thanks for sharing your garden!

Earlier this week (yes, while scouting out everyone’s curbside trash), I noticed a woman tending her garden. I called out to her that her garden was lovely, and we struck up a conversation. I told her that we’re contemplating planting a garden at our house (don’t worry, Tim is the project manager for watering, constructing the beds, watering, figuring out what plants stand a chance of surviving the center-of-the-sun-temperatures-we-experienced-this-summer-why-do-we-live-here, watering, weeding, watering, etc.), and she had all kinds of helpful guidance on what to plant and where, and where to go for advice.

She mentioned how hardy (hearty? Which is it?! It could be both!!) the Pride of Barbados plants are, and I told her about the sweet old man in our neighborhood who gave me some seeds.

funky leaves

What are these fun little guys? These weren’t in her yard, but I’d love a patch of them in ours – the leaves close up when you touch them. I devoted a decent amount of my childhood to making these leaves close up. Glad to have contributed to this world in a meaningful way.

I thanked her for sharing her beautiful plants with passers-by, having them in the front yard instead of the back. She said the trees in her backyard only allowed for shade perennials, and that there were plenty of options at Lowe’s for plants to grow in shadier areas, too. She talked about creating space for trial and error in life to find the right match of plants (uh, trial and error? Helpful on lots of levels for this recovering perfectionist).

Talk of gardening was woven into our conversation that covered all the things: healthy food, faith, family, money, life, death (her ex-husband passed away last month and she’s getting her home ready for his celebration of life in 2 weeks – his ashes will be lovingly sprinkled underneath the oak trees in her front yard). She said something like, “We should visit again some time!” and my heart almost burst with excitement – YES OF COURSE!

What a blessing this little connection was, coming on the heels of a sad tailspin of feeling-sorry-for-myself-I-am-lonely-and-am-so-tired-of-being-the-only-one-ever-in-the-history-of-the-world-to-initiate-spending-time-with-my-friends-woe-to-me-business-is-bad-no-one-wants-to-hang-out-with-me-I-am-a-loser diatribe.

Before we knew it, we’d been talking for more than twenty minutes – A let us know that it was entirely past her naptime and she was DONE with the stroller, so we parted ways. I promised to give her a call the week following her ex-husband’s service. How nice to meet such a sweet spirit just around the corner.

residential bulk collection

This week is residential bulk collection week in our neighborhood. We were told to put the appropriate-to-dispose-of items on our curb by 6:00am Monday, and that the items would be picked up by the end of the week. I’m pretty sure that Austin Resource Recovery is waiting a couple of days to let everyone pilfer through everyone else’s junk before they haul stuff off, though. Geniuses.

It’s like a free Round Top Antiques Festival… okay not really. It’s like city-sanctioned dumpster diving, minus the putrid garbage smell.

All our curbside junk has been hauled off by treasure hunters, and we’ve been making the rounds on our morning walks to scout out what’s still available. We see lots of trucks and trailers hauling what looks like really good stuff!

It makes me want to go back to a bartering system. Trade you 2 dozen eggs for a moccasin pouch! (Alas, if only my life had more use for the skills I learned at Pioneer Day Camp. Cue minor freak out because I can’t find the beloved camp I went to in Houston back in the 90’s. How will A learn to make thread out of cotton? And make bullets at a campfire? And make lye soap and candles and track game and sew moccasin pouches, for the love?!?!) Ahem.

trash pickup1This, though, hasn’t been picked up by the treasure hunters yet. Purrrfect scratching post for Kitty Meow Meow’s play room, yes?


trash pickup2 Random odds and ends that resourceful people who don’t shop at Target for their every need (not me) could use to create something cool.

I need to find out when other* neighborhoods (you know who you are) are having their bulk collection weeks, and drive through in Tim’s truck to pick up the rejects. Who’s with me?!?!

oh houston.

I’ve been trying to come up with a useful post, but I’ve got nothing. Seeing and reading about the catastrophic flooding in the greater Houston area is heartbreaking. Rebuilding efforts will be monstrous, but it somehow isn’t overwhelming: if any group of people can do it, it’s my H-town crowd.

Praying for those without power, those without homes, those who were able to escape and don’t yet know if their home was flooded, for exhausted law enforcement and first responders, for the selfless souls who are helping with rescue efforts.

Here’s a good link to ways we can help.

Let’s all be gentle with each other today, ok? Life and health and wealth are fragile, fleeting things.

pray for houston

garage sale signs

I love a good garage sale, but y’all. Can we get some sort of garage sale sign PSA out to the masses? The number of poorly written/designed/secured signs advertising garage sales in my neighborhood is ridiculous. NOT TO MENTION the ones for sales that have already happened. PAST TENSE.

garage saleNo.

Do you think you get paid just for putting the signs out?!? How else are people supposed to know where/when to go? YOUR ONE JOB is to make a good sign so people can come buy your junk that isn’t good enough to sell on Craigslist (or you are too lazy to post). YOU WILL BE JUDGED by the quality of your signs, people.

Please allow me a few pointers to assist the people who apparently have a good deal of trouble in this department (granted, that’s not you, because you are smart and resourceful, as evidenced by you reading my blog right now, so I’m not really sure how this will get to them…. but it’s cathartic to make this list nonetheless.)

Top 5 Tips to Remember When Making Your Garage Sale Sign:

  1. Do not use a poster (or construction paper ARE YOU KIDDING ME) of any kind without some support. This is Texas. It is hot and humid and windy and rainy, and that was just this morning (har har). Use some common sense and use something more substantial. Thanks.
  2. Don’t use that cardboard-backed paper either. When the elements meet your sign, the paper will lift from the backing and be just like the poster in #1 but uglier and more like paper. Funny story: we were driving home from our vacation and saw a “MOVING SALE!” sign near our house. It was on this type of paper and the street number was the same as ours and the first letter of the street name was the same as ours…. the rest was folded back from view. I was terrified that someone had broken in to our home while we were gone and had hosted a moving sale earlier that day. Drove the final five blocks back to our house in sheer panic.
  3. Put the date of your garage sale, people. Saturday is a great day to have a sale, but we do get quite a few of these each year now, so be more specific.
  4. While we’re at it, a timeframe helps. It will help you, too, so creeps aren’t a’creepin’ at your house before or after the sale is going on.
  5. AND FOR THE LOVE, if you put a sign out, be sure to do AMERICA a favor and take it down once your sale is over! This will prevent getting people’s hopes up only to be dashed when they go through the trouble of getting out of their car and unrolling your poorly secured sign. ALSO, it becomes LITTER (or something) once the event has passed. The sign referenced in #2 above? Yeah that was two weeks ago and it’s still out. Being “that neighbor” who goes around taking down old garage sale signs isn’t really the route I want to go, but IAMTHISCLOSE, so help me.


seeds from mr. fisher

On one of our morning walks, an elderly man smiled and waved while he watered his front flowerbeds.

When I snapped out of my eyes-glued-to-phone trance (guilty) and asked him how he was, he said, “Worried my flowers will die from all this heat! I’ve given up on watering my yard. You like those flowers?”

He gestured toward two bush-like clumps – one yellow, one orange. I wasn’t sure which one he was talking about, so I enthusiastically answered, “Yes, they’re beautiful!”

Pride-of-Barbados(Photo taken from a page on the Bexar County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service site – thanks for sharing this info!)

“Would you like some seeds? Hold on a minute.” He scurries into his garage and I’m standing in his driveway for enough time to make me wonder if he’d collapsed somewhere in there and I should go find him. Thank goodness I have A in the stroller so I’m not just standing there… I don’t know what to do with my hands….rock the stroller back and forth and look normal…. (gosh I’m not very comfortable just “being” 91% of the time).

He finally reappeared, said he couldn’t find the seeds, but that he would put them out for me on his front porch. “Come back by here – there will be a medicine bottle on my front porch full of seeds – those are for you!”

I’m thinking, ummm great. Some random medicine bottle with his confidential prescription info on it and pill-like seeds in it and I’m just supposed to take them off his porch?! Thanks but no thanks, sir. Smile and nod.

I introduced A to him, and he thought I said her name was “Anna Lee.” Said that’s also the name of a famous ship in the Mississippi? Must research.

We then discussed everything that seemed to pop into his mind, from his service to our country (Armed Forces, Postal Service, Social Security Administration), to his pride in ensuring all grandkids made it through college (and now he’s working saving for his great-grandchildren), to his wife’s passing in 2006 from Alzheimer’s and how hard it’s been on him. He said he’ll be 91 this year – OH MAY I PLEASE REMEMBER to bring this sweet soul a card on December 17th!

We parted ways and were probably 5 gone for minutes, down on another street when I hear, “ANNA LEE!!! ANNA LEE!!!” I turn around to see Mr. Fisher on a bicycle (photo below – HOW CUTE IS THIS?!?!).

With a childlike enthusiasm and a very proud “I found them!” he handed me a medicine bottle marked “Pride of Barbados” with the seed count noted on the side. He gave me planting instructions and told me to pass the rest of the seeds on to my friends once I was done and to take care. Just like that, he took off and headed back to his house.

Mr. Fisher

So I’m going to plant me some Pride of Barbados seeds out of this medicine bottle and see what happens. Anyone else want to join me?? I have 51!!

Barbados seeds

peppers from mike

THE COOLEST THING happened in our neighborhood. We Three Kirchners were taking an evening walk/stroll and were a few streets over when we waved at a man who was in his driveway.

“Want some peppers?” he yelled and pointed to his front yard garden. We slowed down and he came ambling over to his well-tended corner teeming with green things. He plucked 5 peppers for us as Tim asked him about keeping squirrels and mockingbirds away. We introduced ourselves and told him (Mike) where we live. His eyes lit up and he said we could help ourselves and come back to pick more peppers as we need them.


This is the small town connectedness that I love and crave. This is when I realize how fearful my default stance is, thinking every stranger we encounter is a criminal with evil intentions (I attribute some of this to mama bear protectiveness, but more often than not I don’t think the best of strangers). This is when this world gets a little bit smaller.

Thanks for the peppers, Mike, and for helping restore my faith in good neighbors.

peppersThese, sautéed, will accompany some pork carnitas later this week – yum!

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