Thursday, April 27, 2006

Other Creepy Crawlies

While I was in Indiana,
we found this cool,
completely way dead
pit viper
in the yard.
Then I made nephew man
wash his hands,
old fogey that I am.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cooking with Caterpillars

I had the BEST supper tonight.
Got home just before it started raining
and picked all the kale and collards
out of the raised bed.
Actually planted them last fall,
but they just now had grown up eatin' size.
Washed them, tore 'em up,
threw them in a pot with a ham hock
and some water,
and let 'em simmer for nearly an hour.
As they cooked, the light green caterpillars
floated to the top
and I spooned them out.
Just don't need THAT much protein.
The greens were tender and sweet
and indescribably good.

I picked cilantro from the garden
and used it in my fresh guacamole.
I'm going to try a THIRD time
to grow an avocado plant from the pit.
If I ever figure this out, I'll let you know
my secret of success. I'm gettting closer.

I also picked some asparagus for tomorrow.

Eating fresh vegetables from the garden
ruins, ruins, ruins you for storebought.

Later this week...the baby salad greens.
You haven't tasted lettuce
until you've eaten it mere minutes
after it was attached to the earth
by its roots.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Treasures at Home

Sometimes, when I get on a tear
about the things I want,
the places I should go,
the things I need to do...
I remember a little tip I learned years ago
about looking around the house
for treasures already here.
In my home, I have plenty of unread books
(or books in need of rereading).
I have old projects, put away and collecting dust.

There are chickadees nesting in the birdhouse,
baby mockingbirds wagging wobbly heads
in a nest next to the back porch.
There are weeds to pull,
flowers to plant (I already bought the seeds)
fresh vegetables to eat.

(These are the first fruits of my 3 year old asparagus bed...
it has produced about 20 more tender, fresh, yummy asparagi
since I took the picture. Mmmmmm.)

Instead of taking a class
or looking for a new vocation
I'm going to move some furnature,
play an instrument I already own,
work on my priorities I already set,
read a book I already chose.

I'm going to shift some things around
and come up with new combinations
and fresh ideas
with the things already in my life.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Saturday morning, and I am not
all fired up to go back to school.
Here are my morning thoughts
on the whole matter of productivity.

I had a hospice patient a few months back,
who was determined to learn Spanish.
From my view point, it was obviously
a bargaining tactic. I've seen it before.
If only I put my energy into THIS project,
then I can stop the natural progression
towards death.
(Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified bargaining
as one of our very common and natural responses
along the path to our own death.)
Sometimes it comes in a very religious form.
"I will dedicate my life to mission...
I will dedicate my life to the Lord..."
All in the hope that my life will become too indispensible
to end.

I'm currently visiting with a woman
who has made hundreds of quilt tops,
all different, all beautiful.
She intends to quilt until they take the sewing needle
out of her cold dead hands.
But here's the difference...
she talks openly and joyfully
about death and heaven.
She's done the things she needs to do,
she's ready to go when the time comes.
She just plans to stay productive
in the meantime.

The difference between these two approaches
can be very subtle, and sometimes blurred.
I hope I can take the quilting path.
Staying in the game as long as I'm here,
but not trying to buy time or youth
by looking busy.

My conclusion...
my focus this week on career and education
dances right on the line of middle age bargaining
and meaningful intentionality.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Spring Fever, postscript

Took this picture of my niece
at her brother's second birthday party.
Her maternal grandmother
had dressed her all prettily
in a pink dress.
When Mason opened a gift of blue pajamas,
she immediately put on the pants.
I love this picture of her, all dressed
in a bit of this and a bit of that,
admiring the grass
that is greener
on the other side of the door.

Spring Fever

Occasionally, okay, fairly regularly
I drive myself a little crazy
trying to figure out what I'm going to be
when I grow up.
The whole hospice chaplaincy thing
is great, I love it, it's going well....
but I worry about the long term.
Do I want to do this for the next 25 years?
Will there still be a job
around the corner
as the health care system as we know it
Will they continue to fund chaplaincy
as reimbursement shrinks and shrinks?
This week I decided I would become
a physical therapist.
All my favorite things...
job security,
interaction with the elderly,
a helping profession,
comfortable shoes,
lots of science courses,
and a really decent salary.
Oy, but the classes I would have to take,
even to get into the program!
Who has the time or money?
Anatomy and physiology and such
are not generally available
as night classes.

Then I get into the justice issue
of all that time and money,
spent on myself,
when there are women right now
in Africa standing around dry, empty pools
contemplating the death of their families
because they have to wait three days
for another relief truck full of water.
How can I justify collecting degrees
when there are such profound needs in the world?

It is so hard to know
what the responsible thing is...
so hard to know what the vocational thing is.
There are times when,
as much as I feel like I help people,
I feel like I'm wasting
all sorts of God given talents.
The inner scientist in me
gets frustrated.
Should I take the hard road now,
or stay on the path I'm on
and just see where it goes?

Is this age appropriate crap?
If I go back to school for anything,
now seems like the time.
It just seems so impossible.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Holy Week, Busy Week

Blessed Holy Week to all.

Just a quick note in the midst
of what is turning out to also be
a week just a little too full
of places to go,
people to see,
things to do.

After work
and after a very pleasant church meeting,
I spent some time in my blue jeans
on my knees, pulling baby weeds
from around my two inch tall pea plants.

Thinned the brussel sprouts
(too many sprouts sprouted),
weeded the cilantro,
watered the lettuce and greens.

We've got potatoes in the ground now,
as well as strawberries and rhubarb.
Soon I'll start tomatoes on the sunporch
in little peat cups.

I plan to put a whole bed
of sunflowers along the back fence
behind the grapevine.

While it is not good for one's manicure,
it sure feels good to the rest of me,
body and spirit,
to go and play in the dirt.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Perfect Saturday

A perfect Saturday, today. Home alone, recharging my introvert batteries. Feeling better after another cold, breathing happily through my nose.

Cleaning house: sweeping floors, dispatching clutter, eliminating dust, cat hair and grime. The cats do shed in the springtime.

Playing music on the cd player at times, or just listening to the birds singing through open windows.

Outside the garden is soaking up springtime rain. The brussel sprouts and lettuce have sprouted, a chickadee is popping in and out of the birdhouse by the grapevine. Inside, my avocado pit has finally begun to sprout. Soon, hopefully, a lovely green plant will begin to grow out of this humble pit in a jar.

If I could figure out a way to finance it, I would be content to stay home and clean and garden. Ah, well. Perhaps it wouldn't feel so great if I could take it all for granted. Some things are wondrous because they are rare.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mouth Breathing

Day two of spring head cold plague.
All my talk yesterday of juggling
was just talk.
I don't even feel like walking down the steps
to the toybox in the basement to get the bean bags to juggle.

I'm here at the computer,
just for a few minutes change of pace.
One can only lie in bed and watch so much tv.
Such a sad thing to be home,
with so many neat things that need doing,
and not even feel like reading a book,
my usual slacker occupation.

Okay, done blogging.

This too shall pass.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Ooh. The fabulous link of the week.
Some of the best juggling I've seen in a long time.

When I was in high school my friend Bob,
(my very fun date to the senior prom)
taught me how to juggle tennis balls.
He taught me in our English class.
Writing skills and juggling, all in one classroom.

My freshman year in college,
when I had lots of time on my hands
and few places to go and people to see,
my friend Katrina worked with me
on polishing up my juggling
so that I could get through
more than a couple tosses
without chasing.
She taught me how to throw up
(that doesn't sound quite right)
rather than throw forward.

When I was pastoring in Florida
and a teenager came to live with me
for a year or so,
I taught her how to juggle.

The gift goes on.

Maybe I'll go toss a few
small, catchable items
around for a while.

Monday, April 03, 2006

First Steps

I took my first steps on this concrete walkway in front of my grandmother's house.

It was a different house back then, back before my relatives tore the old place down with crowbars and their bare hands. Different concrete, even. I remember watching as my grandfather mixed cement in his wheelbarrow and spread it smoothly to fix the broken places, probably back in the 1970's.

Years before, though, back in the late 1960's, we were visiting at the farm, and I took my first official steps. There are pictures somewhere. There was apparently someone on camera duty that day, ready to capture my first jaunt on two feet.

The cedar trees to the right of the dirt driveway (the driveway is white because it is sand, for those of you unfamiliar with Florida) also date back to the late 1960's. I was a baby when my grandparents planted the young trees all along the drive and back along the fence back to the barn. They are pretty impressive trees now.

Those woods to the left of the drive weren't even there when I was born. You could see clean across that field to the road. My aunt and uncle bought that corner of the world and let it return to trees and wildlife when I was a wee tot. Amazing how quickly the trees grow, when left to their own devices.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I went to the post office today and picked up the certified mail that contained my copy of Grandmother's will. No surprises. I was listed under the section that included family not inheriting any property. The will makes it sound like my brother and I did not inherit because my mother predeceased Grandmother.

When she was alive, however, my mother was always very clear that she had no desire to own any part of that land. For her, the land represented a difficult childhood, poverty, backbreaking work and physical abuse. She left the farm as soon as she graduated high school to make a life for herself someplace else. Mom went back several times a year, but only to see the people who were family and loved ones, not because of sentimentality for the place.

For me, Grandmother's farm is a place of more positive memories. Family gatherings, tables full of home grown food and pies, springs full of wildflowers, more stars at night than anyone could count. There were puppies and kittens, calves and biddies, spiders and scarab beetles, pill bugs and ant lions.

Many of my dreams are still set at Grandmother's farm. Not the farm as it is now, with subdivisions and light pollution crowding in more each day. Instead, the mythological farm of my childhood, where the woods seemed to go on forever and there were always new things to see, new things to learn and new places to explore. Where the grandchildren rode on the hood of the tractor, where an old camper became a spaceship, where the tire swing became mystical transport. Where warm eggs were grasped by children's hands and taken cautiously from their resting place under the mama chickens.

My inheritance is one of memories and values, dreams and interests.

I've bought my own property, just as my grandparents left home and bought their own. I've planted my own vegetables, started my own grapevine, set up my own kitchen.
I've found my own woods to explore, my own starlit skies.

I may never own land in Florida, where generations of my family have lived, struggled and sometimes thrived. But I carry my predecessors' work ethic and their appreciation for beauty with me on my own frontiers of living.

More Spring Color