Mess… Mess… Neat!

Do you remember playing Duck Duck Goose as a child? A random number of children formed a sitting circle. One got up and walked slowly around the circle, tapping the head of each sitting child as she (or he) walked, saying “Duck” with each tap. Then – and this was entirely the choice of the walking/tapping child – the tapper said “Goose!” with a tap on one chosen head. Both tapper and goose sprung into action in that moment – the goose jumped up and the tapper then ran like mad around the circle, trying to get back to the goose’s now-empty spot and into a sit before getting tagged by the chasing goose. If you made it to that spot, you were safe and the goose became the tapper. If you got caught, you were the tapper again. And Duck Duck Goose (!) started all over again.

Eppie’s shirt made me think of this game, only in her case it’s Duck Duck Moose. (How cute is this t-shirt!? They live in Vermont where you very well might see a moose stroll through your yard. How cute is this sweet country girl?!)

Eppie duck duck moose (2).jpeg

Funny how one Instagram photo can spark a parallel thought. Yesterday I saw that picture and realized that Duck Duck Goose or Duck Duck Moose is the way it is around my house – only it’s Mess, Mess, Neat!

I am very nonchalant about most of the messes around here – I can ignore them for years! – until I get into my head that one of them has to be addressed. Then I spring into action.

There are lots of messes. Generally I don’t take pictures of them, but here’s one.

A big tree fell over in the forest while Rise and Eppie were here in early August. See those very large clusters of leaves on and near the ground? Those had been high up in the sky the day before. Or maybe a few days before. I don’t know when it fell. But some of the leaves were still green.

fallen tree1 (2).jpg

A little closer in, you can see the vertical remains of the trunk. It just snapped. The girls and Coco are completely unconcerned. Nor should they be. The tree’s not going anywhere.

fallen tree2.jpg

We’re not going to get to this mess any time soon, especially if the last fallen tree is any example.

The one you see below fell at least five years ago, i.e. it occupied that bit of the hillside for at least five years. Its core was rotten when it fell (which is why it fell). See it lying there, practically buried by years of fallen leaves?

In March I had compost delivered. You see it spread on the ground to the left. Compost was the promise of real grass in that area, not just whatever could survive, but a real yard maybe. That eyesore (Mess) of a rotten log had to go.

fallen tree1.jpg

First clear the uphill side. The advantage of living on a hillside with only forest down below is that you can rake those leaves and then deposit them as far down the hill as you can. Out of sight. The earth will take care of them.

fallen tree2.jpg

Then more raking to expose the downhill side. It was a lot of raking. I remember being tired at the end of the day(s).

fallen tree3.jpg

But the guys with their chain saws (bless them!), and some more raking, made all the difference. That tree in front of the log had to come down too. Quite a difference for that hillside.

fallen tree4 gone.jpg

side yard in May.jpg

Not bad, eh?

But “Mess… Mess… Neat!” (per se) didn’t come into my head until Eppie’s shirt came up on my phone yesterday AND I was deep into it with the liriope.

In March I had made up my mind that once and for all, the front garden was going to be nice (Goose! Neat!). I cleared it out, put stone along the foundation, planted hellaboris, gave the liriope room to grow. You can see them if you look carefully – the green stuff that looks like bunches of grass among the mulch. At the far corner is an azalea bush.

front garden March 25.jpg

It was a bad idea. All that work, and then Hank Browne made me a drawing of what a new front porch could look like, and it was all over. I’ll come back to Hank’s drawing another day, but the bottom line was that if the old porch was going to be replaced in any way, that front foundation wall – a Duck I have been nonchalantly walking past, a Mess I have successfully ignored for years – must be fixed first. Thus the upcoming Big Dig. As in Big Digging Machine Coming Soon.

Liriope multiply rapidly, like rabbits. A month or so ago I moved a bunch of them, along with the hellaboris, to the curve of the driveway. No point not saving them.

liriope on curve (2).jpg

But there were more. Lots more. On Friday, because of Hurricane Florence’s very slow track, it was not raining here yet, but still we had postponed the Big Dig. Over the weekend it rained only intermittently, so I decided to take the opportunity to relocate the remaining liriope that would be in the way of (and possibly not survive) the excavator when it finally gets going.

Having neglected this garden for months now (because why bother?), that corner looked like this. Mess. Embarrassing. Really quite unacceptable. You can’t even see the remaining liriope, there are so many weeds.

lirtope1 (2).jpg

But I wanted to move them, save as many as I could. The tapper tapped me on the head and I got going! I chose to move them along the front of the garden, which looked like this pre-liriope.


The deer fencing makes it impossible to weed-whack along the edge, so it tends to start looking, you guessed it, Messy!

But time + no rain + a shovel resulted in first a trench.

liriope first pass.jpg

Then a trench with manure by the end of Friday. The distance between posts is 8′, FYI. You can do the math as to how long the trench is. And that’s clay I’m digging into, Play-Doh-like clay, mixed with rocks.

liriope with manure.jpg

The liriope were in by the end of Saturday,

liriope in.jpg

which means a dug out front garden bed, much more ready for the excavator (who will move the azalea with the machine, thank God!). I didn’t save all of them, but we can’t save them all, can we? (I’ll let you think of parallels for that truth.)

front garden dug out.jpg

And finally mulch on either side of these happy plants, mulch which covers the buried plastic weed barrier that went in yesterday, Sunday, with Sandy’s help. Thank you, Sandy.

liriope mulched.jpg

Mess, Mess, Neat!

It’s entirely the choice of the tapper in the game as to which child to gets designated the Goose. It’s entirely my choice around the house as to which area next becomes Neat (acts of God and nature excepted, and time and means considered, of course). In the meantime all the other children (the Ducks) sit and wait. In the meantime all the other areas in need (the Messes) sit and wait. But sooner or later, I’ll get a bug in my bonnet as they used to say, and there will be action!

One thought on “Mess… Mess… Neat!

  1. Nice work on transplanting the liriope, really dresses up the garden fence line. I must say that your mess, mess, neat analogy fits you very well. I admire your determination and energy to get projects done once you’ve chosen to tap them and call goose.

    Liked by 1 person

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