Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We were just playin'...

About three years ago, my friend Tami Brooks and I started a fake grass roots campaign to save the Beavers of South 11th.  It all started when I came into work one day after a great big rain, and exclaimed to Tami (who happened to be a coworker at the time), “Hey, I just passed, like, three dead beavers on the way into work today!  They were all on South 11th, and they WEREN’T run over!”  Her response was to drop her voice conspiratorially and half-whisper, “How do you think they died?”  “I don’t know!” I said.  And then I added (obviously, without thinking), “Maybe they drowned when the creek flooded from the rain!  Maybe they need to be saved from the next flood!”  A look crossed Tami’s face.  It was a look that anyone knowing Tami Brooks knows meant, “Oh, you may be on to something,” and “There is no way we are getting any work done today, cause now we’ve got a subject to focus on that no normal person would entertain the idea of thinking twice about.”  I believe that the last words Tami said to me before we headed off to our respective offices that day were, “Maybe we SHOULD save the beavers of South 11th…”

Now, y’all have got to understand that Tami and I can take the most inane and even insipid topics and turn them into the day’s headlining news story.  To say we are hyperbolic (in a rhetorical, not mathematical sense) is a complete understatement.  Give us a June-bug-green car with its alarm going off, and one of us'll make it into more than a June-bug-green car with its alarm going off

So, in between program planning and readers’ advisory that day, Tami created a Facebook page entitled Save the South 11th Street Beavers.  She also found (what luck) a cartoon image of a beaver wearing a red life vest with I Look Best In My Life Vest written underneath it.  Brilliant.  I became the second member of the group.  And then, just to give the group authenticity, I wrote the following fake meeting minutes to our fake Save the South 11th Street Beavers meeting:  
Although there have been no new reports of beaver fatalities on So. 11th Street, there is still a concern about the health and safety of our semi-aquatic, rodent friends. Several suggestions were made for upgrading our So. 11th roadway with eco-friendly passages that would allow the safe and uninterrupted flow of beavers from one side of the road to the other: 
Beadestrian Overpass-Suggested by Jimmy Brooks, this passage would be a structure similar to the pedestrian overpasses common in big-city hospital and school zones. Pros: open to fresh air, can travel at own pace. Cons: Beavers will be at risk in inclement weather.
The Pipeline-This suggestion was made by myself. It is really a simple concept of a level pipeline that will span the roadway; beavers will be able to enter the pipeline at banklevel on one side of the road, travel at their own pace through the pipeline, and exit the pipeline at banklevel on the destination side of the road. Pros: protected from weather, can travel at own pace. Cons: poor airflow.

The Luge-Eric Wright made the suggestion of creating a beaver luge (like the dangerous Olympic sport), which would require the building of an artificial raised track that spanned the roadway.  Beavers would be allowed to take a luge sled across the roadway on the luge track. Of course this type of travel will be "timed, and the luger must depart from the start handles within a certain time once the track is declared clear."
Pros: timely travel. Cons: disqualification if the beaver pushes the sled across the finish line.
We were just having fun.  But then we had people request to join the group, which was fine, if it had stopped there.  But it didn’t.  It only stopped after a member of the local TV media contacted Tami to get the scoop on the story.  They thought it would make a great feel-good piece…until Tami fessed up that it was a fake group.  See, we never dreamed anyone would take us seriously…honestly, we were just playing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Bungalow: Back Garden, Then & Now

Here is a photo of The Bungalow's back yard from a little over a year ago (April of 2010), when I first looked at the property with the greatest realtor EVER, Judy Hamil (she is one of my downtown plant exchange people now, too). The sweet shrub and forsythia are the only things in the middle. Overgrown azaleas line the fence on the right. The massive gardenia is at the back gate.

Here are some photos of The Bungalow back garden now:

The massive gardenia is still at the back gate, but I thinned it out and fertilized it this year, so it has given us a glorious show (and a great smelling yard). I hard pruned the azaleas last summer while Slim was in Africa (you can hardly see them in these photos), but they laughed at my attempt to control them and are now coming back in a more natural shape (which I prefer to a hair-cut-hedge-row shape). Sweet shrub and forsythia are still there, just cut into submission. The bargain section of the garden is to the back, and right: Seventy-five-cent-from-Lowes'-off-season-sale Red Velvet Yarrow is so big, it's laying down now; burn-your-eyes-red, Dollar Tree gladiolus are standing tall; two-dollars-a-pot-from-Lowe's-off-season-sale Russian Sage is at the back, closest to the stob (Yes, that's what I said. We have a concrete and steel stob in our garden. We found it by the back fence when we moved in. We thought to throw it out, but kept forgetting about, it weighs so much, we didn't feel like moving it. I looked at it so long, thinking, "Every Southern yard needs a stob that is good for nothing except for lookin' at. It just shows that somethin' was there at one time, but no longer is." So while Slim was at church last Sunday, I dug a hole, rolled the stob up to it, and reburied it as part of the garden. When I excitedly showed it to Slim later in the day, I explained about how it added a nice preserved-decay/architectural feel to the place...I think he just sighed and accepted it, which was real sweet of him.). Beside the stob, but behind the gladiolus is a patch of white clover that that came from the seed Susan DiBiase gave me. It is so pretty, I let it grow up a bit. Also, I let it grow up so that my sister and nephew could go through it looking for 4-leaf clover. My sister is an expert 4-leaf clover finder. And she's grooming her son to step into her 4-leaf-clover-finding shoes. He sure is patient little grasshopper...perfect concentration for a job like 4-leaf clover finding.

You can kinda see the marble question-mark path that runs through the garden, which I already mentioned in a past post. To the left of the path, you can just make out the rose bed, which is made up of all the roses I transplanted last summer from mom and dad's yard, as well as one rose that Miss Judy the Realtor gave me from her yard. I've been fighting with the deconstructive forces of sawfly larvae on the roses this year. They were stripping the leaves off the bushes, so I ended up Neeming every morning to keep them away (I also used the effective old school technique of pulling the worm off of the plant and stomping it flat...the worm, not the plant).

There are lots of other plants I've added in the back: a small clump of blue fescue, some iris, some Crocosmia Lucifer that won't produce until next year, some cosmos from last year, day lilies, lots of violets (which are wilting in this heat), some other crocosmia that our neighbor Douglas' mother-in-law gave me one morning, cannas (also from Douglas, but from his trash pile) and some spring plants that have already bloomed and died back (daffodils and crocus). We have some sunflowers growing by the house, and some Roma tomatoes. And then there are the plants that have been there for a long time, and continue to be there: hydrangea, money plant, surprise lilies, ham & eggs lantana...the works. We are NOT going to run out of plants any time soon.

To the far left of the back yard is a fence that links our back yard to the neighbor's back yard. We wanted to soften the look of the fence and create some privacy, so we started researching what types of evergreen shrubs we would like. We had it narrowed down to a particular type of arborvitae, but were waiting to order them until we could budget them in. Then, last Saturday, Kris Catoe called me saying that he had acquired a load of Indian Hawthorn, and would I like the leftovers once he planted what he needed. Does a bear poop in the woods? So, while Slim was in Anniston on a Mellow Mushroom ride, I made the executive decision to accept any leftovers that were leftover. Kris dramatically deposited five Indian Hawthorn shrubs on our porch within the half hour (he lined them along the front porch entryway so that the first thing I saw when I stepped out the front door was a glorious display of hawthorn). I proceeded to plant them as a surprise for Slim when he got home. Unlike the reception our stob would get the next day, Slim's reaction was one of happy surprise. His words were, "Our yard is coming together!" I think so.

Here is the fence side right before planting:

Here it is during the process (I forgot to take one after, but they look about the same):

Nothing is mulched yet. We're waiting until the majority of the planting is done before we borrow someone's pick-up to go get a couple of loads of mulch.

I'll post about the front yard just as soon as the stumps are ground up and out of the way. AND after we get the azalea lace bug problem under control (the drought has causes some azalea stress, which was a gate-way for the lace bug to step in and start draining the sap from the leaves. It is a sad sight, all those leaves looking so pale...). For now, that's all I have to say.