Archive for August, 2008

Seed Savers

Posted in Ministry, Random with tags , , , , on August 31, 2008 by Robaigh

Went to Seed Savers Exchange yesterday.

Store at Seed Savers

Store at Seed Savers

Having worked in the living history field for the last (gasp!) 19 years, this is something like the Mothership. Granted, I’ve never been one of the seed saving types, per se. I always preferred someone else to do that particular research, but if you wanted me to plant and tend a Turk’s Turban patch, I’m your man. You’ve got a stand of Country Gentlemen corn? No problem: have hoe, will travel. My wife, on the other hand, is very fond of gardening, so this really was the mothership for her.

She is particularly fond of heirloom tomatoes. I’m with her on this one. I won’t even eat non-heirloom tomatoes anymore. The stuff you buy in the typical grocery store tends to be pretty, but mealy and essentially lacking in flavor. So you get the all the nasty elements of tomatoes (i.e. the goo in the middle) without all of the delicious benefits. A nice Cherokee Purple, on the other hand is one of the ugliest pieces of fruit you will find, but for flavor, it’s hard to beat.

Yesterday Seed Savers was having a tomato-tasting event, and now that we’re only 2.5 hours away from the Mothership, there was no excuse not to go. The day was gorgeous to begin with, and when we got to our port of call, this is what we saw:

An Heirloom Smorgasbord

An Heirloom Smorgasbord

An Heirloom Smorgasbord!

They had probably two dozen tomato varieties, from reds to greens to blacks, from currants to grapes to head-sized ‘maters.

This hasn’t been a good year for tomatoes, as such. The weather has been rather mild, and tomatoes taste best (as far as I can tell) when the summer has been really hot. Consequently, some of the flavors were a little on the mellow side, but when we hit on a winner, man, those were some freakin’ delicious tomatoes.

And the tomato nerds who showed up! On our 2.5 hour drive up to Decorah, we hardly encountered a car on the road, but once the tasting began, tomato geeks crawled out of the woodwork. There were likely 3 dozen people who showed up. And they were all talking about tomatoey things – things I can’t even begin to recount, since I had no idea what they were talking about.

Anyway, it was a good time to get out of the house and take a few pics, most of which I have uploaded to my flickr account. Here are a couple examples.

Busy Hands

Busy Hands



Barn & Garden

Barn & Garden


for potential use in the future

Posted in music with tags , , , on August 24, 2008 by Robaigh
A reel
A reel

Something to this spiritual vs. religious thang

Posted in Christianity, Identity, religion with tags , , , on August 24, 2008 by Robaigh

I’m a liturgical guy.  Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing and that’s where my comfort zone is.  Dunno.  But I do like the liturgy.  It’s kind of mysterious, yet kind of familiar.  It’s richly symbolic and deeply meaningful.  But there can be too much of a good thing, sometimes.  Here at Sem (I know: it really DOES sound pretentious!  I have proposed, apropos of nothing, that my classmates and I adopt a ritzy accent, a la Thurston Howell III, to lend our seminary some yacht club cred, but so far nobody is biting.  Didn’t work at my last grad school, either.  Hmm.) we do a chapel service every weekday, then we head to our respective local Lutheran churches on Sunday.  Now and then, for variety’s sake, we’ll throw in the (incredibly beautiful) Holden Evening Prayer, and last week a few of the Young Upstarts (tee hee) put together a more contemporary worship, which my headache prevented me from attending.

I’m NOT a contemporary worship kind of person.  I usually find contemporary worship self-indulgent, pretentious, “oberflaechlich” and filled with inane, repetitive, creatively lacking music (in the vein of “Jesus is my boyfriend” – not my phrase but I like it).  Disclaimer:  I understand that contemporary worship doesn’t have to be that way:  it’s just been my experience so far that it almost aways is.  Still waiting to see otherwise.  Maybe the service I missed last week was the exception.  Probably was.  Nevertheless, I remain solidly liturgical.

Today was an exception.  Instead of heading into our local religious establishment, Christy and I took the hounds to the Mines of Spain nature preserve again.  We did a different walk this time, in which we mostly avoided water (except for the doggy-waist-deep mud adjacent to the canoe put-in point) and hiked along a wee trail next to a field of tall grasses and wildflowers.  It was GORGEOUS.  This was our communion today:  we communed with our little family, such as it is, giving thanks (eucharistomen!) for the beauty and for the opportunity to be together.

When we got home, I needed something a bit more.  Maybe this was self-indulgent on *my* part, but I needed to feed my Introversion, so I took a bike ride down (or more aptly, up) to Eagle Point.  I took the camera along, so that I could share photos, but the derned batteries died.  Maybe next time.  When I got down there, I called Christy, who then packed up some sammiches and some pooches and headed over to meet me.  We had a nice lunch and a quick walk with the doggies down by the riverside (where I laid down my burden.  Ahem.  Sorry.)  After lunch, I hopped back on my bike and rode home.  Uphill.  All the way.

I’ve done this ride before and was surprised (flabbergasted even) by the sheer scale of the hills in Dubuque, but my last rides paled in comparison.  Today I took a different route – the one we usually take in the car.  It’s funny how, when you’re in a car, you don’t tend to notice things like, oh I don’t know, the fact that some hills seem to go straight up at 90 degrees.  OK, it wasn’t THAT bad, but danged close to it.

When I first started toward home I was on a street called Kerper, which became 9th street.  So far, so good.  But as Kerper became 9th, it began going uphill.  I expected this, since a) clearly the Mississippi is at the bottom of a valley, and b) since I actually hit 35.2 mph on my bike before I crapped my pants in fear and began applying the brakes.  OK, what goes down and wants to go home, must come up.  But the sneaky, sneaky city planners of Dubuque – without warning anyone or checking with me first, even though I wouldn’t be born for 1.5 centuries – turned 9th street into Hill Street.  And they weren’t just kiddin’ brother.  I rode uphill for what seemed like a half-a-mile, then I rested at a plateau before finishing out the rest of the half-mile.  I foolishly thought that was it as I was riding past Mercy Hospital, seriously considering stopping in.  As I passed Mercy, though, I looked at what was now Bryant Street:  it was a quarter mile downhill followed by another 3/4s upward.  As seagulls flew beneath my feet I wondered if I’d make it.

But I put the bike in high gear for the downhill and granny-geared it on the way up, remembering the Tortoise’s advice: slow and steady wins the race.  Lo and behold, I made it.  Granted, I was soaked with sweat and my legs had turned into spaghetti, but I made it nonetheless.

This kind of closeness to the open air, the chance to feel right within your muscles, bones and circulo-respiratory systems just what it means to be alive is the epitome of abundant living.  So I missed a day of liturgy.  This was worthwhile, and all is well with my soul.


Posted in Counter-culture, music, Random with tags , , , , on August 23, 2008 by Robaigh

It’s been a long 5 weeks.  This past Thursday and Friday we took the last “regular season” Greek vocab & translations tests.  I did OK, but not as well as I could have, had I been able to motivate myself a little better.  Eh, water under the bridge.  The final is coming this week, and I’m not overly stressed about it.  I’m missing some of the nuances of translation, but I’ve got a whole year to work on nuanced translation and exegesis.  It’ll be good, but I’m a bit “over” Greek for the time being.

As a means of decompression (not to mention the added bonus of wearing out the hounds and getting a bit of exercise ourselves), we took the pooches down to the farmers’ market again this week.  It’s become a ritual, rain or shine, and I’m really enjoying it.  Back in Indy, there were a few markets here and there, and even though the quality was usually pretty good, it should have been much better in Cornopolis, and there should have been more of them.  Anyway, this one is right downtown in DBQ, and it’s good.  We got one bad melon there, but everything else has been dreamy.  Heirloom tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, wicked-fresh (Plymouth Rock!) eggs, and even sausages and bacon.  There’s good music there, too.

Took a couple of pics.

Mayflower smiling on the jungle gym

Mayflower smiling on the jungle gym

Hildy bustin loose on the slide

Hildy bustin' loose on the slide


I repeat: WTF

Dont know this bands name, but these gents were good.

Don't know this band's name, but these gents were good.

another macgowan post

Posted in music with tags , on August 9, 2008 by Robaigh

I never get over this song.  Sinead…mmmmmmm.

Where’ve you been all my life, Tom Waits?!

Posted in Counter-culture, Identity, music, religion with tags , on August 9, 2008 by Robaigh

I’ve admired the concept of Tom Waits for a long time.  Loved his little cameo appearances in various films (esp. in Terry Gilliam’s incredible The Fisher King).  But I never really listened to Tom Waits or paid a whole lot of attention to him.  I think his voice – now a hint of Howlin’ Wolf, now a touch of Captain Beefheart – kind of kept me at bey.  But a few days ago, New Friend Mark lent me TW’s Mule Variations and I am HOOKED!

I’ve heard people refer to Waits as a brilliant theologian of sorts, but didn’t really believe it until now.  Here’s a wee sample.

Dogs in DBQ (fluff content)

Posted in Random with tags , , on August 9, 2008 by Robaigh

The thing with intensive Greek is that it can be overwhelming. Like, life-consuming-sized overwhelming. So, as a counterbalance, it is a wise practice to get out of an evening, or to spend the weekend doing something that is expressly non-Greeky.

With that in mind, the other day the Missus and I (by the way, don’t tell her I called her “The Missus”) took the dogs to one of the DNR-run parks after dinner. To be truthful, it was our second trip there, but the first time around we forgot to bring leashes. We (and dogs) were horribly disappointed that first day, but the trip was nice once we remembered to bring all the leads, tie-out stakes, insect repellents, water bottles, bedoin tents, camel caravans and everything else we thought we might need.  Here’s just a wee pic of Mrs. Hetoimazo and the pooches on one of the trails there.