Thursday, December 24, 2009
Our image this year has the first snow angel of the year in the center, surrounded by a bountiful beautiful wreath. At this special time of year, Jim and I want to wish all of you the healthiest and happiest of holiday seasons. We feel so very blessed to be in our comfortable home and have wonderful family and friends nearby to share love with.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
We gather everyone up, young and old, and straggle along laughing and talking the 1/3 mile country road to the bridge. There are certain traditions that have to be honored during that walk.
The state line is on the way, so we each have to take a big step when crossing that line and say, "Now! We're in Michigan."
Then when we get to the stream, we each pick up a small stick, throw it into the water on the upstream side of the bridge, carefully check for traffic, then all rush over to the other side of the bridge to watch for our sticks to come drifting out. This part sometimes has to be done 8 or 9 times until all the little ones are content to move on.
In warm weather, we have to walk down the path to the swamp and look for the toads in the shallow water and on the logs. We toss little pebbles nearby to see if we can scare them into hopping away. Normally they just watch us with their buggly eyes.
This morning the 4" of clean white snow was so beautiful and my daughter in South Carolina was homesick for the beauty, so asked for a picture of the stream. Jim took a walk and came back with a whole virtual winter walk. I hope you enjoy it too.
A little further on.
Getting close! Watch for a stick to throw!
There's the bridge, almost there.
The swamp, no toads to be seen today.
Downstream. The water's very dark and quiet today. In the summer it's clear and fast. You can see the bottom rocks and sometimes the big salmon who venture this far from the big lake.
The new path into the woods by the swamp. Nobody walking there this cold day.
.....and back home again. Don't you feel refreshed?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I recently turned 65, and officially old. Over the past year or so, I’ve been receiving mailings to sell me stuff leading up to that special day. I’ve also gotten about 40 pounds-(how many dead trees is that?)-of advertising material just on the subject of medicare supplement plans, and that doesn’t include ads for burial policies, reverse mortgages, and nursing home insurance plans. Sheesh!
So, even if I were inclined to just let this birthday slide by like most others, there have been constant reminders to make me think about how important it must be.
I hadn’t really thought a lot about it, other than a random thought recognizing that fact that these years are rushing by very fast, and the old body just doesn’t work as well or quickly as it used to. I’ve tried to just realize that I can’t move as fast as I used to-but luckily since I’m retired, I don’t have to move as fast anymore. Nice how that works out. Maybe this is a good time to stop and take stock of what this milestone means-and sort out what I believe. This is the result of that sorting out.
I do know these things:
I believe in Family-whether by birth, marriage, adoption or just great affection. The family bond is our best hope for health, sanity and happiness.
Here are some things I was once dumb enough to buy into and will never do again. Pretending to be something I’m not, and trying to buy, bully or brag my way into some kind of status I haven’t earned-or buying into that kind of action from others.
I truly don’t understand- how most of us sit night after night watching others murdered, raped, beaten and abused. Most entertainment now is about seeing others hurt in some way. The police true crime dramas that show real people who’ve committed crimes sniveling and excusing themselves feel like slimy voyeurism. I feel like we are desensitizing ourselves to the sight of hurt in others and it makes abuse a normal part of life. We should wince seeing someone else hurt and be bothered by it. How can this be our entertainment?
I’ve been so very lucky. I’ve watched my own children and many others who have been part of my life grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults with families of their own, and I’m lucky enough to have an ongoing loving relationship with them. Wonderful, wonderful.
I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the last wild places in
It’s the small things that are so very important too. I used to hike with a partner who loved the mountaintop vistas. She’d be looking at the far away view, while I was crouched on the side of the trail looking at the tiny flowers on the moss. I love the accessable magic and believe that being able to see those tiny things and treasure them weaves the fabric of a happy life. The soft coo of a baby just learning to relate to others, and the joy of a child touching an earthworm for the first time-those moments are treasures, so be kept close to the heart and looked at in memory, again and again.
I’ve been very lucky to find a real partner in my life to share these years with-an unusual man who's strong enough to be gentle and who shares my views on almost everything to an extent I never believed possible. I don’t know how many years we will have left together, but I intend to make them as good and strong as I can, because this we have now, is very good.
For the future—I want to know everything, to learn more, experience more, and see more. It’s been a great ride for these past 65 years, and I hope for more, more, more-there’s a lot to see and do yet.
And lastly, here’s my current favorite poem that expresses a lot of my feeling for the way we treat each other, and our place in the natural world.
Catechism for a Witch’s Child
When they ask to see your gods
your book of prayers
show them lines
drawn delicately with veins
on the underside of a bird's wing
tell them you believe
in giant sycamores mottled
and stark against a winter sky
and in nights so frozen
stars crack open spilling
streams of molten ice to earth
and tell them how you drink
a holy wine of honeysuckle
on a warm spring day
and of the softness
of your mother who never taught you
death was life's reward
but who believed in the earth
and the sun
and a million, million light years
© 1986 J.L.Stanley
Friday, December 11, 2009
Recently I've been taking a class in gardening. It's offered in each county and comes out from Purdue University through the local County Extension office. What a wonderful group of people, from the County Extension Agent who was kind and patient, and so very knowledgable, to all the terrific people taking the class. It was great fun just to be in a room full of other people who loved gardening, and all of us so intent on learning more about our particular interest within the gardening world.
All of us had a slightly different take on the whole thing, from those who lived in town and mostly container gardened, to a market seller sharpening her considerable skills, to flower fanatics, at least one lawn nut and several like me, who wanted to just grow better veggies.
I learned so much during that time, but at the end of the classes, we had to gear up for a test, and pass it. Now, it's been over 20 years since I've taken anything more taxing than a blood test, so I was a bit nervous about the whole prospect, then got a cold and spent most of the week leading up to that big moment sniffling over the book, reading and rereading the pages, then just hugging it and hoping to soak up the answers by osmosis.
There was a lot of very basic science information that's heavy stuff, like the 16 essential nutrients that a plant needs to grow that there was no way my brain was ever going to memorize. Lots more that's just common sense once you understand the processes, and lots of complex structures that are hard to remember. There were 70 questions, and many had multiple parts, but in the end, I passed! What a relief!
So I'm now officially a Master Gardening Trainee. Over the next year, I need to put in 35 hours volunteering to help other gardeners, and spend some time learning more, then I'll be a full fledged Master Gardener. I'm really looking forward to the experience. It'll be fun.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
The jury group was a real cross section of ages and types of people, but all of us had this in common. We had lives that we missed and we resented the time gone, but were sincerely dedicated to trying to do the best job we could in finding justice.
It was tough, trying to wade through all the information we'd been given, but we spent hours carefully sifting through the notes we all took and settling all of our questions. We even drew up a time line to try to figure out when things happened.
In the end, the defendant pled guilty in hopes of a light sentence, and we didn't have to deliver a judgement. It was quite a learning experience, and all of us reported nights of tossing and turning, worrying about the child in the case, and frustration at the lack of information we were provided.
We were very impressed with the Judge, bailiff and court workers, not so much about the organization of the lawyers involved, and grateful that we could go home and get our lives back.
My lasting impressions from the experience are these. Stupidity is not criminal, but may look like it. Be careful how you handle the precious children in your lives. And if you see something that makes you wonder about how a child is being related to--step up, don't let it continue.
I also was left with a serious admiration for my fellow jurists, who all, without exception, tried so hard to fulfill our civic duty and find the right and true and just answer in this case.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The trees are changing colors fast and dropping their leaves. I'm raking them up, piling them on a small tarp and dragging them out to the garden to feed next year's plants. One big pile is waiting for Anna to arrive so she can jump on them with joy.It's coming together, pretty soon we'll be ready for that snug time of year, when we can stay warm and comfy inside, sipping a glass of wine by the stove, while snow blows and winds rage outside. Not quite yet though!
Monday, October 05, 2009
First, pick the area-this is at the east end of the garden with sun most of the day, and if I put it right outside the fence and keep it mulched, it'll keep down those weeds that keep moving into the garden on that end. I started by making a sort of enclosure with some old aluminum soffett pieces that we don't need. I nailed them to the fence posts, tin-snipped the corners, and pounded in small stakes and nailed the metal to the top.Next, laid down thick layers of newspapers-Followed by lots of maple leaves, raked and watered down thoroughly.Then the woody plants from fall garden cleaning, ashes from the wood stove, and some dirt from leveling the greenhouse floor.
Yesterday I put three big tubs in the back of the truck and drove to the neighboring horse farms to find some fresh manure to pile on. They all have these big piles right next to the barn, and usually are fine with you just loading up with you need. The first place had access to the pile blocked by a truck. Second one, nobody was home. At the third place, she dropped what she was doing and invited me back to the barn. Said the stall needed cleaning anyway and she'd just pile it right into my bins-and she did! What a terrific person. I promised her some asparagus someday, but cautioned her that it'd be a while. It was just scraped right out of a horse stall and still wet, so it should be quite active and heat the pile up well.Picked up some cardboard I'd put down in the garden paths to add to the stack, and found all kinds of critters living in there, worms, slugs, and this little salamander.One more thick layer of maple leaves-wet from recent rains that saved me the task of hosing it all down.Then finish with black plastic with pieces of wood to hold it down. As it settles in, hopefully I'll be able to tuck it in more securely to let it rest until spring. What happens next is that all that stuff is to work in there along with worms and compost action and when I pull off the plastic in spring it'll be a whole bed of weed free, soft, crumbly healthy black dirt to plant our asparagus roots into. I can almost taste those delicious green crunchy spears now.
This bed is about 2' wide, by 25' long, and should hold plenty of asparagus rootstock in the spring to satisfy our needs. I sure do love asparagus.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
We have a new Grandson! And he just may probably be the most beautiful boy ever born, ever!
What an exciting time! It’s been Grandma and Grandpa week here. My son and his wife brought their little boy into the world on Friday and we got to share in the process in a supportive role. What a wonderful thing to be able to share that birth. Things are so very different now when babies come into the world. Mom was past her due date, so they told her on Thursday that they’d induce her the next day. That gave them the time to set everything up and make all their plans and preparations. Babies by appointment! Can you believe it? Big Sister went to the hospital with them for the start of the whole process, so she got to feel involved, checking out the equipment, playing with Dad, sitting on the bed with Mom.
As soon as they got Mom and baby cleaned up and settled in, we made the call for Grandpa
While they were in the hospital, we had our granddaughter with us, and it was fun watching her accept her new role. She’s very proud to be the Big Sister, but occasionally relapses a bit into babyish behavior as she needed just a little bit of reassurance. We went back in to visit the morning after and she was so worn out afterward that she napped almost 3 hours, but woke up much more her usual sunny self. The next day we took her to the hospital so they could go home as a family all together. After buckling both children securely in the back seat, they headed off home, Grandpa in the following car with flowers, balloons peeking out the open sunroof, gifts and bags.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
While they smoked the ham in the barrel smoker, then browned it over an open fire, we women went to the South Bend Chocolate factory and took the tour. There were 5 little boys on the tour with it and they freaked out-just a little-over the hair nets we were required to wear. We all loved the free tastes at the end of the tour though!
On Sunday we went to Millennium Park in Chicago-and the Bean is just the greatest! We finished up at Miller's for their great ribs. What a neat time.