Archives for the month of: June, 2015

My wife is an artist. She does not use brushes and paint, pen and paper, chalk, needle, or camera. She uses spades and flowers. Our yard is her canvas. She loves to dig in the dirt to plant new and move old plants.

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My Master Gardener spouse does not trim shrubs or cut grass, although she can and she has. These chores are left to the yardman. Recently she expressed concern that the tasks were too much for him in the scorching temperatures and high humidity. I appreciated her sensitivity to his situation but assured her that he was alright and could accomplish his work with little difficulty.

I am thankful that we have a small yard. Still it requires a lot of work and it is pretty costly to maintain it properly and retain the beautiful environment that has been created. If it was much bigger, the work load might be too much and the expense to high but for now it is manageable, even for the aging yardman.

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There are 85 houses in our subdivision but none of them have a garden like ours. We live in a tree lined neighborhood and the homes are relatively neatly landscaped with low maintenance shrubs and trees. The lawns are all pretty well kept most of the time but most, if not all, of the neighbors have a lawn service- except us. My wife is the gardener. I am the yardman. She has the knowledge and the creative eye. I take care of the menial tasks of grass cutting and shrub trimming.

I am grateful that I am still healthy enough to mow the grass weekly and occasionally give the shrubbery a trim. The yard is small and the work load is manageable. Besides, my wife says the chore is saving my life by keeping me somewhat physically active.

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I don’t enjoy the yard work but I don’t really mind it either At times it is an inconvenience but it is not a burden. On the other hand, Lena loves to work in her garden and I am grateful for what she has created. Every time I pull into our driveway and view the landscaping I am appreciative of her dedication and skill. As I sit on the patio watching the birds and enjoying the beautifully serene setting of our back yard I thank God for her love for gardening and her hard work.

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Lena and I have been married for 46 1/2 years and I hope to have many more anniversary celebrations with her. So if the minimal work that I put into our yard contributes to longevity, so be it. And if her long hours of hard work in the heat and humidity bring her satisfaction, that is good. I know that there will come a time when we will not be able to maintain our current level of physical activity (as minimal as mine is) but until then I am thankful to God for our health and to Lena for her labor of love.

God created the first garden and then entrusted it to human beings. I don’t know God’s assessment of their care for this new creation but I am sure that God is pleased with the garden my wife has created. .

 

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For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.*

Jamie Jenkins

 

* For the Beauty of the Earth- Text: Folliot S. Pierpoint/Music: Conrad Kocher

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I have just returned from Washington, DC. Along with my grandchildren (and their parents), my wife and I spent one day in the area at Mount Vernon, the plantation home of George Washington. The mansion built by the first president of the United States is situated on the banks of the Potomac River on land that had been in his family since 1674.

When George Washington’s ancestors acquired the estate it was known as Little Hunting Creek Plantation, after the nearby Little Hunting Creek. Washington’s older half-brother, Lawrence Washington inherited the 5,000 acre estate and changed its name to Mount Vernon in honor of Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, famed for the War of Jenkins’ Ear. When George Washington inherited the property he retained the name.

George Washington came into possession of the estate in 1754. The mansion that sits on the property now was built in stages between 1758 and 1778. It occupies the site of an earlier, smaller house built by George Washington’s father Augustine.  Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Among the many things I learned during the enjoyable visit was that sometime before the age of 16, George Washington transcribed Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation. The list of 110 principles by which, supposedly, proper decent people must abide, comes from a French etiquette manual written by Jesuits in 1595. As a handwriting exercise Washington copied word-for-word Francis Hawkins’ translation which was published in England about 1640. Some of the principles seem dated but others are very appropriate guidelines for social interaction today. Below are a few that I believe are timeless (original language and spelling is retained):

-Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Shewing any great Concern for them.

-To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the cheif Place in your Lodging and he to who ’tis offered ought at the first to refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.

-Strive not with your Superiers in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.

-When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

-Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

-Be not hasty to beleive flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

-Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.

-Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy.

-Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof.

-Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.

-Undertake not what you cannot perform but be carefull to keep your promise.

-When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously & wt. Reverence.

-Honour & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be Poor.

-Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

Jamie Jenkins

Chipmunks

In 1958  a novelty record featured three singing anthropomorphic chipmunks. Within three weeks of being released The Chipmunk Song had sold over 2.5 million copies, making it the fastest selling record of 1958. It hit #1 on December 22, 1958, and stayed there for 4 weeks. This is the last Christmas song to hit #1 in the US. A remixed version of this song returned to the American Hot 100 in the first chart of 2008 after a gap of 45 years, thanks to the box office success of the film Alvin And The Chipmunks.

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The song was written and produced by Ross Bagdasarian. The inspiration came to him from his youngest son, Adam, who in September would regularly ask if it was Christmas yet. He figured if his son was asking that question, other kids probably were too.

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Bagdasarian, whose stage name was David Seville, performed all the voices of the group by speeding up the playback to create high-pitched voices. That process resulted in two Grammy Awards for engineering. After his death in 1972, the characters’ voices were performed by his son Ross Bagdasarian, Jr and Ross. Jr.’s wife, Janice Karman, in the subsequent incarnations of the 1980s and 1990s.

The singing chipmunks were mischievous leader Alvin, brainy Simon, and chubby, impressionable Theodore- all named after the executives of their original record label. The trio is managed by their human adoptive father, David (Dave) Seville. The characters became a success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions and films.

I have had the privilege of having my grandchildren (and their parents) visiting with us for over two months as they transition from living in Asia to their next destination in southern Spain. We have spent a good bit of time visiting and eating meals on our patio and looking out on the beautifully landscaped back yard created by my wife.

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We have enjoyed the cardinals, finches, doves, and other birds as they play and sing in the tree and around the feeders. As we have watched the birds I have observed that Alvin, Simon, and Theodore also live in our back yard. At least the chipmunks that scurry around look a lot like them.

These cute little creatures scamper around and scavenge for food everywhere. They are a joy to watch most of the time.

The birds are attracted by the feeders that we have placed in our yard and a couple of years ago I discovered bird feeders that stymied the squirrels. They finally gave up on their efforts to rob the birds of their food but last week I discovered that the chipmunks have found a way.

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As I sat on the patio the birds were fluttering all over and feasting on the food I had provided. The chipmunks were playfully chasing each other along the ground and eating the seeds that the birds dropped. Simon, Theodore, ALVIN! One of them had climbed onto the bird feeder and was hanging upside down in such a way that his weight did not close the feeding openings. He was enjoying the safflower seeds until I yelled at him and he scurried away.

After a few times of scaring “Alvin” away when he tried to eat the bird’s food, I decided to leave him alone. After all what he ate was a small price for the enjoyment he and his friends provided as they entertained us with their playfulness. I am happy to have the chipmunks and I am willing to pay the price.

A lot of life is that way but often I forget that the good times come with a price.

Jamie Jenkins