Category Archives: garden

Thug Garden

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Everyone who is even an occasional gardener knows that, inevitably, the garden fights back.  One goes into this with vague images of looking like Scarlet O’Hara surrounded by her delicately scented vale.  Then you run into the reality that the only scarlet is supplied by the bloody gash you have.

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Which of course brings us to yesterday.  My gardener, Z,  was here and we were standing in the middle of the yard discussing what is a weed and what is a fortuitous invader (the distinction can be difficult) when, all of a sudden, I was falling.  I assume I shifted my weight and the terrain, steep, rocky, and very uncertain of foot did the rest.  I have no real idea what started the whole thing; one minute I was upright, the next I was a small avalanche.

Anyway, once I fell I started to roll and bounce the rest of the way.  I came to rest wedged against a tree fern.  Never have I been so glad to see a tree fern.

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This is sort of how I landed, except a) it wasn’t on purpose and b) I certainly did not look that good.

Z was very concerned and helped me to my feet, which was no small task.  I was sort of between two beds and not terribly accessible, plus I was shaken.  And stirred.  In the words of Warren Zevon, the yard “really worked me over good … /Sort of like a Waring blender.”

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What a lovely garden accessory.

Fortunately, I was wearing long pants and along sleeved shirt, but I was still a bloody mess.  A collection of cuts and scratches and a couple of big-ish places where the top layer of skin was scraped back and all manner of garden debris shoved up under the remaining skin.  I was a mess.

Super Agent Fred was at hand, luckily, and able to help with the bandaging.  Fred is sort of living here now and I realized how nice it is to have someone beside the cat around during these crises.

Now, of course, the worse ache has dropped by. I woke up with the distinct impression that several Trolls had beaten me with their collection of hammers.  So I’m signing off now to go find the opiate and the valium and my bed.

Once again, the garden wins.

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Better even than Miss O’Hara

Turkey. Of Course

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Over the last several years I have come to be the host of Thanksgiving dinners for a regular group of my friends whom I think of as “The Children.”  As in “The Children are coming to dinner.”  Mostly because they are all young enough to actually be my offspring, were I wacky enough to spring off, but also because, as in the case of providing the traditional Thanksgiving, I have somehow morphed into a mother figure. To be more accurate, a grandmother figure.

Four of the Children are out of town this holiday and I was remarking to Super Agent Fred (the only one who would be around) how I was looking forward to taking drugs and sleeping all day instead of cooking.  Fred looked absolutely stricken and protested that he was looking forward to turkey.  And gravy.  And mashed potatoes.  And dressing.

Of course I relented and thus wound up slinging a menu that exactly reproduced what my grannies would have knocked out 80 years ago.  And it was delicious, thank you very much, so I guess I’m glad I did, but the dinner did leave behind a refrigerator full of left overs because it turns out scaling down a celebratory dinner for 10 to one for 2 does not work.  I just don’t know how to make my granny’s cornbread dressing  in a size smaller than what could be described as a vat.  We will be dining on that fucking turkey all week.  Turkey salad, Turkey Tetrazini, turkey sammiches.  OK by me.

Also in other domestic news, the garden always looks sort of shaggy around this time of year.  Most thing suddenly green from the rain finally starting, but also quietly revving up for the burst of flowers spring will have.  The most appealing contradictions are the Australian Tea Trees, brilliant rose and pink and crimson right now.  The two in the picture are about 20 years old and have taken that long to really get established and turn out such show off blooming.  I see them from my bathroom window every time I go pee.  That is not what the average garden planning book would consider, but I’m glad I planted them where I did.

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The view from the toilet.

The Sweetest Pea

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Sweet peas are the Birth Month Flower for April and thus, my own.  According to the infallible Google, they symbolize “good-bye,or blissful pleasure.”  I like that odd little comma sort of dropped in there and the combination of “good bye” and “blissful pleasure” may seem peculiar at first glance, but I think back on how many times at sex venues like bathhouses when I’ve announced “Oh dear baby jesus, that was blissful.  Now get out” and I know there’s some profundity there.

I don’t know why April wound up with sweet peas, they don’t bloom then, at least in America.  It does serve as a reminder that April’s about the time to plant the seeds, a fact I usually recall in June when they should be at the peak of their bloom.  As usual, I forgot again this year and wound up with a bunch of seeds hanging around in July looking reproachful.  So I decided what the hell, and planted them.  It’s San Francisco, the distinction between April and July is kind of arbitrary anyway.

And they came up, amazingly.  They were much slower than previous batches I’ve grown.  Pea and bean vines both tend to shoot right up, it’s the basis for the Jack and the Beanstalk stories.  Blooms finally came on, with their delicate, old lady scent and now here’s the very last one, on the first of December.  Amazing.

I have diligently been harvesting the pods to have seeds for next April (if I remember,) but now I don’t know where I put them.  Well, I have four months to find them and even I don’t, I’ll just put them in whenever they do show up.

Also, I know Monday was the so-called Cyber Monday, a shameless attempt by online retailers to latch onto the whole Black Friday shitstorm, but I like to think of it as “Throw Out the Goddam Leftovers Already Monday.”  No turkey is so delicious you need to eat it more than four days running.

 

This is How mrpeenee’s Brain Works

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I miss trouble

Space here on earth is a finite thing, you know, and I say if your reproductive system forces you to use one of those stupid double wide baby strollers, you are taking up too much of it.  Sell at least one of those squalling snot machines you’ve popped out and make room in the grocery store aisle for the rest of us.

My garden, the result of two decades of grubbing and ruined manicures, looks swell this year, despite a statewide drought.  Purple seems to be the overriding theme with irises that I transplanted loving their new home

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“City Light” iris. Wowza.

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Limonium, taking no prisoners and kicking horticultural ass.

and a tough ass piece called limonium, the dried purple flowers of which, statice, are the filler of choice for florists around the world.  It does fine every year, but occasionally decides that this is going to be a “Say-Something” season and this year is just that.  The lily looking plants next to it are crocosmia, which bloom with bright orange flowers that look splendid with the purple statice on those years when they both bloom simultaneously, but this is not one of those years.  That’s how gardens roll.

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Springtime in the French Quarter

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My favorite neon in New Orleans.

I breezed down to New Orleans to check on the renovation of my house there and to check in on our old chum Magda.   The house is doing fine; Magda less so.  He will shortly have been incarcerated in the hospital system for a month and the doctors still have no clear idea about what’s causing his blood pressure and blood chemistry to roller coaster up and down and seem to regard this ignorance with a jaunty insouciance.

I was not much help while there; I was sort of unprepared for how much the whole experience of visiting the hospital would drag up visions of  R Man’s last uncomfortable days.  I know that’s selfish, but it was a very visceral reaction and one I could not get on top of.  I am ashamed.

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The front porch of my soon-to-be ex-house. I would weep, but I have no tears.

Less traumatic than an old friend’s fragile health, but still pretty upsetting, is the news from my tax guy and my financial guy that my merry eviscerating of the IRAs I was living off of in order to finance the New Orleans’ renovation has actually moved me into a higher tax bracket, the rapacious taxes of which mean I will have to sell the house in order to pay the bill.  Irony.  I hate it.

Celebrate

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Let’s celebrate, bitches.The weather here is balmy with partly clothed boys popping up everywhere.  Saki the cat got out, but came back and his new vet’s stunning good looks are absurdly like what a soap opera veterinarian would be cast with.   Jason  is still puny, but didn’t die.  Yet.  So Celebration.

Not last, Secret Agent Fred’s house in Baltimore sold finally and the check is, as they say, in the mail.  This whole ordeal has been bruising and the only reason we got through it was  Ask the Cool Cookie who has dealt with months of madness, mayhem, mould and contractors.  He is, as his people would say, a mensch.

The very last day as the deal was stumbling through the byzantine process of unloading a house, a mystery line of credit popped up and we had to scramble to deal with it cause unless it was closed, no deal.

Fred had taken to his bed at his apartment, like some frail in a mediocre Tennesse Wiliams’ play and was not answering his phone.  I wound up begging a friend of ours, Rascal, who has a key to Tim’s building and lives nearby, to go over a roust the little miscreant and urge him to call the realtor ASAP. It’s possible I also might have dropped a hint that kicking Fred could be a swell idea, but I don’t know how all that went over.

I do know the incredibly patient realtor emailed this afternoon to confirm the check is on its way.

Also, chez peenee’s back yard is winding up for what looks like a stunning late spring.

So celebrate.  Now is the time, this is place.

Blood and Porn

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All I wanted to do was transplant a largish Pieris from one pot to a larger one, but the pot the stupid thing in was not giving it up.  I struggled and struggled, but the plant was stuck.  It’s possible I got frustrated, I do that.  It’s also possible I took a hammer and busted the pot to get the plant out.  A shame, since the pot was a lovely blue and white ceramic one and I regret losing it, but not as much as I regret cutting a big chunk out of my left thumb cuticle on a shard of it.

Because the skin on your cuticle is so thin, wounds there tend to bleed freely, as this one did.  The whole house looks like a serial killer’s place after a long weekend.  Plus, I was scheduled for a manicure this afternoon and the girl I wound up with certainly looked at my bandaged thumb askance.  Since I secretly refer to her as the Butcher of Castro Street for the odd gusto she brings to dealing with hangnails, I wasn’t really worried, but still, I was plenty to glad to pull into the bar where I was supposed to meet up with Secret Agent Fred.  It had been a long day, filled with White People Problems.

Fred was ensconced chatting with some nice looking older guy who eventually revealed (with no prodding) that he had been a model for Colt Studios back in the day.  I have an researcher’s knowledge of porn so I was plenty interested.  He said had never worked under any nom de smut, which immediately told me he was pretty far down on the totem pole; everyone who matters gets a fake name, even if it’s as dumb as “Bill Bailey.”  Speaking of poles, he was quick to mention the issue he was in was the classic Men Who are Hung.  I wasn’t impressed,  nice people don’t brag.

He wandered off, despite my assurances that Fred is easy, and I came home determined to find that issue and see if was really in it.  Since I have amassed a collection of more than 1,400 titles that might seem daunting, but I looked it up on the Colt site so I was just flipping through looking for the cover.

Amazingly, it is one of the few mags I don’t own.  What are the chances?  So tomorrow I’m off to the used porn store to check.

Sprung

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The season of chocolate bunnies and enthusiastic flowering shrubs is on us and mrpeenee is reveling in  and suffering through it in about equal parts.

Reveling because this is the time of year when all the hard work I’ve put in to my yard over the years pays off.

Here my favorite flowering plant ever, a California native called ceanothus, or California Lilac.  Photos never do justice to its electric, sapphire blue.  It blooms with flowers so dense you can’t see the leaves.  The bees dig it, too.

Also, further up in a sort of inaccessible spot, two charming imports from Australia, Leptospermum, or tea tree (but not the tea tree that they get oil from.   Botany is so darn confusing) hold down the fort.  The bigger one is a fabulous rose red and the smaller one has flowers that look white from the distance, but up closer reveal their pale, pale pink throats.

You can see in this picture the patch in the back of the garden I rescued from the invading blackberry vines and acacia.  Considering how it took me weeks to hack them back and resulted in several various ouchies in the process. seeing how teensy the new open space is pretty discouraging, but I’ll take what I can get.  I’ve planted it out in wildflower seeds; I hope July wil see a blaze of poppies and cornflowers and whatnot up there.

Suffering comes in because as much as I love this time of year, my sinuses hate it.  I have been slowly drowning for two weeks in my own mucus and all I ask for is a burial at sea where, hopefully, the fucking pollen will not be able to find me.

M, Our 1,000th Post and mrpeenee, Destroyer of Slugs

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I have a striking addition to the garden, a variegated Brugmansia.

Our heroine in February

Nowadays.  Please note chewed-the-fuck-up leaves.

I was very struck by it when we met at the nursery cause I had never seen a variegated one before.  Beautiful big chartreuse and lemon yellow leaves, someday it will be seven feet tall with huge, salmon pink drooping blossoms.  It’s already doing quite well, pretty much tripling in size since last spring, despite some pest chewing up its big leaves.

That’s why when I saw this banana slug (one of the goddess’s most grotesque grotesqueries) loitering near it this morning, with a completely unconvincing air of innocence, I moved to destroy Mr. Slug without a moment’s hesitation.  Mercy is not an option when it comes to protecting my broadleaved semi-tropical darlings.

Slug, meet salt.

Salt, meet slug.

You know how to kill a slug?  You either can feed it to your duck, and had I duck I would have, or you can pour salt on it.  The slug dissolves into a goo slime, hopefully in a spasm of agony.  I would feel some compunction about this if it hadn’t been feeding on one of my plant favorites and besides, how much sympathy can you muster for a creature whose camouflage seems to consist of passing for a fresh cat turd?

And yes, one thousand posts down.  Who’d a thunk it?

How many Houseboys with big tits and bulging baskets does this make?  More than we could want to count.

Fucking Raccoons

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Before, and definitely pre-raccoon.

mrpeenee’s attempt at a lily pond was an unmitigated disaster.  Fucking raccoons.  They were out there every night gleefully splashing in it like it was a goddam waterpark.  One night I leaned out the bathroom window to shine a flashlight down at the ringleader and I can only describe his attitude as insolent.  I couldn’t find anything to throw at him except several packages of Rolaids, but since I throw like a girl (and a particularly uncoordinated girl, at that) I completely missed.   And then the motherfucker ATE THE ROLAIDS.  I lay in bed listening to him crunching on them as I seethed.

That was pretty much the last straw.  I finally broke down last week and moved the lilies to a big pot that I fitted with a mesh screen cover (very attractive.  It looks like the latest thing in white trash trailer park decorating.  The upside: raccoon-proof.)

The lily “pond’ although “lily bucket” would probably be more accurate.

Secret Agent Fred and I bailed out the tank and I’ve planted it out with irises.

After.  Sigh.

R Man and I  moved into this house 16 years ago and every spring when the irises around town burst into their frilly beauty, I would plan to plant a bunch the next fall and then I would promptly forget all about it until spring rolled around again.  It was one of them cycle of nature thingies.  This year, though, the presence of a big ass empty planter right in the beginning of the season to put out irises was nothing short of a godsend, so maybe all this worked out.  Still, fucking raccoons.

Lily Time

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I mentioned in my gibbering about going up to our friend Mark’s goat ranch in the wine country that he had gifted me with some of the mosquito fish from his pond (which is the size of small lake, or maybe a big golf course water hazard) for my new lily “pond” (which is the size of a generous bathtub.)

I bought a stock tank online with the idea that I would use it for a free-standing planter, but once I wrestled it up the back stairs into the patio with the help of my dear friend Magda,  the appeal of using it for water lilies seized me.  Magda encouraged me in this and let me just say one of the absolute best things about him is his enthusiastic embrace of my most crack brained concepts.

The only thing holding me back was my uneasiness about creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Consider it a holdover from my Gulf Coast youth.  Enter Mark’s mosquito eating fishies, and yay for them.  Still, my skeeter based unease was increased when the cutie pie owner of one of my favorite nurseries here, which used to specialize in water gardens, told me all the nurseries in town had stopped carrying water plants because of the West Nile virus.

Mosquito fish in their new home, pre-plants.  Now, weeks later they’re still industriously at it with no food from me, so either they’re eating the mosquito larvae, like they’re supposed to, or they’re eating each other.  Cannibal fish!  Eeks!

I was bummed, not only because my dreams were as ashes, but also because I had already filled up the tank (you have to let the water stand for a while to get rid of the chlorine before you put the fish and the plants in) and now had to empty it of 167 gallons of very heavy water.  By hand.

Imagine how thrilled I was, then, when another nursery (my favorite, actually, and fuck that first guy, even if he is pretty cute.) sent me their regular email blast announcing a sale on water lilies.  I was there that afternoon and snagged two.  The tags explaining what colors their flowers are were missing, so I have no idea what’s coming, but they’re lilies.  How bad can it be?