A Rain Garden in the Making 8.4.18

Jumping from a home landscape to a specialized garden in the community is a huge leap on many levels.  The size and the scope of the project just multiplied by too many factors to count.  I have barely pitched the project to the President of the Board of the 501c3 that owns the Community Park and drawn up a basic Site Plan.  Just 6 days later, there is a 22 x 26 hole dug in the ground!  Wait, what?

rain garden, site plan, design, storm water, runoff, public park, initial, proposal, draft, drainage

Initial Site Plan Huntertown Family Park Rain Garden, August 4, 2018

When I heard that there would be a Kubota tractor available to scratch-dig the rock hard base of the proposed Rain Garden, I had to move quickly!  I was going to try to attend the Community Park work day on Saturday to get a sense of how things worked, meet some of the volunteers, and learn more about the park facilities.  The Pres gave me a more detailed tour of the grounds, introduced me to “the guys,” shared some more history and vision, then mentioned that they would be finishing that afternoon, the prep for a sidewalk adjacent to the proposed rain garden area.  The tractor would be available after that, wow, in about 3 hours!

I noticed some mega weeds around the entrance to the park so I grabbed my shovel to do some impromptu weeding; I did what I could in the hot sun.  A really nice man came over from where he and his wife were staying with family across the street and offered to donate some mulch to the Park.  His brother-in-law had just bought a local landscape supply business and this man wanted to know if we needed anything before an event coming up the next weekend.  I gave him the President’s contact information and mentioned the rain garden project ’cause, hey, there are already mountains of mulch already on the property but not landscape-quality; tell him Julie would love the offer of some “dark hardwood mulch!”  (Later the Pres just smiled; I’ll bet it’s a go!)  By the time I left the park, I had met this man’s wife who became my first volunteer for the Rain Garden Project.

Off to Walmart I went to pick up some marking paint for the Pres then came home to prepare some treats for these amazing men.  My energy was waning but some kind of momentum had taken over.  A bunch of food, a glass of chicken bone broth and a ton of water helped revive me enough to keep going!  I had most of the ingredients at home for chocolate cookies and a gallon of lemonade; surely some “appreciation treats” would be welcome as temperatures soared above 91 degrees?  The conditions were tough on everyone for sure.  By 1:30 p.m. I was back at the park to hang out in the shade of the picnic shelters and learn.

I am learning as much about general carpentry and construction as I am about how members of a community can work together, how much fun these men have just hanging out with each other no matter what they are doing.  Most of them are retired from the trades and in their 40’s and 50’s.  Building this Community Park is how they love to spend their free time together after breakfast at the Kitchen Table restaurant down the street.  Perhaps it has a lot to do with the years they all once worked together in one way or another and the small town friendliness I had never witnessed up close from our housing addition across the highway.  The Pres treated all of them like contractors, co-workers, brothers, and sons alike.  It was beautiful to witness as they helped to craft the public facility already enjoyed by dozens of folks every day.  They worked REALLY HARD that day in their respective projects!

Kubota, rain garden, community, project, Huntertown, family, park, runoff, storm water, digging, construction, volunteers

About 3:00 p.m., the man in the Kubota tractor was ready to scratch-up the base of the rain garden.  Its claw-bucket digging down few inches deep didn’t loosen up the nasty crab grass in the compacted clay/sand mix so down a full foot he had to go.  It took about 30 minutes to complete the 22 x 26 foot area, much like the shape of a baseball diamond in miniature.  As I do additional calculations we might need to increase the size of the rain garden yet that is still bigger than the initial site plan noted above.  I realized that those dirt clods would be rock hard within half a day so I tried to weed a few chunks of those grass plants as I could in the searing heat . . . with a couple of breaks just to cool off a bit.  It took a long time, leaving much more for another day and team of volunteers.  Even I was munching on a chocolate cookie and drinking lemonade before the day was done!  🙂

Sunday morning the guys would be meeting again for breakfast at the Kitchen Table before finishing adding the mesh to the sidewalk plus other preparations before the delivery of concrete on Monday by 2:00 p.m.  I was glad that the Pres had shared with me about the sidewalk so I could ask if they cold add the crushed limestone instead of dirt along the outer edge; this would match the other stone edge already in place along what would become the top of periphery of the rain garden (i.e. the front horizontal and right perpendicular edges in the photo above).  It might not be the most aesthetic choice of materials however those two stone borders would definitely be easier to maintain than a berm made of dirt that would eventually grow weeds.  While I have begun seeking  volunteers from the Master Gardener and Native Gardener groups locally to help build and maintain the the rain garden, I see signs all over the park of “good idea” projects that don’t look as good anymore, lost to poor follow-up.  Low maintenance must be part of this garden design!

Some interest in the rain garden project grew among the guys, just by being there, hanging out, and helping here and there where I could.  One gentleman told a story of how he used Roundup to kill all the grass in his yard before re-planting his lawn.  So we talked about the effect of glyphosate on beneficial insects, how it can effect plants in the area for up to 6 months, and how it would basically not work with the project here.  Beneficial insects pollinate the flowers of the tap-rooted plants that hold and filter the water runoff plus help prevent all the flooding that lasts for days on this side of the bathroom building after heavy rains.  No insects, no healthy plants, no rain garden.  Another man suggested using the extra pavers they had on the property which we could use for the outer border (i.e. to form the berm that prevents spillover; we would add drainage windows too).  Even the Pres said he could probably work with a local landscaping company to build a flagstone path through the area which would enhance  interest for visitors in addition to helping with weeding and such.  I agreed, taking lots of mental notes.  Chances are that I will see these hardworking men again . . .

rain garden, Huntertown, family, park, runoff, storm water, native plants, Monarch butterfly, community, project

So tonight I put together a flyer about the Community Family Park Rain Garden project.  How poetic to set in motion something like this that will actually come to fruition through the “organic” interest and talents of so many wonderful folks in my community.  Momentum has started as I continue to recover from a setback in July.  So grateful to have something else focus on:  my own Horticulture Therapy!  The flyer will likely become a temporary sign along the edge of our big dirt hole so that folks attending the Heritage Festival this weekend will know that something really cool is about to happen there soon.  Maybe some will join in and help?  I feel really privileged and honored to have this opportunity that came about just by taking a little online class, just by making a little post on Facebook, .  There is so much more going on here and it transcends me for sure.

Then again, that is always the case now isn’t it Gentle Reader?  Yeah God!  JJ

Isaiah 58:11

11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

 

This one is for you

Dearest Gentle Reader:

In the words of the apostle, Paul, I humbly express my gratitude for your readership, support, prayers, and friendship as we journey together in this thingy called, “life.”  You make a difference in my life and for you I am grateful.  Thank you!  Just Julie

Ephesians 1:15-21New International Version (NIV)

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

 

That’s what friends are for

Mrs. Wesolowski would turn over in grave if she saw this title and its dangling participle.  So sorry my late English teacher.  It’s even a song title and a great pop tune as well:

Tonight I got to go back in time to my working days.  I had the privilege of talking on the phone with 2 ladies via conference call that I worked with over 10 years ago.  The two of them are long time friends from college.  As for me, “P1” was the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) where I was her supervising Occupational Therapist.  She was hard-working, dedicated, thorough, and very kind with all of our rehabilitation patients.  We had lots of memorable moments and a few we would rather forget as well.  It’s all in the mix when you serve others in the zany, fast-paced people business of healthcare.

“P2” was also a COTA in another SNF when we met, providing quality therapy services over the weekend.  We laughed and got an incredible amount of work done with residents we hardly knew when covering for the regular therapists.  On call work isn’t for everyone when you have to provide billable services in a place where you can hardly find the resident’s rooms in an unfamiliar setting!  What I remember most about P2 was our 1 1/2 years together when I assisted her with a Fibromyalgia Support group she founded for Central DuPage Hospital.  I learned a lot from P2 as she cared for those who attended as friends, as sojourners, emphasizing the importance of keeping our focus on wellness, not just illness when battling chronic pain.

I am so grateful that P1 put this call together tonight.  We got to talk “shop” for the first time for me in a long time.  They also understood the administrative details with which I have struggled in my brother’s care after a stroke 3 months ago.  With P2 we share a strong interest in gardening:  in the past P2’s home was a registered bird and butterfly sanctuary in the west suburbs of Chicago (a very unlikely place for a natural retreat!)  With P1 I share overcoming a traumatic event at our place of work when an administrator verbally attacked her in front of a regional rehabilitation manager who did nothing to defend P1.  She ended up resigning to save her dignity and avoid having to travel many miles between two facilities with the second one even further from her home.  I respected her tremendously for moving on.  We lost a dedicated employee that day but I gained a friendship that has endured more than this . . .

Their sons are now nearly grown and I have moved 200 miles away to another State to remarry and start a new life.  P1 is back in occupational therapy in a SNF near her home and P2 provides Ai Chi water classes to those seeking peace through gentle movements and relaxation techniques.  Both apply everyday what it means to be trained in the field of occupational therapy:  adapting to the challenges and opportunities of life, enriching the lives of others, connecting with those we hold dear.  I do miss working as an occupational therapist.  I also recognize that I am grateful for the skills I learned in O.T. that I use everyday to cope with an ongoing, serious illness.  Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to relive some of those days when a twinkle in the eye of an older adult was my greatest reward for a job well done.  Or when I hear a whoot! whooot! from behind a closed door from a patient who has just regained the ability to care for himself because of the therapeutic relationship with his seasoned COTA.  Those were the days, eh ladies?

As we move forward in life the focus must always change at some point.  I do wonder if I will get to share a cup of coffee or tea with P1 and P2 in person?  Or maybe we will walk in P2’s garden along the wetland in her backyard and marvel at the 80 birdhouse gourds she might harvest once again.  We probably will never work together again and that’s cool too.  But hey, let’s never lose touch o.k.?  You have filled my heart with goodness this night and I appreciate you too so very much.  Seeya on Facebook.  Love to you both,  Just Julie

winnie_the_pooh_tigger_and_piglet_die_cut_da7ca15e

 

 

 

 

Home of the Brave

fireworks-flag

Yesterday on the Fourth of July we celebrated the independence of America from Great Britain.  Among many patriotic sayings is a phrase from our national anthem:  Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner:

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Indeed this song that was sung while waving our American flag is still a symbol of heroism in the United States of America.  And yet I submit to you that within the hearts of the great and mighty that exude bravery are the once ordinary citizenry that the Lord rose up for great deeds.  Those neighbors, husbands and friends chose to align themselves with the God of the universe who reigns supreme and will come again for His own.  Similarly if anything I write here telling my own story reflects bravery then it is a reflection of those everyday heroes in my life that hold me up as well:  many more than I can list here.  Allow me to share with you.*

*A dear friend, Cindy, who checks in on me regularly despite her busy work schedule and home life.  From her I learned to de-mystify alternative cooking for health (a task which consumes much of my waking hours these days!).  Canned coconut cream from a downtown Asian food market is my new delicacy and gratefully it goes with everything.  She’s probably the best resource person I know for local health and food stuff, is extraordinarily encouraging, and has a heart bigger than her petite frame.  Love you girlfriend!

*Three regular readers of this blog who graciously let me know they are out there from time to time:  Jennifer, Sherry, and Amanda.  Some may say that it is not a real relationship when you meet a person online and don’t have any face time with them.  I disagree.  After all, I met my husband online via Yahoo Personals many years ago!  And we are living happily ever thank you very much after having bridged the gap from anonymity to familiarity.  Yes:  very familiar indeed!  I appreciate the prayers, sharing, overcoming spirit, and support of these three lovely ladies in their own heartfelt blogs.  Amanda generously read and reviewed my first eBook last year.  Thank you ladies!  Find them at:

My Color is Lyme

A Labor of Love

Amanda Lannon

*My brother and his fiancé, Mike and Lisa.  My brother had a severe stroke 3 months ago and was subsequently dumped in an inner city nursing home because he didn’t have insurance.  Together they are navigating the difficult processes of securing Medicaid and Veteran’s Administration benefits.  The paperwork, dead ends, delays, and frustrations are intense as time passes without comprehensive medical care or ongoing rehabilitation.  While our conversations about all of these are certainly lively, I am impressed by my brother and Lisa’s overall prevailing spirit.  Mike is looking forward to the day when he can serve others in a similar situation possibly as a dog handler in a pet therapy program.  He is delving into the Word of God often now.  Lisa is fulfilling well her new role as Guardian despite being way out of her comfort zone.  These are good things.  I’m proud of you both!

*My husband Steve.  The love in his eyes for me never changes whether he is carrying me to the bathroom (due to daily episodes of neurological collapse) or showing me how to shoot a pellet gun at an empty gallon jug of orange juice.  He may not have had enough sleep for the previous four nights in a row and yet his love never changes.  He is my Jesus with skin on and greatest hero on this earth.  I love you River Bear!

*The Lord, Jesus Christ most of all.  When I found myself single at age 45, the Lord had become my Heavenly Husband and everyday companion.  He had to become real to me to fill the painful void leftover from my estranged ex-husband.  My Jesus also showed me the once empty places in my heart designed just for Him then filled them completely.  I know that I am never alone.  Ever.  He is the great I AM, worthy of praise, and a warrior for the cares of our days.  No matter what comes in this fallen world or how wretched, He has overcome all of it.  Those of us who believe in Him through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will be saved and spared any more suffering when He comes again for His own.  The Lord is the ultimate hero in which we can place our lives, our confidences.  Every good thing and the bravery needed to face these challenging times comes from the one true God.  In the shadow of His wings I am comforted, protected, find rest.

For the nation of Israel, into which we believers are adopted as sons and daughters of the King, we find our freedom, courage to go on, and rest in the Lord.  It is the hope of my heart that you, Gentle Reader, will find these great gifts in the person of Jesus Christ too.  In Him we have the greatest of heroes:  brave beyond compare.  Now that’s a holiday worth celebrating today and every day.  Bang bang!

***************************

Psalm 147 (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
    but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.

He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
    and for the young ravens when they call.

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
    praise your God, Zion.

13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
    and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
    and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

15 He sends his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
    and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
    Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
    he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
    his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
    they do not know his laws.

Praise the Lord. 

 

You have made a difference!

I am grateful for the love, care, and support of some special folks who have helped me make it through nearly two years of serious illness.  I am also sad for those who have left my life or misunderstood this time in my life.  Hardship is not contagious folks!Mom's 75th B Day Party

First, the good stuff.  The person nearest and dearest to my heart is my beloved husband, Steve.  I am amazed when I gaze into his blue eyes at the sincerity of his love for me and for the Lord too.  When he comes close and holds me through a tough episode, cradling my neck in his hands to comfort me and minimize the trauma of various noxious symptoms, I am humbled!  There are not many people on the planet that would do this even for a loved one two years “down the road.”  Many would become exasperated, angry, indifferent, or worse by now.  Thank you Lord for this amazing man.  Thank you for my “Jesus with skin on.”

The next group of folks closest to the fire, so to speak, who have helped me to survive are my Lyme Literate Medical Doctor and our local Lyme disease support group (who are largely his patients).  You understand!  You get it!  And you believe me!  When my Doc calls me on a Saturday with the name of a pharmacy where I can get a medication almost $100 USD cheaper, I am grateful!  When it’s my turn to share at our monthly Lyme group meeting and my tummy is happy from the yummy snacks we bring that fit our special dietary restrictions, I feel loved!  And then when we exchange text messages or Cindy, or Roberta or Diana offers help with a special task, I am humbled.  Oh how I pray I may serve you too in your time of need.

A few dear friends and family members have witnessed and endured much of the past 10 years of this incredible journey of transformation.  I love the kind of relationships that go on no matter what life brings, picking up when we meet again as if no time has passed.  I hope my brother Mike, Brenda, Deb, Kinsey, Patrice, Mary, Judy, Maria, Tami, and a few others feel the same way?   Now that my parents and grandparents have passed away, I appreciate even more my extended family including my Other Mom, Other Dad, Uncle Dave, Aunt Lori, Aunt Patty, and Aunt Shirley.  I love you and thank you for investing in my life.

There’s a special place in my heart for the online community.  Whether I met you on a Facebook Lyme forum, your blog or when you commented on my blog, I credit you with keeping me sane at the odd times of day when no one else cares!  Thank you for your “likes,” for following this blog, for your comments and suggestions, for your time.  The greatest gift from a friend is a gift of his or her time.  When you reach out to me I know that I am not alone.  While the internet can be a ruthless place, I am grateful for it’s goodness, especially when I am awake in the middle of the night.  It’s pretty cool that my buds in the UK or West coast of the US are online when I am!  Please let me know how I may return your kindness.

I’ll save the best for last.  In the interim, I’ll briefly state my sorrow for those who have chosen to leave my life.  He or she will not be reading this so I won’t waste much white space gushing this or that emotion.  I am grateful that when I have endured hardship in the past, I learned the importance of letting go of the people, places, and things that leave my life at these times.  Perhaps saying goodbye makes room to welcome the blessings that are to come?  Thank you for all that you have taught me.  Godspeed, dear ones.  I’ll be here if you want to stop by for a chat or walk around the block in the future.  As for the things, well they are just things.  So long.

And now for the best:  the One who knew me and my frame before I was born, fearfully and wonderfully made by Your guiding hand.  (Psalm 139)  I love you Lord and thank you for saving me from my path of destruction as a young woman.  I praise you for crafting the incredible events of my life to bring me more blessing than I could have ever imagined in the middle of my journey on this earth.  While I do not fully understand the sorrows that have come, I am convinced that You hold my tears in your hand, counting and caring for each drop, every pain.  I have never felt alone.  Thank you Jesus for bringing me to Your throne of grace where I may dwell in Your presence now and forevermore.  Grow my trust in Your promises, Your plan for my life, Your will for me all that is around me in this world that is troublesome.  Come soon my Lord!

So for all of you and you and you and you and You who have made a difference in my life, I give thanks.   If I have screwed up somewhere, please let me know and consider forgiving me.   I want to make it right if I can.  And if any good comes from me, these blogs, or anything else, to God be the glory.  He is worthy to be praised!