berry berry

Woo-hoo! Black raspberries galore along the local park’s trail. If others have picked since we did last, it didn’t show. I was grateful for A.J.’s help and told him so; he decided he didn’t really need my help. To the tune of “Oh, Susanna”:

“My Dad, he is a good helper…
A little big around! [A.J.’s contributed line]
He helps me pick the berries
Wherever they are found.”

We went this time earlier in the morning – but not too early – and with long sleeves and pants. For facing the hazards of ticks, poison ivy, stray yellow jackets, thirst and hunger, we were rewarded with about five cups.

A.J. offered a lady walking the trail a handful of berries (not all ripe), which were gladly accepted. When I did the same a moment later from the other side and down a ways, she took a few more and traded a couple of the wild turkey feathers she’d found. Said that turkeys are meant to remind us to share our blessings. (Because of the first Thanksgiving?) We were generous knowing it’s God’s bounty far excelling what we could manage to grow in our yard – and this on public property.

I should have been doing my chore instead of writing, as the family’s back from the library and primed for some raspberry pankakes. Mmmmm…

Hmm, somehow can’t title this post once it’s saved. – j

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havin’ a garage sale now

8:10 a.m.: Our esteemed first customer is browsing the various offerings of our first Madison garage sale. Signs went up at both ends of the street last night. A.J. is set to sell cups of lemondade from his wagon near the sidewalk, while the rest of our wares are spread along both sides of the driveway on makeshift tables. (The most creative one of these involves two garbage cans, a couple of short boards, plywood a coworker was discarding, and beach towels.) She’s been quite conversational, asking A.J. about his favorite things to do. He just carried her purchases across the street to her vehicle, and is filling her bottle. I hope our coworkers don’t mind paying ten cents for the “cool sips” promised in the daily office announcements email.

Dy suggests doing something of value – not blogging – to make the morning count. Can’t mow, but I do need to trim some branches back from touching the roof, and earwigs are wandering past the bleach solution I need to refresh around the outside of the house. She’s begun a litany of reasons she doesn’t do garage sales:

  • You spend lots of time pricing things and setting them out to sit around for hours just to make $20.
  • You have to watch people slow down their cars as they pass along the street, deciding by the barest glance whether or not to stop and see more.

Despite the frequent traffic and the almost constant blasts of roofers a block over, a dark mouse made itself heard poking around the corner of the garage. Dy is not impressed, but it stopped the litany.

Two more customers drop by, a guy who must know what he’s looking for and doesn’t see it here, and a neighbor we met when cutting down our hedge last Saturday. We marvel again at the timing of that exploit, with the city brush trucks arriving just as we finished. Arey’s jewelry is attracting some attention now, as she shares a trick with an admirer.

The neighbor’s expecting her roof replaced in coming weeks as well, so she and Dy are comparing roofing companies with similar insights. After an April hailstorm across the area, an estimated 30,000 households in Madison are anticipating roof replacement. Sample hailstones I retrieved from the back yard melted later by accident, but I’d swear they were up to 2.5 inches in diameter. Insurance is covering the vast majority of the costs, but just the building permits should pump millions into city coffers at $150 a pop. The staccato of air-fired nails must be music to some ears.

More neighbors and customers are trickling through. A.J. is wandering around waving a sign advertising “A.J.’s Store.” Arey makes her third sale, surpassing all other departments combined so far. T. has set herself up as cashier for A.J. and the general merchandise, quickly and correctly computing correct change. One of her classmates from this past year shows up with extended family, so we get to tentatively practice some Spanish.

If we had a boom box out here, it would be playing Pat Terry from his 1983 album Film at Eleven – either “Yard Sale” or “Fighting Like Cats and Dogs.” Had to pause typing to help finish the doughnuts, a special treat from last night’s lemonade supplies run. Dy announces again that this is the last garage sale she’ll do; next time, the kids are on their own. Between moves and the outgrowing of clothes, seems we’re frequently downsizing as a household – aiming to travel lightly in a number of ways.

Between visitors, several of us test the limits of this Bluetooth keyboard. Now the kids are trying to see how far a drooping branch will loft one of them after the other two pull it further down. There will be less branch to trim as a result. And lots of those little green hopping bugs are wondering how to find their way from the grass back to their preferred aerial habitat.

Later: We ended before lunch, with time to clean up, bag the majority of stuff going on to Goodwill, take down signs and visit a more serious garage sale at least a block north. Managed to split the remaining earnings equitably over lunch, after setting some aside to benefit others. Now it’s on to cleaning…or delaying it by posting this. – j

recent suggestions from locals

Throughout last Saturday’s open house, neighbors and workmates brought up (as we’d asked) ways they’ve experienced the Mad City area that we shouldn’t miss. Here’s a sampling, for the benefit of other locals:

That should be enough to keep us exploring aspects of our new town for a while, even on our slim budget. And we’re still just starting to get to know neighbors, workmates, teachers, pastors and fellow Christ-followers in this context.

Ready to highly recommend one realtorj