• Jon

JNS Merry Christmas 12/18/16

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

Ladder fall/George Divine

George Divine 1922-1916

Winter greetings,        Normally I send a greeting out this time of year saying something about being all done with my collecting and cleaning for the year. That is not the case this year. I still have a massive amount of dried Claytonia sibirica (candy flower) plants gathered back in June waiting to be cleaned. And also about 10 gallons of Alnus rhombifolia cones collected after Thanksgiving to extract seed from as well. I have been putting off cleaning them because I still intend to collect more of it. My remaining collecting sites are along Muddy Creek and the Willamette River and the water levels have been too high for collecting for many weeks now. Getting the full amount of seed from alder cones is a multi-step process so I'd prefer to clean all the cones at once rather than in separate batches.

I do have a God watches over fools and seed pickers story from the last day I harvested some of the alder cones that are in the drying room. It was late on a rainy Friday afternoon and I was harvesting from a tree growing on the edge of a creek that runs through the campus of a local high school. This particular tree is also next to a road. I was using a tall orchard ladder to reach cones on some of the higher branches.

As I was beginning to climb the ladder, after having repositioned it to access some unharvested branches, I noticed a young woman jogging towards me on the edge of the road. I had a two gallon picking bucket about half full of cones secured at my waist with my belt. Just as the young woman passed me, the adjustable tripod leg of the orchard ladder begin to slide forward on the wet, slippery ground. I thought the leg would catch but immediately realized it was going to slide completely forward, meaning the ladder was going to crash down to the ground with me on it. As I started the wild ride down I saw an alternative and bailed off the ladder by grabbing a small branch above me with both hands. Needless to say neither the branch nor my hands held. I came crashing straight down on the bottom of the ladder and then did a roll down the bank of the blackberry vine-covered creek side that was just behind the ladder.

I am glad to say I was unhurt by the fall and in spite of the tumble only a few alder cones fell out of the bucket. The loud racket of it all caused the poor young jogger to turn and see most of the terrifying fall. She came running back to the dazed, white-haired old man, shouting, "Are you okay?" I assured her I was but she couldn't believe it could be true. My first thought was to pick up the spilled cones but I had to forget that impulse and walk around to show my angel I was indeed alright. She kept saying, "I'm so sorry!". I let her know that I was the one who was sorry for scaring her. I do my best to be safe doing this work. I thankfully learned, without harm, another safety lesson on what to check for. In my last update I mentioned that my wife and I were just about to head 1,000 miles south to visit my family on the date farm in Thermal, CA for about a week. We made it there on the Sunday night just before Thanksgiving but just after arriving we received word that Flip's 94 year old father, George, had suddenly died. George and Marian, his wife of 69 years, live on our property. Our daughters were able to quickly get down to care for Marian and we started a drive-through-the-night trip back to Oregon the next morning.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with 21 extended family members gathered around the table in our home. It was quite a slumber party with everyone staying here for George's service the next day. George was a special guy and his life was well celebrated. We have felt very blessed by God's timing and attention to detail in this process. Grandma Marian has been doing quite well and we are thankful for that as well.

Below this update is our annual A to Z Christmas letter. There is no need for you to read it but it is there to look at if you want. I do want to point out that Y - Yikes mentions that I turned 65 this year. When I was younger I used to think 65 was quite old. Now that it has arrived for me I feel blessed to say that I still feel able, healthy and fit and I have no immediate intention of ceasing to collect seed.

However, even with all the help I had this season (see X below), my time did get largely consumed by collecting and cleaning for much of the summer and fall. Other interests, opportunities and projects were often neglected. It seems that I have trouble saying no to those of you that ask me to supply seeds you need. I like doing it and I keep learning new things but Flip would like to see better balance and boundaries and I agree that she is right. Since I probably won't say no to you, to help you say no to me and consider other suppliers, for at least some species, I expect be raising the prices on many of my seeds before I send out my seed list the next time. If you want to stock up on some seed before that happens, look over the attached list and see if there is anything you need.

Fast away the old year passes. Well, maybe today's hours won't seem to go so quickly. Speaking of fast, that is what I am doing today. Tomorrow the Electoral College cast their votes. I am praying that they do so with Divine guidance.

Merry Christmas and blessings to you for the remainder of this year and into the coming New Year.

Jon In the letter below you will find numerous links to photo albums and videos. There is no obligation or expectation that you view them. If you see an underlined word, and have the time and interest to see more, click on it to find lots of treasures. Beware! This can become a time sink. You can practice here. (Google slideshow viewing tip. Click on the arrow right side of the screen to see the next photo. Captions are at the bottom.)

Alnus rhombifolia (white alder). Very seldom does this species have much of a crop in the Willamette Valley. This year Jon harvested over 35 gallons of the small cones which yielded more than 7 pounds of tiny seeds.

BioChar aficionados filled our 7 bedroom farm house for sleeping, eating, and networking during an August BioChar conference in Corvallis.

Curiosity Club is Portland’s “fortnightly forum for the fearlessly curious!”. Meadow made two presentations this year: one about clay and the other titled How to Think About Climate Change without Scaring Yourself Silly.

Debra Brush is a friend indeed. For the past two years Deb has been cheerful housekeeper, taxi service, and grocery shopper for the Divines. Deb is the one Marian called to be with her late at night when George suddenly died (see G below) while we were 1,000 miles away. Thank you so much! Emergency Preparedness summer neighborhood meeting was hosted in our barn. We cooked food on our Rocket Stoves and Rocket Ovens for the potluck dinner.

Family trip to Haiti for David, Apricot and boys. Isaiah & Oak now have first hand experience with people and places very familiar to their mother. They liked it!

George Franklin Divine, 1922-2016, age 94, made a quick and sudden transition from this life to the next on November 20. At home, with Marian at his side (his wife of 69 years), he passed without pain or distress. Extended family gathered quickly for a memorial celebration in Oregon.

Hopital Bon Samaritan matriarch Joanna Hodges, passed away November 7th in Florida at the age of 93. We have fond memories of our years working with her in Limbe, Haiti.

Identity in Christ class was taught by Jon & Flip to friends in our home and later at church. It’s a rich study with life changing application.

Jury duty call for Flip (April) and Jon (Oct.). Flip found the jury process very interesting. Jon was glad he missed the cut for what was a week-long wrenching trial at the peak of seed harvest.

Knocking on doors, “Hi, we’re here to care for this community. Is there anything you or your family need that we can pray and ask God to help you with?” Flip is memorizing Bible stories to share with people who are interested.

Lemon Lily Festival in Idyllwild, CA invited Jon to join the activities at their annual July event. Jon was able to hike with a group and help with a lemon lily survey in the wilderness area where he worked for many years.

March 22nd was the 60th anniversary of the Skyraider plane crash on Martinez Mountain. Jon and his brother Lyle led 9 others on a dawn-to-dark hike to the plane on that day. They had a memorial service for the 3 Navy fliers who died in the crash.

Ninja blender is one of Lucian’s favorite kitchen power tools. He helps Grandma Flip make yummy drinks. He also helped Great-grandma Lois make them at the date ranch during a visit in October.

Overseas business travel for Rose to Japan and China left Andrew and Lucian orphaned. Thank goodness for FaceTime for daily video calls and for grandparents who watched Lucian during the entire 6-day China trip.

Piano student, 11-year-old Isaiah, loves the challenge of playing his lessons in a variety of keys and composing his own tunes. He played flute at Great-grandpa George’s graveside service.

Quest Bible study at St. Mary’s Catholic Church helped us forge many new friendships and gave us great respect for these fellow believers. The neighborhood nuns invited us and we said yes.

Reunion for Jericho School (Limbe, Haiti) that Apricot and Olynda helped organize, was held In Florida in June. Flip joined the fun and loved reconnecting with many of her former students.

St Patrick Fellowship night was Flip’s favorite for the year. It had a radio play of St Patrick’s life, Celtic dancers, and a beautiful solo with harp & organ accompaniment.

Tasmanian Women for Agriculture house guest, Elizabeth, helped us learn about her far away country. Several of her group joined our Summer Songs potluck & sing along, and increased the merriment.

Unusual verses by Andrew compliment the fun songs 2-year-old Lucian is learning at the library. For example: to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus Andrew and Lucian sing, “The cats on the bus have alligators, alligators, alligators,... on their tails, hiss.”

Very determined runner, 8-year-old Oak ran a high number of laps for his school fundraiser and also jogged alongside his Dad, David, to finish his first 5K race in September--he sprinted across the finish line. Whitey Lueck, a naturalist friend from our nursery years, rode his bike up from Eugene and spent an August overnight with us. We enjoyed both the stimulating conversation and his new book, Staying Put in Lane County, which he left as a gift.

eXtra hands for Jonny Native Seed. Jon appreciated all the harvest help from Sarah, Jean, James, Romney, Danny, Ellen, Meadow, Zack and Samantha. Many orders wouldn’t have been filled without their help during summer and fall.

Yikes! Apricot turned 40 years in January and Jon turned 65 in June. Tempus fugit.

Zap! A radio collar now keeps our dog Fritz safely off the road. He is on a diet at the moment. Too many doggie treats from his friend Grandma Marian.

We are at the end of the alphabet but have more stories to tell. We hope you can come by for a visit so we can hear your stories as well. There is no doubt that an interesting and challenging year is coming. We will do our best to be ready.

Psalm 85: 8-9    Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,           for he will speak peace to his people,           to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.    Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,           that his glory may dwell in our land.

Love, Jon and Flip

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