The Foreclosure Garden Story

This blog is about gardening on a foreclosed property. Posts are mainly about the gardens progress with the occasional post about foreclosures.
To get up to speed on the project go to the first few posts which tell the story of the property and how the garden came into being.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

adopt a sunflower day

I am giving away a couple hundred sunflower seedlings and great pumpkin seedlings (just in time for Halloween!) for Coronado Street residents and environs. Hopefully people will plant the sunflowers in the parkway along the street. If you are in the area stop by for a couple of seedlings! The sunflowers are from seeds I saved from a massive sunzilla I grew last year that reached over 12 feet. I will be going door to door with them along the street in the next few days.
My neighbor J who had helped with the watering of the foreclosure garden stopped by and gave me apples from a relatives tree. He lives next door with his wife R and his two sons, both at Riverside. He had a daughter who died of Leukemia 12 years ago. She loved sunflowers and he often brings them to her grave site. The anniversary of her death is coming up on the 21st. J has Leukemia as well. He asked about my husbands recent operation and I told him he needed two more operations but that his insurance was refusing to pay for the last so he couldn't schedule the follow ups until the matter was resolved. He had the same problems. It wore one down, this constant bureaucratic harassment, especially when one is sick. J is a very good gardener and his balcony looks down into our back yard. But recently his landlord has said he can not keep any plants so he has had to give all the plants away. I wonder if it is a way of pressuring him to leave. I know that he has been there for many many years.
G and her family lived next door until they moved in with us. The landlord, who was her cousin, first started pressuring G to leave by making her get rid of all her plants. G had an amazing collecting of fruit trees. Avocados and guavas lined the back of the building and an alleyway. It was like a tropical forest. I was so amazed when I first saw it. It turned out that the landlords wife's daughter had fallen for G's son and they had run off and gotten married! The landlord was furious and kicked G and her family (son, daughter, daughter in law, husband and brother) and her 4 boxers out of the building. The whole family moved into our duplex rental- a one room studio- while they looked for a place. They bartered help with the garden and planted avocados and guavas as presents. They had come from Cuba in the 1990's- Cuba's special period as they called it- after the fall of the Soviet Union and the loss of most of their oil. I asked them to watch the documentary Power of Community; How Cuba Survived Peak Oil and tell me if it was an accurate depiction of Cuba. They said they would but warned me that they had never seen an accurate depiction of Cuba in America and were highly skeptical. But after watching it they were very excited. they felt it was truthful depiction. They miss Cuba. G's husband told me that when they first came to America and went to a grocery store they thought they had died and gone to heaven. there were big beautiful tomatoes in the middle of winter! But when they brought the produce home they were deeply disappointed in its flavor. It had looked so good and tasted watery. G's brother had spent many years farming organically in Cuba and had come over more recently. He said that in America, we give too much water to the ripening tomato, making them bigger and heavier and thus more expensive but less flavorful.
The landlord next door has gotten rid of three of the four tenants of the fourplex in the past year. He's an old man and owns many of the apartment buildings in the area and a couple of vacant lots. I know he has never fixed them up and never made repairs to the apartments. I am thinking about an accusation after one of my posts that I'm gentrifying the neighborhood. I think perhaps artists often do. I was once told by a bank property assessor that gay men and artists do wonders for property values. The new residents who have moved in next door are Latinos. They are just paying a lot more rent than the previous people. So does that count as gentrification? Its such a difficult accusation to hear. The gut reaction is to try and refute it, but what if its true? What if I am gentrifying the neighborhood with my murals and plants and street art openings and such? Its hard to contemplate especially since we are just scraping by and could so easily suffer foreclosure.
What if Bill's operations aren't covered? I heard that medical costs are the number one cause of foreclosures.
We finally decided we needed to replace our car which had self immolated on the 101 last year. Since then we have been riding motorcycles, but after an unfortunate yet potentially fatal incident with a bag of kitty litter strapped somewhat hastily to the back of my bike I had to admit we needed a car. We went out and test drove a 1972 BMW that had been turned into an electric vehicle and then we went to a smart car dealership. A new basic smart car lists for $11,900. Add on all the tax and it comes to 15 something. It was perfect. When we went to finance the car we were denied. Bill prides himself in his excellent credit score. He is the guy credit card companies hate. He always pays on time. Always. So why couldn't we finance the car? It turns out that because we applied for (and were denied at last try) the "Obama" Making Homes Affordable" program Chase had reported us to the credit bureau and now my husbands perfect credit score was in the toilet. Understand that we have never been late with a mortgage payment. All we did was apply for a program to reduce our monthly payments slightly. And we applied because (A) we qualified (B) Bill needs operations this year and will be out of work for perhaps a few months. (C) we needed to buy a new car.
This leaves me thinking about my own garden. Will it prove to be a foreclosure garden as well?
The sprinklers are back on over at 820 Coronado. The yard is now graced with a big "for sale" sign. So it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I've been following your blog for a while and write for a blog too (fourstory(dot)org). I wondered if you'd be willing to talk with me about your work for a story I'm writing about urban "guerrilla" gardening. I can also send questions via email if that's easier. You can reach me at jauriqui (at) usc (dot) edu. Thank you in advance!