Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

rake-24250_1280I was out raking up the sweet gums balls in the yard…again.  I never realized what an arboreous pain sweet gum trees are; beautiful, yes, but there’s nothing sweet about stepping on one of those blasted seed balls that drop in the spring and fall.  The little buggers can be downright treacherous! 

Try to mow the yard with them hiding in the grass, and they go flying like so many high-velocity projectiles.  You’d better hope you have shoes on or your foot can be impaled by the hard spikes on this leftover seed casing.  Even with shoes on, the little sphere doesn’t politely crush when stepped on; oh no, when it rolls underfoot, it can send the unsuspecting bi-ped flying, giving the same effect as slipping on a banana peel.  Continue reading “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…”

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Shovel…check. Ibuprofen…check.

I put in this new garden two years ago, by hand, meaning without much help except for the big farm and home truck that dropped everything off next to the driveway.  And let me tell ya, those railroad ties are heavy!  (I think Bob helped me with one of them, but he had previously hurt his back, so I sent him back indoors.)

It’s been beautiful and fruitful:

Things are growing in the new garden!

But now, a few seasons later, the dirt seems to have settled and is getting a bit low.  I’m always asking Bob for dirt for my birthday, or Mothers’ Day, but his romantic heart can’t bear showering dirt on his wife when other wives are asking for jewelry or flowers.  Continue reading “Shovel…check. Ibuprofen…check.”

Charlotte, in all her glory

At this writing, my back is still sore from hauling dirt to the garden and turning the two big compost bins with my American Gothic-esque pitchfork a couple days ago.  Sad commentary on my current level of fitness.  I’ve also been neglecting the compost for most of the winter, unfortunately.  Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to warmer temps coming back more consistently to my part of the planet, and I want to take advantage of them. 

Another thing that also returns with the rising thermometer are the arachnoids… Continue reading “Charlotte, in all her glory”

Scissors, please

IWAA7A gruesome site greeted me when tending the garden after being gone for a week of family vacation.  Sure, there were the typical weeds and such, no big deal, just hands and knees stuff.  But what gave me a drop-shoulder-roll-eyes kind of pause was the leftover feathered carcass of a bird that had obviously been trying to pilfer my blackberries, but had gotten entangled in the netting.

Not a pretty site.  Not a happy ending.  (I will spare any readers a photo.)  I mean, he was, after all, just trying to get something to eat, doing what birds do naturally.  It’s sign1not like I could put up a “No Trespassing” sign, although my dad suggested I could hang up some brightly colored ribbons.  That could help them at least see the netting, but the berries are just so inviting, I’m not sure it would divert them enough. Continue reading “Scissors, please”

Ripe pickins

garden lastOops, I picked this melon before its time:

melon (1)

In my defense, I didn’t know what it was when it was growing, since I didn’t actually “plant” it.  Then when it starting sprouting, I uprooted it to give it a better chance in the garden, and as it grew, thought maybe it was some sort of squash or something.  Lo and behold, as it began to mature, it’s a cantaloupe! Continue reading “Ripe pickins”

Good fences make for good gardens

garden lastThis place is a wreck.  Sitting out here on the patio in the early morning Missouri summer humidity, I’m looking at the weeds resolutely poking through the already treated pave stones.  There’s some unwanted green stuff growing amongst the begonia pots, and the garden hoses are in dire need of mending.  On top of all of this, a brown leaf just now floated gently down (to meet the weeds on the pave stones, I suppose.) 

Now wait a minute!  It’s only July!  I’m not ready for Autumn yet!  Besides, no fair, since I’ve been out of town for a week, which gave the weeds and their comrades free reign.   Continue reading “Good fences make for good gardens”

NOT for the birds, definitely not.

IWAA7I’m in the second year of my small berry crop.  Here’s what I was anticipating by springtime:

raspberries

Makes your mouth water, don’t it?

Especially for me, the non-gardener.  I’m pretty proud of this little piece of earth, and all the sore muscles along the way.  Bob has been very patient with the big Sutherlands Home and Garden truck pulling up unexpectedly (for him, that is), or the time(s) I have inadvertently left the hose on after watering, (okay, so I get distracted.)

His tastes buds do reap the benefits, however, except for that year I had an over-abundance of cucumbers—he still requests no cukes in the smoothies… Currently, our favorite taste treat is the fresh raspberries and blackberries coming in from the second-year plants. YESssss!!

Unfortunately, this year the birds have likewise found them.  Especially the blackberries.  I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the ripened fruit day after day, and here’s evidence (it’s not for the faint of heart)—

ARRUGHH@#!!*@#!!!! (delete-delete-delete)

Now, I love birds.  They serenade me in the morning.  But that doesn’t mean they get paid by my hard worked-for berries.  So off to Sutherlands I go (didn’t need their truck for this one) to get some equipment, and concocted this:

Not only was it not pretty, it was also not entirely functional.  It didn’t fit, which meant there were gaps in the netting, and my attempts to cut and paste (well, zip-tie) left much to be desired.  Birds aren’t quite as dumb as I gave them credit, at least not when they’re hungry.  They know a good berry crop when they see it!

Learn from my mistakes, call my Dad for a little review in mathematic calculations, and a little ingenuity from Pinterest, and here is my current barricade:

netting3

Already I have seen a feathered kamikaze bounce off in bewilderment!

Inspecting my handiwork that next morning, I notice a few gaps, but also some nicely ripening blackberries.  I easily reposition and secure the netting, and let the fruit do its thing, unmolested and secure.

“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

I like that “guard AND keep”.  It’s one thing to set up a protective fence but it’s another to make sure it’s still effectively working.  And when it comes to protection, one size definitely does not fit all.

My precious berries were already protected from the ground forces of bunnies by the wire fencing—I learned that one the hard way a long time ago.  But just having put in the berries last year, I hadn’t counted on the air strikes (although, I confess, I had heard of them from the past…oh, if only I had paid attention to experienced gardeners!!)

After losing some of the crop, I went into action—better late than never.  But unfortunately, I “reacted” rather than “researched” properly, which left gaps and wasted time and money.

Finally, sacrificing some time (allocating that precious resource to a perceived priority—my berries!!) and relying on the experience of others, I have a tailor-made plan to “guard and keep” for a fruitful harvest.

When it comes to relationships, whether it’s in the family, or even in the Body of Christ:

  • Protection must be intentional. (And it’s rewarding to see Satan just bounce off, not that he won’t try again.)
  • We are given a template, but each “fence” will be unique; to force one on another will cause gaps and allow the enemy in to eat the “fruit”. (Ask me how I know…)
  • Research is better than reacting. Humbly asking for help if more effective than wasting time and emotion on crisis management.
  • Protection is ongoing: frequent inspections and adjustments must be anticipated. It’s called communication and resilience.  Forgiveness and grace. 

ripeberryFruit takes time (and effort) to produce.  But its reward is sooooOOO000ooo sweet.

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

“Gentlemen, start…your…engines!”

garden lastRace fans, let’s play name association.  I say Memorial Day weekend, and you say—

Okay, if you’re not well versed in racing (which, in truth, I’m not either, it’s just that I grew up in Indianapolis), I’ll give you this clue…

indy car
credit:http://sploid.gizmodo.com

Now, the individuals who purposefully strap themselves into these death traps to hurdle themselves around the Indy 500’s “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” two and a half mile oval at 220mph are, well,…there are several adjectives that come to mind.  At least they wear helmets, (which is more than I can get my middle schoolers to do when they ride their bikes.)  This year, there was an impressively colossal two-car wreck around lap 55, with the second car doing an airborne 360 (open cockpit, mind you) into the inside railing and safety net.  By design, the car shatters to absorb the impact. 

And the rider gets up and walks away.

The next day, I’m working peacefully in my yard and Continue reading ““Gentlemen, start…your…engines!””

If at first…

garden lastI’m writing this in the early weeks of autumn as the leaves are beginning to succumb to gravity and the thermometer is gratefully beginning its slow decline from the ravages of an early hot, dry summer.  I’ve cleaned out my garden plots, pruning back a tomato tree; I’ve never seen one get that big and bushy and likewise produce so little fruit (there’s another analogy there, I suppose), and the zinnias basically cut off the sun from the struggling lavender.  Evidently, I was not aware of the potential within the plants, the effect of such good dirt, and the needs of the individual varieties.  So I’ll try it all again when this old planet limps back around the sun once more this Spring. 

I’ve decided that gardening is not only a science, but an art.  Unfortunately, I’m not much of either, except like Edison, in that if it doesn’t work the first 999 times, persistence might make the 1000th be the winner.  

I am, at the very least, persistent. 

Relationships, I’ve decided, are also both a science and an art as well.  We have three children.  We had them early in our marriage, and I was young.  I didn’t really even know myself very well, and here I was mothering three little girls, all with different personalities, talents, and destinies!  Are you kidding me??

As they were approaching that wonderful American invention called “adolescence”, Bob and I did a Gary Smalley personality survey on ourselves and our kiddos. 

Our eldest is a Golden Retriever—let’s take care of everybody and make them feel loved.

Our middle is more of a Beaver, organizing, accomplishing, business-minded. 

Our youngest (sigh) is a full scale Lion….the kind with teeth and claws.  This is not a bad thing, and I sigh only in part because her mother is an Otter.  An a fun-loving, fly-the-seat-of-your-pants Otter.  An Otter raising a Lion. 

Yet another proof that God has a sense of humor.

I love this passage from Isaiah and leave it here for an encouragement to young mothers:

“The farmer knows just what to do,
    for God has given him understanding.
A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin;
    rather, it is beaten with a light stick.
A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin;
    instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
Grain for bread is easily crushed,
    so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.
He threshes it under the wheels of a cart,
    but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher,
    and he gives the farmer great wisdom.”

And just as there is no cookie-cutter approach to child-raising, God does not use the same approaches with us, His children, either.  How boring would that be??  What He is, is persistent.

So Edison and I are good company.

Isaiah 28:26-29  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Never waste a good compost

garden lastIt’s an uncharacteristically warm day in winter, so I’ll need to go out and turn the compost.  Now, that might not sound too exciting, unless you see it with a little vision (or a lot, depending on your perspective, I suppose…)  My heavy-duty fork and I have an interesting relationship—I supply the muscle but it touches the biologicals.  It’s work, but I’m hoping a good harvest this coming summer. 

Which is nothing compared to the work in this account…

Backstory: What little was left of the Continue reading “Never waste a good compost”