Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bad Skin Summer

I’ve oft heard the phrase "bad hair day"
But never really understood
‘Cause my hair looks the same each day;
It’s never very good!
But this summer I’ve discovered how bad
Some days – and weeks – can be.
For, in pulling weeds – which I enjoy –
I pulled some poison ivy!
A few days later, I started to itch
On my left arm; then the right.
I began to scratch, and I saw the red spots
Of blisters. Oh, what a sight!
By the time I got some "anti-itch" cream
My left leg had expanded the curse.
‘Twas not long until the right leg
Made my misery even worse!
Four times a day, I anointed my limbs
With an "itch-relief, ivy-dry" brew.
I tried so very hard not to scratch;
‘Twould make ugly scars, I knew.
It took ten days for my skin to clear.
Oh, what wondrous relief to get!
So I pulled another weed or two
Watching out for that three-leaved threat.
But I never gave a passing thought
To the biting and stinging bugs
The ones who called those weeds their home.
They gave me many malicious hugs!
Now my arms and legs are covered
With itchy red spots again!
No doubt I’ll long remember
These summer days of bad skin!

P.S. Because of my "infirmity," I have had to take "sick time" away from my seasonal weeding job. The benefits aren’t very good, and boredom is beginning to set in!

25 July 2014 - mshr

Monday, July 14, 2014

Song and Story Fest, 2014

No, we had not died and gone to heaven, but it felt like the next best thing!  July 6 to 12, we were part of Song and Story Fest. It is a very unique annual gathering coordinated by a gifted group of musicians and story-tellers related to our church family.

The Fest is always hosted by one of our church camps.  This year we met in northern Ohio, near Wooster.  The weather was hot, occasionally rainy, and the mosquitoes were thick and blood-thirsty.  Nevertheless, we began each morning -- anointed with insect repellent -- in this large tent to greet the new day with song.

We sang familiar songs,

Mike Stern
and heard stories

Debbie Eisenbise
about Noah's wife, the Gardener,

Jim Lehman
and some almost factual tales of church history.

Small group workshops gave us a chance to meet with the various artists and learn their arts, new songs, and more funny stories.  Then, came campfire.

More stories,

Jonathan Hunter and children
Of how childhood fears were transformed into friendship.

Debbie Eisenbise and children
The Bible story of Mary and Martha took on a new twist

as the young listeners were invited to help
"unbind Lazarus (here bound in toilet paper)
and let him go!"

As the darkness fell and the moon rose, we said "Good-bye" to the
campfire and returned to the tent for evening concerts.
Again, we sang

Bill Joliff
old gospel hymns, songs of social protest, and new wrinkles on old familiar tunes,
such as "They'll Know We Are Christians by our Stuff."

Mutual Kumquat
Creating music as unique as their name, this group of talented young men shared several old familiar hymns in the new settings they have composed, as well as their signature -- often silly -- rock inspired style.

LuAnne Harley and Brian Krushwitz
This talented pair blessed us with music from many countries and languages around the world.

Jeffrey Faus and Jenny Stover-Brown
From Wichita, Kansas, this musical duo offered a blend of old classic numbers, such as "Autumn Leaves"
as well as their own original ballads.

second from left Chris Fitz, to his left, Chris Fitze
We even tried some improvisational drama.

But, too soon it was time to leave this ante-room of Heaven and return home to real life.

Most of the musicians combined their talents to send us on our way
out from Song and Story Fest singing!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Columbus, OH

While we were in Columbus, Ohio, for a week we parked our fifth-wheel in one of three campgrounds at the Ohio Expo Center, home of the Ohio State Fair.

Our site was within sight of the Crew Stadium -- the first Soccer-Specific Stadium in the U. S.   The large parking areas around the Crew Stadium and the adjoining Expo Center/fairgrounds made a great place for our daily exercise walks.

Our main reason for being in Columbus was to attend the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference held in the Greater Columbus Convention Center.  Events included business, insight sessions, worship, and entertainment.
"Blue Bird Revival" was one of three groups
featured in the Saturday Evening Concerts.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Home, Sweet, Sweaty Home

We spent last week with our son Joel at his little farm in southeastern Ohio, near Athens.  We're always delighted to see him, of course, and his place is the closest thing we have to a fixed location "home."

Our first item of business was getting acquainted with our new "grandpuppy" Dingus.

He is a fourteen week old Blue Heeler, so ugly he's cute!  The Blue Heeler breed is a mix of an Australian cattle herding dog and a dingo, an Australian wild dog.  He is typical puppy, running and bouncing with boundless energy, and chewing on everything in sight, especially feet and shoes.  The word "Dingus" seems such an appropriate name for him since it roughly translates as "thing-a-ma-bob" or "what-cha-ma-call-it."

Big dog-brother Clyde, a golden Retriever and Shepherd mix, is slowly accepting this new arrival and usually tolerates his wrestling with good humor.

Our second item of business, as always, is weeding and mowing.  Despite our son's earnest pleas, "Dad, Mom, you really don't have to do anything around the place this week.  I don't want you wearing yourselves out,"  we do!  We love him dearly and have a financial interest in his place, so we ignore his advice and weed and mow until we are hot, sweaty and worn out!  There are always tall grass and weeds to keep us busy, it seems. Bruce mowed four yards around the house and three meadows, some of them twice; MarySue pulled five wheelbarrow loads of weeds.  But creeping old age and the humid Ohio summer weather does take its toll on us.  

However, the exciting part of our week is that we promoted ourselves to some new, more demanding tasks.

This hedgerow of forsythia was wildly overgrown five years ago when Joel moved in.  By this summer, it was at least ten feet high and had swallowed up a dead tree, an old rusty wire fence and yards and yards of wild grapevines!  It was long past time to show it who was boss, so Bruce, with Joel's help, began pruning, trimming and chopping the trees down to size, about two or three feet from the ground.  As he chopped and cleared, MarySue cleaned up the open bank below.  Our energy ran out before our task was done, so we have job security for our next visit!

MarySue spent a day painting a new wooden, Joel-constructed cover for the side-yard cistern.  We finished it just before the old one collapsed, a threat that potentially could have hauled Joel into liability court!

But our biggest job involved, not physical labor, but making a long-delayed decision. What shall we do with the barn?

His insurance company had made it abundantly clear five years ago that they would not insure this structure.  It has been deteriorating for many years and we keep praying that a strong wind storm will bring it down but our prayers have gone unanswered.  It totters and creaks but refuses to fall!

The side view makes it even more obvious how dangerous it is.  It is so porous and unstable that it can no longer even be used for storage.  In fact, Joel never enters this "accident ready to happen" at all anymore.

We consulted with a company that does such demolitions.  It will cost twice as much as we had planned, but it must be done before it falls on somebody!  The company's schedule is quite busy for the summer so the job may not get done until we're back in Texas.  I hope Joel can take some "after" pictures so we can compare with these "before" views!

Spending a week at a time at our "Home, Sweaty Home" is enough.  So this week we've moved on to Columbus, Ohio for our church conference; more sitting and less sweating!