133. No Time to Write

So what happens when one finally gets settled into a routine at the cottage where one has spent three years preparing to live?

Life.

Yes. Life.

Yes. Life. Happens.

There’s a new job.

There’s a volunteer commitment one made before the new job happened.

There’s cooking to do, gardens to plant, flowers to grow, pillow covers to make, Bible to study, VBS to get ready for, neighbors to visit, friends to talk to, firewood to haul, and, yes, there are still boxes to unpack, files to organize and a room to paint. As well as the bathroom to gut and redo, and the back porch to finish.

And suddenly, there’s no time to write.

Ha, silly me. I thought perhaps after we moved here, I’d have spare time to finish that novel… Now I can’t even find time to write 500 words for a blog post.

It’s the rhythm of life. Suddenly there is much going on, but it is the routine of day-to-day, interspersed here and there with a gorgeous full moon, the bloom of a new starburst flower, the scent of peonies, a gentle sunrise.

But that is life, isn’t it? Making the most of those boring bits of life in-between the great, amazing stuff that, if we are honest, doesn’t really happen all that often.

It’s what we do with the routine and the interruptions to our routine that are important. Read this C.S. Lewis quote and put it on your fridge.

 Yes, the unremarkable, the humdrum, the commonplace — that’s the life God is sending us. And do we sing on the way to work, or grump about the trucks that are making us late?

Do we gripe about having to fix dinner on a day when we don’t get home until 6:00, or do we look into the fridge and make it a game with ourselves to come up with the best we can with what’s there?

Do we go to visit the neighbor when we really should be…  (insert really important thing to do here.)

I have to admit that I’m only good at loving the uneventful life sometimes. I try to remember that God has given us this ordinary life to live for him. He sees when we grumble at our husbands for no good reason except a mood; he knows when we choose to be in a funk, rather than pray; and best of all, He understands when we chafe against the boring bits of ho-hum pfhh that so much of life seems to be…
Bare hill
and he graciously gives us new eyes to see beauty in the familiar.

132. The last bowl of walnuts

Last year there was not a single walnut on our tree. We are down to our last bowl of walnuts.

After two years of abundant harvests, it was quite disappointing. It had been so nice to look at the bags of walnuts in the grocery store, nod, and think, Yes! I don’t have to pay those prices. And mine are organic.

The unproven theory — put forth by our neighbor — was that a late freeze killed all the buds, but the first-year-peach tree had five delicious peaches on it, and the two trees are within a hundred feet of each other. Seems like a killer frost would have killed those peach buds too.

We’re only beginner backyard orchardists, so we have no answers, but we are checking on that walnut tree every day for signs of blossoms and keeping tabs on the temperature at night.

Walnut tree bud

English Walnut trees — also called Persian Walnuts or Carpathian Walnuts (Juglans regia) are not native to Southwestern Pennsylvania, so it isn’t surprising that the harvests might be sporadic. They are commercially grown in this country in California, Oregon, and Washington, and PA’s climate is very dissimilar! Native to Southwestern Asia and Southeastern Europe, every site on the internet assures me that they are cold tolerant to thirty below zero. (It didn’t get that cold this past February, thank goodness.)

English walnut tree
But some optimistic soul planted it, and it’s doing well here in USDA Zone 6A, with abundant harvests two out of the last three years.

The Penn State Extension web site tells me that Juglans regia does not self-pollinate and two varieties are necessary to get nuts. Hmmm. I wonder where those bumper crops came from? We do have several native black walnuts (Juglans nigra) down over the hill in the woods. Perhaps theory two is that the factors for pollination were just not right last year. That same website gives the requirements for pollination: the temperature has to be between 60 and 85 degrees, not windy, not rainy, and not much else blooming. No wonder there weren’t any walnuts last year — it is always windy up here on Apple Hill, and it rains a good bit, too. Today, April 22, it poured rain this morning, the sun is shining now, and it is 44 degrees at 2:00 pm. Not ideal for pollination.

Walnut tree

Another site on the Internet tells me that plants don’t like to grow under walnut trees because of a substance they emit called juglone, which is a natural herbicide. These daffodils don’t seem to mind.  And note the grass growing in the middle of the three trunks.

Theory three of the “no nuts last year phenomena” is the seven year cycle of productivity. I might be more inclined to accept this one if there had been just a few walnuts; however, the fact that there was not one nut, nothing, nada, makes me question that theory.

But when I googled seven year cycle of fruit, I got some very interesting results: the story of the seven year cycle ordained by God in Leviticus 25:1-7 — that the land should lay fallow the seventh year — like the weekly Sabbath, the seventh year (or Shemitah year) would be a time of rest for the land and for the agricultural society. They wouldn’t plant; they wouldn’t harvest; the land would lay fallow. Instead, God would provide food miraculously for the people, as He provided manna and meat for them in the desert.

Now, I don’t think that we need to follow the Levitical rules that God laid down for the Hebrews in the Old Testament, but I do believe that God gave humankind those rules for a reason. Does the land need to rest? Absolutely.

Do we need Sabbath rest? Absolutely.

Does the walnut tree need to rest? Hmmm….

If you’ve followed this rabbit trail of a post this far, you should be rewarded. So though I can’t actually make it for you, I will tell you it’s one of the easiest, best treats ever; you can have it on your plate with a warm mug of tea in under an hour. And it’s heavy on my two favorite ingredients: apples and walnuts. How can you go wrong?

Apples and chopped walnuts

Apple Walnut Pudding Cake

Apple Walnut Pudding Cake

And what better way to use that last bowl of walnuts?

131. The sixth wall

There’s nothing like company coming for Easter dinner to inspire…

The crown is finished; crown moulding the pocket door runs smoothly on its track and actually locks; Bathroom pocket door painted in Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk the built-in display has trim and real shelves and serving dishes; dining room built-in art is hung on the painted walls; Dining room and our black and white photo wall is done, mostly.

bathroom pocket door

Our shoulders are light, the weather is warmer, and it’s time to think now of outside projects.

But just in case the gentle reader thinks we now live in a perfect-ly beautiful house,

we open the lovely pocket door to this:

Bathroom -- Before

Yeah, paintbrushes still compete with toothbrushes in the bathroom sink.