The Scourge of the Pacific Northwest

Blackberries. I’ve been fighting them here for thirty years. I’ve sprayed them. I’ve chopped them. I’ve hired folks to pull them out by the roots. And every year they come back with a vengeance.

Take a look at these two samples that I extracted from the jungle this morning.

These were both cut very close to the ground. As you can see, they are quite large. The thorns are razor-sharp. The green version was alive, while the brown version was dead.

The green vine’s main trunk was growing up through some tree branches, arching over toward the ground about forty feet away. Where the other end touched the ground, it had taken root there as well.

Each branch off this main chute was doing the same thing – arching over and through other plants, and rooting at the other end. You cannot pull these out through the branches they have entwined through. You have to cut everything up into bite-sized portions.

The brown vine died off a couple years back. They are very hard – like a stick coming up out of the ground. This is why you don’t spray them – even if they die off, they are still a big problem.

We’ve had the entire back lot cleared several times. But the crows eat blackberries and then bomb our yard with a package of perfectly fertilized seeds, and we’re off to the races again.

To cut these fat vines, you need the best Stihl gas powered weed whacker, equipped with a brush cutting blade. Or you can go slower with a large pruner, but that takes a LONG time.

Olympic Mountains from Renton

So I wanted to get some photography in today, and I saw the Olympics when I was out and about, so I went to my local spot (the baseball field behind the middle school up the street from our place) and snapped about seven shots to stitch together for this image. I’m not particularly pleased with it – would have been better if it had been in the morning instead of noonish, but that’s when I was ready. Enjoy.

Olympic Mountains
Olympic Mountains from Renton Washington.

Why do we need an HOA?

Why do we need an HOA (Homeowners Association)?

Note: The following are my opinions and do not necessarily represent the views of any specific HOA or its board of directors.

The title above is a question I hear often in my neighborhood. The other one is “What do we actually get for the dues we pay?” I think it would help to understand a little history here.

Back in the 1980’s, developers got the idea to bundle some kind of community asset in housing developments. This made the development more appealing. The asset may be a pool, a community club, a park, a greenbelt, or whatever seems appropriate for the size and location of the community.

The problem is, if you have a community owned asset, unless you set up some rules, you’re going to have problems with some of your neighbors. You go to use the clubhouse and it’s all trashed from the last user. You want to enjoy the pool but one of your neighbors has invited his entire extended family to have a wild party at the pool. Or one of your neighbors volunteers to let his homeless family member pitch a tent in the greenbelt. Continue reading “Why do we need an HOA?”