Spoke Too Soon

My prolific peas had an attack of downy mildew. So……all plants have been ripped out. I’ll try again for a fall harvest but I haven’t been successful with that yet.

Update on the rest of the garden. Cherry and small Early Girl tomatoes are starting to ripen, the larger varieties are full of green tomatoes and blossoms. Peppers are starting to grow, I’ve picked the first few banana peppers. 2nd planting of carrots has yet to make an appearance, I’m not holding my breath. My largest onions, of which there are a few, are about a pound each. Green beans have taken over where the peas left off and are producing very well. Purple beans and lima beans are just forming. Watermelon are starting to grow, I counted about 25 with out digging around in the vines. Zucchini are starting to form along with winter squash and pumpkins. I’ve located the first few cucumbers that are only about the size of my thumb nail.  1st planting of corn is starting to fill out, 2nd planting is tasseling. I’ll be trying a fall crop of lettuce and if I can find kohlrabi seed I’ll plant more of that along with some more beets. Potatoes are just finishing flowering and I’ll start aggressively digging them soon. Sweet potato vines are filling in nicely and sunflowers are making for a very cheerful garden.

One a personal note I’ve been sleeping through the worst of the days heat, resulting in four hour naps in the afternoon and four hours of sleep between 3am and 7am. These hours are not working for me so this week I’ll be a bit cranky as I try to wean myself away from naps.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Spoke Too Soon

Nightmare

Crawling into bed, I snuggle into my husbands side. Yawning and closing my eyes, my mind drifting to nothingness as my breathing starts to slow and my muscles relax. Thoughts of the day easing away and doubts of tomorrow lost for another time.

The blackness behind my eyelids is quietly penetrated by a swirl of white smoke-like wisps, softly lit from within, but casting no light around them. Their edges turning and licking towards my soul like a flame. The movement is deceptively calming, making my mind wander closer, allowing for the tendrils to wrap through me, dragging me over the invisible edge.

I’m dropped onto a blacktop street, in the middle of darkened alley, surrounded by tall buildings that block the sky. Fear and dread causing me to turn all around, franticly searching for nothing and everything. The fears source nowhere to be found but all the same it’s coming for me. A shiver runs along my skin multiplying my unease. I try to run, an invisible sludge created by my self doubt and every wrong decision is making it near impossible to move. Each foot filled with lead, nonexistent tethers attached to each muscle slowing my movements and building the tension that threatens to snap back at any moment.

Ahead of me is every love, being threatened with destruction. My hands reach for them, my breathing is frantic matching my wildly erratic heartbeat. Each muddled step is allowing the fear to catch up and the evil to take away someone dear to me. Each moment the face of love is changing, vague and always morphing but somehow this makes it more real.

I can’t escape. There’s no veering from the course and no reaching the destination. Shadow and flame surround the edges of my path, laced with the outlines of serpents and winged beasts. Defeat engulfs me and I try to scream but all that is allowed past my lips is a soft whisper of breath that is quickly drawn into the blackness. Tears stream down my face and I know that the end is near. Just as the skeletal hand of fear threatens to touch my back and the evil rises to make the destructive blow my mind is thrust through the dreams surface.

Thrashing wildly, my scream is allowed to be heard. My arm connects with something hard and I raise it to strike again, my heart pounding in my chest. Before I can lash out the fog leaves my brain and I’m confronted with the fact that I’m now the evil one. My husband the victim of spousal abuse.  He’ll have to hide his shame with a tale of clumsily walking into a door. Thankfully this time I didn’t wake him, so he might not even realize that I did it.

I turn to lay on my side and snuggle against him once more. This time I’m facing a different direction, which normally works like turning the channel on my dreams. Hopefully this time my mind will conjure up something peaceful and save his poor shoulder from further punishment.

Nightmare

Prolific Peas

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I’m doubting my sanity!

Just when I think that I’ve got this gardening thing figured out, mother nature gives me a big middle finger. Want to ty multiple plantings to stagger the harvest? None of your seeds, planted at the same time, are going to sprout with any consistency anyway. Want to till between the rows? Here’s a couple of weeks of constant downpours. Let’s switch up the weather on you too. How about 90 in June and 70’s in July. My plants are as mixed up as I am, all except for peas.

Peas were planted for the 1st time on April 4th this year, about 8 weeks earlier than I’ve ever planted before. Then again on May 23rd, which is around the time I normally plant. By the time my second planting went in the ground, the first was already up and starting to flower.

Beans were planted for the 1st time somewhere in the middle of the pea plantings. I did not see these sprout for over a month. Panicking I replanted May 28th. I did the same thing with beets. What came up was incredibly spotty. Better throw in some more seed. (If you haven’t noticed I’m not the most patient person.)

This is when mother nature really started messing with me. All of a sudden seed that was put in the ground well over a month ago, and had been written off, started to sprout. What!? Okay, I can deal with this, too much is better than not enough. But where are the rest of the beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and cabbage? One more time I went up and down the rows replanting.

During all this my peas paid no attention to the other dysfunctional plants and did their thing, and did it well. They ignored the potato bugs, the weird weather, and their confused neighbors. Harvest started early and has continued well up until this past week. I’m now waiting for the second plantings flowers and small pods to produce, but they are abundant and the down time is giving me plenty of time for anxiety over everything else.

This anxiety includes the lack of cabbage, parsnips, and kohlrabi. It also stretches to the spotty and very late to sprout beets, cucumbers, and summer squash. These things seem to have a mind of their own this year and they are not sharing their opinions with me nor are they listening to mine. Then there are the nasty little potato bugs that were enlisted to make my life miserable.

Now lets take a look at the corn. I planted 4 fairly long rows over a 4 week period. The 1st row is mostly higher than the rest, except for those few seeds that decided to come up with the 4th row. Then in the forth row I have seed that wanted to sprout much earlier than the rest and came up with the 3rd row. I expect and anticipate some losses and other craziness over the season but come on this year is a bit out of hand.

On the whole the garden is looking good, just a bit spotty and a little stunted in some parts. But man, oh man, those peas. Not only does it look like my second planting will produce well but the first is continuing to vine and is starting to produce more flowers, and with the cooler weather this week they should do very well. They have also talked my beans into producing wonderfully already, even with our misunderstanding and multiple panicked plantings. The first picking, only 20 plants of 100 are producing yet, yielded almost 5 lbs. There should be no lack of Dilly Beans and beans in the freezer this year.

Actually I don’t have much to complain about this year. Every year has had it’s challenges and I do have some good looking plants this year, but everything is a bit wonky and is keeping me on my toes. It’s especially been a great year for peas!

Prolific Peas

Colors

It’s easy to get caught up in the debate over white and black, blonde and brown, purple and green. We are all born into family and environmental prejudices that can be hard to overcome. Holding onto these opinions is a lot easier than learning and looking past. It’s also very easy to learn and than hold the new knowledge over those that cling to ignorance.

This post is prompted by a recent influx of White Lives Matter posts I’ve seen on facebook. The fact that we are still using skin color, race, age, religion, and economic status as a bases to judge the value of a life shows how far we have to go as a human race. With the availability of information out there on the historic and present conditions presented to each group, I’m appalled at our media for focusing on the emotional aspect instead of the facts and also at our responses.

I come from a family with many prejudices that have been handed down through multiple generations. Most of these are based on a lack of information, hearsay, and what was going on in the world for the generation that started them. As time passes, I’m witnessing a gradual withdrawal from these opinions and a shift towards greater acceptance. A lot of our families struggle with this comes from geography.

We are from North Dakota. This comes with many advantages; work ethic, community, family value. It also has some drawbacks the main one being a lack of cultural diversity. As our communities start to expand our understanding needs to expand with it, but a common theme is to brace for impact and resist. I’m trying to leave this theme behind but for some reason I can’t do it without kicking and screaming the whole way.

I am far from being above prejudices. Hearing past generations talk about different people has made it very hard to accept someone who is not like me. It’s also very hard for me to accept change. Most of the time I don’t even realize that my thoughts are intolerant. I’ve been blessed with an amazing friend that is not afraid to call me out on my backwards thinking and explain, through her experiences with a wider variety of cultures,  why my thinking doesn’t make sense. This amazing woman has the ability to not only take in both sides of the equation but the ability to vocalize each of them. With her help I’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

I really feel that this constant division, brought on by movements focusing on one side of a problem, can not be resolved by continuing on the current course. In my mind the best answer is education for both sides. If you can’t see where another person is coming from it’s hard to move forward in a mutually accepted direction and this mentality of bringing people to one side or another has to stop, unless that side is the one that is for the whole human race.

Pick up a book about another culture, talk to someone from a different background, turn off the TV and experience for yourself the diversity in your community. This is a constant struggle and there is no such thing as to much knowledge. Continue to fight the urge to resist change and open your heart to embrace everyone. You do not need to change your core beliefs to be tolerant. And try to leave the judgment to whatever higher power you do believe in or just keep them to yourself.

 

Colors

Imperfect Perfection

 

Imperfect perfection describes each thing in the garden from the weeds to flowers, from bugs to dirt, from fruit to farmer, each individual item plays an essential part. This imperfect perfection applies to looks, actions, uses, and in the farmers case thoughts, and could even be extended to the wildlife that passes through and the weather that passes over. Paintings and drawings often show things straight and even, reality is often messy, crooked, and missing parts.

Weeds can be one of the most dreaded things in the garden. They grow when and where nothing else will. Through drought and flood, rain, hail, sleet, bugs, and disease they manage to exist, I think that the postal service had a slogan like this once. (Sorry my mind wanders and I don’t think that my postman is a weed.) Some weeds choke out other plants, they poke fingers, and are difficult to control. At the same time some make good ground cover for well established plants by keeping in moisture and blocking other weeds from growing. Their long tap roots pull up nutrients from deep in the soil that most plants cannot reach, dandelions are a common one. Some are also edible, again dandelions fit this description, the greens can be used in salads and the flowers steeped for tea or even jelly. The flowers can be quite pretty also, although I try not to let them get to that point because the flowers just mean seeds are coming and with the seeds comes more weeds.

Flowers are some of my favorite things.  Whether they adorn the fruit bearing plants like pumpkins, peas, and tomatoes or are on the dreaded weeds, they add color to the otherwise monochromatic green. Flowers not only are pretty and produce the necessary fruits but they help to attract bees for pollination, essential bugs that destroy evil bugs, and some have smells that are offensive to bugs and animals that would eat on the plants. They are the essence of imperfect perfection. Take the flower in the picture above, it took my breath when I first saw it, being the first sunflower of the year. Yet it’s missing petals and is by far the smallest flower now on the plant, but it’s color and height on the plant gave it immediate perfect status.

Bugs come next on my list and are both essential and bothersome. I had my first infestation of potato bugs on my blue potato plants this year and could have done without them, but I also have ladybugs in the same patch of garden that eat the larva and eggs of the potato bug. Bees make my children nervous but are definitely essential to plant growth and production. Spiders help to keep down the bothersome insect population and I’m thankful for them even though I pretend they don’t exist. These are my most feared creature. I had a tomato plant last year that had an extensive web on it and I had to have my husband harvest the tomatoes from that plant. While I don’t like spiders, I do love seeing there webs sparkling in the morning sun covered in dew. Breathtaking! Caterpillars, worms, and butterflies all play their roll too.

The dirt is another vital part of the garden. It’s alive with organisms that provide the foundation for amazing plant productions. Well cared for it produces crop abundance, neglected it dies and all plant life dies with it. Whether soft and loamy or hard and full of clay we wouldn’t exist without it. I tend to eat an extensive amount throughout the year, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to tell the quality of my soil by the taste? Dirt is also home to the worms that help to aerate the soil and break down the organic matter. On the flip side the soil also can harbor diseases.

Fruit is the reason for my garden. Once the flowers give way to this amazing produce, the colors of the garden change again. Coming in all shapes and sizes these also tend to be more imperfect than what we are used to seeing. It has yet to happen that all of my tomatoes are equal size, color, and roundness or my pea pods perfectly straight and evenly filled. These imperfections are often the cause of wonder, when a carrot splits and looks like a pair of legs or a cucumber curls around a post. Unfortunately these odd looking but still tasty wonders are a hard sell to those who are used to the cookie cutter look of grocery store produce. (I’m going to take a minute to rant about this. Because most people are looking for uniformity in produce a large quantity of fruit is thrown out. To get a uniform product in the quantities that are needed, farms begin to spray crops more heavily to improve yield and reduce disease and pest problems. I had read an article in National Geographic on this topic and the numbers of unwanted produce thrown out each year is astronomical, if I remember correctly in the 50 percent range here in the US. There are some places that are using these goods for food pantries and shelters and some that are making sure the unwanted excess is going to farmers as feed for animals such as hogs and chickens. Just keep in mind that even ugly produce deserves some love.) A garden in the fall that is filled with red tomatoes, orange pumpkins, yellow sunflowers, and tan melons mixed with all the green plants and brown earth is a pretty picture that blurs the imperfect into perfection.

The farmer is far from perfect. Pulling plants that are thought to be weeds, planting at the wrong time, overlooking ripe fruit, over and under watering. Each mistake becomes a lesson that takes us closer to perfection but never allows us to reach the final mark. The farmers fairy tale is a weedless, high yielding, bug and destructive weather free, straight rowed, perfectly planted garden. Produce ripe on our timetable and in the quantities needed. But like all fairy tales ours too has an evil villain and our happily ever after comes in the form of contentment with what was produced despite the trials of the year or the numbers. Our perfection comes with the knowledge that we gave it our best and will strive for better next year.

My imperfectly perfect garden has come to be because of all the perfectly imperfect parts. Taking away any of the components would cause the tower to crumble. I’ll keep my bugs and dirt, flowers and fruits just how they are. (After reading this for corrections I realized that my mind left out weeds from this last sentence. Freudian slip?)

 

Imperfect Perfection

Canning

The first abundant harvest from each years garden gives me a sense of joy. As I carry the load of green beans and beets from my car to the house I grin foolishly at what is about to take place. I place my load of goods in the sink and start to wash away the nourishing dirt, signaling the turning point in this plants life from growth to it’s giving of nourishment to others.

Opening the door under the basement stairs I enter another world.  Shelves line one short wall from floor to ceiling, holding mostly empty jars now with just a few colorful preserves remaining. Half a year ago they would have held magenta beets, green dilly beans, red salsa and tomato sauce, orange peaches, and purple jellies. I pick out the largest pot and place inside jars, lids, rings, and utensils. My treasures come with me to the surface and become semi-permanent fixtures in my kitchen.

Everything gets washed in soapy warm water, then boiled in the large pot on the stove. Overturned jars line fresh towels placed on the counter. My kitchen slowly heats with the steam from the boiling pot. Another pot of water is brought to boil for the beets and yet another for the dilly bean brine. The beet water turning a dark magenta as the color and sugar is cooked from them. A warm earthy smell fills the kitchen as I begin to snap the beans and pack them, along with the seasonings, into warm jars. Now the acidic vinegar smell is added to the mix as it starts to bubble. The beets are now soft enough to peal and are placed in the metal strainer in the sink, the juice saved for jelly, then rinsed with cool water. Purple stains my fingers as the slippery outer layer comes off the beets and they are cut and placed in the pot to be boiled, this time in a sticky sweet blend of sugar, spice, vinegar, and water.

I slowly pour the dilly brine through a funnel into the jars of beans. My nose stung slightly by the strong smell of vinegar. Holding loosely to the now hot jars, I wipe the rims and turn on the new rings and seals, the metal scraping against the glass. Using my favorite green crocheted pot holders I remove the lid from my large canner, the hot moist steam curls up towards the ceiling. Jars of beans now line the bottom of the boiling pot as I place the cover back on. This is where the magic happens. The jars contents start to boil, pushing the extra air out. As this is happening the beets get there turn again. From the pot, through a funnel, into the jars, wipe, twist. Pulling the dull green jars of beans from the pot and transferring them to a clean towel to cool, I now put the bright jars of beets into the canner for their last boil.

I’m now hot and sweaty from the humidity, sticky from the boiling brine. Counters are wiped and dishes washed. As I start to scrub the floors I hear the first jar pop, signaling the end of the process. A smile comes to my lips as more jars pop, the tinny sound music to my ears.

This is only the first batch for the year. There are many more to come and although the popping of the jars will always bring a smile to my face the rest of the process starts to wear on me after about the five hundredth jar. I will begin to look forward to a time where all this mess will return to the basement for a winter of turning back to treasure.

Canning

Uncontrollable

Everything in life happens for a reason. I do truly believe this, but there are times that things are unfair, harsh, and unreasonable. Control is so far out of reach and we have to sit back and watch the hurricane unfold raging, screaming, blasting apart everything that we hold dear. It happens on every level, in every aspect of our lives, this monster of fate, destiny. Life.

I sit crying, begging, and pleading for things to change. Praying and hoping, willing to bargain with the devil but the storm continues, unstoppable, on its path to take what it wants, leaving behind what it will come for later. I feel that I’m watching at a distance the destruction that is happening around me. Helpless to stop it, unable to move into the path to protect what is mine. A roadblock before me, not allowing me to extract or switch places with those caught in the storm.

Blame, if only I could place the blame on something tangible, maybe there would be a solution close enough. Maybe I could inflict the pain on the cause. Make it see what I see and feel what I feel. Punching, kicking, and choking the life from this invisible monster until it loosens its grip on the things I hold dear. Knowing that this would be like punching an imaginary wall, the effect being to shatter my heart as shattering the bones in the hand. Leaving only a hole, pieces of myself, and more hurt and blame.

In selfishness I want to hold on and also let go. I’m torn by my feelings and thoughts. Scared of the effects they will have on an outcome that I know in my soul I can’t control, but none the less holding on to the belief that my useless ranting will help determine fate. My selfishness binding me to my love that the winds want to tear apart, the hail bruise and batter and destroy. Feeling that this bond is keeping everything from peace and at the same time knowing that there is no peace because I have no way to accept the current course.

Hopefully I will be able to see clearly once this storm passes. Be able to take from it the valuable lesson that it holds. I’m fearful that my blind ignorance will only cause this torrent to continue. My selfishness, fear, and pride will allow the receding waters to take far more than the storm was after. The cycle will continue until there is nothing left of me but a hollow shell that little more than a breeze will blow away, dust on wind.

Uncontrollable

June 22 1016

Just an update on how the garden is looking.

Tomatoes plants are looking good with a few tomatoes starting to form on about 15 of the 75 plants. Lots of flowers on all plants. Peppers are just starting to flower. Onions are looking good with the average one being slightly bigger than a golf ball and a few closer to tennis balls. 1st planting of corn is about knee high, 2nd planting up about 6 inches, and the 3rd planting just poking through the ground. 1st planting of beets about a week away from being picked, about golf ball size now, 2nd planting just coming up. 1st planting of kohlrabi is a little spotty, not as many plants as I was hoping, 2nd planting just coming up. 1st planting of peas will be picked over the next week or so, 2nd planting about 4 inches tall. Potatoes looking good, some just starting to flower. I lost about half of the sweet potato plants, due to lack of knowledge on how to plant them, the other half are just starting to vine. Cucumbers, 35 assorted, are all up but no vines yet. Pie Pumpkins 16, watermelon 11, and winter squash 20 assorted are all up, some just starting to vine. Beans are mostly up, 175 assorted, some starting to flower. Kale will be cut for the first time this week and so will some of the lettuce, planted late because of late farmers market start date. Broccoli, cabbage, and okra looking good. Summer squash plants, 8 assorted, just starting to spread out. Radishes will be planted tomorrow. Indian corn is spotty but wasn’t sure what to expect from the new garden spot, also haven’t watered this garden. Recently planted 14 assorted cherry trees, 5 yellow apple, 20 various crabapple, 5 plum, 5 cranberry, 10 chokecherry.

June 22 1016

Old Folks

Faded hair and wrinkled skin is a badge of honor for a life lived. These first sights often cause us to overlook the beauty, energy, knowledge, and strength within. It’s hard to imagine them having a sense of humor beneath that seemingly gruff exterior and the time deepened voices. Seeing the struggle to rise from a chair makes us disregard the tremendous energy they once spent actively living each day. Watching the slow shuffle across a room, there is a feeling of pity instead of pride for the miles those legs once walked. Trying to hopelessly explain technology, we forget that their generation of manual labor paved the way for our computers. Maybe they tell us the same story over and over again to drive their memories into our heads so we don’t forget. These elderly, idle, slow moving people once loved with passion, did back breaking labor, and fought for everything they had. Most are more than willing to share their stories in the hopes that we don’t make the same mistakes they did. To share with us the love, laughter, tears, and heartache that makes them who they are.

It’s easy to disregard someone as too old to know what’s going on. Easy to look at them and think that they don’t have a clue what we are going through in this day and age. Thinking that they don’t understand how our relationships work, how hard it is to raise children and put food on the table and keep up with a social life. We look at them and see someone who is idle, who was raised in a different time when things where simpler, forgetting that simple doesn’t always mean easy.

Talking to an elderly friend I quickly learned that what appeared to be an ideal relationship now was not so ideal at the start. Looking at the couple, sitting on their driveway in matching chairs, watching the people pass, I see two people in harmony with each other. Each dependent on the other for companionship, love, and support. They talked as if they were one, completing each others sentences. I’d often catch them doing something for the other before it was mentioned. I wanted that for myself. Later I learned that was not how things started out. The early years were rocky at best. He wanted her to quit her job and stay home to make a family. She wanted to work and keep her paycheck, something that was always turned over to her family growing up. It was hard for her to give up that freedom and it took her a long time to understand that he considered what he made “their money” not his. Her early life had convinced her that money was used for control, with him this was not the case. She confided in me that he’d make house calls to the same single woman’s house a lot on Saturdays. Hearing this I was shocked. My first thought was why didn’t she leave the scumbag. How dare he do that to this kind person. She wasn’t dumb, she had carefully weighed the pros and cons of leaving. Divorce would have been a scandal and put horrible strain on the kids. He was kind to her, a good provider, a good father, she really wasn’t interested in what he was getting at that other house at the time anyway.  As we talked it became clear that by living through this and overcoming it their relationship was so much stronger. It’s hard to imagine the situation while picturing the white haired couple happily sitting together today. Leaving would have been an easy option throughout the years, but what would have been missed?

As parents these people had the same fears for their children as we do raising kids today. Drugs, alcohol, teenage pregnancy, accidents, bullying all seem to be something that each generation wants to claim as their own. These things have always been around and are fears that every parent from every generation goes through. The delivery of these threats may change with time but the base threat is still the same. One thing that I’ve learned from the older generation is that while they worried, they also trusted their children more. They believed that what their kids were taught at home, school, and church would guide them through these difficult situations and mold them into strong adults. They didn’t want their children to get seriously hurt, but they did want them to make mistakes and learn from them. Raising competent adults was the goal, not raising permanent children.

I’m still shocked whenever I hear a dirty joke or some sexual comment coming out of the mouths of someone older than me. It makes me blush, knowing that they know these things and also that they know I know. I suppose I want to believe that after awhile people become asexual. It’s this thought that keeps me from being able to totally take in their relationships. I’m only okay with seeing the love in their eyes but not much more. Not that I want details, mind you, but even the passion that is there is lost to me, because my brain doesn’t want to process anything deeper than that. Even with a collective 20 children between my grandparents, I can’t go there.

From helicopter rescue pilots in Vietnam to a young man being dropped off at a train station and being handed a few hard earned coins by his father. Brothers who returned home from war and those who didn’t. There are couples who live together their whole lives and pass away close together, and those who are left behind for years, and some who live their days without that close connection at all.

While sitting with an elderly neighbor one evening, she was complaining about how she was losing the strength in her hands. Just then the microwave beeped and she slowly shuffled over and brought out the large glass measuring cup of water that had been heating to make our instant coffee. With one hand she brought it to the table, all the while complaining about how weak she’d been feeling lately. We finished our coffee and I took the measuring cup back to the sink and had to use two hands to put the full cup back in the microwave to reheat. I was slightly embarrassed and finally told her “Oh, just shut up already! You obviously have more strength in your weakened pinky than I do in both hands. It sucks that you’re losing your strength but just think, I may never gain as much strength as you’ve already lost.” Her life of manual labor had made her into an amazing rock of a woman, both mentally and physically. Even when she started to forget things happening in the present, her memory retained an amazing wealth of information. As she declined physically she still did everything that she once did, it just took longer.

One day my grandfather was over at my parents house. We were all out in the garage and he went inside. After a while I wondered what was taking him so long. I went inside just as he was coming down the stairs to the main level. He looked at me as he slowly made his way down the stairs and asked, “Am I losing my mind? I’m losing my mind.” This was one of the hardest days for me but probably just as hard for him. I wasn’t sure how to respond and just went over and gave him a hug, trying hard to hide my tears. This was a man who had taught me so much and I couldn’t help him. His slow retreat into his mind was marked with some very vivid days when he used the knowledge of his memory loss to drive us all crazy. One day while playing cards, he was winning of course, he continually asked my grandma, “What day is it?” She would sigh and answer him over and over again. Finally I was starting to get annoyed by it and looked over just in time to see the twinkle in his eye as he winked.

I’m thankful for all the connections I’ve made so far. Grandparents, coworkers, customers, and neighbors all have given me much more than I could ever give back. There are so many questions that I want to ask. So many conversations that I wish were recorded. I want to soak in every word that is said until those words become a part of me. I want to turn back time and be able to ask some of those questions to people who are already gone. I want the courage to ask them to those who are still here.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Folks

Roads

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A road may start as two ruts meandering through a field or may be created smooth and straight, but they all need hard work and attention to remain visible. They are made up of many different materials and differ greatly through time and location. Each stretch of road seeing different weather and seasons. Each starts with a purpose.

Looking along the roads path many things are visible. They climb through majestic mountains, cut straight paths through barren deserts. They turn sharply from mansion lined to city slum. Widening and narrowing to accommodate their surroundings. Sometimes braced by wood and steel, allowing them to continue over streams, rivers, canyons, and other obstacles that would destroy them. Some veer around those obstacles and some go straight through them.

Some roads become worn down with time. Others are covered by many layers, the true road protected with each sheet added to the surface. There are bumps and holes coming from external forces greater than the road. These marks can be left untended to grow and further distort or can be patched and filled, improving the roads quality, but leaving a scar as a reminder of the tough times.

At times there are mere feet between intersections. The bustle leading to routine maintenance and upkeep. Sometimes the wear and tear of the traffic is too much to handle. Then there are the long stretches with hundreds of miles between crossings, with beautiful surroundings; peaceful and calming. Rounding a bend the calm can turn to neglect, the road slowly being overtaken by nature.

Each road takes us on a journey, twisting and turning. Some coming to an abrupt stop, others slowly fading out to their end. They intersect many other roads along the way. Branching off and looping back, winding through vast open space and crowded cities. Traveling a road is like traveling through life. There are bumps and holes along the way but there are also great adventures and scenic overlooks. Roads and life both have the same purpose of transporting their travelers to their destinations.

Roads