Friday, July 31, 2009

Beans, beans, beans!

Look at Mr. Jones's row of healthy huge bean plants! I think he has a green thumb. Last year, he planted zinnias from seed in this exact same place and had absolutely gorgeous flowers blooming everywhere. This year, he decided to plant beans and beets ~ and today, we began harvesting the beans.I have zero experience growing anything ... I love farms, but am not a farmer ... but watching stuff grow is pretty cool, isn't it?
This is the plant that Grandma Hand gave me out of her flower garden last year so that I could enjoy it in my yard THIS year. It's doing really well. I can't think what it is called! Just beyond it is where I planted my zinnia seeds, and they are not doing well ... they are pathetic. I think I was too zealous about weeding them early on ...
Grandpa Jones and I picked all of the nice plump beans off the plants early this morning. We left the scrawny ones to grow for another week. Thomas K., our watch cat, was close by the whole time.
I was in charge of the cleaning and "snapping" of the beans, while Mr. Jones did the blanching, cooling, drying and bagging ... maintaining the strictest quality control (naturally) the entire time, returning any improperly snapped or not-quite-clean-enough beans to the sink for a re-do! Sigh.
The blanching brings out the greenest of greens, doesn't it? We actually did 20 quarts of beans this morning. You probably remember that I'm not a huge fan of green vegetables. But green beans are okay when they've grown up right next to your garage and are fresh like this ... especially if you add just a bit of bacon, some minced onion and a whole lot of butter when serving them up! So much for healthy vegetables!
" ... You fill the earth with the fruit of Your labor ... You cause the plants to grow for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth ..." Psalm 104.13-14

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Picture perfect!

This is the week of the Coast Guard Festival, celebrated each year in Grand Haven. I have lived in West Michigan since about 1971 and have never gone out to see it. I've heard stories of the crowds and traffic congestion, and since I don't typically like that, I have stayed away.
But since it was Wednesday yesterday, and that's the day Mr. Jones spends working on his friend's train layout and is gone all day, and the weather was SO beautiful, and Grand Haven is only 40 miles from my doorstep ... I decided to spend a few hours with my Lake Michigan. I arrived at 11:30 in the morning and everything was really bustling with folk crowding around trying to find some lunch. The coast guard boats that were on display were not yet open for tours ... so I walked the boardwalk, sat for awhile, and watched the boats come and go.
And I never ever go to Grand Haven without walking the pier all the way to the end and making sure the lighthouse is okay. I found something interesting yesterday at my lighthouse ... something I haven't seen for a long long time! The stairs leading to the outer lighthouse were not blocked off at the bottom ... they were at the top, but not at the bottom. People were having their kids climb the stairs and then lining them all up for a photo opportunity. When the crowd cleared, I took my turn climbing to the top and then I took a couple of pictures from up there because it had been SO long since I had been able to do that. I really badly wanted to climb over that barrier, but figured against it!
When we were here a few weeks ago with Sabrina's family, I'm sure these stairs were still blocked off ~ otherwise, Jackson (for sure) would have been right to the tippy top ... and Karis too!
I watched the gulls for a long time yesterday. They were very animated. I love them. Some people find them annoying, but I really can't figure out why. I never get tired of watching them chatter at each other, soar through the sky, glide and then dive into the water, hover in the wind flapping their wings and going nowhere ... I love them.

The beach was really crowded and I wanted to go as far south as I could and find a nice quiet spot to read for awhile ... but I decided to get a burrito at the place where the boys and I used to eat when they were young ...
We always ate at Butch's because the boys liked Mexican food, Butch's burritos were sufficiently large, and the price was right! The four of us used to eat here for just over $8 (we brought our own drinks) ... but that was back in the 80's.
I did finally find a spot on the beach that wasn't so terribly crowded, almost finished reading The Princess and Curdie (George MacDonald), and even attempted to build a little sand castle. Since I had no little ones to help me, it didn't get very big ~ but I did finally figure out what kind of wetness the sand needed to actually stay molded. I think when my sister and I go to Ludington in a few weeks, I'll bring my sand castle molds along and see what the two of us can build together!
I love walking the north pier. It's never very crowded, and the view of the lighthouse is so much prettier from there.
The Wind Dancer was just sailing into the channel as I arrived. This is the schooner I hope to sail on before summer is over.
It was such a picture perfect day out on the coast yesterday! Aren't the colors amazing? "Light is sweet; it is wonderful to see the sun!" Ecclesiastes 11.7 I totally agree! I love to see the sun sparkle on the water.

For a little while I was the only person on the north pier! I sat and watched the boats and birds for a very long time ...
And then it was time to go!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

weekend snapshots ...

It's been such a nice weekend ... I hate to see it end! It was just a perfect mix of friends, nice weather, and great stuff to do!
Friday night we met up with Tom and Judy and attended the Picnic Pops. We listened the Grand Rapids Symphony out on the ski slopes of Cannonsburg while enjoying a ... picnic!
It was such a great evening! The Symphony played a mix of stuff, old and new classical pieces. I know my favorite was Gershwin's An American in Paris (because I love ALL of Gershwin's music) ~ but I almost picked Suite from Journey to the Center of the Earth by Andrew Lockington. The composer had driven to Grand Rapids from Canada to hear his song played LIVE and even said a few words before it was played!
After their final number, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, the fireworks began! They were not as spectacular as the one's we saw over the 4th of July ~ but I like to see fireworks anytime I can, so this was a real treat.

I was invited to "the sweetest west side block party ever" via my friends on Facebook ... and since Dylan was one of those who invited me, and since The Bridge Street Special (the band Dylan plays in) was one of the featured bands for Saturday afternoon, I checked it out! Mr. Jones decided to come along too!
The block party was located very close to where Arnie's used to be over on Leonard. I say USED TO BE because ... look at it! A few months ago, I can't remember just when, it burned down. They do plan to rebuild ... but doesn't it look sad?

I took a TON of pictures of the band setting up and performing. I'll post all of those over on Facebook later in the week.
I never did catch the name of the actual sponsor of the block party. But from what I could gather, it was a small neighborhood church who had heard about a family close by who had lost their 21-year-old son in an unfortunate situation downtown and were grieving his death. The pastor who now and then came to the microphone to welcome folk who were gathering told a little bit about this family and how his church was reaching out to comfort the friends and neighbors through the love of Christ. So they kind of made it into a party! The street was blocked off, there was free food, great music, fun games for all of the little kids to play, even a very cool clown who screamed and yelled and gave away prizes. What a nice way to show everyone how very much God loves them!
I love to hear Dylan's band. Well ... it's NOT Dylan's band ... but you know ~ it's easier to refer to it that way then to give their whole entire name every single time! They play such sweet bluesy kinds of songs, most of them written by members of the band! They are wonderfully talented, all of them!

But I'm a bit partial to the bass player ...
And today was our monthly small group's prayer and share time with a potluck to follow afterwards. These are my favorite Sundays ... when you can spend as much time as you would like chatting with folk and getting to know them better.
We had so much food! I made a crockpot of creamy chicken and broccoli casserole and a bunch of three cheese macaroni (both of which are spelled incorrectly on the picture ... but I just noticed that this very minute!). When our lunch was finished, we packed up our leftovers (still warm) into the trunk of our car and drove on over to Meijers to do a quick errand. On our way out of the driveway that leads to Knapp Street there was an elderly homeless man sitting on the edge of the lawn with a sign to the effect that he was tired of being homeless, he was hungry, and he was a veteran. We drove right by him, but as soon as we did I remembered the warm and yummy food that we had right in the trunk of our car, along with disposable plates and silverware! So I turned the car around and asked this poor fellow if he would be interested in our leftover potluck food. He was! It was awesome to be able to load up a plate and hand it to this guy. He had a really nice smile.
You didn't really think I could do a post without a flower picture ... did you? These wild roses were growing in front of one of the houses around the block from the neighborhood party. They smelled absolutely ... delicious! I read a beautiful passage about the LORD this morning and I will share it with you!

"He will be gentle ~ he will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope. He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged. He will not stop until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth." Isaiah 42.2-3

Doesn't that make you want to cry just from the pure joy of it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Three years already!

Adam and Emily are celebrating their third wedding anniversary today! Congratulations you two! When they got married, neither one of them had a job (although both were looking) and we didn't know where a job would take them. We hoped they would stay right here ... at least in Michigan somewhere! But that was NOT to be. They have been very happy in the Twin City area of Minnesota, Chaska specifically, for more than two years now. And their first baby boy is just a little more than seven weeks from being born!We are thinking of you and wishing you a happy celebration of this day, and many more to come!

"God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect." 1 John 4:16b-17a

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The colors of our yesterday ...

It's been the oddest weather in Michigan this summer! Way back at the end of May, the weather folk predicted it would be exactly like this ~ extremely cool ~ and we are headed for our coldest July on record! The temperature is not supposed to make it out of the 60's today ... again.

Yesterday Mr. Jones and I were invited over to our friends, Tom and Judy. They suggested we walk over to Rose's on Reed's Lake and have a light dinner together and then enjoy some homemade blueberry pie (Judy is a great chef!) at their house afterwards.It was kind of a dreary-looking afternoon ... with a light sprinkle here and there ... but we went ahead with our plans. I'm so glad we did.
Judy is a master gardener and ... amazing stuff grows at her house!
Judy told me the names of all these beautiful plants and flowers, but I retained not a single one of them in my brain ... but aren't the colors so stunning?!
Judy planted some grape tomatoes and the stalk is SO thick and healthy ... it reminded me of Jack-and-the-beanstalk! The tomato plants here around the Jones Junction are kind of ... pitiful right now ... we are hoping they'll pick up and gain a little life ... soon!
It's about a mile walk from Tom and Judy's over to Rose's ... I snapped a lot of pictures, but wasn't pleased with very many. We were walking in a misty kind of rain, just enjoying the beauty all around us.

All of these colorful blossoms were right outside Rose's ... but I thought the flowers in Judy's yard were every bit as beautiful. We enjoyed good conversation, good food, walked back to the house, played an entire round of Mexican train dominoes and ate the best blueberry pie ever ... I'm giving thanks for all it still today!
"The LORD covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the green grass grow ... " PSALM 147.8