Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stealth weeding

This has nothing to do with quilting but a lot to do with life in Nerima.

Here is a picture taken from outside my front gate.

My little set-back garden is on the left inside the low brick wall. It includes a cut-leaf maple (low and leafy), a vine-leafed maple (tall and out of control), tiger lilies pushing out above the azalea bushes, enkianthus, and the plum (apricot) planted to celebrate our first daughter's birth.

One can view the lovely job the city did of paving the road and leaving my little flower strip below the wall.

Every morning I sweep the street, starting at my gate and then the house to the north and the whole street to the south as far as this picture shows.

Sweeping the street makes a big difference in the way those passing through respect the neighborhood.

The neighbor to the south is a librarian and works 30 minutes away, going out each day by car. Her bright red car spends the night parked beyond the wall behind the plum tree. The van parked on the right belongs to someone living in the 3rd floor apartment. (apartment dwellers do not clean as it is not their property).

To the south of the library lady is an elderly lady taking care of an even more elderly mother ... a full time job. She has lots of trees that drop leaves. flowers, seeds, fruit, all year around. She is very happy that I am taking care of our street.

At the end of the street on the right, there is an apartment with the door standing open. That is occupied by an elderly gentleman who is recovering from a stroke. Behind that apartment on the corner is a house occupied by a very elderly couple, and not seen on the left end of the street is a small house where up until a month ago, the wife ran a day-care in her home. (now she has found a place outside her home to run the facility).

  That green thing sitting on my step is my handy sweeper.  The little broom clips to the handle of the bin and is always ready to go.

As I return, I dump the contents into a plastic bag that hangs to the left of my door. You can see this is not a huge task just to keep the area looking clean and respectable.

I rather enjoy taking a few minutes each morning to step outside. Oh, yes, and as I go along, I pull a few weeds.
Often I chat with the neighbors too.

That chat brings us to the little parking area beside the small apartment. Until about four weeks ago, it was waist-deep in weeds. (Well, at least above the knees for me).

For years there have been signs posted by the neighbors that people pick up after their dogs ... but, let's face it ... I doubt anyone could find the poo among all those weeds. The other complaint was about mosquitoes.

I decided it was time to stop complaining and start acting, so each day I added to my little bin, weeds. I began with the wild grass that was about to go to seed. First I cut off the flower ends of the bunches and took them away. Then I pulled out the bunches one-by-one and disposed of those.

Next I attacked the leafy plants in the same way.

The ground is all made up of rocks so pulling the clumps of weeds brought up lots of rocks and dirt.  I had to bring some big bags to haul off the trash and plants (which I chopped into smaller pieces).

One lady came by and stopped to ask me if I was collecting herbs. I told her I was just removing weeds and she asked why ... they will just grow back.

I told her that was true if I allowed them to go to seed and we would have the neighborhood we deserve. Ah, that is true, she said and thanked me.

Last Sunday as I was pulling out the last row of weeds along the fence, the neighbor to the left came out with garden gloves on and helped to pull the last of that row. She said that mosquitoes were fewer and there had been no doggy-doo for weeks.

A parent with a child riding on the back of his bike passed through on the way to the pre-school and exclaimed to the child how much nicer the area looked.

The care-giver for the man with the stroke came out and handed me a chilled bottle of tea.

Yesterday the car-owner (who had exclaimed to my husband about how much nicer the area looked) drove off and left the lot vacant. I took the opportunity to finish off the section under and behind the car. No longer in stealth mode, I guess. The gentleman came out with his cane and finished off the weeds on his side of that fence saying the mosquito problem was much less. AND, no one is tossing trash into the lot any more.

The neighbors are standing out and visiting with each other. We all exchange pleasantries as we pass along the street. I checked with the flower shop lady as to what flower would grow best with least care and she recommended salvias. If you look closely you can see a row of five along the fence.

I still am working on the weeds behind the house of the elderly couple. It is a bit of a challenge because of the fence but the flowering weeds have been cut and another week may have that spot looking clean too.

Sunday's Sermon was about Matthew: 13 - 24, the man sowing good seed and it coming up among weeds. We take care of the good stuff and let God dispose of the weeds. Hmm, Have I been wasting my time? I just might look at my neighborhood as the good stuff. the trash and doggy-doo and mosquitoes have been taken care of as a result.

And, as to quilting, the pile of 4-inch blocks got too big for its zip-lock bag. Still no idea what to do with them but they have  been up-graded into a larger bag.


  1. What a lovely example of a good neighbor. It sometimes happens that people complain and get testy with each other about the "neighborhood mess" but when someone takes the initiative and begins to clear things up it is amazing the friendliness and joy that gets spread around. It makes me proud to have you as a friend - even though we are worlds apart - it warms my heart to see such a change. We don't have weeds and dog doo - the park takes care of all our street edges and neighbors do pick up after their poochies - but perhaps I can come up with some way to get more conversations going and more people interacting with each other. Thank you for a heartwarming post in the midst of all the other "not so good" things going on in our world. It was exactly what I needed today.

  2. Is your stealth weeding something you have learnt about from those stealth beavers that are in the big box?
    Your work has made a huge difference in the appearance of the neighbourhood. And it does make such a difference to people's attitudes. Lovely to see it bringing neighbours together as well.

  3. Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. Sometimes we forget how much we can receive from giving to others.

  4. This is such a lovely story, and you give so much, this to you might seem like a small effort, but I can see it is having a huge impact on everyone living nearby. New friendships, grateful people, flowers to brighten the day as they walk past, and for you, knowing what you do is so worthwhile. Like your blocks of friendship, your heartfelt love and care shines so brightly. Hugs, Jean.

  5. You are such a beautiful gift to the Nerima community; the best kind of 'foreign alien' to have settled in Japan.

  6. well done x and well appreciated as well x it just takes a SMALL first move to make a BIG difference x

  7. what a nice example you have shown the neighborhood - now maybe all will keep pitching in and keep it neat - I read it to my husband of what a good idea this was - we live in the country but if I lived in town this is what I would like of a neighborhood.

  8. What a wonderful neighbor you are. We also have neighbors who do the bare minimum as far as keeping their property and the neighborhood looking good. I wish I could inspire them to do something but it's their yards that need the work. I would feel awkward cleaning up their yards. We do water the trees that are on their property but border ours. Hmmm, I'm thinking. Thanks for the inspiring post.

  9. I really enjoyed your post and the meaning behind it, we all need to stop and care more about our neighborhood and neighbors and you have replaced the weeds, with the seeds of love.


  10. Julie you are so good to take care of your neighbourhood like that and you have do ea beautiful job.

  11. A beautiful and heart-warming story. Little bits of effort can make a big difference! Thank you.

  12. Well, I read your post title as "Stealth Wedding" so I was a little confused when I started reading! But actually I think you are completely wedded to your neighbourhood and you are a fantastic example of a Christian, a good neighbour, an "incomer" participating (and some) into her new country and an all-round wonderful person. I hope you are blushing! I also hope and pray that your outreach will continue to promote happiness and caring in your community. You rock!

  13. I really enjoyed reading this post. I love your front gate, so Japanese. Lovely neighbourhood you have there.

  14. I don't think you're wasting your time. The area looks lovely! I think it's wonderful and encouraging that you care so much.

  15. Well done you!!! I misread and thought it was going to be about a stealth wedding, but without weeds, maybe you'll be able to hold one now!

  16. How wonderful that you care enough to take care of your neighbourhood. Your story reminds me of the days when we have lots of snow. It is one of the few times you see all of the neighbours out working together to shovel, or use a snowblower etc. Any thing to keep things clean and tidy.

    1. House owners are pretty good about snow removal but around apartment buildings it is a "no-man's-land". Come to think of it, a little snow might be welcome in today;s heat!

  17. Julie, thanks for this wonderful story. We love the container garden outside your door. Very artistic, and the plants look so healthy. Blessings to you, from Marina and Daryl

  18. Julie, you are such an inspiration! You beautify your surroundings and promote respect in so many ways.

  19. Hello Julie! I love to read your post. I used to sweep the street when I lived in a house. Your garden is very beautiful! That is a wonderful post! Have a lovely weekend! Hugs <3

  20. Hi Julie,
    I read this post a while ago. Then our next door neighbours went on holiday. Their small front garden is supposed to be gravel over a weed suppressant layer, but you do need to get the weeds when they start or they will still grow through. Anyway, it was pretty much over run with weeds. and especially these kind that have little pink flowers but seed pods that unfurl and spread the weeds everywhere. But they are so busy as they teach. There were tall clumps of grass weeds, too.

    SO, with your stealth gardening in mind, I have done a bit of weeding every day. This week is the recycling and garden waste collection - brown bin. Not everyone has a brown bin, but my husband does, so I put it all in there. Now to see if they actually notice when they return. Since it doesn't seem they actually notice when it is overrun in the first place! But I have enjoyed the stealth gardening altogether, but especially to try to control those spreading weeds.
    Sandy in the UK
    PS congrats on the blog milestone!