Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Earth Day: War of the roses

This is the year I'll get rid of Mrs. Wilson's roses. About darn time. I've tended them for 18 years, since we bought the house from the Wilsons, though "tended" in this case means supervising from a distance their inexorable decline and degradation. One by one, the roses have expired under my lethal care.

And yet for a few weeks each spring, the surviving bushes miraculously fire green canes skyward, and soon produce, pop pop pop, the kind of old-fashioned, fantabulous roses that you can smell down the block.

Then it's over. The leaves get scaly, black, fungal, and the stalks turn brown. By August, Mrs. Wilson's roses will be tangled in morning glory vines, choked by Bermuda grass and no more likely to generate a flower than to suddenly spurt forth a ham hock.

The old hybrids will thrive only if you douse them with fungicides and pesticides, follow up with doses of nuclear radiation, and then finally, in the ultimate desperate measure, hire a gardener. Otherwise, the great and powerful thing that is Nature will say nuh-uh. Ain't happenin'. Microbes and insects that first evolved in the Devonian will descend in force, and soon the rose garden is a flowerless patch of thorns.

So this year they're gone. I'll replace them with something hardy and no-fuss, like azaleas or crape myrtles or pavement for a parking space. This year there will be no scruffiness or rough edges permitted in the green grid that is my quarter-acre. The beds will be edged with laser precision. Gone will be the vines that run wanton and naked across the property, threatening to carry away cats and small children. My corn patch will not be the pitiful, postmodernist nod to fields of gold, but a real crop, something that requires an actual harvest (mental note: buy overalls).

Or does delusion once again masquerade as hope?

The sad truth is that having a hobby is not the same thing as having a talent. You can be bad at your hobby. My gardening is just a nervous reflex, a twitch incited by sunshine. When I look at my yard, I know the bitter truth: Failure is an option.

But surely this is a thought every bit as old as agriculture. Somewhere along the line we decided that we were the one species with dominion over the planet. Now we suffer for our hubris. Break it, you buy it.

Earth Day is shot through with guilt. We fear our footprints. We strive for sustainability without being able to figure out the most basic question -- whether that will mean a highly managed planet or one in which we pull back and hunker down.

Mow the yard or let it go wild? Impose order on the rose patch, run soil pH tests, soak it in chemicals and turn it into an expression of technocratic civilization -- or let it do its own thing and remain a hippie commune?

Agriculture bested hunting and gathering not because it was easier -- criminy, it was so much harder! -- but because it made larger human populations possible, and eventually the farmers simply outnumbered the hunters. The human population finally became, just in the last year or so, more urban than rural. The suburban yard is a compromise position of sorts. It's the air-quotes version of the landscape we used to know. It's not a lawn, it's a savanna!

And of course it's a biology experiment. Even the smallest yard is saturated in life. A handful of soil has trillions of organisms. And yet it's all the same kind of life, evolved and differentiated over 3.5 billion years. The rose is the distant cousin of the grub (as the grub never ceases to remind the worm).

The other night I joined a small group of journalists for a dinner with Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona State University and the author of many books on cosmology and life in the universe. His new book, "The Eerie Silence," ponders our inability so far to detect signals from alien civilizations. He writes that perhaps we need to look for anomalies in space -- strange things we can't explain that might be the handiwork of aliens. Perhaps, he says, evidence of aliens is hiding in plain sight. We should, for example, look for signs of nuclear radiation from spaceships that landed long ago on our planet. We should look for messages in our DNA, implanted by aliens with the notion that someday we'd figure out how to read them.

Does Davies really believe this stuff? No, not really. He entertains possibilities, but in the end, he's a skeptic. Davies is struck by how complex even a simple microbe is. Life's origin may be, in effect, a miracle -- not technically supernatural, but a one-shot deal, he says. So it is that, on the penultimate page of his book, he declares that he thinks we are probably alone, that we're the only intelligent life in the entire cosmos. Not only that: "I would not be very surprised if the solar system contains the only life in the observable universe."

Wow. That's harsh. That's a lot of stars and galaxies without so much as a bacterium.

But there was a different view at the end of the table, from professor Harold Morowitz, who studies the origin of life at George Mason University. Morowitz sees a more optimistic scenario. He sees the connection between the periodic table of elements and the metabolic pathways of every organism. Life comes from dirt. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust -- there's an unbroken connection. So it's not a miracle, this thing called life, but an emergent phenomenon of matter.

"Biochemistry is geochemistry," Morowitz said from his sunny end of the table.

I hope Morowitz is right, and life is common in the cosmos. Until we know, all we have is our one sample, our Earth life. And from this perspective, running a backyard is a big responsibility.

You do it on behalf of the entire planet, of the entire universe. Life has obligations to life.

This extends even to the life that's not entirely young and beautiful. There is a certain nobility in being, for example, an old rose bush, an improbable survivor, veteran of many a contest, somehow still in the game.

And so I find the organic rose fertilizer and give Mrs. Wilson's roses a little food and some water and another shot at glory.

[Cross-posted from the Style section.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 22, 2010; 8:29 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Knock knock. Who's there? Eyjafjallajokull.
Next: Hubble 20th anniversary image


A good man knows his limitations. Clint Eastwood said that, although he wasn't talking about roses. Or maybe in a sense he was. My experience with them duplicates yours. "30 pounds of manure, that'll take care of them" my father pronounced. He could grow anything at all. So I put the manure on there, and... nothing. A hive of yellowjackets moved in under the rose bush. Certainly no flowers bloomed.

My asparagus, though, is doing so well even the link to a photograph of them would be scrubbed by WaPo censors. I have done nothing for them except throw autumn leaves on them. Your talents often find you.

So who best understands their own limitations in the gardens of thought? Davies or Morowitz?

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 22, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Maybe not the only, but the first? What an odd thought, that we're the ones who are supposed to eventually go out and leave notes for others to find.

Never give up on the roses- My Lady Banks bloomed its beautiful yellow for the first time, requiring 3 moves to get the right spot!

Posted by: wvsharon | April 22, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Gardening? I got nothin'. We have tulips and day lilies in a mulch bed around our tree. Every couple of years we have to dig them all up because the bulbs get too dense. We also have three azaleas and the one closest to the front steps never stands a chance.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Happy earth day! With a rose in it.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | April 22, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Joel said crape myrtle.

Posted by: Yoki | April 22, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

In my former life our summer home had loads of roses. My favorite were the hybrid Peace rosebushes. Yes, they had black spot, mold, beetles and every other pest or disease that a rose can get and yes, I spent a lot of money and time spraying the carp out of them. But OMG, the first bloom every June was worth it. Gorgeous, huge pale yellow flowers tinged with pink all over the bushes. When we had a deck added to the house, I refused to extend it to where the roses were planted as I didn’t want to lose them, the ex was not happy with me, just one of many reasons why we were incompatible.

When we moved here there was a row of miniature roses along the side of the garage. Having had these before, I knew I didn’t like them and I finally dug them out last fall and a last week I planted three rosa rugosa (beach roses) in their place. I also planted a climbing rose near the bay window. I figure the beach roses won’t need any care at all, they grow wild around here, and if there’s only one climber, I should be able to keep it fairly healthy.

I’m at an age where if something requires more work than the pleasure it gives back, its days are numbered. This must be why we have children when we are young.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 22, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

We have a cherry tree right next to our front walk and driveway. The morning dew collects on the large blooms and the leaf growth pulls the branches closer to the ground during spring than the other seasons.

So this morning when I left for work, I started out by getting a huge, sloppy wet kiss from a huge cherry blossom because I forgot to duck when I walked passed the tree.

My whole face got dripping wet, and yes, I blushed a little. I'm a little bashful about these things...

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 22, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Bob S. It's crepe myrtle.

There is too much grass in our yard, and not enough flowers. A couple of years ago, Mr. T contracted with an organic yard maintenance company. They have worked miracles on the turf and the plantings. Last year, they put down something to deal with the fungus in the soil, and so far it has worked. My grandmother's pink rose looks healthy, no spots on leaves, and has huge, lovely blooms on it. We'll see if June brings brown spot in the grass.

On last boodle: my dialect is Standard Southern Piedmont. It has always amazed me how dialects differ, even when people live only 20 miles apart.

Posted by: slyness | April 22, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Happy Earth Day to one and (mostly) all!

I wonder if the volcano eruption in/on/from (take your pick) Iceland might have been a reaction to an overabundance of pollen.

*still miserable* *sigh*

Posted by: -ftb- | April 22, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Suburban gardening as an expression of guilt and existential angst. I am so with Joel on this.

First of all, there is the garden proper. Each year I grow tomatoes, which I shamelessly anthropomorphize (which wordpad doesn't think is a word but really, really is) by ascribing to them personality quirks. This motivates me to take care of them because I pretend they are sentient.

But the primary motivator is that I view this as a cultural imperative. My father grew 'maters. His father grew 'maters. As far as I can tell this link has been unbroken back to some southern Italian ancestor lost in the midst of time. (Yes, I know that cultivation of tomatoes is a relatively recent agricultural phenomenon. But we're talking family mythology here.)

The point being is that I garden partly out of guilt. Sure, I can get good tomatoes at the farmer's market for pennies. But if I do so I would be haunted by generations of Italians. And some of them were said to be kind of grumpy.

So much for the guilt.

As far as existential angst, well, there's that too. I planted twin Concord grape vines back in 2001 as a way to celebrate the new millennium. (Yes, 2001. I was one of *those* types.) I believed that by doing so I would establish some kind of horticultural legacy. I was influenced by this "Ezra Meeker" fellow who founded my home town and whose massive grapevines still grow in the Puyallup City Park.

Also, I thought I might actually get a few grapes. You know, to make jam and stuff.

Alas, from the very beginning these grapes have been afflicted with a black rot similar to what Joel describes. Indeed, I think it is called "Black Rot" and is a persistent fungal infection. Each spring I apply ecologically conservative amounts of fungicide. Then I panic and say to Hades with Mother Nature and spray on more.

Doesn't matter. The Rot always comes. I have learned that this is because microscopic spores live in the soil and blossom under warm humid conditions.

As recommended by a gardening website, this year I pruned the vines back hard to try to keep down the surplus foliage and improve airflow.

I may have succeeded too well. The poor vines are sprouting only anemic new growth. I don't expect much of a crop this year. But at least I didn't kill them outright. I am confident they will come back and continue to thrive.

And my legacy will be assured.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 22, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Joel, when humankind gave up hunting/gathering in favor of agriculture, let the record show it was by a vote of 17 to 14. The hunter-gatherer lobby, mainly the guys from Cave #6, who were tall and fast, would have actually won the vote pretty easily, except for the fact that seven of them got killed the previous winter in a freak mastadon accident that left them pretty demoralized and under-funded during the campaigning. I myself would probably have voted in favor of H/G, being something of a traditionalist, but by that time my knees were pretty much shot and I had gravitated toward becoming the main chef for Caves 1, 2, 4 and 5. (Cave #3 was going through this hippie vegan/Ewell Gibbons thing at the time, until they got wiped out when a near-sighted gatherer mistook some Jack-o-Lantern mushrooms for some chanterelles.) Very tragic...but yes, life was hard back in those days, and one expects the occassional setback due to trial-and-error.)

One of my most popular dishes was Bison Bourgignon, but it was devilishly hard coming across pearl onions, to say nothing of decent-size carrots or wild paprika plants at random during forages through the countryside, so we finally decided we had bettter learn how to cultivate them ourselves, ratheer than go thrashing about willy-nilly in a hostile landscape dodging snakes, bears, lions, sabertooth squirrels (they're extinct now, so you've probably never seen one. Mean, nasty critters. Ugh) and whatnot.

So anyway, one afternoon we got all the surviving cave folks together for a big meeting around the fire, and took a vote. So that's how we gave up H/G and decided to start scratching little furrows in the soil, and trying to keep all the sheep and goats penned up instead of running loose all over the countryside.

Which isn't to say we didn't make a lot of mistakes at first; indeed, we did. I can't begin to tell you how frustrating it was trying to domesticate cats so they would pull plows and let us ride them, or at least make them into pack animals. But no, they just wouldn't go for it. It took us quite a while to figure out that skinning and tanning chipmunk hides was just too labor-intensive to end up with a little tiny scrap of leather that wouldn't cover one...well, never mind. But let's just say, we soon discovered we needed larger pieces of leather to do what had to be done, okay?

So, no, converting over from H/G to agriculture wasn't quite the simple, "obvious" transition a lot of you writers make it out to be.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The people who breed and market myrtles call them "crape".

They're among the relatively few ornamental trees that are bred, rather than "selected", which means someone takes cuttings from a specimen they fancy, and markets the result. Selections include southern magnolias in various sizes, hollies (including dense shrubby ones), and assorted oaks and whatnot.

Breeding includes some disease-resistant elms and chestnuts, Japanese cherries, quite a lot of other ornamental cherries, and any number of herbs.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 22, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

A recent science news story on Neanderthals among our ancestors must be pleasing the late Björn Kurtén, the famed Finnish paleontologist who wrote paleofiction, including "Dance of the Tiger," which features interspecific relations.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 22, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

DotC is quite correct. Back in the old days, we tried breading a lot of these plants, with mixed results. Breeding worked much better.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"interspecific relations* -- sounds like a respectable boodle handle to me. . . .

In Sweden, they have very cheap (yet reasonably okay-to-good) toilet paper called cräpp toiletpapper. I've always had a good laugh about that. Kinda like when I see the signs "infart" and "utfart".

Isn't there a dog food on the market now called "Giggles and Kvetch"?

Posted by: -ftb- | April 22, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

ftb, there's a carwash in Waldorf that has a sign out front that says, "Pollen is not a car color."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Anybody notice that all the section tabs (News, Sports, Style, etc.) on the WaPo home page are bright green? And of course Google has a green (but indecipherable) logo running today.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I would hope that folks interested in a myrtle would first seek out one of the many fine myrtle rescue organizations rather than going to a breeder or one of those infamous "myrtle mills.".

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

One of the strongest lessons to a gardener should be the strength of nature. Laser lines and weed free lawns may be the goal of many but it is always something out of reach because the assertion of the weeds to reproduce is stronger than the will of any human.

It also says something about our inflexibility of mind that takes dynamic systems and tries to force them into a box. That is one of the pitfalls of Earth Day. Everything about the earth and life is dynamic. It's essence is change. Trying to fix some aspect of the Earth, with the good intentions of saving it, is doomed in the long run.

That is why my idea of the ideal of nature is the garden, rather than the wilderness. Human beings are a part of nature and we can cultivate the pleasing aspects of nature and should do it without guilt. BTW, I don't like those laser line gardens.

Posted by: edbyronadams | April 22, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

WaPo is all blue to me. And that's a Google logo? I thought it was some sort of advertising tie-in to the release of Avatar on DVD.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"Interspecific relations" was given the name rishathra in Larry Niven's Ringworld stories.

Posted by: edbyronadams | April 22, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, those myrtle mills of Appalachia selling inbred myrtle in particular.

The supposedly brilliant and beautiful movie "Oceans" is opening in Canada on Earth day. I'm so adolescent I couldn't stop giggling at the name of its co-director, Jacques Cluzaud.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 22, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Myrtle Mills... what a silent film vamp she was.

Hi ra1967! So glad you came out of lurkdom.

Joel... PLEASE help us complain about the new Facebook connection. I do not want to see my FB friends' favorite articles on the side of every article. MAKE IT STOP. I'll have to give up either or Facebook and I haven't decided which one will go yet.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I do a Google News search for 'neanderthal sex' and only get links to stories about Ben Roethlisberger.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

That's because there wasn't any back then, yello. They had hardly only just got around to foreplay.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Philip Larkin claims there wasn't any until 1963. Ian McEwan apparently agrees.

Posted by: Yoki | April 22, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

WaPo hed I'm reluctant to click: "Ezra Klein: Dodd: "We're preoccupied with size."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

BTW, seasea, I finally finished watching the DVDs of The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency last night, including all the special features. Oh, boy, do *I* want more! Which reminds me -- time to get last year's new installment in paperback.

The actors who played the characters were perfect, and I do admire how Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose got the accents down perfectly! It can be tough for Americans to do that sometimes. The language mannerisms were simply lovely to a linguaphile like me.

Mudge, my car needs washing so badly, but I'm gonna wait until the oak pollen stops falling (if it ever does). I suspect, with the way I'm now coughing and with the dripping eyes, that there's more pollen inside of my lungs than there is on my car. Which is saying tons!

Work to do, work to do . . . . later boodle.

Posted by: -ftb- | April 22, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Just so you guys know, I'm stealing the name Myrtle Mills for one of my books. I don't yet know who or where, but sooner or later a woman named Myrtle Mills is gonna stroll into one of my novels. Maybe a page, maybe a paragrpah, maybe only a single line, I dunno. Just so you're all aware. So speak now and raise any objections before it's too late.

No, you won't be credited in the end notes. Just live with it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Every Mr. Wilson needs a Dennis the Menace, don't they?


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

In that case I suggest that you name her Myrtle Mae Mills in tribute to the character of Elwood P. Dowd's niece in "Harvey."

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I was so angry this morning I couldn't see straight. Based on some Boodle comments plus the recommendation of a friend (my ex, as it turns out), I bought from Amazon "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and stated reading it the other day. I'm up to about page 170 or so, and it's great. The title character/heroine is a girl named Lisbeth Salanger; that's all you need to know at this point.

So this morning I get one of those periodic e-mails from Amazon about various and sundry books, one of which notes I'd just bought GWTDT, and telling me the third volume of the trilogy will be out soon. So I click on the link for some details, and there, right off, is a plot summary of the new, third volume. And right there in the very first single sentence, before I can even avert my eyes, is a massive plot spoiler that gives away the climax of Volume Two AND says who the *&^%$#^%$ villain is.

So not only did these morons utter ruin volume two, which I haven't even begun, they may very well have told me something about Salanger in volume one that I don't need to know.

This is why having citizen contributor morons is one lousy idea, and why things need editors. Of all the stupid things to do in an advertisement: blow the plot. God, I was furious. That oughta be a capital crime, a hanging offense.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

I find gardening to be a great spectator sport. The allotment plots behind our local school are now a beehive of activity as planters get seriously pumped by the prospect of making things grow. I get to enjoy the views, aromas, and even some veggies without lifting a finger.

The M-W folks seem to side with crape myrtle as the preferred name, although both crepe and crêpe are acceptable.

Happy Feel-Guilty-About-the-State-of-the-Planet Day to you all. As you might guess, I find it pretty silly. Smokers will still smoke, dead-tree editions of print media will still be published, car owners will still drive, and I will still pollute the local air with the smell of overly sugared baked goods.

Does Hallmark have a line of greeting cards to mark the occasion, or would that be too ironic?

Posted by: MsJS | April 22, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

This seems like the right kit and the right day to talk about my dandelions. I've always thought that people who obsessed about weed-free lawns were silly. Grass, crabgrass, clover, violets, it's all good -- green, maybe some flowers, stays relatively equal in height. And the occasional dandelion brings childhood memories of blowing them. But oh my, do we have dandelions this spring. There were a few early on, but then there were many more, and now in some parts of the yard they're every couple of inches. I think mowing serves as a really nice dispersion mechanism for them. And they pop up way higher than the rest of the grass within 24 hours of mowing, and they look ugly. I prefer to avoid the chemicals, but do I have to do chemicals? If I had attacked them manually first thing, that might have been do-able, but it may be too late at this point. I've been meaning to talk to the people at the gardening center, but now we've got a gardening kit, so it's time to ask the boodle.

Posted by: -bia- | April 22, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, bia. Eat 'em. The greens. Delicious. My grandmother was known to wander the neighborhood in search of them. "In case you're wondering... your mom's here picking our weeds!" was a common phone call.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I minimize the amount of lawn I have precisely because they are so demanding. That said, I would find it impossible if not using some chemicals. My street is divided with a green strip, 40 ft. wide, in the middle. That green strip is maintained, in the loosest meaning of the word, by the city and Pigpen would lose the contest for the best weed garden. The seed from that mess would overwhelm me and my garden if not for an occasional use of broadleaf weed killers. I spot spray instead of broadcast and have not used up a pint of the stuff in about 6 years and my 12 year old lawn looks better than the newer ones flanking me who eschew spraying the broadleafs.

Posted by: edbyronadams | April 22, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Going backward a kit or three, here are some really incredible photographs of the volcano. In particular, the first photo is really amazing. And it and #19 both show something I've never seen or heard of before: red lightning. Does anybody know if that's actually what it is, or some kind of weird light effect, not the true color of the bolts?

There are some photos of lots of horses, which are not themselves too disturbing, until you think about what might happen to them.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Going backward a kit or three, here are some really incredible photographs of the volcano. In particular, the first photo is really amazing. And it and #19 both show something I've never seen or heard of before: red lightning. Does anybody know if that's actually what it is, or some kind of weird light effect, not the true color of the bolts?

There are some photos of lots of horses, which are not themselves too disturbing, until you think about what might happen to them.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. Got a movable type error on the first post. It lied. I should have suspected as much.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Next time you're in the BigHomeBox store, bia, pick up a fishtail weeder and a hand spade. You can indeed pull up the dandelions, as long as you loosen the soil around them with said tools. Using the tools helps to get all the roots out. That's key to keeping them from growing again. Use Roundup if you have to or want to, carefully. Herbicides are much easier on the back, and that's a consideration when you're in your sixth decade, as I am. Good luck! It's worth the effort.

Posted by: slyness | April 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Great pics Mudge, thanks for the link to my home town paper that I should have known about ;-)

Bia, you can also try a product like 'weed be gone' on those dandelions. You may need to spray them more than once but I sorta like this because it feels like I'm shooting them. The tools Slyness suggested will work best, but be warned that it's a hard and tedious job to dig each one up, those roots go very deep!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 22, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Awww, too bad, Mudge. But keep reading anyway, and in order, too. BTW, her name is Salander (no "g"). If you have a chance before the movie goes away, do see it. The movie that's here now is only about the first book. There are two more movies (for each of the other books in the series), which I hope make it over here. I cringe when thinking about what the Hollywood/American version is gonna look like. I'll definitely take a pass.

Posted by: -ftb- | April 22, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

bia, in most lawns the stronger plants win. You're getting all those non-grass plants because the grass is weak.

Some people are going for the "lawn au naturel" look and that's certainly one option. If you'd prefer a different one, here are some non-chemical long-term strategies for a grassier lawn:
1) Loosen/aerate the soil. The more compact or clay-ey your soil, the less the grass likes it.
2) Use the proper type of grass seed or sod.
3) Fix bare or sparse spots in the late summer or early fall so the grass takes hold and has a chance to out grow the weeds the following spring.
4) Keep your grass on the long side, say 3 inches. A thick 3-inch lawn makes it harder for new weeds to take root and get sun.
5) Be relentless about pulling weeds the instant you see them. I used to spend 20 minutes after work each day pulling weeds before making dinner. It does help cut down on next year's crop.

Posted by: MsJS | April 22, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"I’m at an age where if something requires more work than the pleasure it gives back, its days are numbered. This must be why we have children when we are young."

Badsneakers, you nailed that one!

Posted by: nellie4 | April 22, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I believe the lightning only appears to be red because it is being photographed through the cloud of ash. This is the same reason the sky turns red at sunset when the light reaches us through a larger cross section of atmosphere. Redder sunsets worldwide are predicted as a result of the eruption.

The waterfall shown is Skogarfoss, just one of the many spectacular falls in Iceland. It's on the south coast at the town of Skogar.

Icelandic horses are supposedly the most comfortable riding horses in the world. I have no personal experience of this, but after watching them run around- it's more a glide than a trot- I'm willing to believe it.

A couple of interesting films made in Iceland are "Cold Fever" a fish out of water story about a Japanese salaryman who travels to Iceland to memorialize his dead parents, and "Beowulf and Grendel" with Gerard Bulter as Beowulf. Skogarfoss appears in the latter film and the accompanying "making of" DVD feature gives a good idea of the difficulties inherent in filming in Iceland.

The impression I got when we visited Iceland in '01 was that it is a beautiful and unique place populated by hardy and self sufficient people who accept and embrace the sometimes fierce nature of their homeland.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Gerard Butler

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I guessing I should finish the book before I see the movie, yes? If I see the flick, I'll know what happens in the book (generally speaking). I hate having the ending ruined for me.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I got one of those dandelion invasions this spring. I have perfected my technique to yank them out by hand; the key being to get ALL the leaves, including the outer ones that lie flat, in hand prior to pulling up. I have killed 50 so far at most and that's most of them. Boo on the frog killing herbicides. Also, grass will thrive so well with regular limestone additions that it will choke out many weedy species.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 22, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

OK, what kind of "weed-n-feed" should I use that won't harm the kitty? Someone told us that spreading about 10 lbs. of corn meal from the grocery store is a good thing to do. Comments?

Posted by: ebtnut | April 22, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, indeed, Mudge. As thick as the books are, they do read rather fast, I found. I'll bet that between "honey-dos" this weekend, you can get through that first book. Remember, there's a *lot* more in the book than in the movie.

Posted by: -ftb- | April 22, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

From Joel's piece: "So it is that, on the penultimate page of his book, he declares that he thinks we are probably alone, that we're the only intelligent life in the entire cosmos. Not only that: 'I would not be very surprised if the solar system contains the only life in the observable universe.'"

Ya call this livin'?


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

And I think calling what's going on here as "intelligent" is charitable at best.


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "And I think calling what's going on here 'intelligent' is charitable at best."


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

One word: Rosebud.

My wife has taken to the get 'em as soon as you see 'em dandelion eradication system. It's still early in the season. We'll see how long she holds out.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the lawn tips, everyone. I know already that weeding every day isn't going to happen, but I'll start pulling them here and there, and I'll sit down and make a lawn care plan as soon as the end of semester crunch is over.

Posted by: -bia- | April 22, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

If you are thinking about abandoning Mrs. Wilson's roses, may I suggest that you try a completely different tack with your hobby?

The replacement plants that you listed are all non-native. This website:
has good information on why that is not the best way to go and planting native plants would be beneficial to our eco-systems without any additional cost or effort on the homeowner's part. Native plants are very good in a garden. In fact, Europeans have been cultivating North American plants for a couple of hundred years for their gardens. North America has actually had to import some of their improved varieties back from Europe so that we can grow them in their original homeland.

Assuming that you live in or near Maryland, here is a useful website to help you get started on the selection of native plants for your hobby:

Other states also have good websites that are similar.

Posted by: raydh | April 22, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Because we kill anything that's not us, what's to say the aliens aren't terrified of us...

My thumb too has shades of brown, but not from dirt, no that's the color of wither & failure.

Posted by: Nymous | April 22, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I never see any references to Björn Kurtén. I believe Jean Auel ripped him off most grievously.

Posted by: davemarks | April 22, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Okay, all the dandelion talk has inspired me to find my forked tool and go get the relatively few I've noticed in the yard. Also, it's too darn nice to be inside right now.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 22, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Happy puppies, Mudge!
Myrtle Mills needs those or else
trees blooming with cats


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I may have mentioned it but my gardening skills seem to be limited to harvesting the soul instead of the fruit of any green thing I seed. Even native or near native plants that should grow pretty much by themselves can't make it through a month. The raspberrys sucumbed to some strange white fungus in the ground and have shrivelled to little bonsai stumps. The leeks were overrun by a some kind of clumpy grass, fell over and died. The beets got eaten up to the greens by some unknown critter (something else came for the sad leafy bits the next day). The pumpkins were strangled by a nasty ground creeper with pretty purple flowers.

I'm considering trying to eat whatever it is that is growing out there whether I planted it or not. If that fails, I'll only go halfway back towards hunter gatherer and raise a goat or two in my backyard. I should be able to live well off the milk, cheese and ocassional goat curry.

Posted by: qgaliana | April 22, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I have a friend, avid golfer, who assesses his neighbors with a dandelion coeficient, and if too high, complains that they are bringing down the value of his property. I gave him permission to pull mine up when ever he sees them in my yard. Ha!

My question: Would it be green of me to apply weed n feed to my lawn.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 22, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

We have a lawn service for our 0.04 acre yard. I have a DADT policy for chemicals. The beds get mysteriously mulched and the grass stays green barring serious drought.

I hear rumors that we still have a backyard, but I haven't done any independent confirmation in several months.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of green grass, I'm off to the baseball game. Let's see if they can hold the other team to fewer than ten runs in the first inning today.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 22, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Just heard from my sister and my nephew has moved to NYC this very day! When I told my kids, the first thing they each said was, "I know where I'm going soon."

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Hi, all!

I thought a couple of tips I used to give out during my park naturalist days might be of interest. (And on-kit! wow.)

If you use a paintbrush (like a one-incher or a basting brush) to "paint" the herbicide on the leaves it will use a lot less than even a concentrated stream spray, introduce less into the surrounding environment where you don't want it, and only kill the plant you want removed. Do it when it's not supposed to rain for about 24 hours so it doesn't get washed off and you're good to go. Most herbicides are more effective when absorbed through the leaves and not the ground so any that gets on the ground is wasted and is more likely to run off.

Using a mulching mower allows the clippings to decompose and release nutrients back into the soil and will help keep your grass healthy and cut down on the amount of fertilizer needed. It also has the added bonus of not having to deal with clippings.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | April 22, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

mudge, I have the same problem with online book reviews. I won't touch one if it's about a sequel. Most reviewers are pretty good about indicating any spoilers regarding the work they're reviewing, but don't seem to have any problem with giving away plot elements on earlier work. I also learned to never read the movie descriptions on the box from a few home video labels because of their habit of giving a complete summary of the plot -- including the ending.

Posted by: rashomon | April 22, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Can't you just pick up and target a munching bunny in the same way as a weed sprayer, only at closer range, MotheMountain?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I've had great luck using boiling water as an herbicide. Just boil up your kettle and bring it out to your garden. (Once you take the kettle off the fire it's water temperature will drop a few degrees and cease to boil in the time it takes you to get out to the garden, but the water will still be extremely hot and will kill the weed growth by scalding it). Pour the stream of water slowly and carefully onto the crown of the weed. You can make this easier and more effective by cutting off the top growth of the plant before you dowse it with the kettle water. Pour the water from a low height of just a few inches above the plant crown to avoid any splashing. Some perennials with long taproots,such as dandelions, may resprout from the lower root area if it hasn't been scalded. In a lawn you can remove the top growth and dig a hole above the root....manually remove some of the root if possible. Pour the kettle water into the hole and it will seep down and kill whatever sections of the weed root it can reach. If a weed resprouts in a sidewalk crack or driveway repeat the boiling water treatment. Each time the weed resprouts the growth will be smaller and weaker and the most stubborn perennial weeds will eventually die, usually after two or three treatments. Safe, non-toxic weed killer.

Posted by: lafred | April 22, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

While I was pulling the half dozen dandelions I could find, our neighbor came over to rototill the vegetable garden. It is still a mud hole from last months rain and from the water the basement pumps drained to that area of the yard. So I figure that at least it's churned up and should dry faster. A few minutes ago I heard thunder and upon checking the weather radar I see a storm is headed this way soon. Rats!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 22, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I've done that, lafred, but a reminder: this is NOT what is normally meant by dandelion tea.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Boiling water for weeds on Earth Day. I protest.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 22, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse sister and I used to love to make up TV Guide-type descriptions for movies and shows...

Citizen Kane: A dying man utters the name of his sled.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I prefer to lightly blanch my weeds, then grill them with Monterey Steak Seasoning and a little EVOO.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King: Short furry people destroy some jewelry.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Just saw this headline on WaPo.cpm:
Afghan Assembly Gains Influence

Does this mean that our boodle knitters have special powers?

Posted by: Raysmom | April 22, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I planted a full vegetable garden this year just before putting the house on the market, hoping the lush growth would help sell the house. After only four days, we had an offer and are now heading swiftly toward closing. But my greenish thumb won't let me be lazy. I water every day, weed the beds, always knowing I'll be gone before anything is produced. The house I'm purchasing has a verrrry shady back yard, so I'm not too sure about a vegetable garden. May have to knock down a tree or two for the sunshine.

Posted by: Gomer144 | April 22, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I had to check to realize EVOO is extra-virgin olive oil.

My mind rang up: Ethyl-vinyl-ortho1,3,chlorino-oxide or some such noxious chemical.

In short, I had an image of you spraying liquid vinyl curtain plastic on your weeds.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Casablanca: French cop shoots Nazi and splits.

Gone With the Wind: husband and wife separate.

Psycho: crazy guy arrested.

Some Like It Hot: same sex marriage proposed.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

To Kill a Mockingbird: Sheriff launches coverup when lawyer's son kills a child molester.

Remembrance of Things Past: Man eats cookie, remembers great sex.

The Godfather: Young man takes over dad's business.

The Godfather, Part II: Vacation plans, business trips go awry.

The Godfather, Part III: Night at the opera no laughing matter.

Thelma and Louise: Woman kills friend, self after balling Brad Pitt.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

To Kill a Mockingbird: Sheriff launches coverup when lawyer's son kills a child molester.

Remembrance of Things Past: Man eats cookie, remembers great sex.

The Godfather: Young man takes over dad's business.

The Godfather, Part II: Vacation plans, business trips go awry.

The Godfather, Part III: Night at the opera no laughing matter.

Thelma and Louise: Woman kills friend, self after balling Brad Pitt.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Earth Day: Chop down a Tree.

Shady backyards are great for AC bills, Gomer. Good luck in finding the right spot for a veggie garden, preferably away from the house so you don't lose that cool feeling.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Anybody remember the Spoilers feature in National Lampoon? I used to read the ones for all the R-rated movies I was never going to be allowed to see.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

kguy, how could you!!!!!!!!!! You know Louie didn't shot the Kraut. It was Rick. I know you know that.

Casablanca: Cop watches as bartender kills unpleasant customer.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, thanks for the hello in the last Kit. It's good to be back. and 'yall can short hand it as "ra" the new 'boodle rules wouldn't let me have a handle that short.

Wilbrod_Gnome, After your last post, do you think I should get rid of the Clordane and some other things in my garage? It sure takes care of the ants in the driveway.

Posted by: ra1967 | April 22, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The Fugitive: doctor searches for amputee

Posted by: rashomon | April 22, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The Electric Horseman: Jane finds missing equestrian.

Henry V: Cavalry slaughtered while riding to rescue.

Becket: King grieves over drinking buddy's sudden demise.

Titanic: Man finds old lady's missing necklace just where she left it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Middlemarch: Can hope survive a pair of unhappy marriages?

Lonesome Dove: A poke in time

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... see my note to bia... my dad DID blanch the weeds and then sprinkle with lemon and EVOO. He probably would have liked the Montreal seasoning, too, but the grill would have been overkill.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Das Boot: group of young men embarks on cruise

Posted by: rashomon | April 22, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Cold Comfort Farm: Something ghastly does live in the woodshed

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The Exorcist:family saga about a mother's problems coping with a wayward daughter

Posted by: rashomon | April 22, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Breakfast at Tiffanys: food, fashion, and friendship

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Atonement: Teen tells big fib.

Treasure Island: Differently abled sailor, boy take sea cruise.

8 1/2: Man rescues woman from fountain.

Batman: HAZMAT encounter sparks crime wave.

From Here to Eternity: Bugle boy won't boogie-woogie.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Titanic: elderly woman discards necklace.

Fargo: artist wins duck stamp design contest.

Saving Private Ryan: they do.

The Terminator: girl gets pregnant after one night stand.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Legends of the Fall: men with luxurious hair engage in sibling rivalry

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The Great Gatsby: tinkling coins, flower-petaled treachery, and boating

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Love Story: class conflict cuddling clipped by cancer

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Chlordane? It's been forbidden for years.
(Can I confiscate your bottle? Gawd that stuff was good)

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 22, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

The Bridge on the River Kwai: engineer builds bridge
King Kong: woman rejects suitor
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: knights search for missing dinnerware

Posted by: rashomon | April 22, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

The Searchers: John and Jeffrey's excellent adventure.

Splendor in the Grass: Warren can't past third base.

Network: TV anchor finds window of opportunity, yells out of it.

Last of the Mohicans: Native Americans squabble over squaw.

North by Northwest: Ad exec misses flight.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Old Yeller: Popular pooch dies.

To Have and Have Not: Teen teaches fisherman how to blow.

On the Waterfront: Boxer could have been a contender.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 22, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Ulee's Gold: Beekeeper troubled by parasites.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 22, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Seven Samurai: farmers get rice crop planted.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

The Alamo: not memorable.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 22, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Check out "Dirt! The Movie" on your local PBS Independent Lens programming. It's a great take on living soil and connecting with the earth!

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | April 22, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think the expression is: "I coulda been a contendah"

Posted by: -ftb- | April 22, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, if you have a munching bunny to aim, pull the trigger, but they aren't always so good with getting the roots. ;) A lot of non-native plants (weeds) aren't eaten by local animals, too.

Let me clarify about herbicides: Mostly the painting was used when you had an invasive weed in an otherwise fairly good environment or when run-off was a major concern (like next to a stream). We're talking things like hogweed, honeysuckle, kudzu and the like that are extremely hard to get rid of without herbicides or constant vigiliance with a spade, but if left in the environment would take over everything.

However, if you choose to use an herbicide like Roundup in your yard, painting minimizes the amount and only gets it where it ought to be.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | April 22, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Here's an herbicide that is root-based and biodegradable though:

Says it's safe for humans and animals, but I haven't tried it.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | April 22, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Gotcha. We need a robo-goat/mole hybrid to really pulverize kudzu and their ilk.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

lol. Great visual. I read a few articles where they were using sheep in the South to combat kudzu, and by all accounts the sheep were winning and keeping it contained.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | April 22, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

That was some gully washer we had, small hail, much rain and noisy thunder. Now there are puddles in the freshly tilled vegetable garden. Maybe I should grow rice?

Posted by: badsneakers | April 22, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Love the movie synopses. I like the ones that include an absurd little twist like:

The Shining: Troubled family make new friends while on vacation.


2001: Spaceman has great trip despite technical difficulties.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 22, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I've always been intrigued by the concept of a walled garden. The walled garden doesn't fixate on what goes on beyond its walls. It is complete and perfect as it is. And within the walls there is safety, beauty, and freedom from anxiety.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 22, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the best walled gardens are *really* walled. And have anthropomorphic droids.

Although, honestly, I'm still uncertain about the Joan Baez.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 22, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Star Wars I - VI: A long long time ago a boy got bad advice, developed a serious respiratory problem, and eventually died in an unsuccessful attempt to take over the universe.

Posted by: MsJS | April 22, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Wizard of Oz: Girl runs away from home only to return an hour or so later

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Back in the 90's I was traveling from Shreveport Louisiana to Longview Texas with my Grandmother. She was driving of course.
We stopped in the woods somewhere past the state line, I asked her what she was doing.

She told me she wanted to go out in the woods and look for some wild cherokee rose. We found one, believe it or not.

I planted a cutting in my retired parent's yard ... now it's 20 feet tall, crawling up a telephone pole, and putting out 4 petal blossoms on the new growth every year.
And nobody is taking care of it. It lives on the rain it gets, on the soil it lives in.

Well, my Grandmother passed away a couple of years later, and my parents have retired.

Whenever I get down to Texas to visit my retired parents, I always spend a little time with that cherokee rose my Grandmother searched for on that day.

Posted by: barferio | April 22, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

MsJS the boy wasn't That ambitious, he only tried to take over a Galaxy

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Lord of the Flies: Unsupervised boys run amok. Well. DUH!

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Scarlet letter: after an affair is revealed the <woman> is branded

Blade Runner: an adroid dreams of electric sheep (wait, that's not right)

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

kguy's Alamo is so far my favorite

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Omni, yeah maybe only the galaxy to start but you know those things take on a life of their own.

Ya just know he'd be sitting in his Death Star 280-Z looking out at all them other galaxies, checking his appointment book and realizing that next month or two was wide open so why not go conquer a few more planets.

That would have guaranteed the filming of Star Wars VII - XII.

Posted by: MsJS | April 22, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Ooooops! Mea culpa, mea culpa. I'm guilty of what I accused kguy of: I got the wrong killer in the To Kill a Mockingbird line. Should be "Sheriff, lawyer launch cover-up when neighbor kills child molester."

And must disagree:

The Alamo: Local authorities evict undocumented illegal alien church squatters.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 22, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Titanic: woman remorseful over hogging flotation device discards remaining evidence.

Posted by: engelmann | April 22, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

And the St. Louis Rams are on the clock.

Somehow Joel, I don't see Tebow going anywhere tonight.


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

A League of Their Own: Men go off to war, again; Women play ball

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

12 Angry Men: dissention amongst jurors results in acquittal in stabbing trial.

Posted by: engelmann | April 22, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

barferio... great story. I can picture that blooming vine and appreciate the attachment it brings to your grandmother. Thanks for the lovely image.

I can't believe what I started with the movie listings. But the thing is... you've got to ruin the twist at the end for it to be acceptable to my sister and me:

The Crying Game: A young man finds out the woman he is dating is really a man.

The Sixth Sense: A young boy is treated by a dead psychiatrist.

Soylent Green: A policeman discovers the food he is eating is made of people.

Psycho: A motel operator pretends to be his own dead mother.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Surprise! Rams take Bradford.

Oh, I have a short synopsis:

Rashomon: Sez *you.*


PS: Sorry rashy.

Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Ya know MsJS, I thought exactly that after I posted

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Howdy. All week, by the time I can catch up with the Boodle it has run far ahead of me and it is too late to post. So, before reading any comments, let me say how much I appreciate this Kit. Joel has hit my nail on its head: just because I like to try to garden doesn't mean I am good at it. This appears to be one of the things I encourage myself to do even when I get virtually no positive response from the activity. But hope springs eternal: this may be the year for vegetables. The least I can do, I feel, is to try.

Living as I do on an acreage, and one which has never been formally "owned" by anyone other than my extended family at that, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to the land, to be as good a steward as I can. I have significantly revised my definition of "good steward" over the years, moving from lawn to ecosystem and from meticulously designed and planted flower bed to often or at least occasionally weeded flower bed. However, the impulse remains. If the blackberries grow, I must weed, water and pick them. If the grass is ankle or knee high, I must cut it. I must trim the trees or at least pick up the fallen limbs.

I always find this time of year a trifle overwhelming. Spring comes and all outdoors, or at least my vaguely fenced portion of it, cries out for attention.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 22, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Ok, Tampa's on the clock for another 5 minutes, then Washington.

I'm thinking they pick up Okung for a left tackle. Which would be a good thing, IMO.


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

OK, following TBG's rules:

Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader revealed to be Luke's father in ongoing space drama.

Planet of the Apes: Spaceman returns to future Earth where apes are masters over humans.

Posted by: engelmann | April 22, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Washington on the clock now.

Gerald McCoy weeping over being drafted by Tampa. No matter why, I wouldn't blame him.


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Well, about 1/2 hour ago I got the phone call I was expecting and dreading. One of my mother's best friends (perhaps her real best friend) called me to tell me that her husband died this afternoon. He has been in ill health for quite some time, and -- as they say -- it was a blessing that he died, about two months before his 93rd birthday (she's a very vibrant 88 and master gardener (see -- I'm on kit!)). I'm so sorry I can't get back to Michigan to the funeral (which might be on Sunday), but I told her that I would write something for her over the weekend.

Even when it's expected, it's really not expected. He was a WWII veteran and they were both ham radio operators, which is how they met. His idiosyncrasies were legion -- he was very dominant and a control freak, with a soft heart (somewhere in there) and a capacity to start a monologue having myriad threads, exploring *all* the threads, and somehow coming back to the point after having tied all the loose ends into a bow. It was pretty captivating most of the time. He and my dad were very good friends and colleagues (both attorneys).

Her adult children (in their 40s) will be arriving from Ohio and NYC, respectively, tomorrow. I wish I could be there for her, as well, but it's just as well that I don't. She knows I love her and that I will always be there for her.

And another body from the previous generation bites the dust. So to speak. She would understand the inelegance of that statement, even if he would go forth and castigate me for perceived insensitivity. I learned to ignore those kinds of things.


Posted by: -ftb- | April 22, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

The Wire: Tragical and True and Hip Stories of Baltimore Courtesy, in part, of George Pelecanos

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

And Washington takes... Trent Williams, OT.

OK, I'm willing to believe.


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

So sorry to hear about your loss, ftb. Sad to see the folks of that generation go. (And not just because that means we're next.)

Hugs from all the G family.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Slowly working through comments - soon must abandon it and will probably lose the whole thing.

Bia: dandelions = ecosystem. Pretty yellow flowers. Stalky things. Puffy heads, fun to blow on. Embrace the chaos. Eat the leaves.

Thanks to Mudge for explaining the whole hunter/gatherer vote.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 22, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I am so sad always at the loss of WWII vets. Both granddas were WWI vets; several uncles were in WWII and two are gone and two remain. I won't be surprised when I hear of their passing but sad, yes, will be sad and thankful

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

OK, only one of my five meets the strict rules, but I do like my Blade Runner (it wasn't even trying, so there is that

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

ON KIT!!!!!!!!!!
Lovely Cherokee Rose story. Thanks and welcome.

This from Gertrude Jekyll on roses:
The back-door region and back-yard of many a small house may be a model of tidy dullness, or it may be a warning example of sordid neglect; but a cataract of Rose bloom will in the one case give added happiness to the well-trained servants of the good housewife, and in the other may redeem the squalor by its gracious presence, and even by its clean, fresh beauty put better thoughts and desires into the minds of slatternly people. END QUOTE


Roses for English Gardens. Written with Edward Mawley and originally published in 1902, and readable here in entirety.

Frosti IS our very own Gertrude J of the Northern Climes.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

AVP: Predator kicks ass, Alien has last laugh, Mudge's girlfriend sole survivor

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Rear Window: cool elegant blond helps photog BF bring evil Mr. Thorstein to justice; bonus story on Ms. Lonelyhearts will warm.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Never saw it, so had to look it up. Didn't know Sanaa was in it.

Was she good?

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 22, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

From Here to Eternity: SX on the beach, in Technicolor, is lovely and without sandpaper friction.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: The Spanish Civil War intrudes upon a Scottish Girl's School; school marm is victim. Wee darlin' accents charm.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Clueless: Underage Blonde
Legally Blonde: The sequel

Posted by: -dbG- | April 22, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

dBG - the brevity and truth award to you. Huzzah. Pretzels all around.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

OK.. as long as we're playing a Sisters game, now it's time for Lame Hints from Heloise:

Hint from Heloise: If the light from a bulb in a lamp is too bright, put a "shade" over it to diffuse the light better.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

ftb, sorry to hear of that passing - best to you, and the families and friends.

A thought about gardening - a managment of life involves decisions and work to support them; some we manage to get right, some not so much.

But there's no substitute for love and care and attention.


Posted by: -bc- | April 22, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

TBG: Add ketchup when mustard will not do.

(reverse is true also)

In MD, however, Old Bay might be the best choice.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I see the financial system reform bill is having problems in the Senate. With the filibuster available to them, the GOP is gonna block that bill more times than Dick Cheney's aorta.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 22, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

thx cqp. Hope you are well!

Unfortunately, two of my favorite movies.

You had to say . . . pretzels . . . now that all the pretzel bakeries are closed for the evening.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 22, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Hint from Heloise: On a hot day, pour room-temperature tea into a large glass and add a couple of ice cubes from the freezer.

Hint from Heloise: Use a large spoon or a scoop to transfer ice cream from the carton into a serving dish.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 22, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

So Mudge, I shouldn't use my hands to serve ice cream even if I have washed them?

Posted by: russianthistle | April 22, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Sanaa is the reason to see it

Sorry I gave it away, but she really does make it worth it for me

A really strong character, but of course.   watch it only to see her act and I don't think you'll be disappointed

Posted by: omni3 | April 22, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

MUDGE: Ice cream transfer is two-step, you Mr. Myrtle Mills! Warm the oversized spoon by holding it under the warm faucet. THEN, and only then, scoop the ice cream.

Add rhubarb sauce, of course.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

HINT FROM HELOISE: After eating, take a toothbrush and some paste and vigorously wipe your teeth clean for much-improved breath and smile!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

HINT FROM HELOISE: pre-soak stained clothing in white vinegar.

Posted by: Yoki | April 22, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

What kind of stains, Yoki?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 22, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Why rhubarb and chocolate ice cream, of course.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Dark Chocolate Velvet ice-cream and fresh raspberry stains.

Posted by: Yoki | April 22, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | April 22, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

The world collision stains of red wine and chocolate volcano sauce intended for the bread pudding on the sideboard.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 22, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Just so.

Posted by: Yoki | April 22, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey yello... did you see this?

Posted by: -TBG- | April 22, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

"The Greatest Story Ever Told": Young man of uncertain parentage vows to save the world, dies trying.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 22, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Just because I like seeing this picture every now & then:

'night, all.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 22, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I got to see the (Royal) National Theatre's broadcast of "The Habit of Art." It made surprisingly good video, considering there were no special effects, no trap doors, no one swinging from ropes or flying. Just a seeming rehearsal, play-within-play. I'm supposing there's enough foul words to deserve an R movie rating.

I'll be at Epcot as a participant in their flower & garden festival. Probably a good learning opportunity--I'll be with a cycad expert.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 22, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

For Christmas my brother gave me a copy of the book from which the following apropos quote is taken. Its author went on to collaborate with Samuel Clemens on _The Gilded Age_:

"I scarcely dare trust myself to speak of the weeds. They grow as if the devil was in them. I know a lady, a member of the church, and a very good sort of woman, considering the subject condition of that class, who says that the weeds work on her to that extent, that, in going through her garden, she has the greatest difficulty in keeping the ten commandments in anything like an unfractured condition. I asked her which one, but she said, all of them: one felt like breaking the whole lot. The sort of weed which I most hate (if I can be said to hate anything which grows in my own garden) is the 'pusley,' a fat, ground-clinging, spreading, greasy thing, and the most propagatious (it is not my fault if the word is not in the dictionary) plant I know. I saw a Chinaman, who came over with a returned missionary, and pretended to be converted, boil a lot of it in a pot, stir in eggs, and mix and eat it with relish,—'Me likee he.' It will be a good thing to keep the Chinamen on when they come to do our gardening. I only fear they will cultivate it at the expense of the strawberries and melons. Who can say that other weeds, which we despise, may not be the favorite food of some remote people or tribe? We ought to abate our conceit. It is possible that we destroy in our gardens that which is really of most value in some other place. Perhaps, in like manner, our faults and vices are virtues in some remote planet. I cannot see, however, that this thought is of the slightest value to us here, any more than weeds are."

o Warner, Charles Dudley. _My Summer in a Garden_. 1870. Prod. David Widger. 23 Feb. 2009. Project Gutenberg. 22 Apr. 2010 < >.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | April 23, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

A chain link fence divides my neighbour’s house and my back yard. My neighbour often practices his golf swings on his very nice lawn. It makes me look bad when I let the lalang grass on my side of the fence grow to 3 ft tall.

I have a big front yard but it’s difficult to plant flowers and veg on it. It has lots crab grass, Bermuda grass, a little cow grass, lots of lalang grass, lots of thorny touch-me-nots, and lots of others weeds that I don’t know their name. It was bed filled with soil that had lots of stones mixed into it. It’s too hot to be out in the sun. Plus, I don’t want to be breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the mosquitoes.

If I think of anymore excuses, I’ll post them.

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 23, 2010 3:51 AM | Report abuse

New species in my back yard! Well, not exactly my back yard…but close…. Maybe there are new species among the 3' tall lalang grass.

Boko, click on the slide show. You’ll like the flame-coloured snake.

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 23, 2010 4:21 AM | Report abuse

*desperately trying to catch up*

Don't know if anyone else has noticed, but I think I've discovered why that imam was linking earthquakes and women --

The "Sex in the City" sequel is set in Abu Dhabi.

*rilly-rilly-rilly-REALLY-TFSMIF Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 23, 2010 5:23 AM | Report abuse

I did happen to see that article. I even posted a few comments to it and blogged about it as well.

I've also made snide comments about the new Facebook app on Gawker and Wonkette saying that WaPo sold their soul to Mark Zuckerberg for a cheesy widget. One response was surprise that the Post still had any soul left to put on the market.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 23, 2010 6:12 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Morning, friends. I have two of the most beautiful roses in my little space. I have not removed a weed, turned any dirt, raked any leaves, but beauty cannot be hid.

On my way to the doctor this morning.

Have a great day, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 23, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse

And why hasn't anybody been talking about our secret unmanned Mini-Me shuttle?

Posted by: yellojkt | April 23, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra--hope that doctor visit helps and doesn't hurt, even for a little while.

Good day to everybody, Happy Friday and all that. As always, my gardening scheudule is opposite to that of DC residents. Most of my plants are dying now, ready to be plowed under for the summer. We just have a few more eggplants and one last crop of collard greens, and then it will be over and I'll just be hoeing weeds in the garden patch and mulching and meditating on next year's strategy.

For the rest of the yard, weed control is just about all I ever do, and never with chemicals, so it's a lifelong pursuit. I have made progress in the past two years, mainly because of my long unemployed stint. I came to like the meditative value of pulling weeds so now I look forward to spending time in the yard when I get the chance.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 23, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company