Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I used to get tomatoes that just started to fruit, and when I began to get excited they would develop the blight, or get hit with tomato worms, or just set tiny fruit to my complete frustration.  I hope we are turning the corner on good tomatoes.  Last year's crop was still yielding red Romas in January!  Okay, maybe they were a bit green, but when I picked them and brought them into the house, they turned red and cooked up well.

This year we put out only two plants.  I forget if one of them is a "big boy" and the other an "early girl" or what.  I thought I would remember but I have two problems: 1) I am not actually a veteran farmer, and 2) I am 76 years old and there are a lot of other things I don't remember either.

But I just had to show off this nascent crop.  One of these is as large as a fist.  We are going to pick the orange ones and leave them on the kitchen counter while we are away at Family Camp next week.  I expect to enjoy several BLTs when we get back.

The weather man says our weather is going to dramatically warm up this week, so I will have to flood them thoroughly on Monday, and water them as soon as we get home Friday afternoon. 

Our zucchini are waxing prolific again this year.  I planted them in various locations in front and in the back yard.  I even stuck one in a pot.  It is very interesting to see them develop at differing rates, probably depending on the different degrees of richness of the soil, and perhaps the exposure to the sun.  The lone plant in the far back yard seems to be thriving the liveliest with 6 squashes about ready to eat already.  The one in the planter is the scrawniest, but it has already yielded an edible squash.  Fried with onions in olive oil and sprinkled with generous dashes of Parmesan cheese, they are a delight.  I see I need to drag out my zucchini recipes again.  Maybe a baked zucchini dish, or zucchini bread.  We've already had stuffed zucchini.  I found a chunk of baked salmon in the freezer.  I put it through the food processor with a slice of whole wheat bread and some Italian spices and a little grated cheese, and this made a luscious stuffing for the squash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thanks, Pastor Dan

Dan Overduin has been my pastor for almost 10 years now, and upon his retirement I want to say "Thanks be to God for raising up faithful shepherds like pastor Dan!"

He always preaches Christ, an essential for any minister who deserves the adjective "godly". But he does not organize his thoughts in traditional, hermeneutical categories. He is not difficult to follow, and is clear in his diction. I was going to say he is pleasing to the listener, but that would give the impression that there is no conviction of sin, and that is manifestly not so.

His style is personal, unpretentious, and thought provoking. He usually presents a twist or insight that I did not see coming. And without ostentation, Dan evidences that he has done his homework in the study.

But Dan is my pastor, not just my lecturer. He cares about me, and I know it. He has been at my bedside in the hospital when I thought he ought to be taking care of some other of his demanding responsibilities. I am not actually a member of the local church, being a member of Presbytery. Yet he (and his warm hearted flock) has made me feel I am really part of the family.
On the occasion of his retirement, Presbytery has prepared the following minute to record in its minutes:

"Upon the retirement from regular pastoral duties of the Rev. Daniel Overduin, it seemed fitting that Presbytery mark this occasion with a recorded thanksgiving to God for raising up and equipping this godly and humble servant of the church and of her Lord.

"Both the longevity and faithfulness of Dan’s ministry in this Presbytery require a minute of recognition. Mr. Overduin has served the Lord in the bounds of this Presbytery since his ordination March 8, 1968. He briefly served as associate pastor in Manhattan Beach, before being called as pastor of our Beverly congregation in 1969. Faith Church, Long Beach, issued a call to him in 1975, and he has continued in this position for 36 years.

"Mr. Overduin has shepherded his present congregation for these many years until it has become the warm and active family of God that it is today.

"His service in this Presbytery includes several years in which he served as chairman of our Missions Committee.

"After 43 years of ministry in the Presbytery of Southern California, Pastor Overduin has the distinction of seniority among us by many years. We are grateful to God for this service, and we pray that he may find fruitful ministry among us for many years to come."

I couldn't have said it better had I said it myself...oops, as a matter of fact I did write it myself. But I was asked to compose it by the Presbytery.

Friday, June 10, 2011

General Assembly

The 78th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church begins with the handing of the gavel from the retiring Moderator, Alan Pontier, to the newly elected Moderator, Danny Olinger. This was preceded by a stirring sermon from the retiring moderator from Revelation 12.  The singing is always uplifting because there isn't a timid voice in the house.  Men's voices, singing in parts, with enthusiastic volume is rather breathtaking to hear.  These are men who believe the gospel, and sing it with convincing boldness.

Mr. Olinger, characterized by a sweet servant spirit, has been leading the most efficient, quiet and smooth running assembly in the history of the church. In my judgement this is because everyone came for the purpose of celebrating the 75th anniversary of the denomination. There was no work for the Committee on Appeals and Complaints. Almost every election has been a white ballot for the incumbents. This is a disappointment because since the last time I was a commissioner to GA they have gone to electronic balloting.  Each commissioner is given a hand held device (gizmo) about the size of a small cell phone, with buttons to push, electronically recording his vote, and I have not been able to use my "gizmo" but a few times.

Every committee has had a good report, and every advisory committee has been silent on the reports. In the early days of the church, nobody seemed to trust committees to do their work, but that has all changed. I hope that is indicative of the maturation of our church rather than complacency.
Whatever it is, this assembly (with fewer hours allotted this year) is about over and we have the resort reserved until Tuesday noon. I think we will do a bit of partying, er rather, rejoicing in the Lord.

Heart-rending reports came from the mission fields--especially Japan--telling what the Lord is doing to bring men and women to himself. The earthquake and tsunami devastation has loosened the soil of many hearts which has been hard for generations. Young Japanese pastors are begging us to send more young missionary helpers to fill this new void with the saving good news of Jesus and His love. If I didn't have so many medical liabilities I would be tempted to go myself. But I don't want to get there and keel over so as to be another problem for these overworked servants on the field.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bloody Lane

Behind the Piper farm there is a sunken road, worn by the years of wagon wheel traffic and erosion.  Beyond that is a field and woods in the fertile, green rolling hills of Maryland.  The Mumma farm is out there a few miles, and their farmhouse was the only one burned down.  The Confederate troops were fearful that this was too good a rallying point for Union soldiers who may seek refuge at a later point.  And because it was the Confederates who destroyed this property, they were never reimbursed for it.  The guarantee was given that if any property was lost because of Union soldiers' occupation, they may file a claim and be reimbursed.  But there was no such provision if it was damage caused by the Confederates.

General Hill deployed his troops along this sunken road, since it formed a natural trench from which his men could fire at the enemy while relatively under cover.  Just before the Union advance, General Robert E. Lee rode by, encouraging his men. 

A Frederick Hitchcock remembered How "reaching the top of the knoll we were met by a terrific volley from the rebels in the sunken road down the other side, not more than one hundred yards away....The air was full of whizzing, singing, buzzing bullets."  Another soldier's recollection was "a savage continual thunder that cannot compare to any sound I ever heard."  Colonel Parker reported that the Confederate volleys "brought down the enemy like grain falls before the reaper."

For more than three hours these combatants fired at one another at point blank range until the Confederate line was broken and the southerners were driven toward the Piper Farm.

About 5,500 soldiers were killed or wounded during the fighting in and around the Sunken Road, today known as Bloody Lane.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Piper farm

What was your great great grandfather doing on September 15, 1862? I would guess that my great great grandfather was raising a stein of ale after a long day in front of the ovens of a bakery in Germany. Barbara knows what her great great grandfather was doing. Henry Piper was witnessing the troops of General Robert E. Lee commandeer his farm northeast of Sharpsburg, Md. Generals James Longstreet and D. H. Hill chose Henry’s farmhouse to be their headquarters during the battle of Antietam. The Piper daughters served dinner, and offered wine to the generals, but Longstreet declined, fearing the drink might be poisoned. Only later, when Hill was unharmed did Longstreet imbibe.

As staff officers and orderlies swarmed the farm property, Piper knew that a battle was imminent. He took his family, and found refuge on another Piper farm not far away. It was the farm on which Henry played as a kid. The rumbling of canons and supplies gently shook the ground as the Pipers fled on the evening of September 16. The hideous noises of canons and hand to hand combat were heard even from the Piper’s temporary quarters all day on the 17th, as the battle of Antietam snuffed out the young lives of 22,000 boys and men.

Tragically, when the day ended, stunned survivors, nursing the ghastly wounds they or their friends had sustained, strategists calculated the battle was a “draw”. Once again we learn that nobody actually wins a war.

Henry Piper and his family waited to hear news of the property and the safe opportunity to return to the farm. On the 19th they returned to see crowds of soldiers moving out of their property and down the road for further deployment. Only then did they see the house still standing, and though few edibles remained, and their furniture was strewn about and stained with the blood of men seeking cover from the heat of battle.

This is just some of the fascinating information we are gathering about Barbara's family, and their place in history.