Prairie View

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Silk and Roses

This is really about a tree with silky flowers.  "Roses" is the name of one particularly hardy variety of Silk or Mimosa tree.   It's recommended by the Kansas State Extension Service, with a few qualifications.  The botanical name is Albizia julibissin.    The Mimosa tree is native to Japan and elsewhere in Asia.  This page has pictures and information about this tree.

I'm thinking of planting a Mimosa tree at the west end of our skinny front yard, which runs parallel to the driveway crossing in front of the house.

Trying to figure out if this is a good idea has taken me to some internet sites where people rail against doing so.  It's far too invasive (you'll never get rid of it), the wood is weak, it's messy, it's a non-native, etc.  I've noticed that most of the people with these opinions are from the southeastern part of the United States, or from Southern California.  Some of these people do acknowledge that it's a beautiful tree, in spite of the drawbacks.

Others speak in glowing terms of the Mimosa trees they have known.  These people remember the beautiful, sweet-scented pink flowers, and how they attracted hummingbirds and butterflies.  blooming takes place over a long period of time--May through September, according to one source.  They remember climbing among its branches or sitting in them to read.  The leaves are fine and ferny, closing up at night, like a sensitive plant that's been touched.  The flower form looks like little tufts of the deceptively beautiful thistle flower petals that are considered noxious weeds in our area.  The county will spray these thistles on your property and charge you for it if you don't take care of destroying them yourself.

The Mimosa is marginally winter-hardy in our area.  Sometimes trees will freeze back to the ground, but re-sprout from the roots.  I suspect that its marginal hardiness might be why it's not invasive.  Another factor might be that hot winds during seed development time might inhibit the development of viable seed or its germination afterward.  The trees are apparently not often grown very far north or west of here in the US--except for California, of course.  Established trees are considered drought tolerant.

I read this morning that the Mimosa is allelopathic.  That is, it produces a root substance that inhibits the growth of other plants in its root zone.

I admire the umbrella shape of multi-stemmed specimens of this tree.  All  mimosas have a broadly spreading crown.  It's listed in my Kansas Residential Landscape Design guide as a small tree--less than 30 ft. in height.

Ever since we moved back to this place and drive often through Partridge on our way to church, work, and school, I've noticed particularly one beautiful Mimosa tree along our route.  It's in the yard where Bea Bartlett used to live.  I think Joel and Stephanie W. live there now.  It's this tree that has made me consider planting one on our property.

I know of a few people in the area who have planted these trees in the past.  Phil and Rose Ella W. used to have a small tree in their yard.  I don't know if it's still there or not.  Walter Pierce told Hiromi and me several decades ago that he's almost given up growing them because they freeze back.  I could tell he regretted having to give up on them.  He said this in the context of listing other kinds of trees growing along the edge of their property at West Hills, SE of the intersection of Whiteside Road and 4th Street.

If you live in our area and know something about their usefulness for growing here, I'd be happy to hear about it.  I'd specifically be glad to know if they are hardy and if they are invasive.  A source for trees would also be welcome.  I haven't tracked down the availability of the "Roses" variety yet.  As always, anyone from anywhere is welcome to weigh in for any reason whatsoever.

 




Monday, May 25, 2015

A Rooting Pot

I'm going to try to root some cuttings from some of the "own root" roses that grow in this area.  While I know that sticking a cutting in the ground and upending a quart canning jar over it has often been done, I can't quite convince my cluttered brain that I'm going to trust all of my precious cuttings to that hazardous method.  Too many rot-causing bacterial invaders waiting in the soil, too much risk of cooking the cuttings if the sun shines on them, and too much risk of the soil drying out if I forget to water the soil.

On this site, I found a clear explanation of how to assemble a cutting "rooter."  The resulting equipment has a name, the Forsythe pot.  Basically, it works by keeping the rooting medium at just the right moisture level to promote growth.  The watering means is a water-filled small clay pot buried almost to the rim in a larger growing-medium-filled plastic pot.  The cuttings are stuck into the growing medium and stay there only until they root.  I will use a good commercial potting soil mix--Stutzmans brand in this case--as the rooting medium, but vermiculite or milled sphagnum moss would also work.  This is kept moist by the moisture seeping through the walls of the unglazed clay pot.

There's one part of the recommendation on this site that I will confidently disregard, based on what I learned about rooting geranium cuttings when I worked at Stutzmans years ago.  I will  cut away any of the stem left below the lowest leaf node on my cutting.  This normally rots away anyway, and no roots will grow from it on most plants.

I will also do one thing in addition to what is recommended at the above site:  I will dip the trimmed end of the rose cutting in rooting hormone before I "stick" it.  My small container looks like a flour-y substance and has the unimaginative name of TakeRoot--a Schultz product I bought at Stutzmans.

Hiromi once had a neighbor in Japan who rooted roses from cuttings as a hobby.  From him he learned that it's always best to use a cutting taken from one of the plant's growing tips, but not the most tender tips.  Elsewhere I've heard that once a growing tip has produced a flower, it's at just the right "hardness" or maturity to work well for propagation.  Softer (newer and more tender) cuttings have a tendency to wilt quickly when severed from the main stem, and they die before they can grow any roots.

Hiromi also remembers that the hobbyist neighbor always stuck his cuttings directly into the ground during the rainy season.  I have a hunch that in most years this would work better in Japan than in Kansas.

Cuttings on roses should be about 7 inches long, and any leaves below the soil level should carefully be removed--without stripping off the outer layer of the stem below the leaf node.  Clipping or cutting them off works well, as does bending them away from the stem just until they snap, then pulling sharply upward till it separates cleanly from the stem.  If the stem is cut at a 45-degree angle, it's easy to penetrate the rooting medium.

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If anyone in the area has a rose bush that is known to have grown successfully here for many years, and if it has a habit and color I'm interested in, I'd love to hear from you.  I'd be happy to work out some kind of plant trade if that would please any donors, or I could help you create your own rooting pot if you'd like that.  I'd be especially pleased if you know the name of the rose you have--even if you're not positive that it's the "right" name.

Obviously, I am not interested in violating any plant patent laws in this venture.

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I was hoping to take cuttings from the Eutin that had survived for more than 55 years on the east side of the Elreka school building, but it fell victim to tidying up efforts before I could get it done.  I'm still mourning its passing, as I have heard others do.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ferns in Kansas

Every now and then I fall into a rabbit hole while gathering information about the most fascinating thing imaginable--for the moment at least.  For two days now,  I've been obsessing over ferns.  I'm recording here what I learned partly so that I can find the information again when I need it.

I feel intoxicated with the opportunity to plant some shade-loving plants, now that, since we moved back to this place, I have for the first time a nice shady spot near the house for planting.  Already present are several pretty hostas, several coral bells, lily-of-the-valley, a bleeding heart (bought this year with gift card money), a lime-green-leaved, magenta-flowered spiderwort, and some lamb's ear,  I'm still hoping for two plants:  a lady's mantle and a fern.  

The lamb's ear has been growing in that spot for more than 20 years, having been planted there before the nearby trees and shrubs grew enough to provide this much shade.  I'm not sure that they really like as much shade as they're getting, but they're surviving.

If you can picture the plants I've named, you'll know that many of them have colorful foliage with a variety of leaf-shapes and textures.  None have bold flowers, but some have exquisite colors and delicate textures.  I'll start some lady's mantle from seeds, but I can't do that with the fern.  I want to plant something that will thrive in the environment I have to offer.  Discovering what that might be launched me right into the above-mentioned rabbit hole.

Typically, the best way to insure that the site and the plant are a good match is to choose something that thrives in the wild in this area under similar circumstances.  If you're from Kansas, and you've ever seen a fern growing in the wild in Reno County, I'd like to hear from you.  Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, I remember either my one of my brothers or sons talking about having spied some ferns in Mahlon Wagler's shelterbelt, so that's the only clue I have to the whereabouts of local wild ferns.  I don't know what kind they were and the person I heard it from certainly didn't know.  The point is that ferns are hardly ever found growing on the Kansas plains.  

I'm sure you're wondering why I bother with ferns, if the idea of planting them seems doomed from the get-go.  I'm blaming someone from Wichita.  That man, whose name I've long since forgotten, once lectured and charmed a Gathering for Gardener's audience for almost an hour with photos of and tidbits about the dozens of different hardy ferns he grew in his backyard.  For some of the varieties he grew, the plant hardiness data he was able to verify after tracking winter temperatures and survival records, changed what had been accepted truth in the horticultural literature until that time.  In other words, he found many ferns to be hardy in his Zone 6 yard that had never been thought to be hardy that far north.  

Two serendipitous sources of information are helping me.  One is a 150-plus page book on ferns, one of the many volumes on plants and landscapes published in the late 1970s by Time-Life Books. "Ferns" is the title.   Hiromi had purchased the whole set, one volume per month, before we were married.  I've referenced these books countless times.  The one I consulted today contains an encyclopedia of ferns in the back of the book, with colored pictures.  

The other is an internet find that opens up a host of wonderful prospects for this teacher-at-heart.  Unknown to me until now,  Emporia State University (formerly Emporia StateTeacher's College) has for years published one or more natural science booklets each year.  The series is called "Kansas Naturalist News."  Each publication is offered free to Kansas teachers in a hard copy format, and 165 of the 180 are visible, downloadable, and printable online.  In 1967, a very competent high school student from Shawnee produced a booklet called simply "Ferns in Kansas." It was the first time that one of these booklets had been written by a high school student.  Here's the link for that booklet.  

Part of the booklet consists of an encyclopedia of 29 ferns that grow in Kansas, with a listing of its common and botanical names.  Each entry contains a black and white drawing, a range map of Kansas counties, showing each one where the fern was found growing, and several paragraphs describing the plant and its preferred habitat.  As anyone familiar with our region might guess, by far the majority of the ferns are found in the eastern third of the state, where rainfall is higher and trees (thus shaded areas) are more numerous.  I can't help wondering if this choice of species reflects reality entirely, or if it's because Shawnee where the student lived is near the eastern border, exactly where you would expect a high school student from there to have explored.  

Only one fern is listed as occurring naturally in Reno County.  It's the Slender Lipfern (Cheilanthes Feei).  It grows "in the open on dry rocks or cliffs of limestone or sandstone."  I have no idea where to find rocks or limestone cliffs in the open in this county.  Again, if you're from here, and you know, please talk to me.  

Actually, in my very shady spot near the house, I suspect the micro-climate created there would easily accommodate almost any of the other ferns that grow in moist, shady areas in Kansas, as long as I plant kinds that don't require running water, for example, or as long as I plant only kinds that are clearly hardy at least as far north as zone 6b, which is where we live.  

In case you're concerned, I will tell you that I would be very cautious about wild-harvesting any ferns I might find.  It seems responsible to me take anything only when an abundance is present, and then only to take a minimal amount.  In some states, laws are very strict about what plant materials can legally be "lifted" from public lands of any kind--not just parks, but roadways, etc.  In my opinion, the mowing and spraying policies implemented by our public workers are far more destructive of native plants than anything I would ever think of carrying out.  

Back to ferns . . . I have only one catalog listing hardy ferns for sale--Bluestone Perennials. None of them are the same as the hardy ferns of Kansas.  I will need to gamble on planting what is available in the trade or keep looking for other suppliers, or find an abundant wild population--or do without.  After spending all that time buried in fern lore, I'd like to have an actual plant to show for it.   Or maybe--who knows?--there's another yet-to-be-discovered good reason for having immersed myself for two days in learning about ferns.

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For a listing of all the available publications in the Kansas Naturalist News series, check out this link.  With a thumbnail picture of the booklets are listed several options.  Nearly all of them have both an online edition and a pdf edition.  Some have been translated into other languages, and some have supplements or other additions to the original publication.  When I clicked on the pdf edition, I could print out a full-page-sized format of the booklet on ferns.  It was 16 pages long (I only printed eight pages--the encyclopedia section).

Books from the past 20 years are more colorful than earlier ones.  The publication volume per year seems to have slowed down recently, however--one book instead of four per year, for example.  Maybe this reflects the fact that a lot of work has already been done, and maybe some of the slowdown is related to funding shortfalls.  

If you're a homeschool parent for whom these materials would be helpful, I urge you take advantage of the opportunity offered by this university in our state.  I'm also hopeful that many of these books can be a useful addition to the school  library.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pathology Report

Now I know that my cancer was contained in its original site.  That's very good news.

I also know, however, that it's no longer considered simply Stage 1, but Stage 1b.  This further definition indicates the depth of penetration in the muscle tissue where it was growing.  1b means that it penetrated more than halfway through the muscle tissue--about 2/3 of the way, to be more precise.  Sigh.  This complicates things.

This means that radiation will need to be considered as a possible followup treatment.  I will know more after a post-op appointment on June 4.

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I've gone two days without pain medication, and am feeling stronger today than yesterday.

We're so very much enjoying the meals people are providing and the visits from friends.

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I'm not sure why I've missed Mom more the past week than before.  Just having passed Mother's Day is probably part of it.  Being in a hospital brings back memories of her final days.  Also,  maybe I'm still acting more like a little girl than I knew I could.  Everyone wants Mommy when they're sick.

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I'm not the only one thinking of Mom these days.  When Tristan talked to me on the phone while I was in the hospital, I told him where I was, and he responded by informing me that "Great Grandma died in the hospital."

I acknowledged that and then told him that sometimes people go to the hospital to get well and I thought I would get well and come home soon.

Shane was a bit apologetic for Tristan's "cheery" note, but I thought it was a great chance to clear up what must have been a little troubling to a three-year-old.  They were here to see me the next day, which I hope added another layer of reassurance.

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Our community is abuzz with the news that Joe and Marilyn K. are expecting twins.  This is the second of daughter-in-law Dorcas' siblings to have twins since Shane and Dorcas got married.  Unless things have changed, Dorcas is quite content to have her babies one at a time, but this is definitely an exciting development.  Joe and Marilyn are living and working in Kenya right now.  One set of grandparents lives here and the other lives in the Middle East.

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Clare's brother Colton is here, having driven all the way from Washington state.  He's on his way to Oklahoma to visit a lady friend.

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I've been hearing from Susanna about the story of Papa Pilgrim, and doing some reading online about the saga.  One of this strange man's children has spent time recently in the home of their daughter and our son in Asia.  Some of Papa Pilgrim's 15 children's lives are a story of redemption, but the father's life ended tragically, apparently without repentance.  Here is a Wikipedia link referring to the man and here is an Amazon link to a book written by a journalist about the man.

The story has many twists and turns, but is definitely a cautionary tale about what happens when a person becomes a law unto himself, and becomes drunk with his own power.  Doing this under the guise of being a Christian is particularly troubling.

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This past weekend was the day the annual cottonwood fuzz shower peaked at our place.  All day, the white tufts went streaming by toward the north.  On the patio, they  mingled with the buds shed by the honeylocust tree, creating a furry carpet on the concrete.  Rain showers have "puddled" the fuzz, and now it looks really trashy and in need of sweeping.  If we did that, however, the shaggy back yard grass would look even more out of place.

Frequent rains and no time off on dry days have kept Hiromi from staying caught up with the mowing.  It's a jungle out there.  Rain again now and overnight do not bode well for getting caught up tomorrow.

The rains have been welcome though.  Other places have had flooding, but not here.

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We've seen a roadrunner in the back yard several different days during the past week.  These birds are very striking for their size and profile.

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The Pilgrim Grade School has moved to the "Elreka" building.  The rooms for the high school are not ready yet.

At Center, the classroom walls have come down and a kitchen area will be constructed in the SW corner of the overflow area.

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We've caught the resident male cardinal acting quite chivalrous several times recently.  He carefully selects something from the bird feeder tray and feeds his mate what he's selected.

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The Western Kingbird serves as a trusty alarm, beginning his loud song shortly after 5:00 AM.

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This morning I observed a brown thrasher doing a strange little vertical hop every time he plunged his beak into the ground around the bird feeder.  I don't know if he was giving himself additional oomph for the dirt stab he was attempting or whether it caused insects or worms to stir or surface or what . . .

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We had a hard frost a little over a week ago.  That is, the car windshields had a thick layer of frost.  I can't see that we had damage in the garden, even though our tomatoes had no protection.  There must have been warmth stored in the ground.  LaVerne says the wheat should have been OK too since it was quite cool the day before.  Damage is apparently more likely when the weather turns sharply colder after having been warm.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Surgery

We're home from the hospital.  I'm  moving very creakily and slowly, but I'm mobile.

I didn't know you could have surgery without bandages or stitches.  Glue can reattach the skin edges that needed temporary parting. Another thing I didn't know is how very dry one's mouth becomes after surgery.  Sipping water offers only temporary relief.  Only this morning did we discover the "care package" that contained a tube of chapstick.

My "iron stomach" came through for me again, and I ate well last night and this morning.  I did feel nauseated for a bit there before supper until after one alarmingly noisy burp when I got out of bed the first time.  I'm sure the boys in my typing class would have been highly entertained, given what I know of their sense of humor.  It was a shame to waste it on Hiromi and the nurse, who probably did not appreciate it nearly as much as they would have.

If you have a highly developed sense of decorum, you might want to stop reading right here, or maybe it's too late already, and you should have stopped reading after the second paragraph.  

At the risk of venturing way too far into the TMI category, I'm going to pass on some of the new terms I've learned in the course of this medical adventure.  They're that good and fun to say, and I'd hate to have anyone miss out.  Hysterectomy is no longer a novel term, but some of the others are a lot more interesting, I also had a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and a para-aortic lymph node biopsy.  The pathology report will be ready some time early next week, at which time I will learn for sure whether my endometrial carcinoma is still considered stage 1.  They'll figure that out from the lymph node biopsy.

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Yesterday morning, before surgery, we were introduced to Meriah, a student who would be observing.  I looked at her sharply, the wheels in my mind whirling fast, and just about the time I figured things out, she figured things out too.  She is the daughter of Jeree and Cathy from Hutchinson, farmer's market friends--and before that, friends we learned to know when they orchestrated the exchange student program through which our Japanese "sons" came to live with us.  Meriah is a third year medical school student, and her rotation right now has her following around Dr. Morgan, the gyn surgeon who performed my surgery.  I had no idea how good that would feel--to see a familiar face in the sea of medical professionals who took care of us, especially someone I knew to be a person of faith.

In the surgery room, she showed me where Dr. Morgan would sit to do the surgery, in front of a huge robotic machine--well away from the gurney on which I was to lie.  The unit with the surgical instruments was closer to me.

Besides the carcinoma, I also had a baseball-sized tumor (presumably benign), which necessitated a larger incision than was anticipated initially.   I'm curious, but not curious enough to have eyeballed the incisions yet.

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Hiromi took me to the hospital at 5:30 in the morning, and five other people followed  later, to see me ahead of surgery and to be with Hiromi while I was in surgery.  My sister Lois and sister-in-law Judy came together and then LaVerne and Oren and Jo also came.  They all waited till the doctor's report happened, and Judy and Lois waited till I got back to my room.  Marvin (brother-in-law) came later in the day.

Hiromi spent the night on a cot in my room.

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And that, my friends, is the story of my surgery.

It's time for another dose of pain meds and then bed.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Brain-Clearing Exercise

This is how I know I need this brain-clearing exercise:

Within the past week or so, I've--

1.  Worn mismatched shoes to church on Sunday morning.  They were the same brand and the same color, but had different heel heights and textures, and only one had a buckle in the front.

2.  Sprayed  my hair with Static-Gard--before I found the right can and finished the job.

3.  Accidentally taken food supplements I was told to discontinue before now, in anticipation of surgery next week.

4.  Attempted three times (on three different days) to answer an important email.  Discarded each day's writing, after realizing it's not thought through well enough.

5.  Kept 11 tabs open on my computer screen at once, because I knew I needed to give more attention to something at each tab before I lost track of them completely.

6.  Forgotten about the carry-in after church on Sunday and went unprepared.    Ate leftovers at home as planned.

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What's in the brain that keeps threading around in there, knotting itself around other things taking up territory in the same space?  Let's see if we can untangle some of the strands.

Full disclosure:  This won't be a full disclosure.  (I heard that sigh of relief.)

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Here's a link to a series of four sermons on the first four books of Daniel.  We have just finished studying those chapters in Sunday School, and I enjoyed the focus in these sermons--all of them on integrity.  Subheadings under integrity provided a title for the sermon based on each chapter.  Chapter 1;  Belief Under Pressure; Chapter 2, Giving God the Credit; Chapter 3, Counting the Cost; Chapter 4, Dependence on God.  Continuing the series through chapter 6 are these titles:  Chapter 5, Finishing Strong; Chapter 6, Removing Your Price Tags.  Don Jones is the speaker.  I don't know anything else about him, except that he's Baptist.  The sermons were given originally in 2006.  I haven't listened to the last two sermons.

(Excuse me while I close that tab.)

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I'm not really hung up on Baptists, but here's another sermon by a Baptist minister, Jason Meyer.  This sermon is fresh off the press.  It's based on 2 Corinthians 11:16-21, and the sermon title is "Fooled by False Leadership."  After saying that "False leadership has the appearance of strength, and true leadership has the appearance of weakness. I want to drill down into those two points in the rest of the sermon. First, the false leadership that seems strong (v. 20) and second, the true leadership that looks weak (v. 21).the speaker points to Paul as a model of Christ's leadership, and then addresses sin that sometimes masquerades under the "headship" category.  He notes that it can take one of two forms, one being hyper-headship, which may involve domestic abuse.  The other is controlling by excessive passivity. This is known in psychological parlance as passive-aggressive behavior.  The application section of the sermon involves methodical listing of how these types of abuses look across their range--from mild to severe.

I'm not undertaking a definitive statement here about these matters as practiced in our brotherhood, but I'm thoughtful about the importance of thinking about these things rightly.  I think I've seen errors in both ditches.

In Sunday School, the lesson was taken from roughly the last half of Daniel 4, where Daniel understood the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar's dream and apparently wished ever-so-much that he did not have to tell the king what he saw.  He delivered the warning though, in obedience to God, and then followed it by pleading for the king to humble himself to avoid the awful consequence of the pride that would invite judgement from God.  In our class we noted that doing all this was an act of humility on Daniel's part.  I'm thinking now that it's this humility that gave Daniel credibility in warning the king against continuing in his prideful ways.

In share time, Arlyn invited us to give warnings, as Daniel did, and several people took up the challenge.   I think it's wonderful to be openly invited to do that in a gathered body.

Today's sermon by Julian touched on these matters--not specifically in domestic or political situations, but in congregational matters.  He distinguished helpfully between being a peacemaker and merely being a peacekeeper.  I didn't start taking notes soon enough to repeat some of the excellent words we heard, but the gist was that to be a faithful member does not necessarily mean maintaining silence, but to offer one's perspective willingly, keeping the importance of maintaining good relationships in mind.  He used Romans 12:3 to offer guidance in keeping good relationships--don't think of yourselves more highly than you ought to think.

All of these inputs have helped in relaxing some of those tight knots I'm aware of.

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Rachel Y. sent me a link to this article on recent research of the aging brain.  The research was published in the New York Times.  The main take-away from this article is that, while mental processing speed peaks in the late teens, and processing speed does slow down markedly in later decades of life, one of the reasons this is apparently so is that the older brain is sifting through far more vast stores of knowledge, and bringing that knowledge to bear on whatever is being considered at the moment.  A younger brain is simply less encumbered.  "The picture that emerges from these findings is of an older brain that moves more slowly than its younger self, but is just as accurate in many areas and more adept at reading others’ moods — on top of being more knowledgeable. That’s a handy combination, given that so many important decisions people make intimately affects others."  This a helpful amplification of what the writer of the Proverbs calls the wisdom that belongs to the aged.

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The next link is to an article from the medical field.  First, some background.  In clinical research, the gold standard for credibility looks something like this:  An article appears in a peer-reviewed medical journal, with careful documentation of the research behind the article.  The research utilizes randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies,  if it's done "right."  One of the most prestigious American medical journals is The New England Journal of Medicine.  For twenty years, its editor was Dr. Marcia Angell.  The link above summarizes her damning assessment of the state of medical research.  She says this:  “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

This is profoundly disturbing news for anyone who aspires to avoid debatable "hype" from less officially credible sources--in favor of espousing well-documented and well-justified medical "truths." Apparently such truth is very difficult to come by.

I came to a similar conclusion after seeing what transpired in the sport of football when researchers began publishing some alarming findings about football injuries in medical journals, only to find other doctors willing to falsify their own research, discredit legitimate research, and shamelessly peddle influence with the journal editors to avoid compromising the money-making potential of professional football--at the great expense, often, of the players' physical well-being.

The above article contains a link to Dr. Angell's original article in the New York Review of Books.

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In thinking about wellness and disease, I come back over and over to asking what is God's plan or God's design here?    While I applaud the benefits of pharmaceutical drugs in some cases, I keep wondering if we aren't being really naive sometimes by not looking beyond this approach.  I mentioned in a recent post that I think talking to God about medical matters first is always in order.

Because I see plants and other natural products as being part of God's good creation, I keep thinking that surely the wise use of these things must be part of what can bring health and wellness where it is lacking.  Longer ago, people seemed to have much more practical knowledge of the benefits of using things in the natural environment to cure ills.  I'd love to see someone in every community become well-informed on such matters--free from entanglements with what seems to cross over into dubious associations with powers not explicitly under the lordship of Christ.

Rosanna King from Pennsylvania is a Facebook friend of mine who is a master herbalist, a college student, and is pursuing a degree next year from a California school that offers further training in this field.   Rosanna has a first cousin in our church, Mrs. Arlene Miller.  Perhaps she is the one who will show others the way to become knowledgeable in this field and help us all to regain the wisdom lost over time.   I'd love to see others take up this challenge as well.

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The last dangling thread is perhaps best encapsulated in this blog post by Dwight Gingrich.  The comments that follow are part of the "problem" in processing this matter.  Bryan S. made some reference to similar ideas in church this morning.  I know the two men are friends and they have likely discussed some of these things.

On the one hand, it's easy for me to give assent to the idea that it's imperative that Christians avoid erecting cultural barriers that make it difficult for others to be assimilated into our local fellowships.  On the other hand, I can never quite figure out how it's humanly (or super-humanly) possible to live out our Christian faith devoid of cultural context.

I also can't see that anything but chaos and eventually complete exhaustion would result from systematic suspension of our own cultural practices in favor of whatever culture a seeker might bring with him or her when they consider joining our fellowship.  I've heard of exactly that happening in at least one intentionally seeker-friendly church/community.

My sense is that, while David Bercot's assertion is apropos--that some such barriers exist, very often (at least in matters with which I'm most familiar) the conflicts over issues are really matters central to Christian life rather than conflicts over cultural peripherals.  We act foolishly when we fail to discern these matters accurately.

In specific situations that our brotherhoods face, surely God will make clear to us how we can live faithful lives while maintaining the good that we have, and extending a welcome--in the best possible sense of the word--to all who desire to walk with God and with us in faith.






Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Harison's Yellow Rose

I do wish those roses I brought in last night would have lasted longer.  This morning over breakfast I kept hearing soft little plops as singles or multiples of those still-pristine yellow petals showered onto the tabletop.  Before long, the blossom-laden branches of Vanhoutte spirea will be all that's left in the little cobalt blue pitcher. The spirea will likely initiate its own shower activity later, featuring tiny white petals.

Flowers like these are the only roses we had at home during my early childhood.  They grew east of the Arborvitae that's south of the house on the farm.  I never knew the name of these roses until I started paying attention to descriptions of tough old roses that can still be seen around abandoned farmsteads.  From Lauren Springer's writings I learned that the name for the yellow roses I remembered is Harison's Yellow.

I'm a little unsure about where I got my start of Harison's Yellow--maybe from the place where my friend Betty now lives, on the same place where my brother and his wife once lived.  I may have dug up a small sucker then.  Now that sucker has grown into a thicket.

Intermingled with the Harison's Yellow is another suckering old-fashioned rose.  That one came from beside the house where Morris and Gloria used to live--on John Evans' farm.  When it was to be demolished, Gloria had a plant sale, and I asked if I could have some roses.  She said yes.  The roses from Gloria have the same flower color and shape as the ones that used to grow up and over the outhouse at the back of Uncle Edwin's yard, where my dad grew up.  Mine are not climbing roses, however.  The flowers are voluptuous and luscious deep pink.  I don't know the name of the rose from Gloria.

I'm ready to transfer the Hansa (which I got from Ella N., who got the parent plant from her nephew's place in MN) over to the thicket of old-fashioned roses.  It's a deep magenta rose in the rugosa family.  The flowers will look perfect with what's already there, if the bloom period overlaps.

Those easily-shattered rose blossoms on my dining room table lasted just long enough to trigger a flood of good memories involving roses and friends and family.