What I’ve Been Doing This Week.

Every night this week I’ve been up at my community garden planting the things I should have planted a month ago but couldn’t because of the whole end of the world thing. When my garden was opened I figured, PHEW, everything will be back to normal now.  And then I watched a frog climb up a fence and reassessed.

There’s a lot of wildlife around my garden. Therefore there’s a lot of wildlife in my garden.  Fluffy, slimy, warted … all wandering around, looking for places to hang out, maybe grab a beer. 

Because of this I consider myself to be a bit of an expert on none of them. Other than knowing they exist, my knowledge of toads for example is this; they are toads. I just haven’t given it a lot of thought. They’re probably not much different than I am. We both like to be outside in the garden, appreciate a good meal and have warts.

But that’s it. That’s all I know about toads.

Actually that’s not true, I also know that toads are shy and tend to stay hidden until you start swinging a massive, sharp hoe in their direction at which point they will swan dive in spectacular fashion, directly at your face.

Toads, as it turns out, are quite gymnastic so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see one of them climbing a fence this week – but I was.  

Also surprising … seeing a painted turtle. It was just outside of my plot, which is an unusual site.  When I got closer up to the turtle I could see it had dug a hole and was just sitting there. Half an hour later she was giving birth.

The turtle digs a hole and then buries her eggs to hide them from predators because like any mother her number one priority is to protect her children. And to remember to buy wine on the way home.

It was FASCINATING and there’s video of it in my Instagram highlights.  

Now, we’re up to a fence climbing toad, an incredibly rare view of a turtle laying eggs so now it’s time to add in the festival of snakes.


Scaryyyyyyy.  Snakes!   You don’t want to be, you don’t mean to be but there you are – afraid of snakes for no reason at all. I happen to like and get along with snakes, but not everyone does. Some people in fact kill snakes for no reason at all. 

For those of you who are anti-snake I’m sorry but there is going to be another snake photo. I just thought I should warn you.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of warning you before the first photo. 

So this snake, which was one of several I found in the garden one night, has claimed my compost bin as its own. Compost bins are warm and protected which is exactly the kind of place snakes like to claim as their own. A safe, cozy home makes a snake happy.

So when I went to open up my compost bin to dig some out of the bottom I tapped on the bin with my foot a few times.  You probably didn’t realize that I speak snake, (nobody likes a bragger) but I do. Tapping your foot a few times is snake for “Hey. I’m here and I’m coming in, so you might wanna just slip out for a second.”

He didn’t care.  Or she didn’t care. I’m not sure which, but if I open the compost bin next week and find it littered with socks and take-out boxes I’ll have my answer.


Most of this was all within half an hour of each other. It was like gardening in a low rent Floridian reptile theme park. 

And the same night all this happened a neighbour told me she saw a coyote walking down the middle of the street at around 10 o’clock at night. This isn’t in the country or even the suburbs, this is in the middle of a town. Things are not normal.


Thursday night was pretty quiet at the garden with just a constipated frog hanging around to keep me company. I could tell he was constipated.  He had that look.

I got to plant my corn. I planted way too many varieties: Dakota Black popcorn, Glass Gem Corn, Peaches and Cream corn and Serendipity corn.  I’ll probably be lucky and have enough time for the sweet corns and the popcorn to mature, but I’m pushing it for the Glass Gem corn which takes a lot longer than the others to form.


Back at home the ranunculus I bought from Dahlia May Flower farm are blooming. Over and over again, I just keep cutting them off and putting them in the vase with the others. Ranunculus have an incredible vase life, lasting for a couple of weeks so you can just keep adding to it.

Also at home, I experimented with germinating regular old mustard seed that I had in my spice cupboard. This after a fellow gardener proclaimed he had finally thought of something exciting to grow (that I hadn’t already grown.) MUSTARD. 

When he told me about his idea, we looked at each other with pity, sorry for how stupid the other one was at never having thought of this before.

Of COURSE we should grow mustard!! So I’ll be planting some black and brown mustard seeds this weekend.

These are the seeds from my spice drawer that I germinated in a damp paper towel. I ate a few and they’re spicy! They taste like a radish if a radish unloaded a machine gun in your mouth.

Even with gun toting mustard seeds, fence climbing frogs, composting snakes and egg laying turtle, this next surprise was the biggest of the week.

What you’re looking at is a Bells of Ireland plant, grown from seed. I knew they were doubling in size every few days so they were healthy, but Thursday night when I pulled back the leaves to have a look at the plant, I found the bells.  

I wonder how long those bells were stuck back there just waiting to be seen.  

Things definitely aren’t normal this year. At all.  This year we’re actually comprehending that no matter how different we look we are all the same. In the important ways anyway.

We enjoy a garden, a good meal, a safe home and want to protect our kids. We are at times stunned at our own obliviousness. 

We are all the same but we are not equal. 

This year we are acknowledging that, feeling shame for that and trying to change that.

This year we are taking to the streets to change that.


  1. Beckie says:

    I’ve had a pet toad for nearly 15 years. He was barely more than a tadpole when my (then very young) niece wanted to keep him as a pet. Turns out, toads like being “in captivity”. They live about 5 years in the wild, they can live to be 30 in the care of humans. He is quite happy to wait for food to drop from the sky for him. I have him in a 10 galleon aquarium. He gets to be outside sometimes, as well.

    You want the toad to live in your garden!! He will eat all the yucky pests! They earn their keep quiet well. Have a shallow dish of water (they drink through their skin) and an upturned flower pot with a bit of a break at the rim for a doorway.

    Toads are awesome! My toad’s name is Biscuit =)

    • Karen says:

      Oh yes, I know. I encourage toads in my garden. They don’t need pots in my garden, they burrow into the soil. It keeps them safer from the snakes. :) ~ karen!

  2. Rebecca Ruth Hess says:


  3. Carmen says:

    I just love this post😊❤️

  4. Kat says:

    Peaceful protests for change that needs to happen is one thing, but where I live some of the protesters (rioters) are just attacking unsuspecting people for no reason other than they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Burning down homes and businesses while people are still in them.
    That is not justice!
    That is HATE!

    And terrifying.

  5. ML says:

    I’m late to the party and to comment! I’m an old lady (gggg I hate to say it) but young at heart who has finally found contentment in playing in the dirt, pulling weeds, growing collard greens and kissing my 2 dogs (I also kiss my hub of 54 years, but not as passionately). Just found your blog a few days ago and am wondering where you’ve been. Subscribed immediately and received my first post on Sunday. Smiles, tears and a dose of humility. I’m so happy we’re on a path to a new normal. Thank you for your wonderful insight. 😘

  6. Lynn says:

    Oh Style Guru,
    Where oh where did you get that vase??????? I really want one! All that lovely visual texture wrapped up in something useful! Really, where can I find one?
    Searching for style in Seattle ;-)

  7. Looks like a fun time at the reptile garden! Just planted our seedlings in the greenhouse last week, and we found a robin’s nest in the greenhouse (she got in through a hole in the roof).
    We are a little concerned about it getting too hot in their for the eggs. We’ve been leaving the door and window open for them. One of them hatched last night but the chick doesn’t look to healthy :( … we don’t want to move the nest because the garden is teeming with crows. Any recommendations people?

  8. Darcy says:

    Karen, this post nailed it. Who would have imagined that you could run the gamut from leaping toads to social justice? Your turtle laying eggs spotting must have felt unreal. I saw my first beaver in the wild the other day and felt shock and awe. I’m from California and recently moved to El Paso, Texas. Did you know they have beavers in El Paso? Well, neither did I.

  9. Marie Anne says:


  10. Nan Lorenz says:

    You touched my heart (and funny bone) with your gardening spot and my soul with your ending. Love you Lady ❤️

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