Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sugar   snap   pea   moment

Here I was standing in the garden around 5:30 in the morning eating sugar snap peas, pod and all—a real live worship experience. What better way to start off the day!

It was just me and God in the stillness and the coolness of the early morning.

It was barely light out and I felt God was smiling down at me, almost laughing probably, as I would stuff my mouth full of those delicious green pods full of tender sweet peas.

In between mouthfuls of loud pea pod crunching sounds I would look up at Him and grin and say, “Thank you, God. Thank you for these delicious peas. You are a great God to care so much about the little things in our lives.”

 He even cared enough to let the pea vines twine up around the 5 foot tall cattle panel fencing to make it easy for me to pick the peas. Talk about thinking of everything!

I don’t think I will ever grow any kind of peas but the sugar snap peas.

 I don’t know how they would taste cooked because they are so delicious to eat raw, a true taste-treat delight, and I don’t have to go to the trouble of shelling them.

The sugar snap pea is a cross between the common pea and the snow pea. It has fat peas inside an edible pod. The snow pea part gives it the edible pod because the snow pea’s soft pod doesn’t have the fibrous inner lining of the common pea.

This delicious little sugar snap pea is also high in fiber and extremely nutritious as well as sweet and crisp.

As I’m out worshiping God in the middle of the pea patch at the break of dawn, I think God is also kinda like the sugar snap pea—sweet, giving us our daily nutrition as we follow His ways, and of course always there in a snap when we need His help in troubling situations.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8 KJV)

Love in Jesus,
God’s “sugar snap delighting” servant,
Liz Ray
Written June 4, 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tomato    tucker
“You’d better check those tomato plants and get them tucked back in before they get out of hand.”

This was a friendly reminder from my husband Jim to do a much-needed chore that has started with our tomato plants now that they are getting bigger.

The need for tucking is because they are planted in 5-foot tall tomato cages that Jim made out of concrete reinforcing wire.

As the tomato plants grow, some of the stray stems start coming through the 6-inch squares openings in the wire. And this is where the tucking comes in. They grow so fast that this is an almost daily tucking until they get to the top of the cage.

Luckily though I just have 14 cages to check. I like to experiment with growing mostly heirloom tomatoes and so I try to get just one of a kind to have as many kinds as possible.

A couple of my super favorites are Pineapple and Old German, the Old German dating back to the 1800’s.

 And yes the Pineapple does have a slight pineapple or tropical fruit flavor. They both have yellow and red striped skin and flesh and are a very large beefsteak tomato sometimes weighing up to two pounds.

Some of my other heirlooms I planted this year include Black Prince, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Giant Belgium, Green Zebra, German Johnson and Golden Jubilee.

Now as I get ready to do my “tucking duty” this morning, I’d like to think that I’m also tucking in any bad traits in me like selfishness and lack of self-discipline.

On the other hand, however, I won’t tuck in good traits like love and concern for others. No, I will let them get completely out of bound with the full run of the garden.

“Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ…” (Ephesians 5:2 TLB)

Love in Jesus,
God’s “tomato-tucker” servant,
Liz Ray
Written May 31, 2012

Hosta   pot   buryer

I’m doing what I didn’t want to do—putting hostas in pots and burying them in the ground.

Now hostas are one of my favorite shade perennials. In fact, several years ago one of my friends even dubbed me Hosta Mama.

 I love their beautiful foliage and their range in size from six inches to over four feet tall, depending on the variety.

For years I had always planted my hostas directly in the ground like a person normally would and each year they would get bigger and bigger.

And then over the years I started noticing that some of the hostas were nice and big one year and the next year I could hardly find them or at least they were much smaller in size.

This went on for several years until one year nearly a third of my hostas disappeared over the winter. As they started coming out of their winter dormancy, I started looking where they had been and discovered a depression (not only in me but also in the ground) and a tunnel where the plant had been or where a portion of the rootstock was left that had been gnawed on.

After finally realizing I had a problem and doing some fast and furious research, I discovered that hostas are a favorite food of voles—not moles.

Voles look similar to moles but eat only plant material, not insects like moles. Voles are vegetarian and are said to eat their weight in plants every 24 hours.

So now I am planting my hostas in pots either sunk in the ground or in a decorative planter above ground.

It’s a lot more work but since I am a “hostaholic” I guess it’s worth it.

I just thank God, my Heavenly Gardener, that I finally found out what was destroying my hostas.

Took me a long time to find out. Glad it hasn’t taken me that long to find out what’s really important in life though—like delighting in God’s love for me every day and trying to give back a little of this love to others and to God too, of course.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should hot perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

Love in Jesus,
God’s “hosta-loving” servant,
Liz Ray
Written May 24, 2012

Buzzard   breath

There he was—a big ole black buzzard sitting on a tree limb about 30 feet from the front room. Jim had just waked from an afternoon nap and looked out the window and saw it.

At first we couldn’t figure out what brought a buzzard so close to the house. Started to make us a little nervous. We were pretty sure we were still alive though.

Then we figured it out when it flew down and started walking around close to a certain plant.

That certain plant sometimes called a Stink Lily or Dragon Arum was in full bloom and smelled like something dead. In fact, I couldn’t get near it without almost vomiting it smelled so bad.

Luckily though this nasty smell of dead rotting meat lasts only for a day or two and is used to attract flies and other insects for pollination.

I guess the smell is pretty real though when it can even fool a buzzard.

Even though the smell is so bad, it is a beautiful three-foot tall plant with sturdy snake-skin patterned stalks topped with two huge green antler-like leaves.

The gorgeous 18-inch flower has been described as a fleshy purple ruffled vase with an upside-down purple-black carrot in the middle.

I hope as I go about my everyday life, my love for Jesus can be seen as the beautiful bloom on this plant, alive and joyous, rather than the dead and stinking smell that just attracts ole buzzards.

If I can just get rid of that old selfishness that keeps trying to pop up almost every day to trip me up, this ought to help keep the buzzards at bay.

Nothing stinks worse than a self-centered life focused only on my own wants.

I’d rather be like the description in the Bible where it says, “God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance.” (2 Corinthians 2:14b TEV)

Love in Jesus,
God’s “hopefully fragrant” servant,
Liz Ray
Written May 18, 2012

Stob   poker

All of a sudden I felt an excruciating pain. I looked down at my leg and blood was gushing out of a hole right above my ankle.

I thought what is going on. I was in the process of dumping a load of dead dried ornamental grass canes and all I can figure out is one of the hard canes attacked me and poked a hole in my leg.

I thought, “No big deal. I got work to do.” So I worked on for another four or more hours. Wrong thought process!

As our son Mark said, “You don’t have a lick of sense in your head!” Around dark I noticed  there was so much pain in my leg when I walked that I finally decided I had better quit.

Now to my credit I had stopped working long enough to wash the puncture out with hydrogen peroxide. This all happened around 4 o’clock Wednesday afternoon May 2.

After I finally came into the house about dark,  Jim asked me if I wanted to go to the emergency room. I said, “Let me think about it.”

So after thinking about it and since I had not had a tetanus shot, I thought maybe I had better go.

  Around 9:30 that night we headed for the ER, but the pain was so bad that I couldn’t walk into the hospital and I had to be wheeled in in a wheelchair.

Well, I did get a tetanus shot and the wound cleaned out and bandaged, but after a day of pain when I would try to walk I decided to go to the doctor again.

After all, it hurt so bad to put my leg in a vertical position that I decided crawling on the floor was a better mode of transportation. But this scared the cats. Christy ran away and wouldn’t eat her food when she saw me and Pickle got real big-eyed and slunk away—and Jim went out and got me a walker.

So Friday instead of going to Garden Club, I went to the doctor. The area around the puncture was hard, swollen, red and hot. The doctor could immediately see that the leg was infected and began the proper treatment.

It’s been a week since this happened and I still have trouble walking but it’s better. I have hobbled around even getting some of my planting done that got interrupted.

So what can I learn from this? Maybe that I needed a tetanus shot somewhere down the line since I work outside in the dirt and the manure all the time and this was the only way to knock some sense in my head to get it.

And then maybe it’s all right to slow down a little bit—only a little bit though. And most of all that God is good and is my ultimate healer through all the good doctors and other people. “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion…”
(Psalm 86:15 KJV)      

Love in Jesus,
God’s “hobbling” servant,
Liz Ray
Written May 9, 2012

Butterfly   catcher

“When you go out, take Pickle with you. She just sits by the door and cries and cries,” my husband Jim told me last night after I got in from working outside.

I noticed that after I had gone back out, here she came. I guess Jim let her back out pretty quickly.

She had been outside with me all day, so when I came back in for a few minutes I thought maybe she was ready to stay in and get a little rest.

Working outside all day is hard work, you know, especially for a cat. And especially since she stays right with me wherever I go.

But she is persevering and as long as I am out, I guess she thinks she has to be. Besides she has more fun being outside. She runs and jumps and tries to catch butterflies or whatever is flying around.

Yesterday I was getting something out of the barn, and she was trying to catch carpenter bees which look like bumble bees.

She isn’t discriminating at all—just whatever flies.

Watching her always brings a smile to my face, just to see how much she enjoys life. She evidently had never been outside before our son Mark brought her to us from Wayside Waifs in February.

Now though once she has gotten a taste of being outside, it’s one big adventure of exploring and enjoying every aspect of this big wide world that has been opened to her. She just can’t seem to get enough of it.

Putting a spiritual spin on this, I guess it’s kind of like once you get a taste of God, you just can’t get enough of Him either.

He opens up a whole wide world for enjoying life. And, for me, it is an everyday thing. It’s in the little things as well as the big things. I see God’s hand everywhere.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”  (Psalm 34:8 KJV)

 Love in Jesus,
God’s “tasting and enjoying” servant,
Liz Ray
Written May 2, 2012

Cistern   sad   song

“Well, back down in the cistern again. I’m glad I don’t have to say that anymore.”

Unfortunately I’ve had to eat my words. About a month ago I wrote my article and called it Cistern Serenade. That’s what it sounded like when it started raining and filling our cistern back up.

As I explained in my earlier article, our 5000 gallon cement cistern went dry this winter apparently because of some cracks that had developed over the course of 36 years.

So after cleaning it out and patching the cracks we were all ready for plenty of water for my plants this summer.

And thanks to the guttering and a good downpour, in came the rain— but alas out went the rain, slowly but surely.

Evidently we had not found all the cracks. So back down in the cistern again.

I felt like crying, but I remembered what my mom always said, “Aw, just laugh and go on” and so that’s what I did—maybe a bit hysterically though.

I guess I can look at it this way. It’s good exercise for a 74-year old woman getting down in the cistern periodically.

Only I hope this is the last time. Jim patched the edges around the entire bottom this time instead of just what he thought might be cracks.

Of course, while down there, I said a little prayer appealing to the mercy of God that we would get all the cracks this time.

We thought we had them taken care of the first go round but since we didn’t, I’m reminded of Proverbs 27:1 in the Contemporary English Version that says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow! Each day brings its own surprises.”

And yes this was not a nice surprise, but I’m dealing with it. Life is too short to get stressed—for very long, at least. Ha

Love in Jesus,
God’s “down-in-the-cistern again” servant,
Liz Ray
Written April 28, 2012