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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

1. Sorry about the writing drought here. I’ve been working on books, for one thing, which has been taking just about as much typing as this body knows how to handle, and is pretty well using up most of my mind power as well. Regarding the books, I’m still just working on getting the work of the past eleven or twelve years polished, finalized, and published, in trade paperback as well as ebooks.

I spent many years making news stories fit on a page. I’d forgotten how much work it takes to make content fit a physical series of set-sized pages. Yay, ebooks.

2. Having said ‘yay, ebooks,’ I have to admit that having physical books in my hand is satisfying in ways that ebooks don’t touch. For that matter, working on proof copies of my own books has been a kick. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a kick.

3. We are having a blockbuster year for dragonflies. Last night, walking to the neighbor’s house along a lane about a fifth of a mile long, there were dragonflies perched on top of corn plants on one side of me, and dragonflies perched on the barbs of a barbed wire fence on the other side of me. They were thickly perched, both sides of the road, for most of the whole walk. I can’t fathom how many dragonflies there must be around here, just now.

4. A friend asked me the other day if the church I went to sang hymns, because a friend of hers is looking for a new church, after her present pastor decided to chuck hymns and go with praise songs to supposedly draw in young people. As it happens, I’m still church hopping/hunting myself, but the church I’ve attended the last few weeks does use a hymnal (two of them, actually), and doesn’t blast us out with over-amplified music, for which I am definitely grateful. But, you know, it’s not really about the hymns versus praise songs, in most cases. In most cases, it’s about the fact that churches that decide to become ‘seeker friendly’ tend to get rid of the very things that Christians, or even pre-Christians-on-the-edge-of-converting, are seeking. Plus, if a church thinks dumbing down the music and cranking up the decibels will draw young people, what does that say about their opinion of young people? Or their opinion of the gospel?

5. More on what’s wrong with many churches, and ‘Christians,’ today: No Discipline, No Disciple. Read the whole thing, please, but here’s a taste:

Lunde explains the dilemma: our youth are embracing a Christianity which falls far short of the truth. Why is this? It is partly because their parents and other adult models have also fallen for this watered-down version. Instead of true Christianity, they are practicing what has been dubbed as moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD). This “narcissistic” version of Christianity “requires little from its adherents.”  When the watching world sees this “insipid” – pointless and sterile – religion modeled, it develops a “pervasive disillusionment” about Christianity and its claims. This should cause a great concern among practicing Christians, not only because Christianity is always just a generation away from extinction, but even more importantly because of all the souls who are lost when truth is not being taught and embraced.

6. Another reason I haven’t been blogging much, is that I’m more active on Facebook and Twitter these days. I dragged my feet getting signed up at both those places, but I find them useful. And fun. You can find me here, here, and here.

7. You might check to see if there’s a 40 Days for Life vigil coming to a location near you this fall. This next campaign runs September 28 – November 6. There are 297 confirmed locations so far, with “46 first-time campaigns – including locations in Puerto Rico, Argentina and Germany.” Please help get the word out, in any case. Thanks. This is a matter of life and death, you know.

7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Conversion Diary. Go on over and meet folks, why dontcha? I’ve met some wonderful people through Conversion Diary – and the blog hostess, Jennifer Fulwiler, is delightful, intelligent, articulate, and funny. (And modest enough I’ve probably just made her blush. Oh, well.)

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I haven’t participated in Conversion Diary’s 7 Quick Takes Friday in while. But here goes:

1. While hanging around a Catholic hospital’s emergency room earlier this week, I saw on the wall a cross with Jesus on it, but Jesus was oversized for the cross, was fully robed, and wasn’t nailed to the cross. His hands were held out, in consolation and victory. I love the symbolism: the risen, living, loving, triumphant Lord with the cross behind him. But I have no idea what to call such a thing. Surely it’s not called a crucifix? (That would be confusing.) Help me out, here. This sort of cross with Jesus in front of it is called a… what?

2. A loved one was due to go in for heart tests next Monday (yes, Valentine’s Day – that’s when they had an opening), and was expected to get a stent at the same time, if not open heart surgery.  But this last Tuesday, as it happened, a number of diseased or damaged hearts all said phooey on schedules at the same time – including my loved one’s diseased heart – and the hospital to which my loved one got transferred was swamped with heart patients. Triage was necessary. My loved one wound up getting a stent in a late-in-the-day battle (his very hard, 99.9-percent-blocked artery gave the doctor a difficult time of it). He is already home, doing surprisingly well. Amazing. Praise God.

3. I would like to thank Subway for having a store inside the hospital. More specifically, I’d like to thank them for having a $2 English muffin egg and cheese melt available all day.

4. Although I have much good to say about the three (count them, three) Catholic hospitals I have been in during the past week, the one in which we wound up for The Mighty Stent Battle has something called an Interfaith Reflection Room (I think that’s right), for people to use for prayer and meditation – and on the sign outside the door, it asks people to respect this “sacred space.” I feel it incumbent upon myself to suggest that a room that violates the First Commandment cannot be sacred space. What would it be sacred to? Not the God Who has gone to a great deal of bother over the last few thousand years to teach us that ‘thou shalt not hedge your bets.’ As in, ‘thou shall have no other gods beside me.’ Sigh. If they provided a ‘Quiet Room’ for worried people to use, that at least would leave the matter between the individual and God, instead of officially seeming to recognize no difference between prayers to God and prayers not to God.

5. I am reading in a Kindle edition of The Godly Man’s Picture, by Thomas Watson, a 17th century Puritan preacher. Nearly everything I had understood about Puritans in my younger days was wrong, by the way.

6. The snow is nearly gone. There has been plenty of it in the right places this year. It’s looking good for farmers around here who have to irrigate to get a crop in.

7. We don’t usually have elk around here, but this winter we did, off and on for weeks, which has caused a regional sensation. And so, when people have heard where I live, they have been asking me, “Have you seen the elk!?” To which I have said, “I can watch them out my kitchen window, sometimes more than a hundred at once,” which has been good fodder for small talk. Shortly before the elk showed up, we had a herd of more than a hundred pronghorn antelope pass through (also unusual, that was). I haven’t seen the elk in days, though. I suspect they’ve moved upland, as the snow has melted. I can only hope they are gone for now. The hay fields are muddy. Elk could do much damage to them, in their present condition.

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… is the headline over at the BBC.

No, really. Paul Hudson, a “Climate correspondent” at BBC News, has noticed that the predictions of climate alarmists aren’t panning out, nor is the most touted theory on what causes global warming and cooling holding up all that well, and concludes, “It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up.”

May the best scientists win, that’s what I say.

hat tip: Steven Hayward

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It occurs to me that my previous post might leave you with a not quite accurate picture of this part of town, because, as it happens, dredge piles don’t stay dredge piles, at least they don’t around here.

I’m not sure how long ago this part of the valley was churned up in a quest for gold, but it had to be between the late 1800s and the 1940s. At any rate, decades, not centuries.

But when I moved here, I was amazed at how much soil there was. It also flummoxed me that the gravel was so neatly dispersed in it. There is no question but that it is rocky soil, but where in the world did the soil amongst the rocks come from? What I’d learned in school about soil didn’t fit with what I was seeing. I wasn’t seeing layers of soil, built up as vegetation on the surface decayed. I wasn’t really seeing layers of soil, period. But there was a lot of soil, reaching down.

I finally figured it out (I think), thanks to stumbling across info on people who called themselves soil farmers, who built up their soil by (amongst other things) having cattle graze there. The cattle cropped the grass, the cropped grass couldn’t support quite as big a big root system, some of the root system died to put things into balance, the dead roots added to the soil and in their wake left little channels for water and air. Or something like that.

I watched out back, where I leave the yard semi-wild, and noticed that, left to itself, the back yard has one wave of short lived annual after another. In short, plants grow and die, and their roots decay in place, putting organic matter down as far as they reached. Such a deal.

In previous years, I helped things out by watering out there, and by adding a few annuals of my own. (Semi-wild I can handle, weed-infested I’d like to avoid.) This made for some relatively lush growth, and allowed plants to grow throughout the summer. When things got out of hand, I’d pull out the mower, and get satisfaction from thinking that not only was I making the yard look better, but I was cropping the plants, which would crop the roots, which meant I was soil farming.

OK, I am easily amused, and easily find satisfaction in my work. What can I say? I find joy in small things. I liked the idea of soil farming. I still do. And I like that I don’t have to buy amendments or put down layers of compost to do it. Not that amendments and compost can’t be good for soil, but this seemed to be helping without all that.

This year, the landlord asked us to cut the water bill, if we could. So the back yard lay somewhat fallow for much of the summer. But the native plants still popped up in spring, and whenever there was rain. And then most of them died. And therefore, there is just that much more organic matter, that much more soil in progress.

There are other factors, of course. There is active insect life, and worms, and they burrow, and leave manure behind them (as do the deer, birds, cats, etc.) I suspect that some of the gravel is decomposing, too.

But what fascinates me are the roots. I don’t remember learning about roots as soil builders when I was in school. And yet, in this semi-arid climate, which produces relatively little organic matter above ground (and much of that gets whipped away by wind), roots are getting the job done.

There were gravel piles. Now there is land.

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One of the stray cats that I’ve semi-adopted (as far as feeding and petting goes) must be in heat, because she has two toms harassing her. The female is a puny thing, about three-quarters size compared to most cats around here, and she has at least one screw loose in her head. The toms are, if I might say so, not stellar specimens either. The steely gray one is oddly built, with an oversize head, too many toes, odd proportions, a tail that seems a bit ratlike, and on top of that he’s so old he moves slowly and stiffly. (We’re pretty sure he fathered last year’s sole kitten, which, as it happens, has turned out to be a classy-looking cat, one of the most handsome around. Go figure.) The other tom is a black cat, also a bit old, but not as elderly, that has wheezed and sneezed his way through the two or three years I’ve known him. (‘Survival of the fittest’, I’ve found, is more common in textbooks than in real life.)

At any rate, this weekend I decided to try to make the gray tom hungry enough to at least go somewhere else for a while (a person can dream of a yowl-less life, can’t she?), so when I fed the cats I took a cup of hot tea with me, and sat on the back porch while the inner circle ate. (The inner circle includes the black tom. When he first showed up in our back yard, he was half dead and three quarters starved, and eyed me with with a look that suggested that he expected me to kick him but he didn’t care, because he was past caring. I made it a project to teach him that not all people are monsters. We are now quite the friends, thank you very much.)

It was a warmish day, for this time of year, and I sallied forth to guard duty without a coat. As I sat on the deck, and drank my tea, a few things became apparent. One was that it wasn’t quite warm enough to be sitting out there in a sweatshirt but no jacket. Another was that, without doubt, my allergies to cats are getting more severe. When the cats decided to abandon eating to come rub against me, I got up to walk around the yard. To my surprise, the apple tree has hints of ragged pale green on some tips. It’s not what I would call buds, but it’s getting there.

Some robins came by, and the air was alive with birdsong from all quarters.

We sometimes have one or two robins in deep winter, but there have been more coming in lately, to where they are a daily sight. The birdsong has changed over the last few weeks, too. In winter, I hear mostly bird calls of the ‘I’m here, where are you?’ variety, and other such utilitarian messages, with the occasional scold at predators. Now, mixed in with those, sometimes drowning them out, are actual songs, from birds of many types declaring that they’re just busting out with life.

The air, although it hardly smells like spring, no longer smells entirely of winter.

Yay! Not that I don’t like winter, but I am ready for spring. It’s a few weeks off yet, I know, but there are signs it’s moving closer, which is good enough for me, for February. (I know February is shorter than other months, and I know the days are getting longer, but it doesn’t generally feel that way. The trees have been bare too long, or something, and the skies too gray, or something.)

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