Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The tenants called. There are bats everywhere in the Vineyard house.  The men of their family are away, and the ten women and babies are not up to shooing bats with brooms.   The animal control warden, called by the tenant, exhorted them to abandon the house. There aren't a lot of places to seek refuge in the high season of August.  Odd  things happen whenever this family rents the house. The caretaker helpfully asked them why they keep coming back.
 Replacing the ajar attic hatch would not be too much to expect from a caretaker.  But alas, ours has a bum leg and will not climb a ladder. Reputable repairmen, (though not apparently animal control agents), are loathe to wait in ferry lines to come over to Chappy.  Obama is at the other end of the Vineyard but appears to jam traffic at our end as well.  We called everyone who has worked on the house with its storied past but no one can get there for 'weeks'.
One sister in-law thought we should explain what a vital role bats play in the environment.  Did I mention that one of the tenants had previously been bitten by a rabid bat?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tomato Debacle

   I love summer tomatoes, so meaty and juicy.  What could be more fun than growing your own?  I admit I have a spotty history where gardening is concerned.  As a newlywed in the 70's, I tried to grow vegetables.  The zucchini developed a manifest destiny complex, over running all other plants, indeed, other yards.  And, I'm quite sure I was the only gardener in upstate New York who had to stake her corn.  It keeled over with near passion.
   In recent years we grew just tomatoes.  We tried the front yard, the side yard, the back yard.  Something was truly enjoying our tomatoes but it was not us.
   This year, my husband erected a six foot wire mesh fence in the back yard.    When we left for vacation we had several plump tomatoes that we were sure would be ripe by our return.  On return, it was  a bit surprising to discover there were no big tomatoes in the garden, ripe or otherwise.  I suspected the neighbors. 
    The culprits, we soon learned, were swat teams of chipmunks. ( I always hated that Alvin song.)  People think chipmunks are cute.  They are not.  They are rodents with good PR.  We doused the ground with fox urine and liquid fence.  They practically laughed in our faces.  In  past years, animals would eat ripening tomatoes.  Now they dropped big green tomatoes to the ground, ate half and left the rest for us.  I can't tell you how depressing this was.
   We tried every humane method possible to dissuade the chipmunks, but they kept coming in waves, like they were being bussed in from the Virginia battlefields.  We resorted to some not strictly humane methods.  So far, so good.  Except this morning in the Washington Post there was an article about evil hornworms devastating the local tomato crop.  How do farmers thwart the vermin and get those juicy tomatoes to the market?
    Next year, we are planting wildflowers.