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.


The Missing Needle Nose Pliers

 flat nose pliers, jewelry making, o ring, jump ring, making jewelry

Husband asks:   Where are my needle nose pliers?

Wife answers after a long pause:  I might have sent them to Minnesota . . .

And then another looooooong pause follows with:  silence!

Sometimes the logic of the moment doesn’t make sense to anyone else but oneself.  Know what I mean?  Hey, I was selling my jewelry business this past Fall and wanted to send along all of the tools that the new owner would need.  I noted that there was a nicer pair of pliers in the tool cabinet so surely hubby-dear would agree that I should make my customer happy to have both pairs needed to successfully open and close jump rings?  Besides, I did ask him about it didn’t I?  He did not remember me asking him.  I did not remember it exactly either.  Well DeeAnn in Minnesota is happily making jewelry and that’s all that counts, right?

Well maybe not.  Within a day I made sure that we picked up for my beloved, a nicer Stanley-branded pair with ergonomic, non-slip grips at Walmart.  Win!  Win?

We employed a similar rationale four years ago when I never really recovered from acute hepatitis.  For more on that story, see the About Julie page here.  It seemed the right thing to do to use an alternative technology to treat Lyme disease when a trial of antibiotics left me wretchedly ill.  Sadly, the Beam Ray Rife machine hurt me, sending me into a tailspin.  There would be no easy solution(s) to this complication.  I developed seizure attack episodes within 3 weeks of running very short programs on the unit which exposed me to various frequencies of light and sound waves.  A dozen or more local folks using their own machines noted benefits.  I did not.  I sold it about 1 1/2 years later with a net loss of $1500 and what has become 4 years of daily convulsive episodes.  This weekend there have been 3 major and several minor wretched episodes within the last 24 hours.  Lord have mercy!

Beam Ray, Rife, sound, light, wavelength, alternative medicine, Ray Rife, Lyme disease

Beam Ray Rife machine


As you can read in the link noted above, we have tried many different kinds of valid treatments coached by skilled practitioners.  I have benefitted from taking down mold exposures and illness, mercury toxicity, Candida, parasites, and the extraction of 2 root-canaled teeth.  Even so I feel like a beaten puppy!  But now we know that they very likely are related to Chronic Lyme Disease requiring the use of powerful doses of IV antibiotics for many months.  Seven weeks into the treatment I can tell you that there are some positive changes.  Unfortunately I am having complications from the weekly IV infusions so later this week I will have a port surgically placed in my chest wall.  This becomes a direct-access site without the need for sterile dressings that irritate my skin or superficial phlebitis that has plagued my forearms for about 3 weeks.  (Thank the Lord that I discovered horse chestnut gel when the warm compresses did not help.)  I am also hoping there won’t be any more violent episodes with the treatments. Even intramuscular injections have been exceedingly difficult.  Whew!

So there ya go.  A funny story, an update, and a little hope beyond the saga of late.  Lord willing, I am going to get well!  And when I do I might just get out my own tools here in Indiana, not Minnesota, for digging in the garden.  By the way, Spring weather is forecasted for this week .  Since I won’t be tethered to an IV line I can safely get a little dirt underneath my fingernails if I am up to it before the surgical procedure on Thursday.  The garden pup is ready.  You could say that I’ve traded the needle nosed pliers for an aluminum shovel!  So let’s get to it . . .

I wonder how those carrots are doing that got left in the ground last fall?  Having a little extra time in the soil should make them as sweet as candy by now dontcha know?  :JJ

life began in a garden

You bring me joy

How about playing a little tune while enjoying the view that encourages me these days: my beloved and my garden.  Enjoy!

Song to play:

Pictures from my heart of gratitude.  Thank you Jesus.  You are so good to me.  JJ

My beloved and me at Lakeside Rose Garden, Fort Wayne, Indiana

My beloved and me at Lakeside Rose Garden, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Garden pup:  Elle

Garden pup: Elle



Our first compost pile in what used to be the dog pen.  Sorry Elle!  You'll have to share!

Our first compost pile in what used to be the dog pen. Sorry Elle! You’ll have to share!


Lavender in the veggie garden bringing on the bumblebees.  Yes!

Lavender in the veggie garden bringing on the bumblebees. Yes!

Looks like the Knock Out Rose bush is going to make it after all!

Looks like the Knock Out Rose bush is going to make it after all!


Mulching in the Dark

Turns out that Graber Lumber in Spencerville, Indiana has sterilized and dyed hardwood mulch.  I’d already had a headache for several hours when I decided it wouldn’t make it any worse to drive 23 minutes longer to go pick up a load.  Turns out their stuff is great!  It was so finely shredded that I lost hardly any of it on the road home.  And that’s when temptation set in . . .

I haven’t finished re-digging the borders of our garden beds yet since my health is so inconsistent these days.  My rule usually goes that I don’t purchase mulch or new plants until the Spring clean-up is completed.  Well if I kept to that condition when my health is so up and down and down, I might not get the vegetables planted until June!  So I do a little of this and a little of that depending on the energy expenditure and time required on any given day.  Or should I say, any given night?

Gardening in the twilight is a peaceful thing.  Once the smell dissipates from the DEET-laden bug spray (sorry the herbals just don’t work with me; I’m the kind of person who gets bitten through my clothing!) I move fearlessly into the night.  I can’t see the spiders so they must not be there, right?  My pant legs are tucked into my socks and my head and arms are usually covered too.  Our German Shepherd pup stands guard on bunny watch until I can re-spray the rabbit repellant on a few key perennials.  The weather is cooler plus I know my yard well enough to feel what I cannot see.  Besides, this is the time of day when I feel the best.

I did make dinner for my hubby and myself and put it in the frig for later.  I started washing our sheets again to try a new remediation technique for any lingering mold in hopes of preventing seizure attacks tonight.  The only problem is that the heat in the dryer needed to be re-set and Steve wanted to go to bed early, before the bedding was dry and available.  By the time he came to tell me about wanting to go to bed, some of the sheets were still damp and I was too dirty/mulchy to come into the house to figure out a “Plan B” for him.  I simply had to keep going outside while I could go.  Turns out he figured out an alternative sleeping solution and I continued my evening project:  mulching in the dark!

So I gave in to temptation and finished mulching the front yard at 11:30 p.m.  The lack of light didn’t bother me much and I doubt I messed it up too badly.  Somehow the smell of freshly died dark brown hardwood didn’t bother me either.  My headache got better.  I guess it was meant to be?  Yes, of course, that’s it.

There are two more flower beds and four trees that need the borders re-dug.  I’ll have to get to that soon, to get the areas mulched and my truck bed emptied before the rain storm predicted for the end of the week.  Lord willing, I just might be able to do it.  Only problem is that most of the remaining areas are beyond the reach of any outdoor light source.  I may have to bite the bullet and work during the daytime.  No problem.  Maybe I need some really dark sunglasses?  ;J

What you didn’t say I’m glad I didn’t hear

Lyme myths posterWhen someone says to me, “you look good today,” I’ve decided to simply take that as a compliment.  The cynical alternative would be to question the intent of the person and wonder if he or she is thinking one of the phrases in the poster above.  Is he or she wondering if I am really sick if I am able fix my hair and wear make-up one day in the past week?  No one sees me when I don’t feel well because I don’t leave the house!  Oh well.  As a friend of mine named Carol used to say, “it’s better to just leave it alone.”

When someone asks me if I’m back to work yet, I’ve decided to say that, “getting well is my full time job these days.”  If the person probes further, I’ve decided to disclose that I spend 16 to 18 hours every day in health-related activities and appointments.  That usually brings silence so I quickly change the subject to his or her job or other  primary role in life.  My husband advises me that people like to talk about themselves and usually have a great time with you if you ask a lot of questions about them.  I do enjoy getting to know others so his approach works well.

When someone asks me how I am feeling, I’ve learned that a quirky response such as, “below average,” “stable,” “not as well as I’d like to,” or “I’m having a better moment” works well.  I rarely feel well (or if I feel better at the moment it is likely to change within the hour!) so it’s tough to give the truth:  a negative litany of symptoms that has gone on for 1 1/2 years!  This crap-ola-ski is likely to continue for awhile so I’m going to pace my answers.  (I told you I’m Polish right?!)  I appreciate the question, acknowledge it and turn my attention to the other person.  It’s pretty clear when a person cares for more information and sweet when this happens.

When I do get to share a little more of my story, I try to end it with gratitude.  There is always something for which I can be grateful, for which we all can be grateful.  Today was a day that stunk until about 1:35 p.m.  The noxious symptoms persisted without a logical reason even after a post-treatment nap plus an additional rest period.  In the afternoon I moved slowly into extensive amounts of cooking my special diet and cleaning up this or that.  The sweats episodes did not diminish until later in the evening.  I am however grateful for two cool things that happened today:  1) crafting an amazing baked lamb cabbage roll casserole (gluten/sugar/dairy/chemical free as well!) and 2) completing the netting and support structure for the blackberry raised bed to keep out the birdie scavengers.  Cool beans.  Steve and I had a sweet evening together later after finishing our respective projects today.  Thank you Jesus!  Lord willing, I will worship His holy name tomorrow at church . . .

Recovery from a long-term illness thang isn’t for wimps you know!  Most people give up, settle for less, walk away from their faith in anything or anyone, become bitter and isolated, or worse.  I choose to trust that this journey will not be wasted, that the Lord will use it for His glory if I keep Him out front, and I exercise some care in my speech and behavior.  Rejoice if you see me out working in my garden!  I’m probably sweating bullets, nauseated, dehydrated, and weak but getting out into the world anyways.  We all know what it is like to have to carry on with life when we simply don’t feel well, don’t feel like carrying on with life.  I just get it more often!  Eeek.


Ahhhh.  That’s better.  Happy Spring y’all.