I’ve had an earworm the last few days … “Blame It on the Bossa Nova” keeps playing in my head. As you may have heard, Eydie Gormé passed away over the weekend. Each time the national news reported on her passing, they played a sound bite of her trademark song. I had a similar earworm after we lost Jean Stapleton from repeatedly hearing Edith Bunker’s shrill “Archie!!” plus the audio clip “Those Were the Days”, her duet with Carroll O’Connor on their iconic T.V. show “All in the Family”.
Well, we didn’t get that projected storm last night, and an early morning quick look out the window (my new low-tech method for determining the weather) told me the pavement was dry but rain threatened. I decided a trip to the backyard instead of Council Point Park was in order. Weeds are the bane of my existence and I had zero enthusiasm for dealing with them. I opened the door to go outside feeling like the Dunkin’ Donuts baker in the “Time to make the donuts” commercial as I trod out dejectedly to wrestle with the choke vine, tame the purple nightshade and tackle the thistles.
I started out simple – first, the front yard which was a breeze and took me maybe fifteen minutes. Last year I invested in very real-looking silk flowers for all my pots and baskets, so gone are the countless hours tending to all my annuals at the front and side of the house. Now we just deal with those sneaky little sidewalk crack weeds.
The backyard was not so easy. Maintaining the roses and perennials got placed on the back burner, especially since I’ve not been out back multi-tasking – deadheading and weeding at the same time I was watering; no need to water because we’ve had so much rain.
“Blame it on the Bossa Nova” kept running non-stop in my head as I was working on spading out some of the more-stubborn thistles. It was then I decided today’s post should be entitled “Sadie” because I could be singing “Blame it on the Basset Hound” … it is Sadie’s fault I am dealing with thistles, nearly ten years after her departure.
The couple who lived in the house next door had a big basset hound named Sadie. For me, any previous encounters with this breed had been a cardboard cutout of a basset hound at the shoe store while purchasing a pair of Hush Puppies. Sure that hound dog looked endearing with its sorrowful eyes and long floppy ears. But did you know that basset hounds have a mean streak and are aggressive? The new neighbors moved into the house in the Spring. On weekends when the couple was home, they put Sadie out in the yard and if I was out there gardening, she’d bark and growl at me the entire time. In frustration, I’d yell “shut up” and they would ask me why I was yelling at their dog. This went on every weekend during the gardening season. They also spent time in the yard, but evidently the barking didn’t annoy them. I really lost my temper one day and said I would call the police if the barking did not cease. They took Sadie in the house … ah, blessed peace and quiet. I wondered why I didn’t use that tact before.
But the peace and quiet was short-lived, because the next day, Monday, at precisely 4:00 a.m., Sadie was put out in the yard and she began barking. Her voice carried in the still of the night directly to my open bedroom window. The couple each had factory jobs and told me when they moved in that they left the house very early to go out for breakfast together before they went to their respective jobs. I laid awake and listened as Sadie barked constantly for 45 minutes and this became the new routine every morning until they left for work. I bought a pair of earplugs and I also cornered them in the yard that weekend and asked why they would do such a nasty trick and the reply was “because you don’t like our Sadie”. I threatened to bring the police into the fray, but they said “don’t bother – we’re moving soon and you don’t have to bully Sadie anymore” … true to their word, a “For Sale” sign went up and they were soon gone. But not before they left a calling card as a reminder of their neighborliness.
While they lived there, they fed every wild bird imaginable – they had at least a half-dozen or so bird feeders in the yard, all filled with different seeds to attract a variety of birds. I also fed and watered the birds, but they had these *&^% thistle seeds. The light-as-a-feather thistle seeds invariably would end up in my yard and I was constantly digging out the prickly thistle weeds. Before they left, I am sure they hung over the fence and dumped or flung several pounds of thistle seeds into my yard. I had a large crop of thistles still thriving by the first frost, but the following Summer, I could not keep up with those pesky thistle weeds– they were growing everywhere, right to the middle of the yard. Thistle weeds grow fast and they are sturdy and have rhizome roots. This means the roots grow horizontally or in clusters which you can never get the entire root out – you can chop it up in pieces and the little clumps will start growing new thistles on their own. It was horrible. I got a weeding device (coincidentally called a “Weed Hound”) which had an auger operated by pushing a handle to pop out the offending weed. It was guaranteed to grab and pull out any weed completely but even the “Weed Hound” didn’t work. Brush-clearing products did not do the trick either. Each thistle had to be dug out individually then you had to tunnel under the dirt to extract the entire root. It has taken ten years and I still need to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the thistles sometimes – today was such a day. To add insult to injury, I got 3/4s finished with the job and it started to rain.
My homeostatic condition at the end of each thistle-pulling foray is snarly, and I am prone to growling at anyone in my path, though my bark is definitely worse than my bite!