Get Used to Neglect


Goodbye, my most neglected garden.
I gave you precious little attention,
but you faithfully rewarded
our small times together.

Even as you age and decline
you graciously dish out goodwill.
The Swiss chard, Italian parsley,
lettuce, sunflowers remain.

I live in a state of perpetual hope…
the promise that next year I’ll do better.

Next summer there’ll be no weddings,
no babies, no trips, no books?
May it never be!

Get used to it, dear garden.
You are a minor delight of my life.
I need you, I do.
But I’m an undependable friend.

Next year we’ll get it together, won’t we?
I will magically morph into a Gardener
and you will mysteriously develop rich, loamy soil.

Sweet dreams!
Soon you will warm yourself with a quilt of leaves
and a comforter of snow.

Sleep well, my quiet companion.
Remember: next year!
Next year.


Simple Pleasures in September



~   Hospitality is thriving in Eastern Oregon.  Friends have befriended us on long wedding weekends, fed us incredible crepes (or breakfast burritos, depending on the host) and let us share in their home life; here Xander is hugging on his kitty.


~  To be honest, my garden has been ugly this year.  Curt tilled the ground, I planted, my son watered, and we all ignored both weeds and fruit (exceptin’ the luscious raspberries).  Just. too. busy. Saturday was the first opportunity for….well, you decide: is it redemption or atonement?  There were enough tomatoes for a large batch of spaghetti sauce and a large batch of fresh salsa.   We’ve been eating Swiss chard.  Beans and peas just didn’t grow this year.  The beets and butternut squash still need to be harvested.


~  New, fun game to play.  I know some girls who are devastatingly good Blokus players.  It is now my goal to be able to hold my own against these masterminds.  I like this game because it can be enjoyed at different levels of proficiency.  My four year old grandson and I had fun just playing with the pieces. 


~  Aren’t birthdays a simple pleasure?  Because life is a gift.  And the best response to a gift is to return thanks.  The recent death of our friend Joe (21 years old) in Afghanistan, is a painful, bittersweet reminder to treasure each moment.  Today is my birthday and I am thankful to God for the beautiful life He’s given me.  For daily mercies.  For forgiveness. 

Aging has its compensations.  Now that my husband is older he is more inclined to snuggle than to bounce right out of bed. There is that.

To start the celebration, I’m bringing a rhubarb-apple-pear cobbler to work.

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it.  I want to have lived the width (*and depth* I would add) of it as well.”   ~ Diane Ackerman


What Raspberries Teach Me About Life


Last night I futzed in the garden: a little tomato trimming, a little beet thinning, a little raspberry picking.  I had intended to begin (again) listening to War and Peace, but both my iPod and MP3 needed charging.

Well, I thought, I guess I’ll just think.  I don’t know why, but when I think in the garden I get all philosophical.  Not like Kierkegaard or Kant: just some elementary, didactic, flannel-graph object lessons.    

Here’s what I thought, just to prove that anyone could write those little Everything I Need to Know books.

What Raspberries Teach Me About Life

1.   The best position is to bend down low and look up.

2.   Stretching beyond your reach is worth it. 

3.   Don’t be afraid of of a few scratches. 

4.   Work is its own reward, but a fresh raspberry popped in the mouth is a bonus.

5.   The dried up raspberries represent lost opportunities.  Don’t despair.  Keep moving. Every life has *bushels* of lost opportunities.  Pluck them off and feed them to the dog.

6.   One can’t overstate the benefit of looking at a situation from many different angles. Both sides now.

7.   Even when you are certain you’ve picked every ripe raspberry –even then– there’s always more jewels waiting to be found. 

8.   Corollary: another person will be able to see what you can’t.

9.   Cultivating raspberries, which are essentially a weed, requires no great skill. God made the plants, sent the sun, gave the rain.  The fruit is a gift. 

10.   Early risers have moral high ground; sunset, however, is a superlative harvest setting.

11.  Raspberries mature at different rates from others in the same cluster. When they reach fruition, they are sweet, regardless if they are early or late. Like people.

12.  Ripe berries don’t need to be persuaded. The softest touch and they are ready to leave! If the berry resists, wait. A little time, a little sun, a little water, a little patience. The readiness is all.





What I know:  picking raspberries with my husband,
popping a few choice morsels in my mouth,
competing for the bigger take,
talking as the light fades,
 is my idea of a romantic evening.

What I’ve learned:  raspberries respond well to water. 
The key to big berries is much, consistent water. 
Thank you, son!

100 Species:
1.  Clematis
2.  Garlic
3.  Delphinium
4.  Daylily
5.  Dianthus
6.  Daisy
7.  Lobelia
8.  Verbena
9.  Cosmos
10. Salvia
11.  Diachondra
12.  Raspberry

A Small but Indispensable Service

(last summer’s flowers)

A garden…teems with life.  It glows with colour and smells like heaven and puts forward at every hour of a summer day beauties which man could never have created and could not even, on his own resources, have imagined…

Without life springing from the earth,
without rain, light and heat descending from the sky,
he could do nothing.

When he has done all,
he has merely encouraged here and discouraged there,
powers and beauties that have a different source.
But his share, though small, is indispensable and laborious.

When God planted a garden He set a man over it and set the man under Himself.
When He planted the garden of our nature
and caused the flowering, fruiting loves to grow there,
He set our will to “dress” them.
Compared with them it is dry and cold.

And unless grace comes down, like the rain and sunshine,
we shall use this tool to little purpose.
But its laborious–and largely negative–services are indispensable.

          ~ C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves

Lulus and A Travel Quote

My favorite annual is the Lulu Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)
When petunias are leggy (or eaten by the deer),
pansies are wilted (or eaten by the deer),
these Lulus carry on.

They have the smell of a marigold,
but the look of lace and ferns.
They are the last bit of color in the fall,
surviving light frosts.

»     »     »

I’m 76 pages into John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley.  I’ve filled four journal pages with quotes.  His observations on traveling, people-watching, and pondering resonate with me.  I grab my task-oriented husband by the shirt and make him listen to a paragraph.  “How does he do that – write so compellingly?” the busy man wonders.  While I suspect that Steinbeck is coming from the point of view of determinism, I can agree with the next paragraph in light of God’s providence. 

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over.  A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all journeys.  It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. 

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.  And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.  Tour masters, schedules, reservation, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. 

Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it.  Only then do the frustrations fall away.  In this a journey is like a marriage.  The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.  (p. 4)

Simple Pleasures on a Saturday in August

~  The colors in my garden

I love the deep purple of eggplant.  Aubergine.  What a delicious word.

The Railway Children DVD, based on E. Nesbit’s book.
Superb viewing for the whole family. 
Edwardian England, Bobbie, Phil and Peter, and the Sussex countryside.
I loved the book and it follows it quite faithfully.
C.S. Lewis read and was influenced by Nesbit. 
She was quite unorthodox in her personal life,
but she wrote warm books rich in family life. 
The Treasure Seekers and The Wouldbegoods are my two favorites.

~  The absence of back to school shopping. 
Y’all enjoy the malls and box stores. 
I’m home in the garden with my music and books.

~  A clear phone and DSL connection.
After months of calls to DSL technical support,
a friend suggested we call the regular phone company.
They came out and the phone line had been
almost in two by squirrels
.  Rodents!

~  Sunrise over the mountains.  It’s opening day of archery season
and I woke up to say goodbye to my hunters.
I’m remembering a sunrise we experienced 23 years ago today.
I watched that sunrise holding this bundle of a boy in my arms.

Happy Birthday Carson!

What simple pleasures are you enjoying this day?