“War on Zoysia”

Invasive – Zoysia grass is a very invasive grass. The reason you can plant plugs and not have to seed the lawn is because zoysia grass will crowd out all other species in the lawn. Then when it has taken over your lawn, it will start in on your flower beds and your neighbor’s lawn.

My husband sees zoysia grass as a personal affront to his efforts in the front lawn. Since this early spring has been very dry and the ground has already thawed, he saw it as the perfect time to attack the zoysia patch. A massive undertaking involving digging out very deep roots, separating the sod from the dirt, and disposing of the thatch makes way for a compression of the soil and replanting of a DIFFERENT VARIETY of grass seed. He used the same routine on the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street last fall and was rewarded by a lush growth of grass without zoysia. He hopes to have the same result on this larger area between the sidewalk and the house.

Since we live on a busy street, he has numerous interactions with curious passers-by. Most people cannot understand his hatred of zoysia. In fact there seem to be people who actually plant it on purpose. Needless to say this makes no sense to him. He does offer them a shovel when they talk too long which spurs them to move along.

I suppose each of us who works in our yard has a particular nemesis. As a child I constantly was recruited to clear the invasive Himalayan blackberry vine from our property. As a new homeowner I fought morning glory which twined its way around everything in sight. Not to be confused with the morning glory people plant on purpose, this invasive intruder was impossible to kill. Some people shudder when a dandelion pops up.

Do any of you start wars outdoors?

“Personal GPS”

I grew up in a neighborhood completely free of any commercial enterprises, full of woods, paths and shortcuts. My friends from school were scattered around over several miles. No one ever gave any of us a map and we certainly had neither phones nor any type of GPS device. How on earth did we know how to get to one another’s houses?

A few years ago my husband and I, relying on a phone for directions, got totally lost in Western Connecticut. In fact we reached New York State before we were sure we had headed the wrong way. I vowed after that to always carry a paper map in the car, not wanting to once again rely on a device needing a signal which might or might be available.

But what if we had been paying active attention as we drove? Maybe we might have noticed things like signs, landmarks and geographic features. They might have provided us information to help us navigate. In fact that is just what we used as kids. We got a feel for the area from looking and moving through it. We knew the ways through the woods avoiding the roads. We knew how to get down to the river, walk along the railroad tracks, and come home from school.

Sometimes as I dream I still walk through my childhood neighborhood. I can feel each bend in the road, touch each hedge, wait for traffic to clear on the highway, and head down our driveway, pictured above. I have an internalized GPS formed by walking. As Theodore Roethke the poet once put it “I learn by going where I have to go.”

“Family Reunion”

Yesterday afternoon we welcomed our daughter and her family over for Easter dinner. In most years this would not have been astonishing. However, this April 4 was the first time we sat down together in our house since March of 2020. I had hoped that Charlie and I would be able to complete the vaccination process with both doses and the required 14 day wait afterwords in time for Easter. We passed the 14 mark on March 30 which made it possible to plan this reunion.

While I felt the absence acutely in the beginning of the pandemic, I had gradually become used to a pretty isolated existence. Sure I saw people on Zoom. Yes in warmer weather we visited outside at a fair distance. But there was no hugging, no animated conversation, no sitting around a table. After a while, I am sad to say, it began to feel normal, albeit a new normal. Yesterday deeply reminded me that there is no substitute for proximity, no alternative for hugs, no way to play Jenga six feet away from everyone.

Yes, we played Jenga after the dishes were cleared. A game which looks simple involving a stack of little wooden blocks, turns out to be highly challenging. Each player has to remove one block without the whole thing tumbling. Then the player puts that block atop the remaining structure and the next player takes over. My grandson terms himself a Jenga champion, and that proved to be true. He was able to very quickly extract one block while the whole tower fell into place without falling over.

As for me. Well let’s just say that I cook a better Easter dinner than I win at Jenga.

“Forever Frugal”

Yesterday I was staring at the door to the broom closet and laughed at the array of rubber bands. I have put rubber bands here for years without really thinking about it. (Quarantine allows a lot of time to think about things that I would never have thought about. Is that a positive or a negative?) Some of them break when I try to use them, but in general I always have a rubber band handy when I need one.

My husband’s and my parents were both children of the depression. While my mother and his father were comfortable during that time, my father and his mother lived in great poverty. Regardless of their circumstances, they all seemed very ingrained with the notion of “waste not, want not.” The lights had to be shut off when we left a room. (Are we running an electric company around here?) The furnace went off at night.(That’s why we have sweaters.) No food ever went to waste.(You said you wanted those license plates in the Kix boxes. Now eat all that cereal.)

The rubber band collection is a relic of that frame of mind. Why buy rubber bands when they come free on asparagus? I am curious about what other frugal habits any of my readers picked up from the generations before them. Please share.