Monday, October 06, 2014

Dreams of being a garlicmaker...

Rain.  Rain.  Rain.  I honestly am growing a bit despondent about the back porch ever being finished, for we have lots and lots and lots of rain in our forecast.

The wood dried.  I find it fascinating because there was a single thumb tack on it when I took it out of the utility closet (the old coal bin).  Clearly, things have been pinned to this block of wood many, many, many times.  Someone commented that it could have been a cover to something, but what???

Here it is sealed (at least on top).  Now doesn't that look like a fine table top for a back porch??

I did discover that I can buy four turned legs for this and create a table fairly easily.  Of course, the operative word in that sentence is "buy."  They would cost me far less than any table I have found on Craigslist, Amazon, eBay, and clearance items in large box stores.  However, I wanted to manage to have a second free table, because "free" is clearly my new favorite word.

If I bought the legs, would it be odd for me to paint them GREEN instead of stain and sand them?  After all, the wood wouldn't match and my stain would make the legs look different anyway.  Why not make them match the rocking chair??

The other thought I had about legs is that those two pieces of wood bracing the back mean that the legs would be inset quite a bit, at least more so than I think table legs should be.  But I don't know. Dining tables often have legs more toward the middle, right?  Still, this is not a dining table.

I guess I could see if Firewood Man could un-do the heavy duty screws or fasteners or whatnot and relocated the two bracing pieces of wood far enough so that the legs could be affixed on the outside of them rather than on the inside, but I wouldn't want the top to fall apart.  I think ... but I am not sure ... that the slats of wood are holding each other in place.  I think the two end slats that have the screws in them are holding all the other pieces together by some effect of force.  I don't know.  I'm not a carpenter.  I'm just a lover of wood ... especially really, really, really old wood.

After sealing the piece of wood, I harvested (in the rain) more rosemary and made two more batches (trays) of rosemary butter.  Actually, I popped out the first two trays of rosemary butter cubes and wrapped them all up in waxed paper.  Then I went outside and harvested rosemary and set about stripping and mincing.  Sadly, I did not have a roll at hand to use to wipe clean the mixing bowl.

Wednesday, we are slated to have a bit of sunshine.  If that is the case,  I hope to harvest the rest of the herbs and then transplant the two rosemary bushes to pots to try and winter them in the solarium.  It is my hope that if I cut back the roots as I transplant the rosemary bushes, they will survive in the solarium.  If so, I can start next spring with mature plants.  Since I have not found homes for the extra sage plants, I think I might go ahead and just dig them up.  The basil bushes are done.  I want to harvest and prune back the sage, thyme, and oregano that I want to keep, relocate them so they are spaced for growth next spring/summer, and then mulch them over.

Next year, I want to grow basil again and add dill to my herb-growing-endeavors.  If I cannot think of a vegetable to plant in the raised bed (since I will have plenty of space without those humungous basil bushes), I thought perhaps I could put a few flowers in the bed that would be safe from Amos' watering or trampling.  I have wondered if I could grow garlic, since I used copious amounts of it, but I know little of growing anything and nothing of growing garlic.  Now that I think about it, I would love to become a garlicmaker.

Tonight, I actually read two chapters in Michael Card's commentary on the Gospel of Matthew instead of just oen.  Given the more languorous pace of Matthew, as compared to that of Mark, I found myself reading chapter four without really thinking about it.

Sometimes, when I am reading the Scriptures before I read the commentary, odd thoughts pop into my head.  For example, Matthew 3:4 tells us that John ate locusts and wild honey.  I started wondering about the word (adjective) "wild."  Is that wild honey as opposed to cultivated honey?  Were there beekeepers back then?  If not, then why the use of the adjective?  If so, then ... WOW!

One of the points of history in the preface in the section about Galilee, is that one of its governors (Josephus) estimated the population at 3 million.  Yes.  Three million.  Never had I thought of Galilee as anything other than some sleepy little, hole-in-the-wall, small-town, Biblical backwater.  I had no thoughts of a booming metropolis, only it is not really a metropolis, but a region. I guess.  Because in chapter four, Michael Card's commentary notes that Josephus speaks of over 200 separate villages in the region of Galilee.  So, small town, but not.  A huge region where the influences of people, beliefs, and cultures outside of Judaism was beginning to foment turmoil.

Plus, there are those massive Jerusalem temple complex stones that dwarfed those of the pyramids.  If man could move and build with them, could he not have also found a way to domesticate bees or at least manage hives for the production and marketing of honey??

All that is to say that I have become a more careful and thoughtful reader of the New Testament.  Not so much to find myself on wayward flights of fancy where the Scriptures are concerned, but to rise to Michael Card's repeated challenge to abandon stereotypes or preconceived notions ... such as there being three magi because there were three gifts.  There could have been two or 10 or 20.

The John the Baptist we see in Matthew is a bit different than who we see in Mark.  Again, Michael Card points out that John is present in all four Gospels and marks the beginning of Jesus' ministry.  In this testimony, we see a man calling others to come to him, to recognize their sin, to repent and be baptized.  I find it fascinating to think about the differences between Jesus' and John's ministries.  On the surface, they are the same:  repent for the kingdom is at hand.  But Jesus doesn't ask that others come to Him in the wilderness; He seeks them out.  For John, the kingdom is still yet to come.  Jesus is the kingdom.  And the focus of Jesus' call is not for others to repent, but to follow Him.  Or, to put it another way, John tells folk to think of their sin and its consequences and respond (by repenting and being baptized), but Jesus has come to be the response to the consequences of our sin.

This is one of the bits of commentary I liked the most, which is about John and Jesus ... and us:

Notice that Jesus has come "from Galilee" to see John at the Jordan.  Always true to his character, Jesus acts in an unexpected way, asking John to baptize him.  From the beginning, John seems to have understood Jesus' superiority, if not his divinity.  He is understandably confused by the request and so protests that Jesus should be baptizing him.

These are Jesus' first words in the Gospel of Matthew:  "Allow it [Jesus' baptism] for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Mt 3:15).  In fact, they are his first words in the New Testament.  The first words of any character in any piece of literature are important.  How much more the first words of God's Son in the pages of the New Testament!  Jesus is asking John to do something out of the ordinary, outside the confines of his understanding, outside the boundaries of the old orthodoxy.  Jesus is asking John to take part in "fulfilling all righteousness," though he does not completely understand the moment.  These are important first words, because they can be understand as his first words to you and me, inviting us into a world that is beyond our understanding, asking us to become a part of a new reality that lies far beyond our old orthodoxy.

Having finished another two chapters of the commentary, there are also other thoughts that I have been thankful to have to ponder:

  • When Jesus was starting His ministry, just before being tempted, He heard two things any child wants to hear from a parent:  1) I love you and 2) I am pleased with you.  That's heady stuff to hear and strong words to brace a person when weak and suffering.
  • Only in Matthew does Jesus tell us that He has not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.
  • Jesus baptism and His temptation are always linked in the Gospels ... baptism and temptation.  One can therefore conclude that being baptized (and forgiven and washed cleaned and joined to Christ) does not mean that you will be free from temptation.
  • Just as Jesus' identity was defined, the devil sought to tear it away from Him.  Likewise, as Michael Card notes:  Precisely at those moments when we best understand our true identities as sons and daughters of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus, the evil one seeks to distort or destroy that identity.  Luther's emphasis in the Large Catechism on the relentlessness of our foe takes on new meaning, as well as his repeated message that the Word of God is best for felling that foe and quelling his onslaughts against us.
  • Another note Michael Card had about the temptation, as presented in Matthew's testimony:  To a community that was in the process of transitioning from sacrifice to Torah study as a central focus of observance, Jesus' formula "It is written" would have been empowering.  A single sentence so full of import.  Again, words matter.  Which words were written and how they were written for the ears of those receiving the Good News of Jesus matter.
  • In Matthew (3:17), Jesus begins His ministry before He calls any of His disciples.  His message is not one of preparation for the one to come, but that He is the One.  John 14:6 popped into my head (and the praise song):  "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me."
  • Whilst John has harsh words for the religious leaders, Jesus is not their adversary even though at least one cohort treats Him as theirs.  Jesus takes the time to interact with them, to answer their questions, and some of them end up following Him (even those who persecuted his followers, e.g., Paul).

Micheal Card ends his commentary on chapter four with:

Matthew 4 has prepared us to hear the first of the five blocks of Jesus' teaching (see appendix A).  In Matthew 5:1, when Jesus goes up on the mountain to present the first large block of teaching, we must never forget that he is the one who was baptized and tempted, and that he knows his cousin is even now rotting in Herod's prison.  He had returned to Galilee (Mt 4:12), walked beside the Sea of Galilee (Mt 4:18) and carried out his first mission in Galilee (Mt 4:23).  Now he will climb one of the green Galilean hillsides and begin turning the world upside down.

[caddywhompus again]

Matthew does not have Mark's frenetic pace, but the testimony is still the same:  Jesus and His ministry.  Not Jesus the Son of Man, Jesus the Messiah, as in Mark.  But Jesus come for all and a Jesus whose identity frames and informs our own.  The first identity Jesus takes in Matthew?  That of a sinner in need of baptism.

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