Friday, August 28, 2015

Open Faced, Club, or Traditional

After providing elder-care in one form or another over the past 40 years for my mother, my aunt, and now Mars' mom – the following haiku found its way into my head the other day. 

A life-lesson from

the Sandwich Generation –

kids are easier.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Gray Cat Stalking

The gray cat stalking
amidst our Rudbeckia
yearns for grander prey.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Nailed It!

After between ten and fifteen attempts over eight years I finally hit the cenotaph at the hock of the dogleg on the sixth hole of the White Golf Course at Penn State University.  (Mars and I were playing there on the last day of our annual golf-week Road Scholar program at the college.)
 From the white tees hole number six is a 496-yard par five with a steep uphill rise followed by a ninety degree left turn to a green at the bottom of that slope.  My shot came from the bottom of the hill with a three-wood (which actually now are made of of metal).   It may have been my best one of this trip.   At the highest point is a small stone monument to Willie Park Jr.      I certainly had nothing against Park Jr., but that is what I was aimed at and that is what I struck.


Wikipedia says “Willie Park, Jr. (February 1864– 22 May 1925) was one of the top professional golfers of his era, winning The Open Championship twice. Park was also a successful golf equipment maker and golf writer. In his later years, Park built a significant career as one of the world's best golf course architects, with a world-wide business. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.”

In 1922 at Penn State Park Jr. laid out the second set of nine holes on what was at the time called “The College Golf Course”.  I don’t know if this particular part of the golf course was one of his creations; or if this is the layout’s highest point; or even what the words on the tomblike monument said.  There were other players behind us and as good golf citizens our foursome felt an obligation to keep up with “the pace of play” as links-people like to call it.  In fact I might have even misread the whole thing and the stone may have been dedicated to country singer Willie Nelson or the 1960s hit record “MacArthur Park” – but the architectural connection makes me pretty sure that I have the right guy.
My golf ball had settled down amidst the bed of begonias that had been planted to decorate that spot earlier this spring.  So, within my understanding of the rules of the sport, I quickly moved it so as not to endanger the flowers and hit my next shot, the outcome or trajectory of which I honestly do not remember – because I was still so excited about at long last nailing my target.
Our son, who is not a golfer, wanted to know if hitting the pillar opened a trap door in front of it into which the ball dropped never to be seen again – like the clown’s mouth in mini-golf.  I did have other balls that disappeared into aquatic oblivion, or the dreaded gorse – but not this time.  Clearly he did not understand the significance of the event.
My concern now however is whether this fortunate stroke will turn out to be a blessing or a curse.  I would seem to me that the intent of such a memorial in such a location would be for golfers as they passed by to perhaps rub the smooth granite with their bare hand and thus imbibe some of Park Jr.’s mojo to aid them in their future endeavors.  On the other hand, ever since Cro-Magnon man aimed his first shot at a sheep innocently nestling his chubby ovine body into what would one day become primitive sand bunkers on the windswept coast of Scotland – we should all be aware that a target is a target is a target.
However, even though success in golf is all about repeatability, if it happens again next year then the spirit of Willie Park Jr. has every reason to be really pissed.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Unplanned Planthood

Mars and I did not plant the kernel that has sprouted into an NBA-basket-height (and still growing) sunflower in the perennial garden that lives on the south-side of our garage and into which each summer we wedge a small number of tomato plants – this year five – now adjacent to their towering green neighbor.            

The seed instead came from the bird feeder out in front of our family room.  And was spread either directly or digestively by one of the many sparrows, finches, squirrels and others that take their sustenance from that food server and/or the ground beneath on which I also spread the daily fare for those unable to eat on high.

 (I will stop to mention with some pride that among “those unable to eat on high” are our resident tree rodents who for the past several annums have been thoroughly thwarted by my “tube feeder within a cage – birds only” cafeteria.  It really works.)

Annually these Helianthus horn in on our otherwise meticulously planned flowerbeds – well maybe “meticulous” is a tad overreachy.  But they’re not totally random either.  At least to my somewhat biased eye.  This however is the first time ever in our long horticultural history that we appear to be on our way to having an award-worthy weed as the centerpiece of our landscape.

 It appeared shortly after Mars and I had planted our quintet of tomato plants in the nine square foot area between the gooseneck loosestrife and the tall, yellow daisy-like flowers that we either snuck back via Southwest Airlines from our daughter-in-law and son’s garden in New Mexico, or rescued from the about to be “put to bed’ garden of one of my fellow men’s garden club members.  (Ninety percent of our perennials come from similar backgrounds – so who can remember.)

Initially neither of us recognized it for what it was – instead thinking it was another one of those sometimes intriguing, more often infuriating weeds that pop up pretty much anywhere on our property, pretty much anytime (growing season or not).  So we let it grow to see which.  It appeared to have no interest in halting its vertical climb and when its elephant-ear shaped leave began to shade and even enwrap the incipient edible nightshades I began lopping them off.  Now the entire east side of the stem – which is rapidly approaching the thickness of my wrist – is totally bereft of vegetation.  This evidently is allowing the mini-tree to put more of its energy and willpower into towering.


The tomatoes meanwhile are doing just fine.  In fact they may turn out to be possibly the best crop we’ve ever had – including years past (before we discovered local farm stands and Farmers Markets) when we planted many more in a much larger area.  All in spite of not cutting off the lower tomato branches – thus ignoring this year’s most prevalent tip for bigger fruits and more bounteous crops.

We also have, unbidden, a squash (or cucumber) growing next to our front door step.  It is on its second set of yellow flowers – the first iteration having been eaten by another one of the wildlife that pass through our property – perhaps rabbit, perhaps skunk.


Over the years Mars and I have become quasi-laissez-faire gardeners. "Quasi" because we still weed, and maintain favorable social distances between our shrubs by pruning the intruders back and sequestering them behind wire barriers. Laissez-faire because we trust the plants to take care of the rest.

It is probably good that, as we get older, they seem willing to take on more responsibility.