Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fall, an Awesome Time in the Cycle

If I considered the calendar it too would remind me that it's fall.  The temperature, the weather in general, doesn't suggest fall.  There's no rain, typical of an Oregon fall and the temperature is a sunny 90˚F.  Yet, I'm gathering the pole beets and canning them.  A week ago that batch of beans became pickled beans.  The bowl of tomatoes became freshly canned tomato sauce, the cucumbers became "bread and butter chips" while yesterday's gathering were pickled.

Some of the herbs are hanging in the sun, drying and waiting their turn to enter the herb pantry.  The blackberries are coming in cookie sheet at a time to be frozen and bagged.  While the berries find a purpose for humans, the blackberry vines are being cut and putted and placed on the burn pile waiting for the rains when the state will again allow backyard burning.  They should be nice and dry and ready to go up in smoke in another month.

It's been a dry summer; I think we're just days short of three months without rain.  When we were in Eugene a week ago we drove home with the windshield wipers on, well, we drove almost home.  We turned the wipers off about a mile from our house.  When we walked out of a meeting in Monmouth last week, the pavement around the car was damp but again not in our yard.  Some plants are showing the consequences of this summer's climate, some trees are shedding browned leaves, garden plants are turning brown and wilting even though we water them regularly.  I guess that another sign of fall. They simply have completed their cycle.

Amid the browning that comes with fall and no rain, the fall crocus are everywhere and oh so plentiful.  Amazing plants, how they store all their energy in their bulbs and then at the appropriate time, just stick their blossoms out.  No fanfare, no leaves, no stem, no stalk, just a bouquet of blossoms, rain or shine.

We ask ourselves as common folks, scientists think they know, how do plants and animals know when it's fall and they would change their behavior.  It seems to be a part of us humans as well.  When you step out into the darkness, which comes earlier and earlier each day, we can just sense the approaching change of seasons.  Yes, it's cooler, but there's a sensation in the air that we sense.

Animalwise only chickens live with us now.  They are products of past years, only three of them, and a purchase of babies in early April.  Their feeders and water containers allowed me to visit them a couple times a week but now they are laying eggs and I must gather the six or eight they lay each day.  They're still not full size but that will come about in time.  The horses escaped the last padlock a couple days after the eclipse and went home to join their herdmates down the hill.  They were close enough to talk to each other and apparently the conversation led them to escape.

I see no noticeable difference in which birds are eating the bird seed I put out.  The doves, quails and wild turkeys can be seen cleaning up on the ground from the spill over by birds in the feeder.  We got a new and larger humming bird feeder so we don't change that as often but I would wonder if they are feeding on less of our sugar water than earlier.

I'm off to the garden, to gather a cabbage for supper and a few tomatoes to sit on the side.  I will also go and wash my hands again to see if I can reduce the smell of rosemary and thyme.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Walk from the Barn

As the last light of dusk faded into total darkness I walked from the barn.  It was a slow walk.  The evening was silent and the air a comfortable warmth after a day of uncomfortable heat.  Each step was intentional and small.  As I thoughtfully looked down my step moved from over a ground-height curb delineating the driveway from the lawn.

It's been a dry summer.  We remember no rain in August although the neighboring city recorded a trace.  Also July had no rain.  Somewhere around the middle of June there was some rain but at the time the forecast was for some days with no rain and we engaged the contractor to redo the roof on the house.  That's about two and a half months with no rain, not even a drop to turn the dust on the bench to mud.

My steps fell on brown dry pieces of remenants of grass that grew faster than I could mow it a couple months earlier.  Typically during Oregon summers there's no need to mow lawns unless one waters it.  Without thinking one foot rose and moved in front of the other.  The ankle rolled as the ball of the foot pivoted before rising to move forward.  The heel landed waiting for the rest of the foot to touch the ground before the other would take its turn to move forward.  The silence of the evening allowed one to hear the crunch of the grass.

Deep in the soil critters too small to see did what they were created to do to make the isolated system of this earth continue over the million of years.  Far over my head, pretty much just in front of me the moon shone short of being full.  Far beyond the moon, really far beyond the moon and even the sun, there are stars and beyond them more stars.  As vast as space may be, the world under my feet is small, really small, far beyond our imagination.

What a marvelous system we live in, one where we as humans have the resources and skills to creatively maintain a indefinitely but improving existence of the earth's offerings.  Yet as small as the critters are beneath my feet are, so small are we in the bigger scheme of things we call outer space.  Just as the critters can't imagine our existence we can't fully understand or imagine the existence of other beings in this vast space of orbs of light we call stars and bits of dust we call planets.

Thank God for this beautiful walk in the cool of the evening and for not having to understand the complexity of life around us.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Let Me Get This Straight

There's no global warming but the United States in Texas has just experienced the most costly natural disaster of record and the amount of rainfall in some areas is greater than any other single weather storm in US history.  They say the amount of rainfall is in the trillions of gallons, equivalent to the amount of water that flows over the Niagara Falls in several days.  Niagara Falls dumps about 45 million gallons per second or 3 trillion gallons per day compared to the 13 trillion gallons dumped by Harvey.  Imagine this: all the water hanging out over you in the clouds.  That's a lot of water up there.

Can you even imagine how long eternity or forever is?  You're right, it's nearly impossible but it is a very long time especially compared to our meager lifetime of some 70 odd years.  Yet, we believe that a God who can love more deeply than any of us will damn a person to hell forever for messing up during a lifetime on earth.  Even a human wouldn't impose that punishment on a bad dog.  Perhaps God has a plan to love us into goodness.

Back to global warming.  The forecast for the next seven days in Oregon, the first seven days of September, has high daily temperatures exceeding 90˚F.  By the end of that stretch of warmth, the record for the most days over 90˚ in one year will have been matched or broken.

Life in the foothills of Oregon was been quiet.  Oh, Gail still goes to the clinic most every day and I spent about three days in the hospital with a small intestine obstruction which corrected itself when they relieved the pressure from above and we remodeled the side shed on the garage about the time the total eclipse of the sun occurred.  Otherwise, we're watering plants, pulling weeds, trimming bushes and trees and feeding the domestic and some wild animals.  We're not mowing; there's nothing growing in the lawns of pastures.

The crocus, the fall variety, are blooming.  The blackberries are ripening.  We dug the potatoes, typically with about three to four big potatoes near the top of the soil.  The wild turkeys have eaten the tops off the carrots, again.  We pulled the cucumbers, seven biggies, and harvested four pints of pickled green beans that the deer couldn't reach.  The tomatoes are doing well; we canned ten pints of tomatoes along with pickling the beans.  It is harvest time even if the temperatures are late summer.

With no major projects on the horizon, the days will be filled with little jobs around the yard, making wooden things and doing some catchup cleaning in the barn and garage, and maybe the house.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Did They Know Their Grandparents

I received a phone call yesterday.  It was my sister Ruth.  She'd been going through some papers which prompted a question.  Did our parents know their grandparents?  Did they have the opportunity to sit on their elders' naps and talk and play?  Perhaps this was also prompted by her first grandchild who is less than a year old and who lives a long way away.

Dad was born in 1917 and his grandfather Ernest Saxowsky died in January of 1918.  No, Dad didn't know this grandfather.  However, Ernest's wife, Louise, lived until 1941 just a couple years before Dad married.  Louise lived in Hebron so there were plenty of opportunities for Dad and his grandmother to get to know each other.

Dad's mother's parents, the Birkmaiers, lived into the 30's and 40's.  Christoph died in 1935 and Margaretha in 1942.  They too had moved from the homestead south of Hebron into Hebron during their latter years and so Dad had plenty of opportunity to know them.  Both his parental and maternal grandparents regularly attended the same church that he did, so there were plenty of opportunities to see them regularly.  If customs of sharing the noon meal after church which I observed as a child was a part of their practice during Dad's childhood, they probably often shared meals at either Grandma Louise's house, Grandpa and Grandma Birkmaier's house or on the farm where Dad grew up.

On Mom's side the story is quite different.  First, Mom's grandparents lived on or near their homesteads in southeastern South Dakota and secondly her mother's father died even before Mom's mother, Regina, was married.  Adam Weisz died in 1907 and his wife Margaretha died in 1916, four years before Erna was born in 1920.

Mom's parental grandparents, the Zieglers, did live into her teens.  Wilhelm died in 1934 and Barbara in 1935.  However, they did live in southeastern South Dakota so visiting them was not a frequent event.  I suspect there was some connection and familiarity between Mom and her parental grandparents.

Ruth also mentioned that she thought that she remembered someone saying that each of our four grandparents were the first in each of their families to be born in America.  Unfortunately that is not true but what was probably intended to be said was that in all four cases our grandparents are first generation America, all born in America whereas all their parents were not born in America.  In all cases some siblings were born in America and some were born before their parents immigrated to America.

This bets the question did we know our grandparents or any of our great-grandparents.  The answer is simple: all of our grandparents were alive during our childhood although David was only two years old when grandpa Ziegler died; and all the great-grandparents had died before any of us were born.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Long Way

Just thinking:

We've come a long way since we had a president who said "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country" to one who we support because regardless of his ethics, his morals, or what he says, he will line our pockets with money.  At least that's our hope and anticipation.  Personally I like the approach from 56 years ago better.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Day of Spring

Truly it has not been springlike this winter in Oregon.  However, today it's been quite pleasant, no rain, sunshine and temperature worthy of a sweatshirt only.  So it's time to blog about gardening and loving the yard.

I could have broken from the hiatus much earlier; the crocus were blooming-in the snow.  Irises were poking their leaves out, but then they do that the fall before and just sit there through the winter.  The bluebells are thick like a lawn, and mowed off by the deer like a lawn.  Tulips are slowing inching up and for the most part behind temporary fences since deer treat tulips like chocolate cheesecake-delicious.

We did have burn day last week.  The first burn of the spring is always special to reduce the pile of trimmings from throughout the winter.  It's a special annual season, a time to dig in the soil which is wet and soft but the skies are not so wet.  The transition is often surprisingly, going from constantly wet sidewalks to desert-like cracks in the garden.

So Sunday was a sun day and the last for a while as the weatherman posted a series of dark rainy clouds on this weeks forecast.  So back to some of the indoor activities until the next sunny day comes up.

Happy spring (a week early).

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How Long is Long Enough

Nine months is long enough for a fetus to develop in preparation for birth.  So science, experience and a mother's attitude will tell you.  College students figure it's about 20-30 minutes that they should wait for an absent professor.  More than an hour for a traditional Christian Sunday morning worship service is pushing the edge of being too long.  One hundred to a hundred and twenty minutes is just about right for the length of a movie.

But how long is long enough to allow a new presidential administration to establish itself before evaluating its performance.  If the actions in the first several days make everyone happy maybe that's enough.  If the actions in the first weeks seem to consistently disturb a large number of people, maybe that enough.  If there are highs and lows, if people have varied opinions, maybe one needs to wait a bit longer, weeks, months, a year?

Today it's been four weeks since inaugural day and the country is gravely divided on the evaluation of these first four weeks and the effectiveness of the government during this time.  Eight years ago an African American nominated and supported by the Democratic Party was elected.  Those who didn't vote for him vowed to disrupt any efforts by him to do anything.  Now the shoe is on the other foot, but again those who didn't vote for the current president have rather consistently blocked most efforts by the present president to govern the country.  Some would even say that he is not governing the country but padding his resumé, bankroll and ego.

While I may be among those who see his efforts as counter to traditional and progressive ideals, I more strongly believe that we must find common ground and work together to advance conditions to help all persons.  Perhaps my frustration comes when I don't see current policies and governance improving the lives of all persons but only some persons.  My frustration is also that that then finding a common goal for the betterment of all persons, we argue about what others are doing wrong and trying to obstruct their efforts.

I have no solution to our dilemma or even a clear understanding of our dilemma just as million of much smarter persons don't have an answer, but I would suggest one place to start.  Work with each to improve life on planet earth by finding a simple common goal and working toward that goal without labels and titles for our philosophies.  I believe that if leaders of traditionally opposed parties would clear define goals to improve life and honestly and intelligently debate the path to those goals we would improve our lives.  We can balance poverty and wealth without taking anything from anyone.  We can accommodate residents, natives and guests around the same table.  We can believe our faith while recognizing those who believe in another faith.

We can continue to maintain a great society.