Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Homecoming at U of Jamestown

There's this belief that if one travels and gets away from home and its necessary routine, one would have time and be inspired to write.  For me the inspiration is marginal and the time is, well, it's not there.  I will try to sneak in a few words this morning between taking granddaughters to school and preparing a two-hour drive to our niece's farm.

It's been 50 years since I and nearly 100 others graduated from Jamestown College.  It's also Homecoming Weekend, so by tradition, common sense, logic and "just because," it's time to have a reunion of these graduates.  The college, now a university, supports such an idea but doesn't have the resources to organize or promote it.  A few emails were exchanged among classmates and a few more were sent from the university.  The results were the return of seven graduates from North Dakota (3), Florida (1), Minnesota (1) and Oregon (2).  Some of us were friends in college, some were mere classmates with little to no interaction.  Five spouses also joined the party.

Over a period of several gatherings, mostly at the first meal, we recognized each other by our name tags and reintroduced ourselves.  Interestingly enough it wasn't only a handshake or "hoodie-doodie," it almost always evolved into a hug, both as we first met and again as we parted on the last day.  Perhaps it was an emotional embrace of sympathy for the aches and pains of being 72 years old (there's no hiding one's age when everyone is the same age, more or less) or celebration that we made it this far.  We had no major conversations about health or aches and pains but we all looked rather good and moved rather fluidly.  Thank God for that.

We exchanged a few stories, usually with the one beside us, took a group picture and exchanged some addresses, Facebook names and phone numbers.  It wasn't until we returned home or had a chance to access a computer that we would discover on Facebook that our theological and political preferences were all over the board.  A great lesson this is that if we leave some of our opinions in our pockets we can have a congenial relationship with anyone.  After all, when comes right down to the wire, many believe there is only one god in the major religions, a god of love, and if we believe as stated in almost every religion and philosophy of the world that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, the world would be a better place.

Now it's time to return to our homes and continue to do what seventy-year olds do, volunteer, play golf and try to stay healthy.  And to take the next granddaughter to school.  Only ten years until our 60th reunion.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

More Grapes

It's fall, or autumn, if you prefer, both according to the solar system and the mist in the morning.  Much of harvest is done; what wasn't gathered in the garden the deer ate this week.  I think the last of the large tomatoes are gathered, even the half eaten ones; the petite ones are still hanging and ripening.  The late peppers may not produce much as they're tops are now missing.

My walk to the grapes in the arbor yesterday revealed that it's time to gather the grades.  This is the most grapes I have ever seen on these vines; even one of the cross members broke under the weight.  We had draped the vines in bird netting to keep the birds out after losing almost all of last year's crop to our flying friends last year.  That didn't keep the deer from trimming the outside edges and so picking on the downhill side is not as necessary this year.

I grabbed all the big bowls I could think of from the house, my prunes and ladder and headed into the fruit.  There are three varieties: green, purple and small purple which are pinto noir.  The description of green and purple are as refined as I can describe the first two.  Despite my desire and intent to keep the vines on their separate sides of the fence, they are all intermixed and I had to sort them as I picked.  The bowls were full before I actually got into the arbor.  So into the house I went, using the tractor to haul them.

We cleaned the "purple" ones first and put them in the juicer.  The juice from the "purples" filled three one-gallon mild jugs.  We strained them through a chess cloth into a 5-gallon cooler and then back into the jugs ending up with two gallons for the freezer and one quart for the refrigerator.

Next came the "greens," actually the next morning.  Since the clusters were scattered, smaller and more irregular in size, we left the stems with the fruit in the steamer.  After all were steamed and strained, there was three gallons in the cooler ready for the canner, eight quarts in the canner, one gallon in the refrain for immediate use.

Maybe not tomorrow, but some time soon, the remaining grapes need to find their way into some form where they can feed us later this year.  Until then.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why, Oh, Why?

Life at this point is rather good.  The weather is mild, I sleep well, the bills are paid, I like the good foods that I eat, most of my joints move even if slowly, most people I associate with are friends or friendly and I don't associate with the others.  That all sounds great to me.  But there are exceptions and they're stacking up today.

Ma's daughter is on the soccer whose coach was recently arrested for inappropriate with a minor team member.  The high school girls on the team are frustrated and angry.  The action of the school in announcing and explaining the situation was tarry and insensitive to the girls and parents.

A family asked a couple using and paying for space in their house to make plans to find other housing and they didn't take that well.  Hoping the departing "tenants" will not leave the place in shambles when the leave, and hopefully in a timely manner.  Sometimes one ends up regretting being helpful and supportive.  Hopefully the "tenants" will find a suitable housing.

We've been to several meetings this week, most are encouraging, uplifting and meaningful.  But not all of them.  In one meeting where the members were clarifying fuzzy policies, one said that we're all friends and friendly and don't need tight detailed policies but some day some one person may come in and change everything.  My gut smiled as I acknowledged to myself that's what's happening right now because we've been happy with fuzzy policies up to now.  Oh, dear.

So I'm off and out of the meeting to phone some contacts to better understand what's really happening, and to take a deep cleansing breath.  More tension this week than most others.  And that's not to mention the conversation on the street by a very frustrated friend wondering how to deal with his frustration, or the emails announcing a special meeting of the Presbytery to clarify some vague, maybe not so good past decisions.

Ah, the sun is shining and I feel no aches or pains.  God is good and life is good.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Most people have questions about why things happen to themselves as they do.  Why do certain repeated thoughts come to mind as I'm doing a particular task?  Porterfields and other neighbors when I'm bandsawing?  High school classmates and my freshman tree of high school when pruning the rose bush?

Why do I have dreams that seem completely unrelated to anything that I do?  Like the one about the projectiles coming through the windshield of the car I was in, projectiles that were megaphones with plastic cups attached to the end.  After a half dozen or so of such projectiles a cheerleader came by and acknowledged that we were alright.

Possible answer to number one:  at one point I actively had a thought about Porterfields while bandsawing, which have occurred a second time.  Each time it happened a path in the memory part of my brain was reinforced and the two became associated.  Possibly the memory and activity are stored to closed in my brain that they spill over into each other.  Maybe none of this is correct.

Possible answer to question two:  there's an outside force that can control my mind while sleeping.  I hoping that God created that connection from my beginning and that no one else has hacked into my thinking.  There are grosses of people out there theorizing on the makeup of dreams and I will continue to let them seek the answer to this question.  I will just go on dreaming nonesense.

All of this questioning and envisioning answers suggests to me and reinforces my thinking about this, that many stories of forlorn and the Bible are efforts by people to answer their unanswerable questions.  How did we start?  Why is there evil?  Who and where is God?

Back to harvesting and digging in the dirt.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Just Thinking

Jennifer, a math teacher at the local high school, said that the first chapter in her new curriculum is on transformations.  I probably won't use any transformations today, at least no in the form of equations or graphs.  I will use it on the computer today by clicking on some screen or picture or text and moving it to another part of the page.  Or by swiping an icon on my cell phone.  I may use other transformations by zooming in on an image, changing the text size, reversing the direction of an image or distorting an image in Photoshop.

But who cares after I can drive a car without knowing how the motor works or why we use one type of oil instead of another.  Just as long as it works.

However, someone does need to know how all this works so I can do it without knowing how it works.  But, not most of us.  The argument continues to go both ways.  Is it important to teach transformations to everyone?

Of course, I have always enjoyed math and continue to read books about math for pleasure and relaxation.  I also read them because I have to think new thoughts or rethink thoughts from decades ago.  Which brings me to another reason for reading about math, it requires my brain to physically create new paths stimulating the cells and keeping me sharp.

Many years ago, several decades ago as computers were emerging and finding their way into schools, there was a turtle, or at least that's what they called the little triangle on the green screen.  The program was Logo.  The user, typically a student, could type in commands to move forward, change directions and repeat previous steps and the turtle would move about the screen.  It was simple, so simple that I considered fun but a waste of time.  Now these decades later it is recognized and one of the best activities to stimulate thinking--critical, creative, logical.  Today's equivalent is coding and many other programs.

So what do we have?  A simple essentially useless program that promotes creative, critical and logical thinking, and more, I suspect, because this list is probably not inclusive.  This are all skills needed in daily life.  I will use them frequently today as I garden, cook, build a shadow box, write and respond to emails, even if there's no turtle or commands to move forward involved.  So why study transformations?  It makes us think.  Once we learn to "think" we go on to "educate" ourselves by accumulating "knowledge" through "remembering" facts.

Education, from me, doesn't come from a teacher teaching us, it comes from learning what the teacher puts before us.  It's not memorizing facts and testing our memory through multiple choice questions.  It's a daily activity of questioning, solving, creating, repeating and expressing, and more because this list is not inclusive either.  While I can do this all myself in seclusion, I like the stimulation of others and the guidances of teachers to save me time and let me move on to more thinking.  And so I will.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Another Workday in the Garden and Kitchen

One of the reasons for this blog is to report activities related to the garden, yard, plants and barnyard critters.  So the last two days are very relevant.

Berry-wise we picked about a quart of each raspberries and blackberries.  I will destroy the blackberry bushes which were at the end of their season.  The raspberries were also at the end of their season although both berries will generate a few more berries in the next several days.  By the way, it's September 8th.

We thinned the beets and pickled a bit more than one quart.  The apples and pears were ready so they were picked also.  The pears are sitting on the counter waiting to complete their off-tree ripening.  The apple crisp, the last of the apple preservation process, just came out of the oven.  The apple sauce, a blend of apples from the two different trees, are canned and frozen.  The better apples were peeled, sliced and frozen for future pies.  The peeling is done with a hand-cranked peeling machine with Denvy as the cranker.  Gail does the clean up and cutting.  The sauce cooks until the apples are soft and then run through a coriander, then bagged or placed in jars.

Weatherize it's a perfect late summer day, cool and overcast in the morning, clear and mild by noon and warm and sunny in the afternoon, followed by clear crisp evenings and nights.  Life is good, even if the blog is boring.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It's Early for Fall, but...

After three days in Texas, not everything is the same here in Oregon as it was when we left.  They had forecasted rain but that didn't happen so it's still dry.  Time to water again.  Time to pick the other apples.  The pears seem to want a little more time on the trees.  The raspberries were full and lush even though there were not many plants.  The next set of blackberries are ready for picking.  The morning temperature was around 50˚F and compared to Texas's morning, it felt rather cool.

Later today the rain came for about a half hour.  Then the sunshine brought the air back up to the 70's.  Now on to signing off.