Thursday, April 29, 2010

No. We Aren't.

I've been spending time in the hospital this past day or so, at what the doctors are telling us could be my mom's deathbed. All kinds of things are discussed at such a time, aren't they?

Yesterday we were talking about my mom's slumped posture, with my dad expressing disbelief that she could breathe properly bent over. She tells us she can, and I mentioned that, when I am running and need to stop for air, I bend at the waist. It seems to allow my lungs more room--or maybe gravity just cooperates--to fill with air. My sister said, "That's because our organs aren't designed to stack up on each other, like when we are upright. They're designed to hang; that's one bit of evidence some use to say we're descended from apes."

The time has come to just say what I think about that. Mind you, I am not expecting everyone to think this way, too. But this is my blog, so I get the floor, 24/7.

The Bible teaches that the wages of sin are death. We die, right? That means we're sinful. I'm sorry if the logic escapes you, but it seems pretty clear to me.

We are obviously meant to be eternal beings. Everything in us fights against death. In our culture, those who commit suicide are pitied for giving up a great gift. Even those of us who believe in something greater fight against the time when we go to join whatever it is we perceive it to be.

I hope you're still with me.

My Christian faith teaches me that God knows, because He created me, that I am meant to have an eternal life. He mourns because my sinfulness will eventually take that away from me. He loves me enough to make a way to restore it to me. Through the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus, He took away my sin and returned to me my eternal life.

Again, I hope you're still with me. We're going to take what might seem like a side trip for a bit.

During the 18th century, those of the Enlightenment turned further away from God and more toward the "power" of humanity. They rejected religion and religious teaching against such things as sin, morality, and guilt. But, again, the Bible teaches that the final enemy is death...and there was no answer for the Enlightenment when they looked there. The obvious answer is that, after we die, there is nothing, we are gone like a vapor. But then what about that power of humanity?

In the 19th century, Charles Darwin took a sailing trip and wrote a book called On The Origin of the Species. Although his research was intricate and as modern as could be for the time, even he pointed out, several times, that the conclusions he was making were flawed and could not be verified. (And I am not in the camp that says he recanted his theories on his deathbed.) But to many, they made sense.

Of course, they said, there's the answer. We are not dirty, rotten sinful beings, after all. Time and chance have progressed apes to an ultimate form which we call human. When humans act in a way the religious people call "sinful," they are just reverting to their ancestral, animal instincts. There's your answer! The power of humanity is great! Where we can, we will rehabilitate these poor wretches. Where we can't, we will exterminate them. Humanity is the serene, evolutionary masterpiece we believe it can be.

(See? Not just a side trip. Still with me?)

But it's not about that. We can't rehabilitate what doesn't want to rehabilitate. For example, I really want to lose these last few pounds. It was a chore to drag myself out of bed this morning and run my 30 minutes. I really wanted that chocolate chip cooky I had last night, and I ate it, even though I knew that eating out for both lunch and dinner had put me way over any points total I was aiming for. We're just too weak. So, if I can't control something as simple as my own diet and exercise regimen, how can I expect to control my anger when I am wronged? Or my frustration when life gets hard, as it will? Or my desire for pretty, fun things to decorate my home and life?

The beauty of my belief is that I don't have to, but I can. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me to keep my mouth shut even when those around me are acting in a particularly heinous manner. But doing so doesn't earn me a space in the Heavenly choir. Nothing I do gains anything for me when I consider Eternity. It's all been done, 2,000 years ago, and I lean on that plain and simple fact to get me through each horrible, awful day. Because life this side of Heaven is, even at it's best and most beautiful, only a shadow of what is to come. And, even though I know that I will continue to fight against that inevitable day, I will someday know that in spades, when I open my eyes to see my Lord and all the folks in Heaven saying, "C'mon. Further up and further in."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ya Want Some Cheese With That Whine?

So, you put up with one whine yesterday. Have time for another?

Having lost 40-some pounds, I did not want to gain any back. But having been hit by the same economy as most of you, I quit Weight Watchers last fall. It was just got too doggone expensive. Statistics say 95% of people who lose weight will gain it back within 5 years of losing it. I want to be in the 5%.

Well, over this winter, I watched as the scale inched on back up. By the spring equinox, I had gained back 7 pounds. Not too shabby, really, considering that I did NO exercise during the cold months and ate like I was running daily marathons. But I'm paying now.

I am back on a good exercise regimen. I'd like to be able to run in the Harvard Milk Days 10K. Bwahahahaha! I've never run ANY race. I'm not even talking about winning here; I'd be doing good to finish. But I am going to try. So I've been running, and eating right, and walking on the off days, doing yoga and core strengthening...all the good things I should be doing. I've also been taking care of a hobby farm, a garden, and a house. I should be getting fit and trim.

This week? I gained 3 pounds. Yes, I wanted to cry. (There's the whine!) But, instead, I ate properly, stepped up the exercise, and am looking to the future.

I pulled out of it pretty quickly. You're welcome.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Common Courtesy

is not common...

This weekend was an opportunity for Mary and I to hit the dusty trail and head out of town. We stayed with my good friend, Elephant's Child, and enjoyed her hospitality, along with the company of the Mad Musician and Sparkle Kitty. I found the answer to the window-covering problem I've been having for our living room, right there in hers! She also helped me arrange my furniture...from the comfort of her own home. It was a wonderful visit.

On the way down, we stopped at a Noodles and Company, Mary's favorite. We ate there again on our way home. The employees were those nasty college kids, at least the stereotype would tell you that. But they were anything but. Genial, helpful, and very polite; one even asked around until she found just the right route to get us to Coldstone Creamery after our supper. What courteous kids!

Mary was competing in an event this weekend. She could have done better, but knows where she could change that. We were both very surprised to see how some other kids reacted to their placings....You would think 4th in the state would be a respectable finish, but one winner of that placing flounced to the awards stand, rolling her eyes as if she couldn't believe she'd been treated so poorly. Other participants were smiley and gracious, and one girl even accepted multiple awards for girls who had gone home to go to prom, and did so graciously.

The most egregious, aggravating incident happened at the end of the day, when we were walking to our car. Several participants and parents from our group were standing in a group. As we passed, we began to say, "Hello." Every one of them turned their backs on us and ignored our greeting. Even the adults.

Apparently, we've hacked someone off. But it would be helpful to know how. And even courteous to exchange that information with us. But common courtesy isn't.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chickens, Continued

I mentioned some of our older birds the other day, and thought I'd talk about the younguns, too. I bought 17 replacement laying hens last week. Some of you might want to know that I bought 5 Buff Orpingtons, (my favorites) 5 Barred Rocks, 5 Cuckoo Marans and 2 soft blue Americanas. I was on my way to a beautiful flock of laying hens for the next two years or so. I also picked up 25 broiler chicks; birds destined to be supper for Pine Ridge Farm. I headed out yesterday to take some pictures, and then got busy in the evening. It's a good thing I never posted, because you would have fallen in love with them and their youthful adorableness.

And I'd hate to have your heart be broken like mine was.

This morning I went out to find that some animal had gotten into their closed hut last night and butchered all of my laying hen chicks, and four of my meat chicks. The most likely culprit was our own little pack of rats, since the only openings were less than half an inch wide. Those beasts can squeeze into anything! I don't think they dare take on the adult birds, but these little darlings were less than a week old.

Rats and mice are to be expected wherever grain is left in the open, like in our henhouse. We have been fighting these disgusting things for two summers before this one. We've sent the terriers after them, we've trapped them, we've poisoned them, we've shot them, we've even run water into their burrows. Still, we have rats. I mentioned earlier this season that I removed some pegboard which was nailed to the chicken house walls, allowing them places to hide and nest. I haven't run out of ideas, but I apparently didn't implement them soon enough.

I took the remaining meat bird chicks and brought them into the house. Once they are feathered out, I'll put them back into the huts. In between now and then, I'll also be waging chemical, biological and conventional warfare on them. Take that however you'd like; rats deserve no quarter!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Am Such a History Geek!

You do know what Sunday was, don't you? Let me give you a hint; go here. Got it now? Yes, it was the 235th anniversary of the ride of Paul Revere to warn the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord that the British were on the way to seize the weapons stored in Concord.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;=
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

(Thanks, Mr. Longfellow!)

So Sunday I took a minute to write a check to be dropped into the offering plate at church. This poem was running through my head. Is it any surprise that a history geek like me would write the following on her check?

I bet you wish you were me!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Chickens

Busy week here! Mom is in the hospital again and we've been going over and visiting.

So, we have two chickens. Well, we have 18, but these two, a hen and one of our roosters, are brother and sister. They were hatched here about 2 summers ago.

He is a real nasty guy. He takes seriously his role as Protector of The Ladies. Every day, I go into the henhouse and check the food and water situation and sometimes bring vegetable scraps from the kitchen. I take eggs back inside. I think it's a good trade; we sell the eggs to buy their food. Every third week or so, he comes at me with all he's got. I give back as good as I get. I am a little ashamed to admit I usually subdue him with a swift kick. I know, I know, it's undignified for a human, with vastly more intellect and dignity, to resort to kicking a chicken. But he's nasty enough to deserve it. Besides, it keeps him afraid of me. For about three weeks at a time.

She is becoming a real problem. She has learned to fly over the fence. She is light enough that she could do it last summer when we trimmed her wings back. She gets back in every night, but, during the day, she can cause serious trouble. This week, for instance, she discovered my raised beds, and began pecking and scratching through the dirt. That can be a good thing, when she finds weeds and grubs and gets rid of them for me. But yesterday I found that she had, while pecking and scratching, uncovered all my newly-planted potatoes. She also decided that the newly-planted broccoli starts and onion plants were noxious weeds, and she got rid of them for me. I'd like to get rid of her...

That time may be coming soon for both of them. The usual modus operandi is for us to cull the older hens who aren't laying anymore, and the roosters when they're nasty. They go into a soup pot, and I can the broth. Maybe it's not the nicest way to "retire" a hen who has laid many an egg for our table and many others. But when she eats my potatoes before I get a chance to...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


One thing I have always liked is a good thunderstorm. Yeah, I remember being a kid and being terrified of loud, loud thunder in the night. Who wouldn't be? It makes the house shake and it's so sudden and atartling, who can't be forgiven for thinking the house is coming down around thier ears? One of my favorite memories of childhood is sitting in the carport, which faced south, and watching storms roll in from the southwest. We'd be safe and dry, watching long, arcing lightning bolts and feeling the loud rumble of thunder. What was your family's story about thunder? Ours was that God was bowling, and had lost a bowling ball, so the angels were out with flashlights, looking for it.

Well, as spring continues into summer, we're sure to get a number of really nasty thunder-boomers. Actually, we had one last night, I'm told. I slept right through it, but this morning, the evidence was there. Fallen branches, sometimes even fallen trees, lying across roads and in ditches. Our road is closed about a mile north of us; there's a ComEd truck helping to block it, so we can only assume (because we can't drive up there!) that the road is closed due to a downed wire. We had between an inch and an inch and a quarter, if my rain gauge can be rusted; not too shabby. It does make planting my seedlings problematic, though. I have some nice lettuces and cole crops ready to go into the ground, and the ground is all ready for them, too. But I am concerned about putting them in before this band of storms passes; I don't need my lettuces smashed into the ground before I can chop them into a salad bowl!

It should be done passing through sometime tomorrow night, I'm told, so I'll get them out on Thursday. I did get some planting done today, though; rosemary, pansies and a patio tomato all went into pots on the deck. Now we have the fun of hauling in the tomato and rosemary at night, because they don't do well until it's a little warmer; they're the real pansies!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday

A regrouping day. A day for rest after the Celebration.

There are those who disagree with me, who say Christmas is the greatest holiday. I suppose I have to agree that the miraculous coming of the King of Heaven into humanity was a great deed. There are those who tell me, no, Pentecost is the best. And I would have to say that the gift of the Holy Spirit to the faithful, and the simultaneous Birth of the Church is a good, good thing.

But, for me, the highlight of the Church year is Easter, when Jesus's dying on the cross was simultaneously tragic and painful and, yet, a smack right in the eye of Satan. He came down off of that cross and marched right to the gates of Hell, bringing them down with His shout, "It is finished!" How cool is that? And if that wasn't cool enough, three days later, He just gets up, rolls away the big, honkin' stone, and goes for a walk in the garden. Not a march into Jerusalem to say, Ahnold-style, "Listen, you leaders, I'm back" No, just a walk in the garden, as if what He had just done wasn't much.

Even better, He then explained to His disciples that what had just happened could now happen for every person ever on the planet; we will all die, but all will be resurrected. And that's not just for the people who know about Him; that's also for those who don't, who lived before He did and after He did and so on until He comes back, which is pretty soon. Sadly, not everybody believes this way, and those who don't are in for a world of hurt. Some of them belong to my very own family, and it makes for some melancholy on Easter, and whenever I think of it.

So, for me, yesterday was the Best Day Ever. It was 2,000 years ago, and it will be until Jesus comes back. You may have another Favorite Day. If you want to share about it, go ahead. I'll listen. But today I am resting up from my big Celebration, so I hope you'll forgive me if I just read and ruminate.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Now The Green Blade Rises

A hymn I seldom hear, but is so appropriate both for today, and for those of us who lay seeds in the ground and wait...and watch.

May we also remember, at those times when we lay those we love into the ground, the Lord watches over them as we wait and watch for His return. They, and we, will "springeth green."

Pro-Life Corner

You are valuable to God because He made you and He loved what He made so much that He was conceived in a womb, born in a stable, suffered on a cross, buried in a tomb. Then He rose again to say, "Yes" to it all, to say, "Yes" to you, to give you His victory over death and the grave. That's love!

Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Cold rain today. The horses are in, and none too happy about it. But that's their problem.

I got potatoes, beets and carrots planted yesterday. Mary seeded another pasture. If the grackles didn't get too much seed this morning, the rain should do it all good. I just checked the garden and saw....our first weeds of the season are up! Woo hoo! Gotta love gardening.

We already hit Menard's and Farm and Fleet, casing out prices for some projects to be done later this spring. Rainy mornings are good for that. Now we're home, waiting on little people to come and color eggs. It should be a good evening; colorful eggs, colorful kids, pizza for supper, and the chocolate will flow. Grandma Peterman sent a HUGE box of goodies for Easter and I bought some myself, so we should be fat and happy tonight.

Seems like an odd way, though, to observe the death and resurrection of the Lord. Well, He DID say, "I came that they might have life, and have it to the full," and He DID create chocolate, after all. Who are we to question the workings of His divine mind?

Friday, April 2, 2010

You're Kidding Me, Right?

I'm serious. This has to be a joke, right? People can't seriously even consider this a possibility.

Thanks, Glenda!

Friday Fun

Yeah, missed blogging yesterday, and you missed out on a good recipe. I made Beef Stroganoff from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated Magazine. I just discovered this about a month ago, and was planning to order a subscription tout de suite. BUT I discovered their other magazine, Cooks' Country, and can't decide between the two. May have to do both...

Yesterday I got the second round of transplants started, including BEANS. I have never started those from transplants, having been taught young that they don't transplant well. But I hate waiting for those fresh beans, and I've been seeing them in the garden stores over the past few years. Now, I suppose that's a nice way for them to make a few more bucks, but I decided to start them in peat pots. Maybe that will work, maybe not; call it an experiment.

Today, potatoes will finally go in the ground. I am planting Yukon Gold, Kennebec, and Red Pontiac. I need to get some Russets, too, but not yet. I'm worried about the Yukon Gold doing well, because they came from the store and who knows if they've been treated to prevent sprouting. the produce lady told me she didn't think so, and they've sprouted from this distributor before, so, again, another experiment! I picked them up at the store because I couldn't find any in the local garden stores, and they were just too doggone expensive from my usual potato place. I actually haven't ordered from them in a couple of years, because of the expense. But they have varieties I haven't seen anywhere else, so I keep getting their catalogs.

Mary is off at the vet clinic, John and Mom are having bacon and eggs, and the horses need hay. I should get off, and head out to feed them. In my hustle and bustle I will stop today and remember that this is Good Friday. I've been asked why it's "Good." If Jesus died, why is that "Good"? Because His Death and Resurrection opened the way to Heaven for you and me, gave us the hope of eternal life, and redeemed all of creation from Adam's Fall. I would call that..Good.