Monday, June 27, 2011

Office of Good Deeds Says THANK YOU!! Garden is Almost Done!

American Gothic Remake Two

Hi Y'all,
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Office of Good Deeds was officially back up and running. While we often focus on small good deeds done everyday, once in awhile a big good deed that needs doing shows up on our radar. Such was the case when we heard about a young lady-- two years-old to be precise-- who lives in our fine city along with her parents and her her little sister. Both girls recently had to leave daycare and stop going to the park when the older sister started chemotherapy to treat her leukemia. I got a call from my friends and former co-workers over at LIVESTRONG asking if maybe I could help turn the sisters' yard into a healing garden and play area. Why would anyone call ME about a garden?

I gave Zach a Kick Ass Award which, alas, broke in my car pre-presentation. Thanks for Kicking Ass Zach!

Well, because as many of you know, this past year I had the great fortune of connecting with Zach the Gardener, who heads up YardFarm Austin. Zach hooked me up with three raised bed food gardens that are astonishing, gorgeous, and bountiful. He also came up with a fencing design for my yard to keep the dogs from the (hypothetical) chickens and the (hypothetical) chickens from the garden. (Though we still need to figure out how to ship the squirrels to the moon.) I've written a lot about Zach and so the LS folks thought maybe I could get Zach on board. "On board" is an understatement. Zach jumped at this opportunity and, as per his S.O.P., took a look at the yard, and decided if the family was game, he'd like to do a pretty big install, including a screened in porch!


While Zach drew up plans, Yvonne (at LIVESTRONG) and I started air traffic controlling volunteers. A big bunch of folks over at the Statesman came on board to offer cash and human power. People from all over the city donated items to be used in the play area. I mean, it was really, truly, wildly out of control in the best sense. Then, this past weekend, it was time to make it happen. I had a couple of out of town weddings on Saturday, so my job was to just pop by in between my gigs, be a cheerleader, and handout the UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS PIZZA that was so GENEROUSLY DONATED by MY FAVORITE PIZZA PLACE: EAST SIDE PIES. Michael, who owns ESP, and his team had pizzas for us both days as a matter of fact.

Big Red ROCKS it!

Sunday, I got to visit the concept of No Pain No Gain as I joined in with the hard labor needed to make the garden and play area really happen. The Saturday team had gotten an amazing amount of work accomplished. I pulled up a little before 9 a.m. on Sunday bearing breakfast tacos, and already we had a team working so hard that Robin broke a shovel! The recently engaged Southpaw and Maggie were there, too (congratulations, lovebirds!). And so many more people. People people everywhere, digging, planting, composting. 

My own son showed up, getting up at 11, about four hours earlier than he's used to. He brought his lady friend and, when they weren't busy re-creating American Gothic, they busted butt, too. Henry-- the youngest male among us-- shoveled tons (probably actually tons) of red gravel. I helped a little, but mostly raked (vs. shoveled) the stuff.

Do Not Ever Piss This Woman Off.

By about 3 pm I admit I was starting to fade. But I was buoyed by sisters Kathy and Patty, who stuck around to work a double, and by Yvonne, who showed up for a second long day of work, and by Zach and Ori and Terrance, all three of whom worked straight through both days. It was the first time in my life I felt like I had pre-burned calories, so I happily indulged in still more East Side Pies, chips, and-- oh thank you lord-- La Paleta from el hombre de las paletas! Not only was the ice cream great, it was yet another chance for me to assault an unsuspecting Mexican man with my horrifying Spanish. (He humored me. No, wait, he GOOD HUMORED me! Ha!)

I know I've mentioned some volunteers here but I'm sure I haven't mentioned them all. Saturday was a big time LIVESTRONG day with Chris and Kim and Helen (and then Patrick and Emy came on Sunday). There was Juan and Kat and Gissela. Gus and Leesa. And a super special shout out to both Terry and Michael (aka Big Red) who worked hard shifts on Saturday and then on Sunday, in the 11th hour when we really needed a push, came back to sweat some more. I worry I'm forgetting some names-- forgive me (it's the exhaustion) and let me know if I missed listing you.

I also want to thank Women and Their Work, who helped me in a hurry with some stuff I needed. And I want to thank the Natural Gardener for their generous donation. And thanks to Chayton Woodworks for cutting us a deal on a custom made, super lovely picnic table. Never enough thanks for YardFarm-- with extra special thanks to Zach's personal team: Dare, Robert, and Devi who came out to help. Plus, again, thank all y'all for sending us stuff, money, and good healing thoughts. We are hoping to do the final final push and finish tomorrow.

If you still want to help, here's something easy you can do: consider ordering an East Side Pie for dinner and the next time you need some garden advice, give Zach a call. (Of course not one of our sponsors or volunteers took part in this project for commercial purposes, but I am a fan of connecting folks, and great folks like ESP and YardFarm Austin are always great to be in touch with.) Oh, and you know what would be great? If y'all would hop over to the YardFarm FB page and give Zach a big thumb's up for his amazing, selfless, backbreaking work this weekend. I'm telling you-- I haven't known him a year and the man has totally changed my life with his great energy.

Post slab, pre-install.

one step at a time-- and one and kick and two and...

little kitty digs a fencepost
little kitty also helped pat down wet cement!

Kim holds up her invisible shovel.

go girls!

Truth: The Vibrams do not lend themselves well to digging.

The picnic table arrives!

Ori tries to put back a piece but we say, "No, Ori! Eat, eat!"

American Gothic Remake One

Mother & Son shovel together happily. Look at my boy!

Ori explains to El Hombre de Las Paletas that "El Spike's Espanol esta muy mal!" He then tells the guy to smile at Spike and ignore her bad Spanish.

Patty is HAND WATERING so as not to violate any city codes.

Isn't this BEAUTIFUL?

Ori demonstrates the amazing capacity for the screens to keep even grown men out.
I'll post some final final pictures soon. Thanks again! Please know that all y'all have made this family's life a little more bearable during a difficult time. Because of your work, these little sisters, who so love love love being outdoors, will now be able to go outside and play again. Oh boy does that make me so happy. Thanks for rocking it so hard, y'all!

1 comment:

Pats said...

It was my pleasure! Do you any "Before" pictures?