pecans and prayers

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

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( our first crop of pecans / Julie Cook / 2016)

First of all let’s start off on a positive foot this morning…

Look at our first pecans on our little pecan tress.

You may remember the post I did about a year and a half ago regarding the whole buying, planting and caring for our little grove to be of 15 pecan trees…

People are all the time asking
“what are those cute little stick-like trees out in the field…?”

And I like to tell them that they are my little green topped Q-tips—
because that’s what they look like, an orchard of 15 little green topped Q-tips…

But how exciting it is that one tree out of 15 has decided to bless us with pecans…
However the jury is still out on whether or not they will actually mature into full fledged nuts…

Now on to the more serious…

I arrived at Dad’s early this morning, just on time to get him up and out the door to head off to the doctor’s for a scope procedure to figure out why he’s bleeding so much upon urination.

Dad had his prostate removed almost 30 years ago so that’s not the worry.
His late brother did have a kidney removed, due to a contained kidney cancer, when he was about Dad’s age and did fine with all of that—but he was always much more spry, active and more positive than dad.

So let me just say that I have been frustrated by the lack of speed in which these doctors seem to be operating.

Over a month ago I called Dad’s primary doctor telling him about the blood we’ve all been seeing and wondered might Dad not have another UTI?
He says he doesn’t have time for Dad to come in that particular day, how about in two days…

Ok, really???…you don’t have time for an 88 year old man who is losing blood from a rather odd place to come pee in a cup?

Ok
Whatever…

So when we finally jump through that little hoop, the labs come back negative for infection.
Henceforth we are referred to a specialist urologist—
A specialist who doesn’t have an opening for 3 weeks.

REALLY???

An 88 year old man is now bleeding every time he pees and is leaking blood on his clothes and sheets and you don’t have something sooner than 3 weeks???!!!

I know I’m surely not the only one thinking that Dad is
now more pale and much more frail and feeble.
I am not a rocket scientist but if I had an 88 year old patient losing blood,
I think I might consider that he could now be anemic and that maybe, just maybe,
he might need to get said 88 year old in the office asap…
(after today’s event, I will be calling the primary doc back tomorrow for some immediate labs)

So anywhooo, we wait.
Meanwhile Dad is calling daily to inform me that he is now not long for this world.

“DAD…will you stop that!!!”
“Let’s try and think positive shall we….”

So today when my son and I show up at Dad’s door,
in order to whisk him away for the 20 minute drive north for this procedure,
Dad is still sitting in his chair.

“Dad, come on, we’ve got to go….”
“Uh, I need to go shave”
A collective “WHAT??!!” is bellowed throughout the room by me, the caregiver, my stepmother and my son.
As in what have you been doing all morning but sitting in that chair waiting on me to come
get you and you still need to shave?!

“Well just go get my electric razor and I’ll shave in the car…”

Really?!

I tell my son the grab the walker, I grab dad, who grabs his razor and out the door we go.

Walking out the door I see that Dad is wearing a very dirty pair of khakis—
“Been sneaking more chocolate again Dad…?”
“Uh, do you want me to change pants?”

“Heaven’s no, we don’t have time–maybe no one will notice you’re wearing both last night’s supper, a bag of candy and this morning’s breakfast….”

Once in the car, I need to use my trusty little Mapquest app to find where we’re going as it’s north of Atlanta, somewhere way up 400.
However I can’t hear the lovely Mapquest woman talking for the loud buzzing of Dad’s razor.

“Dad do you need to use the mirror?”
“No”

Great, he’s now going to look like some Chinese Crested Chihuahua dog…

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(not exactly dad, but very close)

We finally arrive at a massive array of office buildings, high up on a hill, perched off a very busy road.
A, B and C.
We need building C.
Upon seeing building C’s drive, I turn immediately.
Luckily no one is behind me to rear-end me.

I stop the car long enough for my son to get both walker and Dad out of the car, allowing them to head on up into the massive maze while I go to the massive maze of a parking deck.

By the time I rendezvous with my people, it’s time for Dad to head back for the procedure.
The nurse takes us back to a room where she tells Dad to drop his pants and hop up on the table.

Really???!

She then ushers me out into the hallway to wait in a chair as I explain to her that she might want to help him with that whole dropping of the pants and hopping up on the exam table…
you saw the walker right?

Barely 5 minutes pass and I see dad exiting the door, holding his unzipped, unbuttoned, unbelted pants as he shuffles at breakneck speed down the hall.
I jump up but some nurse voice from behind me tells me not to worry he just needs to go empty his bladder.

Oh, that’s reassuring.

Dad makes his way back down the hall in order to take a chair by me.
I notice that the entire backside of his pants is soaked.

Really???

I tell the nurse we seem to have had an accident.
She then asks if Dad would like a pair of scrubs.
“No” he wearily replies as he tells me the doctor found a tumor.

WHAT???

Finally the nurse comes to check his blood pressure and to give us his discharge papers.
Discharge papers????
He wasn’t back there 5 minutes!
She again asks about the scrubs.
He declines so she gives me a pad to put in the car.

Great.

The doctor, with hands stuffed in the pockets of his white coat, saunters down the hall
to where we sit and pulls the curtain—
So now we can’t see anyone around us but we can hear everyone loud and clear as they can hear us.
Funny how we fearfully fret over HIPAA laws, yet we leave nothing to privacy in hospitals and procedure facilities…
perfect sense…just like this country, but I digress.

Mr personalityless doctor tells me he wants dad back—they will call me in about 5 days to schedule a procedure to remove what they can of the tumor and send it off for a biopsy and hopefully it will curtail the bleeding.

I look at the doctor explaining to him that Dad has a tendency to gravitate to the negative and fixates on all things cancer, and that I’ve explained to Dad that not all tumors mean a person has cancer…right?!
The doctor offers a dry and unreassuring “yes”

Great.

After leaving the maze of a building, finding the car, getting Dad and walker back in the car, we prepare for our drive home.

“So Dad, what would you like for lunch?

“I can’t think about lunch right now, I have cancer.”

“DAD, no one said you have cancer.”

“I think you should call the church and put me on the prayer list.”

“Dad, you aren’t dying, you don’t need a prayer list…and anyway, you’ve not been to that church
in over 20 years, you don’t even know who the priest is up there…”
“We’ll call Martha and get her to put you on her list”
“Now what about lunch…”

Finally getting a very dejected Dad back home with his soaking wet pants, to the safety of his chair,
my stepmother greets us at the door…

“well, how’d you make out?”

“The doctor says Dad has a tumor in the bladder…”

“A container in his bladder??”
(she can’t hear and refuses to get hearing aids)

“NO, A TUMOR”
“oh” as she chuckles to herself…as I figure she has no clue as to what I’m talking about.

Asking again what everyone wants for lunch, the consensus is Chick-fil-A.

As I head out the door, dad hollers out “DON’T FORGET THE COOKIES”
Nothing like a little sweet to take the worry out of the day….

So let’s put dad on the prayer list here please—

I’ll keep you updated….

Meanwhile may we all be mindful that something as simple as a cookie or
something even nice and chocolatey, as Dad will testify,
can definitely help cure what ails you!

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For the love of a tree

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. . .
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live. . .”

Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

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(the anticipation of hopefulness, a pecan bud / Julie Cook / 2015)

First I wish to clarify this post with a tiny disclaimer—I am not a huge fan of nuts.
I’m not talking about the crazy people nut variety but rather the product of a tree nut variety.
I don’t really care for eating nuts. I only like nuts in limited quantities and then only salted. Maybe a nice Sole Almondine with an unctuous berure blanc sauce, perhaps a tasty handful of sugared and spiced holiday pecans, or a few hearty walnuts scattered with a bit of blue cheese alongside a poached pear or two. . .but that’s about it. None of this pecan pie business, no nuts on my ice-cream sundays, no nut dotted fruit cakes, no handful of protein packed healthy snacks. . .
So the question today begging to be asked—why this latest endeavor of mine?. . .yet but before we can address latest endeavors, let’s turn our attention to trees shall we. . .

I suppose for a true southern girl such as myself, nothing speaks more of the South than either a majestic oak draped in the gossamer lace of spanish moss or that of a stately grove of pecan tress creating a sun dappled canopy, rich and cool, during the lazy humid summer afternoons indicative to this deep south of mime.

I have always wanted to have a home surrounded by and nestled amongst a grove of pecan trees. The pecan tree, unlike the towering protectively strong massive oak, is a bit more demure as it arches more delicately outward verses stately and upward. A pecan tree wants to envelope you, wrapping you in its charming branches—tenderly and gently holding you and comforting you with its wind whispered lullabies. It is no surprise therefore, that my husband is quite accustomed to my wistful sighs whenever we find ourselves driving in the southern part of the state as there is nothing but pecan orchard after orchard for as far as the eye can see.

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(photo courtesy Sugarland Farms)

Driving throughout much of middle and southern Georgia, passerby’s are often struck by the serenity of the never-ending pecan orchards. The pecan is big business here in Georgia. It is reported that one-third of the nation’s pecans are produced in Georgia with an average of 88 million pounds produced annually. So I suppose it’s terribly unnatural that this very southern Georgia girl does not particularly care for munching on pecans nor any other nut for that matter. My disdain for eating nuts however has never diminished my love and appreciation for the tree.

When we first built our house nearly 16 years ago, we always said we’d plant some pecan trees. The house is perched in the middle of 5 acres. . .a perfect setting for a small pecan orchard. Yet I suppose at our age, my husband and I pretty much figured that we would never live long enough to see “an orchard” to fruition. That being said however, my husband often fondly reflects. . . “I spent my life enjoying picking up and eating the pecans from trees that were planted long before I was living, it’s only fitting that someone one day should enjoy the pecans from a tree I planted”

So with that mindset at the forefront of our thoughts, we got busy this past week with this pay it forward endeavor of our very own orchard.

Not knowing the first thing about this planting business of nut tress much less any sort of big tree, we ventured forth, quite wet behind the ears, but with the resolute spirit of anticipation and hope.
Last Tuesday we drove almost 2 hours northward to Cartersville, Georgia to a tree nursery in order to procure our trees.
The nice nursery folks told us we’d need two types of pecan trees in order to provide cross pollination, otherwise trees of only one variety may never produce nuts containing any nutmeat.
We opted on the Pawnee and Sumner pecans.

We bought 15 6 foot trees, bare root, and grafted–hauling them back home in the back of the truck.
They were bundled up in plastic with an added gel goo to help keep the roots from drying out, that were then wrapped up in a burlap sheet. One look at the motley muddy bundles, my husband assumed the worst, that we’d just spent a small fortune on two big bundles of dead sticks. Yet the nursery assured us that the trees were indeed alive and well and would need to get in the ground as soon as possible.

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Once home we gingerly placed the tree bundles on the back porch until we had a full day to dedicate to their planting. The greatest issue at hand was going to be digging the holes, which was to prove to be no easy task.

We already had a manually operated arguer, yet at 8 inches wide, we quickly realized we’d never get the 2 foot wide by 2.5 foot deep hole the trees would require.
We had to find an arguer that would fit on our tractor.
Already investing a small fortune first in the trees, we added to that investment with the purchase of a much larger arguer from our local Tractor Supply Company—the only problem was we had to figure out how to assemble this monstrosity of farm equipment, mounting it to the tractor ourselves.

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Once the auger was rigged up to the tractor, we had to run enough water hoses to be able to reach the planting sight as the trees would require a massive amount of water just to get them in the ground. I screwed together three 100ft hoses and pulled them out to where we would be digging the holes. Pecan trees need their space—anywhere from 30 to 60 feet apart. We planted ours 30ft apart lengthwise and 60ft widthwise giving us 4 wide rows.

My husband began drilling out the holes.

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Now I know you tree experts out there are screaming that our holes needed to be wider, but we did the best we could and are praying for the best! There is only so much these two older tired bodies can do!
The trees need enough depth as not to bend the tap root—the main base root of the tree–of which the nursery folks appear to have trimmed.

The nursery folks gave us a helpful printout from the University of Georgia’s Agriculture Dept regarding the planting of pecan trees. The instructions explained that the hole was to be filled half full with water, once the tree was centered in place, then back fill the hole with the extracted dirt as this would help to eliminate any air pockets. So we were basically burying a hole full of water with a stick poking out. . .hummmmm

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The manual instructs that one “should not tramp down the soil as the roots need oxygen.” How in the heck does a drowned root find oxygen in non tramped down water logged soil?!

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It took us about 8 hours to get all 15 trees in the ground. This is when we figured out that we had marked off space for 18 trees and planted only 15–which means, another trip to procure 3 more trees.

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The trees need lots of water in order to get established. So I’ll be schlepping out the 300 feet of hose weekly, if not more often, once it warms up in order to keep everyone nice and moist. The next thing I have to do is to paint the base of each tree with white latex paint. This is to ward off any insect infestations and to deter deer from nibbling on the tender little trees.

Now that the planting is finished, all that remains is to water, hope and pray that 15 trees can forgive two novice planters, as I sweetly envision, many years from now, the wistful thoughts of those who will pass by my own little pecan grove.

Next on tap will be a few apple trees. And I must say, the nursery had some beautiful olive trees—I have a feeling my next nursery run will find me bringing home more than 3 more pecan trees.
And as for my earlier disclaimer, I will not be going into the nut business necessarily, but more aptly, I hope to be going into the tree business, as there is just nothing quite as lovely as a tree. . .
Here is to the hope of growth. . .