Weekend Doings

170905_Cicada

[ Cicada ]

September 5 – The thought of writing a blog came to me Saturday night as I was sitting on the front porch. It had been sort of an interesting day, with a lot of ideas to write about. It was an absolutely windless evening, with not the slightest breath of air stirring; even our flag hung dead still on our flag pole. Dust hung in a low layer like a haze.

I was looking for nighthawks, as the evening before I had seen a whole procession of them, minutes apart, flying from west to east towards the moon, high up, with their erratic flight carrying them swiftly out of sight. But tonight I did not see a single one, and wondered if perhaps they had been on some sort of migration. While waiting fruitlessly to see one, a blue heron flew across the pasture, heading north for some nocturnal resting spot.

The moon was pale and rising quite rapidly, and very soon was above the first telephone line. The fireflies seem to have said goodbye, for I didn’t see any of them gleaming over our lawn as they had done just a few weeks earlier. They have been replaced by a loud chorus of some kind of cricket or katydid in the woods. Cicadas called now and then. My peaceful reverie was suddenly interrupted by a stinging sensation on my ankle, and there was a mosquito biting me right through my heavy sock! She flew away before I could inflict a fatal blow.

170905_Stapelia

[ Stapelia flower ]

Growing in their pots on the small table beside me were my houseplants getting their summer growth before winter arrived. An unusual variety was Stapelia gigantea, an African plant related to milkweed. It has huge blossoms, five-petalled, 6 to 8 inches across and colorful, that only last a couple of days before closing up and falling off the stem.

What is outstanding about this flower is its “fragrance”. For several hours it gives off a rancid odor of something decaying, that attracts the blue and green garbage flies. They swarm around the flower, laying little white clusters of eggs that soon hatch into little maggots. Alas for them, the smell is deceiving for there is nothing edible there and shortly the maggots starve to death, but the flower has been pollinated by the flies. In nature a long pod forms that contains a lot of seeds that will fly on the wind, but my plants do not form pods as they are all related and need two unrelated plants to make those pods.

170905_Calico_Beans

[ Calico limas ]

Growing just below them are potted cabbage plants that need to go out to the garden as soon as I can get it tilled up, and hopefully will make tasty heads before freezing weather. I see that some insect pest has shredded the leaves of one of them. All that we have now in the garden are cucumber plants that are contemplating death from old age, and tomato plants doing likewise. A row of calico lima beans is about all we have to look forward to now, with their many hanging pods waiting to have their contents fill out. I do love lima beans, my favorite bean probably, and Chris has cooked a big batch of them and hopefully will serve a generous portion for supper.

170905_KevinGrandson Kevin was here briefly on Sunday, stopping to say goodbye on his way back to college in Lincoln, Nebraska. He will graduate as a nurse in December. Before he left, we had another vehicle in our driveway, this time Wayne Hankins with our repaired Cub Cadet mower. It had some dirt in the fuel line. Now Chris can do some mowing again!

I need to do some wood cutting, and will do it if and when I can get our new chainsaw to run. I have pulled that starter rope a lot but never a sound of an engine. Both grandsons and Wayne Hankins and Chris have all got it to run, but not Dale!

170905_TrumpetVinews

[ Trumpet vine flowers ]

One thing we did today was trim our row of orange trumpet flower vines. They had grown out so far that it was hard to get the mower past them, so we got our clippers and chopped off two garden-cart loads. The vines have about stopped blooming for the year, and so has the albizzia tree above them. Now it is loaded with seed pods, that will drop their seeds abundantly and get a number of little trees growing among the stems of the trumpet vines. Several are growing there now, and I dug up three and have them potted and maybe they will survive the winter in our house and be ready to plant out in the spring. The albizzia tree has many beautiful flowers, fuzzy white and pink, that just keep blooming for weeks and weeks. Chris was busy below, digging out weeds besides cutting surplus vines.

Hurricane Irma is crossing the Atlantic and by the end of the week we will see what damage she can inflict. Harvey was way too destructive and it is to be hoped that Irma will behave better.

Goodbye to everyone, have a good week. – DALE

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Hurricane Harvey Hurts

September 2 – While I sit here at the computer, with plenty of light, both artificial and natural with the sun shining through both windows, with all of the furniture and food and clothing, mostly in the same spot as they were earlier this morning, it is almost impossible for me to share the feelings of loss that the folks in Texas are feeling right now. How could anyone understand what it is like to lose everything to the rain and high waters!

170902_Harvey1

[ Hurricane Harvey ]

Dale and I have talked about this every day since Hurricane Harvey arrived, bringing with it damage and sadness, and since we did not experience any of the dangerous waters and flooding that were everywhere in the hurricane’s path, we just can’t feel their fear and frustration and loss of hope, no matter how hard we try. The whole situation has been in our prayers off and on every day since we first heard of the problem and of what might take place in a few days.

When we first heard the news commentators talk about Harvey, we chuckled a bit and decided we would have a good time making fun of Harvey, our son-in-law, who would never knowingly harm anyone, so we knew that he didn’t mind the jokes about him and his promised turning into a big hurricane. But we had no idea how this would all turn out in the days to come. In the beginning, I took photos off the Internet just with Harvey’s name on somewhere along with where the storms would settle down.

170902_Harvey2

[ The water rises ]

As the storm continued hour by hour, with the rains and hurricane winds, it wasn’t long until we began to wonder if all of the forecaster’s news would take place. If so, at least 50 inches of rain would hit the area, mostly in the big cities of Texas, like Houston. It seemed as if we just couldn’t stay away from the TV even though we could do nothing but pray for all of those who were being hit so hard with the winds and rain. Most of the big TV stations did nothing but inform us about the dangers and suffering of the people who were being evacuated. As the days went by, more and more folks had to leave their homes and go off in a boat to a safe place like storm shelters or churches.

170902_Harvey5

[ Whitecaps on the interstate ]

In the arms of their mother, little children with wide eyes, were so frightened that they didn’t even say or do anything but cling to their moms and say good bye to all they had known for the short years of their lives. What were roads where cars and trucks moved along just a day or two ago, were now a sheet of water, quickly moving on to the flood stage. Most of those cars had to be abandoned, as nobody or nothing could save them. Soon after the beginning of the hurricane and heavy rain, many small boats were moving up and down the “rivers or lakes,” trying to rescue folks who were unable to get to safety on their own. Bridges collapsed. Not much hope for the victims as they tried to make a little home for themselves in the refugee areas. Some of the victims had been taken up by a helicopter and deposited on building roofs. Many older people were rescued from their homes for the elderly, as the water continued to rise while they sat in wheel chairs, waiting to be taken to safety.

170902_Harvey3

[ 50 inches of rain ]

Unfortunately, Harvey touched down three times before it decided to go on past Houston to the east, and give many others a sad time. In some places the hurricane dropped over FIFTY inches of rain before leaving the areas.

As the news broadcasts continued from morning till night on the first day of the hurricane, I decided to take some pics off the screen showing various problems brought on by Harvey. The reason? I wanted to get a number of scenes along with HURRICANE HARVEY in words so I could have something to remember this special story about our wonderful son-in-law. In the beginning I was much more interested in his name than in the promised hurricane. A couple days later, it was just the opposite. So many inches of rain, such high winds, so many people leaving their homes and moving on to shelters was much more important than Harvey’s name on the TV screen.

170902_Harvey4

[ The caption says it all ]

So I will be watching the news for some time yet, as the storm is to move on into other areas of Texas and then Louisiana, with the chance of doing a good deal of damage there.

Yes, we are thankful that we didn’t have a hurricane in our area, that we didn’t have to leave our home, and that we can help to support those who did. So many have no idea in the world what they will be doing tomorrow, let alone in weeks or even years to come. I can never experience the feelings of others until I am in the same boat with them, but as I pray for the victims each day I remember what they have lost and ask God to be with each one. – CHRIS

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Our Neck of the Woods

August 30 – This will be another blog about what’s going on in “our neck of the woods.” Just happened to think of that phrase as I typed it out and found myself wondering how often anyone uses it any more. Just had to check an on-line dictionary to find out how the phrase was used and by whom. Learning really is fun, you know!

170830_Woods

[ Our neck of the woods ]

So, “neck of the woods” means a region or neighborhood. The early colonists had had enough of typically British ideas, and after they had been here for awhile, they thought it would be good to use “neck” in a different way, not for a narrow strip of land or water, but to a narrow strip of woods. Because this country was almost covered with woods, “your neck of the woods” became the words used when describing your home or neighborhood. When I was much younger, I often heard that phrase, but not very often lately.

So by now you know that I plan to write more about our land, where we are “happy as a lark” to use another well-known phrase. Did you know that some birds sing just in the early morning, and in the evening? Larks take over though and sing all day. I am trying to think how I will write about all of the pleasure and happiness we find on our eighteen acres. That’s more land than we have ever owned before. We do have neighbors close enough to be friendly and kind, but far enough away that they aren’t sitting on our doorstep every day!

I have been writing this after coming in after checking out several areas that are having a problem with the occasional heat and not enough water to change from hard and dry areas. In order to save the garden, Dale has occasionally used buckets this summer that he dips in the rain barrel, or the long hose that comes down from the faucet just behind the house. Good thing we have enough hoses because he uses another long one in front of the house. If we stop to wave at someone driving by on that road, we keep hoping that the wind is blowing from the west. Talk about a dusty road! At least it hasn’t been as hot as many of the summers we have live here.

170830_Blackberries

[ Blackberries from the patch ]

I checked out our blackberry patch too; sad to say, Dale is thinking we may finally cut it down due to the low yields. He has a problem chewing up or swallowing blackberries because of the seeds, but I just take a small handful, open my mouth, toss in the berries, and down they go! So tasty and good for you.

When we first planted those berries years ago, they immediately began to give us luscious black fruit, but for awhile we had to cover the patch with netting to keep the birds from eating them all. One hot day this summer I was especially glad for the patch. After I had mowed a good bit of our trails by hand, and had just finished the area, I was pretty well “done in” and wondered if I would make it back to the house without incident. Thankfully the berry patch came into my thoughts, and I hurried as fast as I could, pushing the mower. I untied the rope that holds the mower and let the motor stop. Quickly I picked the blackberries by the handfuls and popped them into my mouth. What a relief as I sat down under a nearby tree and enjoyed those berries feeling that I was going to live after all!

Near the blackberries are two huge mulberry trees which we don’t use. Nice to have them in the area though, as the birds enjoy the berries so much. I’m not sure of their condition as I never really checked to find out if they are full of worms as I was told years ago. Just the thought of chomping down on a bunch of worms is too much for me!

170830_DaleTiller

[ Dale preparing the soil ]

We have had a hard time in the garden this year. Lots of work, but very little produce. Way back when the weather allowed us to plant onions, cabbage, peppers, and tomatoes, we worked hard to catch up as the continual rains drowned out the plants. Just a few lines will tell the story.

Tomatoes were harder to plant because they were so tall when we finally could plant them that we had to double over the stem from the roots. A few of them didn’t make it but died leaving an empty hole. The cabbages looked good, everyone tucked into the newly tilled soil, and standing as tall as they could even if they were pretty short.

170830_Peppers

[ Peppers from LAST year! ]

A few peppers were planted at the end of one of the two rows of big onions (well, when they were planted, they were pretty small and insignificant but they grew fast and were soon healthy). Dale also planted lima beans by one of the fences and cucumbers on the other (which we are currently enjoying).

However, there will not be even one head of cabbage or any peppers at all. Why? A couple rabbits had a good time chomping on our vegetables just about a week or so after they were planted. We don’t mind sharing with other creatures, but to lose so much that we worked so hard to plant, well, that’s a bit much! We haven’t had even one spoonful of coleslaw or a bite of those green peppers! – CHRIS

 

 

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Storm in the Sky

160415_Rummikub

[ “Rummy-cubit” ]]

August 24 – My post this time has to do with weather, both uncomfortable and bad! A couple of weeks ago now, our son David was out here with us, about 50 miles from home for a visit. Since all of us like the old game of Rummikub, he decided to play a couple games with us before going on home. Poor guy, and poor me as well, as Dale won both games. I think he was trying to impress David with his ability to take the top spot, as usually when we play, just the two of us, he does NOT win!

Once David head for home that night and had driven a few miles, he was seeing the rain coming down at a pretty good clip! While we were inside, all dry and cozy, and really enjoying the rain that was so heavy, the branches of the maple trees were hanging low. When we looked out the windows we could see nickel size hail which covered a good part of the porch, sidewalk, and driveway.

Poor David, not being inside, was experiencing just the opposite. The heavy rains and high winds made it very hard to do much in the way of getting home, as the fifty mile trip seemed much farther. Hard to see, too because of the bright headlights on oncoming cars.

170824_DavidTree

[ Tree in David’s Yard ]

When the phone rang awhile later, I called out to Dale, “Better get the phone. It’s probably David.” His first words were, “Now I can’t talk long. Just checking on you to make sure you’re OK. When I got home I found that the power was out, and I’m afraid my phone will give out. Can’t charge it without electricity!” Unfortunately, that was not the only problem. Without power, there’s no air conditioning, and this was an especially hot night!

Fortunately for the family, the power came back on about four in the afternoon the next day! How different that was when compared to so many thousands who weren’t that blessed. In fact, some of the customers were still without power a week later! The local electric company has had help from many groups nearby as they join together to get things going as usual.

Many of the power losses were caused by trees being struck by lightning and falling across roads, ruining roofs, or keeping streets dark and dangerous. When David gave us a report a day or two later, we found out that they had fallen trees and many branches in their yard after the storm. As I remember he had to repair the fence that surrounds the yard, too. During that time that his power was off, he felt just a little warmer than he does when the AC is working! Well, more than a little. While he toughed it out at home, mostly outside, his wife had gone off to the school where she is the registrar and secretary. Of course, the school did have power!

170824_BlackWalnut

[ busted Black Walnut ]

The next day after the storm, Dale and I spent quite a few hours trying to clean up the yard. First of all, we started at the black walnut tree that has provided us with good nuts ever since we lived here. The broken branches were so big that Dale had to saw them apart so we could carry them back to the burning pile half a block away. Hanging from every branch were lovely walnuts, nowhere mature, so those will be wasted. Just for fun I gathered a bunch of them together and piled them up just to show the number that had to be tossed out.

170824_BingDown

[ Big tree branch down ]

After six or so trips back to the pile, dragging the branches behind us, we were just completing the job when I happened to lift my head up, and look to the left. I got a big surprise! One of the biggest trees we have—or had—had been broken off during the night before, and there it lay blocking the path along the trail and giving us a big surprise! By that time we were too tired out to take on another job, so after trying to figure out what to do with it, we went up to the garage to sit on the tail gate of the truck and rest up for awhile. Usually, I am the one who wants to keep going even if I am worn out, but not this time. I had had more than enough with all of the heat and the pulling of branches, and it was nice to clean up and rest!

Later in the week as I was mowing the lawn, I noticed that the strong winds had ruined something else. Scattered around the Asian pear trees, were quite a number of pears that I picked up in a bucket. Out in the garage they are sitting, not giving any sign of even getting soft. Off to one side of the pear is an apple tree where I picked up some Golden Delicious, hoping they will get ripe as well. In the same area I found a couple dozen pears. Will they ripen? Who knows? All I know is that the storm picked FOR us this time! – CHRIS

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Working Outdoors = Good

August 20 – Just skimming through my list of things that need to be done outside or that have been checked off. Seems as if the older I get, the more I want to do, but sometimes I didn’t get everything accomplished. I have always been an outdoor person, even when I was a kid.

170820_UnderFence

[ Under the fence to mow the other side ]

At the time I’m thinking of, I suppose I was about ten years old, and my sister was a couple years younger. Mom had decided that it was about time for me to stay in the house for awhile each day, learning to cook and do the washing, in the old washing machine with its wringer on top. Things like that are in museums by now! I was really sad when she made her decision known to Pa! Those two didn’t argue, at least in front of us kids, even though they probably “discussed” the matter after we had gone to bed at night. This time, they still didn’t argue, but Pa told Mom that he thought there would be plenty of time to learn housework in a few years, and it would be good for my health if she would let me keep on helping in the garden or carrying buckets of water up from the creek, or keeping things in order in the yard.

Hooray! She agreed to change her mind, and I continued to do that while Skeets, my sister, much preferred to stay indoors where she wouldn’t get her hands or clothes dirty. Besides, all five of my brothers liked to be out of the house a good bit of the day, and I wanted to be with them as long as they could stand my company! Four older and one younger.

170820 - RakingGrass

[ Raking up the grass ]

So as usual, I have been working outside a lot this summer, trying to keep the garden weeded and mowed in between the rows, and using the riding mower to do most of the big areas. If you remember, we mow about five acres total. Last week the grass was so hard to cut and to make everything neat, that Dale and I went out armed with our rakes to see if we could do a better job by hand. Two hours after we started we could see an improvement, but nothing as I had hoped we would. When the raking was done, we went from pile to pile with the big garden cart and gathered up the ugly grass. After making 10 trips to the compost heap, with about seven loads on each trip, we finally had finished the job. When I do that mowing again next time, I hope I don’t have to get the garden cart out of the shed!

170821_Limas

[ Garden lima beans ]

Spent several hours weeding the garden. Sad to find that all the beautiful golden and one red gladiola had been knocked to the ground by a recent storm. Since they would never rise again, Dale clipped off the blooms and I weeded between the plants, and then continued to weed the thriving Calico lima bean plants.

These beans are one of Dale’s favorite foods, and he still stands by his idea that they are so much better than green beans, because he sees no sense at all in eating the outer covering, remarking that, “You don’t eat banana peelings, do you?”

Of the forty tomato cages in the garden, we found that ten of them had been knocked down by the same storm. Fortunately, Dale could pull up the tomato cage and settle it back down with the plants inside once more. Today, in between the weeding jobs, I picked lots and lots of tomatoes of all different varieties. I always enjoy the Pearly Pink and the Sun Gold. If I get thirsty at all, those two are the ones which find their way to my stomach.

170820_ManyTomatoes

[ Lots and lots of tomatoes! ]

Lately we have been picking the tomatoes before they are completely ripe because some kind of animal must like to eat tomatoes just as much as we do, and sometimes gets to the fruit before we can pick the very ripe ones. So, down in the basement this evening there are all sorts of bowls and trays to hold the bushel or more that we picked today. For a change we didn’t have tomato sandwiches for supper tonight, but we did have cut up tomatoes to go along with the cucumbers that are bearing their green fruits. After buying and eating vegetables that we can buy in the store, it’s just nice to have some really good and fresh ones from the garden!

These are the days that I am really happy and thankful that we have our own garden, not only giving us what we need to eat, but also providing enough for our friends. – CHRIS

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The Second Wednesday

170813_HarvestersCabbage

[ One big cabbage ]

August 13 – As we have written about before, on the second Wednesday of each month, the Harvesters food truck comes to the Kingsville Adventist Church and unloads a LOT of food to be handed out to people in a long line of vehicles in need of food. Many church members come to the church, volunteering to unpack the cartons and containers of food and lay the contents out to be available as each vehicle drove past.

Chris ended up handing out cabbages this time, and I had the 10-lb bags of potatoes. In between us were two large containers of watermelons, and we were fortunate that Mike Sullivan had the watermelons, for he has the strength and energy needed to handle heavy items. The potatoes came five 10-lb bags per large bag, and when a whole large bag was needed, Mike just heaved it into the vehicle. I couldn’t even pick one up!

170813_HarvesterMelons

[ Watermelons – n – stuff ]

Across the driveway, grandson Kevin had everything on that side and we don’t know how he managed to handle it all, but he did a great job. Near to us were the green beans, and in vast quantities. They were all in black plastic cases and many vehicles just got a whole case of them. Some days are hotter than others, and occasionally the heat will drive some of the volunteers to seek refuge in the church now and then. Chris and I don’t use our air conditioning very much at home, so we are used to the heat and managed to tolerate it most of the time.

170813_HarvestersWorker

[ Glad to help! ]

Dennis Schoonover, the man in charge of activities, went around handing out bottles of cold water, and his wife Pam was everywhere, helping where help was needed. Their daughter and her husband and their two children had come to lend a hand and were much appreciated. Our pastor’s wife Marilyn and their three younger children also came to help.

At the end of our road is a family with health and family problems, and we always collect Harvesters food for them and take some back with us at the end of the event. They are so excited and appreciative, and even want to give us money for the gas we use, which is about zero for the two blocks or so that we have to travel to their house. They have four or five little dogs that live with them but are actually owned by their children. They are all jealous of their owners’ attentions and frequently battle for supremacy. One of them has a broken foot as a result.

170813_YellowShirts

[ Very visible in our neon shirts ]

On the day following Harvesters, we went to Pleasant Hill to visit and to shop a little. Bought a few things, mostly books, at the thrift store, and decided not to do any grocery shopping since we have more than enough food in the freezers and fridge and elsewhere. On Thursdays we always eat breakfast when we get home from town, usually around noon, and so our supper appetites are minimal until quite late.

A friend and neighbor from down the road a few blocks, Clay Marquis, stopped in for a visit as he was driving out this way, and we had a nice long chat about all our affairs and our gardens and the weather. Dinner was calling, so he said farewell and drove away to fix a meal and take a nap. Afterwards, I did some reading and just maybe took the chance to take a nap as well! – DALE

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Chis and the Apple Tree

170810_Apples

[ Apples, anyone? ]

August 10 – What I am going to write about in this post comes from a story I remember that took place about 85 years ago. For the first time, one of the new apple trees my dad had planted had fruit on it. Pa took all seven of us out to his special tree telling us not even to touch any of those apples! (Of course, Skeets at 4 years old and Pete a little over 3), didn’t understand the commands. Off he went to work, there were none of my brothers nearby, and Mom was in the kitchen.

I can easily remember how I walked around the tree, trying to figure out how I could get at least one of those spectacular golden fruits. After several tries, I managed to get one of those apples while still keeping Pa’s orders! With my hands behind my back, I stepped as near as I could to one of the limbs that held wonderful, really beautiful Golden Delicious apples. Then I stuck out my tongue and somehow managed (I don’t quite remember how.) to take a couple bites from the apple I chose. After that I very carefully took the same stance and was able to take a bite or two from all eight of the apples!

As I remember, I thought those apples would taste much better than they actually did! Why? I just worried and worried about what kind of a spanking I would get from Pa! But then I really wouldn’t be doing anything he had told us kids not to do. Remember, he said we absolutely shouldn’t pick any of the apples. And I really had obeyed him—or had I?

170810_Family

[ Roy, then Ed, and Frank, (Pete and me), and Rich

That night when Pa had walked the couple miles home, he went down to the apple tree. I cannot imagine what his thoughts were as he found that those apples that had been so beautiful in the morning were now eaten, although they had not been picked. As he questioned each of us, one right after the other, he received a no for an answer each time, starting with my oldest brother Roy. Then Ed, and Frank, and Rich all of whom were older than I was. “Well, Sis, did you eat those apples?” I knew better than to lie, but I was worried about what punishment I would get if I didn’t! Looking down at the ground, and standing very quietly, I said, “No.”

Of course, since all of the older kids hadn’t done anything wrong and weren’t worried about being caught, they stood by the tree, waiting for the guilty one to admit what he had done. But what about me? I was so scared of the licking I would get (Pa didn’t lick us much, but when he did, we could really feel the whack of that stick or his belt whichever he used!) I stuck with my story of being innocent when he asked me the second time.

170810_SadFace

[ Uh-oh, busted! ]

When the questioning was over, Elsie Burnett, one of our teen-age neighborhood kids who had watched and listened to the whole story, waited till Pa and the rest had left the scene. Quietly she came up to me and said, “We all know you ate those apples, Sis, why don’t you tell me, and I won’t tell ANYBODY! Believe it or not, that sounded pretty good to me because I could get it out of my system and nobody would ever know because Elsie wouldn’t tell. She had promised! But promises are not always kept. As soon as I admitted to my “sin”, she raced down the hill from her house to ours and immediately, in a voice I will never forget, told Pa that I was the one who ate the apples.

Looking back on that experience, I am sure that he would rather have had me tell him the truth, rather than letting my former friend tell him. But, you know what? Pa never even spanked me because as he told me many years later, “I think that was punishment enough, when you not only took the apples but lied about it. I hope you will always tell the truth, no matter what might happen to you!” He then gave me a big hug, something he hardly ever did! A hug from Pa was something never to be forgotten. And I really mean it! Oh, and did I mention that he even told me years later that I must have been a smart little girl as I managed to get those apples off the tree without even using my hands! – CHRIS

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And Now About Those Fruit Trees…

August 8 – We usually have pretty good crops in the garden and on the fruit and nut trees in the yard. This year hasn’t been such a great one thanks to insects, and weather, either too much rain, or not enough. First, let me review the fruit trees.

170808_Plum

[ A sample plum ]

Our prune tree was loaded with prunes for several years, but then decided it had had enough of bearing and just lay almost dormant. Another year and it was easy to see the prunes wanted to succeed in their job of providing us with some good fruit. However, at least three-quarters of them fell to the ground when they were pretty green or long before they were ripe. As I mowed the lawn this spring, I kept an eye on the tree, just hoping that we would get some of those sweet and juicy prunes which I have always liked to eat. Back in Pennsylvania, my mom had a really big tree, and we picked bushels from it. Tasty!

170808_BeforeBeetles

[ Rose of Sharon before the beetles ]

However, there will be little point in my watching those prunes from here on in. A week ago when I was mowing in the area, I noticed that the leaves on the branches were full of holes where the Japanese beetles had taken over! Big piles of them sat on the branches and continued to chew until the branches were totally empty, before they moved on to other branches to start the same process. Dale was going to spray the Stanley prune tree, but so many of the branches were bare of leaves, that he didn’t do much.

170808_Cherries

[ Cherries from the tree ]

These are the same Japanese beetles that did so much damage to our fruit trees in PA. And this is the very first time in our almost twenty years of living here in Missouri that we have seen even one of these horrible insects Since then beetles have ruined the plum tree, the Rose of Sharon bush, the Nanking bush cherries, and are chewing on the leaves of the big Siberian elm tree in the front yard.

As usual, our apricot tree lost out when the warmer spring weather turned cold, and the meager fruit fell to the ground before getting large enough to save. The new apricot that Dale bought and planted had no fruit at all!

When we first moved to Missouri, there were two apple trees in the yard that the owner had planted years ago. At first we had a good crop and for several years, I made a lot of applesauce, really tasty and delicious. Then the trees bore just about nothing. Last year, they were too small to even use, so Dale decided to cut the first one down.

170808_Apples

[ Wish we grew apples like this! ]

Thanks to my hope for some good apples I begged for its life for another year. Might as well have agreed to the cutting down because the apples weren’t worth anything.

At least this year the Golden Delicious has several places on the tree where we can find 4 or 5 nice-looking fruits growing together. I felt of the fruit just yesterday to see if they were getting ripe, but not yet! Apples have always been one of my very favorite fruits. – CHRIS

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Foods to Eat (and Foods NOT To!)

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Amanitas (not good to eat)

August 6 – Seems we are always finding something different as we walk along the trails that run around our 18 acres. A couple days ago as I was checking on the iris bed, where I had just cut off the plants the day before, I looked ahead, and there, right off to my right past the old covered well, dug by hand, I saw a very interesting sight.

Amanitas! Poisonous mushrooms! As I walked along the row of 28, growing in a half circle, I remembered that we had the same sight last year. Right in the same place those huge round mushrooms were a delightful (?) sight. And, of course, as usual, I didn’t have my camera with me. Hurrying up the hill to the house, and picking up that camera, I was soon back at the site of the Amanitas.

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[ Web worms (not good to eat, either) ]

The next day when I walked back to the mushrooms, I noticed something hanging from the branch of a tree nearby. Looked like a worm to me, kind of a reddish blue-gray color, and the poor branch was just about robbed of every bit of leaf. When the wind blew up a bit it looked like the worms were doing a jig! Just above the branch was a big tent-like home for the rest of the worms I couldn’t see the first time. Might be something beautiful and unusual in the tent, but anything that is connected with worms is not pretty to me. Last year I couldn’t reach the higher tents, so those worms continued to grow and enjoy life till they fell down to the ground, nest and all, having added their mess to the ground.

In our fenced-in garden, once the rains finally stopped for awhile in the spring, we planted several vegetables that we always enjoy eating through the summer. Unfortunately, we weren’t very fortunate as far as the plants growing and giving us food for the summer as they usually do.

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[ David hoeing next to the onions ]

Out of the many cabbage plants, we had not even one bit of coleslaw because a rabbit or two ate up the entire row. To finish out a row of onions, we planted five pepper plants. Just as they were settling down, something ate every one! At least we had a great crop of onions, big sweet ones that keep well during the winter. And then the forty tomato plants of so many varieties like Mortgage Lifter, Jersey Devil, Roma, Pearly Pinks, and some large pink varieties.

They have done so well, even though they had to survive a wet spell followed by very dry conditions. Our son David helped us put a cage around each plant, and so they all look healthy and good. When Dale found the first ripe tomato, I just let it lie on the counter in the kitchen, as we enjoyed looking at it, the first one of the year! Since then he has picked a number of large ones along with several varieties of the smaller ones, including the yellow Sun gold ones. Now we don’t have to choose to “save” the ripe tomatoes because we have enough that we can continue to slice them up for sandwiches. – CHRIS

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Chiggers and Birds (but not related)

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[ Chigger semi-relief

July 31 – Folks suffering from chiggers will sympathize with us. Some people claim that they are immune, but we are definitely NOT. We go around with dozens of red welts, some large, and very irritating. Chiggerex is what we use to ease the discomfort, and lately I have been rubbing it on all the itchy spots before going to bed. Otherwise I found it necessary to get up in the middle of the night to do that. Chiggers are very small, reddish creatures that crawl around in grass and weeds and latch onto any body within reach. One good thing about October is that chiggers disappear until next May!

A few days ago I was looking out our big front window, when suddenly a smallish hawk swooped down and dived right into the middle of the bush growing in the front yard. It disappeared completely for a few moments, and then came hastily out and flew away. This bush is a favorite haunt of sparrows, and probably the hawk had seen one in there and attempted to grab a meal. Later on the hawk was there again, only this time it stood in front of the bush briefly before flying off.

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[ One of many bird nests we’ve found ]

There is a bird around here that speaks English very plainly, but only one word of it – Teacher. It is a Carolina wren, and its standard call is “Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher”. Every year a pair of them will make a nest in our workshop, getting in through the gap beneath the door where an old threshold strip used to be. The nest is always in some old box or drawer, and is a bundle of grass.

Eventually the babies are old enough to leave the nest, but are not smart enough to find their way out of the workshop. They fly around inside until somebody comes out to get something, and there are those little birds dashing around and hitting windows or hanging lights. I leave the door open and try to shoo them out, and sometimes they will go and sometimes I just have to chase them down and grab them and toss them outside for the parents to attend to. Next year they are not going to have a nest in our workshop, because workman James has just installed a new door with no gap beneath it. Maybe they will find a spot in the barn at the other end of the building, where there is lots of room under the sliding door there.

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[ Sleepy Cat ]

To change subjects, I have to accuse our cat of favoritism. At night when we prepare to go to bed, I often go out to the garage and call her, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” to get her to come in so we can close up for the night. She sleeps in the house at night but often likes to stay outside until around eleven. Kitty likes Chris better than me, I think, for she will most times stay outside until Chris starts calling “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” and right into the garage pops kitty and then into the house for a night’s rest.

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[ Christopher and his mom Darlene ]

Earlier this month, our son David and his wife Darlene took a trip of several days to Tennessee. They took down a load of furniture and other things for their son Christopher who is going to be there in Tennessee for a couple of years while studying to be a nurse anesthetist. After many years, Dave and Darlene will have no children living at home with them anymore. They have all grown up and moved out.

Right now I too am moving out from this blog-writing business and will say goodbye to all. – DALE

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