Sunday, February 26, 2023

Planting your Garden Now: Tips for Spring and Summer Pleasure

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, the Bible tells us.  God made trees to grow, to give pleasure by sight and to provide food.

In 2023, we're not exactly in the Garden of Eden.  Nevertheless, we can have some hope that recent storms and floods (northern hemisphere) will recede.  Meantime, we can see that trees and bushes are already coming out of hibernation.  In gardens here in western Oregon, daffodil bulbs are beginning to send up shoots and one can see flower buds on them.  And, perhaps most obviously, daylight is increasing from its midwinter retreat.  Daylight is lasting longer every day.

So, Kids:  looks as if you can put the sled away and find your tennis racket.  You'll be playing tennis, baseball, or hiking soon.

Adults:  prepare garden plans--even if you're an apartment dweller using flower pots.  Soon we'll see new growth in potted plant gardens.  

All:  rejoice in anticipation of spring.!  Are there birds in your neighborhood?  Watch them closely.  In my town the birds are hard at work trying to stay warm and find food.  Soon they'll be building nests.

Watch the skies.  Here's a photo from my kitchen window:  cloudy skies right and left (and, if the photo would permit, clouds stretching off to the Pacific shores).  I like the a hint of white clouds and blue sky to the northeast.  Over time, I know that blue sky will prevail.  


Friday, February 17, 2023

Staying fit after age 65

 I, Darrell, a "senior citizen" living in a large retirement center in Oregon, find myself wondering how to keep fit at my age.  I decided to get some professional help.

I discussed the question with three medical doctors:  one, a primary care physician; two, a cardiologist; and three, a neurologist.

The three gave similar answers.  The most direct was from the cardiologist, believe it or not.  That doc. said:  "Walk! That's our primary advice to patients."  Another M.D. said:  "Exercise walk.  Get the blood moving to the brain."  

These doctors and other sources help me to realize that daily walks are perhaps as important as the bulging list of medications physicians have prescribed for me.  I'm surprised that walking is so high on their set of recommendations.  

I do walk and I love my walking route.  From my front door I turn south and walk to a golf course.  A stream runs through the golf course; the walkway dips down about 60 feet from normal ground level on the western side to the bottom of the miniature canyon, then slopes up on the eastern side. Just walking briskly up that slope causes my heart rate to rise to just over 100 beats per minute.  I realize, "Yes.  I'm certainly gettin' my blood to flow by walking this way."  Incidentally, there's a lot of entertainment on such a walk:  I'm most amused by pets owned by the dog-walkers I encounter on my trips.  I like the trees, the clouds, neighbors' gardens.  But above all I prize the health results.

I try to avoid rainy days.  Here, near the Pacific coast in Oregon, it's not that easy to avoid rain.  The availability of hourly weather forecasts on the cell device alleviates a lot of guessing.  

Another angle for exercise is to work out at home or at a gym.  Your general practitioner M.D. or your physical therapist likely will suggest exercises to help you avoid risks.  Obviously, you don't want to trigger a heart attack.  Common sense tells me that exercising at home 30 minutes a day works well, for me and maybe others too.  Main goal: maintain and perhaps even build strength.  Again, consult a medical professional for advice.

My goal in posting is to tell you my story, what I've learned, what I do, and how it's helped me.  Best wishes to you as you seek to maintain or increase health quality.

Even helping with a harvest can provide some exercise and a lot of happiness



Saturday, January 14, 2023

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Message Today

     Martin Luther King Day was signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  It will be certainly worth your while to read the Wikipedia article on M.L.K. Day (Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Wikipedia) where you'll learn more about old arguments for and against this particular national holiday.  With the national holiday secured by lawmakers votes and by state governments as well, M.L.K. is rightly honored as a national hero.

    Celebrations of the M.L.K. Day vary from place to place.  In Tacoma, Washington, the city joins in an Out Reach Fair in honor of M.L.K.  Kindness and community are some themes that resonate with King and his influence.

    M.L.K., Jr. was son of a Baptist minister.  That alone gave him early access as a child to Jesus' teaching about, and example of, love of neighbor.  As a young adult, King enrolled in graduate school at Boston University, where he received his doctorate degree.  A decade after King's days at B.U., I enrolled in the same graduate theology program and earned my doctorate, feasting intellectually and spiritually on themes like the worth of the individual, neighborly love and social justice. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.
(photo in public domain) 

    A few years before my stint at B.U., I attended Evangelical Theological Seminary in Naperville, IL.  My student pastorate year as a seminary student was provided by Parish of the Holy Covenant, Chicago.  As a student pastor I participated in demonstrations for racial equality at the school board headquarters in Chicago and at a segregated Methodist church in Jackson, Mississippi.  As a child and teenager in Tacoma, however, I attended schools which accepted students of all races and treated them as equals.  Racial integration seemed normal and natural to me, based on experiences in early life.  

    Enough of my story.  How about your story?  Are you working for neighborly love and justice for all races?  No doubt you are.  On January 16, 2023, and every day each year.   MLK would be proud of you!



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Sunday, January 8, 2023


The internet describes Poinsettia as a tropical plant--Mexico, Guatemala, especially prevalent in the highlands.  Americans became big purchasers of poinsettias to bring cheer to the Christmas season.  The fine Wikipedia article, “Poinsettia,” gives the history:  an American government official brought the plant from Mexico to the U.S. in the 1870s and it’s only gained in popularity since then.   

                                                   Trilliums (above) are beautiful and regarded as
                                                                            a sign of spring.

What might one do with the lovely plant after Christmas season?  Keep it for a couple of weeks and garbage it?  Or hold it longer and hope to see its blooms against next season?  People will certainly have different answers to that question.

You might ask similar questions about the Christmas holiday itself.  At its core, the holiday stems from early Christian celebrations of the birth of Jesus.  Jesus’ birth and the Christmas story brought joy when it happened, except to the roman governor of the baby’s homeland.  Herod, the governor sought, but failed, to kill Jesus.  Many Jews of that time, and Romans too, caught on to Jesus’ mission and worshiped him as the Son of God.   Jesus’ message prevailed:  love of God and justice for humankind.  


So, here’s where the Christmas plant, the Poinsettia, fits in.  You might keep the plant alive for next year, but you can ALSO keep the spirit of the plant--that is, Jesus’ message of hope, love, justice for all--alive for sure.  Let the Christmas message guide your decisions and pray that it will guide the decisions of national leaders in every nation on earth.   



Monday, December 19, 2022

Blessings to Enjoy---End of the Year + Year's Shortest Day

No matter where in the world you might live, Dec. 21 is a terrific date.  It's the shortest day of the year north of the equator.  That's where I live and what I'll focus on in this post.

About the "Shortest date of the year."  Let me tell you:  we in my family look out of our windows toward the east and the south, at latitude 45, and it's been a kick to watch the sunrise (seen toward the east) moving further south every single day for months.  And the sunset has been rushing to set by 4:00 p.m., it seems, especially in previous weeks.  Now, on December 18, the sun hangs just above the roofline of buildings across the street and then, kerplunk, it sinks and it's absolutely dark by the time my family sits down for supper!  Incredible.

A bit of light to the east

Only 4 more days to go until the daylight begins to linger longer.  Thank the universe for that.

The ancient Brits had the right idea.  They (some of them at least) would gather at Stonehenge, a flattish meadow marked with huge rocks arranged in a pattern.  The pattern focused, on the shortest day of the year, upon two enormous upright rocks topped by a third horizontal rock forming a sort of gate.  Those standing to the west of the rock formation watched the sun rise ever so slightly further south on the day after the shortest day of the year.  Summary:  people have been celebrating the shortest day of the year for a very long time.  You can find photos and more information at Wikipedia, "Stonehenge."  Stonehenge - Wikipedia.  

Here in Oregon, the Siletz Indians gathered in their dance house on the shortest day of the year. They celebrated the beginning of less rain, longer days, warmer weather as winter weakened and spring gained strength.  Again, Wikipedia provides more detail.  Siletz - Wikipedia.

You might ponder Christmas lights and Christmas trees.  Christians celebrate Jesus' birth on December 25th annually, just three days after the shortest day of the year.  Think of it this way:  Jesus was born when darkness prevailed; he brought light.  Now, expand your definition of "darkness" from the shortest day of the year to the greatest spiritual darkness ever.  So amazing that such darkness could be overcome by the birth of an infant:  but there you have it.  Believe it, be thankful.

Summing up:  a blessing that the ending of the old year is succeeded immediately by the beginning of the new year.  Enjoy.  It's human, it's real, and people have been doing it for millennia--and for many good reasons.    

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Saturday, December 10, 2022


                    By "Growing green," originally, I referred to finding ways to make money in an environmentally sensitive way.  Today I'd like to expand the meaning to include additional relevant questions.  How might we humans deal with economic growth necessary to sustaining the increasing human population?   Sounds vague?  Well, specifically then, there's room here in this blog for considering matters like food health and fitness, and even cybersecurity. Please keep returning to the blogsite at

                    Today, some thoughts on fitness and health, especially noting the benefits of walking for exercise.  

                    Earlier in life, I studied and worked in New York City and was fortunate to be able, during lunch breaks, to walk in pedestrian pathways, north and south along the upper east side, overlooking the Hudson River.  Among the users of the trails dog-walkers were especially notable--up to five or seven critters per human.  Today, living in another "N" city, Newberg, Oregon, the desk at which I write just now looks out over walkways, and it's just as much fun here as in NYC to realize that both dogs and human dog-walkers are enjoying fresh air and the benefits of walking.

                    At my current stage in life, which I'll call retirement, I was amazed by a statement made by my cardiologist.  He asked if I exercised daily.  I told him that I walk 45-to-60 minutes a day out of doors on sidewalk and, sometimes, woodland trails.  He replied, "Walking is our number one recommendation."   I'm wondering whether your doctor might say the same.  

                    Occasionally, I walk on an indoor track in a county exercise facility (swimming pool, gymnasium, weight room.)  I find that it helps get additional benefit by walking up and down a one-flight stairway between laps of walking.  

                    I'm very sure that exercise walking helps me maintain physical and mental health.  I suggest that you do your own internet search for "benefits of exercise walking."  I'm sure you'll be pleased with the search results.

                    Well, it's a Saturday and it's not raining here right now.  I'm going to sign off, wish you good health and beneficial exercise.  I'll post and go for a walk.  


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Friday, December 2, 2022


It's Cold!  You want hot chocolate?  Here's a medical reason to enjoy it.  

or. . .

 Do you suffer cognitive decline?  If so, there may be unexpected help.

Today, I stumbled onto an article that claims that 3 grams of chocolate per day, or 15 grams of chocolate per week, will help slow the progress of cognitive impairment in older people.  According to the article, mild cognitive impairment affects some 25% of persons 80 years of age or older.  The risk factors include advancing not only age but also disengagement in intellectual activity.

How does one know that he/she is suffering cognitive impairment?  The article suggests that the signs include compromised memory, language ability and critical thinking.  Cognitive impairment is less serious than dementia but may proceed to dementia.  

Those who experience the signs of cognitive impairment can visit a neurologist-physician, who can test your cognition and diagnose impairment.  Impairment is reversible.  The article reports and 15% to 42 % of patients improve after the initial diagnosis.   

You can read the book:  Gary Wenk, Your Brain on Food, 3rd edition, 2022.  Or read the on-line resource:  "Why Chocolate could save your brain," Psychology (Sept. 3, 2022.)  Other life-style care recommendations include physical activity, continuous learning, social engagement, adequate folic acid, a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and saturated fats and alcohol.  And this tidbit:  3 grams of chocolate per day.  "Molecules in cocoa may reduce cognitive decline if provided daily and in adequate dosage for many years."    

Thank you, Dr. Gary Wenk.