Oh Hello, I Disappeared! And We Adopted A Community Garden! Plus Other Goings-On.

August 15th, 2015 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration


Image via my Instagram, which is where I’ve actually managed to continue posting for the past few weeks.

Hi Guys! Wow, so okay, I seem to have taken an un-planned blogging break. And honestly, I think I’m going to continue with that for the next few weeks. BUT, I didn’t want to just leave all y’all hanging, and also I have this incredibly amazing new project to share with you, so I figured I’d pop in for a quick update.

I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks – literally weeks – and things keep coming up and pushing it down the seemingly unending to-do list. I have so much going on right now, I may be busier than I’ve ever been before.

Anyway, before we get into all that, YOU GUYS WE ADOPTED A COMMUNITY GARDEN.

Abandoned Community Garden 1

And by “we” I mean Waits’s preschool. One of the teachers found this abandoned secret garden (!!!) in her neighborhood, hidden along the railroad tracks, tucked behind a park. And she went to the city and was like “What’s up with that?” and they were all “Oh yeah, it was built in the 90s and then completely abandoned and has been sitting empty ever since.” and she was like “OOH ME ME!!” and they said “Well, okay”.

So that’s how that happened.

Abandoned Community Garden 2
Abandoned Community Garden

It’s a quarter of an acre, with [somehow, magically] a healthy little orchard of 6-8 dwarf trees (with amazing avocados, see??), but other than that’s it’s all dirt, dirt, trash, weeds, and more dirt. There’s a LOT of work to do, and we are so excited to do it!

The surrounding community is very underserved, primarily Spanish-speaking, and there’s just nothing like this there. Our plan is to get it cleaned up as quickly as possible to remove safety hazards, and then open the gates to the children of the community. It’s going to be so amazing.

I’ve already started about a billion fall seeds in my back yard, everything from leeks and shallots and red onions and chives, to birdhouse gourds and beets, to mustard greens and Chinese cabbage. We’re so lucky that we have a year-round growing season here in southern California, so we’ll be able to get things going right away. My outdoor table is totally covered with seed pots!

Abandoned Community Garden 4

Abandoned Community Garden 5

I’ll blog our progress as it unfolds. I’m so excited to share this amazing project with all of you!

Aside from the garden, I’ve got so many things that are keeping my busy these days, sometimes it’s hard to keep my head straight.

The biggest thing is that the project I’ve been heading for the past year has finally come to fruition. And even though it’s something I’ve been working on for so long, and I know I’ve mentioned bits and pieces in Love Lists and such, for the most part I realized that I’ve never formally written about it! But basically, last summer I wrote a grant proposal, trying to get funding to turn a face-to-face biology course that I TA for and that my advisor teaches, into a fully-online class. And, the grant was granted! I was appointed project manager and we set about converting this course into an online product. And we’ve been working on that for the past year — updating material, building the website, filming lectures, creating quizzes and examinations and figuring out how to administer them online, and conceptualizing and designing new learning activities that would not only replace, but actually enhance the students’ experience. It was so much work and it was my baby, and man, it’s been so cool to just literally build a thing where no thing was before.

And anyway, 2 weeks ago it went live. We are running our first class, and so it’s been a wiiiiiiild couple of weeks, as I’m sure you can imagine. Hello, unforeseen bugs and tech issues and troubleshooting — oh my!

But it’s fun. And stimulating. And so, so rewarding.

Abandoned Community Garden 6

Mulching mulching mulching.

So along with the online class, I’m also TAing a whole other course right now (I know, I’m sadistic) and this one is kind of intense. Public speaking is my biggest fear and it’s something that I’m slowly conquering through my TAships. But this time I’m teaching to a 300-student room, and I have to wear a freakin’ lapel mic, and I have to use this crazy polling software, and it’s just really intense. Oh yeah and it’s math. Computational sets, over and over. Yeesh.

So I’m obviously super tied up with school/work, but on top of that, Jeremy and I are working on our next business venture, which is slated to open in the next few weeks. I KNOW. And I just can’t wait to tell you all about it! It’s a logical next step following from the barware and mixology shop that Jeremy opened last year, Still, and it’s not something we planned but something that sort of fell into our laps, and when opportunity knocks . . . ya know??? Still is mostly Jeremy’s thing, with me just being the vintage buyer and helping out here and there where I can. But this next business is both of ours, and it’s going to be so cool!

Did I mention I was busy?

Abandoned Community Garden 3

So many seeds!

On top of all that, my Portland house needed a bunch of repair work, and I’ve had to handle everything remotely. And then my tenants gave their notice, and I had to find new tenants (luckily, I was able to get some friends, an awesome vegan couple, to move in).

Plus Waits and I packed up all of our worldly possessions and moved out of my house, and into Jeremy’s. So that took up some time.

And Harley is very sick. He hasn’t had another seizure since that first one back in July, but his brain tumor has progressed very quickly, and his health is deteriorating more and more each day. We’re trying to spend as much time as we can with him, before the end.

So why am I even telling you all this? I don’t know, really. But I just feel like – it’s always been so important to me to be honest and open in this space. It felt weird to be away, and to not tell you guys about it all.

So there it is.

♥ ♥ ♥

My life is very full right now. Lots of beginnings, and also endings. And in a week and a half, my little boy will be starting kindergarten, and everything will change and it will never be the same again. So I’m going to continue taking some time to just hunker down with my family, and spend these last few weeks of summer in our own, real-life, quiet space.

Thank you all for continuing to visit me here, and to read, and to leave your wonderful comments. This little community we have created means more to me than you could ever know. And I have so many wonderful things to share this fall.

Looking forward to catching up with you then.


  • Cara

    I was hoping whatever kept you away was good. Sorry to hear about Harley & have you considered a veterinary homeopath for him? Homeopathy can really help with quality of life in these cases. Mary Aspinwall is an internationally known human homeopath in SB who may know of a good vet who uses homeopathy. If you can’t, or don’t want to, find a homeopathic vet, I hope you’ll be able to find a holistic one. You were really helped by a naturopath & I hope Harley has the same luck.
    My thoughts are with you & Harley dog.

  • yogadogwalker

    That’s really a wonderful thing with the community garden! I’m so sorry to hear about Harley. I am in a similar situation with a senior cat, who is just my best friend ever. I hope you get lots of quality time with him, and enjoy the rest of the summer!

  • sonja

    Wow, so inspiring! Love all the things You do and hope that you don’t burn out. Can’t wait to hear about your project with jeremy. So sad to hear that harvey isn’t feeling better. Lots of love

  • Rachel in Veganland

    Oh wow! So many things! The garden looks amazing and I’m looking forward to seeing your photos of it as it unfolds. Also, with regard to the TA thing we are SO in the same boat there. I’m about to TA my first class this semester, one that includes me lecturing and teaching two smaller sections of a larger lecture class. I’m excited, but it’s nice to see that someone else finds it a little daunting. Good luck with everything! It all sounds busy, busy, busy but also really great.

    My heart goes out to y’all with regard to Harley. I’ll be sending you all good vibes. Hang in there!

  • lysette

    So many balls in the air but like Jareth the Goblin King, it’s mesmerizing and magic! The community garden is an incredible project. I’m jazzed to hear what the new venture is! My brain actually reels when I think of how busy you’ve been… but most of all my heart aches for Harley’s condition. All the good stuff and by the sounds of it there is so much is scaled by how hard it is to care for family as they slow down, our companion animals offer so much in so short a time. My dog’s been showing the signs of progressive aging, it’s so heartbreaking. Glad you checked in -I’ll have to find you on Instagram!

  • Susan

    You certainly have a lot of things going on, but sounds like they are mostly rewarding (or will be).
    I am so sorry to hear that Harley is not doing well, I hope you time to make more beautiful memories together. It is so hard to watch someone you love so much going downhill. <3

  • http://angieeatspeace.com/ Angie

    Lots of love to you with all the new changes! I am keeping Harley in my thoughts and heart.

  • Diana

    You sound wonderfully busy! Please, please let us know everything about the community garden – it sounds wonderful!

  • Mel

    You always inspire me sooo much! Every one of your new adventures sounds amazing. Good luck with everything!!!

  • Kristin

    Wow – what a spin! Best wishes to you on all your exciting endeavors!! My heart goes out to you and to Harley. Enjoy every second with him and flood him with love. Sending good vibes <3

  • Bianca

    Aw, Harley! I’m so sorry to hear that! But good news on the new business (can’t wait to hear what it is!!) and the cute little community garden! I’m so jealous avocados actually grow on trees there.

  • Lauren

    Hi there! I finally, after about 5 years of creeping on your blog (like PDX days, when I lived there too) feel the need to just tell you how my heart is bursting for joy for you! So much sage advice and honesty (and SCIENCE!) have made me a loyal fan. Best wishes for an exciting year ahead as you tumble headlong into your new ventures!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Cara, thanks so much for the kind words. He is past the point of homeopathy – or any other medication – being able to help. But thank you. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you, and I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. It is the hardest part of caring for a companion animal – the inevitable loss of someone you love so much. I guess it’s a price worth paying for all the love and joy they bring, but god it is hard. Lots of love to you. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Sonja. I am feeling maxed out but luckily, not burned out. It’s good, actually. =)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Oh wow that’s so exciting, your first TAship! Fun — and SCARY! It has been really challenging for me to face my fear of public speaking, but ultimately it’s been a huge growth experience. I imagine you will find the challenge really rewarding.

    Thank you for the kind words, it’s been a really rough weekend. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Lysette. It really does feel like cycles and scales – so many exciting beginnings, and also heartbreaking endings. Thank you for the kind words. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Susan. I was able to spend literally the whole weekend with Harley, camped out on the living room floor just snuggling and hanging out. It was very sad and beautiful at the same time. I am really grateful I was able to have that time. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Angie. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I will definitely be sharing updates and progress! I’m super excited to photo-journal the whole thing. =)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thank you Mel!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Kristin, I feel so fortunate that I got to spend the entire weekend on the floor in a snuggly puppy pile with him. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Bianca! I couldn’t believe it when we realized that one of the trees had avocados . . . and then we tasted them and they were amazing. Very, very lucky!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, wow thank you Lauren! What a wonderful comment and I’m SO glad you took the plunge and said hello! Hope to “see” more of you here. =)

  • Cara

    I’m glad to read you had time with Harley this weekend. I’m sure it meant a lot to him, even if it was sad for you.
    Homeopathy can be a wonderful way to help to ease the transition, Sayward. I recently went through this with a 20 year old cat and he was able to pass on his own terms with no suffering. I hope you’re taking care of yourself, too. Bach Rescue Remedy is something I’ve found invaluable in stressful situations of all sorts.

  • http://www.sprouting-up.com Victoria Garcia

    I’m glad you’re telling us all this! Congratulations on your lectures and good luck in your project that’s about to launch and with the community garden!

  • Rebecca Carnes

    Wow!! So many fun and exciting things – congrats on it all!! Cannot wait to see how the Community garden turns out, I know it will be amazing. Such a cool thing to do for your area!
    I am so sorry to hear about Harley … P and I always send good thoughts into the air when a friend needs them… I was telling him about Harley after reading and he yelled from the top of his lungs “Good thoughts Harley!” …thinking of you guys down here in SD ;) XO

  • Jill

    Life’s ups and downs – the garden looks great and is, and will be an even greater asset to your community when finished – is a garden ever finished? Sad about Harley but nothing left to do but give him care and love and take joy in the good times. By the way my three sons all “fell in love” with their first teacher!
    Looking forward to summer.

  • Lisa

    I’ve really enjoyed keeping up with you on Instagram. The community garden opportunity is so amazing. I’ve loved hearing bits and pieces about your preschool (I have a 4-year old in a co-op preschool) and think you all will be the perfect caretakers!

    Much love to you guys and Harley. We said goodbye to our senior cat last summer; it was so hard facing the final decisions about his life. I am grateful for the final days we had to consciously love on him and say goodbye. Oh, the tears! Tough stuff.

    Best of luck with all of the new beginnings. I look forward to following along! I love how you share your life—it’s so inspiring in a positive, energizing way.