Friday, June 10, 2011

The Joy of Buttercups.

When we first moved into our present house, back in 1975, it had a lot more lawn than it does now. But as far as I remember, it had no butter cups. Lots of dandelions, of course, and a variety of other weeds that love invading lawns and making the chemical companies better off than they should be: dandelions, hawk weed, creeping charlie; but no buttercups, or at least not enough to be considered a problem. But about ten years ago, this situation changed, and the rapacious little critters began to take over. To some degree, we dealt with them as Marshall Kutesov dealt with Napoleon, by reducing their opportunity for conquest, by reducing the grass space, as he retreated, taking away the opportunity to fight. We began surfacing with cement pads, gravel, more garden, even asphalt roofing tiles in the work space below the compost bins. In fact there is now only a lawn, so to speak, in one area where we hold dinners for visitors in the summer, and all the other grass is simply paths.
But this a good-sized yard, and the paths still leave plenty of opportunity for the yellow peril. If you keep them mowed, of course, buttercups make a good ground cover, much better than plain dirt, or a host of weeds like dandelion, dock, or plantains, but we still prefer grass with our shrubs and flowers and vegetables, and our low rock walls and rather high fences. It's all quite a paradise, and the butter cups strike one as something of a flaw.
I've tried boiling water, but that kills the adjacent grass just as effectively as it kills the butter cups. I've also tried the dedicated gardener's formula: elbow grease, and dug the little rascals out. They come much more whole than dandelions, and it's a good excuse to be out in the fresh air. We have a nifty kneeling pad, both dirt and water proof, or I can bend over and stretch the back of my legs now that yoga and other sciences have taught me how to be easier on my lower back problem. But with the music research and other matters, I've never been able to be constant enough to actually rid the paths of that stubborn and, year by year, proliferating weed.
But this year things just might have changed. The music research, with both piano and fretted instruments is done. All I have to do is practice, and figure out how to spread the news in the fiction, principally, for now, in The Yacht. There's sometimes nothing better than a stretch of mindless work for creative rumination. And something so totally physical, and intellectually and imaginatively undemanding, is a nice break from the discipline of music practice, as satisfying as that is when conducted along the lines of a totally sensible theory.
I made a good start on Sunday, thus being inspired to start this post. But then a mildly annoying upper arm got extremely annoying, not from pulling off butter cup flowers and digging up the plants, but from some concentrated work on keyboards, both normal and neoprene, and playing guitar and banjo in a position that can be stressful to the arm, even if if looks very relaxing to other parts of body. But perhaps even more cause was pillows. Bed pillows, of which for years I have used two. The study of trigger points, already mentioned, helped us realize that sore deltoids - shoulder muscles  - which have been a factor for years, was probably being caused by a wrong disposition in every other muscle on the right side of my back. I was a grand mixture of disappointment, fear for my right arm and hand with the music, and conviction that there was a solution - thanks to a lot of trigger point massage definitely helping - but I also carried the lurking suspicion that there were stretches I was not using. With the loosening of the right hip as a priority, I had neglected my habitual hang off the ladder to the rowing room, for one thing. Going back to this plainly helped - short hangs, often with feet on the floor - a number of time through the day, and generally any stretch that could lengthen muscles on the right shoulder and upper back, including the neck.
But this morning, early, I took away the pillows and used a flat mattress. The improvement is already radical, and I have not needed a massage today. Alleluia. There was also an improvement in my breathing patterns: I did not have to breathe through my mouth when lying on the right side of my face.  I have heard that mouth breathing while sleeping can raise the blood pressure.