About That Grass

Three weeks ago I hauled out my shovel and my grubs and got to work digging up the grass.  Not all the grass, but a small swath surrounding the curb garden and the Chinese Pistache. Baby steps.

The plan is to replace it with drought-tolerant ground cover or small paving stones.  Removing the grass is also better for the tree. Most trees need very little water once established. Ours is no exception.

This is my attempt to reduce the ‘footprint’ of the lawn in our parched corner of the world.  We re-landscaped our front yard about three years ago, in part to install a ramp.  My sister, who struggles with MS, could barely make it over the threshold of our home.  We removed the original lawn, put in a deck and the ramp, then rounded things out with shrubs…and more grass.  Although the square footage is less, I still find myself feeling a bit guilty offering a drink to a thirsty lawn during a drought.

Any way, back to the shovel and grubs. I worked for an hour and this is all I have to show for it.

removing lawn

Digging up some lawn

It was much harder than I thought it would be.  I don’t have the tools (nor the spine) to complete it.  I feel a bit defeated by it all, as this was my idea, and I really want to see it through. I’m having to face the challenges of aging joints, old injuries and the reality that I’m not in my twenties any more…or thirties…and so on.

Plan B is to hire some help.  I have three projects that need more strength then I can muster:

  • removing a thick, dead vine,
  • replacing what’s left of the lavender, and
  • getting rid of the swath of grass.

One of our beloved Hardenbergia died last year.  It used to cover the entire fence in the spring and summer with stunning purple blooms.  I pruned it back each year, and it returned bigger and brighter than ever…and then it didn’t.  I waited an entire year, because I hate giving up on plants.  Not the tiniest sign of life.  It needs to go.

lavender near deck

Lavender lines the deck

The lavender is dwindling, too, for reasons unknown.  We started with five plants lining the deck.  Four thrived, one struggled and finally died.  Last fall, a second one died and then the frost hit.  They’re all looking pretty sad.  I figured it was a good time to take them out and replace them with drought-tolerant Salvia (Mexican Bush Sage).  Saliva is also a beautiful purple, and it attracts hummingbirds and bees.  Once established, it doesn’t need any water!  You can’t beat that.

Those are my big projects for the season, and I can’t do any of them myself. I’m struggling with that, but at the same time need to face this reality and get on with it. My sister helps me keep it all in perspective.

Aging is not for the faint of heart.

Passionate about Purple: For Sharon

Flowering Blooms: Madonna Inn

Multiple Sclerosis is a cruel disease.  It can knock you to your knees in the prime of your life, robbing you of energy, activity, appetite and independence.  My younger sister was diagnosed with MS over a decade ago.  She continues to fight it.  She drives herself to the Y each day for a 15 minute swim to reduce the fatigue and the joint stiffness that are a part of her daily life.  She commutes to Palo Alto and puts in an eight-hour day in a contract position at the VA call center.  A college graduate with over 30 years of work experience, she’s struggled to find full-time employment for over three years.  My sister is grateful for the temporary position, hard-won through Project Hired but the benefits are meager.  When you have a chronic illness, doctors visits are more common.  She avoids going if she can.  Her illness is untreatable, progressive and unrelenting.

She caught a cold this week, something that would make most of us cranky. On Monday, she lost her balance and fell.  She drove to work anyway. When she lost her voice, they took her off the phones and gave her a project to do. She made it to Thursday. Late that day, her body said enough: she couldn’t see the computer, so clocked out an hour early and headed home.  Suddenly overcome with dizziness, she wisely pulled off the road.  She called a co-worker who came but said she “couldn’t take her to the hospital!”  Her second call was to her supervisor who told her to call 911.  If she had called me I would have been there, but I didn’t hear from her until after the paramedics admitted her to the ER.  I understand that she wasn’t thinking clearly, but felt so helpless hearing from her after the fact.

The common cold activated the worst of her MS symptoms.  She can’t walk, can barely lift herself from chair to motorized scooter and is too afraid to take a shower.  I drove her to the Y today so she could shower safely in an accessible shower stall.  She was grateful.  I did a little shopping for her, picked up a prescription and did some errands at her home.  I know the little things help but what I really want to do is make it all go away.  I want her to walk again.  I want her to take spin classes, to go shopping and to wear the fun shoes that she loves.  I want her to have days where she doesn’t think about her health every single waking minute.   If it’s not asking too much, I want a cure for MS.

Today’s blog is in honor of my younger sister, and to others fighting this difficult disease.  My hat is off to you. =^..^=


‘Mexican Sage’ salvia leucantha

Blue Bells




MSAA – The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America

Types of MS: My sister has Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (no remissions from the onset)

EMSP– The European MS Platform

Wiki List-MS Organizations around the world