Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garden and Cottage Notes: August 2013 - Week 1 - Block Party!!

Cottage (or What's-Happening-Just-Outside-the-Cottage) Notes:

Yesterday, across the U.S. neighbors gathered in neighborhood block parties to celebrate "National Night Out." The National Night Out website says,

"The introduction of National Night Out, “America’s Night Out Against Crime”, in 1984 began an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. NATW’s National Night Out program culminates annually, on the first Tuesday of August (In Texas, the first Tuesday of October)."


In our little town of South Saint Paul, the night is celebrated on the same night, but has been re-named, "Night to Unite." Crime prevention is still a topic discussed and the city sends out police officers and other city officials, but mostly it's an opportunity to block off your street and come out and meet your neighbors.

I had hosted a few block parties in various neighborhoods in the past. I knew that Minneapolis  and St. Paul are known for their National Night Out participation and I wondered, when we moved here, if there was already an organized annual block party in our new neighborhood. While South St. Paul has Night to Unite, it turns out our block had never participated.

While it is always a bit of an undertaking to begin organizing an event, and despite the anxiety I feel as the event draws near, hoping everyone will have a good time, I often decide to jump in. My friend, Lisa, who now lives in California, posted on her Facebook page once, that her pastor had preached one time on the spiritual gift of "GCP," which stood for "getting crap done!" :) She said she felt that was definitely her spiritual gift, as she was currently signed up to be her son's Cub Scout popcorn leader. I told her I felt we shared that gift and reminded her how we had shared being our daughters' Girl Scout "cookie moms" and then ended up taking the reigns for the whole troop for the rest of the year when the original leader had to cut back on her leadership!


It's not that I don't know how to say no. I know that is a difficulty some people - particularly women - can have. I have learned how to do that, though, when my time and abilities are stretched. In fact, no one was even asking for a block party. I could have just sailed on through the month of August without a nod toward August 6 as anything special. No one would have noticed. And no one probably would have minded if I just continued to wave or give a nod hello when I go running or when we drive out of the neighborhood. They wouldn't know my name or anything about me or my family, but we could live just feet from each other for years and that would be socially acceptable.

But that's not much fun in my book and it's certainly not kingdom living.

Thankfully, I already knew two of my neighbors personally and they were enthusiastic and eager to help make it a reality.

And we had a great night.

It was a first year party for sure. We didn't have bands like some block parties do. We didn't have a plant or book exchange (though that's on the idea list for next year!). But we did have lots of goodies, a visit by the local police officers who let the kiddies check out their ride, good conversation, games and even some prizes. :)

Checking out the cool police car!

We were, however, one of thirty-five block parties in the city. Isn't that cool?? I learned names of folks farther on down the street and I learned that the woman who has lived across the street for 45 years, doesn't beat the folks who have been here 46, 47, and SIXTY years! That's right; one of my neighbors grew up in the house kitty-corner across the street from me and then moved next door to that house when he grew up! With such long-time residents, we feel pretty good about where we've chosen to live. And I bet the other newbies - the newlyweds who have been here just 6 months longer than we have and the young family with two little ones that moved in across the street last week - feel pretty good too.

******
Garden Notes:

Here are a couple of photos from the beast that has become my garden!


 To the left in the top picture is what has become of my tomato bed. It's truly a monster... but a monster that has gorgeous tomatoes ALL over it that will be ready to begin picking in a couple of weeks! We've actually already gotten a sampler of a few bites of the grape tomatoes and they are wonderful! I can hardly wait until the rest come in!


Took a picture of the squash bed too. There's another small tomato plant in there as well as leeks and beets, but as you can see, it's primarily squash, or more specifically, pumpkin. While I do have yellow squash and zucchini plants in there, it is incredibly strange to me that I don't have one fruit from either of those varieties. At this time of year, in my earlier Minnesota gardening days, I would be giving zucchini away, but I haven't gotten any from this garden so far. Pumpkins and I think a few butternut squash are forming on the vines though which are equally treasured by our family, so we'll take that! I did see what appears to me to be white dust on some of the leaves of the pumpkin. Powdery mildew? I'm going to have to do some investigating.

We've had a nice, steady portion of rain the last few days. I'll give the garden a good watering if it doesn't rain one more time before we head out for camping trip number two later this week. When I come back, I expect to see more red tomatoes and hopefully there will be some beets to pull!

Happy Hump Day! Enjoy the second-half of your week!

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