Sorting, washing, organizing…

We spent today sorting many of the boxes that we dug out of the closet and up from the basement. We also dug out more boxes from almost every corner of the house. Sadly we didn’t completely clean any of those corners. I keep hoping for some time yet this summer and into the fall. At least the closet looks better, and it feels so much bigger. James and I sort of agree that it is because of all those craft boxes that have been removed, and also because of the new shoe shelf, which allowed for us to toss out that ugly broken shoe stand. Yipee, it was nothing by a pain that I tripped over and it scratched up the floor.

Sweatshirts drying on the line.

So, the bedroom looked pretty cluttered yet last night. We drug most of the boxes of clothes downstairs, and I am about 3/4 of the way through washing everything. Most of it will end up on the rummage sale. I have picked a few things to put away for another day, about four items to keep, and an arm load of old t-shirt material items to add to the stack slated to be cut into t-shirt yarn for to crochet rugs. I also have a pile of jeans to be cut into quilt squares. Like I said, I am hoping to get to some of these projects this fall. If I have to do it in the evenings, I am thinking that I will need to invest in a decent light.

The best part of it all is that I was able to find homes for the sheets in the towel closets in the two bathrooms upstairs. We also fit the boxes of pictures into the computer room for now, and James went through a box of old pay stubs and bills, and was able to toss everything except one envelope of information about the concrete in front of our house. He put that in with files of other house upgrades. I also threw away some boxes, but still need to figure out how to let go of those balloons. I mean really, I think I have every myelin balloon that was ever given to anyone in this family. In 35 years, that is a lot of balloons.

Our real goal this summer was to get the basement emptied of some of the junk there, so we can actually use it as livable space. As it was we took about five boxes up stairs from there. Paulina went through her suitcase of Bratz dolls and a couple of other containers and organized things better. I think there was even some garbage generated in the sorting. In going through containers, she found some of the pieces for certain of her dolls, so they can now be stored away for when she ever has her own place.

Workbench that may become a plant holder, or a seat, not sure yet.

She has identified a few of the old pieces of furniture that she is willing to take to college. She and her friend, Katie, will be living in a campus apartment this year, and so they have room and need for more than just their clothes. They won’t need a fridge, but I can send some dishes and baking supplies, which should help clear out some of the kitchen areas, too. Yaaaa!!! All these things go with the idea that they are not to come back. Haha, as if that idea has worked well in the past. I also identified a few pieces that I would like to see removed from the house and not brought back inside. One of them ended up on the porch for now, not sure if it is going up for sale in the near future, or just staying outside.

Plant mess

Last evening as we were working in the house there was a short rainstorm outside. When the wind came up, we just ignored it, which is not something we ever do. When I went downstairs to put a box on the dining room table, I peeked out to the porch from the living room and found a slight disaster. The plants that had been sitting on the ledge and the little table were on the floor and some of them were completely out of their pots. I did the best I could to stand them up and put them back together, but I am afraid the little aloe vera plants will not survive.

Tent is doing well!

After my fiasco with the plants,  I was soaked and needed to change. By that time James realized the wind had picked up, and he ran out to see if the tent needed to be taken down, then he was soaked. He had put it up in the morning to see if it was still usable. We have had that thing since 1992 when we were chaperons for the Senior Class trip that was a canoe/camping trip in Minnesota. That was the only time we ever went camping away from home. The only other times we used that tent was with track meets. It was along at the 1997 State Meet in Minot and Jessica, Victoria, Paulina and Sarah Wiley stayed in there through the whole meet. We were really afraid that Paulina would try to get out and run around (she was only 2) but they must have had enough toys along to keep themselves occupied. It was great.

Well, James decided not to chance taking it down during the storm thinking it would do more harm than good. This morning when he went out to check on it, there were only a few damp spots in it. Apparently all the years packed away in the basement have not done it any harm. Hope the kids have fun playing in it this weekend. James is thinking that Jaxon might enjoy camping out with grandpa on Friday night. We shall see how long that lasts. I wonder how high they would jump if someone snuck outside and tried to scare them????

 

Garden Progress: weeding and trimming

Cucumbers crawling

Today was a morning in the garden. By the time I got up, James was already working on the weeds along the peas and then the cucumbers. Later I picked the peas and worked on training the cucumbers up the fence, which is what you see to the right. Most of the weeds that James had to deal with were what we call creeping jenny. It is a vine with white morning-glory shaped flowers, but all much smaller. The vine is quite fine, but as tenacious as can be, and it has almost a wire-like quality to the way it goes about choking other plants. It seems not matter how deep you go on that plant, you cannot get all of the roots. James is also adamant that it is disposed of rather than tossed on a pile of other weeds. He thinks just having the dead plant in an area will start a new growth. I have to laugh at him sometimes.

Two pumpkins growing

I made it outside about an hour after him, and went to work on that invasive pumpkin plant. The problem is that I let three plants grow thinking that they were all different, when in fact they were all pumpkins. I found that there were a few pumpkins already growing, so I followed their vine back to the root and I was really careful, and a little lucky, about keeping those intact. At one point I was afraid that I had pulled out the wrong root, but fortunately not the case. I ended up leaving the other two plants just to be safe. I did cut as much as I could off what was left. It was necessary to get some of it out of the tomato cages. The vine that has three pumpkins growing on it actually loops through one of the cages, and it might be interesting before the harvest is over. I will have to keep on top of the trimming because I know that plant will try to grow more. Hopefully with this trimming we will get five nice sized pumpkins for a change instead of 25 dinks.

Pepper area

Besides the pumpkins, I did as much weeding as I could along the peppers and that row of red onions to their south side. I also tried to free the yellow onions that are north of the peppers, but that was a feat that will not happen in one day or especially one morning that was already partially used. I ended up pulling out another pail of cosmos. Not sure where this batch will end up. I might need to dig a new spot in the yard just for them. I look back at some of the pictures that I took earlier this summer and found out those cosmos were not there the first time we weeded. They came and grew up while we were in Baltimore, literally during those six days they sprouted and took over. Good Grief!!

James took the wheelbarrow to the garden when he started weeding this morning. By the time I got there, he had it nearly full. It only took a few of the pumpkin vines to fill it, and then he dumped it. When he returned, I had the rest of the discarded vines stacked to start the next load. By the time I was finished with the pepper/onion rows we had the second load full. It is to the point that we no longer count how much is clean, but we gauge our work by how many loads of weeds we remove.

Tomato

James also went around the tomato cans and cages and pulled out the weeds there. He mulches the tomatoes pretty heavily each year, so there are never many weeds in those. We need to do a better job of rotating those around the entire garden in the future. We are finding that the mulching has really improved the soil and so the more times the tomatoes are planted in a space, the better that soil is. I guess we fertilize them pretty well too. Our next issue will be to clean out the area around the zucchini and then that south area where I planted the zinnias and where there is a second batch of snow peas. I am not sure how soon we will get to that. The rest of today I will be working on the message for tomorrow and after that, we will need to get going on cleaning the house for company next weekend. James has a birthday coming up and the girls want to be here. It is also nearing out 35th wedding anniversary and we might need to do something fun for that. Not sure, I think James and I have had enough traveling for the summer, so maybe just a few hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. Ha!! Right in the middle of those two days, Ana will turn three. I think that is what we will celebrate.

So, what are your plans for the rest of the summer???

Garden Progress: First zucchini

I picked the first zucchini today after we unpacked from coming home from the North Dakota Coaches Convention. I wanted to post more about being at the convention, but did not have a functioning laptop with me at the place. I did manage that one post from the iPad, but it is just not that easy to type from that thing. Sitting down to a real keyboard after a week without one is like, well I am guessing sort of like being able to finally touch a full sized instrument after being away from one for a time. But this is off base so I will more on.

James and I stayed through the final four sessions this morning then grabbed a few things here and there as we were heading out of town. There is a great sale at the fabric store and I was able to purchase some outdoor material to recover a pad for our old swing at a really cheap price. I picked up 4 yards of material originally priced at $20.o0 per yard. The discount was 60% off with another 20% from a coupon I had gotten on my phone (wonderful young woman behind the counter cutting for me earlier this week, signed me up for the coupons via text). The bolt had an extra 16″ which they were going to have to set aside as a remnant and I could get that for 50% off the discounted price. Wow. Total bill was something like $28.  I will let you know how that project turns out, if I even get to it, which I hope that I do and soon.

The garden, this was supposed to be about the garden. Paulina left yesterday to go to Devil’s Lake to visit her friend Katie, who will be her next year’s roommate. She promised that she watered before she left, but did text me to say that the pumpkin was out of control and would need some clipping. This was a volunteer plant that is now trying to take over on the tomatoes. It is bad enough that there won’t be any beans or peppers to speak of because of the volunteer cosmos, I do not need to lose the tomato crop too. I think I will cut most everything of that vine except two pumpkins in the morning.

I also found several raspberries again, but now understand the importance of cutting the plants off in their first year. I may have to mark which ones are the old plants so that when they come back next spring, I know to cut off the new ones right away. Someone told me that trimming them encourages better growth and fuller production. I am willing to try anything to make those things produce, since I am not so great with the strawberries.

Well, I have left a few pictures of what I found in the garden this evening. The peas need to be picked and the cucumbers need to be trained up the fence. All work for the morning I would say. It is fairly warm out there and I am about zoned out from being away from my own house and bed and cats for four days. I am beginning to think that I have spent more time away from my home and bed than in it this year. Time to stay home and get some things accomplished. I was thinking that when school starts and James goes back to work, I will get much done. Ha, ha!! I will be in school this fall on a long term maternity leave sub job. It will be nice to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, but it will also mean a little better time management. Oh well, enjoy the rest of July!!

Another morning rain

Rain clouds

Rain on the driveway

It rained again this morning. It was soooooo very nice, except for the part where we were drenched. I woke to sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning then stayed in bed to see if it would pass. Finally I got up, made coffee and decided it was passing, so I showered and got ready to go to the office. About the time that James and Paulina headed to the pool to grab the list of children in lessons so that Paulina could call the parents if necessary, it started to pour. At the same time my sister Adie called to say it was hailing in Selby, and she was concerned that it would hit here, so she asked that we try to get her cats to come inside.

Hollyhocks in full bloom

Grass may green

While Paulina was rounding up cats, James and I grabbed all of the solar lights and breakable flower pots dragging them under the porch deck for safety. By the time we were finished, we were soaked. I ended up putting our shoes in the dryer and changing what I was wearing. It never did hail, but that was ok, too. I would rather put the stuff away then leave it out and have it damaged. When I finally came home from Eureka, it was hot and humid. I put everything back to its place and hopefully we don’t have to do it all over again tonight or tomorrow, though we would gladly take a little more rain. It might even convince the grass to come out of hibernation. Some of it was so done with growing that it had turned white.

Well off to the softball game. Catch you later!!

Day after the mini-storm

Sunflower

Potatoes

It finally rained last night. One gauge said 1.25″ and the other correctly said .75″. James has always been complaining about that first gauge, and I finally agree that he is right. There is something weird about how it is marked and it almost always shows double what the rainfall is. Before we went to bed, we knew that rain was coming and it would not be a pleasant easy gentle rain. We opted to leave everything outside rather because we were relatively sure that there wouldn’t be any hail. I don’t think that hail happens early in the morning. It seems to me that it has to be a pretty hot day for that to form. Anyway, the wind was awful. The system was coming out of the southwest, but in our garden the plants seemed to get blasted north to south. I think it has to do with the way the wind was swirling around the buildings here. The potatoes were laying nearly flat in some spots and on the south side of the garden they were poking out of the fence. Our tallest sunflower plant still is not in a standing position, and the willow tree dropped a few of the smallest branches which is pretty much the course anytime we have a little wind.

Raspberries

Milkweed

On a happier note, the raspberries are really taking off in a few spots. Yesterday I noticed one of the older branches was producing fairly well. I am thinking that the ones we cut off the first year are the ones producing the best. This is the first time that I have picked 5 at a time and these are the largest berries I have ever gotten. Also in the north side flower garden the milkweed is in bloom. I hope that means we will see some butterflies soon. The cosmos are starting to bloom too, so that should also start attracting pollinators.

Hosta

Echinacea

I also took a picture of both the hosta and Echinacea that are now in bloom. The Echinacea is finally spreading out a bit and is really a pretty color at this time. I feel bad about how the columbine are being eaten up this summer. They used to fill the space beside the hosta. It seems we neglected the entire north flower garden a bit this year. I think it is because the lights were missing. The solar lights that go in that area were missing for the first part of the summer. James finally found them under a chair in the basement. It seems that is usually where things are found. Perhaps it is time to remove some of the boxes of junk from there so we can find what we want. Hopefully when we move Paulina to college this year, and she is going into an apartment, we will be able to get rid of a few items!! Yipee!!

Message from July 16, 2017

Following is the message from this past Sunday. The scripture focus was Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23,  and Isaiah 55:10-13, though I backed up and started from verse 6. Also read was Romans 8:1-11, but I did not reference that one in the message. The title was, “Open to the Word.”

Our message from Matthew is one of Jesus’ parables and should be a fairly familiar one for us. I am sure we all remember the parable of the sower, but the truth is the point that Jesus makes is not about the sower, it is about the soil that receives the seed. The  story is really about how we as the hearers accept the words that Jesus offers. The point of the lesson today is if we are open to God’s words.

In the parable of the sower—the one who scatters the seeds—is Christ, or at the least someone working on behalf of Christ, perhaps his disciples, or maybe, hopefully even one of us in today’s world. The seed is the word of God, the gospel, the teachings of Jesus. The soil—and this is the variable part of the story/the soil—is the one to whom the word is spoken, and scary but here is probably where we can say, this is us.

In the first case, the seed doesn’t even have an opportunity to take hold. The word goes out to this person, but before it can even enter the mind of the listener something interferes, as the writing here says, the powers of evil causes a distraction and takes away the message. Perhaps this is the person who doesn’t even find an opportunity to become part of a faith community, the second seed, the one that falls on rocky soil sprouts, but because of the lack of roots, it withers and dies. According to the explanations of the parable, these are the people who hear the words of Jesus and get all excited about it, but they either don’t know how to nurture this new found joy. Or maybe they do find a church home, perhaps they even join a congregation of believers, but they just are not able to get that involved. There are just too many things that pull them away from any commitments of any kind and so they just are not able to follow Jesus as he would have them do. Either way, these two types of seeds, these two types of potential believers produce nothing.

If you are talking strictly seeds and growing, we have some peas that fit the bill of either of the first two situations this year. James thinks those that would be of the first type were likely pulled out by one of those pheasants that lives in the hay field across the dike between us and the creek. He probably snuck up over the dike for a snack, but was disturbed before he could get all of the seeds. He scratched them out, but didn’t have time to eat them all. Those that weren’t eaten up lay on the top of the soil and because they had a little moisture and a lot of heat they germinated, but they were not in the soil far enough to take root and grow. The bottom line is that there are no plants, and no peas from these seeds.

The cosmos acting as weeds in the vegetable garden.

The third type of seed falls on good soil, but for whatever reason all sorts of weeds grow up with it. I can really relate to that business this year with our garden and all of the extra volunteer plants. As you noticed coming through the door this morning and with what is on display up front here, we have been busy pulling out lots of extra cosmos and anyone who wants some are certainly welcome to take what they want. If someone wants some but doesn’t want them today, let’s talk and I can arrange something for you later because I have this feeling we will need to take out more this week. The cosmos and the other volunteer plants that we have like the pumpkin and the sunflowers are all pretty harmless. We might consider them weeds simply because they are in the wrong place, but the way weeds is used in the scripture lesson today the meaning is more of a noxious plant. We are to understand that this plant is not good for any reason at all.

In fact, according to the Tyndale commentary, the worst sort of weeds in the days of Jesus was a very poisonous plant that looked much like the wheat plants, but with a much stronger root. Let’s consider that in terms of the metaphor that this parable seems to be. If the actual weed is poison, the symbolic weed is a person who is poison, or a situation that is poisonous. The seed in this case is someone who hears the word, and it takes root in them, and they are growing and flourishing maybe even as part of a church congregation, but they are also surrounded tightly by bad influences. They are tangled up with people and situations that are “poisonous.” The explanation says that they are so much a part of the world that they cannot live their lives as Christ would have them live.

Now in essence that could be anyone of us. We are here, we are believers, we participate in our congregation, yet we are still part of the secular world. I think the hardest part for me in this area is that I leave here on Sunday mornings, or Wednesday evenings as the case may be, and I drive out of town. And I will be honest; sometimes I forget where I have just been and what I have been doing. And sometimes, I just plain act like these are two different lives, and they are not, and I need to stop thinking that way. Maybe if I would get off my lazy couch and contact the conference office about going into what they call discernment and taking steps towards full ordination, maybe then I will begin to see my life, as really being here as a permanent commitment and not just a temporary thing like others jobs I have had.

The final part of the seed story is about when the seed falls on the good soil and it sprouts and grows and is harvested with very good yields. This is the soil that I am thinking we all want to identify as being. We come here each week listening to the stories of Christ and the word that God has for us, we participate in the liturgy and the music and the prayers, we put our offerings in the collection plate hoping that it helps someone who is really in need and then we leave with the idea of facing another week of sharing what we know with those around us in whatever way we can. That is what the good soil is about in this story of the sower. We know that, and I feel pretty confident is saying that we all want to be that.

But maybe we want to ask if there is more than just the soil and the seeds. Is there more than just the word or the message being spoken to fall where it may fall? We know that sometimes growth and harvest is connected to the elements as much as to the soil. This year is our area we all know what farming in a drought it all about. Now more than ever it is important to keep vigil, to take steps of precaution, to use good practices that protect what is already growing be it crops or animals. I go outside into the garden and look at the parched soil, and it doesn’t matter how much water we pour on to it at 6 a.m., by 10:30 parts of it are powder dry. And some days I catch myself asking if there is a connection between the physical drought and a spiritual drought, like there was a connection in the parable. I don’t have that answer. But, I do not believe that God sends drought to punish us. You know that old statement of: well they get rain because they live right.

Jesus wants us to all be the good soil that accepts the seed/the word of God. Jesus wants us to grow amid a field of fellow believers and produce an abundant harvest. Maybe our question today should be: what is that harvest? Is it simply more members in our pews? Or maybe it is a continuation of being the ones who share Christ’s love with those around us whether they are right here in our community or someplace around the globe. Maybe our harvest is as simple as sharing a “cup of water,” in the form of a bag of school supplies, a tub of items for the home, a financial donation to someone in need, a quilt for a college student or a …. You fill in the blank, and let me know sometime what it is you would put there. Amen!!

Flower Garden tour

The clematis at sunset

Not much going on today. James went with his sister to check on some of the 4-H exhibits of their nieces and nephew. I tried to do some reading and a little weeding. The air was cool, but the sun was shining, and with the slight breeze it was a great day to get a burn because the temperature sort of fooled you into thinking it wasn’t so bad. I did not last long in the garden because it was hard to get at the weeds, and I was not real willing to pull out more of the cosmos. Yesterday James spent time weeding and found all of the red onions, and in the process he ended up with two pails of cosmos that he had pulled out. I am insisting on saving them and replanting them in another place or giving them away. I started a row beside the potatoes later this evening. I even replanted a couple of morning glories that we took out of the beans tonight. We watered them pretty well, so we shall see tomorrow how this experiment fared.

Day lilies

Oriental lilies

Single columbine

 

I don’t think that I have shared many other pictures of the flowers so far this summer. I will leave you with a few of those here. Hopefully I will get up earlier tomorrow and get to some of the flower bed weeding in the morning before the heat hits. The Echinacea is about to bloom, and I am guessing by Saturday or Sunday that will be the premier plant of the garden. I forgot to check the raspberries today. I have been finding at least two of them ripe each day. It will be nice when more of them begin to produce and it is not such a hit and miss thing. Paulina has also figured out where to move the strawberries so that they aren’t only for the squirrels. Hurrah, perhaps that is the project we should tackle in the morning. Ah, so many plans and so little ambition. Well perhaps if we wouldn’t be up until midnight sitting by a fire pit, we would feel more like working. How have you been enjoying your summer???

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