Wednesday, June 30, 2010

how does your garden grow

If you need the official garden tour and a reference point for measuring growth, read this garden post first.

I planted the sweet peas next to the tree stumps but so far they have not attempted to bloom. I need to check into that. I have added some pink zinnias just for some color in the meantime. In the back right corner of the picture, you might be able to make out large strawberry leaves. My mom brought me a large plant from her neighbor in Pennsylvania. I have zero experience with growing strawberry plants so I have no idea right now what is going to happen this year or even next. (Actually my mom probably told me what the neighbor said about it, but I don't remember at all. Sorry mom, you're not the only forgetful one around here.) The leaves of the scarlet runner bean are behind the stump in the left corner and I am training them up the fence.

The celery has started to thicken and get bushier with all the rain we have had. The basil is starting to be noticeably bigger but not near as big as the one I gave to my friend Janice. I keep telling her I'm gonna come over and pick her leaves. :)

I didn't mention in it in the first picture but the Bronze Arrow lettuce and the other Little Gem are both producing well. Here you can see the Romaine a bit and it is really providing a lot of nice leaves. We have been enjoying our own salad greens for the last two weeks. The carrots have been thinned and now there is room for them to really start growing.

This is a close-up of one of the four cucumber plants finally breaking into bloom yesterday. I was beginning to despair of any real signs of growth and then suddenly there were the bright yellow flowers showing off.

But the big news is the tomato plants! Obviously the two store-bought ones are already bearing green tomatoes but it's mine from seed that have started to flower and I am very encouraged. I have had a few naysayers around here tell me dismal stories of growing tomatoes from seed and I was determined not to let that stop me. Now if we can just avoid the blight that overtook last year and has been spotted in some of the states this year, I will be a jubilant girl.

The pea plants have been tied on the first round but some of the plants need more support already and the pods are coming fast and thick. I realize in this picture all the pods are hanging sideways so it's hard to see them. But they are there, the whole row.

The yellow bean plants continue to straggle but they are getting bigger and whatever was eating them has seemed to move on so let's hope they can catch up.

There is one tiny yellow flower on one of the watermelon plants and the plants themselves, except for one, are starting to take off. I had to do some major weeding here last week and plan on putting some peat moss down to help trap the water and keep the ground from drying out.

And lastly, the morning glories are climbing and blooming over on my neighbor's side. They are on our side too but I didn't take any pictures because they along with the sunflowers and the scarlet runner beans are being chewed up. I am trying various remedies but still haven't figured out how to protect the plants. The leaves look terrible but the plants are blooming regardless.

PC goes wayyy back

It seems I can't get enough history and culture essays right now. Here's one I have been working my way through for the last two days.

The Origins of Political Correctness (HT: Iron Ink)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

why even Facebook involves spiritual warfare

Somehow I have amassed over two hundred "friends" on Facebook since joining in April of 2007. Since I attended Christian elementary and high schools, many of them are former classmates who would have been or still are professing Christians. I'll come back to this in a minute.

I stay at home with our three children and homeschool our oldest, who is now seven and working between a first and second grade level(whatever that means). We attend a church which is a very conservative Reformed Presbyterian church in the nearby city which is about a 30 minute drive to the parking lot. We only have services on Sunday at the building. We don't see any of our church family, except one dear visiting friend occasionally throughout the week. We only have one vehicle which my husband primarily uses everyday to get to work and back. My family lives exclusively in the United States with my parents being about a seven hour drive away in Pennsylvania. Shane's family is in Atlantic Canada with the closest being his parents home which is about a 12 hour drive from us. He does have a twin brother who lives with his newlywed wife in our city and we see him about every three weeks but we do not attend the same church.
Why am I mentioning all this?
Because if you said, "Heather, do you see yourself on the front lines of spiritual conflict?" I would laugh and say, "I live in a little village in Ontario with minimal contact with most people. I see virtually no action. The few people I do interact with here are Christian believers like me. How could I think I'm really involved in spiritual warfare?"
Then I read these words penned by Douglas Wilson in his slim book, Classical Education and the Homeschool.
To be a Christian is to be in constant, total war. We have no say in the matter, and no one is exempt from serving. This war is not just some sideline feature of the Christian life. It is the Christian life. Every step toward seeing "every knee bow" before the Lord of glory is an act of war, whether in faithfulness or hatred. Until that point, the war is ruthless and relentless. The horrific enemy onslaught never ceases.
This war is not only constant but total, unconfined, and overwhelming. It is not limited to the daily fight against our own sin but encompasses everything within and without. It is not limited to our own or any one time but rages in every corner of history. It is not limited to our own flesh-and-blood world and history but is driven by dark clashes in heavenly places. (p. 53)

And then it slowly seeps into my mind, this describes what it feels like some of the time when I am on Facebook reading updates from former Christian school classmates and friends. The frustration of seeing supposedly God's people thinking completely opposite the way God's people are supposed to think and therefore act. Girls shacking up with their boyfriends turned fiances turned "let's wait until next year to get married". Wives moaning about housework and similar drudgeries. Moms planning all the things they will get done while their little ones are "safely" ensconced at public schools. Parents wondering how-on-earth they are going to get their darling-angel-children under control and into bed without a two-hour ruckus tonight.
Boy, Facebook sounds like a boatload of fun right now. I'm so glad I joined. Sarcasm aside, everything I have just noted sounds all very judgmental and that-other-word. Why don't you just quietly close your account and go read your books, you wonder? Why stay listening to all this conflict? Because. This is spiritual warfare. And if I didn't find it on Facebook, it would be somewhere else because that is the life of a believer.
And it wasn't until I read that paragraph by Wilson that I really, really understood the fight. Do I or have I commented on these spiritually-telling updates from friends? No, not usually. (I just write about them on my blog.) But this sentence in particular has called me out: Every step toward seeing "every knee bow" before the Lord of glory is an act of war, whether in faithfulness or hatred. And no one is exempt from serving. I'm not, even though I have limited face-to-face contact with people. The few friends coming to my front door or the many people scrolling by my Facebook feed are all people who will one day, "bow the knee" and it will only be with one of two heart conditions. Believing Faithfulness or Unbelieving Hatred. There is no half-way point. It's all or nothing as they say.
So I see the conflict for what it is. And I tread carefully but now much more mindful that "this is the Christian life". Don't expect it to be different, not even on Facebook.

Friday, June 25, 2010

age of the universe discussed

Tim Challies recently summarized on his blog, a talk given by Al Mohler on the age of the universe entitled Why Does the Universe Look Old?
While I do not necessarily agree with the all the arguments or conclusions in the post, I do think the ensuing comments are very helpful to see that Christians are not in complete agreement on this issue despite Darwinian evolutionists attempts to paint us all as science-denying fundamentalists living in the dark ages.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BP, oil spills and TransOcean

If you are looking for answers about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, may I recommend a blog from the UK which will provide insight and information not readily apparent to the average global citizen?
Medawar's Cornflakes has been writing articles which will definitely provide more interest than the mainstream media stories.
Click here,
and here just to get you started.

Friday, June 11, 2010

the garden is in

Starting on the left, there are three rows of celery being guarded by three marigolds, four basil and one itty-bitty thyme plant. Moving to the right are two rows of Bronze Arrowhead lettuce and one row of Little Gem lettuce. All were started from seed and have done well.
Growing the Romaine from seed has been a disappointment for the second year in a row so I bought some real plants which are on the left. Two rows of carrots have come up and two more in the empty center are just starting to poke through. Behind the Romaine are a few pea plants and to the right of those begin the first of four pickling cucumbers ready to climb the fence. The plant in the front of the carrots is a currently unknown, meaning I lost the marker and I don't think it was what was planted in the first place. I am hoping it turns out to be a zinnia since none of them survived the seedling stage. Another disappointment. Onto the tomato patch which is proving to be the don't-under-estimate-us group.

There are ten(possibly eleven) plants in total. With the exception of the two mature and flowering plants, the rest all came from those tiny seedlings I posted back a bit. Way-to-come-from-behind guys!
I have four different varieties which include cherry and grape, paste and slicing. If they produce anything worthwhile, I'll showcase them later in the summer. The ones grown from seed are heirloom seeds which I hope to save some for next year. The two plants I bought which are already flowering and showing fruit are a sweet red grape which is a delicious hybrid that I missed having last year. I went with a yellow pear instead and really regretted that choice. So this year, the tomato grape is back and I expect I won't leave it out again
Lastly, right up against the fence(please pardon the nasty flaking paint, it's owned by the condo corp and I don't think we can just replace it ourselves) is a wobbly row of green onions and hopefully some more herbs like parsley, chives and I can't think right now what else I planted there. I have weeded since I took this picture yesterday and I left a lot of little green sprigs until I can tell if they are weeds or seedlings. Also seen in the pictures are more marigolds. Growing up I hated when my mom planted with marigolds. I found them smelly and a plain-Jane flower but now that I am trying to protect my plants without using insecticides, marigolds are my best buds, literally. So I started seven or eight from seed to be able to scatter around the garden as protection. They have grown a lot and one seems to be ready to produce a flower in the next few days. I'm quite pleased that I don't have to buy them like I did last year.
And so here's a shot of the inside-the-fence part. We'll have to go through the gate to see the rest. The three tree stumps seen are a stalled project that has yet to see a compromise between husband and wife. I want to create a digging and play area but the location is under dispute. Hopefully they won't stay there forever. Also visible are three pots with green trellises sticking out of them. They each contain two climbing sweet pea plants which need to be moved to a permanent home.
Before we go out the gate, here's the part where I probably will be saying to myself after we come home from our New Brunswick vacation, "what on earth was I thinking!". Four sunflower(real big ones)plants and four(if they all come up) scarlet runner beans which can get up to twenty feet but at least seven!

And in the middle of all that mayhem will be two morning glories fighting for their place on the fence. Chaos-in-the-waiting. Can't wait!
Marching along the outside of the fence is a row of sugar peas with yellow beans planted and starting to sprout in front. The peas have showed up quite well and are almost high enough to start tying them up. The yellow beans are struggling and perhaps may not be as plentiful as last year. This part of the property is technically not ours but I dug it up last year and have expanded it this year to include more plants, mostly a watermelon patch which wraps around to our neighbors yard. I had to get rid of an invasive flowering plant and thought I would try some Sugar Baby watermelons. Everyone keeps telling me how much water they need so who knows what will happen. You can see the watermelon area begins past the small row of rocks in the background.
So that's the garden for this year. We'll see what we get.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

invalid creationist arguments

From Creation Ministries International, here is an updated list of arguments against evolution that should no longer be used. I recognized many of them as arguments I once heard argued or taught. The first I heard of these retractions was over three years ago when a creationist speaker gave a Saturday presentation at our church to the local homeschooling group.

Arguments we think creationists should NOT use

reading and writing

Mark Twain once defined a classic as a book that nobody wanted to read, but which everyone wanted to have read. It is a similar situation here.

Read Until Your Brain Creaks

MMR vaccine and autism

A while back there was a news story that a medical journal based out of the UK was retracting a certain paper co-authored by a Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues that suggested a possible link between cases of autism and the MMR vaccine.
Here is an interview with Dr. Wakefield that I found very informative and interesting. A good jumping off point if you are researching the much discussed link between the MMR vaccine and incidences of autism.

In fact, Measles, Mumps and Rubella had separate vaccines. The combined risk of three viruses in a vaccine, MMR, is a way in which nature has never seen them before. Never. And to subject those to inadequate safety studies is in my opinion, not acceptable. That was the essence of the controversy and what has happened ever since has been in essence what medicine and science have done perhaps for all time – crush dissent by discrediting the messenger ... me.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield