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Wasting Water

When I moved here I found the yard very dry. I began watering every day and tried to loosen the soil. Nurturing it along, I began to create a garden of favorite plants, which needed more nutrients and more watering. The picture on the left it my house with unsightly lawn, a few straggling rose bushes. I tried to save them. I tried.

As the decade has gone by, it has been a losing battle. I kept working hard using my best gardening skills, after all, I am certified as a Master Gardener through the University of Santa Cruz. I kept spending money in the hopes that I would finally have a well established garden which would, more or less, take care of itself. Some plants did well. Some did not.

Unexpected protracted winter freezes, unusual for my climate, damaged favorites which needed special care to come back only to be damaged again during another year's freeze. Even though I watched the weather and ran outside to cover my precious plants, trees and shrubs, still frost damage occurred. During foggy times of the year, some plants were affected by mold.

I stopped attempting to amend the soil. I stopped watering the wasted garden so much. I had gotten to the point to make the decision. A little wisdom goes a long way and it was time to let nature take it's course. The plants died off that were not suited to my climate. As a Master Gardener, I should have known better.

Slowly, I have replaced them with Native plants  or Mediterranean plants which grow symbiotically here in the soil as it is, with the weather as it is, with the water or lack of water as it is.

As time goes by I hope to have a self sustaining garden, and a very cheap water bill.

Doesn't look like the same house. Does it?

First Anniversary

I look at the mess winter has created outside my back door. I look at the mess the birds have made with all the sunflower seed shells. I'm responsible for some of that mess. I've been feeding them. The possum has contributed, too; trying to get to the bird seed, tipping over pots and stools and other garden paraphernalia. Not to mention his...  poop! Opossum's poop a lot, and not just in one place. It's everywhere!

I'm sad. This mess is sad. It's a sorry excuse for a memorial park. A memorial plot, I mean. There's no honor here.

Last year at this time, I was beside myself in shock. I had all the symptoms, rapid pulse, cold skin, perspiration, tightness in the chest, and an overwhelming sense of horror. Who knew that loving someone so much for twenty years could bring upon such intensity?

I couldn't comprehend the possibility that I would remain sane. I sure didn't feel sane. That first six months was the most difficult. I went to bed at night and all I could think about was her. Not the good times we had. No. All I could think about was her death, and the things that led up to it.  I awoke in the same thought pattern. I couldn't stop myself.

As clear as the moment it happened, I see her now, heading out the door as I reach for the mail, She's plodding across the yard to the far corner where her favorite plant grows. I head out behind her, hobbling along due to my recent surgery. I like to be with her, watching, as she pads around her plant, and sniffs selectively. Though I worry, she avoids the bumble bees like an expert and finds that one perfectly formed leaf for her enjoyment. She nibbles. I'll catch up to her soon. I can break off a stem, carry her back inside.

This was not catnip. Though Keli enjoyed catnip, she also had a penchant for a closely related plant most of us call cat mint. She preferred it over regular catnip. She had passed up the big patch of catnip by the door in order to get to her special plant.

If only she hadn't.

I wasn't fast enough. The neighbor had let her dogs out and headed toward my house. It was almost like I saw it coming. I couldn't run. There was no way I could have stopped it.

It was instantaneous.

I heard a blood curdling scream as the dog's body slammed my little eight pound girl. It was me who screamed but it sounded like it came from outside myself, as if the whole neighborhood had screamed. I can't say I saw her hurled away. It happened so fast. Have I blocked it?

I kept going over that in my mind, trying to capture that moment. Was she under her own power in escaping? Certainly she was suddenly not there, and my scream had startled the dog and his owner, so much that everything  shifted. The dog stood stock still and did not give chase, but ran away. The neighbor and I had harsh words.

Since the door was still open, Keli had made her way back inside before I got there. I examined her. No blood. She seemed herself. She seemed okay sitting there on her rocking chair, as usual.

It took two weeks as her life began to fade. I took her to the Vet, not relating the episode with the dog to her demise. It was the Vet who wrote in her chart about a mass in her abdomen, the lack of bowel sounds. He asked if she'd been injured. Then, it all clicked. It was too late to save her, he said. I could pay a thousand dollars and they would do everything they could, but he didn't feel there would be much hope at her advanced age, the fact she was dehydrated, etc. etc. I needed to let her go. He was very kind. Seemed like he loved her as much as I.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER take your very sick pet to the vet without having a friend go with you!!! Driving home is extremely dangerous, for other drivers, as well as yourself. Several times, I had to pull over just to breathe. I was convinced I would pass out, but not within my senses enough to just stop driving entirely. Very dangerous.

Every night before I slept I re-lived the vet office visit, her looking into my eyes with such clarity that last moment. Every morning the same thing. I thought I would die from the grief. I wished I would. I felt insane.

So here I was a year later, and her resting place beside the back door was... a mess. Naturally, I got busy and started cleaning.

I decided to go out to her favorite plant, her cat mint, dig it up, transplant it, put it beside her. It gets such beautiful blue flowers on it. The neighborhood cats wont disturb it. She was the only one who ever munched on it.

Much to my surprise, I can't even call it surprise, just imagine ..... well, you explain it.

I found the location of Keli's cat mint and discover instead, a four foot circle of dead plant. All the spring flowers and grasses surround that circle. But, nothing invades the space that once was the living plant my cat loved.

Can you explain it? How very, very odd.