Happy Birthday, Sylvia


I remember this fellow, who we met in Cartago, Costa Rica.  He grew the very best oranges and always had a smile and a warm greeting for us.  This is one of my favorite pictures of Sylvia.

Today is her birthday.  For that reason I invite you to join me in wishing her a very Happy Birthday.

The Season Has Ended

Yesterday, January 6, was the 12th day of Christmas.  It is also known as Epiphany or Three Kings Day.  In this house, we observe that day, not with the giving of gifts as some do, but by making it the final day to display our Christmas decorations.

Even a look out the window left me feeling a bit sad.  Light snow on the greenery spoke of very cold weather as winter deepens.


This year has been more like living in the freezer.  At times like this, I tend to remember living in a place where palm trees grew and green plants flourished.  Ahhh.

Eight Years and Counting

Today is the eight-year blogaversary of Secondary Roads.  Out of curiosity, I looked for the first post.  It is no longer in the archive.  Out of good taste, I suspect the author deleted it.

sorryBy custom, I’d post an image with a number 8 to mark this occasion, but I think the above image above provides the better message.  Otherwise you might see something like this:


Somehow this image seems out of place in this space.  Secondary Roads is about living a plain and simple life.  Shortly after Christmas, I found this in a daily devotional guide: “It was a simple [story] from an old friend living a simple life, reminding me that simple isn’t naive or stupid; it’s direct and unpretentious.”

Sounds like a good way to live.  Hey look!  A squirrel.

2016 In Pix

As we prepare to say goodbye to this year, here’s some of my favorite images from this blog during 2016.

The year started (January 2) with a celebration of seven years of Secondary Roads.


In January, the old windows came out of the office (left), which were replaced with new ones (right).  Later, the rest of the windows would receive the same treatment.

Out with the old. In with the new.

Out with the old. In with the new.

Bleak February was made cheery by a visit from a good friend, Sharkey, of My Quality Day.  Lots of music, singing, laughs and conversation ensued.


Relief came in sight as winter gave way to spring.

Basking in the afternoon sun.

Basking in the afternoon sun.

Spring means rain, and spring rain means a mess on our secondary road.  It is part of the life that we have chosen and that we love.


Big excitement in April as a tractor fire closed off the road into Ionia.


We made a pet of a hornet who stayed out of swatter reach.  (Sadly, he died a week later.)  It is just as well.  Some folks could neither understand nor abide the thought of making a pet of such a critter.  (We really never wanted to pet him.)


I posted many, many pictures of flowers.  Sylvia and I enjoy them so much.


Our granddaughter bring us much joy.  We’ve watched her become established in her career.  This year, she  began a Master’s program in Nursing Education.


Wildlife outnumbers humans in our part of the world.



Do you know what bugs me?


It is storms that blow down trees.


As Halloween approached, workers finished the window replacement project.


This year saw our garden flourish.  We’ve never had such rich harvests of jalapeños, butternut squash, zucchini, etc.


It has been a full year and while we are reluctant to see it go, we eagerly look forward to what the new year holds.


Sylvia joins me in wishing you and yours a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017.

Sleepless Night

What do you do on a sleepless night (if you ever have one of those)?  Recently I faced that situation.  I ended up in the office and looked out at the sodium vapor light that illuminates our house and barn and at night.

My view of that light from the office is through the limbs of an apple tree that is not properly pruned.  (If it bore good apples, I’d take the time and expend the effort to prune the tree for good production.  I’ve done that before.)

On this particularly night we had received a light snow that had frosted the branches of the apple tree.  It made for an interesting sight.


I processed the image with Photoshop Elements to get an image that is more like what my eye perceived.  It is only an approximation.

Reminds me of a giant spider web.  Or maybe it’s a mutant sponge.

I thought that flash might help so I tried using that.  With this result:


All the beautiful colors went away.  Some sparkles from ice appeared, but this image only leaves me feeling cold.

I’m happy to report that after a medication change, I’ve not had any sleepless nights for some time now.  I like that better.

What a difference a day makes

This was yesterday, Friday, and it seemed so cute.


The light snow featured huge flakes and it would probably not last.  At least that’s what the old man who didn’t check the forecast thought.  So he just took a picture.

The secret to capturing the flakes in the image is to force your flash on.  That’s a tip I learned from our good friend, Ratty.

One of my Facebook friends was very inspired by this.  Proved it by posting this:


This behavior is benign.  It’s the folks behind the wheel that make snow days scary.  I’m talking about days like today.


As I am modestly sane, I’m staying inside.  Well, not really.  It’s time to go out to the barn and take the mower deck off the tractor and put on the scraper blade.  I’ll be needing it soon.  Very soon.

Snowy Sunday

I told myself that I would not capture an image of the first significant snowfall of this season.  Sunday afternoon the snow began.  It became more intense.  I tried to ignore the white blanket.

In the evening, I turned on the Christmas lights and made the mistake of looking out the window.  Camera in hand, I opened the front door and captured this image.


It was so beautiful . . . until the lights went out.

Fortunately, the emergency generator took over, but I turned off the extra lights.  About six or seven hours later, commercial power was restored.

In the dark, a neighbor reports taking a tumble but is going to survive.  She was glad when the lights came back on a short while later.

Thoughts from My Notebook

I keep a pocket-sized notebook handy.  It’s nice to have something to “capture” my thoughts for later review.  Some of my younger friends use a small tablet computer for that, but my arthritic hands prefer pen and paper.

I need to convert my notebook into a sleep log for the next month.  For that reason, I began to remove spiral-bound pages.  Most had no further value, but some are “keepers.”  Here are three fragments that I’ve woven into a single [not completely coherent] story about day morphing into night.


Twilight gently nudges the weakening sun over the horizon. Night slides in on velvety slippers as the sun flees its appearance.  Night nibbles away the failing light.  Creatures of the day find rest as denizens of darkness become active.  A cloud-draped sky conceals distant light from a realm far beyond our skies.

As the chill of night dispels clouds, a panoply of starry hosts spangles the firmament.  Later, a waning gibbous moon rises, lighting the earth and making the stars seem dim.  Now is the time for folks like me, and perhaps you, to go to bed.  Pleasant dreams, my friend.

Giving Thanks


Psalm 100  —  New International Version (NIV)

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

So much to give thanks for.  Not just today, but for everyday of life that we enjoy here on this good earth.

I am most thankful for family.  That means starting with biological family first and foremost, but extending to our community of close friends who have become like family to us.

There is not enough space to list all for which I am thankful.  Many of the items on my list cannot be held or touched.  Perhaps at top of those is Love.  Healing can also be found on that list.

Went to bed with a bump on his head

On the same day as my last blog post, I took a tumble.  Sylvia and I were getting ready for a small group meeting at our house–the final one of this year.  Sylvia had baked a cherry pie to celebrate.  In the hustle, I stumbled backward over a foot stool, hitting my head on a knee-high oak table that our TV sits upon.

We cancelled our meeting and Sylvia took me to the ER.  The staff cleaned me up and the doctor installed six staples on the two-inch wound on the back of my head.

Two days later, we had that cherry pie with our small group.  It was delicious. :food:

This week, a nurse removed the staples.  The wound looks good and I am healing well.  I did suffer a headache, but it was a very low-grade one.


Sylvia joins me in wishing you a wonderful day of thanksgiving.  We know that many of you, like us, will be with family.  May it be a good day.


Thus Ends a Tale

In my most recent post there was a pic of our make-shift frost cover.  Sylvia and I had fashioned it with a garden tripod and a blue tarp.  On seeing the image our son, Scott, thought of the line from Shakespeare’s play, Richard the Third.  He quoted it this way, “Now is the winter of our discount tent.”  He’s a clever one.

We had hoped to keep that jalapeño plant alive beyond that first frost.  The next day, I removed the tarp to inspect for potential damage.


Sylvia went out and harvested the last 43 peppers from that plant.  We estimate about 200 jalapeños from that single plant.  It was the most prolific of the four plants we grew this year.

We missed our goal of November 20 by one week.  Still, we were happy for the extended season.  (First frost here is usually October 20.)

Ode to Fall’s Finish

The fall has fallen
The leaves now litter the ground
Prepared for winter

While Earth is ready for winter, I have a few more tasks to complete.  I should be ready on time.