The Honest Scrap Award

My blog earned its first (and I hope not last) award, the Honest Scrap Award, given to me by Daphne’s Dandelions at

 Woohoo! I won, I won. There. That fulfills the first requirment, bragging about the award. How embarassing.

The Honest Scrap Award comes with five requirements. I must:
1. Brag about the award (did that).
2. Include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on me and link back to the blogger (did that).
3. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that I find brilliant in content or design.
4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog.
5. List at least ten (10) honest things about myself.

Some of these requirements are probably beyond this newbie awardee, but I’ll do my best. Here is a link to Daphne’s Dandelions, a wonderful vegetable gardening blog from Massachusetts with meticulous record keeping. I’m learning a lot about both blogging and gardening from visiting her site. Thanks for the award, Daphne.

The third is going to be harder, not because I can’t find seven worthy blogs, but because most of the blogs I visit have already received the Honest Scrap Award. Well, what the heck, they can get the award again.

Gentlemen, the envelope please. Here are my seven picks:

Thomas’ A Growing Tradition for its fabulous photography, writing, and content.

Vrtlarica’s Moj Vrt for showing us her interesting garden in Croatia, and for her effort at traveling 50 kilometers every time she wants to tend her garden.

Barbara’s Gardening in Mannheim Germany for her allotment garden, and for being the first person to comment on my blog (and I see that she just bestowed the Honest Scrap Award on me today–funny. Thanks, Barbara.

Anna’s Flower Garden Girl blog from North Carolina. It was talking to Anna at the Garden Writers Association conference in Raleigh last September that got me started in blogging. Anna’s blog is full of videos and humor, as well as lovely photos and great tips, and just passed 200,000 hits.

Gavin’s The Greening of Gavin for showing us in words and photos how he is changing to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle in Australia at

Heather’s Idaho Small Goat Garden for her posts on chickens, among other things.

Dan’s Urban Veggie Garden in Ontario because he’s the youngest blogger I follow and because his blog is so beautiful with photos of veggies AND cooking.

Now for the really hard part, ten honest things about myself that I’m willing to post for all eternity in cyberspace for the world to see.

1. In my parttime day job, I teach conservation awareness at the Orange County Conservation Corps to Hispanic gang members. My homies are mainly male Hispanics ages 18-21, many are gang members, and most are on probation for felonies. Sounds scary, but these are some of the best kids I’ve ever worked with. They’re at a stage in their life where they are turning their lives around. I’ve seen hundreds of them go on to happy, productive, honest lives. It is very rewarding to be there as they change themselves, and to play even the tiniest role in the process.

2. Due to California state budget cuts (this economy really is in the toilet), I’ve been cut way back at work at the Corps and haven’t worked there since September. (I still have my newspaper column, but that doesn’t pay quite enough to buy a week’s groceries.)  I’m not laid off, but my work hours and pay have taken a drastic hit. This is what has given me time to do the backyard makeover and begin blogging.

3. I love to cook.

4. I hate to do dishes. Indeed, I hate all housework and seldom do it. If Vic doesn’t do it (thank God he does kitchen cleanup), it doesn’t get done. My carpet looks similar to my compost bin.

5. I have hair that is really thick and long. I cut it every so often and donate it to Locks of Love, a non-profit that makes wigs for children with cancer or alopecia.

6. I’m concerned about global warming. I think it is the biggest threat facing mankind and that within decades we’ll be seeing crop failures all over the world because of our new spastic climate.

7. I’m concerned about overfishing of the oceans. I follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List and avoid eating fish that are not being sustainably fished, or that may have high levels of toxins.

8. I believe in ethical treatment of animals, but I’m not an animal rights activist. I eat many vegetarian meals, but enjoy meat too much to give it up. I’ve bought meat directly from farmers, but it’s more expensive. In these tough economic times, I won’t pass up a mass market 35 cent/lb turkey.

9. I wonder how many more gardening years I have left. I’m two months shy of 67, so I hope to garden for at least another 10-15 years, and I hope to not outlive those gardening years. I’m pretty sure that ten years from now I won’t have the ability to do a makeover like what I’m doing now, laying pavers and planting bulbs while down on my old arthritic knees.

10. This one is the hardest. It’s the reason why I’m redoing the backyard and trying to make 2010 our best, prettiest and most productive garden ever. Our older son (of two children, both boys) died on December 4 in 2005, just three months after my mother died. I was still in shock and grief over the loss of my 94-year-old mother, when Bob took his own life on a Saturday morning. He was 43. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach when Vic told me. All the air went out of me and I felt diminished. Crushed.

It has taken me many, many months to climb back up into the light. But Vic and I went to grief therapy with a really good counselor, and I learned to focus on positive things. I kept a daily diary in which I wrote down only the good things that had happened that day, or the good things that I did for other people. It took only six weeks of this process to reprogram my brain. I became a much happier person. I still miss my son, but life has become good again.

And so, upon the inspiration of my gardening friend Norma in Boulder, Colorado, I decided to dedicate my garden to Bob. I want to make it beautiful and productive to honor his memory. And every rock that turns up in the soil, I view as one that he put there to remind me of him. I view it as his way of saying “Hi, I love you,” to me. I miss his phone calls. I miss hearing his voice. I miss my handsome, red-headed boy. This helps me cope.

And that, my friends, is as honest as I can get. May the peace and beauty of gardening be with you always.

(To read more of Lou Murray’s environmental writing, see her weekly column, Natural Perspectives, in the Huntington Beach Independent at

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a retired medical researcher, retired professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I wrote a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent for many years. I also supervised environmental restoration projects and taught at the Orange County Conservation Corps before retiring in the summer of 2016. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks. I am also dedicated to combatting global climate change.
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12 Responses to The Honest Scrap Award

  1. Barbara says:

    Lou, I wish you many many more years of gardening and blogging and will now see your wonderfully dedicated garden with different eyes. I’ve just read your post “About Lou Murray” and that along with your current post make me feel like I know you a tiny bit. What great work you do with those kids, too. Thank you for tagging me for the award, I am honored. Barbara


    • You’re welcome, Barbara. I wasn’t sure about putting the loss of my son out there so publicly, but I decided to do it. With my newspaper column, my life is pretty public anyway. And my husband Vic was mayor of Huntington Beach in 1995, so we’ve been in the public eye a long time. My life is an open book.


  2. Daphne Gould says:

    I couldn’t imagine the loss of a child. I would be so devastated if I lost either of mine. I couldn’t even write about it on my blog when I lost my dog because I’d start crying too much. I’m glad you found your way back to happiness again.


    • Hi Daphne. My Grandma Wilson said that losing a child, even an adult child, is the hardest thing a person can go through, and she was right. She lost both of her boys at ages 33 (my red-headed Uncle Bob) and 53 (my Dad), and one of her four daughters (my Aunt Jean) before she died. My other grandmother lost her first child in infancy, and her youngest child at 39 (my Uncle Raymond). It devastated her and she was never the same. I didn’t want to let losing a child define me, so I focus on the positive things in life. And I garden.


  3. Nell Jean says:

    Maybe Honest Scrap does have a purpose.

    Both of us belong to the group who have tasted Sorrow’s Bread. My younger son died in a traffic accident, sitting still on a motorcycle in the rain, in 2003. Today is his 44th birthday. I’ll have my 67th birthday before yours.


    • Hi Nell Jean. So sorry for your loss. We seem to be traveling on a similar path. I hope you’ve found a way to heal and move on. But I know that the sadness and loss are always with us, even if in the background.


  4. Thomas says:

    Hi Lou, thank you for the award, and also for sharing your very personal truths! I think what you do for those Hispanic men is VERY admirable. It’s amazing how determined people become in turning their lives around once they find a cause or vocation they truly care about. It must feel so rewarding knowing that these men rely on you and all of your hard work!

    Also, I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I can’t imagine the ordeal that you and your husband have been through but I hope that you both will arrive at some sort of peace. There are just some things in this world that we will never fully understand.

    Finally, I see many many years of gardening ahead of you! And I look forward to reading all about it!


    • Hi Thomas, thanks for your kind words. I do dearly love my homeboys. It’s like having 80 grandsons. They’ve had such hard lives, and generally such poor parenting. We try to undo the damage and help them move forward with their lives. I’m taking pumpkin pies to our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday afternoon. We know they’ll get at least one good holiday meal.

      I think it was your response to your Honest Scrap Award that helped me open up about my loss. I treasure my memories of my sons, both of them. I’m blessed to have one living nearby with the cutest little grandchildren that you can imagine. You, Marc and little Jonathon have so much joy and so many adventures ahead of you. Let’s all keep gardening for as long as we can, and share the joy of living and loving.


  5. Heather says:

    Hi Lou- Thank you so much for the Honest Scrap Award! I am honored. I apologize for the delay in response but I have been in a blogging rut, hope to be out soon! I enjoy your blog too and always love to learn something about those I like to read.

    Thanks again,


    • Hi Heather. I hope you get back to your blog because I like seeing photos of your garden, chickens and goats. I am envious of all the space that you have. But I try to bloom where I’ve planted myself. Life is good.


  6. vrtlaricaana says:

    Reading these 10 things, I have gotten to know very interesting and admirable things about you, but also heart breaking things…
    I’m looking forward to your 2010 garden posts and I’m sure that your 2010 garden will be all you want it to be, and more!


    • Hi Vrtlarica. Fortunately, broken hearts mend. My garden brings me so much joy. And I really do think that my 2010 garden is going to be my best ever, both in terms of beauty and food productivity. It’s going to be a glorious spring. Like I said, hope springs eternal in the heart of a gardener.


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