Jerry Sullivan's Blog

The lighter side of reality, chapter 4 MONSTER!! MONSTER!!

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:00 pm

MONSTER!! MONSTER!! The words penetrated the door followed by incessant pounding and terrified screaming that could only have come from one Mr. Mouse. The mouse, a close friend of Mr Monk, spent the evening hours exploring as many corridors, caves and "bottomless" pits as he could find, filling pages of his "Map of the world". Mr. Monk rushed to open the door. The mouse fell into the room. "The Door!! The Door!! Bar the door!!" The mouse screamed as he rolled across the floor. Mr. Monk dropped the bar across the door just as a loud thud shook the now secure entryway. The chipmunk stepped back and helped his friend to his paws. "What have you found Mr. Mouse?" Inquired the chipmunk. "It was dark and as I walked around a corner, I ran right into its mouth." "Its tongues, two of them ran across my face! Terrifying to say the least." "Then I ran into one of its huge teeth as I turned to escape down the corridor." "I could hear the monster behind me banging the sides of the tunnel." "It was all I could do to get here and safety." The tea was ready and Mr. Monk poured some into a polished acorn cup and handed it to friend. The security of Mr. Monk's home had a calming effect and the mouse was soon relaxed enough to hold the cup. The chipmunk disappeared briefly and soon returned with some fresh acorn muffins. Together they looked into one of wise old owl's books soon identified the underground denizen as a snake. The two friends decided it was best to mark the map and when they found it safe, wall up that part of the tunnel. The flickering acorn lamps made their shadows dance on the wall. The two friends talked well into the night, in the underground realm, a couple of steps away from reality.

Last edited: Tue Sep 06, 2022 10:06 am

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Gremlins, the untold story.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:52 pm

It was the summer of 1947. The war was still fresh in people's minds. Prosperity was featured everywhere as the economy shifted gears and a peacetime entrepreneurs grabbed for new opportunities. All of this eluded the mind of a three year old, three and a half if you asked me. My father was starting a new job which meant we had to move to a new city. Still, most of this was beyond my world. The only thing I remember was the final trip to the new house. The two cats, Tanny and Wanny were put into a bag for the trip. They did not like the bag much less the trip. We moved to a big house and only we lived there. The house we moved from had more people. A family upstairs and a family downstairs and there were lots of kids. The new house came with my fathers job, along with a car. He was so close he could walk to work. It was across the street. The house had lots of rooms, everything was big. Even I had a room! As we settled into our new home a blackboard appeared on the kitchen wall. I asked about the 'black thing' on the wall. My father explained by writing something on the board with chalk. I was even more amazed when he erased the words with a cloth. Only when he explained that, aided by a kitchen chair, I could reach the board I could use the it instead of having to ask for scrap paper and a pencil. I could draw pictures and erase them!! I drew our new house, it was a fine drawing. Doors, windows a roof and even a chimney, my artistic skills were obvious, well at least to me. It was bedtime, so grudgingly off I went. The next morning I wanted to show my mother my drawing. I went to the kitchen. Horrors!! There, all over my drawing were these little creatures!! How did they get there. My sister explained, "Gremlins". My father concurred, "Gremlins" I erased the drawing and started over. Try as I may the Gremlins frequently appeared. Not always, but enough to make drawings frustrating at times. And they have never gone away :-)


Last edited: Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:11 pm

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Plants face 60 ton behemoth and certain death!!

Category: The back yard | Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:52 pm

The days were growing colder and the garden was quiet. The plants were in their late fall slumber mode when the call came. "Hello, Mr. Sullivan, this is the tree service". I had called them earlier in fall to have them remove several trees including a 100+ ft white pine. "We will be there on the 19th". I hung up the phone and glanced into the yard. While I had moved a flower bed that was blocking access to the tree, I had still had to remove a couple of yucca filamentosa. The yuccas had a long pedigree having been originally planted in 1905 by my grandmother at the family summer home. After my folks passed I removed several bushes and plants including the yuccas to my home. They now stood in the way of the crane that would remove the giant pine. I unlocked the toolshed and grabbed a shovel. I was not thrilled to unearth the yuccas so late in the season but a 60 ton crane, no matter how cautious the preparations, makes a deep lasting impression.

( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Thirty years of living in the same spot lends to lots of roots and the two plants in question were very happy plants. Grudgingly the yuccas yielded to the shovel and because they were too heavy to lift, were dragged away in a tarp to a prepared hole.
True to their word the tree people with two cranes appeared in our driveway mid morning prepared for the day's work.

( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Preparations to minimize the damage to the lawn by 60 tons of steel did little to appease the plants watching the unfolding events from the sidelines.

( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Bushes trembled as the giant passed them on its way to do battle with the doomed pine.

( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

While the smaller crane and workmen made easy work of the oak trees,

( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The larger crane set up camp 60 feet from the targeted pine.

( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The Queen of hearts in Alice in Wonderland could not have said it better, "OFF WITH IT'S HEAD!!"

( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The giant crane lifted the severed conifer's top over the onlooking plants and spectators, its 180 year reign had come to an end. The threat of falling during a hurricane ended by the stroke of the woodsman's chainsaw.

In a corner of the yard two very unhappy yuccas spent the winter. The spring could not come fast enough. For one spring never came, however, several pups survived the winter to take its parents place in the old vacant hole. The other plant weathered the cold season, surviving but with a diminished capacity, it was glad to soak up the springtime warmth back in its old home.

A bonus of severed roots is that the old hole now has 19 more yuccas of varying sizes and a volunteer (from seed) has taken up residence within sight of the new young yucca. It will take a few years for the new and transplanted Yucca to gain/regain a respectable stature but time is on their side. As long as the leviathans stay away.


Last edited: Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:24 am

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The lighter side of Reality Chapter 3, Wooly Bears

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:59 pm

"What do you see?" inquired the mouse, seeing that Mr. Monk was looking through the 'see far' instrument. Made from a black straw and two clear marbles, Mr. Monk was looking into the trees. "Bears" he replied. A scurry of feet and the crashing sounds coming from the closet indicated that Mr. Mouse was now hiding in its farthest recesses. "B..b..b..bears?" stuttered the frightened mouse. "Come out Mr. Mouse." turning aside from the 'see far instrument,' something he found the design for in the wise old owl's book. "Wooly Bears, not big bears. They are putting on their orange and black coats and their parents are sending them out into the world to fend for themselves." Just then a loud sound filled the air as the sky darkened and the grass around the entrance instantly became shorter. Mr Monk knew that the human was riding the big grass collector around the yard. When it was safe Mr Monk watched the tractor for awhile. A swerve brought an exclamation. " Yuck!! that is gross." "What happened?" asked the mouse as he emerged from the closet. " The human just ran over one of the wooly bears. There is green goo all over the place" exaggerating the Wooly Bears demise. "What will winter be like?" the mouse said with a puzzled look on his face. "Lets look in the wise old owl's book, you can look at the pictures and I will read what it says." We can have tea with a grass root salad and sunflower custard for desert." A smile filled Mr Mouses face as the problems on the surface faded away. He set the table and the two friends ate their lunch, in the underground realm a couple of steps away from reality.

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The lighter side of Reality Chapter 2

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:38 pm

The acorns were starting to drop from the old oak tree, the occasional thud as they landed could be heard in the tunnel home of Mr. C. Monk. The chipmunk could also hear digging not too far away and curiosity was getting the better of him. He chanced a quick peek from the safety of his tunnel entrance. The human was digging up a small bush, the little one near the big blue one. There was a box nearby, he read the label. His curiosity satisfied he quickly scampered back to his living room, the acorn lamps casting a warm glow. Just then, a knock at the door announced that Mr. Mouse was back from one of his tunnel explorations. "Welcome back Mr. Mouse, come in, come in, how was your trip?" Mr Monk inquired. Mr mouse entered and plopped himself down in the soft grass stuffed easy chair. "I found some new tunnels we have never explored" answered the mouse, thinking back to their explorations earlier in the summer. "Anything new here?" the mouse queried. "Yes" the chipmunk replied, "The human is digging up a bush and he is going to send it to Virginia." "Virginia,? How do you know that? Is that on the other side of the hill?" The mouse was noted for asking several questions without waiting for the answers. "Virginia is far away," the chipmunk said, adding,"I read the label."
YOU CAN READ??!! The exclamation echoed in Mr Monk's ear as well as back and forth down the dark tunnels. "Yes Mr. Mouse," replied his friend "I can read and you don't have to shout." "Sorry," the mouse said timidly. "H-h-how?" stammered the surprised mouse. The chipmunk didn't want to tell his friend he went on an adventure without him. "I found some books." knowing Mr. Mouse would loose interest if the subject did not involve food. The books had come from an abandoned wise old owl nest. The thought of going into an owl home, abandoned or otherwise would have terrified the mouse. True to form the mouses's next question was about food. "Did you bake acorn muffins today?" The room was soon filled with the aroma of tea and muffins and the two friends talked into the small hours of the morning in the underground realm, a couple of steps away from reality.

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Adventures from the lighter side of reality.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:09 pm

The days were getting colder and the outside activities had come to a close. Winter meant long nights by the crackling fire with a good book. The pantry was full from a summer of gathering and the side chambers stocked to the ceiling with barrels of acorn and sunflower oil for cooking and heating. In the kitchen the smell of fresh acorn muffins filled the air. The underground home of Mr. C. Monk was cozy warm. This was going to be a fine winter thought Mr. Monk as he removed the muffins from the oven. Suddenly a loud noise echoed down the tunnel! It was coming from the entrance. Lamp in paw Mr. Monk quickly headed toward the entrance. Shadows danced along the wall chased by the light of the acorn lamp. He arrived at the entrance to find a mouse running in circles screaming at the top of his voice "OWL!! OWL!! The owl is after me!!" It was all he could do to calm the little fellow down and get him to sit in a chair. "Now Mr. Mouse, I see no owl" said the chipmunk glancing at the entryway above, "and as sure as I am standing here one is not about to fly down that hole. Owls are too fat!!" The mouse sat nervously staring at the dark entrance. "Y-Y-Your sure?" stammered the mouse. "Positive" replied Mr. Monk. "You do, however Mr. Mouse, have a scratch on your back. I will get my first aid kit." The chipmunk disappeared into a side tunnel and soon returned with the kit. "There, Mr. Mouse." said the chipmunk, "Good as new." "Would you like some herb tea and a fresh acorn muffin?" inquired the chipmunk. The mouse was feeling better, "Yes Mr. Monk, that would be splendid." the mouse said relaxing into the chair. The room was soon filled with the aroma of tea and muffins. They spent the rest of the evening comparing experiences with mutual nemeses, cats, owls and hawks. Mr Mouse stayed in Mr. Monks guest room that night. He turned down the acorn lamp. The shadows drifted into the room. Tomorrow would be another day and a new adventure for the new friends in the underground realm, a couple of steps away from reality.

Last edited: Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:15 pm

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Wings of the night, talons of death.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:35 am

The owl sat on its favorite limb of an old oak tree, peering down into the yard as the shadows of evening chased away the last rays of sunlight. It was waiting for breakfast to move. In the yard below a mouse was safe and secure in its burrow but security did not appease its hungry stomach. The mouse knew that the birds did not like every seed in the feeder. The ground was littered with rejects. It was getting darker and he mouse was hungry, the mouse moved.
I turned the lights out and stopped by the window to look out into the blackness of the back yard. It took awhile for my eyes to become accustomed to the dark. The outlines of the trees and bushes became more defined; I heard the hoot of an owl. From the trees, a shadow fell off a branch, wings opened. An owl silently glided toward the ground. The mouse munched on the seed as silent wings caused darkness to become darker. Alerted, the mouse sprang for a nearby chipmunk hole, as talons closed.
I watched the owl flap its' wings and return to its perch. It stood silently wrapped in the shadows of night, to look and wait again. The mouse would remain in the hole for a long time. The hunger was gone, replaced by the mixed emotions of fear and safety. I crawled into a warm bed and I drifted off to my own shadows.
In the tree the owl again waited for breakfast to move. The sentinel of the night knew it would not take long.

Last edited: Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:08 am

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EXTRA!! EXTRA!! New discovery shakes the Botanical World!!

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:38 pm

The pollution from countless sources filled the air over the city. The smoke stacks of industry and the chimneys of homes belched thick clouds of smokey soot. Horses, providing the transportation of the day, meant manure. As the manure dried it was ground into powder by the traffic. Wind lifted the powder into the air to mix with the black coal soot. The filthy cocktail of pollutants found its way into every nook and cranny of London, England in the early 1800's.

The morning light entered the study from a window overlooking the fern garden. The ferns barely eked out an existence in the smog filled air of 1829 London. The polluted air sometimes referred to as "pea soup fog" was in no small way responsible for the sickly looking ferns. Seated at his desk in the study was Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, logging the results if his latest findings in his notebook. Dr Ward had a passion for entomology and his most recent discovery, a healthy thriving fern. Unlike its cousins in the garden, this fern was protected by a glass bell jar intended to restrain the flight of a moth he was studying. The unintended result provided Dr. Ward with an idea that would shake the botanical world to its core. The fern, though small, exhibited none of the maladies that routinely befell others not so protected. Dr. Ward experimented with self-contained enclosures for several more years. His efforts would provide enough support for a revolutionary trip to far off Australia. In the summer of 1833 he sent two of his specially designed enclosures with plantings of grass and ferns to Sydney, Australia. After a long and perilous trip they arrived safely. The subsequent return trip, several months later, bore delicate ferns on a seemingly impossible journey. One that had never been successfully completed before. A new era for Botany began as the precious cargo sailed into London harbor in February of 1835. The years subsequent found "Wardian Cases," as they were called, traveling the world with rare tropical plants destined for eagerly waiting gardens. Today, thanks to Dr. Ward's accidental discovery, the descendants of those specimens, once thought impossible to transport, add pleasure to our our gardens and homes. The cases, now called terrariums. provide enthusiasts with hours of relaxation and enjoyment. Put your ear to one, you can almost hear the exotic sounds of some far off tropical jungle. :-)

Last edited: Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:39 am

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Sentenced to Life in Prison

Category: The back yard | Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:29 pm

A trip to the local nursery is always an exciting adventure. Endless possibilities line the aisles. Choosing is difficult. On one such occasion a flower perked its head above the other plants as if to say "Me! Me! Pick me." Little did we know. So home the flower went along with the other selections we made that day.
We picked a spot for the new flower and enjoyed its unusual shape for the rest of the blooming period. As with most perennials, its greenery faded into the background as other blooming flowers attracted our attention. Fall and winter put the garden to sleep for that year.

The first few warm days of the following spring were like a magnet drawing us outside to show off what emerged from the slumber of winter. The new plant along with a similar plant four feet away had poked their heads above the surface. Well, I thought, I 'll plant the new arrival with the original plant. As I dug it up, it's source also appeared, a runner. Closer inspection revealed 10 more plants and more runners radiating from the parent plant. I gently dug up the spider web of runners and the parent. Now I had enough Gooseneck Loosestrife to fill 6 additional pots and the original plant was put back into a even larger pot. I gave away 2 pots along with the warning of the plants appetite for domination of the backyard. 12 years have passed, the towering green walls of their prisons remain unchallenged, the loosestrife have never escaped. An ever vigilant eye is required. Still, there is the ever-present danger that, someday......

Grower Beware!! Gooseneck Loosestrife is a lovely plant, if you don't mind being a warden.

Last edited: Sun May 12, 2013 11:42 pm

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"Crash": The not so graceful Titmouse.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:37 pm

Most of us take for granted the abilities of our feathered friends. After all, the lessons of spring given by coaxing parents lend to graceful winged flights of summer. At least that's what one expects.

The family of Titmice were like most, flying from branch to branch as they approached the feeder. Mom and dad leading the three hatchlings on a foraging trip to our backyard. It looked as if all was going to plan until one of the three failed to land on the rim, flapping furiously at the feeders edge. The aborted landing resulted in a return to a nearby branch without the usual seed. While the others were busy opening their sunflower rewards the youngster made another try for the morning meal. His wings would open too late and he bounced off the feeder unable to grab the edge. Again and again he tried, no luck. Clearly this Titmouse had not mastered the technique of landing on the feeder. His siblings and cousins landed and took their time looking over the menu rejecting some seeds before choosing their meal. At best he could grab a rejected seed while flapping, a good seed was out of the question. "Crash" could land on a branch but not the feeder.

Air traffic control was needed, otherwise, Crash was not going to have a full stomach. Since landing a branch was no problem I attached a one to the feeder. With the addition of feeder's new feature, identification of Crash became tenuous at best. The days grew longer as the Summer solstice neared. During one of the feeder refills I did not replace the branch. I watched. Sure enough, out of the flock of Titmice a flurry of beating wings singled out Crash. More practice landings were needed. The stick was re-installed. Day by day the Summer rolled on. The birds continued to use the branch. Once again I removed the landing aid and waited. Now only one bird had a somewhat unorthodox landing. Crash could land on the feeder with a few extra flaps. The branch was no longer needed. With the advent of Fall Crash has now melted into the periodic flocks of Chickadees, Nuthatches and Titmice. All the birds now read the menu before choosing their seed. Among them an extra happy Titmouse with a choice meal. :-)

Last edited: Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:57 pm

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