Garden Beginnings

When people hear that I have a whole week off of both school AND work, they typically ask, “Are you going anywhere? Do you have plans to do anything fun and exciting?”

The reality, though, was that my spring break plans contained more homework than anything else. Not exactly fun and exciting. But I did have one fairly big, non-homework plan: start our garden.

Since we first came to look at our apartment last summer, I’ve had my eye on the empty plot next to the building. We asked the landlords if they would be open to us planting a garden there and they responded that as long as we gave them some vegetables, we could do whatever we wanted. So I stared out the window at the open space, envisioning raised beds made out of recycled materials, tended by enthusiastic neighbors.

As February slipped into March, though, and spring edged closer, I realized that if I was going to make the leap from dreaming about a garden to actually starting one, my plans needed to get quite a bit more concrete.

But the space is actually pretty large and the more I looked at it, the more daunting it felt. It looks like there used to be a building there at some point so the space is littered with small stones (I suspect that it may need some compost and TLC to grow things). And dog poop from the neighbor’s dog, who roams free most days (and no, that’s not the kind of compost I had in mind). I knew that I would need to either clean out the stones and till the ground or build raised beds. And either way I would need to figure out some sort of fencing to keep out the dog.

Finally I decided that I just needed to start somewhere and see what solutions I could figure out. And with school and work taking up most of my time, spring break seemed the most likely time to jump into it. So I made a list of goals for the garden, a list of things that I needed to do, a list of materials I needed, and a list plants I wanted to grow (I’m a list person, remember?).

On Thursday I researched fencing options. At first I was looking at fences made from all sorts of recycled materials: old pallets, bed frames, bicycle parts. I found some neat ideas that I would love to try someday, but eventually concluded that for this year, what I really needed was something simple, temporary, and easy to install (since we are just renting and my building skills are pretty limited indeed). Home depot offers some fairly inexpensive options, like chicken wire attached to simple metal posts. I think I can handle that…

 

On Friday I called the landlord to confirm that it was still okay for us to start a garden (she said absolutely, as long as we gave her some vegetables).

On Sunday I made a flyer inviting our neighbor’s to participate in the garden and posted it by the mailboxes and in the laundry room (I haven’t heard back from anyone, but I’m hopeful that once the garden is visibly started, some people will jump in).

On Tuesday Derek and I went to the Kansas City Community Gardens office and signed up for a membership. Because we qualified as low-income, they said they could come and till the garden for us for just $8. We filled out the appropriate forms and left with an official green membership card and renewed hope that this garden thing would actually happen. Now I’m just waiting for them to call to set up a time to come till.

On Wednesday I snagged a shovel, hoe, and trowel for a few dollars from a garage sale down the street. The metal parts are rusty, but they’re still sturdy. And they opened up conversation with the neighbors down the street about the garden (they warned me not to plant watermelons or any of that sweet stuff, because that’s what people like to take around here). That same day, Derek brought home a big ceramic pot from work that I plan to use for herbs.

Now it’s Friday and though the garden is not tilled yet, I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good start this week. I’ve done enough to assure myself that the garden WILL happen this year at least and the task feels a little more manageable now. This weekend I hope to clear out the rocks from the plot in preparation for tilling and perhaps sketch out a plan of the garden.

Once I finish the homework I put off for most of the week that is….

Because I Like Lists

I first heard about this idea on Brooke’s blog and later came across it on several other blogs. Basically, the idea is to make a list of 101 things you want to do in 1001 days (long enough to accomplish a lot but short enough to actually push you t o do things). I thought it sounded like fun and have toyed around with the idea of making one of my own for a while. I like the idea of being intentional about pursuing your plans and dreams, both the bigger things and (perhaps more importantly) the little, everyday things. Plus, I’m definitely a list person. So this week I finally decided to sit down and make my list. It took a while and I’m not sure I’m entirely content with everything on it (I found I had trouble remember all the things I’d thought about wanting to do….which is why I tend to make lists :-) ), but really, it’s just a starting point. So, here is my list of 101 things I want to do in the next 1001 days (from August 3, 2010, until April 30, 2013).

On Jobs and Joblessness

A lot has happened with us over these past couple weeks and I know I’m overdue for an update on life.

As I wrote before, Derek was unexpectedly laid off from his job the same day my job ended at the school. We were a bit stunned, but felt like God must be doing something in this sudden rerouting of our lives, though we didn’t have a clue what that might be. To be honest, even now, two weeks later, I don’t feel like I have a much better grasp on what God’s up to with us in this season, but still feel confident that He is working and whatever He is doing will be good.

In the following week we jumped back into job searching (didn’t we just do this?). Derek discovered that the Roasterie (a local coffee roasting company, whose café is just a ten minute walk from our house) was hiring. Interestingly, they had posted the job opening the very same day he was laid off. He applied and went in for an interview a couple days later. He described it as the smoothest interview he’d ever had and came home pretty confident that he had the job. Sure enough, a couple days later they called and offered him the job. So exactly a week after losing his job at the nursery, he was employed again. Talk about God’s provision!

We’re excited about this job, not just because it’s a job (though that in itself is plenty exciting), but because 1) it’s in a coffee shop (pretty much a dream job for my coffee-loving husband), 2) it’s a local company, which fits with some of the lifestyle values we’ve been pursuing lately in trying to buy more locally produced things, 3) it’s within walking distance (and also along the main bus line so it will be easy to get to, even when/if we move), and 4) it has the potential of being a long-term, career sort of job, which has been something we’ve been praying about for quite a while now. The job description stated that they were looking for “a permanent figure that desires to make a career for him/herself in the coffee industry.” Seeing that Derek had previous management experience, the manager interviewing him asked if he’d ever consider moving up to management in the company. Hmm….

Oh, and did I mention that we get a free bag of coffee each week? Yes!

As for me, I’ve been diligently job searching, perusing craigslist, sending out resumes, and taking the bus all over the city to apply places in person. I feel like I don’t have any clear direction from the Lord for this season, so I’m trying to listen carefully for His voice in each step.

This new job has also brought up a lot of discussion about our future. We are still unsure about a lot of details of our future, or even what we want that future to look like. We have ideas, pieces of dreams, but still so many questions. We know we want to like incarnationally among the poor. We know we want to live in community. We know we want to build a foundation of prayer. We know we want to built natural, organic relationships with people. Lately we’ve been talking about things we want to develop in our lives that have the potential of helping us connect with people (particularly people who don’t know Jesus). For me, this includes my sewing, gardening, cooking, and love of children. I want to develop avenues to open our lives and hearts to the people around us.

Which has brought me to consider going back to school to earn a certificate in child growth and development (I only need eight more classes so I could finish the certificate in two semesters and decide then if I want to go on and finish the associates degree). I’m mulling over the idea of running a daycare out of our house in the future (because we do hope to one day have a house of our own). It could help support us in our ministry, even after we have kids of our own, and could potentially provide a way to build relationship with the families in the neighborhood. But going back to school….overwhelms me a bit. It’s a decent time commitment and I’ve never been a student without school being the central focus of my life. It feels like it would be a delicate balancing act between priorities this time around.

In the meantime, I’m trying to make use of this open season. I like to be busy, to feel like I’m working towards something, so the abundance of free time is hard for me sometimes. I feel like God worked a lot in my heart during those six months at home after we got married, though, and I feel more at peace with the openness of this season. I’m actually excited about having time to pursue some of the things that have been on my heart.

In an effort to avoid wasting time this season (the more time I have, the easier it seems to let it slip by), I made a list of things I want to explore and do this summer. A lot of those have to do with gardening, sewing, and other do-it-yourself sort of projects, as well as general sharing-life-with-other-people sort of activities.

Currently, that list includes:

– Work on our garden
– Research community gardens (I’m really hoping to start one next summer, which means starting planning this year)
– Visit a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm in Kansas City (there’s one in particular I want to visit that employs local youth)
– Go to the Brookside Farmers Market (it’s about a ten minute walk from us but I haven’t been there yet)
– Go berry picking (I’ve been trying to find a good place to do this)
– Go corn picking (Derek knows of a place where you pick corn and get to keep half of what you pick for free)
– Learn to sew (or continue learning to sew, I guess. I’ve sewn in the past, but it’s been a while and my skills are pretty basic)
– Sew something from a pattern (I’ve actually never done this)
– Make a baby blanket for a friend who is pregnant
– Learn about sewing machine maintenance (especially with an older machine, this seems practical)
– Put together a sewing basket (I have aspirations of finding a fun basket for this at a garage sale/thrift store)
– Find an air popcorn popper and roast our own coffee
– Make homemade ice cream
– Blog regularly
– Start writing down thoughts for a book (I almost didn’t include this one, because the thought of me writing a book sounds ridiculously far-fetched, but I have some ideas so here it is)
– Go camping (I can’t even remember when the last time I went camping, so I’d really like to get a group of people to go this summer)
– Have people visit us (this one is happening for sure…yay!)
– Invite people over for dinner and other fellowship things
– Work on building friendships, especially within the Boiler Room
– Decide about school this fall
– Finish at least some of the books that I’ve started, including:
Abba’s Child
– Brennan Manning
Stranger to Self-Hatred
– Brennan Manning
Celebration of Discipline
– Richard Foster
Resse Howells Intercessor
– Norman Percy Grubb
Punk Monk
– Andy Freeman (I’ve read this before but want to read it again)
– Move? (we’ve been talking about the possibility of moving east of Troost, hopefully to live in community…)