In the beginning…

I chose the name of this blog not only to reflect my love of recycling and reusing all things, but also because my garden has been passed down to me, it’s a true “hand me down”, indeed my second-hand garden.

These pictures are from 1959-1960, from a scrapbook my mother made. When my grandparents moved here there wasn’t much of a town.  They had open land all around them, and I bet that was a comfort for them, having lived in North Loup, Nebraska (population 300) for thirty plus years of their young lives.

I believe this picture was taken a few years after my grandparents purchased the home and had it moved to their one acre lot in what was then the country. Thirty or so years later they sold off 1/2 acre. Not much landscaping at this point. I can’t make any out in the picture, but I bet there was lots of Chicory weed, curses!The landscaping has begun! I suspect they headed over to Mid City and picked up some lawn seed and shrubs. I can’t really make much of it out but the bush just to the right of the steps could be a baby Raphiolepis. There was a giant one there for the first 15-20 years of my life, it had grown out to the edge of the driveway and filled most of the front of the porch. Notice the white cement driveway. Somewhere in the early 90’s some fly by night guy offered to asphalt the driveway for them for a good price. And then it was done again a few years later. So, I have a black asphalt driveway when I would love the white cement back.

Here is my mom, Janet on the front porch. at first I was wondering when that window arrived, but upon closer inspection I see it Christmas window snow!My mother and my uncle, Rusty. They are both gone now. I bet this is Easter.

My grandma and grandpa, Maxine and Kelly, and her mom, Nina. And yes, that is definitely the Raphiolepis next to the porch.

Wow. This picture shows a yard I barely recognize, behind the house. Look at all those Agapanthus! In my grandmothers defense, they surely didn’t grow in Nebraska and must have been both beautiful and exotic to her. Look at that pool! I never saw anything like that in Windy Grove either. But look along the fenceline (we removed the leaning, almost fallen down ancient fence when we moved in last year) and in the corner and you will see my grove. My grandmother admits they dug these up from over by the ocean, I believe at Armstrong Woods. I don’t think it was a no-no at that time. She LOVED Redwood trees. For the rest of her life any time an out of town guest stopped in she and grandpa immediately took them over to the ocean and to the Redwood forest.  Often on Sundays after church the three of would just “take a drive” and end up there. I loved the way she lit up when  the scenery changed and was shaded by these beautiful, towering trees. No matter how many times she had been there it appeared to others as if it were her first time laying her eyes on them.

Here you see the back forty. If you walked through the gate of the fence above and looked west this would be the view. At the time it was fields all the way out to the Napa river, just before it enters the San Pablo Bay. You can just barely see the Sleeping Lady, or Mt. Tamalpais to the right.

Our property ended at the fenceline that you see. As the houses, neighborhoods and suburbia closed in over the years the church next door , thankfully, owns a few acres directly behind us and thus gave us a buffer of open space. When we moved in all that remained of that fence was the posts in several places. In todays world it seemed to be saying “Come on in!”. So, the first thing we did was erect a proper fence. It was so strange at first…

After several years of living in various suburban areas around the Bay Area, my grandparents did what any transplanted farmers might be inclined to do: farmed! Grandpa had a full-time sheet metal job so the farming they did now was part-time. I can’t tell what is growing in this picture, but when I was growing up they grew corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, beans, beets, peppers, concord grapes, apples and blackberries.

As a little girl I tried to plant some old maids from the bottom of the popcorn bowl. (We ate popcorn every day.) Grandpa snuck out and replaced it with viable seed, it grew, and the “Popcorn Years” began. I mentioned North Loup, Nebraska earlier.  If you Google it you may see that is the, self-proclaimed, Popcorn Capital of the World. Every year for at least the last hundred years, they have held “Popcorn Days”, the towns signature festival. I have been a few times myself.  Grandma was crowned Popcorn Queen in the early 1930’s, and one year they decided to try to have a king too, and chose grandpa. They decided after that year that a queen was good enough, and no more kings. He was the only one! I always wondered what he might have done…ha ha.

So, with this history in his blood, grandpa soon had the whole garden in popcorn, with seed from back home, of course.  He built a couple of contraptions to help shell the corn and to separate the chaff. In the evenings he would sit by a lamp shade and separate out any imperfect kernels by hand, one by one, while we watched Lawrence Welk, or Wild America. Word got out and pretty soon neighbors from all over American Canyon were knocking at the door. For 5 bucks (I think it was) they could get 5 pounds of Kelly’s Home Grown Popcorn!

Well I think that is enough time travel for one post!


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