In no particular order…

I now share the following items of interest (although they may not be of general interest).

On April 29, 2017, our fair unincorporated area experienced a flood of unprecedented and terrifying proportions. The creek rose higher than it ever has in anyone’s memory, and some folks have lived around here for a long time and can remember a lot. It came to within five feet of the bridge and was some 15 feet deep. Our house was fine – we had only four inches of water in the cellar – but the devastation throughout the county was almost unimaginable.

I was quite ill for seven weeks with the most intense and insane poison ivy reaction imaginable, and two weeks into The Untreatable Itch, my physical and emotional health was further compromised by An Acute Asian Stomach Virus, about which all I will say is that it’s a good thing I like our most patriotic room. We are beginning to receive the bills for my medical care, and while they are substantial, the God who is healing my body and soul is also providing all we need.

Scott’s mom came for a visit, and for the ten days she was here, she washed ALL the dishes – voluntarily and without a word of complaint. We played crazy amounts of three-handed bridge and a new and highly addictive card game called “Minus Five.” We also saw “Moses” at Sight and Sound, which we all enjoyed, although I thought the ending was too religious and hokey. For me personally, “Noah” still trumps them all.

Scott planned and many dear friends helped execute a Crossover Celebration to mark Andrew’s transition from boyhood to manhood in conjunction with his 18th birthday. Judy Daniel and Scott put together a truly wonderful keepsake book of letters written for the occasion, and I think it’s accurate to say something along the lines of “I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.”

Scott took a group of guys and and their kids on a massive float trip on the Buffalo on the day before Father’s Day. I say massive because the planning, the promoting, the preparing, the procuring (of canoes and kayaks and paddles and life jackets and a canoe trailer and hitches and trailer locks), the labeling, the loading, and the leading of the whole excursion… well, “massive” is just the best word for all that Scott did. And I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all. Note for the future: sunscreen is always indicated when floating – even on cool, cloudy days. They floated Woolum to Baker Ford and were gone for quite a while. A small prize will be awarded to the person who comes closest to guessing the total number of hours involved (from departure from home to arrival back at home).

Josiah moved from his 3rd floor two-bedroom apartment in one complex in Springfield (which he had initially been sharing with two roommates, but then with only one roommate, and most recently with zero roommates) to a different 3rd floor studio apartment in another complex, also in Springfield. Housekeeping has never been Jo’s strong suit – actually, I think he may have a void in that suit – so he wisely hired his brother, a professional cleaner with five years experience, to thoroughly clean his extremely dirty apartment. (Actually, it may not have been cleaned in a year. When Andrew asked him what cleaning supplies and products he had, Josiah said he had a mop and a dishcloth. And that was the literal truth!) It turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement: Andrew earned money, and Jo got an apartment clean enough to hopefully recoup his deposit. Ah, brotherly affection – or at least appreciation!

Andrew has moved now into Katie’s room. Well, it was Katie’s room; now it’s Andrew’s! We wanted to give him some privacy and a bigger space, so while I was so very sick, Scott single-handedly boxed up and moved all Katie’s stuff out of there and surprised Andrew by “giving” him the third floor as an 18th birthday gift. Andrew is now planning how he wants his room and the attic bathroom painted. We have a friend at church whom we may hire to remove that peeling bathroom wallpaper and do the painting. Now it’s time for me to get used to calling, “Annnn-DREW!” like I used to call “Kayyyy-TIE!” (They both use the same pitch, so it brings back warm memories.)

And thus ends today’s reminiscences of “interesting things.”

 

Volunteering

I saw something wonderful this evening when I was spraying the garden.

No, I don’t do the organic thing. Every few weeks I toss handfuls of cheap-o, dry, chemical tomato fertilizer around the base of my plants and water it in to make them dark green and lovely, and when I see lacy leaves, I spray them with another wonderful chemical product that fights fungal infections and keeps insects from eating them. I was doing the latter this evening when I spied something orange among the lush, healthy-looking tomato plants in the pot labeled “Oaxacan Jewel.”

Each of my pots has two plants this year because I was too wimpy to cull the seedlings, and even after I gave a few plants away, I still had way too many – so I planted all of them. The Oaxacan Jewels are yellow tomatoes that grow huge, heavy, and hideous-looking, cracking long before they’re ripe, but I planted them again this year because they have absolutely The. Very. Best. Flavor. Imaginable.

My goal is always to get a ripe tomato by the 4th of July, but even though I usually start my seeds around Valentine’s Day, that never happens. I always pick for the first time in the second or third week of July. And this year I started them around Scott’s birthday, which made for only one month of tending before planting instead of two, and I punted the peat pellets, which made for much less work during that one month. Having started them so much later than usual, I figured it would be late July before I could pick anything.

But it seems that while one of the plants in the Oaxacan Jewel pot is indeed a Oaxacan Jewel, and the other plant must’ve come from a stray grape tomato seed that found its way into the Oaxacan Jewel seed packet. And sure enough, today I picked one lone grape tomato! And it, as well as all the other still-green grape tomatoes on that plant, has blossom end rot, but the good news is that my Early Girl, First Prize, Better Bush, Big Beef, and Oaxacan Jewel plants all have lots of nice, green, growing fruit, none of which is plagued by blossom end rot. I worked some more egg shells (calcium) into the soil of the affected plant, so although the current grape tomatoes may not be edible, hopefully subsequently-formed ones will be. No great loss, as I wasn’t expecting any grape tomatoes anyway.

I’m just very glad to see something getting ripe out there!

I’ve heard it all now!

My friend is a Christian but unchurched. She and her kids have come to our church two or three times over the past couple years. She used to work Sundays and so couldn’t come, but she’s no longer working so I’m hopeful to get her involved in church. She has started working the PTM discipleship course and is very excited about it. We were going to get together today to discuss the first lesson (which she has completed), but she’s really busy today prepping for an Easter dinner, so we moved our meeting to Monday afternoon.

Anyway, I invited her to come to church on Sunday, saying that it will be a great Easter service. She replied. “My mother-in-law JUST has to have a Easter dinner so I have to make it or there’s no living with her… I would go but I’m having to cook Easter dinner.” Now that struck me as extremely funny and terribly sad. You can’t go to church just ONE TIME on Easter because you have to cook an Easter dinner?!?!? I replied, “What’s an Easter dinner without an Easter resurrection celebration?!?”

Indeed.

We’re not having an Easter dinner, but I can tell you that we’re going to have a glorious party at church!!!

What a venue!

It’s sucker season on Bull Creek. This means that between 7:00 and 8:00 A.M., we see even more pick-up trucks than usual in the tiny dirt parking area by the bridge. Most of those pick-ups sport step-ladders and contain one to four males ranging in age 6 to 66, with 23-38 being the most common range. These males debark their vehicles and press through the brush on the near side, walking upstream along the bank while carefully studying the water for any subsurface stirrings caused by schools of suckers.

I think the suckers usually live in Lake Taneycomo, but (with apologies Tennyson), in the spring a young sucker’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, and he – along with all his near and distant kin  – come up the creek to spawn. Googling “when do suckers spawn in missouri?” yields the following from the Missouri Department of conservation website:

“The majority of suckers harvested in Missouri are taken by snagging (or grabbing) and gigging. Both methods are time-honored Ozarks traditions. Sucker grabbing is at its best in the spring when these fish move into shallow gravel areas to spawn. It is not uncommon for hundreds of suckers to congregate in a relatively small area. White suckers migrate up Roark and Bull creeks from Lake Taneycomo each spring. Because of their affinity for cold water, they make these runs earlier than other sucker species. Local residents take advantage of the early white sucker spawning run to harvest these fish prior to the later spawning migrations of the redhorse sucker species.”

And local residents are not the only ones to take advantage of this sucker run. It is the nature of the males mentioned above to “clean” their catch and leave the fish carcasses in heaps either on the bank or in the water. These multiplied hundreds of fish skins and heads remain (and smell) until either we get some really heavy rain to wash them away and/or other critters carry them off.

I was walking on the creek road the other day, and about 4/10 of a mile up, I spied a great number of turkey vultures enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner of sucker remains that had been dropped in a pooled area of the creek. The feast must’ve been tasty, because they let me get quite close before flying off. I tried to count them; there were more than 25. That’s a lot of vultures at one party! I was only doing a short walk down and back, and after I had turned around and walked only maybe 30 paces back toward home, I looked over my shoulder, and the whole gang was already back at the table. I clearly didn’t intimidate them for very long. And since I love to learn, I wondered if you call a group of vultures something other than a flock. Turns out you do. I had seen a venue of vultures! Isn’t that just a wonderful, alliterative, and memorable term? A venue of vultures; I can surely say I learned something fun today.

Gonna have a yard sale

We’re not, but our church is. The purpose is to raise money for the mission team that’s going from our church to Niger this summer. I think the total needed is about $21,000, so we’ve all been encouraged to donate as much used-but-valuable stuff as possible to the yard sale. This is a great motivator for me, as we have a house and multiple out-buildings just full of stuff. With so much fodder, all I need to do is to schedule the and then discipline myself to start somewhere and go through stuff. I have about a month to accomplish this, and I have already ruthlessly culled my dresser. I think next will be my closet, then maybe Jo’s closet. . . I really just need Jessica to come stand over me and tell me which area to tackle and what to get rid of. My goal is to put at least three things in the yard sale pile every day, starting tomorrow. Anybody want to hold me accountable?  = )

Three (not fifty) shades of white

I am fully assured that God loves me deeply and personally, but IF I ever wondered about his love for and grace toward me, I had full proof of them both at 12:45 PM on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Scott and I were at the dining room table playing Dominion over lunch when I glanced out the front window and nearly screamed, “It’s SNOWING!!!” And indeed, it was. And it continued steadily and at times heavily for the next two-and-a-half glorious hours.

Our weather so far this spring has fluctuated wildly and frequently, with temps nearly up to 80 one day and in the 40s the next. The spring peepers were out peeping for two days a few weeks ago, and then it went down to 24, and they were silent. The Bradford pears are just about done with their three-week show, dandelions are beginning to make their presence known, and on Friday, our plum trees suddenly (they always do this overnight) but a bit more hesitantly than usual began blooming. And then on Saturday, the merciful, magnificent snow!

I ran out on the porch, barefoot, just to grin and stomp and holler at the joyfulness of it, and that’s when I noticed that while I’ve always described the plum and Bradford pear blossoms as white, I don’t remember ever having had the opportunity to simultaneously compare both of them to Snow. I realized I was definitely seeing three varieties of white.

It was our first and LONG-awaited snow of the season, and I sighed with contentment; one of those sighs that means (a la Mark Gungor), “all’s right with the world.”

Let it snow!

In lieu of snow

I’m still waiting for snow. We haven’t had any yet, just one very minor less-than-even-a-dusting, back in. . . maybe it was December? Anyway, I do feel cheated in that regard, but I had a wonderful surprise this morning when I leaned over the bridge while stretching my calves. It looked like a very small leaf lazily drifting toward the bridge, but no! It was actually the teeniest, tiny, adorable TURTLE! He couldn’t have been any bigger than a silver dollar, and while I watched his miniature little legs slowly steering him along, another turtle came into sight, this one brown and of a nice respectable medium size. Now, I am definitely NOT ready for the warm weather that usually brings the turtles back, but if it’s not going to snow, there’s just no reason at all for it to be cold, cloudy, and dreary. We might as well enjoy spring! (Although who ever heard of sunny 70s day after day in February?!?)

Stay tuned. Next week, I plan to plant tomato seeds in Jessica’s room.