Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Harvest

One of my recent goals for this blog is to record happenings in the garden and yard that I might check back in future years to see what was done when.  Many days are like the previous ones and there's not much to write.  Plants grow and bloom slowly for the most part and then all of a sudden they reach a notable stage.  In late summer and fall that would be maturity and harvest.

The pear tree look so good.  There are full yellow pears hanging throughout the old tree.  The younger tree with its multi-varieties also has full branches with gorgeous looking fruit, some pear shaped and some oriental types that are apple shaped.  We use the criteria that if you life a fruit up to one side and it snaps off, it's ready.  These are not ready, maybe next week.

We were hoping the front, as opposed to the back, apple tree would wait another week or so but every day there are more apples on the ground and picking them from the tree is very easy.  Yesterday I picked 10 gallons.  The back tree, as opposed to the front, is quite ready so we'll do that one next week.

This morning I picked the last of the pole beans which amounted to a large handful.  Then I turned to the grapes by the greenhouse.  At first I was going to selectively pick the ripe sweet ones but as I worked around during just the first few minutes I realized they were all ready because they kept falling to the ground.  During the course of the day I picked about 16 bowls full which became about 6 gallons of juice.  Most of the juice was canned into 21 quarts and the remaining sits in a pitcher in the refrigerator for immediate consumption.

Since we're traveling over the weekend, this will be the last of the harvesting this week, actually this month.  The other grapes in the tresseled arbor on the hillside are small, hard and very bitter--not ripe or ready.

The weather was  awesome--mild, clear about mid seventies.  The forecast is for several days of light rain but I'm skeptical.  We need it so badly.

Oh, yeah, and there were the blackberries that I picked from a patch that I intend to destroy later this fall.  I would have destroyed it now but there were berries that would ripen later this fall.  We put them on a cookie sheet to freeze them and today I bagged them--one gallon.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Certainly here's not a day that goes by when God and I have a conversation.  I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise, we are expected to pray and read the Bible every day just as we eat and sleep each day. I'm talking more about those big questions like "Is there really a God at all, or is God a creation of mankind?  Which characteristics of God as described by the Bible are most accurate, fearful or loving?  Why are there different concepts of God even within monotheistic religions?  And how does that all apply to our daily lives?"

I'm reading excerpts from Karen Armstrong's The History of God.  She rather thoroughly writes about ancient gods of the Greeks, Egyptians and Babylonians.  She relates those gods to the Gods of the Israelites; I say Gods because she suggests that the God of Abraham and the God of Moses appear almost to be different Gods even though there's only one.  It's not hard to think that mankind characterizes their gods to meet the needs of their time.  And that's not far from saying that mankind created gods at their convenience and that God doesn't exist.

This is where faith enters the picture, an a little logical common sense.  Proof of God is always debated, so we simply have to believe.  Why believe?  Look around you, the wonder and beauty of nature, the love and warmth that comes from caring.  But then I am biased with 72 years of going to church.  I suspect people with 72 years of a different experience may be strongly biased in a totally different direction.

Perhaps my comfort space includes the existence of God but what most people believe and do is a creation of what they want God to be.  I accept and believe in God but I'm very skeptical of what people say about God.  Honestly because there are so many interpretations and contractions regarding the Bible, I accept the Bible as true but not literal or factual, and in the same sense I believe that the Koran and other religious writings are valid and worthy of consideration.

Overall I look forward to learning the answers after I die, either because I will not exist, or because I will be with God and I can ignore second-hand interpretations.  For now, I accept that I most love God and others, and so it is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


The temperature was a cool 80˚ yesterday.  We started the day by trimming the apple tree by the back deck.  It has been getting taller than the deck while our intent for it was to be no taller than the deck.  A clematis  is also climbing through the tree and overwhelming it.  It was its time to get cut back big time.  As we did all that the apples fell to the ground.  When we gathered them we had a big grocery bag of firm delicious apples.  So we peeled, sliced, frozen and canned about 14 quarts.

The bush beans have ripen to beyond prime so they were basically pulled and sent to the chickens.  The pole beans were perfect and plentiful, about two big bowlfuls.  Back in the house we froze those along with the broccoli from the plants we seeded late in spring.

The other apple trees are ready but they have to wait another couple days.  The herbs and mints were all cut back today.  We harvested and dried some mint for tea some weeks ago when it was fresh.

Back in the shop I finished the benches by painting them.  After I washed the gazebo tiles I put the table and benches in place making the place look fresh and inviting.  I should be out there now.  This evening is cool, probably mid-60's, about perfect.  Tomorrow turns hot again reaching up into the 90's.

By the way, the crocus are starting to bloom as of several days ago.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Light Weight

It seems that to be a good leader one must be hard-nosed, be able to confront challenges, be ready to disciple even to the point of firing someone.  Based on that criteria Jesus was not a very good leader, although somehow he's been a major influence to the entire earth for over two millennium.  Somehow he is my model of leadership and since Jesus didn't match the criteria of hard-nosed, although he stood his ground, he, and hence I, must be light weights.

Over the years I have become more and more sensitive to others' joys and sorrows.  In either case, tears swell up in my eyes; either with the joy or with the sorrow; including the movie this evening: Pete's Dragon.  It was a great family story although the intensity of violence and fear makes it a bit inappropriate for toddlers.  The sensitivity and kindness of the dragon, the evolving familial relationships among several family members, the decisions displaying love all jerked on my heart or at least caused the tear ducts to activate.

In some ways this light weight attitude fits into the ideas of relationships in the community and groups.  I wish to be supportive and I wish to not engage in the confrontational decisions.  So as this evening comes to an end, after a day of catching my breath after a very hot week zapping the strength from my body and a week of heavy involvement in VBS, I will sleep well looking forward to a cooler week focused on some of the items on my bucket list.

Good morning.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


I'm trying something new this evening.  I'm writing outside.  I typically write in the recliner in front of the TV with Gail by my side in her recliner.  The TV is irrelevant and Gail is the reason.  Tonight she's at a meeting and the Olympics on TV are routine.

The weather is mild; was hot earlier today, near 90˚F but now it's dark, the heat of the direct sun is gone and number-wise it's about 70.  Perfect.

Much of my inspiration for writing comes from what I experience outdoors.  Yet, when I walk through the front door, so much is filtered out; I hardly can express what I was feeling.  So tonight I'm outside.  It's basically dark but the computer keyboard and screen are lit up so lighting isn't an issue.  The moon is nearly full, to a novice it might be considered full.  However, it's on the other side of the leaves of the trees under which I am sitting.

It's not quiet.  The frogs are singing loudly to my right where the pond and small stream lie.  Either one is very vocal or there's a chorus because the song in almost one continuous note.  To my left the water is tumbling into the fish pond; what a soothing sound, the flow of water.  The breeze, if any, I didn't feel but the wind chimes hanging overhead are periodically added a soft note to the evening.  I'm ignoring the tapping on the keyboard, it doesn't belong here.

The air is so clear and clean.  As I glance up at the moon getting but a glimpse through the leaves, there's no fog, no haze, no smoke, no smog; just fresh crisp air.  The cooling effect of the evening reaches under my shirt and glances off my forehead.  All this tells me how great it is to be alive in God's creation.

Alas, the sound have changed as the crisp air allows sounds from afar.  The plane flies overhead, a dog barks in the far distance, footprints of our dog come near, the tree rustle from a brief air movement.  Now again it's only the water and frogs.

This works, this outside experiment.  I will do it another time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It Rained

The weatherman was talking about rain in Portland and I was just chuckling inside.  It had been cloudy, overcast and cool for August but rain, on way.  Well, the thick humility at dawn turned to a mist which left the sidewalk damp and the the rain gutters starts to drain.  By noon there was moisture at the bottom of the rain gauge and the air smelled fresh and clean.  But that wasn't going to overcome the months of dry no-rain.  Then it hit; almost a mini cloud burst but not a gusher.  Now the gauge climbed to nearly a half inch.  Awesome.

That was three days ago.  Even now the sense is that "it rained and watering isn't critical."  But alas even a soaking half inch does defeat that month of dry heat.  So watering the black cherry is critical; its top leaves are browning.  And the spring is running again so we can water with natural water.  That was on today's list.  Also did a little tractor work, walking weeds and moving dirt.  Still need to move the pruning from a couple days ago.  Procrastination is winning.

Back in the barn the three baby chicks are starting to move around the pen with mother hen following close behind constantly telling them to not wander too far.  They don't have a clue that next Monday they are headed to church to be on display for the children at VBS.

This morning there was another realization of our need to support nature around us - feeding the fish, chickens, the dog and the cats; watering the flowers, garden and trees; removing weeds and aggressive plants so beneficial plants can thrive.  And so my connection to God through nature.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's Inevitable

What's inevitable?  Death, of course.  They also say taxes.

Definitely death is inevitable, no one lives forever.  It's also something that we have to do alone.  No one can die for us and even if we die simultaneously, we're still alone in death.  Sleep is the other time when we are alone.  Think about it.  It really doesn't make any difference what's happening up until one falls asleep, whether you're literally alone in your bed, or whether you're sharing a bed, or even if you've just shared an intimate moment just before you fall asleep, when you fall asleep it's just you and you alone.

When you fall asleep you are just one of over seven billion persons of this planet who is in your body.  The day and evening might have been full of people, talking, laughing, quietly watching.  It might have been one other person, or dozens, or you might have had a quiet day by yourself.  As you drift into sleep, you slip into a place where no one from the day can or will go.

I find energy in working by myself in the shop, or even walking through the woods.  I often become exhausted among people.  There are conversations with single individuals that stimulate my senses, hence some times people energize my soul.  Yet, as I pull the quilt up over my shoulders, I still feel infinitely alone.  The other seven billion persons don't exist.  The thought can bring tears to my eyes.

It's not the only thought that brings tears to my eyes, I know, even though I question it daily, that there is a loving God.  I don't know much about God but there are several characteristics in which I'm confident.  God is not a old man with a long gray beard, nor is God male or female.  The Bible talks about fearing God, revering God, worshiping God, like God is "up there" and "out of reach."  Maybe that's correct.  The Bible also talks about "God is love," about God being better than one's own loving father.  God expects me to be a loving person, and that's also nearly impossible to understand, what it means to be a loving person, it can be interpreted so many different ways.

So as I lie on my pillow alone with only God with me, I know that God will be with me through the sleep even as God will be with me in death.  "Now I lay me down to sleep."  Totally alone and yet never alone.  The tears come from total exasperation in the aloneness and from the joy of never being alone.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Good Day

Any day is a good day when you can cut into a piece of wood and smell the fresh odor of sawdust.  It's even a better day if the cut is made in the right place and you don't have to cut twice.  This evening, after a short afternoon following the free clinic this morning and watching a few Olympic events, I started cutting legs for benches to replace the deteriorating ones in the gazebo.  The cuts were okay although there were some second cut adjustments.

After supper (thanks Gail) I worked on the dollhouse making some initial layouts and cuts to install the spiral staircase.  Creative cuts are always the riskiest.  So far nothing has been done that can't be undone, but it's late and mistakes happen more frequently when fatigue sets in.  It's exciting to see the vision materialize and tomorrow I'll refine it to fit well.  As I look at it this evening I realize that a banister would be a fun addition.

For now it's back to the Olympics and more emotions empathizing with the athletes.  It's a great event.  I wish we could get the same hype from Easter.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Something More Than Routine

Ah yes, there's more to say today than "things continue to grow and mature."  More than "it's hot and dry."  Yesterday we canned 16 pints of peaches, Veterans by variety, that we picked at Perrydale Farm a day before.  Also did a thorough watering of the lower and upper gardens as the forecast is for another hot dry day, the hottest of the month.  The newly planted black cherry tree looked like it was suffering from the heat and dryness.  I watered it super well and will make that a priority until it looks better or gives up the ghost.

Last week we helped paint some siding for the church.  We worked in the shade of the trees and near an old wooden picnic table.  It was so dilapidated that we didn't dare use it except to set our paint and brushes on it, gently.  Gail and I checked out building a new one either precut or from scratch.  I bought enough lumber for two and built them a couple days ago.  At the final moment of assembly things didn't feel right and for good reason, the seats were too low.  Double checking the plans I discovered my misinterpretation of a vague instruction.  So I made an Adjustment and this evening we painted the underside of one.  They're fully functional and safe but I will always know that again I'm not a clever as I used to be.

Ah yes, and there's the cluck who's been sitting on a clutch of about a dozen eggs.  Gail heard a peep from that direction last evening and this evening we found the eggs abandoned including the sole chick we found.  Mother nature can be quite cruel sometimes.  The successes are beautiful; the failures are sad and tragic.

Totally on another topic: I received an email from the University of Jamestown asking about a gathering of alumni who graduated 50 years ago.  It had been prompted by another inquiry of a classmate.  I responded with some ideas and also send an email to all whose addresses I had.  I received two replies, one aye and one nay, leaving about 48 who didn't care.  It was great to reconnect with the two but otherwise discouraging.  Perhaps with time more may reply; I hope.

I awoke this morning with the attitude that if this were to be a good day I would have to work at it.  It was OK; perhaps I didn't work hard enough.  Or perhaps I didn't let it go and let God take charge.  Tomorrow will be better.