Time on my hands? It will never happen…


Cutting the long grassAfter all the recent activity over the past three months with building the new website plus filming the meetings and the Zilker Gardenfest, things are finally beginning to slow down a little even to the extent that I was able to work out in the yard most of this week. At least until today as it is raining. I am not complaining mind you as we need the rain. After all, this is Texas and we always need rain.

So today I plan on doing a little writing and then going to the gym for a coupe of hours trying to play catch up as the gym has been neglected these past few weeks. I wonder why it is that exercise is the first thing to go when we are pushed for time by other projects. The one thing that is probably the most valuable for our bodies, next to eating and sleeping and yet, we willingly give it up at any excuse. I do count yard work as exercise so all is not lost.

This past Monday, I decided on the spur of the moment to mow the bottom area where the Murmuring Creek is supposed to run and then go outside to the road frontage that I try to keep mown and looking neat and tidy. The grass and weeds had grown really tall in the Creek so I started with a hand-held weed wacker. I managed to get the weed wacker too close to the electric fence I have running around the yard to keep the dogs from burrowing under the fence and it coiled around the shaft pulling twenty yards of wire with it. I decided that this was going to take a really long time to untangle and as I wasn’t making much progress, I switched to the wheeled weed wacker that I have. It has been sitting in the shed all winter and of course the gas tank was bone dry.

I know that the mechanics and people who deal with these sort of machines will tell you that you should start them up on a routine basis through the non use months in order to not let the seals dry out in the carburetor. Knowing what should be done and actually doing it are two entirely different things. Consequently, after I put enough gas in it to start it up (I thought), I began yanking on the pull chord, getting more hot and bothered by the minute as the stupid thing would not start. After about ten minutes, a hundred pulls and the air-filled with curses, the things fired and ran very smoothly as though to say, “No problem”.

I finished the Creek area and moved out to the front. The grass was very long but worse than that, it was a tangled mess of weeds especially of one called Galium aparine L with common names such as barweed, bed-straw, burrweed, catchweed cleavers goosegrass, common bedstraw, common cleavers, everlasting friendship, goose grass, goosebill, grip grass, hayruff, hedge clivers, mutton chops, robin run over the hedge, robin-run-in-the-grass, scratch grass, small goosegrass, stickyweed, sticky-willy, velcro plant and finally, white hedge. Some of these names are very apt especially velcro plant and stickyweed as that is exactly what it does as it attaches to your skin and clothing.

This weed was so thick that several times it wound around the mower shaft and literally stopped the engine and I had to take some time to cut it loose before I could start-up again. Normally, I use the tractor mower that I have that I bought many years ago when I was attempting in a very futile way, to turn the back yard into a lawn area which, incidentally was never a very big success. What with more than forty evergreen oaks casting shade in every direction and Zippo, my old Arabian horse that spent his last 10 or so of his 36 years living in the yard, the lawn never had a chance. Even after Zippo died, the trees were still there and very successfully stopped the grass from growing. After I built the ponds which now cover two-thirds of the yard, the only use for the mower was out the front and side, usually twice a year, tops.

The grass and weeds were nearly as tall as the mower and I knew that it would not cut the grass but just roll it over. Besides, as is true of all of my motorized equipment, it had not been started in several months and the battery probably needed re-charging and goodness knows if it too, would start.

I struggled on with the wheeled string wacker and finally got it cut, I felt like a really old man instead of my normal sprightly 79-years after pushing and tugging for the last couple of hours. I had aches and pains where I didn’t even have any muscles so the first thing I did was to jump into the hot tub which I hadn’t used in a couple of weeks. The water was not hot and then I remembered that we had an electrical outage a couple of weeks back which automatically switches the thermostat back to 96 degrees instead of the normal 101, This is less than body temperature so instead of refreshing me, I felt like I was taking a bath in luke warm water.Disgusted with myself for yet another failure on my part to keep things running smoothly, I got out of the tub, changed into clean clothes and drove to Starbucks to sooth my nerves with a grande latte. Starbucks is my cure-all for all of my problems, at least those of this nature.

Yesterday, I finished off re-potting lilies and other water plants. I had one that I had overwintered in one of the many tubs I have for that purpose that needed a bigger pot. It already has a mass of new leaves so after I had it re-potted and fertilized, I changed into my wading shoes, turned off all of the pumps and electric fences and jumped into the middle pond to join the Koi and turtles. I dragged the heavy plant into its new location and then very carefully separated out the leaves, jumped back out of the pond and turned on the pumps. The Koi immediately came to investigate the new plant. I am hoping that because of the many existing leaves, the Koi leave it alone or maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part and it will only be a matter of time before they tear it to pieces, Now, if they would only attack the Heron with the same voracity as they attack the lily……

I have poison ivy on my property. Who doesn’t if you live out in the country? Anyway, there must have been some of it mixed in with the mowing that I had just completed and as I was wearing shorts and a tee shirt, I had a lot of exposed skin. I was just reading that the Velcro plant using one of its many names, is also like poison ivy and can cause a rash where it touches the skin. Poison ivy or Velcro plant, whats the difference as the last couple of days have been a little miserable but it is finally clearing up, thank goodness. Nature is constantly reminding us of her many sides which are not all good.

Time to go to the gym. Wonder what I can screw up there?

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