Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saving Rain Water

Visitor to Anne's Hydrangia

 Right now I am watching a beautiful sunset.  As I sit taking in the grandeur all around me, I recall earlier today, we received about 1/10th of an inch of rain.  It was not a lot, but it was helpful for our crops and greenery.  Along with a previous rain, I am now starting to see life returning to our area after having a long drought.

Wild flowers near our home.
Today, Anne and I went on a local garden tour.  In one presentation, we learned about how an individual collects rainwater for his garden and greenery.  He bought 6 – 55 gallon plastic barrels and connected them in a series to one of his rainwater downspouts.  He had put two screens, one in the rain gutter, and the other in the downspout to filter the water before entering his barrels.  After connecting them together on the bottom of each barrel with ¾” pvc pipe, he installed a tee in the middle of the plumbing, which had two shutoffs in the line.  One was made from pvc and the other of brass.  The brass shutoff was connected to his garden hose.  Something else of note was that he put a pvc vent into the top of each barrel.  This allowed for air to access each container when filling and draining. 
Kelly hunting from our Silver Maple.

Something that I also learned that was of interest, was the amount of water a person can collect in a short time from rainwater.   If you have a 1000 sq. foot roof when receiving around 1 inch of rain, it will provide about 600 gallons of rainwater.  I was even more surprised to learn that not only will this system save money on one’s water bill, it will also save on your sewer bill as well.  I understand from this gentleman that our city’s sewer bill is rated on the amount of water we consume each month.  The city figures that if you consume more water, obviously you will also put that same water in the drain, thus receiving a larger sewer bill.  Obviously then, if one wants to save on your water bill by using rainwater, you can also save on your sewer bill as well. 

Twins visiting our meadow this week where they were born.
This gentleman also related that your greenery would receive no damage from using rainwater.  Conversely, by using city water, greenery can be damaged by the chemicals that is applied to the drinkable water in cleansing it for human consumption (fluoride, etc.)  I was also surprised by the results of his calculations concerning water consumption.  In figuring the amount of rain barrels needed for your garden, he told us that a garden hose allows for 10 gallons to pass through it per minute, and so with one hour of normal watering, it equates to 600 gallons.  It then is easy to understand why we have a large water bill for our home. 

Downy Woodpecker eating off of a Century Plant by our home.
I know for a fact that buying rain barrels can be expensive if you purchase them from local hardware stores and chain stores.  For myself, I bought two half barrels from a hardware chain and they were relatively expensive.  I was surprised in how cheaply this gentleman spent in getting his rain barrels.  He said that he got them on Craig’s List for about $10 dollars apiece.  Since he wanted them to blend with his house, he then painted each barrel the same color as his home so they would be less noticeable to his neighbors. 

In figuring the strength of his stand, he calculated the weight of a gallon of water to that of around 8.345 pounds.  When his six barrels were filled, they would contain 2,754 pounds total.  With this amount of weight, one would want them to be well supported.  It appeared that he had 4 – 2” x 6” boards supporting the barrels on cement blocks which were supported by cement footings.  He fastened each barrel to the house to make it doubly safe from tipping.  Something that he mentioned,  the higher the barrels were from the ground, the more water pressure would be applied to the spray from the hose. 
Wild flower watered with treated drinking water.

All in all, I was very impressed with this gentleman’s presentation and with the work that he had accomplished.  With this being a dry year, saving water is paramount for us and for many people throughout the dry areas of the U.S.  We as a family are going to try this route, not only for savings, but for plant safety as well. 
Monarch visiting Anne's flowers yesterday.
By the way, his garden looked fantastic!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rain, Golf Balls and a new friend.

Storm Clouds

Today we received needed rain early in the morning.  It came right at the time when I was about to tee off in golf with my friend, Gerry Frosch.  Each Saturday we golf together, but before going out on the course, we have breakfast at the HyVee grocery store. 
Today we had our breakfast, first at 6 a.m. and then headed for the golf course afterward as usual.  As I said before, we were about to tee off when the rain came.  Some who were set to golf after us went out anyway, they were hoping that the rain would let up.  Instead, it started to come down harder at about the time they were at the farthest distance from the club house.  Unfortunately, I imagine they got soaked before arriving at their cars. 

The view I have early most mornings at our local golf course.  I have donated many golf balls to raise the water level.
Needless to say I was disappointed at the timing of the rain, but was happy since we so desperately needed the moisture.  The crops in area were at the point of no return as far as needing rain.  I imagine the farmers were giving a sigh of relief when seeing the rain fall on their thirsty crops.   For our family, we have two small gardens that we have been watering twice a day, along with the various flowers that we have on the decks and around the outside of the house.  Though our livihood is not depending on the rain like the farmers, even so, we rejoiced as well at the rainfall. 

When leaving the golf course and coming home, my sadness was soon replaced with the happy realization that many people would soon be relieved to have the rain.  When later sitting on the porch with my wife Anne, I told her, “It seems like the forest around us is giving us a sigh of relief with this rain.”  Anne chuckled and nodded in agreement. 

We solved the problem of our cat Toby eating most of our other cat's (Kelly)
food.  I made a walnut shelf out of Toby's reach.
During the course of the last year I have developed a warm friendship with my neighbor Marty. He is a kind man who loves making his yard and house look nice.  He is gentle in his demeanor, and always has something pleasant to say.  We kept suggesting one to another that we should go out to coffee sometime, and so a couple of weeks ago, we did just that. Marty is a retired custodian from the local school district.  He keeps up his health by walking everyday.  The area that he walks in, is not in the usual locations for other walkers though.  He hikes the perimeters’ of our local golf courses.  He looks for lost golf balls, and hopes one day to sell them to a golf course or to interested golfers.  This offers him a chance to exercise with the immediate bonus of making a profit for his efforts as well.

As a boy, I grew up near a golf course, and I too found and sold lost golf balls to the local golfers.  I found it good to supplement my income at nine years of age with the sale of these golf balls.  To me at the young age of nine, it was like finding Easter eggs that I could sell.  I enjoyed the fun of discovery, and that of selling them.  This added to my income as well as the money that I had earned from having three paper routes.  Now though, I can empathize with the golfers who lose golf balls.  It is expensive to replace lost balls, and it adds up if you have my propensity for losing them on a regular basis, as I do in the ponds on the golf course.  Contrary to some beliefs, golf balls don’t grow on trees, though I have tried to make it look like that by the number of times I have tried putting them in the tree limbs.

Misty morning in the valley below.
Last week when talking to Marty from my deck, he invited me to go with him looking for golf balls at a nearby golf course.  I told him that it would be fun and so without reserve, we went out yesterday in search of the elusive white treasures.  After walking through tall grass, beside clear trout streams and the nearby woods, I came home with 62 golf balls to my name.  Needless to say I was very happy.  Though I did not go out thinking I would find many balls, I was not prepared as Marty had been.  I had no bag, and no ball retriever with me.  Marty gave me his only shopping bag and loaned me an extra ball retriever that he had in his pickup truck.  Marty was then forced to use his pant pockets for holding his finds on the golf course, while I had a nice bag (Marty's) to put my golf balls in.  He though had to tighten his pants up due to the large numbers of golf balls that he retrieved, while I had to be innovative in keeping the plastic bag from splitting with all my golf balls that I found.  We both laughed at the situation that we found ourselves in.  After about an hour and a half, we came home sweaty, thirsty and very happy over our little treasures that we found.  For myself, I thought that I now could donate more golf balls to the ponds and trees without feeling the loss in my pocketbook.  This time out on the golf course was truly enjoyable for me; it was as if I was a little boy again enjoying the hunt of little treasures lost in the woods, and more importantly, that of making a new friend.

Friday, July 13, 2012

We Are Not Alone

Too many times we seek what is below us, rather than what is given to us from above.

Today we experienced warm weather with a small amount of rain.  Our thirsty crops, gardens and grass long for their thirst to be quenched.  I think of how in our walk with God, we too have times when God seems far away and we feel alone.  We too thirst for God’s presence in our lives.  It is at those times I pray and ask for God to reveal himself to me, for I feel not his love and closeness to my soul.  It is during those moments in my life I long for his gentle touch upon my heart.  Like the parched earth around me, I too dry up inside without God's hand in my life. 

My soul thirsts for you Lord!
During these moments Jesus makes himself known to me and tells me that he has never left my side.  It is my heart that I have chosen to go on alone, deciding then to ignore him.  But, as Jesus says, he has never left, he is only a prayer away.  (Matt. 28:20) David too longed for God in his life, especially when he chose to not trust in God's will for himself, and then the result was to be overcome by the world. 

Psalm 143
A psalm of David.
1O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
2Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.
3The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead.
4So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.
5I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
6I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.       
7Answer me quickly, O Lord;  my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I       have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
9Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.
10Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
11For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.

God is only a prayer away.  Read his word, pray and listen for his still, soft voice speaking to you.  God does care and he wants to help, we only need to ask of him and he will be there for you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

North by North West / A short vacation (Holiday).

Our newest resident by our home.

How many of you have taken a little getaway at times?  I have found that it is good for the soul and gives life to your perspective.  It also allows for refreshment in your outlook on life.  This last 4th of July we spent time away from Winona enjoying a children’s museum, wonderful rest stops with scenic overviews, and we ended with going to a hotel in the Twin Cities that had a wonderful waterpark.  Although we thoroughly enjoyed being on the prairie, the waterpark was well enjoyed since the heat was excessive (100 degrees plus) for this time of year. 

Over looking the mixed prairie below.
When traveling, we stopped at a rest stop that overlooked three states, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.  The area is known as the Whetstone Valley Rest Area.  It overlooks the Whetstone Valley.  “The landscape was carved out some 20,000 years ago by a massive glacier which extended approximately 2,000 feet above the Whetstone rest stop, which carved out the valleys below.  Thirty miles northeast between Lake Traverse and Big Stone Lake is a continental divide.  This line separates waters which flow north to the Hudson Bay in Canada, and south to the Gulf of Mexico.”

 One interesting item of discovery is that of the unusual “Mooring Stones” found by local residents.  These stones were found to have holes cut into them, whereby early explorers put an iron bolt or rod in the hole to tie their boat to.  They also have the carving of a horn in the stone.  The horns were believed to have been used by the explorers for official ceremonies.  Marion Dahm of Chokio, Minnesota (a expert in this area of archeology) believes the carvings were made between 1125 to 1175 A.D.  “These individuals who carved into these stones were explorers who built boats and sailed across the Atlantic to the New World to colonize.  They were mainly Norwegians (Vikings) and Celtic families who brought with them all the tools and supplies needed for survival.  These stone images along with ancient Celtic writings have also been found in Minnesota, and Northeast South Dakota.” 
I remember reading that some of the early explorers in area were surprised to see blond haired and blue eyed Indians.

Looking North towards North Dakota
This wonderful stop brought back many memories of Southwestern Minnesota, South Dakota, and the Wyoming prairies.  In reading of the pioneers that settled these areas, one had to wonder, what kind of individual would it take to survive in this diverse climate?  And yet, looking over the vastness of the rolling prairies before me, I could see in my mind the many wagons coming west with settlers that held dreams of owning their own land, wanting the freedom of starting a new life amongst the wilds of the prairie. 

We have been reading to the children, the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books.  As I walked the prairie that day, with my two children, we talked again of their life here on the prairie.  Anne said that she could almost see when looking at the valley below, a group of wagons coming up the hill with settlers looking for a new life.  As we walked and sat on the land, I asked the Will and Abby to close their eyes and try to identify the sounds that they could hear.  They heard cattle lowing, ducks in a pond nearby, and different birds singing in the prairie grass, many collectively we identified.  The favorite bird sound that I was looking for and heard, was that of the Western Meadow Lark.  Living in the Mississippi flyaway, we have many different birds to see and listen to each day, but on the prairie in the Dakotas, the bird sounds are very distinct among the grassy prairies.  My brother Ken loved this land so much that he moved to Eastern Wyoming, a land filled with the same prairies as we were now looking at.  He never wants to move away from the wilds of the western lands. 

If this stop is of interest to you, it is located on Interstate Hi way 29, overlooking the three state area.  Again, it is called the Whetstone Valley Rest Area and is staffed with wonderful people who are very knowledgeable about the history of the area. 

 Old Fargo
Elms still guarding the homes from the sun.
When staying at Fargo, North Dakota we enjoyed walking through their mall and walking through their wonderful (old) downtown that they are renovating.  The colorful buildings and friendly smiles are always present in Fargo.  History seems to come alive in this location of the state.  Railroads are teaming with activity, from people getting on and off passenger cars to that of freight trains heading east with oil and all sorts of goods coming from the prairie.  Another interesting fact about Fargo that is unusual, they have been able to save most of their elm trees.  Their streets are shaded with these gentle giants.  If one looks closely, you can see a stripe carved into the bark with a tar ring around each of the elm’s trunk.  This stopped the beetle that killed most of the elm trees in other locations of the U.S.  I remember as a child having the streets of our town in Southwest Minnesota covered with these elms, they gave much shade to our homes in the warm summers.  Now they are all gone, and very much missed.  The University of North Dakota was able to save these trees in Fargo and thus preserve a part of the community's heritage and beauty.

Train Depot Plaza in Fargo
Well, this was in part, our 3-day trip in getting away.  I do hope that you are able to enjoy a short get away trip in the near future as well.