If your day seems bad…

… consider that it’s better than this critter’s.

It came to the worksite while the worker was still smoothing the cement slab. Hours later, at dusk, it was still roaming between the fence-line and the stack of new shed parts. Like a drunk trying to find the front door, it went in circles and nearly ran into me in its fruitless quest.


Chipmunk is very confused. This block is usually near the entrance to its home.

Shedding the Shed

On rainy Wednesday I got the news: the old shed will be dismantled Friday. Today after work, I cleared it out – much to the chagrin of the chipmunk living under it and the spiders within. Tomorrow morning I must turn off all the breakers so the wire is effectively “dead” and leave my preferred roof sample atop the still-wrapped new shed kit.

Will give an update tomorrow evening!

Curious Human Things

One of the squirrels was foraging in the front yard when I returned home yesterday. Although it scrambled onto an oak when I drew near, it didn’t go far. It watched me get the mail.

As soon as I went inside, it scurried to the box and studied the obviously important mystery of whether it contained food. The following photo came after it had failed to open the mailbox.


If the fuzzy critters ever figure it out – or worse, Amazon or Alibaba – they’ll be shipping themselves all over the world!



My little buddy

I told family members that all summer long I have been very careful to chase a toad out of the way before doing any yard work involving machines. A few years ago, I had two large toads coexisting in the backyard, and they were easy to spot.  But this year’s toad is tiny.

Finally I was able to get a comparison shot to show how small – and this after a summer of growth!


As I prepared to remove this dandelion, the toad hopped out from hiding.

Autumn is coming…

5cbf584f-542d-4c58-9c48-215ac28f22f1.jpegLast night was cold enough that I woke up and added a quilt to the bedding, but today has been pleasantly warm and sunny. I spent part of the afternoon lounging on a gravity chair in the back yard, enjoying the perfect temperature and ambiance.

The sounds of late summer are in the air. The piercing cicada solos are accompanied by crickets chirping not just at night but all day long. Perhaps competing for food sources, blue jays argue more raucously and chase sparrows from the birdbath. And the background noise of trees has subtly changed to a drier rustle.


Across the river, Canada’s trees are turning red. Despite dark clouds in the morning, the afternoon was bright and the sunshine broken only by lofty cloud mountains drifting through.

Coralbell Makes a Comeback

At the beginning of the summer, I transplanted the mismatched variegated  coralbells facing the street to pots in the backyard. They made way for a smaller dark green variation.

Both transplants took a while to become accustomed to their new homes. They quit blooming and focused their energy on leaves. But this past week, the larger one sent up stalks and now the flowers are even lovelier than years past.


A Walk on the Wild Side


A young, filthy raccoon left a trail down the driveway.

Most of the neighbors bring out their bins and cans Thursday night, making it a weekly street carnival for furred foodies. A raccoon left its mark on my driveway but not in the yard (unlike the new neighbors who had bits and bones strewn about).

My garbage bin sits outside all year-round because the critters haven’t figured out that when they sit on the hinged lid, they cannot pry it open. Not that the young ones don’t try.

In the day, squirrels turn the overhead wires and fences into highways. Two squirrels in particular have an aversion to ground travel. Perhaps they had a frightening encounter with one of the neighborhood’s cats in a yard or simply figured out that most predators can’t reach them. At any rate, it’s delightful to look up from gardening and see a pair or trio of squirrels following each other like acrobats walking a high wire.


A squirrel strolling on the privacy fence.



Last Day of Intensive Gardening

Today is the day I finish the back garden! I’m so close to done, I can almost taste it. (Or is that topsoil in my mouth?)

Yesterday I was stabbed, scratched, and eaten alive by everything but earwigs. The hydrangeas in particular gave me conniptions. First I tried digging them out. Then I cut them at the base. Finally I put flattened cardboard boxes over the stubs – which stabbed THROUGH when I walked over – and hoped they will give up the fight. 

THREE HOURS later, I finished (at least for this year). I jam-packed three bags with their wands and roots.

The one near the house gets to stay. Or should I say “the hydrangea community,” since the dead ones were clearly separate roots in the clump. Or perhaps I should call it Mosquito Estates because the bloodsuckers sheltered during yesterday’s dry, breezy weather.*

I found two lovely river rocks beneath old fabric. I suspect they came from the original owner of La Casa de Tontería, as the couple who sold me it preferred semi-circular bricks. With the river rocks and my collection of Lake Huron souvenirs, I can make a “water feature” aka rock garden around the downspout. 😉

*Amazing how they discovered the gap where the cuffs of the work gloves no longer fit snugly! Bites on the wrist are more painful than the forearm.

Blight-ful neighbor…

…. versus spiteful neighbor.

I’ll take the former over the latter, but it’s difficult to put up with extra work. As of today, I have sprayed weed killer, trimmed overhanging branches, cleaned a section of gutter, and cut the sod to drain water away from his foundation.

I have written about how blight control forced the neighbor to clear out the dozen or more trash bags he had lined up along his house. Unfortunately, blight control laws don’t stop indoor squalor nor overgrown gardens (just the lawn proper).


Street-view of the front of the house, about two years ago. The window is full now and plants overgrew the porch.

The cute little house is full of trash. The lawn is still mowed by the same disbelieving landscaper, but the garden is overgrown with weeds, wild grape vines, and young trees. A maple sapling was allowed to sprout in the seam between the driveway and the house’s foundation.

The Middle School Mafia, who seem to sense when potential victims might be a tad ragey (to use a local term), pulled a subtle prank to test the waters. This past autumn, someone tossed a Nerf football onto the lawn, where it formed a lump under the snow and an annoyance to the other next-door neighbor when spring gusts rolled it across the property line. In the spring, a damaged kick-scooter was leaned against his mailbox, where it remained until another neighbor picked it up for scrap metal after a couple months.

Satisfied by inaction, the Middle School Mafia steer clear of it. Why waste eggs on someone who doesn’t clean it up? Why ring the doorbell on their way home before curfew if, like a tree falling in the forest, no one cares if it makes a sound?*

The neighbor lives elsewhere now, most likely driven out by his own squalor. He retrieves things from time to time, like the boat and trailer sitting in the driveway. On the bright side, whatever vermin infested his house** will find no fresh pickings.

But it is maddening when the taxable value of La Casa de Tontería increases. I asked the folks in the township office: How will the nearby neighbors sell their houses if it comes with the view of a derelict?

*My Old Man began teaching my elder brother and I philosophy with the classic question. As a result, we have a plethora of snide remarks about it.

**The other neighbors are convinced the uptick in cats was due to critter infestations.

The Buzz

Every morning before working in the garden, I spray on eau de cologne called “Get Away from Me, Bloodsucker” (It sounds better in the original French) and put on my work gloves. As soon as I descend with my shovel, mosquitoes float up from the dewy grass.

Honestly, mosquitoes would be some of my favorite critters if they didn’t carry West Nile virus, a variety of encephalitis, and old-fashioned malaria. They float about like fairies, tiny legs dangling coquettishly and humming a happy song.

But they ruin all goodwill by attacking.

Yesterday an extremely aggressive mosquito followed me into La Casa de Tontería. It chased me  through the kitchen. It buzzed so loudly in my ear, I thought it had gotten caught in my hair, so I rushed to the bathroom. No mosquito.

When I opened the door, it was bobbing and banging against the hallway wall like an angry wasp. I smashed it just as it came after me again.

I hate to think I need to wrap myself in mosquito nets in my own home!