The Calm Before the Storm: Backyard Progress Report Jan 2017

People keep asking me if I’m sick of the rain yet. I give a resounding, “are you mad!?” Who in their right mind would be sick of rain after six years of drought? So, no, I’m not sick of it. I worship it, I adore it and I dance naked in it. Don’t start peeping over my fence now! The very first thing I did when I bought the house, and stared for hours out into the vast expanse of nothingness, was to re-grade my whole lot. I built dry riverbeds and redirected potential flows of water from one bed to the next. And then year after year of drought followed. Finally, this year has above average rains and I get to put my landscaping to the ultimate test. And guess what, it all works (mostly) perfectly. Not a drop is wasted on runoff to the adjacent lots. It’s mine all mine!! Mwahahahaha!

And now that the guinea fowl population has been drastically reduced and the remaining two are too afraid to scratch a single bed or path for fear of the ultimate and final punishment, I can now return to business as usual. I can now finally replant, transplant, deadhead and prune without the bubbling rage and constant destruction.

Better late than never is the strategy for my winter veggie garden. Today before the next storm rolled in I dropped in some late kale, spinach, bok choy and collard greens. The first of the remaining guinea fowl to even look at this bed will end up in the pot faster than you can say, “never get guinea fowl”.

Read More


A Hobbit’s Compost Bin and the Happy Hens

I’m so in love with my passion fruit vine. Like, more than like, like. Love!

Not only does it give me bucketfuls of tantalizing and delicious fruit, but it also is always lush with bright green healthy leaves all year round. It is drought-proof as well it seems and the most vigorous grower of any of my plants.  It is the fastest, prettiest, and tastiest way to provide privacy as well!

Passion fruit vine as a natural privacy fence

Not to mention the mesmerizingly beautiful blooms that last for all the warm months here in San Diego.

Passion fruit flower.

Did I mention the passion fruit? So good!

Read More


The Somber Feast: Roasting My Troubles Away in 2017

The other day I let you guys know that I was no longer playing games with my game. That 2016 was finally going to end, along with the lives of my flock of guinea fowl.

To Cull A Mocking Bird

Well, I was mostly true to my word despite the shakiness of my convictions. On the last day of 2016, I was unable to sleep in at all. I knew what the day would bring and I was nervous about doing the dirty deed that needed doing.

I was up before the sunrise and began the mental preparation. I enlisted the help of my friend Kevin for the day of hunting. I needed help catching these high-flying screaming ninjas, but I also really needed emotional support. I caught one early that morning, but couldn’t bring myself to kill the little thing quite yet, so I let it go.

When Kevin showed up, the hunt was on and I was resolved as much as I could be. It wasn’t going to get any easier for me emotionally, so I had to suck it up. So we armed ourselves and headed out into the wilds of my urban backyard.

We had a few clean shots in the beginning, but the bow and arrow proved to be utterly useless for the dead-eye accuracy we needed. With a few shots off, the guinea fowl were on to us and quickly took shelter in the giant pepper tree.

This meant that I had to run around the front of the house and down the back of the dirt lot next door. Up over a cinder block wall and up into the tree. I climbed about 20 feet up to the top where I could scare the fowl down to the ground.

This time we tried to use the crossbow. But here’s the problem, you can’t take a clean shot unless the arrow will go into the ground if we missed. And missed we did! The sight was no longer calibrated properly so we had to do the best we could. We did manage to kill a shed and a metal door with the bolts, but not a single shot hit it’s true intended mark. I had about five shots that would’ve surely killed a fowl, but it was too dangerous to take them with all the houses around my yard. It just wasn’t safe enough to try the crossbow much longer.

So we improvised. We tried to catch them by hand. I would climb the tree or hop a fence to try to scare them towards my friend. After about three hours, I estimate that I had climbed the tree over eight times and hopped over about twenty five walls or fences.

It was just impossible to catch them and I was getting crazy tired and sore. It was just like watching Ninja Warrior. Except it was three hours long. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky and all four guinea fowl were about four houses away from us at this point. I couldn’t press any further for fear of getting shot myself by wandering into a strangers property.

With much weariness and frustration, we called it quits. Guinea fowl 4, humans 0.

I was saddened that I couldn’t finish this dark deed before the end of the year, but couldn’t figure out any other way to snag the beasts. So, we questioned our manliness and hunter/gatherer status and made preparations for new year eve sorrow drowning.

My resolve was tested and my promise to you readers was broken. In shame and defeat, I decided to drink heavily at a tiki-themed party in Mission Hills. Read More


To Cull A Mocking Bird

Or… Faster Pussycat! Cull! Cull!

Not too long ago I shared my views on the overwhelming assholery of the guinea fowl. The hatred I felt has only intensified since then. And to think I once loved them dearly! And now that they have full flight capabilities, the entire neighborhood is suffering from an onslaught of auditory shittery.  Well folks. I’ve made a huge decision. The birds WILL not live to see 2017!

2016 has been a terrible year for me. Politically and emotionally. It all started with the passing of my beloved David Bowie. Of which I’ve shared me thoughts here. Then it’s been a tumultuous and ever-downward shit-storm. And not only for me personally, I think a large portion of the country will agree that 2016 can readily and vigorously go fuck itself. No lube!!

I haven’t had much material to share with you because every time I go into the yard to either get inspiration, simply unwind or work on a project, I just end up getting pissed off at either the damage the fowl have done, or the ear-piercing noise and shrieking that they’re vomiting into my tender ears. So I end up retreating inside to hide away from the unavoidable murder that MUST occur.

Me hiding from my problems

This is no good to either of us. I have lost my one true sanctuary in the world, and you have lost my obnoxious lunacy gently mixed with gardening and danger. Well, That ends tomorrow!! Tomorrow, the Great Hunt begins.

Read More


Thar be Puppies!

I just had to share with you my neighbors adorable teeny tiny itsy bitsy min-pin/chihuahua puppies. They hatched about a month ago and are all nippy and playful now. Last night when I got home from work, my neighbor asked if I would mind babysitting them for an hour or two. “What a silly question! Bring me the damn puppies you fool.” I exclaimed.

This was also the first time that Sasha, my husky-lab, had ever seen puppies so tiny. She didn’t know what to make of them at first and probably thought they were squeaky toys of the most excellent quality and realness. Until they began making dog noises. So here’s five minutes of pure innocent puppy joy for you. I hope it brightens your day!

There’s also this weird video of my giant floating face hovering over their mobile play-pen while the lighter of the two little ladies gets all up in my mustache. I think she wants to live there, of which I have no problem with.


the-end

The end.


My Secret Life as a Political Cartoonist Part I

Note: Some of these images are not appropriate for younger viewers or Republicans. Viewer discretion is advised.


There are many things you can say about the Bush Jr. years in this country. Especially in light of the current political state of affairs. Despite my personal political beliefs, one thing I can say is that George W. Bush is clearly two things.

my-life-as-a-political-cartooonist_george-bush-self-portraitFirstly, he’s one hell of a painter. I never thought I’d ever have anything nice to say about that man, but we are in the world of Trump now, so perhaps it’s time for healing. But damn, that mans paintings, particularly his self-portraits, actually impress the shit out of me.

The second thing about Bush, is he always gave me fuel for some wicked fun political cartoons! In fact, before his second term, every time I tried to draw John Kerry it always ended up looking like Herman Munster. The selfish and childish part of me was grateful when Bush got a second term because I had that shit-weasel down pat when it came to cartooning.

In light of the nature of this particular post, and it’s uncharacteristic deviation from all things urban farming, you will see some political cartoons that you may not agree with or you may find offensive. It is my recommendation that you get over this quickly because it’s coming in full force and there’s little you can do about it.

Apart from me writing this to allow you a deeper glimpse into all that is me, I also would enjoy having these images back on The Interwebs for posterity purposes. My old website as me as an artist is no longer up and all my paintings, drawings a photographs are now lost in The Matrix. So, let’s begin our journey of sharing by slapping these bad boys back online.


I began my cartooning career back in 2001. I was working at The Photo Factory in downtown San Diego and was having a bit of a existential crisis. You see, I went to college so I could be an artist. I ended up moving towards a photography degree as it seemed more economically viable than sculpture, painting or drawing. Although I love them all equally.

Around 2001 I was growing very weary of printing other peoples shitty photographs of trite and poorly exposed “tasteful” nudes. I reached out to the editor of The Espresso after seeing a tiny ad in the paper looking for an illustrator. We met in a coffee shop (of all places) and I brought some drawings of mine for him to look at.

I then told him of my crisis and said that I NEED to create again and he would be saving lives by allowing me an outlet to do so because I was about to lose my mind. Either he was impressed by my portfolio, or interested in preserving lives. Either way, he hit me with a project right away. A giant 11″ x 17″ full front page illustration for a feature article about Americas dependence on foreign oil and how it was indirectly funding terrorism. I mean this was above and below the fold here people. I’m talking bigly here. So here was my very first published illo.

my-life-as-a-political-cartooonist_the-gas-junkyIt took way longer than I had hoped and I was still coming into my own style of drawing under pressure. The old mayor of San Diego, Maureen F. O’Connor I believe, seemed to dig it though and requested a signed copy.  I think it was her and not the republican mayor after her. Regardless, it seemed I was off on the right path and all my homicidal existential angst began to melt away.

This started a nice five year side-career working with a few different publications. The Espresso based in Southern California, The Fahrenheit, a now defunct independent music and culture newspaper out of San Diego and The Beast out of Buffalo New York. Between my full time day job and three publications I was a happy busy lad.

Typically, I’d get a call in the early evening for an assignment and would have only several hours to have a completed giant drawing inked and ready for print. All those all-nighters were fuel for my aching soul and I loved every stressful moment of it!

Especially the artistic and uncensored freedom that illustrating The Beast gave me. Just gander at this gem from an article titled Bush Mayhem: Policies of a Moron

This is also the place where you’ll want the kids to be out of the room. Last warning, no more censorship from here on out. It should also be noted that not all of these reflect my political opinions. Although many do. If one really upsets you then it wasn’t my idea, I was only following orders.

Read More


Guinea Fowl Suck: The Foulest Fowl that ever Fouled.

Intro:

“Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.”

-William S. Burroughs (an excerpt from Thanksgiving Prayer)

Some other possible titles for this post were:

When Life Punches You in the Taint… or

My World of Shit

After I slept on it, I decided that I should perhaps be a little more cheerful. God knows that this country has had quite enough shock, disappointment and all around shabbiness lately. Enough to last a lifetime. And I still refuse to wax political here even in the face of all this. Mind Your Dirt should be a safe place. So I’ll ignore the very real possibility that all the environmental progress we’ve made (what little there was) is now going to fall apart and unravel like a cheap cable-knit sweater while Muslim-Americans are goose-stepped into massive interment camps. I digress.


Aside:

Oh you sweet and beautiful reader. My rock. My everything. I’ve missed you all so tremendously. As for you, you most likely fall under one of two categories. Either you’ve missed me every day while you sat by your computer waiting with baited breath for words of merriment and mirth or snapshots of fuzzy-butted chicken cuteness; or you didn’t even notice I was away for so long. Almost two months actually.

If you fall under the former category, allow me to explain a little. If you fall under the latter, kindly kiss my entire ass.

October rang in the third year of Mind Your Dirt. Did you get me anything? No, that’s okay. I didn’t get me anything either. What I did receive was only what I can describe as a shit-storm of wants and woes. While still recovering from my werewolf bite (my dog bite got upgraded since we last spoke), my car decided to kick me while I was down with a slew of visits to the mechanics that are still going on.

Then, I broke up with my girlfriend of five years. Which I really wanted to talk to you about, but then my laptop decided to commit suicide and I was simply of the mindset to say fuck it all. So I did in many ways. I unplugged from Mind Your Dirt because I couldn’t find much inspiration to write (or a laptop to write with even if I could) nor inspiration to work in the garden. Which was getting its ass kicked by the summer heat and drought anyways.

So please bear with me while I vent and gather what’s left of my strength and carry on. My laptop now has a brand new hard drive and is slowly being rebuilt with programs and such. I find myself well into my 42nd year of life and am thrown back into the dating pool kicking and screaming. Commercials and every song on the radio make me cry now as well, so that’s pretty sweet. I’m so grateful that I’m truly in touch with all my feelings and have been using these cathartic moments to bolster my soul. But, damn, I do miss my baby girl. I thought for sure that she was The One, you dig? But the decision was the right one to make and I am good at adapting and adopting. Shit, I said I wasn’t going to write about this. Oh well, you all know by now that my life is an open book. So here I am all raw and exposed for the world to see.

So, I’m here to say that I’m back, I’m resigned. I’d also like to say that in no time in the last couple months have I lost my cool or diminished my smile. Like all great tests in life, I know that this all will pass and there’s no justification for being grumpy or short-tempered with people. I’m soldiering on and taking it all in stride.


The Meat:

But that’s not what I’m hear to tell you about. I’m here to report on the recent release of my four guinea fowl into my urban oasis. In doing so, I feel like those before me that accidentally introduced an invasive species into a balanced ecosystem. Probably the way they felt with the cane toads in Australia. I’ve made a huge mistake.

They have been a loud and destructive force in the yard for the last month. Eating plants and tearing up every bed and path I’ve so carefully crafted over the past four years. Every time I went out into the back yard to try to find some motivation, it would always end up the same way. I’d discover some new destruction or a fresh pile of guinea shit to step in and I’d just stop and stare at these ugly bastards with only one thought in my head.

“How to kill them?!”

They must be able to sense this, because they typically follow me all over the place waiting for a handout of some kind. But when I begin to go over the practical steps needed for their destruction, cleaning, and cooking they tend to back away slowly. Which is wise, because I WILL be killing them shortly.

guinea-fowl-up-on-the-roof

Read More


Help!! My Plant is Healthy!

That’s not a phrase I usually cry in despair and self-loathing, but it was today. I’ve been side-eyeballing my potted ficus on the front lawn in a very un-trusting manner for that last few months. Shiny leaves with a lush and deep green happy vigor and an ever expanding crown reaching towards the heavens are usually a really good sign. But this tree is in a pot that’s way too small for such growth.

help-my-plant-is-healthy-2_something-isnt-right

There is a very good reason for such a limiting pot. It’s not because I hate this tree or wish to see it stunted or sad. It’s because the location I chose for this ficus is directly over my sewer lines going out into the street. As illustrated in this high-tech 3D rendering of the “brown line express” (oh, how crass!).

sewer-lines-2

The poop evacuation route. Well, the second evacuation route actually.

As a homeowner, you can imagine how costly it would be to have some root invasion for this essential poop escape highway! Like several grand to replace these pipes. And the last thing I want is any backing up or flooding in the house to let me know that I have made a grave error! Gross and costly are not my favorite combinations! Gross and cheap is okay in a pinch. Read More


Donald Trump’s Hair Lives in my Backyard!

I’ll bet you didn’t know that once Donald Trump is done after a busy day of being the nations Orange Hitler, he likes to come home and relax. Let his hair down if you will.

Orange Hitler and his escaping hair creature.

Orange Hitler and his escaping hair creature.

The problem is, once his hair is down, it leaps off his skull and meanders its way to my backyard. Once it’s here, I like to call it Piper the silkie hen. One of my prized chickens. And I feed her and love her more than any other chicken/douchebag hair piece I’ve ever known.

I try oh so hard to not get political on this gardening blog. Mostly because you didn’t come here to hear the rants that I typically reserve for the poor saps that are around me all day long. I try to keep Mind Your Dirt and James Gielow ever so slightly separated. Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Like today when I caught Piper taking the most adorable dirt bath ever. She was just happy as a pig in shit to be digging and scratching and slathering filth all up in her fuzzy britches. It’s what chickens do to get any mites or critters out of their feathers.

When Piper does it, she likes to make little purring sounds like Gizmo from the movie Gremlins. And then my heart turns to jelly. But today I could’t help but see her as a sentient Donald Trump Hair-Beast and I began giggling. And then crying. Both for slandering my innocent little cutie pie fuzzy butt, as well as the current state of the nation where we have a choice between Orange Hitler and Grandma Nixon for president. But as Jefferson said, “We are given the government that we deserve” and this current situation is a reflection on what “we the people” have allowed to happen.

Now as we stand upon the threshold of The End Times©, I can’t help but wonder what part I’ve played to bring us here. I try so hard to live a decent and honest life full of honor and virtue as well as be a strong steward for all creatures great and small. When I think about it too much, I get a giant headache. Then I go outside and look at something beautiful. Something like this:

So imagine my dismay when Trump’s hair visions began creeping into my head. I feel molested, pooped and demoralized. My only solution is to watch the above video over and over again until the evil vision leaves me be. I recommend you do the same. Just listen to that cute purring and cooing. UGH! My heart is jelly again.

Post Script:

I’m sorry that I have been less than present here on Mind Your Dirt the last few weeks. You see I was actually hospitalized from a dog bite two weekends ago. Nothing too major but my dominant hand has been out of commission and my dominant brain has been hopped up on goofballs for the pain. I’ll bring you a note from my doctor. Dr. Huy Ho. I shit thee not. My doctor is a song from a Disney cartoon. Jealous? He is the best doctor I’ve ever had by the by. I digress.

donald-trumps-hair-lives-in-my-backyard-3_sasha-and-noe

Sasha the mighty husky lab got into a fight with Noe the cow dog beast over the matter of ownership of a stuffed husky cuddle monster. I tried to intervene as I have health insurance and my dog does not. A matter of economics. Well, Noe wasn’t too keen on my getting in the middle and proceeded to sink her back teeth into and through my right ring finger. Fantastically powerful pain and suffering ensued and I’m still not able to do much with my right hand. No stitches were applied as the finger meat was far too tore up for anything to sew to anything else. Want to see photos? I didn’t think so.

I never lost my cool during the entire episode, however, and even spent time to comfort Noe and make sure that she and Sasha were wound free. They were thank goodness. I then played a game of Wits and Wagers with my house guests, built a roaring fire for the making of S’Mores and waited until all guests left. When I tried to go to bed I finally admitted that to fall asleep with the loss of so much blood and the presence of so much pain would be extremely stupid. A sentiment my wise girlfriend and her sister echoed hours before. So what, I’m a stupid man. Big deal.

At 11:30 p.m. Nury and I visited the hospital for a lovely six and a half hour visit of waiting, poking and scrubbing. Good times!! Oh yes, and a healthy $100 copay. Here’s me in the throws of pain and suffering. Feel free to have this enlarged and framed with a caption underneath reading “Lesser Mustachioed Douchbag”.

donald-trumps-hair-lives-in-my-backyard-2_me-in-the-hospital

Regardless, I have a slew of unwritten posts up inside my drug-addled  melon, I just need to get them all down as well as take the subsequent associated photographs to bring you added visual delights. Please bear with my recovery and endeavor to do your best to not be around me for the next full moon! I get…bitey.


The Poop of the Night Beasts

My curtained sleep provides the creatures of the night free range for all manner of comings and goings. Small festive gatherings of much rejoicing and regaling as fuzzy butts dance and twirl and feast. They laugh and mock the stupid giant hairless ape inside that cave-thing as he snorts and farts. His slumber filled with naive and peaceful dreams. For these night beasts know what the stupid ape-thing will discover in the morning. That tonight is for them.

Tonight they will feast.

Poop of the Night Beasts_WaterfallMy fish had dreams as well. They dreamed of crunchy bits floating on the waters surface, jostling about from the steady cascade of well manicured waterfalls. They dreamed about the next days activities. Like, “let’s all go swim over there now. I think there may be a crunchy bit over there that we missed when we were there five minutes ago”.

I’ve once been told by an old wizened  sailor that fish never truly sleep; that they always keep moving. That sailor was eaten by a shark and is now shark poop. Should’ve heeded his own advice that dark and stormy night off of the Southern coast of Africa. So it goes.

Regardless of Old Stumpy McStinktrout and his unfortunate skinny dipping episode, these fish had dreams! And now they are poop. The poop of the night beasts. So it goes.

Read More