Arthritis of the lower back, oh joy! [NOT!]

So, Tuesday got x-rays taken to look into this pain I've been having in the lower back, that sometimes shoots down the right leg, sometimes like to make the leg want to give way and buckle on me [hasn't quite done that so far, but at times it sure feels like it wants to.]

Seems I've got arthritic developments down there. They've sent the x-rays over to be looked at by more specialized folks.

So when I'm sitting down I've got twinges, depending on just how I sit. When I get up it's a bit more than a twinge, decidedly an Ouch!

Oddly, the position I kneel in when weeding seems to be free of pain, feels like nothing is wrong with the back, everything is nice and dandy. Then I have to stand up and carry the bucket of weeds to the yard debris can, sometimes a major ouch, sometimes merely a lieutenant ouch.

This is having a decided impact upon my interest in doing cleaning and organizing around the place; for some silly reason I don't like pain, and tend to avoid actions which will cause it. Taking pain meds enough to make a difference fogs the mind something awful, so I don't.

Oy. Oy vey, even.

So I sit around reading, and playing stupid computer games. Being a real slug. Or I go and weed for a bit, filling a bucket or two and then ouching my way back upstairs.

But the parking strip is majorly decreased in regards to dandelions, which is nice. Next, I guess, is wandering back to the back yard to continue working on dandelions there.


Weeding vs Gardening

It's time I came clean; I'm not a gardener, I'm a weeder.

Gardeners look at a stretch of yard, and think about what they can do with it, and see weeds as part of the journey, an irritating part.

Weeders, au contrair, look at a stretch of yard, and look to see if there are any weeds, that they may while away the hours peacefully weeding, enjoying the challenge of each distinct type of weed.

Gardeners tend to work on one area at a time, doing the total makeover, striving to achieve their perfect vision.

Weeders are more inclined to focus on a particular variety of weed, casting about hither and yon to see if one more instance of this fractious weed may be found, ere they switch to another weed, and another method of weeding. Weeders have vision, and it comes into focus somewhere between one and two feet in front of their head, when kneeling on the ground. Weeders may move across an open stretch of yard, following a variety of weed like locusts across a Kansas wheat field.

Gardeners desire order in their yards, and in their lives.

Weeders see order for what it truly is, an artificial construct bearing no relationship to reality. They merely desire a pleasant afternoon in the sun, not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

Gardening is a journey with a destination.

Weeding is a journey without destination.

Gardeners are plant snobs, cultivating specific varietals in specific places.

Weeders are egalitarian, asking only 'Is this a weed?' and if not, leave it be, it looks nice where it is.

Gardeners and weeders both wonder if given plants will play nicely with their neighbors. Gardeners will resort to careful plant management to bring out the best of various not-nice playing plants, while to weeders, well, not playing nicely with others is the very definition of a weed, isn't it now?


Boston Legal, Star Trek, and Stargate

I've never watched Boston Legal. But I just saw an ad for the Fifth Season, and found it amusing that the two male leads listed were William Shatner, formerly James Tiberius Kirk of Star Trek fame, and James Spader, who is the actor who originated the role of Daniel Jackson in the movie, Stargate, a role more commonly associated with Michael Shanks, who first ghosted Spader's performance and then made it his own in the series Stargate: SG-1, reprised the role with several guest appearances in Stargate: Atlantis, and who may reprise the role in guest appearances in the upcoming series Stargate: Universe.

Both Shatner and Spader have demonstrated a gift for comedic acting as well as the ability to be very serious when the roles required it. I may often make fun of Shatner, but he really is quite talented. Spader I have seen rather less of, but if he had not done so well as Daniel Jackson in the movie, Stargate might not have been optioned for a television series.

I could go into all sorts of comparisons between the roles of Kirk and Jackson, how they were both the vehicles for interventionist exploration, but it's lunch time, and food is my friend; a hungry boy is a stupid boy, wherefore I shall go eat.


More Dandelions

Yep, in case you hadn't guessed, Dandelions are the new Clematis. In other words, this seasons obsession.

Dandelions are perennials; they last for more than one year. Over the years their roots grow deeper, send out side roots from the central tap, and sometimes even appear to have more than one top to a single tap. The roots are filled with the same type of white sap as the blossom stems, and have an orange colored sheath. The greens IIRC are edible, and I have heard tell that some make wine from the Dandelion. They are foreign to the Americas, lore says brought over by an herbalist which implies that at some time they were used medicinally. They reproduce via seeds, which are suspended from a fluff-parachute and distributed by floating on the breeze, landing where the wind dies down; they seem to have a relatively low germination rate given the number of seeds per plant in relation to the number of Dandelions in a given area, taking into account that they live for years. The seeds are light enough that a strong wind could carry them a fair distance, so no area is safe from them, although I suspect they don't do so well in arid terrain, preferring seasonally moist soil to expedite deep tap roots to tide them through the summer months. Their greens are saw-toothed, and spread out radially , hugging the ground, from directly above the tap root. The blossoms grow on long hollow stems, closing up at night and opening fully in response to strong direct sunlight; they don't open fully on overcast days. They prefer a sunny environment, not a shade plant, making them the bane of lawn and garden far more than forestland; at least this is my impression. The blossom is composed of multitudinous narrow yellow petals, with a tough green wrapper enclosing them at night and on overcast days; they are actually quite pretty in full bloom, but this could also be said of Clematis, and like Clematis the problem is that they refuse to be confined to any given area, and where possible smother other plants with their greens; where unable to smother with their greens they do poorly, as they require plenty of sunlight on their leaves and do not have stalks. The true reason they are loathed is because their best environment is domesticated lawns. Any affecianado of golf, croquet, or lawn bowling has an abiding hate for dandelions. They are evergreens, and over the years build a thick mat of leaves.

I have no citations for the above, purely my personal recollections and off-the-cuff extrapolations, so I may be wrong in some details.

Oh, we may be approaching veggie planting time, the bumblebees are coming out of hibernation, as have the ants. Have to start actively laying out ground for garden, not as much fun as pulling weeds, but hey, food is good.



While I still question planting veggies, being leery of a late frost, sure it's been warm the last three days but still...

Well, the dandelions are in bloom. Spent an hour or so with the weeder in the parking strip and backyard until my back told me, "Enough already!".

Dandelions have weird tap roots. Sometimes long and thin, sometimes not so long, thicker around, and split, like funky carrots. On the parking strip they tend to head straight down, but in the yard some turned about an inch down and ran along under the surface for a foot+ until they suddenly dove down. Difference in soil is my guess, not as compacted in the backyard.

I'd have had better success if I had started weeding several days ago, the ground is still moist but not as wet as it had been, the roots had more resistance than they would have had earlier, so while some of them yielded long sections of tap root, others snapped off an inch down, far too close to the surface, good odds they'll come back to haunt me.

Lot of dandelions, given I haven't done any weeding before and it's years since mom worked on the parking strip in regard to weeds, so I have something to look forward to for a while. They've been settling in for years, roots growing longer each year, getting smug and complaisant. But their golden age is coming to a close, I and my trusty weeder will take them out, slowly but surely.

I find it amusing, Lee Valley and Garrett Wade sell this tool, which they call 'Grandpa's weeder', telling how it had been a Pacific Northwest standby before the Second World War; you see, this is my grandfather's weeder, I replaced the handle and oiled the hinge, it's good as new. I used it as a kid to pull dandelions in Salem, without the success I'm now having, something about weeding at the wrong time of the year, you don't try to pull dandelions when the ground is dry and hard packed, just won't work, you do it in the early spring and early winter, when the ground is moist and pliable, get it done then and you won't have problems with them in the summer. You do your major weeding when you don't have crops in, as part of your prep work, so you only have to do maintenance weeding during the summer, when you go after the new weeds before they get the mondo tap roots. At least that's my theory, and we'll see how it goes. I may be full of it, after all; it's happened before that I didn't know what I was talking about, it'll happen again, sure as can be.


Still too cold to plant

I've been considering all sorts of goofy things, such as getting a soil thermometer [hey! Only about $10.00 at Lee Valley!], but so far the old hands are good enough for me in re soil temperature.

After all, if after 15 minutes spent digging up odd bits of Blackberry my hands are freezing, it's far, far, too cold to plant anything in the ground.

Different varieties of berries have different types of root. While your garden variety Himalayan Blackberry has the mondo thick 'root from hell' in old established vines, the raspberry has thinner vines, nowhere so thick at their worst. Sometimes it's hard to tell by root, as exploratory tendrils look pretty much the same, and I've not developed the skill to tell apart the various berries based on the initial frilly leaves poking up through the ground as they send out their scouts.

Still no signs of Clematis; the last live section, hiding out on the other side of the fence, was killed back by the Big Snow at the beginning of the Winter, and it's yet to get warm enough for anything to give a look-see. So I'm continuing to feel optimistic that I've done them a serious injury, that there shall be no Clematis in this here yard this year.

The next door neighbor to the East, whose yard I eradicated Clematis from, and shoveled snow from, has gifted me with an electric cultivator, aka roto-tiller; she's shifted away from gardening, having gotten a dog, as well as the cultivator is too heavy for her to use any longer. She got it at a yard sale, don't actually get the impression she used it. So, when it gets a bit warmer, and closer to being plantable, I'll be checking this tool out to see how well it works, if I need to take it apart and give it maintenance, or what. But it'll sure beat spading! Even if I am scared of it, just not as scared as I am of lathes, a tool I just was terrified of back in Junior High, resulting in a 'C' in Wood Shop II, where you had to use it to complete the required project, and I just wouldn't, nothing doing, it looked dangerous. The cultivator isn't that scary, I'll give it a try.