Ink Paper Words' Profile

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Pacific Northwest, United States
In elementary school, I desperately wanted my mother to order books for me from those flyers Scholastic hands out to kids. She refused, citing the "perfectly good library down the street." I exacted revenge by becoming a card-carrying ALA accredited reference librarian. Ha! Take that!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Battling the Blackberries

Hard to believe we've been in Grandma's house for a year already. We've done so much but there is still a ton of work to do on the place.

The tenants who had been here for 15 years never notified the property management people of any problems and God knows there were plenty of them, the main one being plumbing issues in the bathroom that caused mildew on the walls in every other room in the joint, rotten sheetrock and a wet slab on the living room foundation under several layers of flooring. We scraped/sanded mildew from the walls, spackled, sanded and painted. We ripped off the many layers of floor in the living room and installed laminate. We tore out the crumbling/cracking vinyl tub surround in the bathroom and put in ceramic tile and a matching back splash behind the sink. We had started scrubbing the kitchen prior to painting and tiling and replacing cupboards when Mom told us to stop; that further work would add value to the place and since Grandma was ill (and 103) she didn't want to have to come up with more money to buy out my uncle Bill's share of the estate.

Well, Grandma passed on the 10th and it turns out Bill isn't interested in any portion of her estate. So we've gotten back to work on it but for now it's the yard. Yep, a half acre of blackberries awaiting us. In March or so Mom had a guy come in with a bobcat and cut them all down. I staked out a 12 x 16 patch for a garden but never got as far as planting anything. Within just a couple of months the blackberries had come back with a vengeance and were already 3 feet high. Aside from the stakes in the ground, it was impossible to tell that I had planned a garden at all.

Some years ago at another property of Mom's I spent my weekends with a pair of loppers cutting the blackberries back 1 cane at a time. This time: no freaking way! We got a plastic cutter attachment for the string trimmer and went to town.

I have come to have the greatest respect for Rubus spp. as a biological entity (this despite an unfortunate encounter with them the year I was 10. We had parked by a railroad trestle to watch fireworks at Fort Vancouver. Klutzy to the core, I fell headlong into a patch. I don't know whether the pain made the fireworks more beautiful than ever than year, but I do know that I spent the next 2 weeks plucking thorns from my arms and legs). Small animals that do not threaten it are able to vanish within its brambles. Its defense system is legendary. It grows and loops over itself and other plants, making it nearly impenetrable. However, our humble Ryobi trimmer, armed with the plastic blade, made short work of dispatching them.

I loves me some blackberry cobbler, but probably not enough to want to allow these pesky plants to take over the yard again. I hear Winco has them frozen in bags...

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