And The Heat Goes On

The heat and the drought just keeps coming.  It’s like a blast furnace each time you walk outside.   Taking the dogs on walks is short and slow.  They don’t want to be out in the heat anymore than we do.  Of course this is the year that we’ve added two raised beds to grow more vegetables.  Two more beds means two times more watering, which translates to a much higher water bill.  This is a double edged sword for me.  I love the taste of home grown tomatoes, nothing like a big juicy home grown tomato.  With this drought we have to water almost every day just to keep the plants from withering. 

I’m also the utility police at home.  I walk around turning lights off, raising or lowering the thermostat and turning the faucet off in mid tooth brushing.  I am just plain cheap when it comes to wasting electricity, gas and water.  I rant on about saving energy, conserving water and recycling everything we can possibly recycle.  Mitch made and installed three rain barrels around the house so I can water the gardens with rainwater.  This year all of the rain barrels are bone dry, no water to even dribble out. 

We decided to use soaker hoses to accomplish watering more efficiently.  The problem was that the three raised beds were too far apart so we were wasting a lot of water in between.  Mitch solved this by cutting up the seventy five foot hose into three sections which he snaked through each bed then connected the spaces in between with regular hose pieces.  This has worked out very well for us.  Now we’re only watering the vegetable beds and not everything in between.  Of course the yard has gone dormant and I’m hoping will recover next spring. 

Whether you believe in global warming or not, this weather pattern sucks and I’m ready for it to be over.

We Were Not Alone

Our normal morning walk at o’dark thirty, 4:30am actually, started as always.  Me trying to get the dogs and leashes under control.  AJ will only walk on my left, Charlie and Orso don’t care which side they walk on as long as Orso is on the outside and Charlie is next to me.  Orso and Charlie will switch from the left side to right multiple times during the walk almost always by crossing behind me causing me to have to juggle the leashes around to keep from getting yanked around from behind.

On this particular morning, the walk started off with our normal chaos, sniffing, peeing and snatching grass to munch on during the walk.  But when we got to the long stretch of road that has no houses on either side, a ravine on the left and a wooded hill on the right with houses on the hilltop, the dogs discovered we weren’t alone.  Something was keeping pace with us.  The invisible stalker was up on the hill to our right.  Orso discovered our stalker first, stopping and sniffing the air with his head held high, straining at the leash to get a closer sniff.  Charlie soon caught a whiff and joined Orso straining at his leash too trying to get closer to whatever “It” was.  I looked around in the gloom, but couldn’t see anything, I listened intently to try and catch any rustling sound to try and determine where and what was out there, but I didn’t hear anything.  I tugged on their leashes to pull them away from the area and hopefully leaving the thing, whatever it was alone and hopefully leaving us alone too.

But no, our invisible stalker stayed with us, keeping pace staying high on the hill and being quite stealthy.  The only giveaway was his scent which evidently was tantalizing to the dogs.  Me not so much.  I couldn’t smell, see or hear the stalker, so I was getting pretty unnerved trying to keep the dogs under control and alert to a possible threat.  The rest of the walk was uneventful when we got past the dark stretch of road and back into the glow of the streetlights.  Of course that was until Orso shook his head and I about jumped out of my skin.  Just a little jittery, silly me.

The Call Of The Wild…Sorta

Camping in the wild lends to unique sounds from the calls of the local inhabitants claiming their territory or seeking a mate.  Hearing wolves howl late at night is both an exhilarating and unnerving sound, knowing you’re not alone and wild animals are nearby, protected only by the wall of a camper or the thin material of a tent.  Camping out in the wild you expect and hope to hear the noises, that’s one of the reasons you’re out there in the first place.  Since I don’t go camping, my idea of roughing it is that the ice machine is at the other end of the hall, I usually only get to hear the late night sounds of wolves howling on National Geographic.  So imagine how unnerving it was to wake up to the sound of howling at midnight in our bedroom. 

I bolted straight up out of a semi-sound sleep looking around trying to find the source of the soulful howl.  The howling came from across the room, inside the bedroom.  Living in the Midwest, we don’t have wolves, a few coyotes, but no wolves, so you can imagine how being roused out of my sleep to the eerie howl would be a bit strange to say the least.  The sound didn’t come from outside, because the dogs were still asleep and if there was an interloper outside our window, the dogs would have jumped up barking and throwing a fit.  AJ was asleep in the round bed next to my side of the bed so he didn’t howl.  Charlie was asleep at the foot of our bed, so he didn’t howl either.  No, the howling came from the dog bed next to Mitch’s side of the bed.  Orso was dreaming and for some reason he howled in his sleep.  The weirdest part was the neither of the other dogs stirred a bit.

Why I have no idea, because when they’re awake, they don’t howl.  I know, I’ve tried to get them to howl, but they won’t cooperate.  So I’m usually standing around howling all be myself, looking pretty silly.  Most dogs run in their sleep or make small woofing sounds, but I’ve never heard them howl.  So now I have a dog that dreams he’s a wolf.  Next he’ll start sleep walking, raiding the fridge.  I see lots of sleep interrupted nights ahead.

Flashcards

I think I’ve come up with the perfect solution to our groundskeeper’s good plant vs weed recognition problem.  Flashcards.  Very simple yet elegant as a solution.  Flashcards work for kids in school.  Math and alphabet flashcards have been used for decades.  So maybe plant flashcards would work.  I would take pictures of all the different plants growing around the lake and laminate the photos to plastic cards.  I can draw a circle with a slash through the middle of photo of a weed and even type a description below the photo.  Something like, “kill on sight” or maybe “wanted dead and decimated” for a weed and “diplomatic immunity” or “endangered species” for a keeper plant.  This may slow down the weed eating process around here, but eventually hopefully the groundskeeper will get it and maybe some poor plant souls will be spared the weapon of plant destruction.   Especially the ones I’ve paid money to put in the ground.

The flashcards could be put on a ring and hang from his belt for easy plant recognition access.  The groundskeeper would walk along flip up and peruse the flashcard to scan the photos searching to determine if the plants are public enemy #1 or keepers.  Who knows maybe flashcards will catch on for gardeners everywhere.  I wonder if I should apply for a patent.