New Cartoonist Joins GJP

Budding young artist Cub Scout Ben has joined the staff at Grumpa Joe’s Place as a contributing artist. CS Ben has natural talent and wit that comes from living on a farm in Michigan. Ben regularly shovels horse manure as he helps his mom clean stalls  No doubt he will want to join the Wabbit Wars series as an embedded reporter chronicling the escapades of the terror network of Wabbits, cats, and squirrels infiltrating Grumpa Joe’s Monet Vision.

Cat Eyes Fish and Salivates

Terror Cell Plans An Attack

      Deep within the thicket behind Grumpa Joe’s Monet Vision a meeting of Wabbits from terror groups of every block discussed plans for taking out the Monet Vision. Last Spring they snuck into his yard and tasted the tulips and his prize lilies. He didn’t know what hit him. They forced him to install extensive Wabbit barrier over his lobelias, which made him work four times as hard to pull weeds. Not to mention, each time he discovered a snipped tulip bud or a clipped lily stem his blood pressure went through the roof. The group planned a new assault.

“We have to expand our numbers,” said Ali Bugbuny.

“Yes, but we must also train new recruits in the art of stem tasting,” exclaimed Sadr el Jac.

“What if we change the strategy from tasting to eating the flowers,” asked Yasir Flufytail?

“Hmmmn, not a bad idea” replied Ali.

The ideas flowed all evening. It was late into the night before the terror group finally agreed to a plan.

“It is agreed then, we will begin the campaign on the night of the full moon,” said Ali Bugbuny as he dismissed them, “be careful going home.”

The group hopped through the darkness keeping invisible as they moved through backyards. Usa-Bugbuny stayed under the front yard boxwoods. He sprinted through the open spaces between houses to the end of Brown Drive. Yasir Flufytail speed-hopped through the backyards to Charrington Drive, and Siwee el Waby dashed across the street between lights until he reached cover under a burning bush. One more sprint and I’ll be on Bramble Lane he thought. The others worked their way through the thicket westward to Ginger Lane. All of them swore to keep the plan a secret. They were to move about only under cover of darkness. Their plan would drive Grumpa Joe nuts.

“That was a most productive meeting Ali,” said Sadr el Jac.

“It is the best plan we’ve ever put together. I can’t wait to begin. I’ll see you again under the moon.”

Meanwhile, Grumpa Joe discussed world affairs and gardening over a glass of wine with his friend Al.

“Where have all the Wabbits gone,” asked Grumpa Joe?

“What do you mean, I have plenty of Wabbits in my yard,” said Al.

It is almost June, and I did not see a single Wabbit in the yard. My tulips were beautiful, and the lily’s are strong and tall.”

“I’ll send you some of my bunnies if you wish,” said Al.

“Please don’t.”

“I wonder if the coyote has been roaming through the neighborhood,” said Joe.

“That is a strong possibility Joe, they howl behind my house every night, but I still have lots of wabbits. It is late, I have to get home.” Al backed his car out of Grumpa Joe’s driveway just as Siwee el Waby made his dash across the street. The car lights swung out over him as he ducked under the Burning Bush.

Whew, that was close, he almost saw me. We have to live undercover until it is time to execute the plan. We want Grumpa Joe to believe he has beaten us.

The Wabbit world was abuzz for the remainder of the summer. Young wabbits went to school everyday, and momma wabbits raised more young ones to join them. Parents were careful to teach the youngsters not to go out while in daylight for fear of spoiling the ruse to make Grumpa Joe believe the wabbits were gone from his yard.

Ali Bugbuny recruited Aga and Bushr Bambi to join the plan. The army of invaders grew everyday. New recruits came well trained too.

“It is agreed, we will meet you and the Wabbit army in the invasion of the garden known as the Monet Vision during the full moon of July.”

“Peggy, have you noticed the big gaping hole in the yellow petunia patch?”

“No I haven’t, where?”

“Look there, between the potted geranium and the Coral Bells.”

“Oh, those plants are regenerating,” she said.

“I hope you are right, but it does bear watching.”

Grumpa Joe put the Monet Vision under surveillance. He took note of where the flowers were missing.

“These look cut off to me,” he told Peggy as he watered one night.

“It’s your imagination,” she said.

“We’ll see about that,” Joe replied.

Grumpa Joe sat on the patio sprinkling the flowers after a day of intense heat when he spotted a movement. His gaze froze on the spot. The sun had gone down and only the grey light of dusk remained. He saw a movement at the far corner of the yard. Yep, it’s a Wabbit he thought. I’ll wait to see where he goes.

Aga Bambi sat almost motionless. Only his mouth and nose moved as he chewed on some fresh grass. He couldn’t wait until total darkness as the plan called for. He had to eat something.

Aga sprinted through the Monet Vision into the wetland to the safety of his hutch. Inside the mass of twisted brambles he came face to face with Ali, Sadr, and Yasir. They sat in the darkness waiting for him. Sadr hopped to the entrance and blocked it off, Yasir moved to Aga’s side. Aga faced Ali in the center of a triangle of Wabbits. His escape route blocked, he had no choice but to face the music.

Ali put his nose up against Aga’s and began a Drill Sargent’s tirade.

“You dumb long-ear clown you ruined the plan, what were you thinking?”

“I’m sorry Ali, I was hungry and those Petunias looked so good. Besides, wasn’t that the plan?”

“The plan was to do it in the dark not broad daylight. Did they look and taste good enough to break cover?”

“I was careful, no one saw me.”

“Watch this.” Ali popped a DVD into his command computer. “These were taken this afternoon you dummy.”

The four of them watched as Aga relished a dozen soft-yellow Petunia blossoms before he moved to the deep purple ones. Aga dropped his head and eyes in guilt. The video clearly showed him violating the order.

“As punishment for disobeying an order you are banished from the Cell.”

“Where am I going,” asked Aga?

“To the land of native wildflowers where you will no longer enjoy the juicy and tender fruit of home gardens. Take him away boys.”

Sadr grabbed him by the back of the neck, and Yasir by the fluffy tail. They dragged him off to Prairie Park.

“Okay Yasir, on the count of three.”

They swung him back and forth, and on three they let go of him.  Aga went sailing through the air and landed deep in the tall grass.

Ali sat by himself in Aga’s hutch thinking for a long time. His mind raced through counter measure possibilities. After what seemed like hours an idea came to him. He finally hopped out of the hutch into the darkness of the wetland with only the fireflies lighting the night sky.

“I have to gather the cell and discuss the new plan.”

A SImple Pleasure

Old Plank Road Trail

Old Plank Road Trail (Photo credit: notmargaret)

These days walking the Old Plank Road has replaced my bike riding on the trail. There was a time when I owned the road out there, and knew every rider from Western Avenue to Cherry Hill Road. Those days have evolved into walking the short stretch from my house to the Trolley Barn in Frankfort. Yesterday, I took note of  the wildflowers (aka weeds) growing along the path. I really don’t know what their names are, nor do I give a hoot. I do like to look at them, and I thank God for giving me that simple pleasure.

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Saint Baldricks Day in the Garden Listening to a Chorus of Singers

At my last Lions club meeting Lion Virgil announced that the Frankfort Chief of Police was going to shave his head as part of the local Saint Baldrick’s  event to raise money for cancer research. The club donated to his cause since the Chief is a Lion. Then, another Lion member raised his hand and announced that he too is going to shave his head to raise money. He wanted to have his business initials R N R carved into his sideburns, but I’m sure the hair cutter will only know how to do one thing, shave heads.

This morning, I attacked the garden in preparation for the Monet Vision 2012. The place is a mess. Fallen leaves tucked in every corner, spent flower stalks dried and ratty looking, I had to do something. So today, was Saint Baldrick’s day in the garden, I cut the grasses to make room for the new grass coming up. It is two months before our last safe freeze day on May 15, but the temperature is eighty-four degrees, and stuff is exploding out of the ground. Here are some head shaves to meditate upon:

Before the Head Shave

After the Head Shave

Pond Grass In Winter Dress

Pond Grass with Saint Baldrick's Treatment

Lake Grass After The Eighth Easiest Winter In Chicago History

Lake Grass Gone!

One of the best things to happen as I cut away, was the serenade of baby frogs in the pond. Every so often, I  crept to the edge of the water and stood real still to look for the singers.  Each time they shut up as I got close. Later, when I wasn’t looking, I spotted one jump out of the reeds a few feet away. They still sport a winter black coat. By July, they will turn a gorgeous green.

As part of the Monet Vision 2012’s grass shave effort to raise funds for childhood-cancer research, the Donate Now button below is active to allow you to do so. All funds collected by the Monet Vision 2012 will go directly to the cause.

How the Garden Has Taught Me Conservatism

One of my passions is bird watching. I love to see and identify birds in my yard. I do not go to the woods, or to exotic places to watch, I watch from my kitchen table. The trick is to attract a large variety of birds. There are several ways to do this. One way is to create an environment that is conducive to birds. Plantings of trees, shrubs, flowers, and a water feature all add to the formula. The biggest trick of all is bird feeding.  Free easy to get food does it every time.

The problem with providing free, easy to get food is that soon, the feeders are empty, that necessitates constant maintenance, and considerable cost. If the free food secret stayed with pretty birds, it would not be too bad. What happens though is that the illegal aliens arrive to take advantage. The less colorful and common bird’s will crowd out the colorful birds. Soon, animals of many species join in the fest. Everyone loves a free meal. Squirrels, raccoons, possum, rabbits, deer, you name it, if it lives around here it comes to the feeder.

Another thing I have observed is that the free food factor attracts a single species of bird more than others do. The English House Sparrow is the most common visitor. It is not one, but many. I see as many as six of them perched on a feeder; gorging themselves. When I take a walk around the house, a flock of sparrows will flee from the feeder as I approach.

So often, I tell myself, “This is just like a welfare program.” If I stop, the birds go away, and find natural food sources. When I feed, they all come to take advantage of the entitlement. Am I wrong to train these creatures to accept the handout? Would I better serve God’s creatures by ignoring them to find food on their own?

Yesterday, I spent considerable time pulling thistle from my flowerbed. The sweat and effort was of my own doing. By providing thistle seed for the goldfinches, I am guilty of spreading the weed all through the yard. It happens two ways. One is by bird droppings, and the other is by spillage from the feeder. Thistle is a nasty weed whose roots spread horizontally, and send shoots up every six inches. Pulling thistle only brings it back with a vengeance. The broken roots sprout new plants almost immediately.

I wonder what damage I do by feeding birds while they raise their young. I often see a mother bird placing seed into the mouth of a fledgling near the feeder. What if the parent never teaches the fledgling to seek natural sources of food? What if the fledge relies entirely on my source? Will he survive, or will he require a feeder for the remainder of his life?

Gardeners are never satisfied with the natural environment of a location. Here in Illinois, we live on a prairie. A prairie habitat is prolific with perennial plants that most gardeners abhor. Yet, when we view a prairie in its natural splendor, it is beautiful. Have you ever seen a field of Queen Anne’s lace in bloom? It is absolutely- gorgeous. The same is true of a field of yellow dandelions. A gardener will attack both of these flowers vigorously. He wants to improve on nature to appease his own sensibilities. He wants color, texture, and order. He wants plant material that will not overtake the plants he has imported, and placed into his canvas. Is not that what we do as socialists? We are never happy with man’s plight in a natural form. We are always looking for a way to improve someone else’s life. In the process, we screw up the natural order of things. We feel sorry for those who cannot provide for themselves, and provide. The result is that others see what we provide, and find the loophole that allows them to ride free too.

Program after program designed to do humankind some good become nightmares. Providing free breakfast and lunch for poor kids at school has led to obesity. Now we need a program to eliminate obesity. Instead of finding the root cause of a kid’s starvation, we provide. It is the socialist way. Promoting abortion, and forms of birth control to keep the population of poor people down, has led to a loss of population. So much so, that we now need to allow unlimited immigration to keep our culture alive. Tampering with nature by inventing an endless intrusion of improvements only makes the world a lousier place to live.

What does this have to do with the garden and conservatism? I have learned that by trying to make my garden a canvas of color, scent, and sound that I am upsetting the natural order. Every plant out of its natural place comes with a cost. Every new species, brings a new predator, be it a bug or animal. Every attempt to make a beautiful environment is at a great expense of time, energy, and cost. If I were content to live in the environment that is natural to my spot on this earth, my life would be much easier, simpler, and less expensive.

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