Checking in

It is hard to believe cold weather is already here, but our lawn is covered in leaves, and Honey has begun nagging me to put up the Christmas trees. As I watch my various plants and trees enter their dormant phase, I am already looking forward to next spring when they will burst forth with new life. The growing season never seems to last long enough, and this year seemed to fly by in record time.

Like every year, this one has had its highs and lows. I officially became a business partner on January 1st. The legalization of gay marriage in Illinois allowed us to travel to see our friends get hitched in Chicago, and we took that opportunity to continue on to Wisconsin to see our wonderful friend Barb. We saw Cher in Nashville. We spent several relaxing days in Gatlinburg last month.

Some of the low points included losing my coworker and friend, Jerry, and then learning of Barb’s passing a few months later. Both affected me deeply, but I try to focus on the good memories. I will never forget Jerry’s belly laugh, his dirty sense of humor, or the way he never ever let life get him down. I will always remember Barb’s unwavering courage and the way she exuded love to everyone around her. I am so thankful we took the time to go visit Barb this summer, and I feel blessed to have known and loved both of them.

We are currently in the middle of refinancing our home. I can get the interest rate down from 5.25% to 3.375% – which will shave 10 years off my loan while increasing my monthly payment by only $20. My goal is to have our home paid for in 10 years, just in time for my 50th (yikes!) birthday.

Other than that, life continues on as before. I always remind myself to appreciate the mundane moments, because it is hard to complain about being bored when you are comfortable and happy.

This is Spring?

spring_not

Spring has officially sprung here in Kentucky, but I have seen very little evidence of it so far. We had a couple of warm days last week, but it is cold again with highs in the 40-degree range. There is even a chance of sleet and snow today and tomorrow!

I did get to work outside for a bit yesterday morning. Believe it or not, four years after our massive ice storm I am still using a chainsaw to remove damaged limbs from trees. Although the main portion of our lawn has been in pretty good shape since we moved here three years ago, the trees and undergrowth lining our wooded area is another story. Due to the threat of snakes and poison ivy, there is a very short window of opportunity each year for me to get in there and remove downed limbs, dead trees, etc. This time of year seems to work best for that; too cold for snakes, but not too cold for me.

Even so, I am about to die for warmer weather. As I was perusing some of my springtime photos from last year, I noticed they were dated March 15th. The photos showed blooming trees, bushes, flowers, and green grass. It is now almost April, but there is barely anything blooming outdoors. The jonquils are making a valiant effort, but the frosty mornings haven’t done them any favors. I do see the promising sight of buds on many of our trees though, so I know the beautiful blossoms are just around the corner.

We recently had our front porch jack-hammered out, our back deck removed, and a new front porch and large back patio poured along with three new sets of steps. We are currently in the early stages of getting a roof added over our back patio so we can enjoy it regardless of the weather. Maybe by the time the roof is finished, it will actually be warm enough to BBQ.

One more thing… that groundhog in Pennsylvania is a liar.

Anticipation

The days are getting longer, the daffodils are popping through the earth like miniature explosions of sunshine, and our bluebird house is bursting at the seams with nesting material and four light blue eggs. One would think it is already Spring, but it’s still cold.

It has been a long time since I can remember feeling such a sense of urgency for the season to change. I am so tired of being cooped up inside the house reading or watching television. I want warm sunbeams, beautiful blossoms, and the smell of freshly mowed grass.

So, Mama Nature, if you’re reading this, hurry things up a little.

The end of seasons?

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When I was a child, I remember hearing dire warnings during church services about how the seasons would get mixed up in the End Times. These End Times were always discussed as if they were going to start within the next five minutes. We all, children and adults alike, lived in utter fear of the coming apocalypse. Most of our beliefs about The End of the World as We Know It (or TEOTWAWKI) were based on the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. My fear created a fascination that caused me to read the book several times during various church services. Much like watching a scary movie, I was terrified but couldn’t tear my eyes away.

For many years I just took it for granted that Mother Nature would get confused in the end (sort of a global form of dementia), and we would lose our four clearly-defined seasons. What I failed to consider is that many parts of the planet don’t have spring, summer, fall and winter the way we do here.

I, like most people, used to read the Bible as if it were written directly to me without regard for historical or geographical context. You can imagine my surprise recently when I discovered this teaching about the seasons isn’t even in the Bible. Apparently it originated in the prophecies of Padre Pio, a Roman Catholic priest, when he included the following line: “You will know when that time is approaching because the seasons will change so the only way you will know the seasons is by the leaves on the trees.”

As it turns out, such beliefs actually contradict scripture.  Genesis 8:22 states, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  Matthew 24:32-33 explains, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that the end is near, right at the door.”

So, yeah. We might still have to worry about other End Times scenarios like a biblical Armageddon, nuclear holocaust, zombie apocalypse, or even a robot uprising, but we can (hopefully) depend on Mama Earth continuing her various cycles through it all. If she doesn’t, we are probably doomed anyway.

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