Spring Things

I was recently reflecting on how spring seems to be passing me by this year.  I heard someone say that we’ve had no spring, but indeed we have.  It is on the calendar and in the heavens.  But they are right in that it has been too cold and rainy to do the spring things we usually try to do about now.  So I guess that is where my thoughts and reality come to convergence (and I love when that happens): If I don’t hurry and do the spring things outside that need doing, while it isn’t raining, they won’t get done and summer will come crashing in on me.

If you happen to recall my last spring’s thunderous disinterest about my gardens, that last paragraph may sound ambitious.   But each spring brings a different thing to us.  There is still time to get a jump on summer and if you need help, call me.  I’m willing but ignorant.   And just so we’re clear, what you’ll get is an immediate appointment for my physical labor in your garden, that brings no expertise, just experience and a fresh eye.

My children could vouch that a recurring motto with me is “Learn by others’ mistakes.  You don’t have time to learn all you need to by making your own”.  My concern here is that we all make mistakes – and hopefully learn from them.  But if we rely on making a mistake in order to learn a hard thing – we’ll be fresh out of years before we learn some really valuable things in time to use them.  So while I never advocate being nosy and watching for dirt, one can be wise and realize things going on and quietly learn.   When they were very young it worked like this:  one child gets in trouble for something, the rest see that go down and decide to not do it themselves.   Life’s simple little lessons continue all our lives that way.

Last night we were helping Jonathan (the current main beekeeper here), install a whole bunch of bees into two different yards.  He’s trying Russian bees this year.   Now some people say that type is more aggressive, but we were thinking that after bouncing in a horse trailer for 900+ miles in the rain, anybody would be temporarily aggressive.  So we all received bee stings, and I personally am resisting the urge to say : “Здасвуйте мой товарищ!”

Tonight’s dinner will be salad, and some burgers that I found done up in the freezer.  I think I’ll try them on the grill.  With me, that is always a risky endeavor, but Mark cleaned it, so I should not need my usual arsenal to put the fire out.  Odd juxtaposition of words, but you knew what I meant.  The salad will be whatever I clean out of the vegetable bin, added to the lettuce and tomatoes from the greenhouse and the burgers are truly a cleaning of that section of freezer.  I must have thought I would use them right away because I never labeled them.  It’s clear though what they are (so I hope I’m right).  Any potential freezer burn can easily be masked with enough ketchup and mustard.    So in true Pam fashion: tonight is clean the fridge night.

I think I’ll make a cup of coffee and take it outside with me.  Go watch somebody else for a bit.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Suddenly, the days are longer.

Ok I realize it wasn’t suddenly in real time, but when you look here, we go from getting shorter pretty quickly, to now it is 6:17pm  and still pretty light out.  Miraculous really.  A lot of happenings between then and now, but also a lot of being sick.  I don’t like excuses though and really it is only myself that misses posts here. :-)  Actually, what I really miss, is the stream of events that brings a thought to a series of thoughts, to writing them down until I like it, to posting it on something permanent.  It’s been falling flat on the writing them down part.  I hope any who stumble on this will forgive me for that bit of self-centeredness (the thing I just said).

IMG_7382Kim is big in the news here at our house.  She is sorting and making lists, sewing dresses for her uniform and generally vacillating between being excited and nervous.  It will be her first time moving from home for longer than a few months and that is scary for her.  And we will miss her (!)  But we want our children to have good,normal, happy lives and this was an event that was an answer to specific prayer.  Well, that and she passed her boards (nursing test). Go Kim!    Mountain View in Aroda, VA will soon have a new nurse.

The snow in the yard is almost gone.  The snow on the nearby ski hills is not almost gone.  Yet it gets a dull sheen to it that indicates spring is near.  It seemed like a brief winter.  Late in coming, early in leaving.  Perhaps I will retract that in March.  Some of our worst snow storms happen in March.

Jonathan is at Bible School and loving it.  He wants me to bring his unicycle :-0 .  The Trumpeter Swans are migrating again, and we plug along each day doing all the needful things.  And I am realizing that I got as far on “the stream of events”, as writing them down.  I’ll probably also even get it on my site (such as it is).  But clever has taken a vacation.  I hope it returns in my lifetime.

As always,

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

“I don’t know how you do it”

I have stated before that I can barely get my native English language right, and have found myself the village idiot, in a few other languages too.  But if I’m not mistaken, the phrase “I don’t know how you do it”, usually is the speaker’s way of saying something nice right?  As in “you’re amazing”.  My mom is over here a lot, which is nice.  Today I was trying to make some breakfast and discuss the potato project afterwards, while fighting kind of an unusual mess even for a Monday.  I know what you’re thinking.  Something like “I can’t go to bed without making sure the kitchen is clean and ready to use in the mornings”, or “Mondays are so hard anyway I sure would never leave it messy the night before”.  Yeah, I know.   So anyway, while we are fighting the stuff, she sat down and said it:  “I just don’t know how you do it”.  And what *she* meant was, “I don’t know how you can think or do anything in this mess”.  I know her better than you so I know this is true :-) .  Now she actually thinks pretty highly of me, it’s just that she was commenting on something she just couldn’t handle right then.  I laughed to myself and just kept on going, but I felt it a bit too.  Some things just can’t be helped though and now I’m at the end of the day and things have worked out.   But the comment reminded me of when I tell people “You could eat off my kitchen floor”.   (the reason for that is that there is usually food on it).

Oldest daughter unit is visiting with her family.   While Lauryl and the 2 year old were playing in the girls room, Lauryl started shooting a hair band at the window.   The 2 year old then told her to “grow up”.  So Lauryl comes out to the kitchen to tell me this and laughingly says that if a 2 year old is telling her to grow up then she may need to take it seriously now.  We’ll see :-D

Well that’s all the news for now that I’m willing to part with anyway.  Some things should stay in my head and heart where they are safe.  Life has a way of working things out anyway.

Have a peaceful Christmas Season.  It was meant for that you know.  Not for stress or striving.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

 Deep roots are not reached by the frost

Mark has been growing vegetables in the basement, hydroponically.  Also, he has continued the garden after the frost (back in September) using cloth over bended poles to cover things like broccoli and cabbage (pretty easy) and lettuce (not as easy).  I have a potted cherry tomato that I brought in to put under his lights.  With all this, I’ve noticed a few things:  The lettuce that grows inside is beautiful, but it’s leaves are thinner, not as crunchy as the lettuce grown outside in the cold.  It is also cleaner.  Mark prefers the outdoor lettuce because he likes the crunch.  I prefer the indoor lettuce because I like that it isn’t dirty.  It seems the cold hardens them- makes them stronger.   We have a number of tomato plants in the basement.  Mine that I mentioned, is doing pretty well under regular lighting and is well in the basement where it stays fairly warm. But again, without the winds to strengthen the stalk, it is weaker than summer tomatoes outside.  I water it and deadhead the marigolds and pretend I have a garden there (in my little plant pot).  There are also some that Mark cloned from my garden favorites, near the window where they only get natural sunlight (such as it currently is).  It isn’t cold, but it also isn’t as warm there.  These plants are spindly and tall and cannot hold themselves up and the leaves are beginning to get wilty even though they have everything else they need.  They also prevent the curtains closing in the master guestroom down there so my apologies to those visitors who have had to sleep with cats or coyotes peering in the window through the tomato leaves.  Then there was a tomato plant out in our new greenhouse.  The floor heat wasn’t connected in there yet so while there was a bit of sunlight low in the sky, and it wasn’t freezing in there, there was no wind and the floor wasn’t warm.  This tomato plant produced quite a few tomatoes just before it died for no apparent reason.  It turns out that the roots on a tomato plant need warmth. I keep thinking about that one, along with the hardening of the lettuce.  I believe I’ll keep thinking on it because there is a message in there somewhere.  

In case you are wondering about pollination for those tomato flowers, Mark uses a toothbrush.  :-)  We’ve been kept in plenty of salad for a couple of months now.  It’s great.

On an even more fun note, Jonathan is home again after over 3 years in Haiti.  The first Sunday he was home, he woke the other boys up with a fog horn/siren/revelle medley through a loud speaker.  Mark and looked at each other in the kitchen and said “Jon’s home”.   Jonathan has a different way of looking at life, or perhaps just way more of how we look at life, but we like him that way.  We also like that he listens to us and adjusts.  Welcome home Jon!

As we prepare for another family wedding, there is much to do.  Between all that though, the children made a snowman and the hunters keep hunting. Normalcy continues and we strive for peace.  The fabric of life is woven deep.  Life doesn’t have to be perfect, to be wonderful.

Have a great week,

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

 

All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
(J.R.R.Tolkien)

 

Driving miss Pam

Driving miss Pam

Driving miss Pam

With another child learning to drive, I once again am being chauffeured around the area.  At some point I’ll be able to bring a book.  I’ve rather enjoyed this time with each new driver.  It’s a good time to just go places together.

Speaking of another child: oldest daughter unit has had another, every bit as sweet as the first.  I can hardly wait to meet child number 2.  This new source of inspiration turns my activities rather quickly from produce to fabric.  You can see why:

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Local News:

The onset of the new school year sometimes brings odd yet interesting unit studies.  A local school kicked off with a “1970’s” unit.  Tie-dying, washing with patchouli soap, brownies.  Because of the nature of that decade, it was decided to limit things to those safe topics.  A brief music lesson on war protest songs was also included.

It has been noticed that during the busy season of late summer, baskets of clean clothes unmold rather like jello when finally turned out to be folded.  This object lesson in inertia and gravity and time, was demonstrated during story time, where they are currently navigating their way through Carry On Mr. Bowditch.

A recent trip to McDonald’s was… a good opening for a lesson on Agoraphobia, when “Coughing Guy” showed up to buy food.  Most folks backed up and sat down with or without their food, while others decided to just take it home (which was, of course, the right answer).

The weather is cooling, which means all recent experiments in plant propagation must move inside.  The Ku…..Geraniums first, since they are so touchy.  But the other Grandma involved in this must be told that things are looking up and a topiary form (think T. Rex) is on the horizon.
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Have a great September, at whichever Latitude you find yourself,

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

 

 

In Progress

As this New Year progresses, and is now in its toddler stage, I would like to make a few comments on it.  To myself really, I guess.  A sort of catharsis happens when one writes it down, and posts it out there to where nobody cares, but *could* read it if necessary.

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~January had its ups and down.  The downs cause us to look up and strive through them (hopefully not in vain).  The high points are; visitors, and quiet days, and playing outside in the snow as only the Johnson’s do.

~February is our family’s first birthday of the year.  Jonathan – who was born one very cold, lonely winter.  His presence was welcome like a sweet spring morning and his name give for David’s beloved friend.  Jonathan was here for his birthday this year.  Here from Haiti, where he lives currently.  Birthdays around here aren’t hugely spectacular, but they are filled with love and care and little presents. And ice cream pie this year.  Call me for the recipe-it’s easy.

I’m currently trying to resume the routine, at the same time, mentally gear up for Valentine’s Day, at which time the oldest daughter unit still living at home, will leave for….8 weeks total for Bible School.  Good for her – it’s a big step.  I’m glad we’ll be close by to smuggle in treats and clothing.   We may even tour the SPAM museum before dropping her off. :-)

Have a great February.  Don’t let the cumulative extra 1/4 day for the few years get to you.  It will be rectified in 2016 then we can breath easy and begin again.

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

November hits

So Lilly went deer hunting.

So Lilly went deer hunting.

Lillian got a deer this year.  The jerky is made, we’ll be making sausage and bratwurst in a few days.  Then there will be a thorough scrubbing of the kitchen and we’ll move on.

Novembers, here in Minnesota, are usually gloomy,barren, brown, and dark, with little to recommend them.  Often we’ll say “we may as well just get snow”.  And this November, we have it.  It snarled traffic in the Twin Cities, but out here it’s just pretty.  Of course we must put on our “icy, snowy road” mind, skills and driving methods, because those who don’t, end up in ditches or fields.  So far, nobody I know.

In other news, I finished another re-reading of Adam Bede.  Again.  While the story itself is sad, with a lot of bits you find yourself wishing would be different this reading (rather like an Abraham Lincoln biography), the telling of it is so beautiful that I find a refreshed love of words, descriptions, phrase turns and the English language all over again. It also ends well enough.  It is odd though, how we like to identify with one character or another in our favourite stories.  We all might like to be rather like Dinah Morris, but inwardly cringe that we may in fact, tend more toward Hetty Sorrel, only to realize with a start, that worse yet, we may actually be most like Arthur Donnithorne.  I do know a real life Adam Bede though, even a Seth Bede perhaps.  Her Bartle Massey reminds me strongly of Silas Marner (in the book with the same name) and I often have wondered if she knows someone like that, and put him in both books.

The year is marching to its end, quickly.  I’ll try to stay afloat. Until next time:

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

 

The Sun is at Zenith over the Equator

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Fall means a lot of things at this latitude; Lots of tomatoes- some still very green, bell peppers that have had a rough summer, apples all over the place, beets, and carrots.  The house smells like pizza sauce one day, another day apple sauce.  Flowers and tropical plants return to their sunny place in the living room.  Sunflower stalks get pulled out, non-hardy bulbs get brought out of the garden and unceremoniously dropped into an ice cream bucket because I am not as indefatigable as I used to be but they love to be layered in sand for the winter I hear.  Honey being extracted, and if we’re lucky, we break a frame and bring that one in to spread on toast, wax and all.   And the most breathtaking thing – the annual breakdown of chlorophyll in deciduous tree leaves that gives way to various hues of orange, reds, and yellow.  I think I like it best when a tree is about halfway there.  It must be there have been enough decades of this for me to not hate fall so much anymore.  It still strikes a piercing note in my heart – everything changing so fast and so much…and so much out of any control of mine.

There are equal amounts of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere, as in the Southern Hemisphere today- Equinox.  I write this on the first day of autumn…on the calendar.  It’s seemed that way for a few weeks now.  It came on suddenly.  One day we’re swimming in bright hot sunshine at Aunt Denise’s house or the lake, and then within days it quickly became darker at both ends of the day.  Maybe the extra dark is good for us.  I believe if we think on it, we pray differently.  We thank Him for different things now than in the heat of summer. Glorious summer.  We pray quiet prayers, sometimes without words, lifting our hearts up in our hands to Him.  This prepares us for the winter.

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As long as the earth endures

After a questionable, early spring with rare sun and lots of mud, we returned from Jeremiah’s wedding in NY to find the farm fields with that haze of green corn sprouts that feel hopeful and full of promise.  So I stop to ponder other hopeful things: visiting with distant family, knowledge of friends, words to songs, coffee in the wee morning, sunshine streaking across the fields just before setting.  And some days more than others, we must purpose to look for hopeful things.  Now that we are in June and spring is almost at an end, I look towards summer, with its regular paces of the perennials making their way through the weeks of summer.  Summer is what MN is all about (except for winter, and possibly spring), so we are looking forward to campfires, garden work, swimming, extreme warmth, and other routine events and rituals that add to our days.  Day by day we make our way through each season, knowing that the next one is not too far distant, but purposing to enjoy the one we are in to the fullest.

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Jonathan's spring turkey

Jonathan’s spring turkey

 Jonathan has returned to Haiti.  Sister Kim went with him for 2 weeks and they are enjoying some leisurely summer time there.  He came home and got right to business: he shot a turkey during our brief spring turkey season, and smoked it (it’s not as bad as it sounds).  He and Mark went fishing, and he visited church as often as he could while in town. He was in 2 weddings as well, so time flies.  Jacob is minus the use of his right arm for the summer, so we girls and Stephen will be the ones fighting back the woods and prairie this summer.  And Mark will help us along and fix our mistakes and equipment, when he is home and available.

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Local news miniature

There will be concerts in the white block silo (the acoustics are incredible) weekly.  Be sure to turn the electric fence off before squeezing between the wires to the silo entrance.  Concerts aren’t long since the pigeons still live in the top.

2 Roving ELCA pastors currently in the area, are having great success alienating people from religion as they visit various surgery sites wanting to pray with victims  patients before their surgery.  They are the ones who sit in the waiting room way too close to you, discussing loudly their various ecumenical programs, politically correct schemes, and different formats of worship.  Waiting room visitors who don’t quietly move away, have mentioned they prefer a humble friendly face and a real smile with no strings attached.

The new parakeet “Jeeves” has found his permanent spot right next to his best friend (the mirror).  The Parrot is attempting to bring this narcissus out of his trance by screeching at him.  Efforts are being made to re- program this Quaker parrot back to its pacifist roots as it continues to behave more Baptist than Quaker.

Next edition we will discuss the difference between pacifism and non-resistance.  Until then, take the name of Jesus with you.
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Signs of Spring around our Place

The giant snow piles are nearly all gone, but that isn’t as clear a sign of spring as honeybees loose in the house and the local Dairy Queen finally open for business.

Our Very Small Dairy Queen (for our Very Small Town). :-)

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My bee gloves have had a rather foolish hole in them for a couple years.   Mark never gets holes in his.

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I finally fixed them with Mark’s fly tying thread.  Had to use a thimble because I couldn’t find my small needle nosed pliers. :-/  Good as new.

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