Sunday, September 30, 2007

One Strange Night

It was a dark and stormy night. The rest of the household had gone to bed. I was a little bugeyed from playing computer solitaire. My senses were dulled so I didn't know if I could beleieve my ears. Instead of rumbling thunder and the drumbeat of rain on the gutters, I heard sounds like chattering teeth and ice crackling as it formed. I saw a vision of cold snowy winds swirling above flames. And then I remembered. This was exactly what has been predicted for years by the sports pundits. It will be a cold day in Hell when the Cubs make the playoffs! Yes, earlier that evening, the Cubs were helped into the playoffs by the losing Brewers. Congratulations to my brother, Paul. His team is good and now we will cheer for them the rest of the way.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Can You Love a Word?

Long long time ago, in grade school, I was taught that one cannot love inanimate objects. One can only like them. But I really do love a good word that has precise meaning and fits a situation to a T. Or is it Tee or Tea. I don't know and it makes me wonder what that means. To a T!??
Well I probably could find out by calling an NPR program called, " A Way with Words". On Sundays when we're heading to town for Church, between nine and ten am in this time zone, there are a couple of wordsmiths answering callers' questions about words and phrases and their meanings. It's a lot of fun to hear how different sayings evolved and hear such interesting words explained. Our family has always stopped to congratulate each other when a particularly apt word comes flowing into a conversation. A choice word can be as succulent as a ripe peach on a summer day or as discombobulating as a winter pothole.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Something to Ponder (or Sleep On)

There's a cacophony of color in our northwoods. It arrived overnight and the reds and rusts and burgundies and yellows and umbers and oranges are fighting for attention. The dark greens of the pine forests create the perfect background for the hardwood stands and our county's 1200 lakes present sparkling reflections in the Autumn sunshine. God, the artist, is good.

But that's not what I've been pondering. I've been thinking about one of God's cleverest creations. Ta da....sleep. A good night's sleep is a pure pleasure. When one flops into bed when one is dogbone tired, (that's a combination of dog tired and bone tired,) and can drift into a semi comatose state and wake later, refreshed, renewed and recharged, that's amazing. Just think, if we had to be awake all the time. Life would be exhausting and unrelenting and too darn stimulating. I read an article once that tried to say that a human's natural state is sleep and when we are awake, that is unnatural. Well, I really didn't get it at that time and now I can't remember their premise for stating that but I was thinking that maybe sleep is the time set aside by our creator for our spirits to be awake as our bodies are at rest. In our dreams we can move around as though we have no bodies to encumber us and maybe it's recreation time for our souls. Maybe God in His infinite wisdom knew that eventually man would invent and create and get to such a state of infatuation with their minds and bodies and powers that they would not carve out enough time to nourish their interior life, and so He built in the need for sleep. Our dreams pull us back into balance and give us time to remember that there must be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth as we make this journey through earthly life. Maybe Heaven is just a dream away and there is no need for a physical place called Heaven. Maybe it's whatever we can dream up. Sweet dreams to you all.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Worth a Thousand Words

Oh Sheet!

Last night we had freeze warnings. The prognosticators were right. It got down to 24 degrees, a record low for the date. Old sheets protected the flowers. For the vegetable garden, we decided to experiment with an idea we had seen on TV. We noticed that whenever freezing conditions hit the South, the orange growers would spray the trees with water all through the night to keep the fruit from freezing. Bing heard them say that the ice that formed on the fruit makes a covering that keeps the tissue from freezing. So, at 3:00AM, Bing got up and started the sprinklers that operate on lake water on the whole garden. Rising at 7:00AM, we anxiously checked the thermometer- 29 - degrees - and peered at the ice sculpture out back. The fence, ground and plants were encased in ice. We had a sinking feeling. Then, as the ice melted, the plants didn't have that dead, collapsed look. They actually seemed healthy and succulent. Wow! - what a gift. Now we're supposed to get back into the seventies and our growing season may be extended for a couple more weeks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Frost

Wahoo - no frost - we can still stop and smell the flowers!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We've been Assaulted

We're reeling up here from a punch to the gut by the weather. Three days ago we were frolicking in the sun, (elderly frolicking, that is, like doing water exercises in the lake with a foam tube and fishing in the noon day sun.) Tonight we're huddled inside like eskimos in an igloo, with our first woodburner fire of the Fall and frost warnings beeping on the TV every few minutes. We usually escape the first frost but always know that it means gather all those perishable garden goodies like green beans and cucumbers and tomatoes - it won't be long before they are history. I picked seven gallons of green beans this afternoon and they'll keep in the refrigerator until I can and freeze them. Of course, it'll have to be pretty soon because we have to get through five big Walmart bags of them to get at anything else in there.

The first picture is of a Maple leaf that lay upon the drive down to the lake. Its beauty belies the fact that it shouted profanities about the end of summer and all its warmth and bounty. It and its friends will beguile us with blazing color and then denude our oaks and maples and birches and drop to the cold ground.

Picture number three is our apple tree of the year - our MVP of our mini orchard, the Cortland, juicy and crisp and always prolific. When our fire of' '88 came close to it, it scorched some branches and we didn't know if it would survive, but it certainly did. Carmen loves these.

Picture number two is the rookie tree of the year, a McIntosh, quite young but already putting out some large tasty treats.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Who did the weedin' in the Garden of Eden?!

I grew up in Chicago and Milwaukee and Bing grew up in a Milwaukee 3rd floor apartment and then a city duplex. We were city kids through and through. We knew trolleys and buses, sidewalks and alleys. Grocery stores were the source of most of the food that filled our stomachs. But somehow there must have been farmer genes lurking in each of us. For the thirty five years that we've lived at this place that we call Lakeside Gardens, we've learned to garden and grow things. We bought this land because it had seventy five feet of frontage on a good fishing lake and Bing was and is a fine, fanatical fisherman. The people who sold us the place had a garden so we thought that was the thing to do. We subscribed to a magazine called Organic Gardening and proceeded to read and learn how to get food from the ground. The first few years it was pretty comical. The weeds were incredibly prolific and we spaced the tomatoes just a few inches apart. But we loved the miracle of seed turning to produce and we marvelled at the taste of the fresh veggies. I learned canning and freezing from a volleyball teammate who grew up on a farm. We nourished the soil with compost and manure and leaves and now are proud to grow sugar snap peas, bush beans, carrots, red and green cabbage, broccoli, beets, kohlrabi, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, acorn squash, cauliflower, dill, onions and pumpkins. We tried to grow sweet corn a few of the years but the raccoons always beat us to it when it would ripen. We also added raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and plum, cherry and apple trees. I believe that within the human soul there is a basic need to create as our Creator did when he made the first garden and fashioned us from soil. Every Ash Wednesday at church, the priest would say, "thou art dust and unto dust, you shall return." But I wish he would have said, thou art soil and unto soil, you shall return. The word dust seems inconsequential and a nuisance. But the word soil, rings with strength and tremendous potential. Gardening is a lot of work and unless you're quite a bit obsessive compulsive, you'll never be weedless, but it's worth the work when you can share your harvest with those you love.