a detailed explanation of the gardening habits of my neighbors and other happenings

We all know I want to be a master gardener. An amateur homesteader. A farmer. The Pioneer Woman. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Any and all.

I have a deep, dark secret to admit: I've been living in a jungle.

Our flower beds are atrocious and this has been a point of contention for me since we bought the house. Our yard was neglected for years before we even moved in. The bushes were overgrown, and the flower beds were full of large rocks with GROCERY BAGS underneath to, I assume, prevent weed growth? They prevented nothing but happiness. The weeds went insane while we were traveling, and we're in the midst of trying to pull up/dig out hideous bushes that have been there since the beginning of time and have poison ivy lurking in them. SO YAY. I got so overwhelmed by the prospect of handling it that I full-fledged curled up into a ball and gave up around May. As you can assume, digging my head in the sand did not make the weeds go away. Somehow this is always a surprise to me.

James has been busy with our acre of grass he mows, I kid you not, twice a week. It grows super fast in the summer, but he's obsessed with lawn maintenance and is often killing weeds and fertilizing. He's in an unspoken competition with the neighbors to have the lushest, greenest grass on the block. Because of that, he hasn't had time to tackle the weed growth and flower bed ugliness that kills my soul on a daily basis. I'm the one who would rather tend to flower beds and gardens, but as I mentioned earlier, it was so bad I handed all responsibilities to him whether he wanted them or not while I hyperventilated in the fetal position. But then again, we have two very different ideas on yard maintenance. He grew up in a house in the middle of a forest out in the country, and he looked at me like I was crazy when I said our trees desperately need to be pruned. He didn't even know normal people do that. On the other hand, I grew up gardening with my dad who keeps a very clean and neat yard, with perfectly manicured flower beds and trees. I have the same expectations for my house even though it will take us awhile to get there and while I have some knowledge, I also have no clue what I'm doing.

We more or less live on Retirement Row, and our neighbors are all much older than we are. I love it because they're quiet, bring muffins over, and are as sweet as can be. They all, however, have unlimited gardening time and the yards are IMMACULATE. Our house looks so out of place in the midst of such beautiful yards and gardens and I feel the judgment every time they look over. One neighbor across the street works at the headquarters of a prominent national lawn care company, and hand to God, he used to mow his yard every single day. It's possible he still does it and I've just tuned it out. Overall it's quiet here, but the only thing I hear during the summer months is the hum of a lawnmower by one of my gardening neighbors.

I was elbow deep in weeds and digging out massive rocks buried three deep in the flower bed in the middle of our circular driveway (so fancy, I know), when my next door neighbor walked over. The very same one that gave me the tick scare a few weeks ago. This time she brought freshly baked blueberry muffins and more goodies from her garden, which I was very happy about it. She reminded us that half the trees that split our property line are dead and/or dying and need to be removed. Trust me, I know, but we have yet to win the lottery. She asked how things are going inside and then told us she hates what we did with our kitchen floor, so that was super reassuring. She's a sweet woman, but she does not hide her opinion from anyone. She also told us she dug up several huge bushes on her own and tiled her own bathroom floor. She's over 50 years older than I am. The woman on the other side of us gardens with her oxygen tank. AND I AM COMPLAINING ABOUT SOME WEEDS.

Anyway, that shut me right up and I've since gotten to work. Now I'm feeling like a fierce, empowered woman just like my two elderly neighbors! Since then, I've weeded two flowerbeds and mulched half. The bags of mulch look MUCH bigger in the store than they do next to a flower bed. That might sound like I have a lot of the yard tackled, but I've maybe done 1/8th.

Then James, who was in the midst of dealing with some rain gutter drama, told me to stay away from one of the drainage spouts (technical term?) because it is wrapped in poison ivy. So suddenly I have lost some ambition. His poison ivy got so bad it became infected, started to spread, and then he had an allergic reaction he's on steroids for. My ankle recently swelled to twice the size thanks to a mosquito bite, so I don't even want to think what would happen to me.

Enough about weeds. I'm even starting to bore myself. Suffice it to say, I am now obsessed with flower beds and can't drive anywhere without nearly running myself off the road to see what other people have planted in theirs. Really, just hostas? Why so many lillies? What is that pink flower the size of a dinner plate? Would it be weird if I knocked on the door and asked? NOT THAT I WOULD, but, you know, hypothetically speaking. A big shoutout to my dad for deciphering the zoomed in pictures I've been taking of people's yards and telling me what plants they are and how to care for them.

In other news, I've been having crazy dreams that have been kind of coming to fruition in real life. I had a dream a week or so ago that I went on a walk outside (my parents owned a llama farm in that dream which I'm still waiting for to come to life) and suddenly saw tornados coming toward me. A few days ago, I went for a walk before dinner. Storm clouds were gathering in the distance as I was walking home, and by the time I got back, James was staring out the window pointing out a funnel cloud directly over our house. Oh my word, literally AS I AM WRITING this there are tornado warnings going off and a tornado headed DIRECTLY toward my county. It looks like we're safe from the worst of it but GOOD GRIEF.

Earlier this week, I dreamed that I was supposed to get married in the US and in England. Both weddings were the same day and I couldn't decide which one to cancel. This is directly from a story line in a book I just read, but it had been a few days since I finished the book so I wasn't sure why I was dreaming about it. When I woke up, I realized I had double booked myself for the next day with two friends. And I had no idea which one to cancel. A week or two ago, I dreamed that I drove to Chicago and spend a day exploring. The next day, James' coworker gave Gracie a teddy bear with the Cubs logo on it and went on and on about how great Chicago is and how we should go.

So not to brag, but I can kind of predict the future.

Too bad I didn't dream about Sunday morning, because I might have just stayed home from church. I picked up a very angry and overtired Gracie from the nursery. We got to the car before I noticed she had taken her Thomas trains in and had left them. I marched her back in and we had to dig through the bins of toys until we found them. We got back out to the car, where there was a large meltdown from one of us (guess who), and that same person refusing a seatbelt. I had broken a sweat trying to get the carseat buckled while someone else full-body flailed and screamed. Just then, a family walked up to chat with us while all the others milled around in the vicinity. I heard Gracie screaming again, so I opened the door nearest me to find out there was a bee in the car that no one but her could see. While searching for said bee, a tumbler of mine that I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR FOR WEEKS, fell out of the car and rolled underneath. By this point I was so exasperated and tired from someone having 4 middle of the night meltdowns the previous night that I barked out WELL SHIIIII---OOOOOOOOT. Right in front of God and his entire congregation. I'm not one to swear, but there are moments it just flies out before I realize what I'm saying, and that was one of those times.

Like I always say, bad timing is my middle name.

I quickly got in the car, backed up, and nearly ran someone over. Halfway home, I stopped at a yellow-almost-red-light, misjudged the distance, and slid into the middle of the intersection. I sheepishly put the car in reverse and backed it on up as fast as I could. James was driving behind me (we went separately since he had to be there early), and as soon as the car came to a stop at the red light, my phone buzzed with a text from James.


At least he kept his language in check on The Lord's Day, unlike yours truly. Let's hope my gardening skills are better than my recent driving skills.


  1. Oh, that's the worst when the hubs sees you have some sort of incident that they can call you out on ;) haha
    I have no sense of a green thumb so I keep my flower beds to minimum & just leave the grass to the hubs to deal with. Luckily, living in the country, weeds & overgrowth is the norm so no retirement row for us to compare :)

  2. Is your next door neighbor related to one of my neighbors? No joke, a week or so ago, my neighbor from down the street was in the backyard next door, and we were chatting and she looked into our lawn that is overgrown with weeds and mentioned that it HURTS HER to see that, in our yard, we have a big pile of sticks and branches from our tree that we haven't thrown away yet. And then she very graciously volunteered to, after she finished mowing her lawn and picking fruit from her garden, come over and help me dispose of the offensive sticks. It was around 100 degrees that day, and let's just say she and I have different ideas of what kinds of things we want to do in hot weather :P I went inside, closed the curtains and hid in the air conditioning and hoped desperately that my neighbor wouldn't come over (thankfully, she didn't) because the last thing I wanted to do on a hot day was pick up a pile of sticks that has contentedly been living in my backyard for weeks. The renters who had the house before we bought it apparently did not care for the lawn at all, so while it means that the lawn looks better now that we live here, it also means that we didn't really have much good to work with, like in your situation! I'm just grateful that our next-door neighbor, though she works outside on her garden and lawn, really doesn't like working outside and could care less what our lawn looked like.

  3. Ok no joke I just got done planting our front flower bed about two hours ago and have been driving up and down every street in our neighborhood for weeks trying to get ideas and taking creepy pictures �� I did hostas, boxwood bushes, spirea bushes, and sedum (I just picked the nicest stuff that was on clearance) as like a background that I can plant pretty annuals in and around every summer. I’m sorry about all the melt downs. That’s so rough and it will definitely push one to use some language every once in a while lol although I want to share a victory with you! We FINALLY got Ben to stay in his Sunday school class without crying and he actually had fun! I just had to tell you because I know you’ve had similar struggles in the past with Gracie. Praying this keeps up! You’re writing just cracks me up. Reading your blog is always such a treat! I snort laughed at “dang” ��

    1. GO BEN!! That's fantastic!! Thank you, friend!

  4. Angel and I would probably be the most hated neighbors as far as yards go. Granted, we've never lived in a neighborhood so we never had that kind of peer pressure, we might give in. I like growing veggies, but I grow easy ones, like zucchini. Angel was completely in charge of our huge country yard in Michigan and used to mow heart shapes into the grass in the backyard so that I could see them from the second story window. I thought it was hilarious and cute but I'm sure if we would have had neighbors we would have driven them crazy. He also purposely planted cilantro and mint in various places in the yard...one so that I could go out and pick cilantro and mint whenever I needed it, but mostly he planted it randomly so that whenever he mowed, the whole yard would smell strongly of mint and cilantro....for what purpose? Entertainment, I think...

  5. This week I've been battling with American Bittersweet, the vine from Hades, that is intent on destroying every plant in our yard. We live on the border of a forest so I can't really stop it at the source. It's exhausting.


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