Monday, July 21, 2008


Here is a photo of our thriving garden. This is a year of plenty for those with dirt under their fingernails and in their shoes. The weather has been perfect for gardening and farming. We have teamed up with the Havens' on their 2 acres to grow all of our beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, greens, pickling pickles, sweet corn, and also fresh lettuce, carrots, peas, squash, etc. We've named it "Fresh Haven Farm" but its really just a big garden (1/2 acre). We're also raising a dozen Rhode Island Reds for eggs and a couple dozen Cornish Rocks for broilers.
The garden is an interesting way to get to know someone. We haven't known the Havens for very long and many people believe that we took on alot of risk by spending so much on seed and plants and chicken house material and chickens that is on someone else's land. You know, I don't look at it at all that way. The way I see it is by doing this together our kids get the opportunity to see a couple families come together in difficult economic times to create some synergy. If it doesn't work out it won't be a lesson in keeping your guard up, it will be a lesson in how to live life as if we are already within the Kingdom of God and if it turns out that life is not a fairy tale with a happy ending we at least feasted on the joy that we've had thus far in this endeavor. Our kids play well all day and well into the dark, catching lazy fireflies while we relax around a crackling bonfire (Mike is the bonfire king and takes the size, color, warmth, and ambiance of his bonfire very seriously). Many times the kids will crowd onto a blanket next to the fire and fall asleep while we talk late into the night. The harvest began when we broke ground for the garden and I pray it continues deep into the winter when we twist off brass rings and open sealed wide-mouth masons of spicy salsa, hearty vegetables, sweet bread and butter pickles, and sweat-beeding hot pickled peppers. These will be the jewels of our larder but the real treasure will never be contained in a jar or sealed in a freezer bag. The real treasure will be written on our hearts and in our memories for eternity.

shalom, grow something

Monday, July 14, 2008

An Excersize in Missing the Point

I went to a funeral today. Yes, it was sad, of course it was sad. The saddest part was when the focus went off what this child of God had spent her entire illness, 17 years, trying to teach people, that it is not about the struggle, its about the triumph. She died. She died with less limbs(both legs, an arm, and some fingers were taken), sores over much of her body(never healing but compounding and remaining open and inflamed), and skin that looked as if she'd been in a tanning bed set to "scorched earth" but her focus was never on the fact she was dieing, that was obvious, her focus - that dear, dear saint, was that she was A.L.I.V.E., alive and kicking, fully alive, alive and she is STILL A.L.I.V.E. So, pastor whatever-your-name-is, how can you add to that prayer, to that gospel? You think telling people that "Good people don't go to heaven" is going to cut it? Relax and live in the moment, smell the flowers, look at the pictures of her life and remember that message that she lived, the gospel, the true gospel, meted out in the life of one who L.I.V.E.D. and had such grace that words... well, if I had a picture, you'd get it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Scoota Commuta

For about a month now I've been riding a little Chinese 49 cc moped to work. It is 28.5 miles one way and it takes me about 47 minutes to drive in to work and anywhere from 53 minutes to an hour and five minutes (prevailing wind in my face) to get home. It used to take me about 35 minutes each way. I really enjoy that little moped. I wanted to get a motorcycle but as many fathers will understand, my wife was against it. She caved in when I suggested the moped because it is much slower (=traffic has to rush around you frantically on hills and curves) and therefore must be safer to operate. I settled for the moped, hoping that cashing in the "cool" factor of riding an actual motorcycle would be repaid in increased fuel economy (as if I could ever grab that elusive "cool factor" with anything I do), and expected to see an added benefit of getting 70-80 miles to the gallon of gasoline. I am really out of my mind happy about getting a whopping 103 mpg with the throttle wide open all the way! Take that Global Carbon Footprint! I can fill up with 89 octane for about $5.00 and some change.

There is nothing very romantic in the little machine itself. It sounds as if it is being held back all the time and wants to really whine. I smell a little like a lawnmower when I get to my destination and have really cool 80's fly-backs to go with the rest of the "dry look" hair. It isn't very comfortable to ride and the broken tailbone I have from the stupid cliff-jumping keeps me from ever relaxing. I get a knot in my shoulder from holding the throttle wide open for almost an hour. However, riding the moped allows me a little freedom that I otherwise don't feel. I tend to get a little caged-up feeling when I have to ride in an automobile now. I don't get the full effect of the new-mown hay, walls of lucious cattails, blossoming maples, ash, and willow, and the whole plethora of smells that pours out from a dairy farm - molasses, grain, silage, heady manure, and just a hint of the smell from a wet nose of a newborn calf. I also miss out on the effect the little machine has on the fauna along the road. Cows come running to the roadside fence as they hear me approach, deer spook but have to turn around and stop with curious ears spread wide, and both ring-necked pheasants and wild turkey alike run along side as I pass by not knowing whether they should take wing or hunker low until they just stand there looking at me as I continue down the edge of the road inches from the white line.

The weather adds adventure to the mix. I've only gotten wet twice and am pretty adept at checking the weather and taking off at just the right time to miss the showers. You are really much closer to weather on a moped. You are immersed in the air ionized by lightning, you feel the sting of the rain on your face, the sun shines warm on your body even if the air is cool, the wind slows you noticeably or gives you speed like you've never before had when its at your back. When you get wet on a moped, you are wet everywhere but the backs of your legs. It is cold in the morning and cool in the afternoon. I can't picture myself in riding leathers or a full face helmet so I would imagine that I'll have to come up with some humiliating-yet-warm getup this fall to lengthen my moped season.

The little bike responds to the weather also. It runs fast and smooth in the cool air, a little sluggish and soft when its very warm, sputters in the rain, and struggles against the wind. It seems to have a personality all its own, much like the junker cars I used to drive. I guess all in all this little bike helps me find that child-like joy that I sometimes lose track of. I get laughed at and laugh right back with a wave. I get the 'finger' and well, sometimes, have used it as well when someone speeds by dangerously close (not saying its right, just saying its me and I'm not always right). I hunker down behind the fairing in the front to cut down wind resistance to see how fast I can get to work. On a relaxing ride I can stop quick and just enjoy the sunrise, the sunset, a singing Redwinged Blackbird or watch a Bald Eagle sitting in a dead limb high over the Maple River. There is much that has come with the cheap little machine and I'm much the richer for it in many ways. So as I sit here and listen to the bubbles come off a fresh batch of homebrew beer and hammer out this entry for some day later when I have forgotten who I am, I'm thankful for the little bike, a good life, and a cool evening to take a ride around town.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Montcalm Teen Center

My eyes are dry and my heart is broken. I am crying out to humanity in this little village, no burg, that I have been placed in. There are five freaking churches and two or three benevolent societies here! I can't get a volunteer to give 3 hours every two months to just show up and be there for a small group of teens to let them know that there is someone in town that feels they have value. I've been opening it myself without the second volunteer simply because I'm not going to turn away kids at the door. Where are the hearts for these kids? Single parent homes, foster homes...thats where these kids come from and for the love of God, great God almighty, they need to know that our community loves them and supports them and wants them to seek to be a force for good and redemption and love in this community and all I get are excuses! EXCUSES! How many dates do you have to take with your wife? How tired are you really after that rummage sale you had? Why did you ever sign up? Why do you sit on the board when you can't spend even one hour at the teen center? You are retired! You are empty nesters! Your kid is THERE!


With that said, I can't figure it out. I really enjoy being with these kids and it grows me and helps me be a better human being. Why the heck are not people knocking down the door to be volunteers?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Michigan governor outlines ways to save money - NewsFlash -

Michigan governor outlines ways to save money - NewsFlash -

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is riding her bike to work a couple of times a week,
an example of a way she says Michigan consumers can save money.

The 49-year-old governor lives just southwest of the city center, about 3 miles from
her office near the state Capitol. She rode her bike to work Wednesday,
accompanied by her security detail.

I know she is trying to do her best to set a good example but I wonder how much extra her security detail spent by having to accompany her on that ride rather than if she'd have just drove in as normal. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Redemption: roadmap of life

Pride can paint one in a corner. We say to ourselves, "I am this" and proceed to form our lives around being that, even when that starts looking like a burden we are not fashioned for, equipped for, or impassioned with. If everything goes according to plan we can look back and think ourselves 'very fine indeed' for having achieved just what we'd set out to achieve and forget that for us to achieve whatever it was we'd set out to do a hundred billion actions, unlikely circumstances, had to align themselves with our will in order that we could even get beyond potty training. I can find humility down that gravelly road. I can find a path not of my choosing that somehow is more beautiful than anything I could have planned for myself.