Friday, April 20, 2012

Raindrops on Tulips

This variety of tulip grows with a readymade bouquet!

The forecast was for rain, but we went anyway, armed with changes of clothes and rubber boots.  I've taken my kids to see the Skagit Valley tulips for the past ten years, and for the past 8 years, we've gone with my friend Josie and her kids.  This year, my friend Julie, her kids and her mom in law joined us.

A few raindrops weren't going to put a damper on our adventure!  We drove the tulip field route in dismay, noticing that "Private Property" signs were more prominently displayed than in years past, and edges of fields were plowed up, making parking impossible.  We finally gave in and paid $5 to park at Christiansen Nursery.  The kids were happy because a rubberband bus was parked there.  Read my blog post from last year to find out more about this phenomenon.

We parked under heavy skies, bundled as much as we could be and headed toward the fields.  The kids ran ahead, and as we rounded the corner to catch up with them, we saw someone chasing them!  A farm employee wielded a big orange flag and was in hot pursuit, chasing the kids out from between the rows of tulips.

Clearly, the farms were enforcing the "Don't Go Between the Rows" rule more vigilantly, and this gal was taking her job very seriously.  Forlornly, they tried to check out the rubberband bus, only to find that is was being well guarded by more workers.  I started to wonder if they had read my past blog posts when the flagging worker followed us through the fields.  We kind of felt like teenagers being shadowed by security guards in a music store, like they were waiting for an infraction to occur.  But still, I think the flagging job would be a really fun one, and I told Eva she should get that job next year.

We tried valiantly to group kids for family group photos, with the children instead wandering like aimless gnats among the field.  Desperately, we brought out the Snow Goose Produce ice cream bribe.   The kids agreed grudgingly in order to earn the immodest ice cream cones that the Snow Goose produce stand sells.

We wandered the tulips for a little longer, when Josie announced, "I have a bad feeling that it's going to dump rain."  I didn't quite believe it, and decided to be optimistic, but I had to admit she sure seemed right.  Not ten minutes later, the rain started coming hard.  Julie and her kids got out just in time because one had slipped was covered with mud, but we were out in the torrential rain.

 We began to head back to the vehicles, but noticed how beautiful the raindrops looked on the leaves and tulips and how they changed the ambient light.  We got some raindrop pictures, then realized again that we were miserable and ran through the mud past the rubberband bus.  Levi kicked it in frustration.  We posed the miserable and sad kids next to their unattainable dream, then again next to the car.

It was time for ice cream.  At Snowgoose Produce, the ice creams were even larger than we remembered. There were heaters on the ceiling, and we gave ourselves bellyaches gorging ourselves on the high fructose corn syrup delight.  It was time to go home.  We were filthy dirty and thoroughly happy.

Later, Josie and I were trying to remember why we do this every year.  It's just tulips right?  Who really thinks tulips are that great?  They're the cliche flower that everyone draws to represent springtime. She said that for us, it wasn't about the destination, but the adventure.  We certainly got an adventure that day!

Daffodils still in bloom.  We were looking for tulips...

the boys, guiltily returning to us after chasing a farm truck
Sienna + Mud = Pure Bliss
The raindrops are beginning

Enjoying the squishy muddy

Farm workers were culling the misfit flowers, tossing them into the back of the truck.  This one missed the ride.

culled flowers at the edge of the truck like a readymade bouquet

Levi pretends to kick the bus
forlorn in front of the rubberband bus

oops, he has snuck the door open, time to get these kids home...
fields ready for some other planting...

neat and tidy bouquets for sale as we exit

miserable children
maia is still happy 
gardening gloves that were in the car, beside a matching tulip petal
Although it's prominently displayed EVERYWHERE, we always forget whether we for sure need to bring cash to buy the snowgoose ice cream.

crabs for sale, fresh crabs for sale!

Maia and auntie Josie

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sabbath Sniffles

My cold remedy (the photo is taken with my cell phone camera) this is a slice of toasted sourdough bread, slathered with butter, then piled high with an entire head of garlic, then sprinkled with basil and calendula.  Good thing I couldn't smell!
It all started with sermon on Sunday.  Our pastor preached about rest, and how it's built into our DNA and into the design of the world around us to take a break.  God did it; the seasons do it; we do it every night when we sleep.  Rest is built into every natural cycle in the world around us.  We as a society have excelled at inventing ways to create space for it: washing machines, vacuum cleaners, spas, women's retreats and more.  But somehow, as we devise new ways to make work easier and allow a minute to breathe, we stick one more task into the mix.  I know that's how I live all too often.

I've never been one to think it's vital to take a literal sabbath, refraining from work from sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday, but I'm beginning to see the merits in it as I get older.  The work won't stop, but if I am to have a chance to reflect on it and to be energized for more of it, I need to take time to rest.

Our pastor asked us to read Psalm 46 three times that afternoon, specifically dwelling on the tenth verse.  I know that Sunday is the day many Christians traditionally keep as their sabbath, but I often fill my afternoons with things like photo shoots, house work, 4H meetings and gardening.  That afternoon I had a photo shoot, but that evening, as I lay in bed, I finally read Psalm 46.

God is our refuge and strength, 
an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; 

God will help her at break of day. 
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us,
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, 
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease 
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; 
he burns the shields with fire.
(verse 10) He says, "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

The LORD Almighty is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  

This chapter helped me to understand God as he is spoken of in the Old Testament.  "He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth, He breaks the bow and shatters the spear..."  I had always thought of God in the old testament as being angry and warlike all the time.  But no, here He is ending wars, telling us to be still.  It kind of reminds me of a parent, fed up with kids and their bickering.  He doesn't love war.  He wants to call us to take a time out, to rest, and remember who's in charge.

This statement is followed immediately by verse ten, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  Could it be that if we as human beings took the time to obey the fourth commandment our lives might be radically different?

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath to the Lord your God."  Exodus 20:8-10

God took the time to rest on the seventh day after working hard creating the entire universe.  It says in verse 11 that "Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.  I wonder how much less fighting and war there would be if we as humans took the time to rest, to commune a little with God in a sacred time set aside for Him, and to mull over the goings on in our lives.  How much less would I be frustrated with my husband or children over small and tiny things that I stew over throughout a week if I took time to clear my mind and talk it over with God?  

All these thoughts are well and good and holy, but the next day after I read everything, guess what, my schedule was about to cycle again.  Monday was a co-op day, and I needed to get the kids out the door and ready for all of their classes.  I started to feel feverish, but went to school, fed kids, corrected papers, and at the end of the day I actually sat on the couch.  I was getting sick again, but Saraiah still had to get to swimming lessons.  

The next day, I felt like a two year old with the endless stream of boogers streaming from my nose.  I pressed on and went through the entire homeschool day, sneezing on everyone's heads and all over the house and using up copious amounts of toilet paper.  It was taekwondo day, and I was miserable, but I still wanted to run during taekwondo.  I was relieved when my in-laws called and asked if they could take the kids.  

I couldn't breathe that night, and realized that I wasn't going to be doing much the next day.  I couldn't even remember how to tie my shoe!  I got the kids to co-op, set them up with 3 different moms to take care of them, and headed home to the couch, but not before one mom told me what she does for a bad cold.  She eats garlic.  Lots of it, and fresh.  I have knows it is antiviral and antibacterial, but I wasn't super interested.  I told myself I was too miserable to go to the store and infect another 100 people with my disease, but if I still had garlic from last summer in the pantry, I'd give it a go.  

By the time i got home I was desperate.  There was the last head of garlic. "For such a time as this," I quoted to my sniffly and delirious self.  I talked with another friend, who recommended my crazy act of garlic consumption be done in conjunction with a hunk of bread, a generous slathering of butter, and some herbs, so that's what I did.  I'm sure glad I couldn't smell anything.  I'm not sure I would have followed through.  

Boy did I feel good for about a half hour.  Then, I was miserable up until the moment I went to sleep.  I tried desperately to find other home remedies to get well FAST.  I was so eager to find some sort of silver lining in all of this that I began to discuss with my friend the pH of snot and its fertilizing value, as I had just gone outside to attempt to weed my raspberry patch, then discovered that I was baptizing their roots with my mucous.  This wise friend told me "Sometimes the best medicine is an empty calendar." I wanted to get better ASAP because we were supposed to do our annual tulip trip the next day.  But she was right, I realized.  Then I noticed what was happening.  I was being given a sabbath.  

I was kind of grumpy about that, so I read my book on weed control without poison.  Still, I couldn't breathe, and my head throbbed.  I was peeing every four minutes, because garlic is diuretic, a fact I had neglected to remember.  Of course I was drinking water all the while, which enhanced the effect.  I knew this was helping to flush the virus, and that God made good medicine in the plants he has put around us, but gosh!  I sure was using a heck of a lot of toilet paper!  

I watched a documentary on Iran.  Then I watched one on Ethiopia.  My kids prayed for me to get better and to be able to run too.  Ok, I said to myself and God, enough!  I will read it!  So I went over to  Psalm 46 and read again.  It took me about six read throughs before my mind was able to fully concentrate on each word I read.  "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way." "He makes wars cease..."  "Be still and know that I am God."  and "The Lord Almighty is with us." 

The more I learn about the state of our earth, and what people, including me, have done and continue to do to destroy it and one another, the easier it is to despair.  I try my best to do my part to care for the world and people around me, but it is never enough.  I can work as hard as I can, but if I cannot be still, I cannot feel the clear and comforting presence of God.  I cannot feel safe in His fortress.  

If I take the time to rest, I can hear His voice clearly tell me He will care for me as He does for Jerusalem.  "God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day."  He will be the friend always by my side, always helping and always listening.  He will help me through my wrath and frustration, sadness and helplessness.  I just need to rest.  So this is what I will do.  It will start with one hour.  I read something in the Bible, then I will take one hour of rest each weekend, whether it is being sitting on the couch, going out running, walking, or even weeding, because all of these things to me are rest, and I will listen.

I fell asleep and the next morning, I felt about 90% better.  This is pretty funny, considering the fact that Saraiah thought I was so sick I might not be well enough to go to Hawaii in August for my brother's wedding.  I thanked God profusely.  I called friends and said that the tulip adventures were on.  Levi asked casually, "Hey mom, are you feeling better?"  "Yes, way better." I replied.  "Yeah, prayer works." Levi said.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Little hatchy hen

We have a broody momma hen. She collected a clutch of about a dozen eggs from herself and her friends, so we moved her and her beau to the chicken tractor. Maybe we will have some babies!