I’m tired, beat, petered, played, worn, and tuckered out. And it’s only Wednesday!
At this time of year, Summer bearing down hard, my family tries to get our outdoor chores buttoned up. I swear to Gawd, I heard the weather man say “a hundred” yesterday. We’ve been doing all the onerous jobs around our rentals, hoping we won’t have to do them again before the temps start to dip in the Fall. Monday morning, armed with a brand new swiffer head, I went merrily off to work.
Swiffering is not one of my fave jobs, but you know, it’s rewarding. Yeah, I keep repeating that while my arms are going into spasms from repetitive stress syndrome – it’s going to look so nice! It really does, getting rid of all those dirty wads of old spider web and brushing the accumulation of dust off the windows.
I also remind myself that whenever I raise my hands over my shoulders, I’m getting an extra cardio workout! I wonder if it’s good for my abs, whatever those are. It must firm up those chicken flaps under my armpits, because they don’t hit me in the face when I’m swinging the swiffer around anymore.
I get myself all wrapped up, masked, with a ridiculous bill cap on top – EGAD! – you would not believe the shower of bugs and junk that comes off the eaves as I roll the brush along. An earwig landed on my shoulder the other day and I did a bionic jump over a rosemary bush. Every now and then I find a mud dauber or a paper wasp making herself a fine little nest – I feel kind of bad, but I take the butt end of my swiffer and smash it. I look for damage along the eaves and check the attic vents for holes in the screens, etc. I look for ants’ nests and place little bait stations. Ants and bees are vindictive, that’s for sure, I don’t know how many times I’ve had to strip down and hose off, or run for the safety of the F-150.
There’s also a lot of whacking and cutting – this year the pink valerian at one of our rentals got face high, incredible big flowers. They were beautiful, but by this time they are all gone to seed, the fuzzy heads making the whole garden look frowsy. So, I put on my boots and overalls and wade in to the herb garden with my little snippers and spend an hour here and an hour there, “dead heading” flowers. I search out all the sprinkler heads and cut away the over growth of peppermint and oregano, all coming to head underneath the blanket of spent valerian. The sprinkler heads get so buried they can’t spray properly, and things were starting to wilt in places.
At another rental we had an incredible poppy patch that I’ve wheedled along over the years in a spot where the sun is so hot nothing else but weeds will grow. This poppy patch lives off the rains from Winter, we don’t water that side yard except for a row of shrubs along the fence. It is too hot to grow grass, and in past we had a problem with it turning into a weed patch instead. Poppies are the perfect cover for such a hot spot. Every year we gather seeds and throw them in that side yard, and every year the patch has grown. It was so big this year, my husband and I enjoyed it from our upstairs windows, until just recently, the heat turned a little hotter, and the whole patch went to seed and began to turn brown. They have to be yanked out by hand, they just look ugly as heck if you try to mow them.
Poppies are a nice weed block because, besides being beautiful and our state flower, they are incredibly drought tolerant. They bloom with no water until it gets too hot for weeds to grow, and then they just yank out of the ground and go to the compost pile. I always pick off the nicest seed pods, I either distribute them in other areas, or I save them in a brown paper bag – it has to be paper so they will dry out and pop open to spill out their million tiny seeds. I was not able to finish that patch before the 9:30 sun was beating my head, but I had a wheel barrel load toppling over and I decided that would do until I could get back over a little earlier in the morning. The end of the load was heavy with poppy seed pods, so I picked off a good sack full.
Today I went back to dead-heading, and then a little bit of last minute pruning. Our lemon trees are already producing next year’s crop, and I decided I better get in there and thin off all the excess greenery so the remaining fruit has plenty of room to grow. As I crawled around under that tree, with two inch sharp spines around my face, I thought about the pitcher of lemonade I would make with juice I saved from last November’s harvest. I like to mix it with cherry Kool Aid, or black tea, and pour it over a tall column of ice.
Lemon balm is heading up around my yards. I notice where my husband mows it with the lawnmower it gets thick and full, makes a pretty ground cover. Where it grows long it gets stringy flower heads and begins to look shabby. I like to pinch the new growth and make tea – you just stuff your tea pot full of it and pour in hot water. My aunt gave me a nice tea pot with a little sieve in the spout, I can make fresh peppermint or lemon balm or feverfew tea when I feel like it. The feverfew is blooming in a sea of lemon balm in one tenant’s dooryard, she says it’s a soothing combo. You can run your hands through it, or even walk in it, and it sends up a shower of fragrance.
I had to quit by 11 o’clock, I was running out of shady spots to hide in. I left my husband standing in a big hedgerow with his gas hedge trimmer, telling him he better quit before the driveway gets hot enough to fry an egg. By the end of this month, we should be ready to go on a low-alert schedule, because it will be so hot, nothing will have the nerve to grow.
Time to start thinking about Summer Refreshment.