Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Just before leaving Houston yesterday I stopped by Alan & Kat’s to pick up the dogs. The family was attending a birthday party and was not yet home. Alan sent me a text asking me if I could hang out for a while until they got back because Madison had something to give me. It was a Father’s Day greeting consisting of an original, signed painting on canvas entitled “Wheat” by two artists named Madison and Austin. In a somewhat Impressionistic style, it presents our recent wheat crop and the huge oak tree behind our farm house. It’s value is inestimable.
In addition to the painting, I was given a coffee cup with “Papa” bear on it. Madison explained the connection between the bear on the cup and my association with Baylor University. I get it.
I was greeted by other things when I arrived at the farm late on Saturday night. Two deer bounded away from the house as I drove up. I performed my usual initial inspections of the place. Before entering the house I took a flashlight and walked around outside. I checked out the X-Garden and discovered that the row of corn plants had run their course and were wilted and brown, just like the entire field of corn across the road. The ears that grew on the brown stalks had been devoured by our pet rabbits who operate the garden in our absence.
Two small eggplants hung on a bush. I planned to get them in the morning. Several large green tomatoes were also enduring the heat of the summer. A few butternut squash were available for harvest. Purple zinnias, orange zinnias, and wild sunflowers decorated the place. The biggest surprise was the melons. Just three weeks ago the watermelons were no bigger than my thumb. Now seven large melons were lying on the ground in the garden. This is encouraging, since I went to Bush's roadside produce stand in Stockdale to buy a watermelon this morning only to be told they had none because of the drought. I'm not sure what I will do with rabbits that decide watermelons are on their diet.
(This morning I returned to the garden to get what I could – the squash and a bouquet of flowers. The eggplants had become rabbit food over night. And one of the big green tomatoes was on the bunny buffet as well.)
Inside the house another surprise awaited me last night. I entered the utility room to switch the water heater from “Vacation” to “Hot,” and found myself stepping into two inches of water. The water heater had sprung a leak in the last two weeks. Water had run into the garage and out the garage door. I spent an hour and a half mopping up the mess. Cold showers only until it is replaced.
When I stepped into the garage I found that John, my new lawn tractor, had flats on both front tires, a consequence of encountering mesquite and cactus thorns during his last workout. Fortunately, I knew about a magic solution called “Slime” that repairs and then prevents such leaks. I picked up some today and will repair the tires tomorrow.
This morning I was greeted by the usual wildlife – our pet rabbit checking out the garden, the cardinals gathering to devour the sunflower seeds and to enjoy the birdbath, hummingbirds checking in periodically for a refill of the sweet, red nectar I’d hung for them, and Mexican eagles patrolling the field.
Then I received the new version of Father’s Day cards, text messages from my children with embarrassing evaluations of my performance as a dad. Leaks, flats, and rabbits are nothing compared to such things as original artwork, coffee mugs, and Father's Day texts.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Thirty seven years ago tomorrow, Melinda and I drove my sister’s 1974 maroon Malibu with the white vinyl roof from our honeymoon suite at the Ramada Inn in Houston to my grandmother’s house in Floresville to spend our first week of marriage exploring San Antonio, New Braunfels, and just being alone at the farm. Now that place is ours. We were there again this weekend, but did not have much time alone. None, in fact. But that’s ok.
We were joined by Alan and Kat, celebrating their seventh anniversary (rookies, still). Alan and Kat brought the next generation, Madison and Austin, with them, and the aging grand-dogs, Porter and Presley. Jenna drove up on Saturday. And Saturday evening, the Farmers, friends of Alan and Kat, arrived with their two daughters, Zoe and Ava. And their dog.
I had responsibilities in McKinney on Sunday morning, and so made the now familiar flight from San Antonio to Dallas on Saturday night and returned on Sunday afternoon. In my absence, the entire entourage drove to Leakey, Texas to swim in the Frio River at Neal’s. About the time I landed at SAT, they were done swimming. We agreed to rendezvous at La Gloria, a Mexican street food restaurant on the San Antonio River that we’d enjoyed once before. The celebration of our thirty-seven years and Alan and Kat’s seven (rookies) involved the eleven of us (dogs were still at the farm) dining for a couple of hours on likes of tlayudas, tortas, potosinos, and molcajetes. We walked down to the river and enjoyed the evening that was quickly cooling down from the hundred degrees we’d endured most of the day.
We returned to Waco today, ready to start the summer school work tomorrow. Melinda will be taking Latin all summer. I teach one Doctor of Ministry Seminar. Jenna will be an intern at KWTX in Waco, while taking nine semester hours of government and economics online.Meanwhile, we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to remember.
I understand some of Mr. McGregor’s consternation regarding rabbits in his garden. This morning I went out to clean up the X Garden and found Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail enjoying the greenest place on the property during this extended dry period. It looked like they’d managed to gnaw down at least two corn stalks. I’m pretty much at their mercy, I suppose, since they are present every day and I’m not.
I’m excited about the watermelons. A dozen little ones are forming; the plants look healthy and green and are covered with yellow blossoms. I’m forecasting an enormous crop. A single good one would be nice, however.
The next X Garden report will come in three weeks.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I was planning a longer trip to the farm this weekend, Thursday-Monday, but plans changed. Melinda’s assistance was needed in taking care of Jonas while his mom and big sister shared in a friend’s wedding – Amber as a bridesmaid and Ava as flower girl. That meant leaving late on Friday rather than early on Thursday. So on Thursday (Diadeloso -- the Day of the Bear -- at Baylor), I graded papers until I could not see straight and completely emptied my inbox. (Who assigned all these papers? I’d like to get my hands on him.) On Friday afternoon we made the trip down I-35 with our usual stop to see our favorite daughter in Austin at Quack’s, our favorite bakery/coffee shop. Then back on the road.
We got to Floresville with some daylight remaining. I attached some nifty ramp ends to my 2x8 homemade equipment ramp to make it easier to help Juan down out of the back of the truck. Melinda was inside. I got into the bed of the truck, released the lawn tractor’s parking brake, and carefully pushed and steered him from over his hood while I backed him toward the ramps. I successfully lined up his wheels over the 2x8’s and prepared to ease him down the incline. I was not paying so much attention to myself, however. I stepped off the end of the tailgate and tumbled on the ground ungracefully while Juan simple eased down the ramp. I jumped up and looked around. No one had witnessed the event. Good. I cranked him up and mowed a bit of the field in front that I had not been able to take care of last visit.
Amber arrived with Ava and Jonas a while later. We stayed up late playing and talking and getting better acquainted with Jonas, whom we’d last seen at age six weeks. Now he’s five months and quite entertaining.
Most of Saturday was spent playing with Ava. We went on walks and explored around the farm. She’d not been here since she was a baby, so this was new territory for her. I pushed her down the long rock driveway on a tricycle we’d gotten at a garage sale several years ago. She hunted rocks and chased a lizard.
Sometime in the afternoon she began “cooking” on the front porch. She gathered all kinds of items from the yard, mixing them into her soups and stews, and serving them to me in pink plastic dishes.
She found red sandstone that Mimi showed her could be used to write on the concrete and that would make war paint on your face as well, so she used it on me.
A report on the progress of the X-Garden will follow soon.
Monday, April 11, 2011
If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself.