Playing Ball with Daisy, 2.0

A month or so ago, my three-time rescue Jack Russell terrier got overly excited and went after a loose Pomeranian in the park next to my house. Long story short, she’s no longer allowed off-leash.

“I thought you didn’t play ball with her anymore,” my handywoamn said when I explained to her that she needed to stop doing poop patrol so that we could play ball in the back yard.

“Are you kidding me?” I said. “She still needs to get exercise.”

The problem is now she has to find the ball amongst the many trees, bushes, plants and yard art that fill my pie-shaped yard. In the park, she could really keep her eye on the ball. Now not so much.

Daisy’s color blind, as are all dogs. The pale yellow tennis ball blends in with the greens and yellow flowers in my yard – mallow, Jerusalem sage, lillies.  At the end of the ball-playing session (when we run out of balls) all I have to do is let Pepper, the lab, out to find the missing ones.

Yesterday I was out watering plants and filling up bird baths and fountains after my week-long trip to Boston.  I glanced up at my birch tree and was surprised to see a tennis ball wedged between a fork in the branches.  How long had that ball been up there? I’m not careful with the tennis-ball count at the end of a session.

When I bought the house eleven years ago (anniversary is this weekend), the yard had only three trees- one orange, one apple, and one plum. The plum tree is loaded with purple-orange plums, the apple tree is half dead from when the gardeners cut through the tap root for a foundation drain, and the orange tree is long gone. It was a real rat attraction and the oranges were pithy and tasteless.

I’ve planted many trees, the first one being the live Christmas tree that my ex gave our youngest in 2010.  It’s now higher than the house and helps block the western sun in the summer.

I planted four birches, and none of them is very happy. They need lots of water, and we just haven’t had enough rain in the past decade to keep them at their best. One out and out died, another is missing its trunk halfway up, and the other two are hanging in there, minus a few dead branches. I planted a redwood along the fence to the park, and that tree has found a water source from the HOA sprinklers. It’s huge and helps block my neighbors from looking into my yard as they come down the hill in the greenbelt.

At Girl Scout summer camp of 2011, I ran the nature unit and sent home every camper with a redwood seedling. A few were left over and I tried planting them around the yard. Only two survived but they are now real trees. My gardener suggested two Camphor trees (very messy) and a slow-growing Gingko. I also have a deciduous something tree which has beautiful orange foliage around Thanksgiving.

The grass is gone.  Oh, I forgot the four Crepe Myrtles that the gardeners planted in a straight row up against the fence. I made them move one of them and I bumped out my fence a foot when I had it replaced. The green belt didn’t care.

An ornamental plum came up on its own from a bird planting. It’s purple in the spring, so it got to stay. A palm tree was too prickly and didn’t. The live oak volunteers along the back fence also get to stay since they are natives and need little water.

Daisy has to negotiate all of that when we play ball. She doesn’t mind. She’s just as excited as she was in the park.

Ball playing, 2.0.

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