A Perfect Summer Day

I think it was June, 1946. Something about this evening’s after-dinner, back deck chat triggered a vivid memory from my childhood. I had told Rip to come over for oven-fried chicken and creative leftovers with Stephen and me. He arrived with an empty old crockpot under his arm—I recently complained that I no longer have one that size—a very thoughtful gift for me. A glass or two of chardonnay had put us in a reminiscing frame of mind, and we were going at it: moms and dads, ex-wives, kids, rectors we have known, the usual fare.

Rip and Stephen Chat
Rip and Stephen Chat
Breeze Stirring the Canopy Above
Breeze Stirring the Canopy Above


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Maintaining the Shade Garden

I wish I could show you a picture of what the west shade garden in our back yard looked like in April of last year. It was totally congested with Virginia creeper and Indian Strawberry. I mean, it was BAD! As you can see from the included pictures, we now have a nice combination of  Vinca Minor and English Ivy. I inherited the care of the garden after Stephen unfortunately developed joint disease. He would rather do it, and I am glad to do it, but at 70 + years, I have to make my bendings, kneelings and pullings count. I think I have done that, and I am here to write about it.

Ivy and Vinca Minor as Shade Garden Ground Cover
Ivy and Vinca Minor as Shade Garden Ground Cover

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Gluten-free Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

IgG Food Antibody Assessment

Stephen and his Gluten-Free Biscuit with Sausage Gravy
Stephen and his Gluten-Free Biscuit with Sausage Gravy

About 5 to 10 percent of the population has delayed food reactions. These reactions can cause serious illness and even death. They often go undiagnosed. I happen to be living with a person who has been diagnosed with serious IgG Food Antibody reactions to several common foods, including especially gluten (wheat, soy, oats, barley and rye), and also with moderate IgE food reactions (immediate) to cow’s milk and hen’s eggs. Those who are interested in the topic should talk to a physician who has the competency to work with such a system. Also, one lab that does the test is Geneva Diagnostics; that is the one Stephen has used.

My purpose in bringing up this topic here is not to sell anyone on the concept or test, but rather to speak as a person who cooks in a family where there are food sensitivities to contend with. Believe me when I say that as a traditional USA cook, I was frustrated and stymied at first in trying to deal with this challenge. I also have at least 3 other friends who are contending with some version of this problem—that is, with either gluten or dairy sensitivities or both. This morning, I cooked a reasonably successful breakfast of biscuits and sausage gravy (vegetarians, we’ll have a discussion another day). In addition, the food contained no gluten, eggs or dairy with one exception which I will explain. Perhaps my article can encourage others in a similar situation.

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Touching the Grave Beyond

In my old blog I had a category called Magic. While I’m not in a constant alternative reality, the Other Side definitely speaks to me at times. And it happened again yesterday. I’ve been going to the hospital the last couple of days to visit Stephen, who is recovering from an operation. As I was driving there, I passed a graveyard by the side of the road. I’ve never even been in it, and I know of no one who is buried there. I’ve driven by it dozens of times. But yesterday afternoon, for some inexplicable reason, just as I could see the grassy hillside leading up to the well-spaced grave markers disappearing in my right field of vision, I had the sudden urge just to go and sit on the inviting green grass amongst the graves. Being on the interstate, I had to drive on, of course, to complete my journey to visit my friend. My mind, however, remained ensconced in the grass, and I began to have an amazing set of cogitations and realizations. This morning, as I was visiting with Stephen, I tried to tell him about my experience, and now I am going to try to set some of this down here.

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Where is God in the Other?

I’m a little bit worried about this post, because I know in advance it is going to be about very abstract and questionable dealings of faith. But, I need to clear my head about it, and this blog often is a real help to me in this way. Hopefully occasionally to someone else, too.

I often find I am dissatisfied with my closest friends and companions. And, I rarely am candid about either the dissatisfaction or the reasons for it. Reason being, I see myself as strong, independent, a problem-solver, a hard worker, a person who gives what he has to give. So admitting this dissatisfaction with others to myself, let alone those who have disappointed me, would give the lie to the high regard in which I hold myself. That is, there was a problem with one of my important relationships, and I failed to solve it. Instead, I tend to try to deal with these situations by pulling even farther into myself, and to search for the resolve I need in God. Maybe I will pray about the situation. Maybe I will practice the meditation that I have followed for the last 30 years. Or perhaps I just do that little mental shenanigan of “Turning it all over to God.” And a lot of the time, this actually works. The dissatisfaction passes; the rend is mended.

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Now that we have a patch of sun

IrisWhen we moved to this 1895 townhouse in 1998, the back 1000 was basically 8 cleveland pears, 4 to a side, a nice back deck, and dirt (& rocks, glass, yetch, etc.). I remember Steve’s brother driving his camper through the back gate and parking under the trees. But the house was such a deal (under 100K) that we couldn’t worry about the state of the garden. Since that time, first Stephen, and then I, have been putting that dirt to work big time. But always we have been struggling with making a shade garden … until three years ago, we just had one of the trees removed! That created about a 100 sq. ft. patch of ground next to the back walk where there are at least 4 hours of direct sun every day. Two years ago, we planted an ever-blooming rose, some menarda, iris and day lilies. Last year, we planted a white cone flower and a black-eyed susan. There is also a clematis on the south fence. These were all perennials, so they all came back. And then a few days ago, I put in a few herbs, such as a dill plant, chives and a Mexican sage.

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