With Joy

We dug out the sod (well, ok Greg got that strenuous job), replaced clay with black dirt, and planted flowers.  Our two granddaughters helped poke around and plant and cover roots with dirt.  Then we all watered a brand new flower and herb garden. Beautiful!  And the garden was also.

My four-year-old grandson was visiting, and wanted me to play chess with him.  He apparently had not played this game before, but since it is perpetually set up to play in the living room, it seemed a likely “yes”.    I began to explain the medieval social structure of village and town, roles and class distinctions along with the players (pieces). You know – Pawns=serfs, Rooks = manor houses, Knight = knights (but we call them horses in the game because they look like horses) , Bishop = well….bishop I guess, and everyone knows what a King and Queen are.   After being interrupted in this important preliminary a few times, we began to move pieces around the board, toast crumbs notwithstanding.  We got a few serfs…..I mean, pawns, moved forward and then got distracted with something else.  Because I am able to actually (after spitting my gum out) discuss things *and* move game pieces, we got pretty well along for a four-year-old.  The point wasn’t really to finish anyway.  He moved on to play with Lego’s and I went to hold his baby brother (who was smiling).  Precious moments with precious little people.

My second daughter is home for a two-week  break.  As a nurse, she gets all different shifts and has enjoyed her much more regular sleep schedule on her break here.  We have also enjoyed helping her plan her wedding, find a church building, and shop for fabric. These things all bring joy to our hearts and lives.  This joy, hopefully, overflows back to the bringer of it.

Try not to over-spiritualize the concept of joy.  Joy isn’t just being content, even when you’re sad (though that is a thing to learn, it isn’t joy at all).  I have heard some discuss our “duty to have Joy in our lives”, as if it were a wearious and heavy task.

The Bible talks about a very earthy kind of joy: Like when you anticipate a certain guest to your home, or when the party is just beginning and you are ready for it.  It’s a spontaneous cartwheel off the dock into the water, or planting flowers, Imparting chess history, or playing and working with children and grandchildren.

So take someone out for ice cream.  Laugh with them. Play a game. Write a poem or tell a funny story.  Have a water “fight”.  Learn to use a Kayak.  Run with the dog.  Pick tomatoes.  Bring flowers into the house.

Help others shake off the heaviness of the everyday; Laugh through the tears, and cheer someone up.         A Merry Heart is a gift from God, and is good for the soul.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

A Midsummer night’s ramble

As we get closer to mid-summer (or the beginning of summer, depends upon how you view June 21), the days lengthen into something extremely tolerable.  The latitude is about 44° (North) where I live so where I grew up was even better (45 °) in the summer…..darker in winter.  But not enough difference to make growing things any different.  Even the soil is similar – A lot of clay below the topsoil in the non garden areas (so if you dig a new garden, you will need to add good black dirt and compost).  Campfires go late into the evening with not too many bugs yet.  It is a charmed time of the year right now.

Around the summer solstice, it becomes almost easy to be tranquil, kind and peaceful.  There is hospitality in having folks come over, even when things aren’t perfect, so do not fail to meet together. Of course things must be comfortable for the guest, and disorder and clutter are rarely comfortable.

Jonathan is working hard in the beeyard these days, after his day job.  We help when he needs help.  Simple trigonometry problems go up on the whiteboard almost each week so the children can keep their brains exercised in practical word problems (like figuring the height of something too tall to measure, using shadow lengths, or a simple formula for an easy-ish combinatorial) through the summer, and book reports continue at a much slower, lazier pace.  Such is the homeschool family, that we find learning in all things.

I cannot part with my large pot of rosemary this summer so I sincerely hope it enjoys being in the house getting daily personalized attention.  As I get older, I become more and more attached to this particular smell.  I love the lavender too, but it would be deprivation to make it stay in here all summer long.  I’m late getting the front porch cleaned (lots of spiders around here), and the outdoor bench and wooden boxes I use as end tables need their coat of beeswax polish again.  I will need to deal with it before the 4th of July, when our intimate little group of relatives and whatever friends might want to come (and this entirely up to the potential guest, who would be, in most cases, quite welcome. One simply has to ask), will have a bbq on the porch and drink water and talk all afternoon until supper and then fireworks at Clear Lake in the nearby town.  Possibly a few games of spikeball, volleyball, practice throwing a few discs (so I can maybe become not *so* awful at disc golf), etc …

I would like to think that life always flows with midsummer ease.  I know that isn’t so, but my illusion at this time persists.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

“The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover any time to him
is aristocracy.” (Emily Dickinson)

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.

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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The Reason

I tend toward Grinch-like as The Day actually approaches.  Too much to do, too much to cook, too much to plan.  I think I’m fairly laid back – I tend to clean floors *after* company has come because I figure they’ll bring the outside, in with them.  But one likes to make things comfortable for company since we all enjoy having people come.  So comfortable comes in the form of a “clean enough” home, laid back atmosphere, and hopefully, enough food and treats.  For sure plenty of coffee.  But really a person (such as myself) can only do so much before becoming shaky.  It’s sort of sad because I know many who can make things perfect (or nearly) and still not bat an eye.  Not me.  So while I love winter, I don’t as much like the Christmas holiday you might say.  A realistic way for me to think would be that whatever gets people to go over once again that we are sinners since that Garden episode, in desperate need of a savior, who was provided roughly 2000 years ago in the form of a baby who was God in human form, yet His son, is a good thing.  Because truly, without His perfect life and death and resurrection, we have no hope for anything but hell.  So even though He probably wasn’t really born in the winter around the Saturnalian holiday, we do focus on the stories surrounding His birth, which is good.

So that is the Reason for our potential salvation (should we chose to accept that mission).  But the reason for the season (winter) is actually – Axial Tilt.

Merry Christmas, and Enjoy our hemisphere’s temporary tilt away from the sun!

Local News. One more time.

This Southern MN hack “reporter” is trying to stop looking at the world this way, if only because she may end up in a small amount of trouble if she doesn’t.  But one must scratch an itch, so here is another installment of the “Local News”. 20131115-222206.jpg

This is one of 2 ethanol plants along a certain highway stretch.  Ordinarily I Capitalize People’s names even if they can’t do 5th grade math, but I make exceptions for entire industries.  That beautiful steam cloud coming out is truly steam so I’m not complaining.  It is useful for telling wind direction and political correctness.

The small a capella singing group (very) nearby is suffering from a chronic case of- no tenor or bass.  They are a lively bunch, sometimes alternating hymns, with drinking songs from the Renaissance era.  This insures that no matter where they sing, they meet disapproval.

Winter Squash Harvest is on.  Energetic Squash Farmers are racing the clock to get their squashes baked and put in freezer bags.  This is not an exacting procedure, but it does take time.  Once it is all done we’ll finish the growing season off with a large squash casserole and a stuffed turkey, possibly mashed potatoes (although Mrs. Ingvetch has a conviction against serving partially digested food to her family. “It makes them lazy” she says).

Mrs. Johnson has forgotten a couple of rotations of her bi-monthly plant turning, which has resulted in some very off-centered looking plants.  The foliage has so far not taken a break in their photosynthesis but they are beginning to bicker over ledge space.  A neighbor has called the anonymous hot-line to report poor posture and a general demoralization going on among the greenery.  Mrs. Johnson claimed it must be one of the other 10,000 Mrs. Johnsons in MN.

We’re gearing up for snow down here in the Southern part of one of the northernmost states in the country.  Buck hill ski area opened four days ago and those folks already need their skis sharpened again as the base is still only 6-12 inches.  But the advert is great, being on the major North/South Highway as it is.  Little Lowell Krebsbach, the local “season” prodigy, saw a flake and declared it will be a long winter.  Experts weren’t sure whether he meant an actual snowflake or otherwise, but we’re all pretty certain about his forecast.

And that’s the news. Good night.

…for now...

 

More Local News

The information in this article may or may not be entirely true. It depends upon how you take it.

The nursing school in Mankato is auctioning off their gently used supplies because as nurse Helga explained in her advertisement, “We didn’t use these things on real people, but the wrappers are off so now we can’t.  But you could”.   So until they’re gone, a good deal can be had on catheters, sample collectors, and gauze.

Algot Tollefson, the local weatherman, has stepped out on his porch again today and declared it “A Sunny day with not too many clouds.  All in all, not too bad a day”.  He further mentioned that since we go off of daylight savings time this weekend, it will be darker, earlier now.   Good thing we have Algot to help us through these dark days.

Because it is considered proper, in some more conservative church circles, to stay about 20 years behind the world, the local Internet café – Dial-Up-Heaven (DUH for short) which was located in the Lutheran church basement, has now been recently evicted.  Church elders claimed that “the internets are in the air now so there is no need for actual space to be taken up.”  Also, they wanted to paint the basement a different shade of green, and with all those wires snaking around it made stripes, so they want it cleared out.  Social networks have created small pockets of agoraphobists who hesitate to leave, but who tend to reach out to virtual strangers.  Other disappointed locals, who now have no café to congregate in, have moved to one of the 4 local bars in this small town of 15.

The Catholic diocese has agreed to add a new Patron Saint to their repertory.  Saint Verbatim – Patron Saint of gossip.  There was some reluctance to admit this one but it was generally agreed that it was inevitable.  Saint Verbatum medals will now be sold at the corner drug store along with instructions for those who are of other faiths since, as the local Parish priest says, “this will be a popular one for all the masses, and may finally unite us all”.

School is going fairly well in this small, sparsely populated region.  Students continued to look blankly at the physics instructor as she lectured on Newton’s laws of motion today, until she explained why “May the Force Be With You” was said to fellow Republic members. This was actually the second law of motion, since an increase in force would result in an increase in acceleration, while to say, “May the Mass be with you” would be said to the Dark Side, since the inverse relationship of Force and Mass would cause a decrease in acceleration.  She is hoping they will get this enough for the final test so she won’t have to dress up and act it out.

And while that can’t be all the news, it’s probably enough at any one time.

Local News

This is a long awaited (for the author) update on Southern MN news.  Events may or may not be…totally true  slightly irreverent.

There are 2 colleges in Mankato/North Mankato.  The sorority group:
Sigma
Omega
Sigma, (the sorority that tends to need the most academic help) has members from both the colleges, with the North Mankato girls mysteriously just disappearing after 2 years.   Locals are not sure if it is because the North Mankato chapter is just a 2 year college, or if the Ukulele playing group got run out by those who prefer concert instruments.  Their theme song “Tell me Why” was a local hit, but by that I mean *very local*.  Mostly those who meet each Tuesday at the “Coffee Hag” for coffee and pastries.

Perhaps you remember when a few years ago, a note was found nailed to the door of the Local Conservative Lutheran church, claiming that church supper hotdishes work quite well using 5 ingredients, as opposed to the previous requisite 4.  This caused quite a stir at the time (Mrs. Dagmar claimed she only did it to set hotdish making housewives free), but since then, many Lutheran hot dishes with 5 ingredients have been consumed in southern MN, without any spiritual backlash.  This resulted in 2 things: 1)they changed the standard on hotdishes, and 2)Conservative Lutherans from other States now look just slightly down on southern MN Lutherans who have moved to this practice.

The Local Chapter of the Norwegian Bus Drivers Guild meetings have experienced less interest than previously.  One of the drivers retired, the bus company got bought out, a few of the other drivers have landed in ditches (nobody was hurt), and there are generally fewer coffee meetings, even though eggshells are still provided free of charge.  Tours are still available, but most people are afraid of being bullied by students.  I’ll keep my eyes open for future developments.

The Spam Museum in Austin is still the most happening place in Southern MN, with tours daily, including free spam squares (1 per person) and activities that you are not allowed to discuss outside the building.  The gift shop is enormous and accounts for most of the net worth of Hormel, with items such as golf balls with the word “spamalot” printed on the side being best sellers.

Next update will include “Whatever happened to that local internet facility in the green church basement”