Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who Plants a Tree on Front of the Window?

Since we bought the property we have tried to figure out the age of the old house that is on it. The County Courthouse has record only as far back as 1909.

Since I have dismantled most of the floors and wall panelling, I began to realize that the biggest part of the house was added to a two room cabin.

The floor supports under the older section is of hand hewn tree logs, (bark still on). One can see the adz marks as the craftsmen shaped the logs to a level to hold the flooring.

The additional rooms downstairs and the four rooms upstair all have sawn lumber joists and wall timbers.

My real question is: How old is a maple tree with a three foot diameter trunk?

Then I'd like to know who would plant a hardwood tree just three feet outside the parlor window? Obviously it volunteered. Then why would anyone let it grow? As it got taller the branches must have pocked the windows.

The tree probably is at least 75 years old. The house was abandoned in about 1966. The new owner let it go to ruin and planted white pines all around.

The massive tree now towers 50 feet above the old house. Its branches have scrapped and poked holes in the thick, tin roof.

I love that old house, but it is too far gone to save it. Like I said before, all things will fade and fall to the ground. The only thing that will remain forever is your soul. Be aware of that, only you have a choice to where it will be the instance you pass on.
Please ponder the words of Jesus: John 3:16-18


Friday, October 28, 2011

I Like Lichen

It is liken to none other.

Lichen is not really a moss, it'll grow on rocks, dead branches and on live tree trunks. The reason I like it, is its color. My favorite shade of greenish blue.

The color seams to blend with any artist's theme. It highlights any surrounding hue and dramatically adds to the depths of shadows.

Lichen adds a splash, a piece of adornment to an otherwise drab tree trunk.

Sometimes it is splattered all around the tree, kind of a tattered lace vying for space with the growing moss.

Tree moss likes the damp and dark side of the tree trunk. If you are ever lost in the woods, with no help from a shining sun, look for moss on the trees. Take a consensus of several findings and you may be sure the side the moss is on will show you where North is.

What good is all this information if you don't know where you came from. And for that matter if you don't care where you're going.

Hey man! . . . pull them ear buds out of your ears and enjoy the simplicity of life.
                            STILLNESS REALLY ROCKS!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

To Spank Or Not To Spank?

Over thirty years ago, one of my sons, I'm not going to name him, came home from school looking ill, pale and drawn, obviously sick. He sat in a chair, uncomfortable and quiet. When supper time was ready he came to the table but could not eat. A bit later he asked if he could go to bed.

His mother and I questioned him if anything was hurting. All the boy said, "I'm not feeling well." We checked if he ran a fever, he did not. So, he went to bed.

The rest of the family finished supper, washed the dishes, and sat to enjoy the rest of the evening. Around eight o'clock, the sick fellow emerged from his room, slowly, adjusting and rubbing his eyes.

He came over and stood near my chair. As I turned toward him, I realized he wanted to say something. He looked as pale as ever. When I leaned forward, he began to stammer, "Dad, . . . I, . . . I got a paddling in school today."

I did little spanking as my boys were growing up. They may not say it was little, but they all knew when an infraction warranted a few whops on the rear. One guaranteed spanking was promised if I ever heard of them getting in trouble in school, and, God forbid, get a paddling in school. My promise to them was often reiterated during the school year, "If you ever get a spanking in school," I said, "you'll gonna get a double dose when you get home."

"What did you do?" I asked, somewhat surprised at the confession.
"I was in the bathroom." Go on, I said. "There was five of us."
"Yes?" I said.
"One of the boys set the toilet paper on fire. Before we could sneak out of there, the assistant principal came in and made us all go to the principal's office."
"Is that where you got your paddling?"
"Yup, all five of us."

I got up out of my chair, walked toward the boy, as he stood, expecting his reward.

I grabbed him by the shoulder, pulled him close to me and gently said, "You already got all you deserved, lets go and get you a bite to eat."

Thirty-some-years ago, sanity in this country was still part of the mindset. I would have never, then nor now, hightailed it to the principal's office throwing a fit. "How dare you strike my son. . . I'll sue you and the System . . . and I'll make sure you never be in a position to administer such medieval, barbaric attacks again."

Well, I never have forgotten that little family matter, and I'm sure my son hasn't either. I don't want to brag, but thank God, he turned out alright.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple Festival


The picking is good, was good, and we say, "Yup, you got that right."

Let's celebrate and be glad. The Apple Festival at Gross' Orchards was a joyous event.

With music and crafts

With Uncle Sam and treats.

Well, Carol and I got our fill. Hotdogs, BBQ, Funnel cake, and something sweet to wash it down with.
In addition, we went home with a gallon of cider and a half-a-peck of apples.

This boy doesn't live around here. There are no festivals where he lives. I bet he never tasted a funnel cake.

Thank God for America. I only wish more folks would realize how blessed the are.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Games of 65 Years Ago


Should the pre-Christmas season be a time of expectation, or a time of frustration?

Of course the answer depends on you. Most Americans can't help to get a bit strung out. Some may even get bent. Some may get stressed and even frazzled.

The underlying fact is that we have already too much stuff.

I vote we give each other a fruitcake. Once the stinkbugs are gone, they make a great doorstop the rest of the year. AND, you can pass it on to a lucky new friend you made the next season.

Some of us remember a time when we didn't expect anything for Christmas, a sure way not to be disappointed. But, I always got something. A book, a ruler, a compass, and always a string of rock candy.

Toys were rarely part of Christmas. No one sold toys at the bakery, dairy, butcher or the veggie store. We as kids made our own toys. Toys flowing from our imagination, our own trial and error, our own efforts.

We did have two family games, (no batteries required), that we brought with us from Germany. The game below offered a chance for all family members to sit around the kitchen table. It simply consists of a sack full of triangular, colored, wooden tiles.

Imagine, sitting for hours, with your children, and no one whining about how bored they are.

Heidi spent a precious long time on the above masterpiece.

Other grandchildren had fun doing their thing.

"Floh Hupferl" we call the game below. It translates to "flea hopping". I hear it is similar to "Tiddlywinks". Again the game is simple. I have forgotten the rules we had when I was a kid. So, we made up our own. The overall object is still the same. You use one wink to make your wink jump on top of the other guy's wink. When you do, you conquer that wink. The last wink standing wins.

How many toys in your family have lasted at least 60 years? You may say these are silly games. Maybe so, but they teach concentration, respect of others, waiting your turn, a competitive spirit and you may add . . . spatial relations, which opens the mind to mathematics. . . AND, the entire family can participate!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Botulism and Company

Wash your Hands! . . . Wash your Hands! . . .

We wash and sterilize everything we come in contact with. We as Americans have become so 'pure' that we have to bring our own lunches from this country to eat when traveling overseas.

Below is a Butcher shop. Part of a hog or goat hangs in full view. The friendly dealer will cut you a slice from the carcass. You bring your own wrapper. No Health department or FDA here. "If you got the money honey, we've got the meat."

If goat isn't your thing, how about chicken innerts? . . . Just look at those fresh gizzards! . . . hearts and livers. . .  If that doesn't make your mouth water, check out those chicken feet! . . . If you gnaw on that gristle inside those chicken feet you wont have to take any more of those glucosemin pills! 

For real company fair, you've got to offer some turtle soup. You can choose from turtle meat already carved and impeccably presented, or on the half shell.  

Don't worry about the eggs the green flies have laid; they wont hatch after you boil up the delicacies.


Hey, let's not gripe about this country, . . . you ain't got it all that bad!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Ain't The Only Bright Thing


I painted this in 1981. A late evening theme as you can tell by the shadows cast. I mounted a small spotlight to enhance the Stimmung (the essence of the moment).

For the first time in thirty years an eagle flew into the setting to soar above the beauty of the day.

Where did the eagle come from? . . . He sure added an extra glow to cause a deep breath.

Well! . . . A copper-colored moth, blending perfectly with the evening fall colors, searched and found the brightest spot of the painting. Seemingly suspended in rapture, inhaling the last streams of light, the moth  was the soaring eagle.

This little creature gets its strength and energy from the light source. It settled in for the evening, content, basking in the warmth from the source. . .

We also need to learn to settle down at the end of our day by absorbing and rejoicing in the gifts given us that day.

                          "Be still and know that I am God.  . . ." Psalm 46:10


Friday, October 14, 2011

A Squaredance Platform


Them pressure treated 2x10s, 12 feet long, are almost too much for a seventy-one year old dude to sling around. Especially when his pants pockets are full of water from sloshing around in the pond positioning the frame of the dock. (I had to wear full size britches, because of the fish trying to rip out my veins and freckles on my legs).

Then the help arrived. A crew of six grandchildren. (nothing but smiles)

Since the girls didn't bring a hammer, they were content to hang with Carol, making dessert and chewing bubblegum.

Jacob, Eli and Luke went to work and stuck with the task at hand.

Banging nails straight down was great fun for the two younger ones. But, when it came to tying two timbers together, with a splice board, the hammer couldn't find the nail. I had started 14 nails for the boys to finish driving. Only two made it all the way in. . .  Indeed a precious memory in my heart.
(The drain is for a future fire pit)

At the end of the second day, all the lumber nailed down, 35 pounds of nails later, you'll find a job well done.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Carpet and Cushioned Seats


I want to show you a Church in Uganda, Africa.

As you look at these pictures, I also want to ask yourself if God is there, does He hear their prayers and accepts their worship as a sweet savor to His ears.

During a mission trip, I had the privilege of preaching there. The building is an adequate shelter against rain. It is more than adequate to commune with our Lord.

Behind this pulpit is no exquisite mural, nor a ten-thousand dollar stained-glass window. The air conditioning has no need for duct work, nor programmed thermostats.

The call to worship is a bongo. No one drives up in fancy cars and drags out a cello or trombone to blend with the church orchestra.

Praising the Lord is long and loud. No one is holding back "because they can't sing", or because their false teeth may fly out.

In clean clothes, the best they have, they come to worship. No judging to see if they're in style, or if the dress is from Talbots.

I snuck out my little camera and took this picture before I was introduced to speak.

When there is a good roof, there is no water to be soaked up by the dirt floor. The floor of that church was the most precious parquet I ever saw. No weeds or trash in the cracks. Patted down hard from use by children and dear folks. 

My, my. . . forgive me Lord for ever complaining again.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Bulk, Body and Hair

BULK.  You can buy in bulk quantities. You can make sure you're getting enough bulk in your diet. You can work-out, huff and puff, strain and groan, until you bulk up. Which by the way, later in life turns to a more flabby bulk.

I'm not going to show a picture of an example of the above analogy. However, if one qualifies for either one of the categories, I suggest they buy a sack of prunes, in bulk, for a cure-all.

BODY.  Of course, as vain as we all are, we think of our figure or shape.
Some men, and women I suppose are Body Builders. The purpose, I do not know. All the time spent watching little ripples grow, looking at yourself in the mirror, hoping for a modeling career, . . . well each to his own.

Then there is a body of water; full, wide, a great expanse, (sounds almost like a description of bulk.)

Then there is a body of believers, or the rank and file of an association.

Then of course, what is the body or core of this yarn I'm spinning? . . . let me get right to it.

HAIR.  My wife recently recommended I use shampoo instead of soap. Okay, before I take a chance of messing up a good thing, such as my crowning joy, I read the label. Other than bragging on the ingredients, such as genuine Norwegian coconut derivatives, it also mentioned an increase in volume and body.

Low and behold, it did wonders for me. More fullness, thickness, bounce and lift!

Look at hair number two, blissfully laying over and actually touching hair number three for the first time in thirty years.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Last Efforts


October is here. Nature is about to close its book to take a rest.

Some of nature's marvels have to make it on their own. Unlike the blooms we cultivate around our homes. We fertilize and mulch. We clip and prune. We spray for mites, we spray to keep deer away. We water when dry, we prop when the wind is done.

Who is helping the brave beauties in the woods, at the edge of the forests? They are just as beautiful as the blooms we dote on.

Bittersweet climbs high. It hangs in clusters of ripening berries. It is soaking up the sun to turn every last berry bright red. Then they give back by sustaining the birds and squirrels through the snow covered months.

Polk berries. They don't all ripen at the same time. The deer love to eat the greens, but always leave enough to mature to give pleasure to opossums, raccoons and bears.

I don't know what these little things are. They probably gave themselves to be grazed upon all year. Now they realized they better hurry and produce some seeds to be of help again come next season.

I do not know what they are either. Cheerful October bloomers; only the size of a dime. Heartwarming! Reminding me even the insignificant in God's Kingdom have also a purpose.

These bitter sweet berries, low to the ground, are saying to the turkeys and grouse, "I have not forgotten you. You can scratch when the snow covers me and I'll be there for you."

I think this is called "Rabbit Tobacco". I'm sure the Lord gave it a purpose. Maybe rabbits do light up a smoke, cuddled close, when outside their little den the snow flies.

Those are tiny blossoms, the size of a fingernail. I have watched them overwhelm the sides of the stream all year. Just a few blooms left. I'm glad I got this picture.

Why have I posted this so seemingly trivial nonsense to the fast-paced world? Because I love to reflect. I know, just like in nature, there is not one human being that is not important to the Maker. We are here to experience His wonder, His love. He is calling. . . .

"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kiss Me Baby

Nothin better than a wet smacker.

Soft lips, no teeth, always eager.

In case you don't recognize these beauties, they are "Gefillterfisch" before they land on the dinner plate.
They are the well fed resident carp at the boat docks on Smith Mountain Lake, VA  

Bring some crackers, popcorn or soft scraps and watch the ducks climb onto the backs of the fish to join the frenzy.


Sunday, October 2, 2011


"From dust you are, to dust you shall return."

True.  Even the most durable stuff we humans invent will eventually decay and turn to dust.

When I was a kid, the only waste we had was ashes. Even the fecal matter returned to the earth, and no one had to "manage" it to suit certain specifications.

The waste we were confronted with was vegetable peels, nut shells, and the slip of paper wrapping around bones and meat from the butcher. In those days, when we had no wood to burn, all such waste founds its way into the kitchen stove; even the bones and peelings after they had dried.

The ashes from all burnables was sprinkled unto the garden soil and worked in. After we moved back to the Munich, and no longer had a garden, the ashes from the cookstove were placed in city-supplied containers then picked up by the city.

We lived in a five story tenement with eleven apartments. The pick-up was once a month. Very rarely there were more than two trashcans on the sidewalk for the city to empty. Ours was not emptied but two or three times a year. There simply was no trash. Plastic had not yet begun to cover the earth. Canned food was home made and the jars reused. Tin cans did not exist, nor did boxed foods, at least not in our lives.

We had no refrigeration, therefore we bought our provisions the day we cooked them. My mother kept a small drum of flour and a good sized tin can full of sugar ready at all times. I went to the various stores, the butcher, the baker, the dairy store, the veggie market, to buy one egg or some soup greens, or a block of yeast. We had a cloth bag or container for everything; a milk can, a flour can, a lard can. A large linen poke for potatoes which was also used to drag home blocks of peat for the stove.


But think about it, what do we all pay to have our trash "managed" now-a days.