This past week I was asked to clear out and plant the garden of a family with five children, the youngest of whom (2 years old, I think) they just brought home from Korea. The mother is (of course) swamped, and wanted someone with more time and knowledge to tidy up the garden; could I do it? Well, I thought, I did work at a sort of garden nursery last year, I suppose I can handle that.
The catch was, her six-year-old daughter is very interested in gardening and she asked if I could work along with her and teach her as I went. I was skeptical; I love kids, and I love gardening, but I wasn't sure if I'd be any good at teaching a six-year-old how to garden. But I said yes, a little warily.
Well, it has been just the most fun! The family is delightful, and the little girls - I've ended up having the nine-year-old as well - are too precious. They're intelligent, sweet, willing to work - and the little one is a huge ham and drama queen, so there is never a dull moment. It's been surprisingly easy both to keep them on task and to teach as I go; and they are both quick learners and really good at things like actually asking whether or not a plant is a weed, which makes my task so much easier!
And then the little one (who has a definite flair for the dramatic) has decided that we are actually a TV show, of which I am the star: this show is called "Gardening with Gillian", and she has taken to announcing the beginning of it dramatically when I show up in the morning, and periodically throughout the day she puts on her announcer voice and talks about what we've been doing, pointing out the different tools and plants, "interviewing" me on what our plans are for the day, or "interviewing" her big sister, who plays along nicely. She even has a little jingle to begin the "show", complete with a little dance.
I have so many funny stories and sayings - the Little One announcing to her mother last Friday that we needed lunch, that we were starving, that, in fact, "I'm suffering!" - with a dramatic sigh: Little One again, when I proposed bringing a bucket of compost from my heap to enrich a sad section of their garden, reacting with an overblown "You would do that? For us?" and then pretending to swoon in my arms. Or this afternoon, as we were clearing up, when she produced a small log which they called their "gun stick" and pretended to shoot me with it, afterwards instructing me to "be dead"; when I obliged and "died" theatrically in a heap in the backyard, their mother, who had been watching from the window, called out in alarm to know what was the matter. Apparently I play dead very effectively!
In other news, I started stripping the small cabinet which has been functioning as a jam cupboard for the last 5 years or so. It has at least 4 distinct coats of paint, and has been a pain to strip, but I think I'm going to like the wood when I finally get it clean. I plan to strip it perfectly clean, then just give it a coat of clear varnish, to protect it but still show the bare wood. I've also been painting an old wooden chair which had had paint spilled on it; it's sitting in the garage with two coats of primer, waiting for me to produce the white top-coat and finish the job.
The inside of the cabinet - probably the best-looking part of it. Someone apparently spilled paint stripper on the top a while ago and didn't clean it, so that was an unsightly mess. It looks a whole lot worse right now, though, halfway through the cleaning process!
I did finish a stash project this past week; a shawl I began (and mostly completed) for a lady at church last summer. When I finally got it too her it proved to be far too long for her (though I followed the pattern exactly; I'm not sure what happened!), so I had to shorten it. That done, it's finally off my hands.
My other projects have been rather more long-term; I'm close to completion on a lace Moëbius strip head-scarf I started several years ago. Midnight-blue lace-weight yarn; it'll be practically weightless, but warm.
And I'm making my first quilt. I did simple 4-inch squares, put them together in nine-patch blocks (though in no particular order, so the finished top is completely random looking) and pieced the top together. I finished the piecing last week, and made a sandwich with an old sheet and most of a blanket, both of which I picked up at the Salvation Army store. I'm in the midst of quilting it; since my machine won't handle the size or thickness, I'm hand-quilting, and it's going to take me about an age and a half, but I think I'll like the result. I'll report back next year or whenever I get finished! ;-) This photo is a small section - most of what I've actually finished quilting so far.
This has turned into a truly massive post - and it doesn't even have many photos to break it up and make it look pretty ;-) I hope I'll have more time to blog this week so that I can spread out my news. I'm sure there will be more funny stories on Friday from the next installment of Gardening with Gillian!