22 December 2010

Beautiful Twilight

Dec 2010 052

It lasts only a short time every day. That time when the lights of the tree and the shrubbery around the porch illuminate our slowly darkening world. The moon rises with warmth in the eastern expanse of lavender blue.

Perhaps the most peaceful hour of the day. Enjoy it for the few moments it lasts.

Good-Bye Day! See you again on the Morrow.

08 December 2010

A Child is Born

Every year, Thanksgiving weekend, from the big box marked “Advent”, I eagerly pull out “A Child is Born” written by J. Barrie Sheppard. Morning and evening prayers and meditations gush from chosen Scriptures, from the first day of Advent to Christmas Day.

 The book was a gift from the dearest of friends, Catholic by baptism.

In the non-liturgical, Zionist, protestant culture of my family roots, I was unaware of most church traditions once observed by Catholics and Protestants equally.

* * * * *

Within a few years of Mike and I having become a family (the two become one, remember) I knew I was missing something at Christmas. We hadn’t any offspring and having heard so often that Christmas was “for the children”, we wondered where that left us.

I marveled about the Twelve days of Christmas and liturgical Advent. I never pounded very hard at uncovering what was a mystery to me, but every year some new information or history surfaced and furthered my understanding.

I found in a second hand shop, an old copy of the Common Book of Prayer, c. 1945 but ratified in 1790. This little book laid out the church year beginning with Advent. It is rich with thoughtfully written prayers, and ceremonies, I could only imagine in another time, another place; history at my fingers. Our founding fathers and their wives read these prayers to their children and grandchildren! The beautifully musty pages set my path and I was on my way!

An article in the local rag explained what each of the Twelve Days icons represented. Interesting. There is purpose in the Days betwixt Christmas Day and what? Another feast day? Epiphany.

I found different Seasons: Advent – the weeks of Darkness and Preparation; Christmastide- the twelve days observing the Light and Glorious Day of God Incarnate ; Epiphany- the manifestation of God to the gentiles through the Magi (January 6 until Candlemas on February 2).

* * * * *

And now… Back to the Book that opened this article and my Catholic friend.

She and I met within the time of my rock rolling. My fascination with the liturgical church had arrested me with the charm of its traditions and my new friend had encouragement for my endeavors. ResizeImageHandler[1]She gave me this book of advent meditations. Her inscription inside reminded me not to allow function of tradition to overcome the principle basis in our Celebration. Our salvation is not hinged on whether or not I can manage to organize my family well enough to ponder a daily reading (or weekly, eek) or if my children know what the twelve days represent. The focus is not the feast day but the Deliverance brought by the Child Born.

* * * * *

Neither of us “practice” the doctrine, per se, of the order in which we were reared, but not out disrespect of how our parents wisely brought us to Christ. She cherishes her Roman Catholic background as I my own of the Pentecostal. God brought us together that the years would eventually reveal, a search for living in Christ; not Catholic, not Protestant. But our perspective childhoods create a latticework of friendship where the catholic and protestant traditions weave together and influence how we edify one another through the scriptural truths we learned as children. You should all be so blessed to have a "Lanny" to sharpen your wits and better your ken.

Such has entwined through this lovely season we call Advent. 

06 November 2010

A Pumpkin Good Day

green house and bitty twins for a walk 024


I love fake cookies.


Sooo gooood.

01 November 2010

The Best Day of Your Life

This summer marked another class reunion for me.

Looking back at those silly moms who told us, while we were lining up to march into Olsen Auditorium, in our red and white caps and gowns, “this is the best day of your life”. Yah, we ate it up. We thought it couldn’t get better then the self indulging congratulations we were all receiving. Parties with parent approved (or blind eye) kegs, cruises, senior trips, all “making memories”. This was the ultimate time of our lives, we heard. That is until a better day came along…

Wedding day- same scenario. There is non-stop infusion of dresses, flowers, making this a picture perfect ‘best day of your life’. No more “wouldn’t it be nice if we were older …” or so Brian Wilson sings the sentiment for more than a few of generations of young lovers, waiting… For what? The best day of their lives, of course.

And so it rolls on: The birth of a child, that child’s milestones; graduation, marriage or children.

In the last year, the burden of cancer arose in our family. As we live in Christ, such is nothing to fear, however, news of this nature certainly humbles the spirit, and reminds the flesh of its own mortality. The cancer was caught early and dealt with quickly; all is well. What a gift to be brought to your station as ‘created’ by a Creator, reminded of restricted resources of humans and of the infinite power of God.

The fact for those who live in Christ, truly then, abundant joy would be the day you left this broken, finite, warped world to pass on to the Presence of God.

Now that truly, should be the Best Day of Your Life.

26 August 2010

Companion Planting

2010 08 26_0745

Recall if you please, the Guinness Girls in the Three Sisters garden, summer last. The Guinness Girls are currently stacking split fir in the woodshed but here stands the 3 Sisters now.

Note the beans (‘Kentucky Wonder’) wrapping around the stalks of corn (‘Sugar Dots’) whilst the pumpkin (‘Howden’, ‘Big Max’) keeps the ground from drying out (from the angle of the above photo, I can assure you, this soil is loamy and moist). This planting strategy requires little water. Beans help to anchor corn and increases soil nitrogen which corn eagerly devours. Though corn is delicious and we eagerly await for September harvesting, it has very little nutrition for the amount of nutrients it robs from the soil. Companion planting in season and mulching, regenerating soil off season, in the corn bed, is crucial. Corn proved also, to be an excellent transplanted vegetable.

2010 08 04_0552

The PNW has been quite cool this summer. Marine air flow off the Pacific coast keeps most mornings misty and overcast. Anytime between 10 and 2 the sun shows himself and warms up considerably. This is lovely enough for personal comfort but keeps the potential heat from accumulating each day along with needed length of direct sunlight necessary for ripening some produce.

Many plants are a fortnight or so behind schedule however, our consistent Indian Summers ( and a floating row cover) should finish off tomatoes tolerably well, and bring pumpkins to rich, smooth orange globes.

2010 08 04_0549

Try, next spring, alternating rows of bush beans with strawberries. Both plants will thrive and throw off better yield.

12 August 2010

Planting for Another Season

The Pacific Northwest certainly has it's failings: Weather here is hard to predict.

It is best to learn the way of the old farmer who smells the rain and snow, who feels the high pressure of clear skies, knows from which direction of the wind, the weather is to come. But on the larger, seasonal scale, La Niña or El Niño are dynamic.

Spring and fall are perhaps the most consistent of PNW seasons- the injurious crime of unpredictability we cast our judgment upon, are the solstices. Our summer and winter bear consequence of global weather patterns. We know not from year to year if the summer will be long and hot or late and cool- winter mild and wet, or deeply chilled.

Though we’re not safe from weather extremes, we are indeed a mild region and can garden around the calendar. When one season fails to bring forth much fruit, no worries, another crop is ready for planting.

From mid-July for several weeks we plant for the early fall through the late winter harvest. No self sustaining here- what comes out of the garden in the winter is sparse but we enjoy a harvest with a few new lessons learned and more winter-hardy varieties discovered.

2010 08 04_0520

Fall Peas are in the ground and happily sprouted. ‘Alaska’ and ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ (snow). This crop should harvest mid October and then only four months and we plant again.

Discovery: ducks like pea seeds- staple down well, burlap or Reemay. For most practical purposes, ducks in the beet 'Early Wonder'garden is genius. Trample, perhaps, but their destruction is nothing to a renegade chicken, scratching and digging. Ducks eat the slugs and bugs and leave organic material behind.

Beet ‘Early Wonder’ and turnips ‘Purple Top White Globe’ have sprouted and next week, another crop for staggered harvest along with rutabagas and greenhouse seedlings such as brassics and alliums.

potatoeLast autumns harvest of potatoes left us sprouted ‘Red Pontiac’ and ‘Yukon Gold’ from a burlap sack. We threw them in the ground and they should provide several weeks of new potatoes this fall.

11 August 2010

No Zoologists Here

pool tarantula 003

“There’s a tarantula in our pool” factually ejaculates the Small One.

“Where?” prudently questions First Born, really hoping (despite what reason tells her) for an unlikely find as that.

“-or Something” concedes the former, under contorted brow.

I, however, knowing the truth of such phenomenon, dally not, endeavoring to skim all unwanted beetles, duck feathers, fir needles and-

pool tarantulas from our swimming enjoyment.

09 August 2010

Campsite Bouquet

My family was at camp with friends this last weekend. The day we were leaving back home, my family went on a walk through the forest. I found some flowers and plants that I liked and I picked them for this bouquet.
In the above photo you can see (from L to R) Maiden Hair fern, an Acer variety (of some sort), Indian Pipe, and Western Hemlock. We are unable to figure out the stems in the back, so I guess it's just a weed!
We camped an hour from Mt. St. Helens in the Cascade Mountains. We like to visit a little store called the 'Randal One Stop' on hwy 12.
When we first saw the Indian Pipe we thought it must be in the mushroom family. It isn't but uses a fungus to help it grow.
This is not an edible native plant.

04 August 2010

If These are the Dog Days of Summer...

Who's the Dog?

For the several weeks, we girls have been splitting wood, tending to the garden, swimming with friends, harvesting berries, making jam, entertaining guests, preparing canning jars. Fhew!(deep breath) Cleaning the attic, cleaning the pool, cleaning the closets, cleaning the shed. Trellising tomatoes, saving seeds, propagating fuchsias, forgetting to fix dinner. Oops.

  2010 07 15_0601What a handsome couple

All the while the Boss-man keeps bringing home the bacon, building a bulldozer, acquiring wood for the girls to split, devouring berries, covering fellow employee vacations, expanding pasture and clearing fence lines. Paying bills, hearing from God, telling jokes, loving his family.

    2010 07 04_0528 2010 06 23_0498


This weekend our little band will be enjoying the company of good friends at the foot of Mount St. Helens along the Cispus River.

When we return we continue on the quest for a quiet winter solstice, happy cows, molting poultry, sleepy dogs, a blazing fire and warm apple pie.

Funny to think on this glorious, hot, sunny August day that's the reason we're so busy!


22 July 2010

Growing the Church

Last fall an acquaintance challenged me to clarify how we measure church growth. The accusation of invalidity stung.

I asked The Grandfather, seminary educated, retired pastor, what a church-go-er meant by “growth”.

It means numbers, bodies filling pews, The Grandfather replies. They may say that growth is spiritual but on paper, on the books, you cannot calculate on holiness, it’s a number crunching business.

Hmm, that’s what I thought.

Numbers mean denominational support, financial success, “growth”. This idea is not coming from a cranky, ex-member of big church, it comes from a retired pastor who now at 93 recognizes the organized church was reading the word ‘pastor’ with the incorrect job description. That ‘pastor’ is no higher an authority than evangelist or prophet or teacher. It’s just another gifting, that can be as humbly and privately an executed service as any of the others.

Our family has not attended an organized, hierarchal church since 2005.  We then found ourselves in what we once called “house church”, but even that gradually looked like conventional church in a living room; just replace pastor with elder. It had a liturgy of its own. We made it. More than 1500 years of corporate church is hard to pluck from the DNA in 5.

It’s hard work but we live and breathe it.

This is harder than sitting in a pew and belonging to a few committees, sitting on the board of trustees, directing youth group, running the soundboard, teaching Sunday school, singing on worship team, all at the same time. Amazin’, ain’t it? We all dedicated our spare time (and not so spare time) to the “work of the Lord”. At least there, we could schedule church for the most part- cover vacations, maternity leave, counseling sessions, golf tournaments.

Then in the quiet of a fellow Christian’s living room for “house church”, slowly (so slowly in fact, we didn’t immediately identify how profoundly) we began to see that living Christ was still more. Finding ourselves meeting with believers, we would share the wine and the bread. Hunger and thirst satisfied- body and soul. Upon a recent reunion with friends of twenty-plus years, who too, desired a community focused on being church, we began to share the cup and bread with this dear family. Understanding the power of communion intensifies the bond shared between believers over a love feast, the irreplaceable kindness that work gloves and sweat binds together in strengthening the brethren, the body of Christ. Together we go into the market place, or the street, we pray with, we minister to, the public as we meet them, as the Holy Spirit leads, without pretense and manufacture. Now that’s special!

In our circle of fellowship, we have those gifted in faith, discernments, mercy, and generosity. Teachers teach, evangelists reach and prophets prophesy. Not all gifts are used every time we gather. And because different members meet up randomly with each other throughout the week, they may exercise any of the gifts afore mentioned.

Growth is then measured by the manifestation of the character of Christ that is so evident in the lives we are all called to tend and shepherd around us.

Did ya catch that? I'll say it again.

Growth is the outward evidence that Christ lives within and we foster this in one another.

The Grandfather shakes his head doubtfully at obtaining more education, acquiring accreditation and recognized position; just more obstacles betwixt Maker and man. The pridefulness of intellectual achievement, smarts so to say, get in the way. The human race pedestalizes those with education, and perceived authority.

Living Christ is the air we breathe.  Neither credentials nor diplomas move God to respect any person, rather a heart submitted to Him.

30 June 2010


We all have it. Some look better then others. We can choose to improve it or tarnish it. It’s Legacy.

The Boss-man and I are building our legacy for generations to come. The Divine path on which we ground our children is for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s sake, as well as their own. Ours is built from a foundation that the two of us were set upon.

Our daughters’ inheritance began generations ago. Here is another story from the pages that make our family’s history: 

Grace Most as a single woman before she married Matt Manley

Matt and Grace's family photos for Kits Merryman's THE NEWS TRIBUNE web site presentation.   (Russ Carmack/The News Tribune)  Grace’s mother, Delia, introduced her to Matt during the depression when work was hard to find. Matt made a dollar a day. He was a truck driver for Western Farmers. Delia (Granny) was the cook for the workers and found a nice young man well suited for her daughter. They were married June 30, 1934. They built their house across the street from Granny and Pop. A few years later,
Matt Manley as a Army PFC in 1943

Matt and Grace's family photos for Kits Merryman's THE NEWS TRIBUNE web site presentation.   (Russ Carmack/The News Tribune)  the house moved to the parcel next door to the folks. Matt and Grace lived in the same house their entire married life.  Matt drove truck all over Europe, chasing down Hitler and his destruction. He delivered men to Normandy and drove supplies to the front line and into enemy territory, while Grace kept the home fires burning. When Matt returned, they reared their children and kept 9,000 white “leg’urns” for eggs in a growing and hungry post war population.

(Photo I.D. left to right:  Rick holding onto a rabbit and his brother Jerry  posing for a Easter picture as they were standing infront of their families 1951 Chev.  

Matt and Grace's family photos for Kits Merryman's THE NEWS TRIBUNE web site presentation.   (Russ Carmack/The News Tribune)

Their youngest son and wife and all their children are neighbors to that little house on Route 3. Generations of kids chasing spring calves and slamming the summer screen door, picking autumnal apples and nibbling finska kakor and gingersnaps on a Christmas Eve.

On Gramps last tractor, he sits with Gran; a photo taken for an article written up in the local rag, on the celebration of their 72nd anniversary.

 Matt can't walk a long distance so he rides around his property on his John Deere riding mower.  His wife Grace is with him.   

Matt and Grace Manley  celebrated their 72nd. anniv. on Friday.  They are 92 and 91, and still live in the house they built 71 years ago.  Better still, all of their children still live within a mile of them.  They are having a barbecue at 5:00pm.

Gramps passed away the following August after their 73rd.

Matt and Grace left an important standard to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that Mike and I are not about to tarnish.

In a weak world, we fuss about our happiness and what we deserve.

Economic depression, nor loss of a child, a war and several countries betwixt them, sunup to sundown hard labor did not make these two throw in the towel, it made them stronger and more resolve that marriage was for a lifetime.

Thank you, Gran and Gramps for a heritage worth passing on to “generations to come”.

                      *     *     *     *     *     *

Acts 2:38,39-

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

23 June 2010

Becoming Mrs. Mike

The Things You Forget...

…the thing that sparks that forgotten memory; or the timing and circumstances in which that recollection returns.

Memory recently swept me back to a very little classroom I once sat in. I was twelve.

                      *      *      *      *      *

Hanging on a wall, in our home, for at least 15 years now, is a movie poster for the film-noir mystery classic with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier by the name “Rebecca”, based on the book of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier.

Great film; it also happens to be my Christian name.

When I was in the process of having “Rebecca” framed, I had been searching every possible outlet (no Internet, I was hoofin’ it) for a movie poster for the book inspired, 1949 film, with Dick Powell, and Evelyn Keyes as “Mrs. Mike”. No poster existed: All I could find were small replicate lobby cards for the movie.

Again, the name game- Rebecca is married to Mike.

Sometime late last summer, shopping an old thrift store, I’d found a box, only just brought in, filled with very old books, many published as early as 1900. I found among them “Mrs. Mike” by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. Suddenly, reminded of the 1949 movie and my seemingly exhaustive, forgotten search for a poster to hang beside “Rebecca”; of course! the movie was first a book!

As the rhododendrons began to bloom this spring, I plunged into “Mrs. Mike”.

I found something so familiar about the story and a surge of memories came flooding over me. My sixth grade teacher read this book to our class when we returned from lunch! I was completely taken into the Canadian Wilderness! I wanted to be Katharine Mary O’Fallon, marry a big man with blue eyes and dark hair and take off to some rugged country! I wanted to be Mrs. Mike…

…and that’s what I became.

                       *     *     *     *     *

Like Sgt. Mike Flannigan, the Boss-man is seldom out of humor but instead of Mounty red with navy riding breeches, polished, brown leather top boots, Mike wears Carhartt canvas, dungarees, mud kickers and has no desire to sit a-top any horse. He gave me the blond and blue-eyed babies I knew I wanted and a life ever-changing, braving, desiring, the turn of corners unknown. But it’s not so much the similarities between the Sgt.Mike and the Big Guy, rather what both Katharine Mary and I had to understand of the men we married, their nature and whom they needed as wives, to becoming the great men they were born.

God was guiding, through a novel, a girl, staring out the window through the valley that school year, planting seeds she was unconscious of until she became a wife of many years; concepts that meant nothing to a twelve-year-old but within a few years, articulated by rite of passage into wifery. As Christ is the author and finisher of my faith, so as well, my job as wife. Far from the wife my husband needs me to be- I still get angry, wish my own way, neglect the laundry, and spend money I ought not- the Boss-man, through the Holy Spirit, continues to shape me into the Proverbs 31 spouse.

I am my husband’s wife.

I am Mrs. Mike.

Many a-misguided couple influenced our early years of marriage, but as I savor every line of my long lost novel, I see how God had cultivated deeper, the truth about men and their maids, poor advice had only temporarily distracted. We now watch our own girls begin quietly, instinctively shaping with age-appropriate awareness who they will be as wives and mothers.


                     *      *      *      *      *

I had forgotten, all these years, the reason I knew about “Mrs. Mike” was the book, not a movie or its poster. I had lived the North Country and its adventures, nigh thirty years past, and of being Mrs. Mike: the real motive I pursued that dog-gone movie poster in the first place!

15 June 2010

Dusty Old Books

Between the shelves of an old second hand shop, you may well find us, perusing countless book spines; heads cocked, fingers skipping over vertical titles, shoulders contorted, sporadic sneezing. Eyes focused on design indicating era.

And the era which I speak? A few, I suppose. Generally, publish date- prior to the mid-1940’s. (Give twenty years or so before modern philosophy leaked heavily into children’s books.)From turn of the twentieth century to WWII, Gibson girls to USO volunteers, cowboys to executives, a wide array of characters from diverse occupations and passions.

The smell of stuffy, yellowed pages; the feel of the thick leaves and their crude, textured edges; the personal, tender inscriptions; the lost print because press-ink missed contact with the paper; the study of characters and culture.

Mostly, we find books of godly wisdom and temperament that once helped shape the moral code of society. Stories that not only entertain, but draw its reader into aspiring virtue. The unknown story, by a little known author, becomes adventure: A risk well worth a couple bucks.

Certainly, the unpleasant task of tossing a book has befallen us, because some ‘progressive’ in 1911, say, took notion to write his perverse thoughts on paper for the world to see. Eek! So very inflexibly minded of us, I know, but then, walking the narrow path appears to others as quite restricted.

Of course, we’re excited to find the classics in literature- Dickens, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Verne, and Dumas, to name a few. However, the girls and I hit an equally desired jackpot for the ‘new’ novelist- Zane Grey, Jackson Gregory, Pearl S. Buck, Laura Lee Hope, Frank Dixon and Caroline Keene, Dorothy Sayers, James Herriot, Harold Bell Wright, Gene Stratton Porter and truly, countless others.

Books that justly, have improved us for having read them; the disposition of the authors from which such stories sprang shows some greatness of character!

There are plenty who accumulate old books for antiquity but few of us take them in for the quality of what lies between the boards (or what does not lie within anyway). Not a ‘collector’ by trade or ambition, though we have a collection. We are readers; we love history and the future it predicts. Nothing new under the sun, says King Solomon and these old treasures of the past are proof.

"Whatsoever things are good..."

10 June 2010

Fisherman, Shrimperman.

Shrimp Daddy (2)Mike, along with Pop and George, headed out to Point Defiance in the Puget Sound to launch George's boat and go shrimp-ing for the day. The Boss-man's done plenty of fishing before; welcome in a new adventure! North through the Colvis Passage to 'area ten' east of Bainbridge Island.

Shrimp pots dropped at 7am- season open.

Now, this was no "Deadliest Catch" episode, much to the daughters' dismay. They thought Big Daddy was going out to face wind and snow, ice and death! Hunter-gatherer, desperation of providing for his wife and children left back at home, keeping the home fires burning, risking his own life and limb for, for...

What?! This is all you get in a five gallon bucket?! That's the legal limit?! You've got to be joking! 4:30am for 80 lousy shrimp? an hour drive up the Sound to have caught limit in an hour?

Was it worth it? Is value not in eye of the beholder.

To share in the body of Christ for a day, to soak up some sun in the beauty of island coastlines of the Puget Sound, to see what captains Vancouver and Cook saw as they passed through these waters, to marvel at creation and the feast it provides for body and soul.P8224373

And the shrimp? Please don't make me buy frozen ever again-

Yep, it's that good!


28 May 2010

Some Fine Mid-west Sense

While going through an exercise of faith in her beautiful patience, a biblically educated seminary graduate counseled our Nebraskan friend , marriage is “a choice we have to make every day”.

She declined to agree with him. She understood the position he took because of the modern understanding we have of God’s word within human psychology, but regardless, disagree she did.

Marriage, she bravely confronted, is a choice made the moment you step down the aisle, when you say ‘I do’: a choice made only once and forever.

The common Christian lingo “you must work at your marriage” or “choose your battles” or “biblical reason for divorce” or “marriage is a choice we make every day” is currently fashionable dogma. I wonder at this modern philosophy befitting the character of Christ.

What if we changed our counsel to “through love, serve one another” … “it is better to give than to receive” … “esteem others higher than yourself” … “submit yourself to God” … “let no corrupt word come out of your mouth” … “be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving” … “the greatest among you is called servant” … “your sins are forgiven” … “repay no one evil for evil”. These scriptures only scratch the surface!

Here’s the point: Stop being a selfish pig and be Christ focused. That is the 'work' to be done.

Does it make us feel better; does it stroke our ego to say we’ve worked soo-ho-ho-hooo hard at our marriage? Does this make us martyrs in our own minds, the pains we live through with our spouse and how deserving we would be to walk away?

Christ didn't forsake His bride (who incidentally has committed every sin possible) which He suffered bodily beating and death by torture.Truth be told, our relationships reflect how we limit Christ’s influence in our lives.

Thanks, you, boring, not much fun, righteous, Christ loving, mid-west square, friend! (you don’t even charge $150 clams an hour, counseling fee.)

17 May 2010

First Swim

2010 05 15_0219_edited-1

On Saturday, Quackers took her ducklings for a lesson. She was teaching them how to swim.

After the swim she foraged with them, and settled them down under her downy feathers in the yard, sometimes in the sun and sometimes in the shade.

13 May 2010

The Ducklings are Here!!

2010 05 13_0192Quackers ducklings just hatched early this morning! It was twenty-eight days exactly! One left to hatch out of it's shell. They are sooo cute! Quackers is not so happy that we are so near her ducklings.

The greyish ducklings are the Blue Swedes and the black ones are Black Swedes, but I'd like to know where the yellow one came from! I'll have figure that out- maybe I'll know when it grows up or I could ask someone who knows about ducks or look in my duck book.

2010 05 13_0193

Can you see at the bottom of this picture is a wet little head still working its way from out of the shell? We count eight so far.

10 May 2010

Setting Duck

2010 05 07_0041

At 7 o'clock every morning Quackers calls to me for her food and after a thorough bath she waddles back to her nest that she has covered with feathers to keep hidden and warm. She is usually a forager but for now I feed her so she can stay close to her nest.

2010 05 07_0029

Quackers is setting on nine eggs. We ordered them from a farm somewhere in California. Some eggs will hatch Blue Swedish and others will hatch Black Swedish. It is important to have both varieties for breeding a strong blue color.

It takes 28 days to hatch a duckling. At this post, she will have four days, counting today, to hatch her eggs.

2010 05 07_0133

You can see here, Quackers fanning her tail. This means get away from her nest because she is protecting her babies or should I say eggs.

20 April 2010

Tending to the Hive

For a history of our family’s honeybee hive, refer to You Never Can Tell With Bees

2010 04 19_0011

Stephie called us out watch her add another box to the hive for the growing colony.

She also requested Benedryl for the boy. 

2010 04 19_0002Next to the friendly hive, grown from the swarm we rescued from the apple orchard behind the barn last May, a renegade throng of feral bees has recently discovered an abandoned hive(they’re a rough bunch smoking and drinking, carousing with the queen bee and all).

They fidget around the hive, loitering as it were, without the order and pattern of the tended colony. Seemingly looking for trouble and Kai found it on the lip. 2010 04 19_0019

Now Kai’s no sissy when it comes to bees. Since he was a tot, he was tenderly picking bumblebees out of the clover, petting them, before sending them on their way. Occasionally you’ll hear the little guy say “oh, he stung me”, but without delay Kai is back to his apian aspirations. 

The lip incident was no different.

As our family beekeeper,  2010 04 19_0016Stephie cracks the whip on any drone who thinks they’ll be nipping honey off the sweat of another bee’s back. She is prepared with a beautifully painted nuc box, should another swarm head for the orchard.

22 March 2010

Some Work Out; Some Work In.

A Rough Morning. Doesn’t sound very pretty, does it? It started out just fine.

Abby and I woke up to Follow the Fleet, with Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire, and we loved it! So far so good.

But somewhere after feeding the chickens I just felt like crying.

Mama was out repairing the lawn. As you know, we have dogs and they can be rough on a lawn that was already struggling when we bought the place. Anyway, Mama was out spreading Tegro on the lawn.
Here is one of the culprits and he's sulking about it.

I believe Tegro is a mixture of dirt, manure, and a little bit of sand. I sprinkled some Tegro on a few lilies’ I’m growing, and then I did start crying. After being hugged, I was sent in to do up some breakfast.

Mama gave instructions for sausage gravy and hashbrown potatoes. While the gravy was cooking, I emptied out the dishwasher and set
the table with fresh periwinkles and hyacinth.
In the microwave to save time, I baked some potatoes. When they were cooked
and I went to cut them for the hashbrowns, that didn’t work out so good (they turned out to be smashed potatoes instead!).
Abby called Mama in from her work and the three of us sat to a yummy brunch and I was cheered up.

Rough Morning? I mean Good Morning!

17 March 2010

Aye, Begorrah. Be Readin' Wit ta Gaelic in Moind

Ta sun, she be shinin’ and ta birds a-singing their spring ditties on shooch a foin morn.

Aye, ‘tis a grand day, indeed!

On tis bleset day o’da year, we’re sure not to be spekin' ta crown’s anglish but spekin' wit ta mooter tung. All day, I be sayin’. Áine woke tis foin day not skippin’ a beat on tat one. Ta lass had her ‘th’’s dropped like a hot potatoe in a good harvest! Tis a bit o’fun we like ‘avin’.

Áine an Abigeál be craftin’ soom special tings for ta grandmooters an coosins an makin deliveries.

Not even St. Bridget herself can keep us from enjoying our lamb stew an colcannon, washed down wit a pint o’stout (mmm, Smit''icks)wen Da comes home fer soopper.

St. Martin o’Tours! I ploom fergoot me goodies bakin’ in ta ooven!

Ah, me! Enjoy tis blesset day we honor St. Padraig for bringin' ta good news of ta Christ to Eire!

15 March 2010

Lutefisk and a Hot Cup of Tay

My children’s heritage is so…so...Vikings-invade-British-Isles…they ought to have been red heads!
(and Abi-Dale has the temper to prove it)

12 March 2010

Oh My Throbbing Thumb

Post- Short. Using hunt-and-peck typing method. Note: not useful.

Dear Friend brought poultice components to relieve pain, break up congestion, and aid circulation.
Alternating every twenty minutes hot and cold packs, herbal goo to mineral salts, the pain is improving, but the swelling? Eh. So,so. Time heals all wounds?
Competent Anne is my extra hand today.

Here’s the procedure, each timed 20 minutes:
Paste made of ginger and castor, smeared on wool felt, fitted around offending thumb, secured with plastic wrap and heated with a steaming hot towel.
Thumb submerged in an icy bath of Epsom salts.
Paste of comfrey and castor, smeared on wool felt, wrapped as ginger preparation, again heated.
Another icy bath of mineral salts.

Mr. Long says it looks like I have a burrito stuck on the end of my thumb. Yup, it kinda does.
Thank you, Dear Friend, for bringing such a basket of healing! Along with N’Braskan taking me out for bathroom tissue, we’re doing okay!

How about the redheaded stepchild where all the trouble started? No, no, I mean the hardwood floor.

The radius is completed which means the miter saw and router can be put away, making more room around the workspace. Now it’s a matter of placing the boards and stapling them to the subflooring. This job can expect to move to finishing next week.

We’re pleased with how it’s turning out. Mike and Pop are certainly craftsmen. We look forward to having the existing hardwoods and those newly laid, homogenized as one floor, one room.

I'm hungry, who's up for burritos?

09 March 2010

Beware of swinging mallets.

This is what happens when you’re not paying attention.
I say ouch! And you? 24 hours of non stop throbbing pain finally ended with a the cutest little percocet you've ever seen! Today I was able to dress myself. I’m afraid this little mishap ended an otherwise productive evening.

Pop and the Boss-man spent some time fashioning pieces cut from a 12x12 red oak board to fit around the newly cut radius in the floor; the tie-in pieces that transition from the kitchen tiles and into the new and pre-existing hardwoods.

Pop is a journeyman woodworker, over 40 years in the fixture (cabinets, doors, mill work) business. His last job was for a yacht-building outfit and in that field, cost and precision increase several notches. Boss-man is no slouch when it comes to wood constructing, however, Pop knows how to give it the finesse that comes only from decades of experience- he’s the master!
Tonight after AnnePants has fed us (remember that nasty purple thumb, I can’t do a thing!) Big Daddy gets back to installing the wood slats so we can be that much closer to having this house put back together!

05 March 2010

Living Christ

Good bye cold, insensitive, hard, hard tile floor.

Flooring can be cold on the tootsies first thing in the morning regardless of the season or the degree in which the woodstove is cranking out the heat. The last owners of our house preferred ceramic tile to the hardwoods that my aunt and uncle previously installed (they built the house in 1966). The tile incongruously placed in the great room, as a replacement for the hardwoods, was to indicate a dining area, which divided the room with conspicuous absurdity.

(Sunshine outside and mid 50’s, so we’ve got our groove on Chicago IX. For those of you who have issues with ‘Greatest Hits’ albums, we’ll talk about this later.)

Meanwhile, back to the tile floor; we are returning it to its previously oaken status.

You see, hardwood floors are chilly enough to the pigs, but ceramic tile, well, that sucks the living daylights out o’ ya, robbing a creature of the warmth it needs to stay alive, icicles off the tip of your nose (or toes as it were), if you know what I mean.
Tile is also extremely unforgiving to plates and drinking glasses and antique baby food dishes in the shape of Donald Duck, that say, maybe your father ate from as a tot, or something like that, when they slip from the butterfingers attempting to hold them. Children and adults alike; no one is off the hook from the curse of the pitiless tile.

So onward to hardwood flooring! The great room will be great once more! Design unified throughout the room! Form and function, hand in hand!

Interesting post title, you say (some of you forgot already because it didn’t seem pertinent to tile floors). Anyone still hanging in there with me waiting to see the connection? Living Christ.

Those tiles coming up meant work…
but we never work alone.

We live in a remarkable family of believers. Here in the hedgerow we don’t go to church, we are the church.

“Going to church” for us and the Longs this week mandated pry bars, flat shovels, hammers, saws and cold beer and pizza. A burden needed bearing and it was bore on the backs of Papa Long and his boys. Mama Long and and I dusted the china hutch as we tenderly removed its contents and boxed it up for the duration of the project.
Removing a tile floor is unpleasant enough, but the men found a snag within the first few tiles. The tile was of course glued and grouted to backerboard. The backerboard, however, was not only nailed to the subflooring; it had been glued. What, the contractors were worried the tiles would float away? Yeesh! Out with the Skill saw and up with everything but the kitchen sink! Aye(waving nonchalant hand), so we replace chipboard with plywood, it’s only money, they print more everyday.

We “churched” two days in a row. Wait now, it will be three. We’s a-heading out to the family sheep farm tonight (as the lambs are dropping like cherry blossoms on a warm spring day) for more communion and partaking of the bread and the wine as Jesus said to do often and in remembrance of Him.
Being the Church is everyday life. There is no building for us. It means folding someone else’s underwear, sitting up all night in Holy Ghost provoked prayer, giving a scripture that is not easy to give, perhaps un-pleasant to receive, loaning someone your car while you’re repairing theirs, driving hundreds of miles in a day solely to fellowship.

It means ripping up someone’s tile floor.

(wiping brow)Fhew, this living Christ stuff takes work! Nobody has a day to himself because our days do not belong to us. To avoid sin in the church (people remember, not building) we are to encourage one another daily, while it is still called “today”, redeeming the time. Remember: Time plus opportunity equals trouble no matter who you are. If we don’t stay in contact daily, in one accord, from house to house, breaking the bread, how can we keep our brother from the fire. Daily contact and being held responsible for God’s children is a mighty high call. And if you don’t do your job, it’s a mighty high price.

Bearing one another’s burdens takes on a fully new meaning. The responsibility no longer is on the shoulders of a youth program, men’s breakfast leader, women’s retreat speaker, or “Pastor”.

It falls on ours.

Heb 3:13
Heb 10:24,25
Luke 17:1,2
Acts 2:42,46
Eph 5:16
Gal 6:2
1Cor 11:24-26