Friday, June 26, 2009


You never want to see your Dad like this until he becomes bedridden, at which time you would give anything to see him like this again. Dad's world now consists of sleeping, taking a bite or two of food, and the less and less frequent trips to the living room chair. When Dad was in the hospital, it was certainly a reality check for me. Bathing, shaving, and even combing his hair were things I never thought he would need my help doing. Dad was always so independent and capable. He was the one you came to for help; he was never the one asking for help. That is not to say he was arrogant or prideful. Dad is still (and always has been) a God-fearing man. My Dad taught us by word and action to always give credit to God for even the most simple accomplishments of the day.
Strange how life takes us all back to where we started-- completely vulnerable and totally dependent upon the assistance of others. I know it must be hard for men like Dad to mentally surrender to the frailty of their bodies. At times Dad can be cantankerous, insisting that he doesn't need help and is tired of being told what to do. The body no longer obeying his commands or responding to his wishes. I can only imagine his frustration; although, I have already begun to experience such mutinies from my body. But it is our faith that sustains our family. We take comfort in knowing that Dad (by his own testimony and life) accepted the gift of salvation from Christ and as a result has a home awaiting him in heaven. We take comfort in knowing that by all indications the return of Christ is not far off and the end of our suffering in these sin-cursed bodies will be over (I Corinthians 15).

Thursday, June 25, 2009


This would be Brody and Brayden's GREAT-GREAT- GRANDPARENTS
Grandpa and Grandma Rowland
Elbert and Dora (Mitten)

Grandpa and Grandma Bray
Roy and Gladys (Herrin)

These are my grandparents. My Grandpa Rowland I barely remember since he died when I was a preschooler. I remember him always being in the bed (he was prone to mini strokes and was partially paralyzed). That must have been tough for him given the stories mom use to tell me of how he practically lived in the woods hunting and collecting wild honey. He was a real outdoors man. My Grandpa Bray went next after we had moved back to Arkansas, I must have been in the 6th grade. I really never knew him either; except for the occasional visit we made back to Arkansas while Dad was in the Air Force I was never around him. I know he had a great farm and made a living at truck farming except for the few years he worked for the highway department. He was a great Sunday school teacher and could sing and play the piano.
But my grandmothers, I remember. Grandma Rowland lived with us from the time I started 7th grade. She, Gary, and I all shared the same room! She had Parkinson's disease and you had to listen carefully to understand her. Grandma Bray lived by herself until that fateful day she went into town with my great aunt Gertrude who hit a light pole in the supermarket parking lot. The impact shattered my grandmother's hip and after the surgery to replace her hip she died in the recovery room from a blood clot.
They were good people; honest and hardworking. They took pride in their work. Who is there today who can replace such a generation?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Miss you, dad

My father passed away 4 years ago today. I miss him alot. He will always be in my heart. Love you, dad

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Some more Garden plants



Isn't this Hydrangea beautiful. Sean and Tabitha got me this plant for Father's Day two years ago. I had to transplant it last fall, but it looks spectacular now. The flowers are starting to get a pink hue rather than staying pure white. Maybe the soil is a bit acidic.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A face only a mother could love.

The eastern box turtle, I presume. I am no herpetologist and don't aspire to be. But who can resist that face? This fellow was out in my yard as I was leaving for work one morning this past week. He made me think back to my first few years in graduate school. I was attempting to do some DNA work on box turtles. We would try to get the DNA from the turtle's blood. Now, imagine how hard it was for me to prevent the turtle from closing his shell before I drew his blood. Many times my needle would be "snapped" by the shell shutting. It was a real pain to say the least.

Pretty this Time of Year

There is one Mimosa or Silk tree (Albizia julibrissin) separating us from our neighbor to the North. There were several before they got chop-happy. I have NEVER UNDERSTOOD what was so infatuating about my backyard that every neighbor around me cut down all the trees, hedges, bushes, fences, etc. so they could have a total, unobstructed view into my back yard. What is it about privacy that is so offensive to these folks? Well, I got bad news for them. I might not can afford a fancy redoak privacy fence surrounding my entire backyard, but I can strategically plant plenty of trees, bushes, and shrubs around my backyard that can provide some semblance of privacy.
But back to this lovely member of the Pea family; yes this tree is a legume. This tree was introduced to the United States as an ornamental tree from Asia in 1745. Since then this tree had done very well, even escaping out into the wild. The USDA Forest Service has it listed as an invasive species. I remember Dad having some and I knew how hard it was to keep it from sprouting up all over the yard (it had really shallow roots). They were great for climbing and what I like to watch is their leaves shut up every evening and open up again in the morning. I would learn later that this is called nyctinastic movement.

Mutant Tomatoes

These tomato plants were staked using 3' high metal cages. The cages are no longer visible. The vines are spilling out in every direction and are so loaded down with tomatoes that individual branches are now breaking under the weight. There are literally hundreds of green tomatoes hanging from these 21 plants right now. I honestly don't know what we are going to do once they all start to get ripe at the same time. My cousin has a fruit stand on the highway; maybe she could sell some of them. My brother and I had no idea the plants would do so well. This soil is really good compared to the clay and rocky soil of the larger garden.

Tall Squash Short Corn

Small garden with tomatoes, peppers, and squash only. Healthy Squash
Short row of Corn
We actually have two plots (gardens): a very small plot with tomatoes, squash, and peppers and a large plot with corn, potatoes, peas, etc. There is less than 20 yds between the two plots, but the soil is very different as evidenced by the plant production. Just look at this row of corn. I have never seen such short corn and notice how inconsistent the height is for each stalk. Some of it is only waist-high and has already tasseled. Weird. Now look at the squash. The stuff looks like it has been blasted with radiation; it is taking over everything and I think we will have enough to feed the whole county! Do you need some?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Brayden's Black Berries Needed Picking

Brayden liked picking blackberries. He is a natural. Black ones, ripe; red ones, not ripe. This is easy! I just know he is going to be an outdoorsman/gardener because he could get fussy inside, but the minute I took him outside he became infatuated with everything. We watched hummingbirds for what had to be close to 30 minutes; they buzzed all around us and Brayden didn't know which bird to watch first. Then we moved on to the other bird feeders and checked out those birds. Next, we checked on all the flowers and finally to the blackberries.

Results of our labor

Brayden did a good job and picked a lot of big, juicy berries. He couldn't wait for granny to make them into a cobbler; he had to eat them straight off the vine. He must have eaten 10 or 12 (just kidding, Tabitha).

Of course, while we were in the backyard we had to check on the progress of Brayden's tree. It is a Redbud tree that will have nice pink/red flowers about the same time as the Bradford Pear trees (just out of the pic) will have their white flowers. We are hoping Brayden's tree will make a nice contrast to the Bradford Pears next spring.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Additional Redneck Innovations

Problem: Many hummingbird feeders are completely plastic. The clear globes allow the sugar water to heat up and create conditions that are near perfect for bacterial growth (yucky black rings). However, the narrow neck on these reservoir globes makes it very hard to reach inside to scrub and attempt to remove the bacterial growth. In addition, any use of a detergent to clean the inside of the globe seems to deter the hummingbirds from drinking from the newly cleaned feeder no matter how many times you rinse it out before refilling.

Solution: Disposable reservoirs. The 16oz. soft drink bottles work great; any brand bottle will do. . . Mountain Dew, Coke, Pepsi, Sunkist, etc. So once it is empty (usually long before bacterial growth can begin) just toss it out and replace with another bottle and brand of your choice. Note that the hummingbirds love this redneck feeder.