Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Attack of the Tunneler!

Deep into the Lawn Wars, I've found a new Nemesis! Yes, with the capital letter and all! It all started last year, in a small area beside the house, the side with the big heat/air unit.  The ground felt...well...squishy.  As I walked behind the mower, my steps sunk into the lawn in certain areas.

My response: what the-?  My wife, the erstwhile naturalist and manga cum wilderness knew more. Mole. No, not one of those brown bumps on your arms (or elsewhere) these are little burrowing varmints that make little tunnels in your greenery and eat the worms.  Now, the good Lawn Ranger knows that worms help aerate the lawn, thus giving more water to those areas that need it.  The mole had to go.

My online research gave me little.  No, I'm not using chemicals and no, I don't want to trap it.  I want to get rid of the destruction, yes, but research says that there is little you can do other than spraying your entire yard with castor oil. The best answer seemed to be just stomp down their tunnels on a regular basis and they move on. So for several days I dutifully got on my big boots and stomped up and down the tunnels.

And. Amazingly. It. WORKED!  The mole was gone! Huzzah Huzzah! I danced in the street.  Oh but this spring, I have a new area - somewhat bigger than the other, but more tunnels.  Curses!  The little rodent had merely moved!  (Cue wild thrashing of limbs and gnashing of teeth.)

So, the war begins anew.  With one minor change.  This year, I am using a time honored and storied remedy. Juicy Fruit Gum.  Yes, you read that right. Juicy Fruit Gum. 

Wrigley's Juicyfruit Chewing Gum - 40 / Box 
Handed down from my father-in-law to my magna-cum-wilderness spouse, Juicy Fruit Gum is said to a) attract and b) kill such things as moles and gophers.  The trick to the entire thing is to NOT get any of your human scent on the gum.  Using gloves you roll the gum up or twist it up into a worm shape. Moles and gophers love the smell of Juicy Fruit and love to eat worms. Then you just stick it into the tunnels that are used most.  (Without gleefully cackling too much, or getting your evil human scent on anything nearby. They eat the gum.  And. Die.  (Cue more dancing in the street amid evil cackling...)

I have only just begun my wars with the evil Roedor de la C├ęspede*, but know this: The South shall win this war.  Mark my words.  The South shall WIN!

*Rodent of the Lawn

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Leaf Me Alone, I'll Rake it Later

It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me (or reads this blog on a regular basis) that I don't do a lot of excessive work around the yard.  Mowing and edging are about it. No weeding, no spraying, no placing of cement creatures with cute smiles and little umbrellas. No, nothing more than mowing or edging. This means that come Fall, the leaves fall and I leave them where they fall. (Or is that LEAF them where they fall?)

Raking leaves, as any good Lawn Ranger knows, allows the lawn to get more light and keeps insects from making an all you can eat buffet out of your grassy yard. In MY lawn? Grass? No, more like weeds, clover and some strange light green stuff I'd rather not get too close to.  Not really in need of sunlight and protection.  

The experts say to get the grass off properly, start with a blower (yeah, right) and finish it  up with a rake. No, not going to happen. You see, here in the south, we get about 2 weeks of fall, and then it's a rainy cold winter.  There's just not time to blow the leaves and then rake them.  Getting wet leaves to rake up off a wet lawn is akin to herding cats.  Wet cats. Not only that, but the weather makes it near impossible to plan to do this.  Other areas get nice cool weekend days during Autumn to rake and pile leaves. Here in the glorious South, we get rain. Cold. Wet. Rain.

So, it all comes down to the Springtime to get the leaves up.Which, because of the rainy spring here in the South, again makes it difficult. It means waiting for a sunny afternoon and getting out the blower to blow the piled leaves off the patio, out of the carport and out of the corners by the fence.  Scoop them up with my big snow shovel and into a bag. 

Looks good.  Until the stupid leaves fall again later this year. It's a never ending fight, here in the South. Ok OK, MID-South, but you know what I mean, right?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Downtown Additions - Nashville's New Amphitheater

Headed home in the bus the other day when I did one of those things I rarely do.  I looked up from my book to watch the city go by.  Well, I really wasn't day dreaming, I was trying to get a gauge on when the bus might actually be in my area of the city.  My lovely Mrs. likes to schedule dinner on the table practically as I walk in and my being able to pull myself away from my book to gauge the time helps her in this endeavor.  But, again, I digress.  

We hadn't even traveled out of downtown when I spied something new. A construction site where there used to be a big meadow. (Yes, a meadow just downtown, as odd as that might be.) It's something new and different, so I took a picture thinking "Oh, gotta add this to my blog..."  It was the next day when I had done the research to find out what exactly was being built next to the river.  A New Amphitheater.  

Oh.  Yes, Nashville needs one more venue for music down on the river.  Nashville is fairly starving for music venues.  (You catch the sarcasm?  Heavy on the irony?)  Ok, so we all know Nashville is "Music City" and there used to be a great Amphitheater many miles from downtown with acres of parking where all the greats once played and it's neat to see the city embrace this need and replace it.  In fact, here is a rendering of the new amphitheater:
You can see the river there on the right and downtown right smack dab there on the left.  Me? I love the idea of an amphitheater!  I have a background in music and the idea of natural acoustics has been part of my DNA ever since I first attended a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. 

Now, I rarely question things southern, but I have to admit there are some puzzling aspects to this.  I know what you're thinking.  Parking.  Well, you'll be surprised to learn that the bridge you see upper right is a pedestrian bridge which leads across the river to the big parking lots adjacent to the stadium where the Titans play: LP Field. There is even the train station just the other side of the bridge (See the tracks there along the River?) where people can ride into downtown for a concert and then ride home.  You might also be thinking of the mosquitoes which would be living along the river in the summer.  Again, you'd be surprised to learn that this is not the case with a faster moving river like the Cumberland.  

No, all things being equal, the design and features of the Now-Being-Constructed Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater are pretty much a diamond in the rough.  Yeah.  Except for one little thing.  That low building there to the left?  It's right across the street.  And it's not surprising to learn that these are Condos. There have been a lot of new condos being built in the downtown area and these are some of the best. But, y'see, the people who live there will now have to live with live music from the new amphitheater.  Yes, acoustics may keep this to a minimum, but I'm not going to be laying any money down on one of these lofts just yet.  

As I said, the New Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater is in the works, but for the life of me I can't seem to find an estimated date of completion.  Now, my brother Bubba says that this means it will be completed on time. But, Bubba, WHAT time?  There is no mention of a date to enjoy the amenities at the  Now-Being-Constructed Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater.

I think I will just keep watch on the site.  Who knows, I may learn something in the doing. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nashville - Home of the Goo Goo Cluster

It's been almost 30 years since I first moved to this great city.  I've been here so long I consider myself well versed in the lore and all things unique to my home: Nashville.  It amazed me then when my brother, who lives out in Sunny Southern California, called me one day to ask a favor.  He wanted me to send him some candy. Say What? 

He and his wife had been watching one of those shows about the origins of [whatever] and discovered a candy that's been around over 100 years and is made right here in Nashville!  It's called the GOO GOO CLUSTER and it was also the first combination candy bar ever produced!  To be honest (and in so doing, I will most assuredly lose some Good Ol' Boy Points I may have saved up in the last year) I'd never heard of the Goo Goo Cluster.  

In 1912, in a copper kettle at the Standard Candy Company at Clark & First Avenue in Nashville, TN, the world’s first ever combination candy bar was invented. A roundish mound of caramel, marshmallow nougat, fresh roasted peanuts and real milk chocolate; its renegade shape was more difficult to wrap than the conventional rectangular or square shapes of the day. More importantly, this was the first time multiple elements were being mass-produced in a retail confection. Previous to the advent of the Goo Goo Cluster, candy bar manufacturing consisted of bars solely using chocolate, caramel or taffy. The Goo Goo Cluster represented the first time a bar consisted of more than just one principal ingredient.

The Goo Goo Cluster recipe hasn’t changed over the years, although the cooking method has undergone a few tweaks. Goo Goos used to be hand dipped and sold without wrappers under glass at drug store candy counters. With the dawn of hand wrapping, ladies would swaddle the Goo Goo Clusters in tinfoil. Eventually, machinery was put in place to automate wrapping the Goo Goo Cluster. Today, the process of making Goo Goos is so streamlined that Standard Candy in Nashville can produce 20,000 Goo Goo Clusters an hour!

And what about that name?  The story of how the candy came to be named comes in many versions. Some people say that it was named Goo Goo because it’s the first thing a baby says. Howell Campbell, Jr., the man whose father invented the Goo Goo Cluster, says that his father used to ride the streetcar to work every day and he would talk the matter over with fellow passengers. Mr. Campbell was announcing to fellow passengers on the streetcar his newborn son’s first words and a school teacher made the connection with the candy. She suggested Mr. Campbell name his treat Goo Goo! It is so good, people will ask for it from birth. 

Although my brother had to get me to send him some, the Goo Goo Cluster can be found all over the US (and then some) and I recommend it for all candy lovers and for all Southern WannaBe's like me.  Just don't be calling me to send you some!  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Southern Walker and the Puppy Popper

Headed off to the store the other day I see this couple walking down the street, both carrying very long walking sticks. It reminded me of a southern man I once knew who walked every day and who carried a stick much like that which he referred to as his "Puppy Popper." It was amazing to me to learn that this is a standard walking item here in the South - complete with the moniker. Now, before you start writing letters and getting all upset, let me at least digress a few times. 

You see, here in the south, there are a lot of dog owners who feel that they should allow their dog to run free, and therefore do not put up fences, use leashes or attempt to contain them at all.  Those who know dogs know that this means that the dog WILL run free and will consider any part of the adjoining property or roads to be theirs -AND, as it's theirs (or so they perceive,) they will protect it from any sort of attacks - such as that older couple walking calmly down the street.  

The Puppy Popper (no Trademark or Copyright on that name - that I know of...) is a defensive item, carried to ward off these over zealous animals and protect oneself from their protective endeavors. Myself, I think it might be better to use it on the owners who endanger their pets by allowing them to run 'free' but that might not go over well.

Once, not too long ago, on a walk when carrying my cane (don't start) I happened upon this very situation. As I walked by a house, the dog came running out (no chain, no fence,) hackles up, barking and baring its teeth. Now, the nurturer in me wanted to calmly point out to the animal that we were merely passers by and his (her) endeavors to get us to leave were rather overzealous to say the least.  The alarmist in me took over, however and I raised up the cane to protect myself.  To which the dog stopped and walked back to its home, leaving me rather confused as to what the frak just happened.

Perhaps the dog was intrigued by my all teak cane and came running out and shouting (in dog language) "What a neat cane!  What's it made of? SHOW ME SHOW ME SHOW ME!!"  And when I raised it up, he thought "Ok, cool.  Thanks. Seeyabye." And went back to protecting his house.  In truth, it could just be that the Puppy Popper did its job.  Others who carry them tell me that just waving the thing around can usually diffuse the situation and rarely (if ever) has any of them had to actually Pop any Puppies.

So, the next time you find yourself walking in the South, be sure to carry a Puppy Popper (or a nice teak wood cane) and you'll feel more southern in the doing.