Monthly Archives: May 2018

Strangers among them … until a friendship broke out


The spirit of community service can be hard to come by; as parents I suppose we all hope that some of that servitude attitude gravitates toward our children. It’s one way they help others and simultaneously expand their vision of their community and the world. We could use quite a bit more of that these days.

And for one recent week a global outreach effort by my daughter Ellen’s church yielded more of the latter than the former.


May 22, 2018

Ellen/Reid: Man, what a week it was to and from Minnesota. Ellen, it truly was a privilege for you and Tim to host Palestinians for a week, however inconvenient it might have been for your daily life. You got some insights that are hard for Americans to come by and Yara and Naim got to see how a real American family operates day in and day out. I think both sides saw that there aren’t many differences between how we raise kids and the day to day tribulations each face, although admittedly they are truly oppressed in the current Middle Eastern environment.

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A Palestinian family visited Ellen’s family in St. Paul as part of a church outreach, and the experience was a good thing – make that a great thing – for both sides.

Thanks for letting me come up and help out. That was truly a privilege, too. It gave me something substantive to do, and being able to build the garden box was a bonus. It really didn’t take much time to do it. Hauling the materials to the house was the biggest hurdle.

And it was good for cousin Tim to build such an international month at Westminster. It’s expansive and enlightening for his congregation and Minneapolis as well as the Palestinians, the Cubans and the Cameroon visitors. It’s nice that he has the resources to bring a lot of people to the U.S. and that he has congregants like you who are willing to welcome strangers to their home. I will admit that it is good to finally be home but it was sure great to be around you and the girls. They are growing up so quickly and have a nice mixture of stubbornness and obedience going for them. I like that they want to do things their own way.

Reid, let’s arrive at another date in June for my visit to Oakland since Ellen and Tim will be out there the week I’d designated for arrival. That’s okay. It was good to talk to you. It just sounds like an intriguing work situation that you’ve gotten yourself into. It wouldn’t be terribly bad to wind up out there full time. Plus, you’d be close to your mom. All in all it’s likely a better thing to be close to Silicon Valley vs. Chicago although my perception is Chi-Town is still a tech town too.

Robbie took good care of the garden while I was gone and it seems to be doing just fine. The lettuce seems to be lagging in growth and that’s a bit disappointing. The arugula has come through like a champ and the tomatoes and peppers are zooming. There are already little blueberries and the raspberries are flowering. It makes me wonder if I need to net off the plants so the birds don’t rob me blind. The peas are coming along nicely, too, although my concept of winding string ever higher and higher to provide climbing space isn’t working out so well since the plants seem entwined around themselves. That should change. I spent an enjoyable portion of this afternoon weeding and doing general stuff out there which is precisely as was hoped for and planned. The field not 10 feet behind the raised bed has a healthy 12” stand of either alfalfa or clover and I ripped up large swaths off it to use as mulch around the plants. That’s nice to walk a few feet for mulch rather than spend a fortune on it.

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I replicated my double decker raised bed garden in Ellen’s back yard. When it came time to shovel nearly a ton of composted horse manure into the finished product, we got a little help from her neighborly friends.

But my dirt is not in the same quality class as yours, Ellen. You’ll end up with 10 foot tomatoes given how rich that compost is. I hope you enjoy your new raised bed. A kid down the street cut the grass while I was gone, and edged it as well, and he only asked for $20. If I knew he’d be that cheap I wouldn’t have purchased a mower.

I’ll head to Charlotte early Thursday morning for a doctor appointment at 9:15 and another at 11:30. Nice to double dip on those. I’ll resist the impulse to drive by the old homestead to check on things. It’s amazing how fast the condo went into the rearview mirror. I don’t miss it at all. The friends, yes, the house, no. Sondra and Jody will play golf with me when the appointments are finished.

Okay, time to make dinner. Not sure what it will be at this point. But it will be fast and simple, although a bag of chips is staring me in the face. Hopefully I’ll eat better than that.

Love, Dad

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