“Let’s Get Growing” in Our Hobbit Hole

Photo courtesy of Photo Bucket
I always wished I lived on a farm!  While some of my German ancestors WERE farmers, many were writers and inventors.  I guess, on a small scale, I do a little of each of these things.
Owning a large piece of land where I can plant, as well as raise a few animals is still in my gut.  I live in the Central Valley, California where urban meets rural,and the longer I am here, the more that desire deepens. 
Over the years, I have tried my hand at backyard farming and have done moderately well.  At least we ate everything we grew and had some left over to share!
Currently, “blessed” with all the animals that could not move with my children and grandchildren when they moved,  I feel like I’m part of the way there.   Six cats, two rabbits and now a pet chicken, serve as my “farm animals!”  Evenso, I still want  some goats!
Mint, rosemary, strawberries, blueberries,  a few other herbs, squash and tomatoes neatly grow in my  border plots and raised beds.  The sides and middle of my backyard yard are tagged by immature trees: a  lemon tree, an avocado tree, and one apple tree. While not at all a monumental undertaking by any standard, all these are significant to me and a couple of my neighbors.  Pesticide-free, I might add.
Years ago, when my first child was a baby, my husband and I inhabited a basement apartment with a low ceiling, a few windows, a front and a back door.  I called it my Hobbit Hole.  Rather dark and cool inside, the apartment seemed gloomy compared to beams of sunlight which splashed early morning light on the small walkway in front.
The house above us was rented out to another couple, but my parents allowed us to stay several months, rent-free.  There was no lawn or yard,  per-se. But I saw potential in the small, square patch of dirt that bordered the side entrance. I rolled up my sleeves and dug in!
I thought I had a ton of space …that is, until I didn’t.  Heaped with toys and a blanket in large laundry basket, my small son in tow, I tackled the dirt.  We moved from place to place together, while I began my Hobbit-Hole garden.
Rocks abounded everywhere!  Perhaps a beautifully designed rock-garden might have been a better choice for me at the time.  The large rocks were re-purposed as deco-borders, but the rest were good for nothing!  They got tossed, along with all the nagging weeds that kept freely cropping up.
With my decision to plant a few seeds, I found that I really got more than I bargained for!
Sunlight.  Well, I simply hadn’t considered how many hours of sunlight from which my plants would actually receive benefit.  Then there was the quality of soil. Soil prep was a big deal!  Drainage?    Who knew?   I thought all water went straight down.
What to plant and when, was eye-opening. Such naiveté, but I had to learn about timing and types of crops.  If I wanted mine to flourish, I had to get some knowledge – fast! 
I hadn’t considered planning.  You mean I couldn’t just haphazardly flop my plants down, here and there in the soil, I actually needed a plan?
I ran smack-dab into my lack of knowledge … and planning. Some plants do not fair well planted next to each other. I learned the hard way that strawberries and squash cannot grow side by side.  They require different soil types.  The result was great squash and beautiful bright green berry leaves, but NO strawberries.  Other plants got out of control and had to be restrained  and trained with cages.
…and fertilizing?  What was that?  Different fertilizer for different plants? Oh, my head!
Tomato worms, snails and slugs on my lettuce, moths in the grass, yellow jacket nests in the eves of the house, other pests I had never seen……I was fighting a small war.
One thing I hadn’t really counted on was the wind.  It whipped up a small storm, conveying debris and weed seeds, while sucking the moisture from my fledgling plants,   That hurt !  Replacing things was expensive until I saw how to devised ways to protect my future food.
Later, I added some chickens to the mix and was quite pleased to find the bug population diminish.
Yes, I still don’t have a farm, but I utilize what I have.  I plant my small plots of ground with more care. Since I prefer to make it organic, the pest war continues.  Our “pet” chicken wandered into our yard on Valentines Day.  No one in the neighborhood claimed her so she’s been with us ever since.  Her job as pest-eradicator is fairly successful.
If I waited until I had a farm, I may never have learned some valuable life’s lessons.
Plant the plot God gave you.  Learn all you can about how to make it work, grow, and prosper. You won’t have it forever.
Don’t give up.  Abate the “weeds and pests” of life with the Word of God.  You can count on it to work!  It will help you protect and guard against crop failure.
There will be discouragement. Some things you try won’t work.  Others will flourish.  Don’t insist on planting what YOU want and expecting God for a miracle. Ask HIM what to plant. He will bless what he ordains.
Nothing is overnight. There are seasons for everything.  Watch how you plant and where you plant.  Restrain the undesirable. Be content and thankful.
The other man’s grass, garden, or farm isn’t greener or better – just different expressions of God’s assignments.   Instead of fretting about what you wish you had, keep what you DO have with excellence. You may be in line to be trusted with more. 
Above all, share.  Share a lot!  Share often.  Spread around the goodness. It WILL abound and return to you. 
Seed – time – harvest.  It’s all in God’s plan and in His hand.  Always check in with the Master Farmer.  He knows every trick in the book for growing a good Life in the here-and-now!
Whether you have a Hobbit-Hole or a mansion, do what you hand finds to do – and do it with all your might!  Leave the outcome to God.
This post has been entered in “Changing the World One Word at a Time”
The word for this entry is FARM.  Please visit and check out the other great posts at: http://peterpollock.com/2011/05/farm-blog-carnival/

Look at Ugree Man, Momeee!

Shopping at the Bakery Outlet store once a month was great fun for me, and for my small son, Aaron!  I am not sure exactly why he’d get so happy once I plunked him into a cart, and began wheeling throughout the store, but he did!  His little legs kicked with delight when we came to the hostess cupcakes.  Although we rarely got many of those snacks, he had a good memory!

Aaron was an observer and didn’t garble like a lot of small children.  He was bright and could talk from an early age, demonstrating an excellent, understandable vocabulary by 18 months.

Cupcakes!  His smile brightened as I put one package in the cart.  He giggled and squiggled happily as more bread and treats were placed in the cart.

Then, the little smile turned to a look of horror!  He became dead still, and pointing, squealed loudly,

“Lookee, ugree man, momeeee!”

My heart sped up and I felt the heat creeping to my face.  Even though I wanted to, I didn’t dare to look around.  Before I could even think, my son immediately repeated himself even more loudly!! 

I grabbed his little arm and pushed his finger down, admonishing him to be quiet!  As I did, a man passed by with his cart.  A horribly blotchy, raised birthmark covered half of his face like some eerie, ill-fitting mask.

Aaron’s eyes were wide open in amazement  … and again, with the pointing!  I grabbed him.

“Choc-cat,” he yelled, “He gots choc-cat on face!”

My stomach churned.  Where was that door, anyway?  I felt like running!
I couldn’t look at this poor fellow!  I just pretended to tend to my child.  I was busy trying to stuff a Twinkie into his mouth so he couldn’t SAY anything more.

The man started to laugh!  He said a couple of things which I’m sure were conciliatory, but I was still too caught up in myself to process what was being said.

While I’m not so sure his words actually helped ME at the moment, I experienced modest relief.  I was able to get through the checkout stand, albeit my cheeks were still burning.

Pondering this later, I wish I had been able to say something clever to the gentleman.  Instead, all I was thinking about was me and how embarrassed I was.

What about him?  I am sure he faced numerous unkind-nesses all throughout his whole life.  Evidentially, he had learned to be resilient, and appeared to have become settled in himself. 

All things aside, he seemed to be sorry for me at the time, his gracious behavior revealing a handsome inner person!

Hmmm.  And….… he had a pretty wife.  I remember her smile.

These thoughts rushed over me recently when, in church, I noticed a man with a large purple birthmark covering nearly half of his face.  He and his beautiful wife walked into the restaurant where we were with our kids after church.   They seemed to recognize us.

We smiled and nodded at them.  I asked God to bless Him….and, to bless that other man if he was still around. 

Nothing and no one is perfect!

Graciousness, kindness, sympathy, compassion, thoughtfulness, consideration, understanding toward others; these can, entirely, go a long way in ameliorating the general hustle-and-bustle of life –  and the hurts that come with it!

Parasitic-Power-Drain….or “What’s Zap-pening?

I was running a little late to a dental appointment with kids in tow. A cold, windy drizzle hit me in the face and I hurried into the car. Seat buckles checked and engine cranked, we should have been on our way.
Oh no!  How could I have a dead battery? I hadn’t left the headlights on. Sure this was an older car, but it was not yet ready for the bone yard.  Both the battery and the starter were new so something else was amiss!  
Later, my husband checked the interior lights, the glove compartment and the trunk lights.  The engine compartment lamp or even a power window motor or radio antenna might be energizing when no one is around.  He found it!  The interior light was not going off automatically as it should.  Problem solved.  
Inordinately high in the summer and winter months, my power bill keep creeping right up!  Higher water bills keep flooding in!  My quest was to find ways to save.
With our recent roof replacement,I noticed a difference in heat retention.  A friend who had all her windows replaced, said that made a difference for her..  Mine need replacing but that will have to wait a bit.  What to do?
Working from home consumes energy! I like to use a small heater in my office space.  Added to that , a printer, a copier, two computers, a shredder, an overhead light, two desk lamps, a router, a fax, and all drawing power. 

Even simultaneous use of hairdryers in both bathrooms  “Zap!” the circuit breaker.   We need candles and flashlights just to go outside and re-set the circuit breaker at night.

Enough was enough!  My husband and I decided to actively start chasing down what he termed as “parasitic-power-drains”. 
Okay.  So with my car, there was an intermittent fault that drew an excess amount of power from the battery. That was easy!  Then,  for my windows at home, a little polyvinyl foam around the window frames and different window dressings helped the leak.  Regular closing of all the shades and vertical blinds on windows and sliding glass door gleaned savings.  Energy gobblers addressed!
Not long after that, ten eerie, tiny pinpoints of green and red caught my eye as I turned out the overhead lights on my way to bed! These LED’s belonged to machines or appliances which, even when not in use, draw small amounts of energy. How about that?
The remedy?  Surge-arresting power strips!  Handy-Randy to the rescue.  My husband made sure that my office machines, and other areas of the house, were routed to these special power strips.  When we are done, the whole strip gets turned off. No more parasitic power drain!  What a noticeable difference in the power bill!
People get hit with “parasitic-power-drains” too.  What’s ‘Zapping’ You?
Are you leaking power?  Is your attention required in so many areas that you simply go “tilt?”   Can’t say “No?” Are problems or circumstances draining you?   
The circumstance itself may not be the problem! 
God has a proven energy-saving plan: Be still and know that I am God….be sober be vigilant….watch and pray….put on the whole armor of God….put off  the old man , put on the new…. cast off… come to me all ye that labor….I am come that you might have Life…the enemy comes to steal kill and destroy…. put on the Mind of Christ…… guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Overconnected?  You bet we are!  Television,  the internet, computers, laptops, hand held devices, i-pods, DVDs/CD’s, social media, cell phones, texting, DS for kids; all these assist and entertain us.  Meetings, kids’ activities, activism, volunteerism, eating out, entertainment and such consume us. We are so busy and ‘connected’ that few people know how to deal with quiet. 
Parasitic-power-drains come in droves.  Time to take inventory!  Ask God to reveal what needs to go. Restore peace.  Live a little longer.  Live a truly purposeful, effective life.  Remember, it’s not always replacing the roof that helps.  It’s the little things.  Block those parasitic-power-drains that Zap your life out from under your nose.     You’ll notice a difference right away!

On The Road Again!

I was traveling for work, out on the road
I stopped for a bite to eat
I was worn out and tired, about to explode
And had to get out of the heat!
Back to the car, I buckled up tight
And braced for the rest of the trip
I needed to go, before I ran out of light
Fatigue had me in its grip
That’s when I noticed, things were all wrong
I nearly started to panic
I was uptight and far from my calm
You could say I was frantic!
I looked and looked for something I’d lost
Right in front of my face!
The more I looked, the more I tossed
And started to run out of Grace!
Anxiety took over and worry was dear
Frenzied to find it was I
The more I thought, the less I was clear
And then I began to sigh,
“Why me? Why me? What have I done
To deserve a problem like this?”
Pity ran rampant, life was no fun,
I forgot every moment of bliss
Then quietly prodded, the sweet Holy Spirit
“You haven’t even asked me”,
“I tried to speak , but you couldn’t hear it”
“I know where you put that key”!
I felt ashamed, I was all out of steam
I had blamed everybody in sight
I couldn’t believe, I was so mean
By now I’d run out of fight.
“God please forgive me, I’m sorry I failed,
To use my faith instead”
And as I prayed, my soul, unjailed
The shadows that brooded, fled!
I looked and looked for something I’d lost
You know, it wasn’t my key!
The more I fretted, the more I forgot
How Jesus has made me free!

 Thank God I grew up…and…. Thanks for stopping by, Nancy

This post was entered in the One Word Carnival:  The word is ROAD
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Snot, Shoe Laces, Homework and a Bike

My 10-yr old granddaughter kept snuffing and sniffing, then coughed.  The gurgling in her throat and the mucus rumbling with each breath began to eat at me while we were driving!  I had just picked her up from school, and we had a bit of a drive before we were home. 

Handing her a few tissues, I said a couple of things in a nice way to try to get her attention.  No response.  She continued to gurgle, and then cough.  My admonishment to cover her mouth went unheeded as she was distracted by the sights outside the vehicle!
Finally, a bit exasperated, I huffed out, “Hannah!  Blow your nose instead of snuffing all that nasty stuff back up inside.  You need to get it out!”
“Why?” she whined.  “It will only come back!”
Her eyes rolled back in her head as I proceeded to explain.  Okay, that didn’t work.    I asked her if her stuffy nose didn’t make her uncomfortable.   She didn’t think so.  My eyebrows knit together, I asked her about the runny stuff creeping down her face.  She informed me she would just wiped it on her sleeve.   Yuk!
I know her mother trained her better, why then all this lack of attention to what would be better behavior and a better outcome?  Suddenly, a big ACHOO!
Oh No!   A huge rope of thick, white and green slime strung from her nose to her hands, hanging all over her spread-out fingers like silly string! 
“Help, help! “, she cried.
“I’m driving!  Use the tissue!” I chided.
“I can’t,” she squalled!
Looking for a safe place to exit, I told her to hold still!  I sure didn’t want that junk all over my seat!   How did one little nose hold so much anyway?
Armed with a handful of baby wipes, I exited the car and came around to her side.  I had her get out so I could inspect where she had been sitting.  Working in the dental field had transformed me into a bit of an infection control freak!  The seat, the dashboard, her pants, all underwent a thorough wiping with antibacterial wipes.
Hannah seemed unphased and was skipping all over the front of an orchard while I worked.  I noticed her shoes were untied.
“Hannah – tie your shoes, please”, I called.
“It doesn’t matter, they don’t stay tied anyway!”  she sang out, occupied with more important things. 
“Check out this bug”, was her further reply.
“Hannah, watch out!  You could trip!” I said, and, as I started toward her, the inevitable happened.  
“Owwwwwww”, she moaned, trying to pick herself up from the dirt.
When I asked her why she didn’t tie her shoes, I realized that she had never really mastered the task well.  Apart from that, she informed me that it was just too much trouble to care when tucking them in would do.  Besides, all the other kids tucked theirs in too – didn’t I know?   It was no BIG deal!   I tied them for her anyway.  No stitches, no cut lips or broken teeth on my watch!  I’m sure my blood pressure rose a few points!  Back into the car and  ten minutes later we were on our way again.
Safe at home, I fixed Hannah a snack while she worked on homework. I set her plate down and noticed that her usually impeccable handwriting was exceptionally sloppy as she hurried through her lesson.
“What – is – this?” I slowly steamed.
“My homework”, was the salty reply
“I mean, it’s really kind of sloppy, you know.  Why are you hurrying through it?” was my query.
“Teacher doesn’t care…”  Hannah snipped.
“Well I DO!  You can do better work than this!” I said and the struggle was on! 
It brought back memories of me sitting by the side of one of my children, when they were younger, coaching them along and asking, “How else can you say this?”
Their hissy fits ensued!  Although, my popularity in those days was in question, one child in particular, continually thanks me now! 
Snapping back to the present, and Hannah’s complaints, I heard,
“Why do I have to redo this?  Teacher doesn’t care!” Hannah whimpered.
“You should care!    Doing it correctly will pay off later.  A good job will be your reward,” was my attempt at resolving the issue.  How could I make her understand?
A pouty mouth was evidence that she didn’t agree but she obeyed and began making things right.  At least she was still teachable and willing to obey.
Then, out of the blue, Hannah stopped cold!   She sighed a big one, and her little face started to beam.
“Huh!  Grandma……Papa and I were talking the other day.  He said that if I didn’t take care of the small things, I wouldn’t be able to handle the big things later.”
Did she actually say that?   Was that little brain, in fact, engaged?    I about fell off my chair!
We talked about what Proverbs said about the slothful guy who said there was a lion in the street and used that as an excuse not to go to work.   Then conversation led to her bike.  She still didn’t know how to ride it, and tried to blame it on her mother.  While, in part, she did need an adult’s assistance, Hannah had merely dismissed trying because she couldn’t do it right away without a fall – so she gave up!   Lazy, lazy, lazy!
That type of flippant reasoning is certainly not limited to little Hannah!  Our culture has fostered a slothful laziness with the expectancy of entitlement to things without doing that which might be difficult.
Practice does make perfect.  Certainly it takes time and energy – even some sweat equity!  My daughter, who became a Dental Hygienist recently, is the one who unceasingly thanks me for training her properly, and not letting her get away with anything. She swears it prepared her to “hang-in” when she wanted to quit.
I used to have a magnet on the fridge that read, “Responsibility:  knowing and doing that which is expected of me without higher authority.” 
Carrying that further, it is no wonder people don’t know how to hear from God, let alone how to be led by God!  Being led by God is all learned behavior.  He expects us to do our part without Him always chiding or coddling!
Flesh will always be flesh.  It is not born again, so must be trained, and brought into submission.  Our minds are not redeemed yet either. It is dangerous for us to allow our minds to just roam!  That is why God has instructed us to RENEW our minds.  Obviously, WE can’t keep them under control!
I hate hearing that God brought calamity in someone’s life in order to bring them closer to Him.    
Personally, I’d rather practice now before the storm comes….and believe me, I’ve already had a LOT of practice time!

Preparation of any type, is tedious, but at least I won’t moan and groan and give up easily!  I’ll be prepared and ready to ride it out with an expected, victorious outcome! 

Cyber- Life,Techno-Gloom and the Games People Play

So many things plague people these days! More than ever we need a place of solace and refuge.
Over-stimulation is here.  People just don’t stop! People can’t be quiet! More to the point, they don’t make themselves be quiet. Most everyone I know is in some sort of over-drive mode.  Much of it spins around the internet and electronics: phones, cameras, apps, TV, GPS, e-mail, social networking, games and more.
We used to own a small bit of stock in a company that makes “game chairs”.  These “chairs” actually encompass the whole person, engulfing them with 3-D sights and surround-stereo-sound. Depending on the game, a person is nearly transported into, and becomes one with, the action.  The chair tremors and moves, energized by the reverberations of the game itself.  No wonder gamers lose track of time!  Such stimulation for all the senses all at once!
In our electronic age, constant connection is also spawning a myriad of difficulties and dilemmas. It poses hazards for individuals and families, alike!  Common sense, judgment and the feeling of well-being are gradually becoming compromised and redefined.
I’ve heard it said that people cram so much into their lives, that they have to schedule their headaches!  Funny, but not really! Life has a way of accelerating us to death, without adding another switch that constantly stays “ON”!
One person whom I was trying to encourage has become very withdrawn. Obviously disquieted, she exclaimed,
“I don’t feel safe.  They’ve gone a bit too far with technology now. It’s an invasion of privacy.  We don’t need anything more on a cell phone than what we need to make a call.  We don’t need games, we don’t need cameras, we don’t need the Internet.  All this stuff has gone too far. I don’t like the fact that I can be tracked just by carrying my phone!”
While I have continued to utilize invention and connectivity as great resources, my attentions are not totally spellbound by any of them.  I am thankful for digital phones, cameras, websites and online connectivity. It has been useful in many ways, from business to personal.  Others, however, have withdrawn into it and, without realizing it; have made the cyber-world their only outlet for entertainment or diversion.
One mother recently expressed her angst to me,
“You have to be careful what you put on Facebook and other websites like this.  Employers are watching their employees via Facebook.  I can see how kids could get into trouble, thinking that the people they meet on the pages are who they say they are.  Then they meet up with them and end up being raped or murdered.  All these things all seem like fun, but they are inherently dangerous left unchecked.”
Yet, did she make any strides to monitor, or limit her children’s online forays?  I highly doubt it as her kids seem to run the household.  Everything is centered around them, their classes, their games, their activities!   Her kids are too young for cell phones with cameras or even iPads, yet they have them.  What is worse yet, these kids feel they entitled to these things!
I was absolutely appalled at the outburst of another acquaintance of mine.  She posed that there are probably have been a lot of divorces caused by spouses who spend all their time on social media.   To my inquiry, she hotly retorted,
“ I am tired of my husband who can’t wait until he wakes up at midnight after going to bed at 4 p.m. so he can get onto Facebook,.  Then he’s on it until he leaves for work at 3:30 a.m., and is back on it again the moment he walks in the door from work!   Dinner has to wait while he’s doing his games! Afterwards, he eats and heads to bed.  His life revolves around these stupid online games and Facebook.   I might as well be single for the amount of attention I get.  Can you blame a person for going out on a spouse when they are ignored like that? 
 When my husband was into other online games, it was the same thing. While he played the games, he got to chat with all the people playing the same game as he was.  The next thing I knew, ALL he ever does, and wants to do, is to chat with these people and play games!    Things around the house and yard never get done now, because he’s on the computer all the time.  So, I am basically alone anymore.   Oh well, when he dies, I’ll have everything he’s earned and a house to myself.  I don’t care anymore.”
Honestly, I felt a little helpless. The isolation of cyber-living may yet trump other excesses and habits.   “Everything in moderation” is still a good guide. 
God doesn’t have a website, and people don’t need a phone to connect.  Prayer opens immediate contact.  He doesn’t Tweet, but He gave us His Holy Spirit to keep us connected to our source of Power, and to give us direction.
He put His promises for us in a “text”, called the Bible.  Peace of mind and security of soul can be found there, and there are no limits on the characters.   He prepared church so we can have some face-to-face reality – better than HD or gaming any day!    Want to tap into Ultimate Connectivity?    It’s not “God.com,” it’s  “Come to God!”

This post has been entered in “Changing the World One Word at a Time” Please visit and check out the other great posts at:  http://peterpollock.com/2011/05/games-blog-carnival/