The Return of Aga Bam-bi

The garden looked better this day than it had in a long time. A cover of dark grey clouds hovered over the 2013 Monet Vision, and a light mist of rain fell giving the new plants the drink they longed for. Grumpa Joe admired his work from the dry warm comfort of the sun-room. Coffee cup in hand he walked to the kitchen to survey the area between the pond and the border garden. A flurry of sparrows and finches fought for space on Grandma Peggy’s bird feeder. She had filled it in the morning and by now it was nearly empty. He looked down to assess the amount of feed falling to the ground under the feeder. There was a large round spot of bright yellow-tan seed directly under the feeder bowl. “I wonder if Peggy is spilling feed on the ground for the critters?”  Then he spotted the furry body of Aga Bam-bi. “He blends so well with the ground, I can’t believe I nearly missed him.”

Aga Bam-bi hunched on the ground at the edge of the seed circle. His nose twitching as he chewed the seed. His ears continuously turning and twisting in all directions listening for danger. Grumpa Joe lightly tapped the window with a fingernail. Aga Bam-bi froze.

He is bigger and fatter than Grumpa Joe remembered him from a year ago. He wondered where Aga Bam-bi was for the last twelve months. “He hasn’t found the petunias yet, that is good, but I’m sure he will,” muttered Grumpa under his breath.

Deep inside the briar patch within the wetland Ali Bug-Bunee sat in conference with his cell. A full year had passed since the cell expelled Aga Bam-bi. The cell had remained in sleeper status during that time.  The cell had been busy multiplying, and Ali faced a small crowd of cell members. Many of the newest members were still shedding their baby fur.

Ali began, “The Nature Spy Alliance(NSA) has informed me that Aga Bam-Bi found his way back to the garden. It is time to use Bam-Bi as a distraction while we execute our plan to devastate the petunias under the cover of darkness. Grumpa Joe does not know we are waiting to attack him. He will think it is Aga who is destroying his Vision. Put your ears at attention and repeat after me, “I solemnly swear to be active only in the darkness under the threat of being fed to the hawks.” They all fluffed their tails and wagged their ears in unison at the completion of the oath.

Petunias. Esperanto: Petunoj. Français : Pétun...

Petunias. Esperanto: Petunoj. Français : Pétunias. Русский: Петунии (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grumpa Joe finished planting the last six petunia plants near the window where he spotted Aga two days ago. “I’m taking my chances with this critter, but he has stayed away from the feeder for a while, and I feel confident that he won’t eat them.” As Grumpa Joe patted the final plant into place, he spotted Aga in the far corner of the garden eating clover flowers.

Grumpa Joe slept in on Saturday and shuffled to the kitchen for his coffee. He raised the shade on the window and looked out at his fresh planting. “What the he. . .? Peg, come here. Look what that damn rabbit has done to the petunias I planted yesterday. He has eaten them to the ground.”

“Now, now dear, he is only a poor little creature who lives a very hard life in nature,” said Peggy.

“That’s it, I’m taking some serious action today.”

“What ‘ll you do?

“I’m building an IED.”

“You aren’t going to blow the poor thing up are you?”

“No, no, I meant an Improvised Entrapment Device(IED). I’ll catch him and take him for a ride.”

The striped squirrels working for the NSA were listening to Grumpa Joe from under the stoop. Chip made a mad dash across the patio and through the Cranesbill into the wetland to report to Ali.

“Excellent work Chip, you have done well. Grumpa Joe doesn’t suspect a thing. Aga will get the blame and we will fill our bellies with petunia flowers until they are all gone. If we are lucky, Joe will trap Aga with his IED and we will be rid of him too.”

to be continued. . .

Working In The Garden

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I have used other people’s work on this blog. My time in the garden takes its toll on me and the result is a lack of energy left to write. My Lions Club work suffers also. Here it is the third day of summer, and I am still planting annuals in the 2013 Monet Vision. Hopefully, the plants will have enough daylight to survive and thrive before the first killing frost.

Spring came late for me because I spent most of it in Arizona. When I finally did arrive home, the temperatures in Illinois were much the same as what I had in February. The temperature reached 100 on the day we left. After spending three months in tee shirts and shorts, I suddenly found myself looking for warmth. Another delay occurred because my sister-in-law suffered a stroke shortly after we returned. We spent a good bit of time visiting with her and were at her bedside when she passed. Before I knew it, June had arrived and established itself before I pulled a single weed, bought flowers and even considered getting into the garden.

All of that stuff is over now, and I attack the Monet Vision daily with vigor, which runs out in a few short hours. So when I read a news articles like a Zombie, and it appeals to me, I re-blog or link with a minimum of personal expression. Hopefully, I select topics that appeal to my followers.

Being in the garden gives me time to think and to set goals. My list suddenly becomes almost impossibly long, but I will  take the goals baby step, by baby step and get the important things done. The Monet Vision is at the top of the list, next is blogging, third is work on my novel, and forth is the workshop. Oh, I completely forgot, Peggy fits in there too, and I also have to squeeze in a few moments for physical fitness like walking and bike riding. No, wait, I need to find time to spend with family and friends too. I can’t neglect personal relationships for mundane things like the workshop, blogging, and physical fitness. After all, imbibing Winking Owl with my old fart buddies takes precedence over everything else including Peggy(please don’t rat on me by telling Peggy I said that), and the Monet Vision.

Yesterday, it rained and I watched a Wabbit under the eaves eating bird seed dropped from the feeder. He looked familiar to me, but larger than the last time I saw him. Yes, it is the same Wabbit, it is Aga Bambi, last seen eating Petunias from the 2012 Monet Vision. Not a problem anymore, I’ll call the IRS and ask them to send a FBI drone over to keep the garden under surveillance. If the drones spot any signs of terrorist activity, they can tell me to take positive action.

Opening Day At the 2013 Monet Vision

Ugh! Opening day in the garden is always a drag, and procrastination delayed my arrival. I love blogging and sat down this morning and even early this afternoon to write, but it didn’t happen. The temperature settled at 85 degrees and the little man inside my head kept urging me to go outside to enjoy the day. “Okay,” I told him, “quit nagging me.” I decided to take a baby step and to spend one hour outside. I even had a plan, i.e. start cleaning the bed behind the kitchen window. That will only take an hour. Three and a half hours later, I dragged my weary body in and collapsed, but at least I took a step.

2013-Monet Vision, Main Bed

2013-Monet Vision, Main Bed

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Cirsium Arvense, Thistle

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Grape Hyacinth

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Dandelion Puff Balls

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White Iris

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Lilly of the Valley beginning to bloom

My mind reeled with visions of work. Move the mums, split the wild geraniums, move the native hibiscus, trim the shrubs, dig out the five foot tall volunteer bush at the bird tower, move the day lilies into the sun, trim the shag bark birch, spray the dandelions, clean the leaves from the east side of the house, trim the Fallopia Japonica, cut back the shrubs along the east border, pull the weeds from the vegetable bed, and I haven’t even thought about buying any flowers yet. Oh my, what am I going to do? Take it one baby step at a time, that is what!

The first priority is to clean all maximum impact areas. What is a maximum impact area? Any flower bed that I can see from my chair at the kitchen table is a maximum impact area. There is an order of priority commencing from the chair, and progressing to the view standing at the kitchen window, to looking out the sunroom windows, to the bedroom windows, and finally, my neighbor’s view from his patio to the the far reaches of the yard.

Garden waste is always a problem for me. The village provides a pickup service, but I have to place the waste curbside in officially approved and tagged brown paper bags. That does not appeal to me at all. I prefer dumping garden waste into a pile beyond the lot line in the swamp. The EPA designation for swamp these days is “wetland.” Last year, the Wetlands Officer gave me a ticket for dumping evil grass clippings and dead dandelions on officially designated wetland property. The list of damage I subjected upon to the environment seemed endless. Further infractions of tossing horticultural matter into the swamp is punishable, and objectionable to the natural critters who consider the swamp their home.

When I finally came in, I went to my computer and googled NuWay Waste Disposal. That is the company that trucks our garbage and recyclables away. Eureka, they offer a yard waste disposal bin for a seasonal fee. The choice is to pay for the official brown bags, or for a handy waste container that gets picked up weekly. The Monet Vision produces a few square yards of horticultural matter every year, and the bin is a much more practical way to dispose of the waste. At least it is for me.

When the Frankfort Environmental Officer arrives to inspect my piece of the swamp, I will proudly point at my new garden waste bin and thumb my nose at him. Then, I will politely ask him what he will do to eradicate all the non-native thistle and doc migrating from his swamp into my horticultural masterpiece.

A View From the Kitchen Window

After the news I got today that my former employer-mentor died I have to do something positive. On Wednesday this week, I presented our garden club with a movie titled Floral Wonders. The film is really a slide show of member’s flower gardens. This morning I decided to break out my segment of the original. I call it “2012 Monet Vision, A View From the Kitchen Window.” I moved a lot of stuff around and added a few more photos from my garden then added  new music.  It took me most of the day with all the interruptions I had. While the movie processed, I went out for my walk as a reward. When I returned the first thing I did was upload the file to YouTube. I wanted to share the film on grumpajoesplace. Unfortunately, YouTube took a long time to process the upload. That is when I switched to my e-mails and the day blew up.

Right now I’m working off a wine buzz after making a fantastic dish of wheat penne pasta with caramelized onions and sautéed broccoli smothered in sour cream and topped with a Tilapia fillet.

This year’s Monet Vision promised to be outstanding after that mild winter, but the über hot June and July did everything it could to roast the plants in place. In fact, I wound up replacing many  annuals with new ones, and my Lady’s Mantle perennials died of thirst. I hope you enjoy this video.

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The video I mentioned in the last line, well, where is it? I wanted to post this story yesterday, but another IED went off and changed my day. It seems that we can ignore any law we want in the DSA (Divided States of America) except copyright laws. Google threatened to ban me from using their site if I persist in using copyrighted music in my videos. I featured music played by my friend Roger from Starperry Studios in Mulberry Florida with his permission. That is not good enough. The copyrights belong to dead people who actually wrote the tunes not the musicians that play it. They actually belong to companies that purchased the copyrights from the dead people’s heirs. I won’t elaborate on all the laws our government is ignoring in this piece but they are many.

I searched the net for royalty free music to download and redid the movie. I don’t like the tunes, but they are okay.  I crashed and burned before I could get it all completed for my self-imposed deadline.

One more time, please enjoy  “2012 Monet Vision, A View From the Kitchen Window.”

2012 Monet Vision in Development

Grumpa Joe is busy developing the 2012 Monet Vision, and is taking a garden walk-about. He will rejoin the community when the cirsium vulgare, cirsium arvense, and terrorist Wabbits are in check.

A Sneak Peek

A sneak peek at the “2012 Monet Vision”

What is Wrong With This Picture?

I often brag about my garden titled 2011 Monet Vision. I am proud of the scene I’ve created in my own little piece of the world.

Today, I took another photograph for the record. Wait, what is wrong with the photo? Can you tell? This garden is in Frankfort, IL, and it is November 5. The trees are bare, the tall grasses are brown, many of the shrubs have dropped leaves. Dead foliage lays between plants waiting for me to rake and pile them on the mulch heap. The water lilies are dormant as are all the other aquatic plants. So what is different?

The begonias, marigolds, and lobelia are still blooming. Where is the killing frost? By this time in year’s past we have had a killing frost that would take out  the annuals. My breathing must be extra heavy and I’m exhaling too much carbon dioxide. Yeah that’s it. I’m watching too many young women (anyone under sixty qualifies for that) and they are making my heart go pitter-patter and raising my carbon footprint, thus warming the globe.

Yep, that’s it, too much CO2. I have to put the blinders on to make the weather behave more normally. What is normal for November in Frankfort? I Googled temperature records and learned that in 1977 it reached seventy-seven degrees in November. Wow! In 1977 I drove a VW that got 35 mpg. I must have breathed real heavy to outgas that extra CO2 to warm things up that much. The opposite occurred in 1958, the low temperature dipped to “ZERO.” I must have reversed the process and consumed CO2 during that year to effect Global cooling of that magnitude.

Record highs and lows don’t really give us a clear picture of November weather. Averages do a little better. November average temperatures range from 48F high to 32F low. This November has been slightly higher with more days in the fifties, but I’m sure that will change in a few days. Most likely we will catch up with degree days and freeze with colder temps.

So what does all this have to do with the picture? Nothing, it just means that I got lucky this year and got to see my flowers bloom a little longer than in past years.

Here is what 2011 Monet Vision looked like a few weeks ago.

2011 Monet Vision

The 2011 “Monet Vision”

The 2011 version of the Monet Vision is beginning to take shape. The recent spell of high temperatures combined with the rain has made the garden “pop.”

Last year, I let the perennials do all the work. I didn’t spend a nickel on annuals. This year is the opposite, I am planting purchased material in colors I want to see, and spreading seed to fill in. Here are a few photos from which you may form an impression.

Looking toward the waterfall. as Garden Angel watches.

The first bloom of water lilies.

Several varieties of Heuchera blend with hostas

The Clematis is barely showing.

This show is to continue all summer long.

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