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The Garden Chronicles

Backyard Homesteading, Gardening, Tomatoes

Finally got hammered with a hard frost the other evening.  The tomatoes are kaput.

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Neighbor versus neighbor: In whose Wauwatosa back yard?

American Transmission Company, Underwood Parkway, Transmission Lines

The neighborhood along Underwood Creek, where I live, is the last neighborhood to come to the “party” of high-power transmission-line musical chairs in Wauwatosa.

I’m not sure why we were last. We weren’t paying attention, I guess. And I wasn't among the 430 people who received invitations to the September 12 "open" house.

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Washington Square office tower still seeking tenants, loan

Downtown, Office

In April, it was announced that the Baker Tilly accounting firm had signed a letter of intent to lease around 60,000 square feet at the proposed Washington Square office tower, in downtown Milwaukee.

Three months earlier, I'd reported that the Godfrey & Kahn law firm said it would lease about 80,000 square feet at Washington Square. It would be built on what is now a surface parking lot south of E. Mason St., between N. Jackson and N. Jefferson streets, just east of the Pfister Hotel.

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Alterra Cafe proposed for Wauwatosa's east side

Restaurant, Wauwatosa

An Alterra Cafe is being proposed for Wauwatosa, at the southeast corner of N. 68th and W. Wells streets.

Developers Sean Phelan and William Ibach are seeking permission to build the Alterra at 6745 W. Wells St. The Plan Commission is to review that proposal at its Monday meeting, according to the agenda.

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Lawn of Shame

lawns, grass, white clover, lawn alternatives

 I did it: I successfully ended another gardening season. From June on was able to harvest everything from strawberries and currants to grapes, carrots, and zucchini. Now I'm enjoying watching my pumpkins finish growing and admiring the last blooms of the season from my mums, sedums, and other fall blooming perennials. 

There's just one problem – one ugly, embarrassing problem. 
My lawn. 
The late summer drought seems to have killed nearly all my grass. The rest of the lawn is consumed by violets and other "plants out of place" (AKA weeds). The whole front lawn looks almost as bad as my dog's half-shaved butt
Maybe worse.
It's my fault, really. I let it get this way. I am not a fan of grass. Sure, I like a pristine expanse of sweet-smelling grass as much as anyone – when I don't have to maintain it. But in my own yard, I have no interest in mowing, watering, weeding and feeding in order to end up with a boring green carpet. I'd rather invest that energy (less, really) in lower maintenance perennials and edible plants. So I've spent the last five years removing my front lawn little by little, digging up grass, composting or transplanting clumps of sod and installing mulched flower beds. 
My husband and I wanted to leave a little bit of grass in the front yard, ostensibly for our kids to tramp through. So after letting our front border gardens creep closer and closer to the sidewalk, we decided to stop that progression and leave about half of the front yard's grass in place. We mowed it occasionally. I almost never watered it. I let the weeds spread and I didn't do much of anything to stop them. The lawn was weedy, but still lush.
Then, last year, we lost the large Maple in our front yard when the tree succumbed to disease. Without the shade our grass seemed to suffer greatly from this summer's long dry spell. 
Now all that remains of our front lawn are ugly brown patches of matted, dead grass and equally ugly bunches of mismatched weeds, some live, some also dead.
Earlier in the summer I was determined to do something about my hideous lawn. My first inclination was to pull the weeds out one by one and re-seed with a perennial grass. I didn't get very far with that plan. Have you ever tried to hand pluck violets from a front lawn? If you have, you know it's not fun. And as you might have guessed, I’m not too keen on herbicides, so that option was out of the question. 
Plan B was to think outside of the box a bit. I noticed I had a lot of clovers in my front yard. I did some reading and learned that white clover can be an attractive and beneficial grass alternative. The clover flowers provide food for honey bees and other pollinators. They're also kind of charming. I figured that a lawn consisting entirely of low-growing, easy-to-mow clovers wouldn't be too bad. So I ordered a bag of white clover seeds.
But when the bag arrived in the mail I chickened out. First of all, I'd have to hand-remove all that grass so that the lawn could be pure clover. As I explained above, removing weeds or grass from a lawn is no fun. Also, I worried that growing clover in my front lawn alienate me from my neighbors. Would they be annoyed if my clovers spread like weeds into their own yards? 
Paralyzed by indecision, I did nothing about my shameful lawn. That big bag of clover seeds is still sitting in my house. I haven't even opened the package.
I'm still not quite sure what to do at this point. Every time I look at my lawn, I shudder, and then quickly flee indoors. I'm too busy right now to rip apart the lawn, reseed, and water. I'm probably just going to mow whatever's growing there and wait for the spring to make my next move, which will be one of three things: (a) I'll remove all the remaining "grass" and create perennial beds throughout my entire front yard; (b) I'll pull out the grass and plant those clover seeds, trying something new and exciting; or (c) I'll pull the weeds and re-seed with bluegrass.
In the meantime, I'm actually excited for the snow to come and cover up my horrible eye sore of a lawn. Please don't judge this Master Gardener-in-training; I may be great at growing zucchini, grapes, and sedums, but I'm not much good at tending grass.

Friday Morning Music

Ancient Music Relics, Friday Morning Music, Neil Diamond

It's the start of your weekend ladies. And even though the man is solitary try to be less stoic.  And please don't be so deadpan and pick at your eyes.

Early Neil Diamond....

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Thwack! Bam!! Craaaack! Thud. . .

Wauwatosa, Trees not transmission lines, Walnuts

Yes, it's black walnut time again.

During last week's heavy winds, a huge branch fell onto my driveway, neatly missing the house. Good neighbor Dave helped me cut up the heavy main branch, and the smaller ones I stuffed into containers awaiting pick up day.

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Pain in the Ass

Artificial Joints, Arthritis, Femoroacetabular Impingment, Health Care, Hip Replacement Surgery, Pain In The Ass

I have been feeling a bit lowly lately.  Cranky too.

Right hip osteoarthritis with findings which should be correlated with the clinical scenario of cam-type femoroacetabular impingment. 

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Bless the ones who haul the trash

Trash, Trash pick up, Wauwatosa, Jobs, Workers

Yesterday was the last day of curbside yard waste pick-up, and I had a lot. After dragging the allowed five containers to the road, uncounted bags of walnuts remained, including one of those giant approved paper bags, the kind that deteriorates in the landfill. Those I just left in the driveway to wrangle when I got home from work.

The big bag joined the rest of the yard pickup, thanks to the hard work and generosity of the haulers, willing to bend a rule. It only took a few seconds, after all.

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Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Child Safety, Halloween

Every year we are reminded about Trick or Treat safety, and yes, this year I am going to remind you yet again. Please take a few moments to review the list and discuss the appropriate items with your children before venturing out in search of sugary treats.

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Friday Morning Music

Creedence Clearwater Revival, , Friday Morning Music, John Fogerty

I might have posted a variation of this a year or more ago.  But you cannot get too much John Fogerty...

IB Learners in the Fourth Grade!

Wauwatosa Catholic School, International Baccalaureate


Students at Wauwatosa Catholic have been learning and living the IB Learner Profile. At the heart of the IB is the “Learner Profile,” which transcends all three levels and puts the student at the center of everything we do.

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The Garden Chronicles

Backyard Homesteading, Gardening, Onions, Pumpkins

The closing chapter on this year's garden.

The onions have been drying in the machine shed for a month.  Yesterday was a perfect day to knock the outer layer of dried skin-off and snip the whithered stems.  It was blowing like a gale and the wind carried all of the detritus away.

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A Guy With Two Girlfriends

Girlfriend, Good Looking Blondes, Hunting, Labrador Retrievers, Life Is Good, Raising a Puppy, Sister

Life is complicated when you have a wife and a couple of girlfriends.

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Friday Morning Music

Garage Band Music, Jim Jones Revue

Ooooh baby.  If you like funky blues-rock, dust-off your dancing shoes and crank-up the volume on your office workstation.

Begin your weekend with Jim Jones Revue... 

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PANCAKES for the IB Programme! @ Mo's Sunday, October 30 11-2pm

 PANCAKE BREAKFAST FUNDRAISER at Mo's on Bluemound on Sunday, October 30, 2011

11 am to 2 pm

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Open House~Thursday, October 27 6-8pm

International Baccalaureate, Open House, Wauwatosa Schools, Wauwatosa Catholic School


All are welcome to Wauwatosa Catholic School's Fall Open House on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 1500 Wauwatosa Avenue. 

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Thursday Morning Music

KD Lang and The Siss Boom Bang, KD Lang Hallelujah, Thursday Morning Music

Monday evening found Jill and I at the Balboa Theater in the Gas Lamp District of San Diego to catch the closing performance of KD Lang's North American Tour.

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Traditions of Remembrance of the Dead in the Catholic Faith

As Catholic Christians, we have a tradition of celebrating the Feast of All Saints on November 1st of each year. 

So it is fitting that at St. Bernard Parish, the week leading up to Halloween has been a celebration in preparation of not just "All Hallows' Eve", but a week of preparation for the traditional Mass of Remembrance.  This year's Mass of Remembrance will be Saturday, November 5th, 2011.

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Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead, Dead People, Día de los Muertos, Family, Holidays, Religion

St. Bernard's reminds everyone of one of the traditions of the Catholic faith - namely the remembrance of the dead this time of year.

The history of this tradition is closely connected to the indigenous people that occupied Mexico long ago.  They observed the month-long pagan ritual celebrating death and rebirth during the ninth month of the Aztec solar calendar.  

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