Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The last two days the dairy that owns the field behind our house has been spreading manure. Today I poured baby-powder scented candles for a baby shower. My house smells like poop and baby-powder and I can't help but think that this is hints of things to come! (Note to self: must invest in good diaper pail.)

Friday, July 25, 2008


What a great gift we have: a home with a big garden in a climate that grows great vegetables. Praise the Lord! Here's a sample of what came in just today from our garden:

In there are carrots (why do the ones from your garden always taste better than any you can get in the store?), yellow squash, broccoli, cilantro, cauliflower, and green beans.

Today is the first day we picked green beans. But going out to the trellis I see the tsunami of them coming. Last year we let a few quarts go to seed on the vines because we had already picked so many. But this year I'm armed with the recipe for dill-pickled green beans. Thanks, Wakemans!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cooking & Food Inspirations

Generally, I enjoy cooking. Now, with Baby dictating things, cooking seems to be a lot more work. Before I'd be hungry for something, cook it, enjoy it game over. Now when I get hungry, I'm just hungry- and don't really care (most of the time) what's in front of me to eat. Which makes enjoying cooking very difficult. So fortunatly between the Crock Pot Blog and my friend Marge I've gotten some recent inspiration.

So this morning I got up to a rainy day. Not just scattered thunderstorms like we've had a lot of, it's rainy. And rainy days make good days to cook. So after being inspired by Marge's stuffed pepper idea, and since Frog Pond had beautiful fresh bell peppers for 5/$1, today I took 12 of them and stuffed them with italian stuffing and tossed them all (gently) in the freezer for a sunny day when I don't feel like cooking! Tomorrow will be mexican stuffing with the remaining 8 peppers.

I also realized that I had a bag of red potatoes that had been sitting in the produce basket long enough and aren't too tasty to pick up and eat as is so I cooked them all up and made half into garlic smashed potatoes and half into potato salad - both of which I will happily grab from the fridge next time Baby says "Hungry NOW!"

I've also been dehydrating fruit (a bunch of those blueberries Emrys was talking about) and peaches. I've also made fruit leather out of the yummy peaches that are fresh right now. I got a bushel of jam peaches ($3 @ Frog Pond - have I mentioned I love that place!) that made great fruit leather.

I threw some garlic BBQ chicken in the oven (yeah Sophie, that's your inspiration -all that talk of Texas BBQ!) and it's ready now so it's lunch time! Then I think a nap will be pitter-pattering with the rain drops and lulling my full tummy to a snooze.

Vignette from a Day Off, Part I


The grey morning mist lifted off the hills as we climbed out of our car, picked up our yellow buckets with the quarts marked on them, and descended into the forest of blueberry bushes. We already had eight quarts from last week; but the picking is good, and we've got a chest freezer and dehydrator. Not to mention the fact that from the farm they're only one dollar and sixty cents a quart.

Blueberry picking is a sensual art. The rotund pockets of juice roll between the fingers as you gently tug the fruit from its tender stem. But not every berry that's blue is ready to be plucked. The artisan picker twirls the berry over to expose the bashful underside: if there is red or green, don't pick it! Only the berries which have turned blue all the way to the stem should be harvested; in them alone has the tartness of adolescence fled and the sweetness of maturity filled the skin.

Only a supreme act of will--and over time, discipline--keeps the picker from yanking off every berry that looks ready from the side. There are some, of course, that verily burst on the branch, clearly asking to be saved from the fate of birds or rot. They swell with pride, declaring their saccharine load with a curvature that is almost feminine, at once seductive and genuine. The practiced eye can take these without thinking, only knowing, and place them in the bucket of blue, imagining the velvet violet flavour.

But for most berries a new sight is required. One needs to learn how to see. For to pick a quart of blueberries, then look down into the bucket and see patches of red, of green--even of white!--is an all-too-common occurrence for the beginner. (I should know.) The berry that looks the perfect indigo on the bush may blush its embarrassment when couched in the basket next to her more mature cousins. Nay, one needs to see the imperfect colour of a young blueberry before he is plucked, to spot the burgundy red under the thin veil of pale that covers the flesh of all berries. One needs to turn the berry between gentle fingertips, to cast a discreet glance over the hidden flesh of the under-fruit and, if the colour belies a youth too young to fulfill its culinary purpose, to wait. There will be other berries; there will be other harvesters.

And the reward for good vision is sweet and beautiful. My yogurt will know it in the summer; my oatmeal shall know it in the winter; for we have enough to last us until our fingers probe the heavy limbs again next year.


Friday, July 18, 2008


Black and white
Grains of sand on a silent palette
Silent save for the brilliant music of hope
Potential living in specks of grey
Possibility touching the screen with white fingers, nubby toes
And the blur of a heart that can't be digitized
Bones, skin, brain cramped in a cathode-ray arc
But a soul hidden, for no white and black
Can convey the colour of life
That waits, growing, to burst out into the world
With the glory of the divine
No soundless wand and gooey gel
Can capture the joyful noise
Of child with, of child in, of child here
Nay: speckly scans just touch the tongue
With a foretaste
Of flavours exquisite, brash and bold
That will light the world afire with promise
At birth.
Silent-sound biology is just a shadow--
But what a poetic reminder--
Of life!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Tyler Cabin Adventure VI

Alas, even larch logs need some sort of protective coating to fend off the elements, especially after thirty-two years of exposure. So we bought ten gallons of the cheapest stain we could get--now wait, that makes us sound cheap. Let me clarify.
From the specialty log home store we bought the cheapest stuff they carry for a one-application stain. Ten gallons came to over three hundred dollars. Not cheap. But the cheapest possible. In this realm we trusted the log home professionals when they told us that the stuff designed for log homes would work better than a generic all-purpose stain you get at Lowe's or Home Despot. Naive? Maybe. We'll find out in a couple of years.
Here's two of the sibs applying the stain by brush:

The difference in colour is quite striking. And of course, when it's still wet it looks sexy and shiny and snazzy compared to the faded old logs:
The coated facade of the cabin now has a respectfully elegant air instead of a decrepit condemnable air. It's an Oxford cabin instead of a backwoods Alabama cabin--all right, that's a bit of a stretch, but you know what I'm getting at.We're hoping that keeps the logs sealed up for a couple of years. Time will tell, of course . . .


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good News

This morning I had the pleasure of announcing to our congregation that we're expecting a child. (A child shall be born unto us in January 2009, and its name shall be . . .)

I enjoyed soaking up the joy that overflows from people when they discover that your marriage is about to usher new life into the world. News of a new life brings hope, potential brimming with expectation, images of infants grasping, dancing in our heads. They can't wait to see the new life, hold the new baby, touch the new effervescence of creation that will bubble in our household. We can't wait to tell the stories, to experience the blunders, and finally pass through the anxiety that new life brings every step of the way. It will be a great joy and, as my mother fondly puts it over and over, a great adventure.

Of course, it will be an extra joy for my mom, who has been telling me all my life that when I have kids, I'll finally go through all the things I put her through. And I'm told there's no outrunning the mother's prophecy.

I was struck by one commentator on our joyful news. They said they had been waiting for it. Waiting for us to get pregnant? I asked. Yes.

Strange, I thought. Would we have been less complete in their eyes if we had never had our own children?

Now we will not know, for now we are on the tumbling ride of parenthood: anticipating, never ready, ever wondering, just beginning to learn how to trust. La Chaim!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Popping Bubbles

It is SO easy to get caught up in our little worlds. You know, that bubble of space that doesn't extend much farther than about 45 miles from our homes and includes people in that area and maybe some extended family members who are in regular contact with. While this clip may seem monotonous after a bit, give it the full 00:04:29 and and pop your bubble - even if it's just for the 00:04:29. It popped my bubble (again!) and brought back memories of travelling and all the things I appreciated about seeing other parts of the world. You may not have had international travel experiences, but it serves as a reminder that the world is more than our little bubbles and that we need to spend some time popping bubbles every once in a while. (I borrowed this from our friends Wes & Ana who posted this earilier this week- Thanks guys!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Shack

The Shack is a short little novel by William P. Young. I just finished it yesterday, and quite enjoyed it. Eugene Peterson compares it to Pilgrim's Progress--though you'll have to be the judge of the adequacy of the comparison. It's an inspiring read, and certainly keeps us God-people on our toes. It's midrash for the postmodern, gen-X and millenials; William Young could be a mendicant rabbi for the twenty-first century (though with the popularity of this book, I doubt he'll be mendicant for long).

I particularly like Young's portrayal of the Trinity. he breathes fresh life into what can sometimes become an archaic, tired stereotype. I found myself resonating with much of how he describes the person and work of the Lord, and his descriptive power is poetic. And once I even found myself choked up as I read the words on the page. Now that, my friends, doesn't happen often.

I also like the transparent-but-fun-nonetheless jab at historical truth. There was a day (in the 19th century) when authors could say "I swear this is true--I heard it with my own ears" and not worry about being sued. We're no longer in that day. But the tantalizing tease that Young makes towards the old ghost-story genre I find quite attractive. Maybe it's because I believe in ghosts. At least he'll make you wonder--just a little bit--if you're really seeing all that's real in the world. And I think that's what he wants.

Want a book that will make you think about your perceptions of God and faith?
Want a story that gives you hope for the individual's journey in this crazy world?

Let me recommend The Shack. Good stuff.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tyler Cabin Adventure V

We received an early recommendation to seal the inside of the basement walls in order to prevent continuing water seepage. Though we did an excellent job (if I do say so myself) of water diversion outside, we nonetheless followed the recommendation to put a layer of sealer on the inside.

The weapon of choice was a product called DryLock. (No, I'm not receiving any endorsement money: buy it at your own risk.) It's a white substance which resembles latex paint on steroids. It's uber-thick; I ended up using my paint brush like a trowel and slapping it on. I gave it two or three strokes across the cement surface, then went back for another load.

Here's what it looks like after one coat is applied to the cinderblock:

And here's an "in progress" shot, with Geo's ball-capped head just visible:One day last week (I don't remember now which day), I spent the better part of the morning and afternoon in the basement putting on the DryLock. After about 30 minutes down there, I didn't mind the smell so much (latex doesn't smell that bad, does it?). However, the ventilation was not so good, since there were only two doors to the basement: one from upstairs and the other opening outside into a well-shielded gully. Not a lot of air flow.

I didn't think much about it until that evening. We were visiting my cousin, and I got this sudden, raging headache. I thought that some water and a full supper would get me through it, but I found my appetite gone; in fact, I felt sick to my stomach. Sara and Chris ended up driving me back to the log house as I battled the headache and the queasiness, with chills to boot that made my whole body shiver.

After battling the nausea for a half hour and daring my stomach with a quart of water, I lay down and the symptoms subsided as quickly as they started. I slept well and haven't had any problems since. (Except this nagging cough from the cold three weeks ago.)

It didn't dawn on me until the next day, however, that a large part of that splitting headache, stomach-turning, and chills might have come from breathing in latex fumes all day. Next time I'll use either a pair of box fans or a ventilator mask. I don't ever want to feel like that again!


Images from the Back Yard

The simple and unsupressable beauty of the day lily:
The hope and effort of pole beans:
The experimental upside-down tomatoes:
A radiant fan of broccoli:
Marching rows of corn, not yet knee-high:
Day lillies and Queen Anne's lace, leaning toward the sun:

~ emrys