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Archive for September, 2010

A Place of Grace and Peace

My oldest brother-in-law is a Jesuit priest living in Germany and this year he celebrated his 50th year as a priest and the 25th year of the founding of Haus Gries, a retreat house in the forests of northern Bavaria.

Pater Franz, in the family, Feri Bacsi

His life has been at times a little too exciting. I first met him in the mid-seventies when he had been released by the paramilitary groups in Argentina who caused so many innocent people to “disappear”. Before that he had taught theology at San Miguel University for twelve years or so. But his “crime” was living near the poor and trying to help them.  It is a fine Christian crime, I think. After this six months or so of imprisonment, he came to the United States where most of his family was living, and stayed there about a year. He belonged to the Hungarian Jesuit Province, in exile. And after that year he returned to Germany and began to give many retreats. He has also written many books about the spiritual life, mostly in Hungarian, German, Spanish and English, but I think he has also been translated into other languages.  In 1985 he was able to found Haus Gries and it has grown into a well-known retreat center. I’ve been lucky enough to visit there many times with my husband, his youngest brother. It is a place of amazing peace, and the people who live there (the staff is all volunteer and come for a year or two) are gentle peaceful people, at least that is how they seem to me.

the road up to Gries

a closer view of Haus Gries

Feri no longer  runs the day to day business of the house, but continues to give retreats there as well as in Hungary, Belgium and even Argentina. I can close my eyes and imagine myself back in the beautiful chapel there where everyone sits on the floor and  streams of light pour in through the stained glass window onto the low altar and we sing the hymns of Taize. A place like this is a gift to all who come there, indeed, a gift to the entire world. It makes me think of my favorite passage from Philippians 4:8  – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

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a black gerbil somewhat like Master Tesla

Tesla and Marconi and Farraday February 2010 - not a great picture but enlarge it a little to see more.

This is just a very short incident in the life of a gerbil named Marconi. Andy has, at the moment, two gerbils named Tesla and Marconi. Last Wednesday night he went out to his old car to get a book from it. Marconi was sitting on his shoulder, something he often does in the house, and suddenly he decided to make a break for freedom and jumped off Andy’s shoulder and raced into the ivy that edges the driveway. We were all sad because there are so many other animals in our yard and the weather is already turning much colder at night. Andy and I were convinced we had seen the last of Marconi. And Tesla his cage mate was morose and refused to eat anything. Gerbils are very social animals! Tesla was not happy. They also identify strangers by scent so that introducing another gerbil was not too likely to succeed. We were sad.

Next evening Andy went outside to remove the license plates from the car and who suddenly appeared but Marconi, dashing past. Andy picked him up and brought him back inside, slightly the worse for wear. Marconi looked pretty bedraggled because of the nearly all day rain the day before, and with a few bite and scratch marks from some encounters in the wild which must not have been all that comfortable. But he is home again! Tesla is happy. Andy is happy. I am happy and amazed. It really feels like a small miracle that we found him again.

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Such Beatiful September Days

I have been pretty quiet lately because of some health issues I may or may not discuss here. At any rate I don’t really know the situation, but may know more on Tuesday.

I am enjoying the harvest and autumn look of things around here, even though it is not quite autumn yet.

My apple tree is having a crazily abundant year and I love to look at it. It’s a dwarf apple next to the deck. It was standing here thirty years ago when we moved into this house the year my oldest daughter began kindergarten. And now her son is an enthusiastic kindergartener.

a view up in the apple tree

The fields are full of goldenrod and milkweed, though the fall asters have not begun blooming yet. I always have wild purple ones and the tiny white snow asters as well as magnificent Ironweed.

The milkweed especially draws the butterflies to my garden, not only the lovely monarchs which are here in abundance despite warnings that some sort of disaster in Mexico last year might cause their numbers to drop., but also many yellow swallowtails and the less common ordinary black swallowtail with the blue markings.

Goldenrod and Milkweed from inside the house

Yesterday was the day that Andy’s ’92 Honda Civic left us for good, going as a donation to our local public TV station, WVIZ. This is the car we needed to buy during Paul’s last illness because Paul’s car which Andy had been using simply stopped running. The Honda was a good car, if a little rusty, and served Andy for several years, but about four or five months ago he bought the car of his dreams, a new Volkswagon Golf diesel. He really enjoys using this car and takes good care of it, but we were still paying insurance on the undriven Honda Civic in the driveway! And now we are not………

Paul used to ask me to photograph his cars as they left the driveway for the junkyard, so I did this for Andy too…After all, a car is a part of our world while we are using it. I’m not at all sad to see it going, but I was happy to take some photographs of its departure on a flatbed trailer (as it had no longer any Ohio license plates.

And that’s about all I have to say about our life at the moment. It’s good, it’s gently busy. The world is beautiful and my family is happy. My next blog post may be about the miraculous adventures of a gerbil named Marconi.

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A Correction………..

My daughter left a comment on my last post with some information I didn’t know. Apparently in the summer the chickens have a much larger fenced in run, but my photos were of the winter coop where they were just moved last week. Still, I think a few chickens must always be there because I see the children going over to look at them….I’ll have to investigate this further!

Here are a few more shots of the farm……..

the end of the driveway closest to the barn

another shot of the Childrens Garden with memorial stone on the right

Giant Chicken at the Farm Market Today

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Headquarters for Crown Point Ecology Center

The Hundred Year Old Barn with Quilt Square at Crown PointThis Sunday is one of the most beautiful for months. It’s cool and crisp and you know it’s still summer but fall is on the way. Andy and I drove around Wadsworth, had Greek salad lunches at a little family restaurant there, drove to Bender’s Farm Market on Minor Road for great local produce, and slowly, home again. And yesterday which was equally beautiful I drove to Crown Point to capture some images of the barn and Childrens Garden, chickens and Main House. And also my holly bush when I returned home. So all my recent promises are redeemed.  It is lovely to be at the farm……..I’ll try to upload something that gives a bit of a distant view, but the whole place is 130 acres, I think, so I won’t be able to get all of it in! The place I actually buy my eggs from has a larger fenced in area for their chickens, but I think ours are happy here, and we have a lot of foxes in the area, and other predators, so I think they appreciate the fence, even if their thought processes don’t seem that high powered! My grandson is not alone in going over to watch them whenever he is out at Crown Point, which is fairly often as his parents have a weekly share. The partner is going to get a solo share, so next year I’ll be sharing Alice and Mike’s share. I think I’ll like this better because I’ll get half a share every week instead of being inundated with veggies every two weeks.  And the harvest changes week to week, so I shouldn’t miss anything.  I was recently talking about the farm with someone who lives pretty close but had no idea it was there, or what it was. He is a member of the Faith Lutheran Church in Fairlawn and they grow food for the foodbank in a garden behind the church, but he was amazed when I told him we had donated more than 33.000 pounds of organic produce last year and will probably do at least that much this year.  I’m on the Crown Point Marketing committee and we certainly need to figure out a way to be better known in the community. In the spring I met with some quilters who meet at Hale Farm in the National Park. Most of them drive by our farm every week, but none of them were aware of it. We do have a sign at the road’s edge, one whose appearance is governed by the Bath zoning committee which has strict rules, but apparently no one pays any attention. Still, I think year by year we are becoming better known.

I have to say, once again, that I really love this time of year. Even though we are supposed to have some hot days ahead, we know it won’t be forever………The time of harvest and the time of school beginning again is an exciting time of year! I love the change of seasons in our temperate zone and wouldn’t like to move anywhere without it.

Chicken Coop from the driveway

close-up of busy chickens. The kids love to watch them!

The Children's Garden from the kids camps

My Holly Bush with the most berries ever

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Cover of the American Edition of a combined Miss Buncle's Book and Miss Buncle Married which I gave to Emily

The weather has changed suddenly and is a good ten degrees cooler than yesterday which is a great blessing! It’s almost too cool, but we love it after our too hot summer.

We are having a quiet Saturday mostly at home: I’m curled up with good books  (yes plural, I never seem able to curl up with just one book) and Andy is watching cooking shows and This Old House on public TV. The D.E. Stevenson discussion group has finished Katherine Wentworth and will soon begin Katherine’s Marriage. I’m trying to read one of Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan mysteries, Break No Bones. This is the series that the tv show Bones is based on. I think it’s well-written but I am still in a strange mood which makes me impatient with even very good mysteries and may go back to a Stevenson book or begin the copy of Karen Armstrong’s The Great Transformation which is on my tbr stack.

I have some flannel receiving blankets to stitch up for my daughter Alice (each one will have a different flannel for front and back) whose new baby will arrive in early October. Not too long now for my fourth grandchild! What blessings, but the early days are often strenuous for the new mother and her family and I hope I can help. Yesterday I watched my grandson Nathan while Alice had a doctor’s appointment. We played Pentago  for which he was making new rules so that it could be played like chess which was a bit challenging when every piece was a marble, either black or white, and he said that the King and Queen were interchangeable! Then we played checkers which was a little more successful, but he was quite tired so we ended up watching some of a Harry Potter video. Kindergarten is wearing him out! Or at least it is requiring more rest than he has been getting during the summer. But so far, he just loves it! He loves Mrs. Sutter, his teacher, and all the activities they do.

Andy and I may go out later for grocery shopping and I may go photograph the quilt square on the barn at Crown Point and the beautiful scarlet berries on my holly bush which only became visible after the sad sad demise of my double pink Rose of Sharon. But nothing is written is stone.

The luxury of no urgency.

Overall, I think it will be a very quiet Saturday, the beginning of the Labor Day weekend. And quiet is good!

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