August 29th at the Dunbar Garden - monarch madness and sad farewells

After a one-week hiatus (for Mindtriggerz), we got back to the garden today and really did nothing but talk! Actually, that was just me.

I cornered Miranda and Serena to find out how the Dunbar Garden table fared at Open House and then to bounce ideas and projects off their incredibly wonderful minds. Many plans are underway and there is much plotting, planning and planting to be done. Details forthcoming.

Jamie's mom came by today and helped Katelyn and Serena pull weeds. Natalia sharpened the pruners and went to work on the showy sunflower that decided to stop showing off. The farmification of Grace Li, while not complete, advanced to level 8.2 while she postponed packing for Amherst to stroll around the ironweed with her weed digger in hand! This was the last Saturday for both Grace and Natalia so of course they were ushered off in style with a rattlesnake master to adorn their campus living abodes (Michigan and Massachusetts, respectively). We will sorely miss their beautiful faces and hard working hands but know they will return next summer and in the interim be "learning and stuff" - a piece of our hearts will go off with these incredible young women - hurry back!

And Jamie's mom kept weeding. Love you, Suzie!

James and Josh and Gracie set off with sandpaper to rough up the wooden benches in prep for an additional coat of stain. I just kept talking but did manage to spy the first Monarch Caterpillar of the season (t
hat we know of) and grabbed the ghetto cam to catch a pic. The beauty of digital photography is that even a cheap camera can occasionally get a great shot, which I dare say this one is! I have decided that Mr. or Mrs. Future Monarch Butterfly was intently reading the "Please do not leave litter in the garden" sign. Either that or he/she was dodging the flock of goldfinches that were nibbling sunflower and purple coneflower seeds.

We saw a great blue heron today that seemed to be a n00bie - it kept lighting on utility lines and seemed to have a head just a little too large for its body. It was randomly funny and in keeping with garden lulz - a pair of monarchs were mating in reckless exhibitionist style and it's always fun to see what the birds, bees and butterflies are doing when we are and aren't around.

With the exception of the weeds that came up easy as the summer rain this morning afforded, we enjoyed a small crowd and a lazy day of being together and goofing off while Jerome and Jaz tended the Mindtriggerz Training Lab and set about bringing five families closer to their own home computer(s). Saturdays (caturdays) are the days Jesse's dad and I most look forward to - we are eternally grateful to all who help us do what we can for our love of Jesse.


Tardy Sweeps - August 15, 2009

With the exception of Kyle (the welding magician) we had a pretty lazy day at the garden. A couple of our regulars were spending their last Saturday with us - Tyler heads back to EKU to continue his reign in 4.0 status while Ellidia starts a brand spanking new chapter at Vandy so we basically lounged and talked and hugged, lamented and yes even complained.

But then there were the paver movers who just couldn't resist adding another 100 to our recycling plan. Chris drove his dads' big truck and with help from Jessica, Michael, Jamie, Gracie, Athena, Beth, Josh and Remy (the dog) - they dug through sand and gravel laughing all the way.

Serena caught us up on the happenings at Dunbar (of which we mostly disapproved, especially the "tardy sweeps") but then Chris recounted a story of the school principal coming out to the garden to pick up trash which made us smile and we n
oticed all our new cigarette butt cans are being used for their intended purpose so even the smokers are respecting our sacred space.

The biggest accomplishment was the installation of the Dunbar
Memorial Garden plaque and Kyle's excessive hard work welding the plaque to our post. JAZ, our days' photojournalist, got some incredible shots. They'll be posted on the website tomorrow after I am in fuller possession of my faculties. This one will do for now - Kyle was using a grinder to pretty-fie the post and make everything look perfect. He accomplished that brilliantly. BTW, Kyle is one of Jesse's dads coworkers who refused to be paid for his work. But we will find a way to make him happy. Maybe he likes homemade cookies, pies, or medicinal native plants??

We did pull a few weeds (but there aren't many there anymore thanks to countless hours and incredible perseverance by our volunteers). Jim Embry showed
up and recounted a beautiful tale of an educator and native plant admirer who commented that while visiting the garden she recognized many of our plants but had never seen any quite as HUGE as ours. And I said: "it's because of all the love that has been put into this soil" and I believe that with all my heart. A million patches of land have been planted with a million seeds of love, but none can compare to "our" garden.

As we packed up our g
ear knowing we had a big evening ahead hosting our Mindtriggerz Picnic at Cardinal Valley Park, we had to call back our paver movers who had just left without our "group shot"- young people never balk at a quick change in course so they returned long enough for us to get the photo op we deserved (even with Remy the dog).

As usual, there was much laughter at the garden and several sweaty bodies. An extra special shout-out to those who worked here then helped promote Mindtriggerz: Jaz, Miranda, Natalia, Ellidia, Serena, Chris and Jesse's dad. And Jesse's best friend Jon - who missed the garden but not the picnic.

<3 <3 <3 and moar.

JAZ-ified - August 8, 2009

We called our session at the Dunbar Garden today the "Pre-School Edition" as we spent most of our time making the place look uber lovely for the advent of school next week. Fortunately, among our ranks was one of our favorite Beta's (and Dunbar Senior) Serena (just back from a trip to Lebanon) along with recent graduates Kirsten and Katie who demonstrated major weeding skills and got covered in a lot of sand as they worked along the main paver pathway. Our artist in residence JAZ put the final touches on the newly painted and decorated picnic table while a crew including James, James, Beth, Dawson, David, Tyler and randomly whoever else - worked hard to dig out additional pavers to save from the landfill. I believe the count was at 184 more.

Our divine miss Sarah spent a good portion of the afternoon weeding in our soo
n to be "native shade garden" and was joined by Tyler at some point as the climbing temps caused most of us to want to be out of the SUN. Beth, with a little help from Jesse's dad, dug a perfect hole to set the iron post that will soon display our beautiful bronze plaque that describes our reason and purpose. It's a heart-wrenching plaque and makes us all cry but while the work at the garden has been filled to overflowing with laughter and love, it is important I think that others know and remember why this incredible space is here. And for whom. And for a love that has no other place to go but filling an area with flowers, sweat, tears and yes, even a little blood. Blargh!

Awesome Dawson was in charge of placing our three "Pesticide Free Zone" signs and in the process cut his finger on the metal sign but thankfully had a bandaid in his vehicle (my kind of guy!) Everyone was enamored of the cute lady bugs until Jesse's dad opened his mouth and said "But they aren't spraying for pests, they are spraying herbicides around here" which basically resulted in us all saying shut up and things like that.

Lest I forget to mention, the wonderous young David was our photo journalist today capturing the pictures of our work. Beth has an incredibly smart and sweet younger brother who has proven to be an asset to the garden and is apparently so smart in math that he's enrolled in a "zero hour Magnet math class" at Dunbar even though he is just entering 8th grade at Beaumont Middle School. In my book, that pretty much r0x0rz but what makes me even more proud is the fact that these two siblings are so preciously close and intertwined. This is how "family" should be. Obviously, we love them a lot.

And the rest of our crew - our regulars and our random workers. Everyone's effort has made this a beautiful, safe and wonderous place.

JAZ helped me scrub down all the picnic tables (as well as corraling the cup plant and staking a few sunflowers) and the group moved all the picnic tables into a tidy row and then I obsessed over using the leaf blower to clean off the patio. It looked so pretty and spiffy-fied that surely the kids returning to the Dunbar campus this week will notice. I hope they do. I hope they are in awe like we are. I hope they will revel in the flowers and dance among the rattlesnake masters.

Mostly I will hope that they wonder, remember, consider a few kids named Josh and Jesse and Hannah. Because they are why we do what we do. And why over 150 folks have participated in the garden. Expansion is inevitable. Love there will be endless. As the goldfinches and monarchs and even the random kitteh that wonders up on many evenings will continue to munch on seeds, drink from the cup plant and be glad there is space there for them too. There is a space and a place for us all. We will stand amazed every Saturday when so many young people wonder in and pitch in and instead of sleeping in, will work with us.

That is the greatest demonstration of love. As Jesse would say "fo realz" and as Hannah's fingerprints linger there, and as Josh's life expemplifies, because it started with him. "What would we be without wishful thinking" and I wish they all see us now.


Wilchan paverman - August 1, 2009

Sarah did the math and said we had TWENTY-FIVE people at the Dunbar Garden today and every hand was so appreciated - especially since an early morning email from Dunbar's principal gave us permission to recycle the balance of pavers mounded at the bottom of the hill.

Our newest and most extremely special garden n00bie, Wil, was reclaimed f
rom Gulf Shores, Alabama and reintroduced to Dunbar in a very sweaty and productive way. With his help and that of James, Jerome, Tyler, Beth, Dawson, David and Chris FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHT pavers were dug out, packed tight and loaded into a pickup truck guaranteeing they will never end up in a land fill. Major butt-busting notwithstanding!

Wil's connection to Jesse (among other things) made this day a really incredible one for myself and for Jerome (et al). <3>
We hope to see him on many other Saturday's as well as the spaces in between.

While Sarah weeded and Jackie started painting with the help of her beau, Jaz, Arlene and others - Grace and Katie hid behind the sumacs and lulzed in the sun. Buckets and bukkits of sand were hauled from the low zone and brushed with love across the freshly weeded pavers. We all moved stepping stones in preparation of the students returning in a matter of days - because of the phenomenal growth at the garden our "peace sign" pathways had to be altered to prevent damaging natives that will have to be relocated this fall. Incredibly, folks kept appearing and what to our wondering eyes should grace the horizon but Lucy, Kelsey and Sarah (a beautiful visitor from France - bonjour!) and what a day. Wha
t an incredible, remarkable, perfectly-people-packed day.

Personally, I felt like I served little purpose but managed to get my one-on-one time with my home girls (and a few of the home boys) and am thrilled Kelsey is going to Transy and even that Lucy will be my "peace babe" at Peace College in North Carolina and that I got to hug Kendrell (and everyone else) and absolutely relished the look on Jerome's face as he was grabbed from all sides, spinning Sarah and Tyler and Crystal Beth and there is no better place than this one, because it is a greenie love-fest no holds barred.

Audrey brought her precious Ashton (in from Florida) as well as her
pal Sarah then Miranda arrived all aglow and if I have failed to mention anyone, forgive me, because I really was completely overwhelmed (and still am) by our tour-de-force. We missed the heck out of Natalia off on her trip west with her family but her relentless paver weeding is obvious, apparent and loved. We hope she has fun. We look forward to her return in a few weeks.

While our attempts at a group photo epic-failed due to our continued "incoming" reinforcements, I do think everyone left today not simply tired but also knowing what good
work they managed and maybe, I suspect, a tiny bit infatuated with not just this space, but with each other. I know I am. Fo' realz, as Jesse would say.

Fo' realz.

Love, love, love. I promise to post teh other photos tomorrow on Jesse's website and a few on Facebook. For tonight, I am just too plumb "whooped."

Jesse's Mom

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