Wednesday, April 25, 2007


It seems there's one of them in every neighborhood, the person who is referred to as "that neighbor."

I just read Kate's blog about hers -- she's being very civilized just going with wind chimes. I think I'd put out moose food and hope the bugger got trampled. What the heck, I'll fantasize about it for her. Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp...

My that neighbor is on a pogrom against trees. One of the first conversations I had with her when I moved in involved her explaining to me why I should cut down all of the trees in my yard. The tallest greenery in her yard is grass. The only greenery in her yard is grass. She doesn't even mow it herself, she has a service.

I declined to remove my trees telling her that I liked trees, that they provide homes for the birds, shade in the summer, sucked up carbon dioxide and pollutants and gave us back oxygen. She was not impressed.

The summer before we took down the Normandy poplars, I walked into my back yard one afternoon and realized immediately that there was a strange man up in the locust tree. Scared the beejeebers out of me. But I've never been called a coward, a fool, yes, a coward never, so I puffed myself up, strode over to the tree he was lurking in and said in my biggest voice (and let me tell you, I know how to project), "Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my tree?"

Scared him so badly he almost fell out of the tree.

With lots of stammering and gesticulating at the house next door, he explained to me that that neighbor had hired him to cut off any limbs that hung over her property line. I pointed out that he was in my tree, on my property and that unless he got himself back over the property line it was within my rights to call the cops on him for trespassing.

He fled back to the other side of the fence leaving a badly chopped up tree behind him.

The next summer that neighbor went after the neighbor behind her. She topped all the trees in the row of scrub oak he had shading his ball court. I'd never seen a more pathetic row of trunks cut off at head height without a branch left on them.

The summer after that I saw as I was pulling into my driveway that half of my big pine tree was gone. It looked like someone had stood on a very tall ladder right up against the fence and taken off every branch that could be reached by chainsaw. It was a mess of stubs and snags and broken branches hanging every which way. The neighbor on the other side of her had three huge pines that had received the same treatment. She had also taken out a small copse of scrub oak on his property.

The tree guy who had removed my Normandy poplars the previous summer is really good. He managed to save my pine tree. It even looks pretty darn good from my yard. The other side neighbor's trees were goners, though, and had to be taken down. I talked to the good neighbor about womanslaughter or possible legal action. He said no, that we still had to live next door to her and if we got her really ticked off there was no telling what she might do.

I hate to admit it, but he's right.

I can fantasize though. Oh, can I fantasize. And I invite anyone with evil juicy revenge ideas to pass them along. I won't do them, but I will enjoy thinking about them, the more grotesque, the better.

Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Back Yard Beauty

Bright gold as the sun at the dawn
A dandelion's glory's soon gone
Parasols in the breeze
Cover miles with great ease
Drifting down to take root in your lawn.
Don't know why they call dandelions weeds
When they're just what a little kid needs
To hold under a chin
And bring a big grin
Or to huff and puff parachute seeds.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Magpie Distraction

Look at this sweet, adorable kitty snuggling with her SantaFroggy. Doesn't she look gentle, harmless and loving? Ha!

She's a cat.

The hardwood floor guy was putting the vent covers into the floor as I watched when we suddenly heard a loud squawking and wild thrashing. I knew Kitsu had caught a bird and brought it in through the cat door.

I ran for the basement stairs, but it was too late. The riot rampaged through the kitchen and into the bedroom where I've been camping for the last five months. I ran through the bedroom door just in time to see a large and screaming magpie crash into the miniblinds with a flying orange cat hot on its tail. The bird and cat bounced off the blinds, rattling and thrashing.

Sachi, who'd been snoozing on the bed, fled the scene with her tail the size of a two liter soda bottle.

I hollered, "Leave that bird alone!" as cat and bird crashed into the miniblinds again.

The floor guy hauled in behind me to watch the commotion, laughing his butt off as I made a leap for the bird.

Kitsu knocked it away from me.

I made another grab and got two tail feathers.

The magpie screamed louder and crashed again into the miniblinds. This time it fell onto the dresser and I pounced.

Got it!

I clutched the bird to my chest and spun around rapidly so Kitsu wouldn't see where it had gone. She jumped onto the dresser and tried to jam herself down the crack between dresser and wall.

I casually sauntered from the room, holding the magpie snug against me. The squawking had stopped the instant I cradled the bird to my breast. Both the bird and I were panting like marathon runners.

"Won't it bite you?" the floor guy asked. "Oh my heck, it's got a funny looking tongue!"

I leaned against the wall for a moment until the bird and I both stopped panting. I stroked its head as it calmed.

"No," I told the floor guy, "I've got a way with birds. It'll probably just poop on me."

But when I took it outside and let it fly, both my shirt and my hands were clean. That's because it had unloaded in the bedroom. Took a good long time to clean up the feathers and the poo. The kitchen was an even bigger mess. I'd had an open bag of vermiculite on the counter because I was rooting some cuttings. Amazing how far a bag of vermiculite can spread. And when it lands on the dishes soaking in the sink, you can't vacuum it up -- and you sure as heck don't want to rinse it down the drain and have to explain the clog to the Engineer.

BTW, you should be very impressed with Kitsu for catching a magpie. They're darn big birds. Close relatives of crows, they're mean and tough too. Here's a descriptive web page:

Image from The Complete Morris's British Birds 1891

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Waiting 'Til the Male is Out of Town

My garden spot. Isn't it lovely?I've been trying to grow tomatoes in my back yard for the past seven years with very little success.

Back when I lived in North Carolina, it was easy as proverbial pie. Go down to the feed 'n' seed, pick up a couple stocky German Johnson seedlings, maybe a Tigrella, a big, yellow heirloom and a Better Boy for insurance. Dig in some composted steer manure and pop them boys up to their top cluster of leaves into deep holes. Couple months later I'd have 'mater plants taller than I was setting on enough fruit to feed an army.

Not here.

First year was excusable, we moved into the house on the Fourth of July. The folks who sold us the house left a couple of straggly, deformed little tomato and pepper plants behind the house along with a dandy crop of weeds and a rat infestation. Handsome Bob StrayCat, Bon Vivant, Tommy About Town (his full name and titles) took care of the rodents. I mangled my spading fork trying to dig up the weeds. But I buy Craftsman, so I hauled it in to Sears and swapped it for one with uncontorted tines.

Sears has provided me with at least one new spading fork a summer since I've lived here. To say the ground here is hard is to invite incarceration for understatement.

The next three years the excuse was the poplars -- five sixty-foot Normandy poplars that ran across half of the back border of our yard. They were starting to drop branches, though, so we had them removed not quite three years ago. Sunshine! Strange concept.

That summer I started some lovely seedlings, grew them up big and strong. Couldn't manage to dig big enough holes to get them planted. The Engineer pulled out a pair of post hole diggers and spent three hours digging twelve holes. Oddly enough, the tomatoes did not do well.

The summer after that, I told him I wanted to build raised beds, but it was a long, cold spring, and every weekend that he was home it snowed or rained, so we couldn't do it. The first weekend that was decent, Mr. Morning Dove arose before I was awake, took his truck down to Home Depot and bought a little Honda rototiller. Told me I couldn't even consider raised beds because he'd just purchased this magnificent farming implement and he would make me the perfect seed bed. He spent all day tilling the twelve foot by twelve foot area to a depth of four inches. The next day, he dug the holes for the tomato plants with his post hole diggers again.

Last summer it was the house remodeling. We surely couldn't afford to both remodel the house and build raised beds in the garden. Plus, of course, they'd be in the way of the contractors and would cause the basement to flood. So I hacked out shallow little holes where the ground was just a wee bit less rocklike over the previous year's post hole digger holes. I'm sure you can guess what a magnificent crop of tomatoes I had last summer.

Well this year I waited until the male was out of town.

And here is my half way there fair accompli.
I'm planning two twelve foot by four foot by one foot deep boxes. I'll post more pictures when they're finished and report on any tomatoes I may harvest. And beans and cucumbers and lettuce and carrots and peas and maybe even a squash or two. Providing I survive the hoohah that's sure to errupt when the Engineer sees what I've done when he wasn't looking.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Deadly Traps Laid by Friends

I read my friend Kate's High Altitude Gardening blog daily. Tuesday she laid a trap for me. She offered up a recipe for chocolate cookies.


The Engineer is out of town, so there was nothing (other than common sense, which I am especially lacking where chocolate is concerned) to stop me from baking cookies at midnight. So I printed out the recipe, trotted into the kitchen and collected the ingredients.

Six Tablespoons of butter -- hard as a rock. Isn't an emergency like this what microwaves were invented for? Nuke it! Put in the egg and the milk. Pulled my cocoa from the freezer and measured out six tablespoons, dumping them into the bowl.

Realized that I'd used the wrong measuring spoon. I bought some fancy Tupperware measuring spoons a few years ago and inevitably forget that the largest one is not one tablespoon, but rather a tablespoon and a half. Do the math, that's 9 tablespoons of cocoa.

"Oops!" (Not what I actually said, but this blog is rated PG-13.)

No changing my mind since the cocoa had been dumped into the wet ingredients.

Now what?

Tried mixing it all up, but it turned out to be too stiff to mix the sugar and flour into. So I put in another egg. Then it seemed a little slippery, so I put in another quarter cup of flour. Then, feeling what the heck, I poured in some powdered espresso. baked it as per instructions and pulled cookies out of the oven twelve minutes later.

They don't look like Kate's picture, they're considerable thicker and lumpier and probably more cakey in consistency. Next time I'll have to try the recipe as written. Here's my picture. The front ones are baked, the back ones are raw.

So what do you get when a friend lays a trap for you at midnight? Darn tasty bittersweet chocolate cookies. Just what my derriere needs.

Thanks Kate.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fantastic Footwear

The weather had been lovely for a couple of weeks, sunny and in the upper 60's. It had even hit 70 a couple of times. Not good this early in the spring, especially for a state that depends on snow pack for its summer water like Utah. But it sure felt nice.

Of course it didn't last.

Have you ever notice when you get a sudden cold snap, it feels colder than it would had it been the same temperature all along? I feel it the most in my feet. When I was 14 I frostbit my toes ice fishing, ever since they've been easy to chill and hard to warm back up.

So I like to wear fuzzy slipper socks to keep my toes toasty. That's a bit of a problem around remodel central. The floor is still mostly plywood with old tacks and nails ornamenting it.

I smart girl though. I have devised the perfect footwear for the conditions I live in.

Fuzzy slipper socks and flip flops.

Think I should patent these and make my fortune?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I wish I had legs. Not the short stubby legs I am the owner of, I want legs "up to there." I want what they used to call gams. True, I'm only 5'2", but I can fantasize.

My sister 1s 5'10". She has legs. Lots and lots of legs.

My niece is about my height. She has legs. (I want to know who she had to kill or bribe to get them!)

I've been walking around singing about legs to the tune of that sixties era musical song, Hair. Just made a few anatomical changes:

Give me a bod with legs
Long beautiful legs
Shining, gleaming
Lithesome, supple, lovely
Give me up to there legs

Armpit height or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Legs, legs, legs, legs, legs, legs, legs
Flaunt 'em, show 'em
Long as God can grow 'em
My legs!

Sigh. I guess since they reach the ground my legs are long enough.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Feeling a Bit Cold Blooded Tonight

Have you ever had one of those nights
When you want to punch out someone's lights
I'm feeling quite snarky
And full of malarkey
So take care to stay out of my sights.