make it through the night. Later in the day, my grandson came to tell me that he was startled by a snake that crossed his path at the side of the house as he spoke to a friend on the phone. I guess he/she/it isn’t mortally wounded after all.

I’ll have to set a trap to catch this poor reptile and take him ten miles from home to let him out in the wild. I did that earlier this spring. I caught he/she/it] bare handed and put he/she/it in a box. I walked he/she/it a hundred yards into the wetland behind the house where I shook he/she/it out of the box and wished he/she/it good luck on a new life. A month later he/she/it was back in my yard right next to the back door. I never mentioned that to Lovely.

Wish me luck, I think I’ll need it to trap he/she/it, and take a ride to the forest preserve.

Day 61-SIP-Slow Recovery

After a slow start, I made a day out of it yesterday. The sky was grey and oppressing, it looked cool outside, so many excuses to not go out into the garden. Instead, I sat by my desk and wrote Day 60. I don’t even remember today what it was about, but it happened. This is a similar day. My big excuse today was I am waiting for the Maytag repairman, really. He hasn’t been this lonely guy trying to stay busy while calls for repair never come. I can tell you this, This is the second time I’ve called in four months. The first time was for my relatively new washing machine, nine months old. It just quit working. Thankfully, it cost me nothing because of the warranty. This time it is my dishwasher. The latch to open and close the door is broken. Once it is locked I need to put my foot up against the cabinet and yank with two hands to reopen it and to retrieve my dishes. At least this machine is ten years old.

I finally made it into the garden by 2:30 in the afternoon. The chore was to thin the irises out of the pond. Irises grow with a strange root system. They aren’t called roots they are rhizomes. They don’t grow down into the ground but kind of surf the top. What the books don’t say however, is that the rhizomes send out roots.

When my pond was brand new, I planted a single iris near the edge. In the past twelve years that single plant kept expanding and now cover an area of six feet by four feet. That is way to large a bed for a single species of flower in my small pond. It has to shrink.

June 15, 2008
June 11, 2018

The design of the pond is simple. A kidney shape with an ess-shaped stream flowing from a waterfall. The water falls into an widened area almost like a mini pond and then meanders about twenty feet to the big pond where it widens. What I found out yesterday was that the mouth of the stream had narrowed by fifty-percent. The mass of irises had grown its way across the mouth. Had I not ripped them out, within another few years they would have blocked the stream . Another finding was that below the rhizomes was a two inch thick mass of fibrous roots. I literally used a crow bar to pry them loose from the original gravel bottom.

All of these things have been contributing to the water loss I have when the stream is flowing. The thick roots make the stream bed shallower and thus the water runs higher and over the water retaining liner. It will be interesting to watch what happens this summer when I turn on the fall again. Between the grasses that over ran the small pond at the bottom of the fall, and the irises overgrowing the mouth of the stream I was losing a couple inches of water a day from the pond. That did not make me a happy camper.

I just read an article that the irises are prone to getting a disease called iris rhizome root rot. The leaves become soft, and the rhizome root grows mushy. Iris root rot is a caused by Erwinia carotovora, a bacterial phytopathogen. It usually gets inside the rhizome through an opening created by some kind of injury. That last phrase got me. There is a very high chance that I will further lessen the iris crop when this root rot takes over. By cutting and breaking the rhizomes during thinning I injured them and left the ends open which allows the pathogen an entry point. Only time will tell. Next spring is when I expect to see the unintended effect of my work. The sad part is that I have to reduce the bed further which will take another two to four hours to accomplish. The sadder part is that for every two hours I spend working in the garden it takes me two to four days to recover. Thank God at least I am still recovering.

Day 59-SIP-Thinning the Crop

Finally, we have a nice day and I was able to work in the garden. I don’t last much longer than an hour but each hour counts toward getting a nice view. Today, I completed removing pond grass from the stream in front of the water fall. The root system is enormous. I wound up cutting into the root mass and pulling the grass out that way.

When my pond was first installed, I had a small pool at the base of the waterfall. To give it interest, I planted a single grass plant on each side. Needless to say, over a period of twelve years that single plant spread to the point where several things were happening because of it. First, the grasses grew so high they blocked the view of the water fall. Second, the root masses grew so thick that they made the stream narrower and thus deeper. That meant the water often spilled over the banks. Thirdly, the grasses created a sieve which collected silt and fish waste. This also made the pool in front of the waterfall shallower which in turn caused number two to happen.

It took me three years of staring at the system to finally understand why I was losing water from the pond. The water progressing downstream was being sucked up into the root system by siphoning and then over the banks into the garden . Have you ever wondered why it is green next to a river?

To solve the problem I installed a special valve which allowed me to trickle feed the pond with fresh water everyday. My water bill showed it. The next chore is to cull the iris plants that have done the same as the grasses. They have managed to take over one end of the pond. It looks messy and out of balance, because there is too much growth in one place. I feel that pond plantings must be in balance to make the picture pretty. Without constant maintenance the pond would become overgrown and eventually turn back into land.

When I have finally completed the iris thinning I will install a new pump and restart the water fall and river. The last pump ran for three years without stopping and crapped out in January when it was way too cold for me to do anything about it. If you have ever had your bare hands in 32 degree water you know what I mean.

In between the one hour of garden time and the three hour recovery, I am finishing my latest intarsia project which I am calling Corona Tester? It is a teddy bear dressed to look like a nurse and she will be holding a thermometer.

The days are long enough now that I can take my walks or ride my bike in daylight after supper. Then it is time for a movie.

Day 15-Quarantine-Assess How Lucky One Can Be

Today, I must make a giant decision relative to going to shop for needed groceries. I promised family that I would not leave my home. They offered to shop for me. Why should I put young people at risk for me? I am closer to end of life than I hope they are so it just makes sense to keep them out of harms way.  I will practice social distancing and avoid crowded spaces so my risk is reduced.


Yesterday I tried using a shop on line program using Wal Mart service. The program is easy to use and they offer just about their entire inventory of groceries. Where it fails is in the delivery part. I recognize that there are just so many people employed to run around the aisles with a customer shopping list to collect items for a specific customer. Then, there are also too few employees driving those orders to customers. I failed yesterday to get in the que, and this morning I tried earlier with the same result. I will try again in the middle of the night. Meanwhile I will scrape my coolers for available goodies to feed my fat ass. I’m sure I will survive.

Today’s agenda includes cooking, reading, killing grass near the pond, walking, shaping my rose project, and watching a series on TV. Oh, and avoiding coming in contact with COVID-19.

Locker Room Talk


An empty locker room, the only place where there is no lewd, lascivious, and bawdy talk.

I am laughing about the furor Donald Trump caused when a ten-year old audio tape of him speaking frankly on an open mike was aired. The Progressive media played it and spun it their way non-stop for the last few days. The morally corrupt Progressives who leave God out of everything, and who reject Christianity while embracing Islam have exposed themselves and their behaviors. I read a comment on a news article spewing the terrible nature of DT’s locker room talk,  “Progressives are all deriding such language and use of the word pussy as contempt for women, then went home to watch Fifty Shades of Grey.”

I have been in a lot of locker rooms over the years, and I can vouch to that kind of language and conversation goes on in many places beside the locker room. It seems to fall under the guise of testosterone loaded men who love to express their bodacious exploits among their competitive buddies. So what is the big deal?

To me the big deal is all the Republicans who turned 180 degrees and ran like hell, and are still running are the real pussies of the day. House speaker Paul Ryan is number one among them. It is his type of politician that the country is rebelling over. There was a time when Paul Ryan was my hero, then he became the House Speaker and he immediately adopted the role of puppet within the house. If he had any balls (oh excuse me please for using such a vulgarity) he would have stood tall and kept moving like nothing happened.

In the meantime, the Progressive colony in Hollywood continue to make films that fill our heads (and those of our children) with ideas that it is okay to kill, rape, have public sex, and a myriad of other sick sexual tendencies (50 Shades) all under the guise of art. Make a perfectly normal comment about a hot woman and the whole community goes into a snit.

Many men have two demeanors, one that lives within the man’s world and another that lives in the world of family. The two are rarely exposed or mixed. Wives are often shocked when  a husband screws up and uses the word fuck in a conversation. The same guy goes red and blushes apologetically for breaking his code. In modern times, like now, women have an equal tendency to use improper slang words. For instance, Hillary Clinton has been documented  using really foul slang in her discourse with men, most notably Secret Service Agents, and her husband. Perhaps it is because she wants to be more manly and tough sounding.

The bottom line is this. Find something worthwhile to talk about, and stop wasting my time on your liberal rants and hypocritical arguments about how bad your enemy is. Instead, begin to do your job by examining issues from both sides of the fence. Expose corruption, do not defend it like you do now. The Founding Fathers counted on  free press to keep the government straight. How else will we the people learn about the crooks in office?  What we have now is a reporting system that is under the spell of the crooks in office. Snap out of it! There was a time when I really believed that Obama’s many corrupt policies would be exposed by honest driving reporters just like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who exposed the Watergate case, and wouldn’t let it go until justice was served. They were real journalists, what we have now are people who read news from a teleprompter, and have no inclination to investigate or probe the leads that take them to the truth. Editors and producers are just as inept as the journalists. It is too easy to get your official words sent to you by the Government information agency. Our great communication organizations have become Tass and Pravda.