Sit right back and you’ll hear the longest tale in the history of time

Do you ever get annoyed because you can't phone someone because they're dead? My current dilemma would be solved in a moment if I could just phone my grandmother. But not only would I have to go back to 2005 when she was still alive, I'd really have to go back to before she had dementia, which means I'd have to go back to about 1999, and I had a particularly stupid haircut in 1999, so I'd have to weigh that one out.

My poor grandmother would have hated having dementia, had she known she had it. Being smart and independent were here biggest accomplishments. I know this sounds dreadful, but I'm glad she died quickly after she had to go to a nursing home. She would have hated, HA.TED. being in that state.

When she died, we went through her stuff and found this:
Grammy
Can you read that? It reads, "Info for when I die (and about time!)" I will forgive her the punctuation inside the paren, because this is so, so her. She had no desire to go on forever. Clearly. And as you can see I liked this so much I had it framed. Grammy slayed me. She was not a doily grandmother.

I like how I have gotten off on this tangent when I meant to write one line about her and stampede to my dilemma, which is that I have gardening issues and do not know what I'm doing and Grammy would have known what to do in a millisecond.

We have a large tree in our backyard, and I love that tree.

Tree

I make a point of looking up into that tree at least once a day, along with my current other goal, which is to try to look at fireflies each day while they are here. (Look at Marvin, all doing yard work like a homeowner. Kills me.)

But the problem is, no grass will grow under this large tree.

Yard

It looks dreadful. I tried planting grass last year and it did not work. Do you enjoy Tallulah's disgusting plush toys on the deck? They are being washed as we speak. Which we aren't. And trying to gather up her toys while she was in the backyard was a joy. She didn't think we were playing or anything. She didn't leap 50 feet in the air after each toy as I swooped it up.

Prettygirl
What next!? Which toy?! Lula happy! Lula not annoying!

Runny
WAIT! That my toy! Lula run after you like crazed rabid beast!

Yes, Marvin IS cutting the grass today.

So, what do I do about the bare spots? It seems weird to put ground cover there randomly. Do we just make the deck bigger, build around the tree? Isn't that expensive? Help. Help, help. I am totally Polly Purebread right now.

Be my Underdog.

Oh. And I tried to take an obligatory Henry picture and I could not find him.

Fran
Not with Fran. And whoever called this a sheet last time, it is not a sheet. It's a…thing from Urban Outfitters. I put it on this chair because Fran is getting really crippled up and gets litter on his chair, because he brings some back with him each time. Hey, I'm just glad he still uses the box. Anyway, this NOT SHEET is washable, as opposed to the chair.

Henry wasn't in his usual hiding places, nor on the beds. So I called him and heard a muffled mew. There is nothing scarier than hearing a muffled mew when you have a kitten.

Attack

He was in the closet! When I let him out, he shook it off, then returned to attack the door. Stupid door.

Then he jumped on my lap to hear about what a poor kitty he was, and I tried to take his photo but he kept chewing the camera string. So I held him up and took his picture, and he was not pleased.

UpmadUp

Remember the first day I got him and I did the up photo thing? That was April 23. It is June 20. Look how big he's gotten in less than two months!

He's also gotten a little attitude, hasn't he?

I will go now, because this was the longest post ever and your family has put your photo on milk cartons, but don't forget to tell me what to do with that bare part of my lawn. And remember I live in the South, so South-related foliage, please. Thank you.

Oh, but wait! (Your husbands have taken on a new wife. Your kids have forgotten what you look like.) The coveted comment of the week–affectionately known as Special of the Week because I'm irritating–goes to two people this time, because last week I was basking in the UV rays and did not award anyone. So Bronwyn receives accolades for two weeks ago, and Kira, The Mommy gets kudos for this week.

Did anyone see The Real Housewives of NYC where Ramona mispronounces "kudos"? Oh, how I dislike Ramona.

45 thoughts on “Sit right back and you’ll hear the longest tale in the history of time

  1. We have oodles of ground cover around our house here in MI. Aunty M gave it too me when I turned 50–many moons ago. She gave me the best gifts ever that year. All gifts started with the letter L (roman numeral for 50). Along with a ticket to LA one of the gifts was a small patch of Lamia-that she had”lifted ” from someone’s garden,when she was on a vacation. Anyway the stuff has taken root and has grown to be a great,lovely ground cover. Point of story–I can dig some up and bring it to you when we you visit.

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  2. I wish I could talk to you about Lamia or Lamium or whatever that is. Alas, I’m gardening challenged and my own grandparents aren’t around to call, either.
    Just deck around the tree. It’ll be cheaper than all the eighteen jillion things you’ll try over the course of the next few years. Once it’s decked, you can do planters the deck which will grow anything.

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  3. *sigh*
    There are 18 jillion grammatical errors in my previous comment.
    I swear I had a 4.0 in graduate school. It just wasn’t in English/Creative Writing.
    If you have your Master’s in Creative Writing, does that mean you can flaunt punctuational convention?
    And make up new words?

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  4. I’m thinking that you may have to go for the bigger deck. If the grass won’t grow under the tree most likely a ground cover won’t grow either. The bonus is the new deck will give you more room for entertaining…ok…it will give Lula more room for her toys…who are we kidding?
    If you need help I’m volunteering my husband! We are in Greensboro too and I’m just sure he’d be thrilled to help! (she says with all confidence) Good Luck!

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  5. Forget the grass, what does the rest of your grandmother’s note say? I have tried and tried to read it. Put me out of my visual misery and tell me what the list says. PLEASE!

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  6. I really like the idea of extending the deck. Since you do live in the South, you can use the deck for much of the year. Also, it will give Marvin something to do on his summer vacation which may keep him out of trouble. Be sure to get advice on how to construct the deck so that the tree will continue to get what it needs from rain and sunshine. Maybe your brother-in-law can help when he visits. Maybe you could put a cute round seating space around the tree with room for it to grow. Henry is really getting long legs and Tallulah looks taller too.

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  7. Well, I am delighted that I won the coveted award of funniest comment! Yippee!
    From what I have observed about this grass problem, which I don’t have because I don’t have any trees here in cookie cutter subdivision Tampa, is that usually people spend a lot of energy and time and money trying stuff… and then put down interlocking brick pavers. Which I like, and which, interestingly enough, pavers seem to encourage grass growth between the bricks! I have no idea how much this costs, but it is possible to do yourself. IF the bricks are too expensive and the chore too arduous, I really have no other suggestions, because I don’t do grass, man. Not anymore, anyway.

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  8. My hubster once built a deck around a tree and it was lovely. We had the same problem that you do. I guess the only problem would be if the tree died and then you’ve got a big hole in your deck. But why worry about that right now? Live in the moment, June.
    I just blogged about the new deck the husband just finished. It’s not the one with the tree. That was our last house.
    OR, you could plant St. Augustine grass. It is shade-tolerant and very nice. If you know someone with St. Augustine it is very easy to take sprigs (like when they weed the flower bed or edge the driveway or what-not) and just plunk them in the ground…water..and voila! It grows like crazy.
    Good luck!

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  9. Hi Junie,
    Since I am a gardening gal, I’d be hesitant to try the lamium. Often with these big trees, they’re sucking all the nutrients from the ground around them and that’s often why nothing will grow at their base.
    I’d do the decking or pavers, but be sure to do something permeable so the tree continue to get enough water. They make semi-permeable pavers and you could even try spacing them such that you could try growing plants in the nooks and crannies such as English moss or the lamium (both are shade-tolerant).
    Just a thought!

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  10. I would have loved your grandmother. How smart (and thoughtful) to gather all her important papers together.
    I have no wisdom for you about your poor tree, but plan to mooch off your comments because we have the same poor tree and his friends in our back yard. I could be completely wrong, but it might be due to roots being close to the surface?
    We’ve thought about putting down pavers,
    but have been too lazy. And cheap.
    Now I’ve made myself paranoid about a comma before but. And I did it twice.
    Harry is too much!

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  11. We live in South Georgia (yes, it’s a different state from the rest of Georgia!) and our solution to that very problem was to make a huge pine straw bed out to where the grass actually grows. Much cheaper and easier than extending the deck, although that would be my first choice if time/money/effort were not issues.

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  12. I like the idea of extending the deck AND I like the brick pavers. What I don’t like is having a small deck and then a small patch of pavers. Too choppy. Either extend the deck and have it be one big expanse of deck overlooking everything OR take out the deck and do just a brick paver patio.
    I agree with the idea of built in seating around whichever you do. I can just picture you, Marvin, Talullah and all the kitties sitting out there so peaceful like with your sweet iced tea. You are knitting and Marvin is alternately swatting flies and fanning you. It’s a lovely picture. 😉

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  13. Culpepper,
    Grammy’s paper up there also lists the things she has saved for the about-time death event. So there is kind of a bullet list and it says:
    -Car title
    -Addresses re pension
    -Marriage certificate
    -Birth certif.
    -Metrop. insurance policy
    -Will
    I don’t know how Will felt about being stuck in all her papers. BAHAAHA!

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  14. Confederate Jasmine is my favorite in-the-south ground cover. You can keep it nipped back so it doesn’t climb the tree, or let it go right on up.
    And yes, South Georgia is not part of the state where At-lanter rules. At-lanter’s Georiga Native Plant Society donated us to Florida, which has much nicer native plants.

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  15. Ok, I have no clue what to do with that bare spot since I’m pretty sure the Kansas solution is not the NC solution. BUT, I know that someone in your little ole home town would know. You have a county Extension Office there (I know because I indulged in some safe Googling). Someone in that office will be able to help you. You would be able to find out what your options are – if you want to go with plants/grass. If you want to go with deck/pavers, they may or may not be able to help you. That is where the so called experts in Home Depot/Lowes/whatever should be able to help you.
    So the non-funny point of this comment is that for a non-biased, research-based answer to lots of home/yard/animal questions, run on down to your local Extension Office. Every state has ’em, but not every town. Several states has one in every county seat. Excellent resources.

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  16. Deck. We’re in the south and use our deck year round. Yes, last “winter” we grilled outside most of the time – stupid weather. Who the hell wears shorts at Christmas and then has snow (that actually lasted three days on the ground). We haven’t had snow in 20 years.
    Anyway, I got lost there for a minute. Put the deck in, put some seating around the sides made out of the same decking material and get yourself some pretty pots to put plants in. Automatic entertainment area.
    Good luck.

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  17. Did you try shade grass seed? It is meant for sitautions like this. However, this is not the time of year to plant it. You would need to wait until fall when it is a little cooler. I have been going through the archives since Nester brought you to my attention. I must clean the sprayed drink and food off my computer screen today! My favorite posts are 1. Your engagement – Marvin wins the best proposal category and 2. When Marvin took $300 out of checking during no spend year and “defended” himself by posting a love song on your comments. That Marvin is one smooth guy.

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  18. Hi June,
    Nearly once a week I think about a call I need to make to my mom, then remember she has gone through the Pearly Gates. Love the notes your grandma left. Priceless.
    If you have the money I would extend the deck, or do as someone else suggested and remove the deck and put down a large patio.
    Either one would increase your property value more than the lanscaping. If money is an issue, spread out a ton of pine straw or pine nuggets over an expansive area.
    I must say I was glad to see a comment from Mother. I was afraid she wasn’t speaking to you after your post about her!

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  19. I am currently sitting in my cool house attempting to stave off the heart attack from shlepping home 15 pieces of sod to put (well, someone else is actually going to put it in) in my back yard in parts where nothing will grow. This is my last effort at it. I’m going to sprinkle it with seeds for shady areas. I suspect it won’t work–or won’t last over the winter. Expended so much effort on that that I am now too tired to mop up the blood from the mouse that I trapped in my basement. It’s been a very meaningful weekend so far. And yes, English Gardens, where I bought the sod, offered to deliver it for $50, but nooooooooooooo. I said I could do it myself. (Grandma Sophie once said if I bought a piano, I’d probably carry it home rather than have it delivered.) It’s the instant gratification need in my personality. Garp is completely pooped just from watching me.

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  20. Thank GOD Culpepper asked what the rest of the note said and thank GOD you responded because I was about to rip out my one of my few hairs. And unlike you, I can’t spare any.
    My mom was similarly organized and left information for when she died, only much more detailed. What totally cracked me up is that she left explicit information on what outfit she was to be laid out in, where it was hanging, when it was last dry-cleaned, which shoes, etc. Then her note said, “I’m sure whatever you choose for your father will be fine.” Bwahahahahahahahaha!

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  21. My (dear departed) mother was terrified she would be buried alive, so she insisted on being cremated.
    Think about that for a moment, and see if you can spot the logical fallacy.
    And yes, she was Irish.

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  22. First of all, yes. Oh, what was the question….
    Oh yeah! Every few weeks I remember that I can’t call my cousin Faye anymore. Such sadness! Sigh. And then I remember that whenever my Mom went out for the evening, my Dad would get on the phone and call everyone. He was so cute! He’s been gone 22 years and I still miss him!
    Secondly, the cheapest solution is to get some shredded bark and spread it around.

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  23. How do you mispronounce “kudos”?
    And ooooopppsss…. you’re not supposed to put punctuation inside paranthesis? (Crap!) 😉
    I would go with a deck honestly. Or a rock garden? Oooh, rock garden!
    I could tell from the first picture that Mr. Henry has an attitude a mile long. Astronauts in space can see it. LOL
    He’s so precious.

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  24. There are tons of beautiful ground covers, but most of them will take over your yard. You probably won’t be able to get anything to grow there because it’s too shady and because the tree roots have stripped the nutrients from the soil. I love the idea of a deck built around the tree, with a round bench. I love round benches. I also love your vintage patio furniture. Which has nothing to do with anything, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

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  25. Okay, the Extension Office that Arlene speaks of is at NC A&T State University. I have the address if you would like. And then I didn’t read any more of the comments so if this is a repeat, sorry.
    I think the easiest thing to do would be a pea gravel type garden area. Look at this random pic I found online, for example: http://tiny.cc/sMbyq . You could do some container gardening and move the plants to the sun during the day and when you have company move them to where you want them.

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  26. Don’t you hate people who post only to point out your error?
    You forgave your grandmother for the punctuation inside the parens. I think the bang there was totally appropriate. The excitement indicated by the bang was about “and about time.” Not about “Info for when I die.” Punctuation doesn’t go after the title of a list, so it wouldn’t have been appropriate for the whole title.
    But I forgive you.

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  27. Yes, extend the deck to surround the tree. Because of the shade of the tree and all of the top roots, you’ll have problems getting stuff to grow. If you still want to grow lawn there, go to Scotts or another lawn care dealer’s website and ask for advice.

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  28. June-
    Everyone has such great ideas, so I tried to think up a solution that was not mentioned.
    Decking would be nice, but you would have to hire someone, (like my assumption?) and it would be more expensive, but nice.
    Ground cover may or may not work, because there is not much light, water, or good dirt there.
    A different idea with two variations for you…
    Ring the tree, out to the grass with rocks. These can be brought in and dumped, you will have to order them from a landscaping company. Then you could a few things.
    Fill it in with dirt and plant flowers or perennials. Lula may tear this up though.
    You could also fill it in with pea gravel or sand with mulch on top, and simply put some sweet chairs underneath, or a small cafe table, so you will have a shady spot with no upkeep to enjoy.
    Hugs,
    Lynn

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  29. Hmmm. I think I would recommend adding on to your deck, maybe something assymetrical. Then tie it all together with some pavers, maybe a path, and then grow some moss between the pavers.
    It is so hard to have a pet friendly yard!!! If you do add some “hardscaping”, it will definitely cut down on some of the dirt your missy brings in!
    Our dog, Polly, has taken to playing with rocks. She has a “collection”, we photographed it last fall, she’s an oddball.

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  30. You should have saved the monkey grass from your front yard to plant under the tree or Kudzu. You could plant kudzu and in a year it will cover your bare spot, your house, your street, the bald spot on the back of Marvin’s head heck it will cover all of South Carolina. It’s kind of like your hair wild and beautiful but over taking.

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  31. There is a company called Stepables or Steppables – they only sell groundcovers and organize them based on how often they’ll be stepped on, in addition to the usual sun/shade, water, zone, etc. Their website will give you some good ideas. If you go with grass, expect to have to work at it; it likes sun.

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  32. I like the idea of brick pavers. Make a little pation area and then put a little bench on it. And some pots of flowers. Impatiens and marigolds grow nicely in shade.
    If you want foliage, hostas grow in shade. They need to be split every two years or so but then you can plant them elsewhere in your yard. Lillies grow ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE and are IMPOSSIBLE to kill.
    IM. POSS. I. BLE. Believe it.

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  33. I live in a completely different climate AND I don’t have a garden but I still feel the need to mention this…our local zoo has a great circular bench around a tree trunk that I think would work for under your tree. I think on the ground there’s shaved bark or something. The drawback is that if a bunch of people sit on it you all have your backs to each other, but it looks cool!

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  34. First of all, I adore your grandmother. If she were alive, I would adopt her as my own. (If she was alive? Which is right? Can I make this an “Ask June question without copying it to your Ask June post? Because I’ve written it both ways in my books, using “was” in dialogue and informal narrative and “were” when I’m being formal. If you tell me, I’ll put you in my acknowledgments…)
    Second of all, for your tree issue, there are types of grass that are meant to grow in the shade…You can ask at Home Depot, and they’ll know. Or else you could plant shade-loving plants, like myrtle (beautiful) or hosta (also beautiful.) They flower, and they’ll make that area so pretty. I’ve seen hosta planted in a circle under large trees, and it’s such a great look.
    Now hopefully, in exchange for this valuable advice, you will answer my grammar question.
    🙂

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  35. Dear Elizabth Joy,
    I will answer it now, as Ask June is backed up, and I mean that in every way possible, and I do not want you to wait.
    When you are talking about something that hasn’t really happened like that, it is always “were.” I wish I were rich. I wish I were not backed up. Etc.

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  36. Hey, does moss grow on the south side of the Mason-Dixon line? Maybe some myrtle (too bad you aren’t in Myrtle Beach). Or paint. Green, of course.

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  37. Hey, does moss grow on the south side of the Mason-Dixon line? Maybe some myrtle (too bad you aren’t in Myrtle Beach). Or paint. Green, of course.

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  38. Hey, does moss grow on the south side of the Mason-Dixon line? Maybe some myrtle (too bad you aren’t in Myrtle Beach). Or paint. Green, of course.

    Like

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