Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"When you're eight years old nothing is your business." - Lenny Bruce.

(click to enlarge)

If you do quite a bit of keyboard work (I do) there are words your fingers almost memorize. The muscle memory takes over and my fingers type the word without me really thinking about it. It took a while but halfway through the book my fingers finally learned dispensationalism and I didn't have to think about the letters as I typed them; I thought the word and the letters just came out. 
The problem comes when your brain wants to type a word close to a very common your fingers have memorized. "They" can come out the more common "the," or "lift" turns into "left." 
Have you experienced this?
We need a word for the phenomenon. Suggestions?

I spread the 25 lbs. of grass seed this morning. When I started I didn't think that was going to be enough but it turned out to be almost exactly the correct amount. The chickens seemed to think I was throwing seed on the ground for their benefit and they were at my feet instantly. 
Once the seed hit hit the ground and fell into the old hay they couldn't see it anymore so they lost interest and went back to scratching for bugs. 

Pam came in from collecting eggs and thinks we have another broody hen. That could be because it's spring, the most likely time for that to happen. But I cleaned the coop this afternoon and she wasn't on a nest then. We'll know tomorrow. If she comes out of the pen to forage with the rest of them she's definitely not broody. 

Sundae gives birth four weeks from Thursday. We're supposed to have rain from Thursday through the weekend so I'll probably give her what Marta calls "the spa treatment" tomorrow. That includes a CD-T shot that's a vaccine against three of the diseases common in goats. Getting that in her now means she'll pass it on to her kids in the colostrum that flows for the first 48 hours. The kids then get their own CD-T shot at 10 weeks and a booster four weeks after that.
Sundae will also get her hooves trimmed. That gets done every three months and they're all due, so Stella and Dolly will get the same.
I also have to shave Sundae's butt. Yep, that should be fun. I'll use the electric clippers I used when I did my own hair cuts. The trick is getting her to stand still while I do that. Marta came over and did it last tim Sundae gave birth but it's time to pull up my big boy pants and do this for myself. 
As goats go Sundae's easy and a good mama. She's pretty cooperative 95% of the time. The one thing she will NOT tolerate is anyone touching her udder. That's one of the ways you tell how close to kidding they are; the udder gets so full of milk in the last day or two that it's hard to the touch but that's a test Sundae will not tolerate. And last time Marta had to milk her because Burrito wouldn't nurse right off and then got so weak he couldn't get over to the bar. Marta milked a few ounces, added some molasses, and force-fed Burrito with a syringe. Within two minutes he was over nursing. But I had to pin a big strong and unhappy Sundae against the barn wall - no easy task - while Marta milked her. 

Not a lot else to say tonight. I spent my morning working on Brazil prep. I have the dispensational seminars done so I'm working on the leadership sessions I'll do with the pastors. That involves re-reading what I used as textbooks when I was teaching this stuff. I especially like "Pastoral Leadership" by Robert Dale. Good book!

Monday, April 23, 2018

"The sun, too, shines into cesspools and is not polluted." - Diogenes (I have NO idea what that means.)

That quote up there led me to read about Diogenes. Weirdo. Within the world of philosophers he's described as a cynic, which means he must have been really grumpy. He criticized almost everyone for almost everything and said he was the only one getting life right. Sounds like a jerk, not a philosopher.

Also from the drawer labeled "Really?", GQ magazine called the Bible "foolish, contradictory, and not worth reading."
As opposed to their magazine that tells you how to choose the right denim shirt and the best colognes for spring.

We had a beautiful day here with a high in the mid-70s and a pretty stiff breeze blowing most of the day. I did a lot of outside chores and a hard workout at the gym. It's difficult to get to the gym on Tuesdays because of the day's schedule so I try to do more on Monday so that if I need to take Tuesday off I can do so without feeling too guilty.
Which is, the say, part of a Calvinist's DNA - that ever-present sense of guilt over not getting it right. You're either not doing what you should or doing what you shouldn't. Total depravity in action. Yeah, I know that's bad theology in 18 different ways but that's not the point. It's a lifestyle not a theology. Calvinists are raised knowing there's a right and a wrong, our natural inclination is to do wrong, and for that and the actual doing thereof we should feel guilty.
Right now mostly what I feel is sore. As part of today's workout I did 75 push ups (NOT all at once).
But I'll still feel guilty for eating those two snickerdoodles tonight.

When we moved to Baker Rd. MoHo was set amongst the trees. Walk out either door and within 12 feet you were in the woods. Then we had to have a dozen big Douglas fir trees removed because of the beetle infestation and that changed the look and feel of this place entirely. Instead of forest floor we had slightly sloping ground with tree stumps.

Which is why our thoughts on how the place should look have changed. We determined there would be NO landscaping because God had done such a wonderful job. No planted flowers, no shrubs or decorative trees, and certainly no lawn. Just the forest God had placed here.

The engraver beetles stole the forest, or at least the part of it between MoHo and the creek. We really do NOT like engraver beetles. So what do we do with the suddenly open space?

The first thing was to build a goat pen and barn on the north end of the now-cleared land and nine fruit trees on the south end. What, if anything should go around the fruit trees?
I started by spreading the used straw that came from cleaning out the barn. But straw, whether wheat straw or rye straw, has a certain amount of seed in it (rye straw has more than wheat straw). So before long I had tufts of wheat and/or rye grass sprouting up, depending on which kind of straw the feed store had in stock when I needed more for the barn.
Old straw with tufts of grass looks pretty....ugly.

And then I put in the new paths. We needed those so that during the winter we didn't get all muddy going to Fred, or the barn, or the coop. The 3" round pressure treated posts I laid down as edges for the path and the 1.25" gravel I put between them look pretty nice and neat. That made the contrast with the straw/tufts of grass look worse.

So this afternoon I used my gas-powered weed whacker and knocked down all the tufts. Later this week I'll spread 25 lbs. of grass seed - rye and fescue - that Pam got at the discount store on her way home from doing laundry. Then, if we get the rain forecasted for this weekend we should have a more consistent spread of green.

I'll have to weed what it every couple of weeks but that won't take me long. We're not talking manicured lawn, just something that will look a little more intentional than the mess we have now. And it will make the paths stand out and look even better.

It's just that I feel like I've gone over to the dark side. (There's that Calvinist heritage again.) This feels like landscaping, like messing with what God provided.
Except the engraver beetles made a mess of God's creation.
Yeah, I know they're part of his creation too, but I'm choosing to think of them as a metaphor for sin in the world that corrupts God's beauty. And it's our job to do what we can to restore that beauty. In this case, with 25 pounds of grass seed.

How's that for justification?!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Look at life through the windshield, not the rear view mirror." - Byrd Baggett

Why do we have salad/dessert forks? The only difference is their size, at least in our set. I've seen some where dinner forks have four tines and salad/dessert forks three but the primary difference is that the latter are shorter and sometimes narrower. Why?
Neither salad nor dessert need a smaller fork and my hand isn't any smaller when I eat those things. There's room on the table for another full-size utensil.
Makes no sense.
I think it's a ploy to sell more silverware.

Monday we're supposed to get our first 70 degree day since last October. Tuesday we'll hit 80. By Friday we're back into the low 60's and by Saturday the high will be in the 50s. Springtime in Oregon.

Anybody else watching Wolf Hall on Masterpiece (PBS)? It's a dramatization of the later years of the reign of King Henry VIII but it focuses on Thomas Cromwell. Besides the stunning visuals it's a great way to learn the history of that key era. England is moving from Roman Catholicism into Anglicanism, key figures include William Tyndale, Cardinal Woolsey, Anne Boleyn, and Elvis Presley. Cromwell was the driving force behind the English Reformation and engineered Henry's multiple divorces & marriages yet still got beheaded in the mess of palace intrigue of the era.
I think it bores Pam but I find it entertaining and educational.

I talked to Todd at church this morning. He's the neighbor up the road who delivered the gravel in his dump truck. Turns out it wasn't five tons.
It was six and a half.
Well no wonder!

And because the last two or three days have been full of gravel and because I've been doing extra work at the gym I decided today would be free of physical exertion.
I made snickerdoodles instead.

Alfa Romeo wins the year's best car ads award and we're only in April.
Beautiful cars, too. And now a gorgeous and crazy fast SUV.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

"The trouble with being punctual is nobody's there to appreciate it." - Franklin P. Jones

Fire alarm on the cheap

Today I finished. Five tons of 1.25" gravel is now down on the paths to Fred, the coop, the garden and the barn. No more muddy paths! My body hurts and my arthritic right thumb is screaming but I like the outcome both for the function and the aesthetic.
Next week Todd will bring me another five tons but he'll drop this from the back of his dump truck gradually along the driveway. I'll have to level it out but that will (I hope!) be much easier.

We like watching Rick Steve's Europe. Pam isn't the least bit interest in traveling unless it's to Costa Rica because she's heard me talk so much about the beauty and the wonderful people. If I had all the money in the world and a wife so inclined I'd go everywhere Rick Steve's goes. And the food!! He highlights local restaurants and regional cuisine. Yes please!

Tonight he was in the Basque regions of Spain and France. I want some tapas.

There was a good tapas restaurant in Grand Rapids that Pam and I went to a couple of times for special occasions. I wonder if it's still there. I don't remember the name or I'd look it up.

For being a university town Eugene doesn't have much of a restaurant scene. One of these days we'll go to Papi Anatolia, a place downtown that serves food from that region (Greece and western Turkey). Beyond that I'm not aware of any really ethnic one-offs. Yes, plenty of Mexican restaurants, including Ixtapa right here in Veneta. We ate there last night. But beyond that I'm unaware of anything.

When we first moved to Phoenix we decided to eat at a different one-off ethnic restaurant once a month. Some of them were so good we went back, like the Iranian place in a strip mall in Glendale. Delicious humus that he made fresh twice daily.
And Ethiopian place down by the university.
A sushi restaurant in Peoria.
Sometimes we decided the food wasn't something we particularly cared for. But it was always fun to experience a different culture through its food. Expands the horizons and the waistline at the same time!

OK, all that thinking about food has my hungry. Because I spent all day shoveling gravel I've earned it, so I'm going to go fix myself something and not feel a bit guilty about it.

Friday, April 20, 2018

"A baby is born with a need to be loved and never outgrows it." - Frank A. Clark

In order to get to the "new post" part of the blogger.com site I have to go back to the previous post. Today that included reading yesterday's post and...goodness! I really should begin proofreading these things. What a mess, including sentences that were inaccurate and misleading.
Good thing I'm not writing anything of significance.

I spent the first part of the morning at the coffee shop working on prep for my Brazil trip. When I got home I started putting the gravel down on the paths. I got the path to the raised garden beds done and started on the path to the barn. Turns out 1.25" gravel is heavy.
It looks better and will be better footing, especially after rain. And easier when taking the wheel barrow to the garden.
The beds are ready for planting which Pam will do before she heads to Phoenix in a few weeks. (I'm jealous.)

While I was working on the gravel and enjoying the high-60s temps I took a break to walk around and look at some of the signs of spring on Baker Rd.

One of the two rhubarb plants is doing very well. The other one (not pictured) is a lot smaller but I thought it had died so even the little growth its showing is a pleasant surprise.
I like rhubarb pie, so I'm already planning that baking project.

I also didn't expect the two blueberry bushes to come back but they have, albeit weakly. You can just see the small leaves beginning to sprout. I didn't realized how much water blueberries require and didn't give them enough last summer. Now I know, so I'll water them much more frequently this year. We still won't get many berries but if the bushes recover this year they should produce well the next.

The Marion berry bushes did well and look like they'll give us another bumper crop this year. They're pretty tart and I discovered the pie recipe I have needs almost twice as much sugar as it calls for. But it's gooooood pie. The Marion berry is a hybrid of a blackberry developed at Oregon State Univ. developed because it's especially well suited to the Willamette Valley.

I let the chickens out of their pen today and they were more than happy to spend the time scratching at the ground for bugs and whatever else it was that kept them so engaged. They didn't go much more than about 10 yards from the pen but as they get more accustomed to being out they'll wander further afield. When I walked by them it was easy to tell which is Cogburn's good eye. He kept his left one pointed my direction.

Poor Sundae. She's starting to get uncomfortable. I tried to get a pic of her swelling udder which seems to get bigger every day but every time I went behind her she turned around to see what I was doing. This view inadequately shows her spreading girth. Goats carry their kids on one side (I think it's the left) and their four stomachs on the other which is why she's not symmetrical. She's due in four and a half weeks.

Meanwhile, Dolly is full of activity and curiosity. "What's that thing??" Dolly is normally skittish and runs from anything the least bit unfamiliar but today she seemed more at ease than normal. She's a Nubian/Boer cross but her face is all Nubian. Ears, too. She's only about 7 months old so she won't be ready to breed for another year.

There's more. The grape vine, the fruit trees full of buds, the creek running spring high, the Dogwood trees coming to life... But maybe this gives you an idea why we enjoy life here so much, especially this time of year.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." - Oscar Wilde

I used this pic a couple of years ago but it deserves an encore. I originally got it from our most excellent financial guru, Chad.

At 7 a.m. it's sunny and 32 degrees but we'll hit 64 before the day is done. We haven't had a 70 degree day since last October so this will feel very good. It's a short sleeve day, and after a wet and cold Oregon winter (never mind the frigid month I spent on Long Island) this is going to feel very good.

The new (used) fridge required a new base cabinet and countertop between it and the stove because the old unit, original to MoHo, was too wide. Pam likes her new fridge and the drawer configuration of this base cabinet (actually two cabinets I connected together) better than the 4-drawer unit I took out using a 2 lb. sledge.
What's interesting is the "feel" that corner of the kitchen now has. I stained the legit wood cabinet with a light stain and finished it with tung oil. The "butcher block" countertop got only three coats of mineral oil. But though it's a cheap and temporary solution it looks totally legit  compared to the cheap and dated rest of the kitchen with it's particle board cabinets and orange formica countertops. It gives me hope that if/when the time comes for a total makeover I can make it look like a decent kitchen.

Marta told us that Cogburn (nee Sam) didn't crow much. Ha! He starts about 3 a.m. and continues most of the morning. And he's as loud as he is big.
At the Heidt's he was one of three roosters. I think now that he's the one-and-only man in the coop he's feeling pretty cocky.
In the next day or two I think I'm going to start letting them out of the pen during the day. That runs the risk that a hawk will snag one of the hens like happened with the last flock but it's so much better for the chickens.

It's now 4:15 p.m. and my body is screaming. After almost three weeks back at the gym I decided I couldn't duck them any longer. It's time for burpees.
After almost three years away from those violations of the Geneva Convention it turns out my body is NOT eager to go back to them. I was totally winded after a dozen and three rounds of 15 left me nearer death than I've been in a long time.

This is what five tons of gravel looks like. Tomorrow I start putting on the paths I've created one wheel barrow load at a time. Gravel is identified by it's size and whether or not it's been washed of the dust that is created when it's crushed. This is "inch and a quarter fines" which means the rocks are crushed to 1.25 inches and the fines, the dust, is left in the load.
It's going to be difficult to shovel because the relatively large rock size means the shovel nose isn't going to go into the pile easily.
So why did I join a gym??

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"You don't pay taxes, they take taxes." - Chris Rock

Irish Rugby

NBCNews.com headline this morning: "Trump hits the breaks on new Russia sanctions."
Really?? Do you take your car to a break shop? (A: only if you want it broken.)

Yesterday I increased the number of sit ups I do by about 20%. That may have been too big a jump. Ugh.

Yesterday I stopped at O'Reilly Auto to buy three quarts of 10w-40 for Sally. Back in the day the service station attendant always checked your oil while your car was filling for gas and sold you a quart if your level was down.

Note: I worked in a Montgomery Wards gas station my freshman year in college and remember that part of the procedure well...along with some others I'd rather forget.)

Now most people never check their oil level between changes at their local quick lube joint. Why?
A: because engineering and materials are much better than they were 30 years ago. Surfaces don't wear like they did then and manufacturing tolerances are much narrower, so things like oil consumption are WAY down. That Sally uses a quart of oil every few tanks of oil seems like a problem unless you remember that back in the 60s that was normal.

OK, all of that to say that when I got my receipt the counter guy told me that if I went online and took their survey I could win $500. I often get the same spiel at Lowe's and in both cases have ignored it, pitching the receipt on my way out the door. Yesterday I decided I was wrong to do that.

My life is - and as I understand Scripture all believers' lives are - about stewardship. God asks me to do the best I can with what he's given me. I should not waste time, food, money....any resource. It occurred to me yesterday on the way out of O'Reilly's (why did it take this long) that God has presented me with a chance to win $500 and that ignoring that chance, however small it may be, is bad stewardship. That's a lot of money to us and a sovereign God is certainly capable of giving it to me (us). So isn't it at least potentially a waste of $500 to pitch that receipt?

So this morning I went online and said the guy behind the counter did a GREAT job of ringing up my three quarts of oil and I'd probably recommend someone else looking to buy some 10w-40 should go to O'Reilly. The chances that I win $500 for the minute that survey took are mathematically very, very small. That doesn't make it any less a matter of stewardship does it? And since when does God do math or work according to the odds?

At the risk of opening our front door and finding Guido standing there with brass knuckles in one hand and a snub-nose revolver in the other, a sincere question:
Should teachers' salaries be based on a 12-month year or the 9-month year of the school calendar.
I know they work on school stuff during the summer but is that considered part of their employment or additional work they do "off the clock"? (Most of us do or have done extra stuff beyond the work day or job description.)
My uncle was a H.S. science teacher who spent his summers working for a moving company to make extra money. That's an option most people don't have.

So I guess we should take them seriously when they say to leave your seatbelt fastened even when the light is turned off. How horrible would it be to get sucked out of a plane! Would that alone make you unconscious? I hope so.

We've got our small group meeting tonight. I just got back from the gym so it's time to shower, feed goats, and head over to Hamm's for our potluck and then discussion.