5 May 2010

Tree Advice? (Updated)

Submitted by Paul Brown

(This was originally posted in May, and I am now updating it with some additional photos from the end of the summer)

Holly and I have a tree in our backyard that I am a bit worried about. It is still fairly small, just a bit taller than I am, I think. I'm not sure exactly what kind of tree it is, and if you know your trees, you'll probably be able to tell better than I by looking at a photo of the tree.

I am concerned about the tree because I have noticed two cracks in the bark near the base of the tree, one more or less on the east side and one more or less on the west side. I took a couple of photographs of the larger crack on the east side of the tree:


Since we just moved into the house, I don't know when the tree was planted or how it has been taken care of. From what I have been able to find on the internet, cracks in tree bark are commonly caused by freeze/thaw cycles during the winter. This past winter was quite bad in Omaha, so that seems like a reasonable explanation. But it has also been rather windy this week, and I see that poor little tree getting blown in the wind and wonder if the cracks might also be caused by the tree bending too much in the wind. I have read that staking a tree against wind is not generally in the tree's best interest; the stess of wind blowing on the tree helps it develop the trunk strength that it needs to withstand the wind.

Does anyone have any knowledgeable advice about what may be going on with the tree and what I can do to help it? Or is the tree even worth saving?

Here are a few photos from early September. The wounds at the base of the tree look like they are attempting to fill in. The tree doesn't show much, if any, growth at the top.


2 May 2010

While the blog here has been quiet for the last couple of months, life for me certainly hasn't been. Holly and I found a house, we moved from a rented condo in Lakewood to our very own house in Omaha, I started working remotely from an office in my home, and we found out that Holly is pregnant and now in her ninth week (I think). In the move, we left our close community at our previous church and some close friends and moved to a place where we have almost no friends but much more close family close by. The process of pregnancy has been a kind of adventure all to itself so far as Holly's hormones have totally shifted the gears of her body to get it in order to support the child that is growing inside of her.

As we are making these huge transitions, God's blessing has been over-abundant. I am amazed at how smoothly everything has gone. I never would have imagined that we could move to Omaha and I could somehow keep my job. Our house is more than we deserve. And having family "close by" has been a wonderful blessing. It has been so very nice to have them be able to just stop by because they were in the area and to be able to share meals and talk so much more easily. Holly's pregnancy was a beautiful if somewhat unexpected blessing after so many trying months of hoping and waiting (see Holly's post on the subject).

Before us lie more changes: joining and connecting with a church community (at the moment pretty settled on Coram Deo), seeing Holly's pregnancy progress, the baby grow and in due season be born—Lord willing—and becoming parents, learning to live as faithful followers of Christ in our neighbornood and among our neighbors. As we continue in this latest chapter of the journey, I look forward with anticipation to the new blessings that God has in store for us, blessings that show us his infinite faithfulness and goodness, blessings that shape us to be the people that he made us to be. May the Lord Jesus receive all the honor and glory and power, for he alone is worthy (Rev. 5:12-13).

25 Feb 2010

I have had my email address for several years, and although I do not have very stringent spam filtering enabled, I still don't get a lot of spam email. One tactic that I have used that I think helps me keep it this way is that I don't give out my email address to websites that request an email address just for registration.

Many sites require some kind of user registration just to access their content, and they require a valid email address to register. Instead of giving them my real email address, which they may or may not use responsibly, I often choose to use a throwaway email address from mailinator.com. This gives an email address to which the site can send the registration email without actually entrusting the site with my personal email address and increasing my chances of receiving spam.

Sometimes a site has some code that apparently rules my made-up mailinator.com email address as "invalid", but fortunately Mailinator also has several other domains that point to the same place, so I have always been able to find a different domain that is not blocked that accomplishes the same purpose.

There are other services on the internet that will do the same thing. I use Mailinator because it is easy and works for me. If you have an email address that you would like to guard against spam, I recommend not giving the address out unless you really trust the site to which you are disclosing your email. This will not protect you 100% from spam—perhaps not even close—but it should help.

21 Feb 2010

Holly quit her job effective a week ago, so she has been a "stay-at-home" wife since the beginning of last week. I put "stay-at-home" in quotes because she really does not just stay at home. Every day, Holly has had a list of chores or errands that she wants to take care of, so she has kept very busy. She posted some of her initial initial thoughts over on her blog, but I thought it might be nice for me to share some of my thoughts as well.

Having Holly able to take care of a lot of housekeeping and errands while I am at work during the day has been very good for us so far. With our impending move, there are even more things to take care of and plan for than usual, so this has been an especially helpful time for her to have more time to dedicate to managing our domestic affairs. The primary effect that I have noticed this week is that we both seem to have more energy than we did before. Holly gets so much done during the day that when I get home from work, we are pretty much able to put dinner on the table and eat and then have the evening to relax and enjoy one another's company. On the evenings where we had outside engagements, such as our Regen community group or visiting Holly's Mom and Dad, it felt less rushed than when we were both getting home at 5:00 or later and then trying to get ready to go.

Aside from Holly and I having more time to relax and have fun together, I think that Holly is also happier in this arrangement. Admittedly, it is still early and no doubt frustrations may appear as we stick with this for the long haul, but it feels like Holly is energized rather than enervated as she has been taking care of the business of the home. Her joy in turn tends to put me in a better mood, I think, and in some ways it feels like we are back in the dating or early newlywed stage again.

One attendant benefit that I had not expected has appeared: We have been able to go to bed earlier and with more energy, so I am catching up on my Bible reading plan. Although it is well into February, I am still back in mid-December in the reading plan. There are more factors in plan than just when I go to bed and how much energy I have when I do, I'm sure, but it has been very good for my soul to be getting back into reading my Bible regularly and having more mental energy to engage with the text as I read it. I still have a lot of growth to do in this area, but I have seen some good steps in the right direction this week.

I think that the main reason that this arrangement is working out so well so far is that Holly is a woman of character who desires to honor God by caring for our home. Like the idealized wife of Proverbs 31, "she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." I look forward to seeing how the Lord will bless her for her faithfulness as my wife.


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