My Commonplace Blog

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Visions of Kerosene


I’m not a violent person, but when provoked my thoughts can go to a nasty place.

This year’s weed crop has driven me to mental extremes. These crawly weeds generally don’t take hold until June, but they’ve swept across the dry creek already thanks to an early spring. At least three times I’ve tackled the onslaught already. It’s hard to get hold of the slimy green b?#$rds with gloves on, so my bare-handed efforts have left me with shredded fingernails. The gloves stay handy to tackle the larger prickly invaders.


Each time I approach the task with a shoulder-to-the-wheel attitude. One hour of hard time today and another tomorrow. Fifteen minutes in and I’m tempering thoughts of why we try to be “environmentally friendly” and don’t just spray Round Up all over, everywhere, all the time. Half an hour in and I’m contemplating the cost efficiency of a flame thrower. Do those use kerosene?

As the end of the hour comes closer, the look in my eye is frightening the dogs and the neighbors have taken their children inside. My mental picture is me dressed in olive drab, viewing the scene through aviator sunglasses, and piloting a drone filled with napalm over the whole area — chin jutting out, chomping on a stogie, grinning and laughing. The 1812 Overture plays in the background. (Odd how I swap out details in my head to avoid the possibility of perceived copyright infringement. . . )

Then I stand up and walk away with a bin full of weeds. Tomorrow we shall meet again on the battlefield. Sigh. Or maybe the day after; the weeds will still be there.

Three Signs of Spring


The chives survived the winter, first shoots ready to cut.


This year’s spinach crop is up, also table-ready.

Ice cream

And the first batch of home-made ice cream is in the freezer.

There has to be some reward for eating all that spinach!

Last Year’s Lavender

Sunday’s warm weather inspired me to start an annual task that’s tedious but necessary, slightly sad but with the promise of joy: Cleaning the lavender bed. The yard drops off steeply along the front walkway so the bed gets lots of sun, has good drainage – a good spot for¬†lavender. For years we were graced with an enviable abundance of fragrant blooms. Trimming back the faded first bloom ensured a second bloom.

As with most things, time hasn’t been entirely kind. The older plants are no longer as vigorous. The gnarled old growth at the base of those plants looks like miniature grapevines – ruggedly attractive but wholly unproductive. At the front of the bed, the oldest plants have a horizontal rather than vertical habit. The newer plants grow upward, balancing the overall appearance.¬†Scattered gaps in the bed are reminders of varieties unable to withstand Midwestern winters. Perhaps the poor seedlings didn’t read the labels promising sufficient hardiness. They didn’t know they were supposed to survive.

This year I’m taking the task slowly, pruning with more thoughtfulness, kindness. The joy these plants can still give has to be coaxed out gently; trimming properly and, just as important, leaving well-spaced branches should reward us all in a couple of months.

After picking up the tools, I put the bin of trimmed branches in the garage, the pale scent of last year’s lavender filled the air.


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