Tag Archives: family

Extremes

Have I mentioned how I adore the weather in this region? Even when the triple-digit weather arrives, memories of summers in Phoenix, Arizona and the bitter-cold winters in Chicago-land remind me this climate is like a walk in the park. Besides, here the extremes of both intense heat or cold only last weeks and usually include milder parentheses.

As temperatures rose I noticed how the livestock and plants all cope in their individual ways. The horses and the steer all developed a new appreciation for early mornings and the sprinklers in the early evenings.

The chickens are mostly still much of the day and are laying about 50% less than they do in cooler temps. They only get excited when humans approach in anticipation of fresh offerings from the garden and the kitchens. We’ll see what impact a chicken tractor has soon.

To the east around the lawns the rose, begonia, nasturtium, snapdragon and hydrangea blossoms suddenly grow, mature and wilt astoundingly faster than usual.

Highlights of last evening’s walk included a trio of fledglings enjoying the cool concrete of the shaded patio while the flora also recover from the day’s heat. That was until giant, wingless beings arrived making the strangest chirping ever. I’m sure they were relieved after we moved indoors to listen to their chirps. We were also glad to hear they remembered how to fly back to their nests – safe from cats lurking nearby.

In my visit to town I noticed some people complaining about the heat. I also noticed they sounded much like the people that complained about the cold during the winter. They got me thinking about Job, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?*”  Shall we accept fair weather and not harsh?

Personally, I like variety and especially appreciate that the extremes here last only a short while.

“Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God…” Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NLT)

*Job 2:10 (NLT)

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Ker-Plunk

This week I juggled my plans so that Izzy’s daughter and I could take a road trip to Aremote Lake. With my methodical planning we had lots of time so we could shoot up the countryside – with cameras – to our hearts’ content.

Happy and relaxed, I headed back home alone at the perfect time just before dusk that same evening. I got so many great shots I could hardly wait to get back within signal range and download them. Without any traffic and downhill all the way I could blast home in barely over 2 hours, so before I approached the main road I made a pit stop.

The short story is my cell wound up falling into water – clean enough to retrieve the device. Another good reason for keeping a few extra gas station paper towels on a road trip – after wiping the phone off and popping the battery out… suffice it to say it won’t emerge from the rice for another day or so.

Ordinarily I’d be a mess without my phone. However, with the rest of the family still out of range through to the weekend I honestly haven’t missed it.

Seriously, aside from texts from my grand kids, without my constant reminders, alarms, calendars, lists and calls LIFE GOES ON. What’s more, my heightened organizational skills have been delightful. I’m happy to report that not that much has changed in the past eight-to-ten years since smart phones became mainstream.

And thanks to Pixabay you can still enjoy some of the highlights of my lovely drive. We needn’t necessarily mention that without a signal my photos haven’t downloaded. Yet.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (English Standard Version)

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Gad-Zukes!

I’m amazed how I felt a little discouraged as this week began. I considered what the garden is actually producing compared to the labor we put into it six days a week. We were all feeling disappointed that we see lots of tiny, little buds, but no cucumbers in particular.

 

Even so, on her “day off” Izzy and I were out there on our knees, enjoying the cool of the morning and pulling weeds.

Imagine my surprise when she blurted out, “CUCUMBERS!”  And then, “Growing in the spaghetti squash. We’ve got cucumbers!”

Sure enough, before I could get over to shoot what to us is phenomenal, Iz had picked four nice-sized cucumbers and found more growing among the astoundingly prolific spaghetti squash. Remarkably only buds are on all the other vines down the rest of the row.

Later, as I packed bags of lettuce to share with friends at our Bible Study meeting, I thought about how the week turned around.

Firstly, I’m glad this week I’m not the only silly soul. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only human that tends to focus upon our understandings, expectations and agendas and we sometimes miss something else God may be doing.

 

For another example, last year I was disappointed that no home groups from my local church meet near our neighborhood anymore. That disappointment is now a sharp contrast to how I look forward to Friday evenings – every week.

Regardless how tired I may be, Former Neighbor Andee texts me from her new home barely ten minutes away to tell me she’s on her way, to start heading down my driveway. She knows what it takes for me to leave the cottage. I’m not proud that usually I’ve splatted against a wall by five and try to talk myself out of going – nearly every week. But every week I climb into Andee’s truck and I’m astounded at all I learn about our study topic and our friends, the people in our group.

This week more than anything else, I’m grateful for God’s eternal perspective. I appreciate the blessed assurance that He likely enjoys much of our silliness between the blessings. And He knows the cucumbers are worth the wait.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 

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Pressing Back

As this week began, even with the four of us working at it, I felt the pressure keeping up with our super-sized vegetable garden. The weeds were seriously battling for the ground that served the livestock well in previous years.

Often I’d spend enough time bent over the rows that moving the rest of the day was a challenge. Even so I’m glad for it. Taking a little time out with ice packs each day began as physical therapy. As often happens I soon turned to prayer and in no time rose again refreshed and determined to keep up the good work.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

About mid-week Cole took advantage of a western breeze. He mounted a tank on the ATV and drove it around the garden side of the fence, spraying the outward perimeter as he went.

Surprisingly, the only casualty was one sprinkler head at the north end and the conductor holding the hot wire above it. We replaced them quickly so the sun didn’t burn the entire north end of the crop. Two days later we can barely see where the balloon-like tires rode over the cantaloupe vines.

With a couple of days of light cloud cover we took a break from weeding to bring in the first loads of fire wood. Staying warm this winter should be much easier with a new log splitter due to arrive any time now.

With all that we still found time to relax a minute, count our blessings and gear up for fireworks later on this week.

And the lessons continue.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

 

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Love Long Distance

Despite the unusual few weeks leading up to this past weekend I had an exceptionally nice two days – which was welcome after a rough week.

Typical for this time of year, schedules must be juggled. Sometimes we must reschedule my “Grand Dates” (regularly scheduled time where my grand kids – all long distances away – bring me up to speed with the previous week). For the past two, maybe three weeks everyone I usually talk with at least every other week was unavailable to Skype, Duo, talk or text.

With the days getting longer and warmer I sorely missed our times together. I stayed busy with our gang, the pups, the pastures and the gardens. Still, I wondered how my grands fared without my input, encouragement and advice – or if they even missed visiting with me. I prayed long into the SansGrands silence.

On Saturday Izzy and I rescued our patio tomato plants from curling leaves, moving them to The Garden. Knowing the move wasn’t ideal timing, we assured our precious nearly orange tomato-lings to hang in there, they’ll feel far better despite the shock of moving.

Okay, so maybe my empathy wasn’t as much for our tomatoes. The day’s gardening finished, I returned to where I’d left off in my Bible:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35 (NIV)

The relationships I share with these amazing young humans are strong and endure occasional separations – no matter how they may feel sometimes. Still, I consider how anxious I get when my time with God gets shoved down the priority ladder. I’m a grown up (mostly) and yet I feel the burn every time my prayer time is rescheduled – or dropped.

After praying again, God’s assurance that the grands shall continue feeling the love comforted me.

I was no sooner into other chores when my phone rang. A couple of hours later two sisters and I caught up with one another. Then FirstBorn called. While waiting in a backed-up toll booth line he realized how long it had been since our last talk. We mostly prattled and reminisced some as he drove from Wadsworth to Milwaukee. By my bedtime I felt far better connected than I had in weeks.

On Sunday SecondSon’s Firstborn called. He reiterated every exciting detail of the last two ball games – that sent his team to state. And his sister, FiveYearOld, could hardly wait to describe a new growing thing she discovered in astoundingly accurate detail.

Maybe it’s just me – the ways God uses the garden and my family to bless me is amazing. Though I could hardly wait between their calls, He assures me it’s all gonna be just fine.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

1 John 2:28 (NIV)

 

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Town and Country

I’m astounded at how fast weeds can take over a row in the vegetable garden. Seriously. Each week the four of us (mostly) will get almost across the whole garden only to see that where we began is nearly overgrown again.

This week Izzy and I were weeding together. The two of us working wordlessly got me to wondering. Typically we’d have already critiqued that morning’s news, sports and upcoming events in the time we’d been silently pulling weeds – for the second time that morning. I asked her, “Are you working something out of your craw?

Her polite but vague answer confirmed what I’d imagined.


A few minutes later I chuckled aloud, but to myself.

“Share,” was all she said.

“Well, I always knew when a sister was upset (usually over a relationship) by the way she cleaned the house like Mr. Clean was coming for dinner. Living in town girls work it out by cleaning house. Country girls work it in the garden.”

Minutes later she responded, “I wonder if we actually get right to the grit of things faster in the garden. Besides, unlike people there is no doubt these weeds must be jerked.”

Ain’t it the truth?

“Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God’s kind of justice in this world.” James 1:19, 20 (The Voice)

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Surprised By Joy

“Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; … The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.”
― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Rather than walking, I spend much of my time these days gardening, in the absence of real, present time human company. Friends’ encouraging and informative words visit me as I labor, but for the most part I listen to the livestock and the earth.

They actually resound all that I or anyone I know needs to hear.

 

“Let your roots grow down into him [Jesus], and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

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Perspective

Dude, had I known parenting would be like this I would have waited.

 

Dude, had I known parenting would be like this I would have started sooner!

HAPPY FATHERS DAY!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

 

Upset baby image courtesy Ryan Franco via Unsplash

Grandfather image courtesy OC Gonzalez via Unsplash

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Second Hand Rosie

Every thing in my cottage is mismatched, piece worked, and mostly vintage. Aside from a few family items, I acquired most everything I own in estate sales, antique stores, flea markets, etc. Like Second Hand Rose, “I rarely get a thing that ain’t been used.” Only I don’t feel abused.

I like the stories that my stuff generate. At this point in my journey it’s fun. This wasn’t always so.

Waiting for the microwave to announce my latte is ready, I wash the dishes in the sink. Memories flow from when I acquired a mug, a plate, a spoon. I remember buying the new sheers now covering my windows – and when my kitten chewed those pin pricks in the selvage.

Not that long ago household items, or rather the stories behind them used to send me into an emotional tailspin. A little further back household stuff could set me running, usually sceamin’ like the banshee, arms flailing as if swatting away a flock of crows – Hitchcock’s The Birds style.

*

When I arrived here at the ranch, this sort of behavior upset the livestock. It was time I put all I learned over the years into practice.

Long ago, before I learned to run from the memories (figuratively speaking – mostly) I’d pretend them away. Eventually fear and anguish bound and locked away much of my memory. Modern medicine calls it Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (CPTSD).

By mid-adulthood I realized this skill had robbed me of much of the joys of my life. Since I clearly hadn’t gotten over it, I got help.

I worked for years with professionals that specialize in helping people with my symptoms. Finding the right help nor the work were easy.

I wanted to quit often. But I missed out on too many good times simply because I didn’t want to remember. I knew if I really wanted to experience “normal” I mustn’t stop the work.

**

I haven’t arrived yet. But instead of the memories dragging me away like an undertow, I can now stop them in place, sort of freeze the frame. At my age eccentric behavior isn’t unusual, so it’s all good. Most of the time I can now reason that what happened didn’t kill me and obviously it won’t stop me – without veering off course.

***

By the time I’d replaced nearly everything I ever owned I realized I had been surviving, not actually living. That’s not the life God wants for me. Sure, our early life was rough for my siblings and me. Sometimes it feels a little sad that I seem to be alone. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe I’m leading the pack.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 

*Header, The Birds image courtesy San Francisco Chronicle

***The Bird image courtesy Google

**Hitchcock image courtesy Jason Bovberg 

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Pastoral Peace

By late winter I began to look forward to warm weather and grass growing in the pastures. With some of my joints achy from the cold, tossing hay every morning and evening seemed less a pleasant stroll and more of a chore.

Being the steer’s first spring alone we weren’t sure what to expect from his grazing. Soon enough the grass was as tall as the sprinkler pipes. We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are glad to let their horses graze in our pastures and get the growth under control.

We learned very soon that, GeldingOne manages his stress from the move by running. In the tall grass he broke off three sprinklers in those first 48 hours. One pipe broke underground which complicated watering the seedling vegetable garden as well as the pasture.

The quickest solution:

    • Shut off and drain the irrigation sprinklers to repair them.
    • Cut the tall grass so the horse can see the pipes.
    • Run water to garden with hoses.

Then SouthernNeighbors lent us GeldingTwo.

GeldingTwo likes being the pasture boss and compliant GeldingOne is now calm and content with his new buddy and the steer. The pastoral peace restored, knowing their horses are in my loving care the two geldings’ humans can concentrate more on working their properties. If all goes as planned, Cole won’t need to mow again for months. Win-win-win.

For now, until Cole can repair the shattered pipe, Izzy and I haul hoses and lawn sprinklers around the vegetable garden and water tanks. Every. Single. Day. It’s time consuming and more than once I’ve been tempted to complain check Cole about his priorities. Fortunately, before inserting my foot into my mouth, as I walk the property back to my cottage I see everything from a different perspective and hold my peace.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NIV)”

But there’s more: Being around the gentle, nickering giants lifts my spirits and calms any anxieties that often tag along with me. The sounds of tails swooshing nearby, hooves touching ground (in case there’s an apple or carrot in a pocket) soothes me like little else does. Sure, I’m moving hoses and horses, chopping cheat grass, pulling tack weeds and thistle, but I’m also keeping my back, hips and knees in good working order – and who needs to count steps anymore…

Before I’m done watering the veggies I have a clear vision of where we must thin plants, hoe or pull weeds. As with most things in life, one hand washes the other. But God uses growing food and tending the livestock as a family to fuel my soul like nothing else ever.

Annnd the life lessons continue.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Images not captioned courtesy Pixabay

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