About Chuck

I am retired after a career in electronics and in publishing. Today, my wife of 50+ years, Sylvia, and I live in a house on a hill beside a dirt road in rural west Michigan. We enjoy living in this country environment where livestock and wild life out number the human population.

Independence Day

Today, we observe a federal holiday, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.  All over this land people will be celebration our nation’s 239th birthday party.  How great is that?

Do take time to review the reasons for this day and why our forefathers approved the Declaration of Independence 239 years ago today.  You can review the document here.

Yesterday, something seemed different.  I was walking down the driveway toward the mailbox, but my usual escort, the killdeer, was nowhere to be seen.  What’s going on?

They've hatched!

They’ve hatched!

The day before, four eggs filled the leaf-lined depression (center frame).  They must have hatched.  Hooray!

The chicks have come out of their shells and are now learning about independence.  I see young people who are going through a process of learning about it too.  It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s neither easy nor cheap.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians (5:1) wrote: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  He goes on to warn them not to abuse their freedom.  Those are words to live by.  Consider reading that fifth chapter of Galatians.

Finally, I hope you are celebrating Independence Day and not In Dependence Day.

A Flair For Flowers

While I was mowing yesterday, Sylvia was weeding in the flower beds.  She worked until dark.  She had been out there the day before and is back at it again today.

Sylvia has been working hard

Sylvia has been working hard

Note to self:  Don’t get between Sylvia and her goal.

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

While she was doing that, I spent a few minutes pulling weeds in the garden.  There were a lot of baby maple trees.  I hope I got them all.  Also, I discovered some purslane.  I harvested some for our evening meal.  We steamed it this time and drizzled a little bit of salad dressing on it.  Yum!  Next time, I’ll use raw leaves and tender stems in a salad. :food:


What’s For Lunch?

It’s damp and chilly today.  Let’s check the garden.

Swiss chard

Swiss chard

My parents always grew this in their garden–Sylvia’s too.  We continue the tradition.  My mom liked hers lightly boiled with vinegar and a touch of salt.  That’s okay, but the tender leaves also add nice color and flavor to a garden salad.  Gotta love this versatile vegetable.

I looked to see if the zucchini would be fruiting in the near future.  It’s mostly male blossoms, and they don’t produce that delightful summer staple.

Dreaming of zucchini

Dreaming of zucchini

I did see one female blossom.  The first harvest can’t be far away.  Shortly after that, the great give-away begins.  You know how it is with zucchini.

Good News Day

Neighbor Bob makes hay

Neighbor Bob makes hay

Yesterday was a very good day for us.  It was one of those days that you check mark on the wall calendar.  (Or do you do that?)

I always look forward to neighbor Bob cutting our lower [used to be] lawn for hay.  It saves me a couple hours and a gallon of diesel each week of the mowing season.  It will feed his beef cattle.  It’s a very good deal for both of us.

On the way out the drive, I stopped at the mailbox.  I handed the contents to Sylvia.  She opened one envelope.  It was from our mortgage company.  Inside was a small check for “overages on mortgage payoff.”  That was terrific news!

Then we drove to the orthopedist’s office.  There, they took X-rays of Sylvia’s wrist.  The images showed good progress.  We won’t have to go back unless she has problems.  Also, she does not have to continue with the therapy sessions, something to which she has been looking forward.

It think we’ll sleep well again tonight.  #feeling good



Has anyone seen my office mate?  She hasn’t been around for several day, and I miss her.  She’s always quiet as she goes about her work.

Why are 98% of the items that arrive in my e-mail inbox nothing but spam?

Why do people care which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Is it true that the only unanswerable question is the one that is not asked?

Tale of Two Birds

When I went out to mow yesterday, I knew I’d be seeing two birds.  They are both nesting and they will react differently as one approaches their nests.

The first is the killdeer.

Killdeer defends nest

Killdeer defends nest

She builds her nest on the ground.

If you don't know where to look you won't find it.

If you don’t know where to look you won’t find it.

Whenever I come near, she runs away making noise.  She wants to distract and lure me away from the nest.  Yesterday, she even a did a bit of the broken-wing ruse.

By contrast, the dove sits patiently and very still on her nest.

Keep low and stay quiet

Keep low and stay quiet

I passed by within inches of the dove’s nest.  She did not even twitch as I went by.

Both birds guard their eggs, each by a different strategy.  Both will be effective.

Portland Update

Monday morning, work was completed on the steeple of First Congregational Church.  Less than two hours later, the tornado took it down.

Yesterday, they retrieved the bell and demolished the building.  How sad for those Congregationalists.  They will incorporate the bell as a symbol of their heritage as they rebuild.

I’ve not found details on the three other churches that were damaged.  It would be interesting to watch that steeple tower on First Baptist come down.  Interesting, but very, very sad.

Not Your Typical Monday


Yesterday (Monday), Sylvia returned home after a week with her dad.  She had a therapy scheduled for shortly after lunch.  A storm front was approaching this area, and Sylvia was concerned.  As she was leaving, I reported that the radar loop showed the rain moving rapidly to the East.  She would get in her car in the garage, and the worst of the rain would have moved through by the time she reached the therapist’s office.  It worked that way.

After Sylvia left, I came into the office to check out the news online before putting together a blog post.  That post was never written.

Over the scanner, county central dispatch tasked a unit to check out the Portland Goodwill store.  They had a report of the roof being down and there were people trapped inside.

I went to the family room so I could monitor central dispatch and see TV reports.  The building had collapsed and the mother and her two young sons were rescued by a cop and an off-duty fireman.

Soon the TV was reporting a touchdown of a possible tornado.  There was extensive damage done in town.  Over the next nine hours, reports continued to arrive at the TV station and to appear online.

In an e-mail exchange, our daughter-in-law, Barbara, reported that she had left Portland an hour before the storm hit.  Her older sister had taken their parents to her home.  That was good.  The parents live a short way behind the Goodwill store.

Two weeks earlier, Barbara’s parents had joined with others to celebrate the 175th anniversary of First Baptist Church.  The tornado (it was later identified as an EF-1) had taken off the roof and done severe structural damage to the beautiful and historic landmark.  The building is a complete loss.

Photo: Lansing State Journal

Photo: Lansing State Journal

The United Methodist church (just across the street) was also badly damaged.  It may have to go as well.

The Congregation church, a couple doors down the street, had just replaced their building’s roof.  The tornado got that too.

One house lost its roof and the couple who were inside said they had to grab onto a chair and a doorknob to keep from being sucked up into the storm.  How’s that for scary?

Videos and still pix show an army of volunteers that came out to assist neighbors and town in the cleanup.  Many area fire departments and rescue units responded to lend assistance.  It is encouraging to see that kind of unity in the face of adversity.

Shortly before lunch today, I heard the report came through that Grand River Avenue (the main street) was once again open for traffic.

Today, life returns to normal for most of us.  Nobody was seriously injured.  Only a few minor cuts and bruises were reported.

More info here: WZZM13

It’s Her Birthday

Today, my favorite granddaughter celebrates her birthday.  Congrats, Briana

One, er two of my favorites

One, er two of my favorites

The little girl is now a grown woman.  Her parents are very proud of her.  Her grandparents are very proud of her too!

Studied in Ghana

Studied in Ghana

She will leave a mark on this world as she cares for her patients.

Here’s wishing you a very happy birthday, Briana.  ¡Cumpleaños feliz!

Happy Daze

It’s always a happy day when these beauties are in bloom.

Beside the barn door

Beside the barn door

This has been a busy week for me.  Top that off with the worse case of allergies that I’ve suffered in decades.  Those are my excuses for being absent from this blog.

Yesterday, I met our son and granddaughter for lunch.  It’s always a high point of the week to be with Bryant.  With Briana also present, it made for a super day.  I left the restaurant with extra pep in my step.

I’ve had several errands that I’ve been putting off for weeks.  After lunch, I had the energy to take care of all of them.  Only five stops.

At times I was experiencing heavy rain.  Fortunately, that all happened between stops.  How neat is that?

These are happy daze.