A Country Touch at Thompson’s

A Country Trio

Don and MarySue Thompson's Corner Trio

I just love outside country decorating touches.  I don't claim to be good at making them happen myself but I certainly do recognize them when I see them.   And I usually know why I like them too.   This little corner trio is at my sister MarySue's house.   What a great way to treat an otherwise boring driveway corner.  

  • Being from the farm originally and having an appreciation for antique farm equipment as well, I have always liked the big wheels.   In addition, I have handled milk cans like this one  as a teen on the farm.   Plus, I'm a gardener.  So I am predisposed to like this trio.  But there's more.
  • I love the repetition of red and white.   Notice the country touch of leaving the "weed" in the flower pot, I suspect because the flower is white and fits the scheme, in fact adds to it.  
  • I love the variety and the trio.  It's a pleasing number of items with a delightful  contrast of  texture, shape and size with the large wheel, the middle sized can and the low  spreading red petunias.  


What a great way to treat an otherwise boring driveway corner.

First frost and snow flakes too!

Flowers rescued from the first frost and arranged in a basket that was my grandmother's
Flowers rescued from the first frost and arranged in a basket that was my grandmother’s

As one who dabbles in gardening, I like to keep track of first frost dates.  Here in northern CT, this has been a wonderfully warm fall and we have not even been close to a cold night until the last two nights.  There has been frost in each of them.  I went out on Saturday to do the things that gardeners do on the last day before frost.  I gathered green tomatoes and  cut zinnias, marigolds, daisy mums, Shasta daisies, and a few other flowers for a couple last fresh bouquets.   Never mind that I hadn’t really picked many until then. It’s the sense that it’s the last time I’ll have that opportunity until next year.   More then once I’ve been known to go out with a flashlight to get those last minute items.   In fact, I picked the marigolds in the dark this year after arriving home from a church event.   The first frost seldom arrives on a convenient night.   Like judgment day,  or consequences from bad habits, first frost descends into the schedule just when you wish it wouldn’t.   Blessed are those who have been listening to the weatherman ahead and those with a little margin in their schedule so they have time to do the last minute things.   It reminds me of Jesus’ words concerning his second coming, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes” (Luke 12:37 NIV 2011).

The Celebration Begins

Our Celebration Theme and Logo

The preparations have been exhausting, but the result is clearly worth it.   Many people have pitched in to accomplish a prodigious amount of work in the last week in preparation for this weekend at Community Wesleyan.  

Makeover fever hits the sign garden

Cindy Center took on some of the outside gardening and asked Vicki Hilleges to help.  Vicki in turn recruited her daughter Nicole and husband Doug to finish the complete redo of the landscaping surrounding our church sign.  It looks awesome.   Cindy and Vicki also resurrected the old planter between the pines, the first time it has been plated since I have been pastor here.   Mike and Pat had lots of help in setting up for the dinner and it looks gorgeous with everything in purple and gold.   Fran recruited help too and the Meet and Greet reception  tables were a visual treat as well as being loaded with goodies.   Here at the parsonage,  JoAnne had help in  preparing for the open house from Mikayla, Kim O. and Kathy Dunn.   

Picture mother lode discovered

A picture treasure trove was discovered just this past Sunday.   Suddenly the history drawer had more pictures and notebooks in it than it had in years.  This required a huge amount of hustle to resort pictures for the slideshow, fill more photo albums, and prepare the rest for appropriate filing.    JoAnne headed up this effort with help from many.  To Amy LaForte fell the task of actually putting the mounds of pictures into photo albums.     Judy Pazdzierski and JoAnne created the photo record for 50 4 50 Ministries.  JoAnne supplied the pictures and write-ups and Judy did the scrap-booking.     The third photo project has been the slide show.   Anne Kipping and JoAnne were working hard on it but discovered they needed a PowerPoint expert to help bring their whole vision together.  Josh Basile joined their effort and supplied the expertise and the finishing touches.

First evening of celebration is a big success

Nothing like hugs from friends — Many hugs at the parsonage open house this afternoon and at the meet and greet time at church afterward.   Saw many I have not seen in years.  Many are returning tomorrow.   Founding pastor, Rev. Tom Boghosian and his wife and former pastor Rev. Ed Crandall and Lois were here.   In addition to these, tomorrow we expect to see Rev and Mrs. Wolfe and our D.S., Rev. Wayne Wager and his wife.   After the conversation time the concert/praise and testimony time was attended by more than one hundred people.   It was a joyful time.  

Spring flowers seem very early

These crocus more than two weeks early this year

The weatherman says things are warming up early.
We really didn’t need him to tell us. I’ve had sonowdrops and crocus blooming already for several days. I have daffodils heavily budded and one hyacinth near the house showing purple too. Al Sgroi says he has already planted peas.

Fall Beauty; First Frost at our House


Red maple in our lawn

It was a frosty beginning to beautiful bright clear fall morning today. The leaves on the red maples are just past peak and falling fast in response to the cold. This is the first frost and is one of the latest first frosts I ever remember. Seems like I remember when we first moved here 20 years ago covering tomatoes in late August because of danger of frost.  Anyway, now the fall work of cleaning up the garden can begin in earnest.



Sunflower Jungle

Every gardener should have a tall sunflower jungle picture.  So this year is my chance.   I planted a few in what I thought was the least favorable corner of the garden.   And they grew and grew.   Now I’m cutting for the table for us and feeding the birds outside.   The goldfinches are already eating to their heart’s content and yesterday I saw cardinals, another seedeater, flying nearby.  The tallest is 4 feet higher than I can reach which means it’s about 12 feet tall.  I planted several different types so I have lots of different colors too. Delightful! 

Daylily Summer Joys

Summer Joy

One of the true joys of summer for me is growing daylilies.   They don’t require a lot of care and they reward me with many blooms, each one lasting only one day.   When I spoke about that detail in my sermon one Sunday, I was surprised how few people realized it.   I guess we are so used to mums and dahlias, orchids and even African violets whose flowers last for a week or even weeks that the idea of a flower lasting only one day seems strange.   But as I mentioned that Sunday, the fact that the bouquet in my garden is different every day gives it an invigorating charm.  I go out looking for the new blossoms every day that I can.   The light patterns, the dew on the blossoms, critters hiding or not all add to the interest.

Collecting too

I have developed a little of a collectors mentality about it too with over 30 varieties now.   I have some daylilies just because they are odd—one blooms at night, another that I just planted is unusually tall, another is a double named Yellow Submarine.   Some are fragrant.   Several are spider daylilies, which means they have narrow petals rather than usual fuller round ones.   Some varieties have ruffled edges.  Colors range from a very dark maroon – inherited from Grandma Isaman–to a white one I bought called Nanuq.   I seem to prefer the orange and gold hues, though I have some striking red and yellow mixes now that will almost take your breath away.   Except for the picture of me visiting Grace Gardens, all the daylilies in the slides are from my garden.

Grandma got me started

When I was a boy, my Grandma, Jessie Isaman would pay us boys for helping her pull the quack grass from her large flower garden.   Her garden featured eight or ten different dayliles among the many other perennials and I grew to love their annual display.  Grandma died the same year I became a pastor, and my Mom encouraged me to take a small division from most of her daylilies with me when I moved to my first parsonage in Bentley Creek, PA.   I built a tiered daylily garden in the back and the daylily clumps grew well.   When I moved to Kirkville, I took part of each clump, threw them in a crate and stuffed it in the tractor trailer with my household goods.  Later that summer I unpacked the crate, planted the brown clumps and every one grew.  So I have most of my Grandma’s daylilies as the beginning of my collection.   One of them, Frans Hall, is still sold today.  Another is a fragrant yellow that I think is as fragrant as any newer cultivar I have.


More strawberries

The joys of lots of strawberries!

What a patch of strawberries!  It’s been so long since I filled my homemade basket tray that I forgot when the last time was. This year I’ve had the joy of repeatedly filling it – we are up to 80 quarts at this point and I’m still picking strawberries.   We’ve given away nearly half of them.  That’s what many gardeners like to do.  It helps even out the feast and famine nature of gardening.  You give away some of your bumper crop, and someone else will likely give you some of their next bumper crop.

Strawberries: I’ve been waiting for this!

As a hobby gardener, sometimes it is a while between good harvests of one particular crop. That’s the way it has been with me and strawberries. For several years I nursed an old patch hoping for a good harvest; only to be repeatedly disappointed.  The old plants never seemed to put out runners like they should have. So two

Lots of strawberries, at last!

years ago I planted an entirely new patch hoping that soon I could fill my strawberry tray with fresh strawberries.  But waiting was still the name of the game.  The first long year I was advised to snip off all the blossoms and just encourage the plants to get stronger. Then last year we did harvest some strawberries, but not enough to fill my tray.  The meadow voles ate as many as I did!  But the plants continued growing and I kept weeding the patch and I added a little manure for fertilizer too.   The plants multiplied and filled in the patch completely.

A week ago Saturday, I brought a handful of ripe strawberries into the house and said to my wife, “I think we will be picking strawberries on Monday.”  Little did I guess how many. My small patch overflowed with berries; six quarts on Monday, 24 quarts on Thursday, and 21 more quarts on Saturday!  Lots of strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam, strawberries for the freezer, and hopefully a strawberry rhubarb pie too!   And lots of strawberries to give away to friends—another favorite thing gardeners like my wife and I like to do.    

Just call it a banner week for a hobby gardener—a strawberry banner that is!