Sunday, July 31, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I'm not the only one who loves this fabulously warm weather we've been having. The garden is lovin' it, too! (Oh, and the weeds, the weeds, have been lovin' it, too) After a very slow start this spring, everything is finally looking awesome! (Even the weeds)

The beans are climbing voraciously (I'm hoping to see blossoms before too long).

The corn, while still shorter than it should be, has grown exponentially during the past two weeks, and a couple of the tallest plants are beginning to tassel.

I had to thin the carrots (sad!) but at least we got to enjoy a handful of very tender baby carrots (happy!). We've been enjoying lettuce for several weeks.

The greenhouse-bought tomato plants are fruiting... and so are some of the plants I started at home! The dozen I started from seed were so small and scrawny when it was time to move them to the garden that I went ahead and bought four more plants from the local greenhouse, just to make sure we get some toms even if we do get an early frost. I'm now optimistic about getting fruit from many of the 16 tomato plants! I'm hoping to can a lot of sauce :)

Let's see, the pumpkins have spilled from their bed, over the retaining wall and are trying to creep across the alley. The gourds aren't quite there yet, but are filling in nicely.

The potatoes, which are planted in a "box" this year (more about this experiment in another post) are lush and blooming. (Those tall things in the background are volunteer hollyhocks from where I dumped last year's stalks. I love volunteers!)

The one volunteer sunflower I let stay is huge and happy. Not as tall as usual (yet), but massive in girth. I'm excited to see the blossom!

And the strawberries, after an onslaught of tiny berries in late June/early July, are pulling out of their July lull and beginning their all-the-way-until-really-hard-frost run of much more decently sized berries.

For the first time since we planted these babies we've gotten more than 12 berries! The bushes are loaded and we're eagerly awaiting full ripening!

Garden space was at a premium this year, and yet this enormous wild thing has found its way into my heart and comes back year after year in the vegetable garden where it takes a rather large bite out of the row real estate. Oh well. Hollyhocks make me happy.

All this makes me very, very happy. If I could break out in song in a blog post, I would.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good Reads

I don't read a lot of nonfiction (unless you count all the textbooks we go through in the course of a school year), but the last two books I read were "Miracle at Tenwek" on the life and ministry of Dr. Ernie Steury, a missionary doctor in Kenya, and "In His Feathers," the journals and letters of Sharon Bomgaars as she walks the road of ovarian cancer.

"Tenwek" was about a life well lived; "Feathers" about a death well met. Despite the books' very different foci (yes, foci is the plural of focus, I checked), each character inspired me with their strong and sure faith, touched me with their struggles, clinched my sympathy with their wrestlings between desire and contentment, and brought me to tears with their deaths. (It's awkward to cry at the pool during swimming lessons -- I should learn to bring lighter books to read while the boys swim!)

While reading "Miracle at Tenwek," I was blown away by the impact of one man fully committed to God and doing his will. The Tenwek mission hospital's motto is "We treat, Jesus heals," and Dr. Steury made certain that each patient who came into the hospital heard the gospel message, even when the beds were overflowing and over half the patients were sleeping on the floor. It made me think I live far too comfortably.

"In His Feathers" I found particularly riveting, perhaps because I know Mrs. Bomgaar's brother, and brief parts of her story were set in areas very familiar to me, but mostly because of her heart's cry. For years, though healthy, she prayed God would allow her to live to see her children grown, so when she was diagnosed with "a tiger of a cancer" in her 40s, she wavered between longing for more life and feeling God had already given her so much time.

At one point she described her feelings in this way (if she hadn't written this over 10 years ago I might have thought she was eavesdropping during my devotional time!):

"I have less control, much less control over my life than I thought I did. That realization is a sort of acquiescence -- a wimpy acquiescence, as if I'm saying, 'Oh God, I hate to let you control things because I'm afraid you will mess them up; but since you are in the driver's seat, I'll shut my eyes and hang on and hope for the best.' That's NOT a full-blown trust. A real trust says, 'God, you are good and what you do will be the best for my children whom you love more than I do.' That is the kind of trust I need!"

"Tenwek" inspired me to live more fully devoted to God, no matter the struggles around me, and "Feathers" inspires me pray that I will be gracious and grateful in my death, no matter its circumstances.

Now on to something that I hope won't make me cry!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Tempest

They rolled into town mid-afternoon, dressed in black and ominous. The locals cast furtive glances their way. Most headed for cover. Everyone knew what was coming.

For a couple hours all was calm, but the stifling heat that lay over the town like an itchy blanket took its toll. A flash and a bang and thunder rolled like gunfire through the streets. Hoofbeats of rain pounded the ground raising a steamy mist off the overheated streets.

The tempest ranted and raged and blustered, but the thunderheads could not sustain their barrage indefinitely. Ammunition soon ran dry, and the blustersome force rolled grumbling out of town. A few parting shots rang out as their dark backsides disappeared over the horizon. The storm moved on to terrorize another town.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The boys are developing a new line of kitchenware.

In case of breakage it can be rebuilt easily.

It comes in a variety of colors.

And I've been given a complimentary set!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Decent Exposure

I'd like to take a few inches of blog space today to address an issue of concern to myself and other vain gardeners (if you have overcome vanity, as I obviously have not, this does not apply to you). Today's post has nothing to do with weeds, or even desirable plants, nor yard decor or water elements. No, today's topic is that of obtaining the perfect tan.

No amount of spf 50 sunscreen can completely prevent an avid gardener from developing a sunkissed hue, and honestly, would we want it to? A tan is one of those beautiful benefits of tending a garden.

However, one of must exercise discernment in acquiring a lovely tan while gardening. One might argue that clothing that exposes the most skin would be most conducive to procuring the most color. However, anyone with a modicum of modesty must realize that bending, squatting and kneeling -- positions oft struck during planting, weeding and raking -- are not suitable for the scantily clad. Unless, of course, one gardens in a very private or secluded area. In which case one would have no need for clothes at all while working in the yard and could enjoy gardening just as Adam and Eve did in their pre-fall paradise. Sadly that is not my situation.

Anyway, back to the dilemma of maximizing skin exposure to the sun while minimizing skin exposure to the neighbors. This is an art I am still attempting to master, but here are my suggestions:

• Time your yard work according to your neighbors' work schedules, so that when you're baring skin in the direction of their windows, they are not at home peeping through them.
• Put flowers in your hair to camouflage yourself.
• If you have an elderly neighbor whose eyesight is failing, work on that side of your house when the neighbors on the other side are home.
• Lay low in the rows of the vegetable garden (remember to work up one row and down the next to even toast each side of your body).
• Fence or hedge in your entire yard.
• Put a sign in your front yard saying "Look! A plane!"
• Or, and here is my personal ploy of choice, become that obnoxious person who, whenever spotted, causes others to immediately turn and walk in the opposite direction without so much as a nod, howdy or second glance. Warning: this action can have serious repercussions on your social life, but who really needs a social life when you've got a great garden and a fabulous tan?