The Autumn Colors

adult learning, apples, arkansas, art, autumn leaves, change, Creativity, Faith, inspiration, nature, Painting, perfection, photography, shadows, trees, vision

Robert Frost, in his poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” speaks to the transitory nature of fall colors:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

When I was in North Carolina recently, I was a tad early for the best colors of autumn, but I didn’t miss the Apple Festival in Waynesville, where I bought a half peck of apples fresh from a local orchard. Every time I encounter the word peck, it it brings back memories of my dad and his older brother schooling us children on the tongue twisters they learned in school. Back in the Stone Age, proper elocution was emphasized, along with cursive writing. To this day, l still hear their dulcet duet:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Don’t get me started on sister Suzy’s seaside seashells or the amount of wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. I’d much rather talk about autumn leaves!

Here in Arkansas, our colors up north are about spent, but near and south of the I-40 corridor, peak leaf change generally takes place in early November. The colors usually don’t last long because as soon as the leaves change, strong cold fronts tend to knock off the leaves quickly as we head toward Thanksgiving.

Of course, with climate change, our first frosts are occurring later in the season. In fact, some climate scientists think we could be on the path to two main seasons—winter and summer—with transitional short shoulders of temperate weather we once knew as fall and spring. This will affect not only agriculture’s growing seasons, but also insect populations, flower blooms, and the wildlife dependent upon them, not to mention our utility bills.

Waynesville, NC Trees

After a three week hiatus from art class, I was excited to return. While I was gone, Gail has had many sleepless nights helping with the new grand babies and Mike has been extra busy, as is his normal usual. I was glad to see Erma and catch up with her to give condolences in the passing of her dear husband. COVID has kept us apart and out of touch, so I was late to know this. Others were sick or out of town, so Mike, Gail, and I looked over some art works for inspiration.

Georgia O’Keefe: Leaves, 1925

The Georgia O’Keefe Leaf painting treated these single shapes as unique objects, a radical idea in its day. This allowed her to limit her color palette and focus her design on the positive and negative spaces. A somewhat similar painting is Norman Black’s surrealist Autumn Leaves. It differs in feeling because the individual leaves are isolated, floating in space, rather than being layered one upon the other like cozy coverlets.

Norman Black: Autumn Leaves

One of the aspects in painting we often overlook is the source of light. Light is what gives our work sparkle, just as the light makes the world visible. As we wake to darkness now, we’ll appreciate the light more and more when we come home in the dark, for the days gradually grow shorter. Most artists pick one direction as the source for their light in the painting. This allows them to control the shadows of the objects in their canvases. They prefer the afternoon or morning light, not just because the sun is lower in the sky, but also because these times have distinctive temperatures. The morning has cooler colors, while the afternoon has warmer colors.

Paige Smith-Wyatt: Autumn Sunset

We looked in our cell phones for images of autumn leaves. This is when we discovered our phone search systems aren’t all created equal. While my phone will turn up every single yellow, red, or orange tree or leaf photo, plus a few pumpkins thrown in for good measure, other peoples’ phones list photos by month and date. Technology frustrated us right off the bat. Rather than waste half our class time looking for an image, Gail and I decided on one.

Sometimes the perfect is sacrificed in favor of the good when the time is short. Perfection is a goal, not the necessity to begin the journey. This is why we Methodists say we’re “going onto perfection,” rather than we’ve already arrived.

Gail’s Red Leaves

Mike chose the first one that popped up in his phone. He went straight to work. Gail likes to find the best before she starts. Sometimes we need to accept what is before us and make the best of what we have. The perfect isn’t always available. Also, she was working on too little sleep. Newborn babies will do that to grandmas. We can take a halfway good image from our phone and use it as an inspiration or jumping off point. We don’t have to recreate the image.

Beacon Manor Landscape Photoshopped

When working from a photo, it’s good to crop the image to the same scale as the canvas. This helps you get the proportions of the subject true to form. I also photoshop the colors, sharpness, and contrast. This preparatory work helps the mind sort out the important shapes. Once these decisions are made, drawing the basic shapes on the canvas starts and colors start happening.

Cornelia’s Autumn Landscape

Mike got out of the class to get back to the office before I could set a photo of his tree, but I recall it was an overall image with multicolored leaves. I worked from an old autumn photo from the grounds of my condo. I’d pushed the colors past realism in my computer software program, so it was already bold. I eliminated much of the extraneous details and painted just the simplest elements of the landscape. This is called “artistic license.” We don’t have to paint every leaf, but we can paint the shape of all the leaves in the mass together.

Artists and poets both seek to strike a chord in the hearts of their audience: one uses colors, light, shape, and form, while the other creates their images and emotions through word and metaphors.

Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver

If we remember nothing about this glorious autumn, let’s remember John 8:12, in which we hear Jesus proclaimed as the Light of the World:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Fall Foliage Dates

History of Tongue Twisters

USGCRP, 2018: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II [Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, 1515 pp. doi: 10.7930/NCA4.2018.

Portraits in the Style of the Modern Masters

adult learning, art, Creativity, Holy Spirit, Icons, inspiration, Matisse, Ministry, Painting, picasso, risk, Spirituality, vision

“ Good artists copy, great artists steal,” Pablo Picasso once said. If we’re going to learn art, we should learn from the masters, and not from ordinary purveyors of paint. In art school, we often copied the old master paintings and drawings to learn their techniques and develop those traditional styles of execution so we could “break the rules” later on if we so chose.

Learning to paint and draw is a process. In ancient times, young people were apprenticed out to a master. In this workshop, they would learn their trade from the ground up, from cleaning brushes and sweeping the workshop floors, to later mixing colors, and then painting backgrounds. Later on they’d be drawing figures, so when they were competent, they would fill in the lesser people in the painting. By the time they achieved master status and were able to leave and establish a studio of their own, they could paint faces, hands, and the complete figure with appropriately draped clothing. This was about five to ten years of full time work in their master’s workshop and included the journeyman designation by the local guild.

When I taught art in the kindergarten through eighth grades at a private school, I always reminded the high achieving parents, “Your children’s art is an exploratory and experimental exercise. It may not look like a beautiful finished product, although it might have gone through that stage at some point in the process. If it’s a picture of daddy cutting the lawn, but all you see is black circles covering the page, that’s the sound of the lawnmower engine and the smoke it makes as it crisscrossed the yard.” For children that age, the story is more important than the image. For the parents, the image is more important, but parents have to learn where their children are in their development.

Icon of Christ

We can’t judge a book by its cover, nor can we judge a painting done in a weekly art class the same way we look at a painting in a museum. Still, we look to the better image for our inspiration, rather than to a lesser image, as 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us:

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

DeLee: Repainted Icon with fabric and multimedia embellishment

Edgar Degas once said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” The past two weeks our group has been working with faces and master artists. We looked at Picasso in his multiple styles, along with Matisse and his more decorative style. We also painted portraits from our own photos in the styles of these two masters. Both Picasso and Matisse transitioned through several different styles during their artistic lifetimes, so we weren’t limited in our inspiration.


“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep,” said Scott Adams, the American cartoonist who created Dilbert. Or as the late Bob Ross would say, “There’re no mistakes, only happy little accidents.” Most of us can’t bring ourselves to make mistakes, however, even though mistakes are how we learn. Falling off the bicycle is part of learning how to find the proper balance to stay upright. We take tests in school to discover what we need to restudy. Tests aren’t a measure of our worth, but a measure of our learning. This desire to “appear faultless” often keeps us from trying something new, for fear we might not be good right out of the gate. Mature people know life isn’t a horse race, but everyone has their own gifts and graces to hone and embellish. If we don’t try, we might always be a diamond in the rough. We’ll never rise to our best if we don’t extend ourselves beyond our safe places.

Mike: The Indian

Mike took a look at an image and went to work on his painting. He worked mostly from memory, adding designs and colors as he felt moved to place them on the canvas. “Likeness” wasn’t his goal, but the joy of playing with color and shape instead.


Matisse’s portrait of his wife caused a scandal at the 1905 Salon Exhibition. Matisse’s studio colleagues asked the painter, “What kind of hat and what kind of dress were they that this woman had been wearing which were so incredibly loud in color?” Matisse, exasperated, answered, “Black, obviously”.

Cornelia: Green Portrait

“The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense,” is another Picasso quote. After all, those who always stay within the lines and always color the sky blue won’t be able to imagine sunsets or sunrises. This is why James Whistler said, “An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.”

Picasso: Double Face
Gail’s Grandfather

What is vision in the world of art? We’re familiar with visions from God, or the lack thereof in certain times, as when Samuel was called:

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
(1 Samuel 3:1)

In God given visions, the prophet is open to God’s word, hears God’s voice, speaks for God, calls God’s people back to God, and reminds people of the consequences of their actions, both good and bad. Like a prophet, an artist needs to be open to the same move of the Spirit in the natural world, for the light calls and the trees speak, and the waters whisper of the deep mysteries of God’s Providence for God’s creation. Perhaps we need still hearts and quiet minds to receive these messages, but thankfully nature has a way of renewing the life of the human soul.

Gail’s Double Face Portrait

As we become more our true selves before God, we begin to find our artistic vision. Cezanne called Monet, who was famous for his Waterlilies, “only an eye, but what an eye!” If the eye is the window into the soul, we also reflect outwards what we are inside. We keep working on both our inner selves and our outer talents, with the thought one day the two might intersect. As Picasso said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” He could learn all the art techniques in a short time, but to become his true self, without pretense before others, took him a lifetime.

We Methodists should have a good jump on this goal, since we have the spiritual tradition of “going onto perfection.” This is one of our classic grace teachings. Prevenient grace brings us to know the saving grace of God before we’re even aware of God’s working in our lives. Justifying grace is the work that lets us understand Christ’s gift on the cross for our salvation, and Sanctifying grace empowers our works to renew us in the image of God.

Gail’s Matisse Portrait

If God’s grace is available for our spiritual development, it’s also there for our personal development. Is art a frill, or a necessity? Those of us who make art, find our lives are enriched by our creative endeavors. Neuroaesthethics is the emerging field in the science of how art affects the brain. These scientists define creativity as “the generation of something new,” and art as “the most homogenous form of total creativity.” However, we still have no understanding of how the brain generates new ideas, despite a tidal wave of neuroscientific research. This is why my art classes have always had learning environments with projects with no one right answer, but rather multiple possible solutions. All art comes from a true self, not from a stockpile of manufactured and multiplied standardized reproductions.

Cornelia: Yellow Portrait

Recent thinking suggests art should be regarded as a cognitive process in which artists engage the most perplexing issues in their present experience and try to find a way of symbolizing them visually so they can bring coherence to their experience. As a result, the definition of art is constantly changing. Understanding how we symbolize our experience, how we use symbolic form to organize our thinking processes, and what are the neuroanatomical corollaries to these processes will have obvious implications for future learning. Additional neuroscience research supports the idea of enhancing transfer of learning abilities from the arts to other cognitive domains. More importantly, as Yayoi Kusama, the painter of polka dotted pumpkins says, “I followed the thread of art and somehow discovered a path that would allow me to live.”

One of the best reasons to pursue art is for our spiritual and mental health, rather than to make salable products. Improvement is a goal in itself, as is persistence. Also, concentrating on creating an object that has no real purpose, but to allow the artist to express their inner emotions and solve the challenges of a three dimensional world on a two dimensional surface. “Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one,” said Stella Adler, the American actress. In the studio, we find our true self, not who others think we are or what we do for a living. We can be children once again and paint because we want to.

In art class we lift up “studio habits of mind” or the skills we teach in painting class. For every painting or project, we always first

  1. Observe—to see with acuity
  2. Envision—to generate mental images and imagine
  3. Express—to find their personal voice
  4. Reflect—to think meta-cognitively about our decisions, make critical and evaluative judgments, and justify them
  5. Engage & persist—to work through frustration
  6. Stretch & explore—to take risks, “muck around,” and profit from mistakes
  7. Develop craft skills and
  8. Understand the history of art.

These are thinking or reasoning skills anyone can apply to any area of their lives, even if they’re improvising or “working in the Spirit.” We all can build resilience for our lives through our experiences in art. For some of my former students I taught in the classroom, art class was the only place they were well behaved, for they didn’t have to come up with one right answer, but had the opportunity to discover their own answer within certain boundaries. Also, they were graded on improvement, as well as their work ethic. “Practice makes perfect, or at least improvement, so keep working.”

Just remember what Salvador Dalí said: “The reason some portraits don’t look true to life is that some people make no effort to resemble their pictures.”

Excellent discussion of Matisse and Cezanne here:
T.J. Clark · Madame Matisse’s Hat: On Matisse · LRB 14 August 2008

The Salzburg Global Seminar: The Neuroscience of Art

Art, Creativity and Learning
June 11-13, 2008 National Science Foundation

Rabbit! Rabbit!


Welcome to October 2021

October comes around every year, but it’s a month full of surprises for the rabbit population. Yes, dear bunny friends, October is the season of leaf excursions, apple dipping (in caramel, no longer in washtubs, due to COVID), and costumes. Ghosts and ghouls roam the streets along with superheroes and princesses, but all alike want a treat from each and every address or open vehicle trunk. I personally favor October, since it begins with International Coffee Day on October 1st. As frequent readers know, this bunny’s blood is at least half caffeinated during the daylight hours.

Bat Girl Halloween Costume Almost Fully Caffeinated

October 5th is the beginning of Pchum Ben, which is a time for Cambodians to honor their previous seven generations of ancestors. This coincides with the Taoist Ghost Festival offerings of food to the spirits which haven’t yet passed onto a better life. We’ll see this type of festival honoring the dead in other countries throughout the month of October.

Somehow October seems the most normal of our calendar months, no matter what chaos is ongoing in the world beyond. The boys of summer are about to play for baseball’s World Series, NASCAR is deep into its playoff elimination races, the NFL has begun to sort out its better teams, and both professional basketball and hockey are just starting their long seasons. Those bunnies among us who escape the cares of this world by watching sports have no problem finding a balm for our pain.

Frank Robinson: All Star for All Times

We don’t have to care about sports, however, to enjoy October. The cooler nights, shortened days, and the sight of early leaf changes are enough to quicken our spirits. I’ve even made my first sighting of a sweater worn in public, which I thought was an outlier or early bird, since the outside temperature was nearly 90F.

First Fall Sweater Sighting 9/20/21

Yet we bunnies are aware October can bring a surprise: Black Monday was unexpected on October 19, 1987, for instance, when the Dow Jones Index fell 22% in one day. That crash precipitated a worldwide market decline, causing a loss of 20% everywhere. We have failsafe mechanisms in place now, which prevent trades when a severe dip happens due to computer trading. My phone didn’t stop ringing at my desk on that fateful day, as all my clients called in panicking over this event. I had to reassure them their life insurance and annuities were safe because everyone remembered the big crash of 1929.

“Black Thursday” happened on October 24, when the New York Stock Exchange saw nearly 13 million shares sold in panic selling, followed by “Black Tuesday,” on October 29, when the stock market crashed as over 16 million shares were dumped amid tumbling prices. The Great Depression followed in America, lasting for a decade until the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939.

After my day was over, I called my daddy to get his perspective.

“Are you worried about your investments?” I asked him, knowing his retirement was wrapped up in the market.

“Oh no, I bought at a low price, those shares have split several times, and I still have a few years before I need to use them.”

I sighed with relief.

“Today isn’t important,” he reminded me, “but the future will prove itself for those who stick to the plan. Don’t sell out at a loss, for the market always comes back.”

There’s a rhythm of life my old daddy knew about. We go through peaks and valleys in our existence, just as nature goes through the seasons. We aren’t always in the springtime of youth, no matter how much we long to be quick and nimble. As I age, no longer do I find all things rise to the crisis level as they once did in my youth, when I was daily overwhelmed with not just bad hair days, but floods and famines as soon as I rolled out of my comfy bunny bed.

Some of us rabbits are now long of tooth and remember the bad old 1970’s era of stagflation, when we had slow economic growth along with with high rates of inflation. Today’s inflation is caused by temporary shortages due to supply chain hiccups and increased shipping charges from overseas production sites. Still, some bunnies have very low risk tolerance and no longer hold any of their savings in the stock market. Instead, these bunnies choose the safer risk of interest bearing accounts, but expose their smaller earnings to the higher risk of inflation.

Shipping Vessel ties up Suez Canal shipping for days

My old grandmother bunny said some were “penny wise and pound foolish,” but a few bunnies still will waste $5 worth of gasoline driving all over town just to save a few pennies on their groceries. As my daddy bunny said, “Keep your eye on the main prize.” If a bunny were counting mileage reimbursement rates, a 24 mile round trip to avoid a $2.50 ATM charge actually cost $13.44, with a net cost of $10.94. If I were this bunny, I’d pay the ATM fee in town and take myself out to lunch also, plus save an hour of my time for something I thought was more profitable or enjoyable. But, some bunnies see the tree, and never see the forest. Always look for the big picture. (Check out the Recipe at the bottom of the page for an example of this principle).

Henry Ford’s First Model T

Henry Ford sold the first Model T on October 1, 1908. It was a universal car, designed for the masses, or the “Everyman’s Car.” Also in October, the Cleveland Indians hired Frank Robinson as baseball’s first African American major league manager in 1974.

October 4 is notable because the Russians launched Sputnik I to begin the Space Age, 1957, and for Rutherford B Hays’s birthday (1822-1893). As the 19th U.S. President, he was a Republican best known for his much-quoted statement, “He serves his party best who serves his country best.”

First Known Photograph of the White House by John Plumbe, Jr., 1846

On October 13, 1792, George Washington laid the cornerstone of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. James Hoban designed the building, constructed by both slave and free laborers and once known as the “Presidential Palace,” which is three stories tall with over 100 rooms. In November of 1800, President John Adams and his family moved into what we now know as the “White House” or the “Executive Mansion.” British troops burned it in 1814, but it was reconstructed, refurbished and reoccupied in 1817.

On October 14, 1964, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., at age 35 became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He donated the $54,000 in prize money to the Civil Rights movement. Today, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan holds the record as the youngest Nobel Prize recipient at age 17 for her work with education for girls and peace.

On October 19, 1781, as their band played The World Turned Upside Down, the British Army, led by British General Lord Cornwallis, marched out in formation and surrendered to General George Washington and the American Army at Yorktown. The final peace treaty was signed in Paris on September 3, 1783.

The ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ occurred on October 20, 1973, during the Watergate scandal when President Richard M. Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned. The firestorm of political protest which erupted over the firings led to widespread demands for Nixon’s impeachment.

October 21 is notable in history for two reasons: Thomas Edison kept an electric incandescent lamp with a carbonized filament lit for over 13 hours in his Menlo Park laboratory, New Jersey in 1789. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company made the first transatlantic radio voice message from Virginia to Paris in 1915. What would we rabbits do today without electric lights, air conditioning, internet, and cell phones? Maybe we’d go back to writing letters by candlelight.

1893: Beatrix Potter’s First Drawing of Peter Rabbit in a Letter

The first transcontinental telegram in America was sent from the Chief Justice of California in San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington DC, on October 24, 1861.

First Frost on the Pumpkin in Arkansas

We celebrate National Pumpkin Day on October 26, so the one seasonal question all the bunnies ask is, “When will the frost be on the pumpkin?” In Arkansas, freezes typically occur by the last week in October across northern and western sections of the state (the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains). Elsewhere in the state, freezes tend to hold off until the first couple of weeks in November. Pumpkins have been grown in North America for almost 5,000 years and once were thought to cure snakebites. A bunny who nibbles on a slice of pumpkin pie before bedtime may sleep better, or we tell ourselves that anyway. I personally always have room for pie.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France commemorating the French-American alliance during the War for Independence, was dedicated on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was the the sculptor and the entire structure stands 300 feet tall. The pedestal contains the words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Today we have new partners from our former Afghanistan war to welcome into our midst, plus we have historic alliances to repair after Britain’s exit from the European Union and the turmoil of the past few years.

Roy Rogers & Trigger visit young polio victim, Jimmy Hamilton at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC shortly before Jimmy passed away in 1944.

October 28 marks the birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk (1914-1995) in New York City. In 1952, he developed a vaccine for the dreaded childhood disease Polio (poliomyelitis, also known as infantile paralysis). His vaccine reduced deaths from Polio in the U.S. by 95%. This was one of the first nationwide safe and widely accepted vaccine programs. In fact, it was so eagerly sought after, demand exceeded supply. Of course, production was more difficult in those days. It’s also National Chocolate Day. Why chocolate only gets one day is beyond the comprehension of this chocolate loving bunny.

War of the Worlds Newspaper

Actor Orson Welles and the Mercury Players dramatized The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, a story depicting a Martian invasion of New Jersey on October 30, 1938. The radio broadcast panicked millions of Americans because the script utilized simulated radio news bulletins which many listeners thought were real.

Vintage Halloween Costumes

All good bunnies go trick or treating on Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, every October 31st, in the great tradition of combining the Christian festival of All Saints with ancient Pagan autumn festivals. The harvest marks the end of the growing season, and the land will lie fallow in rest until it’s reborn again when new crops are sown and the seeds which overwintered come to life. For All Hallows or All Saints Day, remembering the deceased who now live in Christ, as well as their alternate spooky companions who still roam the earth, is part of our recognizing all that lives, both the good and the bad. In Mexico, the Dia de los Muertos celebrations also begin at the end of the month, with sugar skulls and decorative altars for the ancestors. Facing the darkness without helps a timid bunny to face the darkness within and to conquer the fear of both.

Dog Costume

At this time of harvest we’re mindful of John Maynard Keynes, who was famous for his belief that “we can afford what we can actually do.” If we need a new kitchen, we’ll find a way to get that kitchen built and paid for, even if we finance the cost. If we keep “thinking about it,” we aren’t really interested spending money to make our current kitchen better, but would rather leave and find a better one we like more. After all, we just called a halt to a war in Afghanistan that cost us $300,000,000 per day for 20 years, or more than the net worths of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and the 30 richest billionaires in America, combined ($2 trillion). That’s a lot of lettuce for some of us bunnies, and more than enough to fund social programs to rebuild America and invest in our future.

Bunnies and Lettuce

This same principle plays out every autumn in our places of worship, as we faithful rabbits consider our plans and budgets for the coming year. Often we look at our bank accounts, note the amount leftover, and dedicate that to the Lord’s work. Then we use this amount to guide what we can do. We rabbits limit the work of God’s purpose in this world by giving the leftovers of God’s blessing instead of the first fruits of the harvests of these blessings.

Every year Congress does the same, as it goes through its annual budget dance, as if it were some junior high sock hop. “Will he dance with me or just stand over there in the corner with his buddies, trying to look cool?” If this year ends up like some of the dance floors of old, my younger rabbit self and all her girlfriend bunnies will be in the spotlight dancing alone.

October was always a stressful time for the farmers I knew, for they worried Congress might not appropriate crop relief funds. I would remind them, “They do this dance for show every year, but they always come through. Don’t look at the dance. Look at the outcome.”

Harvest Altar

October is the time of harvest, and some will always say, “We can’t afford to do it,” but those rabbits are the ones who don’t want to do it in the first place. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” my old bunny mother always said. “Don’t let their NO stop you.” Perhaps the common denominator is the human heart, which is often borrowing trouble, as Proverbs 12:25 reminds us: “Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.”

If we truly believe the words of holy scripture in Psalms 24:1—“The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it,” then all we are and all we have belong to God. To give God 10% off the top of our earnings isn’t difficult when we give as a responsive act of love. God has provided from the moment of creation for the sustenance of God’s creation, so we don’t need to worry our bunny heads. I’ve always suggested my former congregations could grow their gifts by 1% each year until they bring in the full tithe into the Lord’s house. Just as we can grow in faith, we can grow in our love of God and neighbor. We can also grow in our gifts to make our mission and ministries a possibility instead of a dream.

Joy, Peace, and Pumpkins,


October 9 Holidays & National Days | 2021 Calendar

The History Place – This Month in History: October

NWS Little Rock, AR – Frost and Freeze Information for Arkansas

Stagflation in the 1970s

Malala Yousafzai – Nobel Lecture

We can afford what we can actually do | by Alan Mitchell | MoneyMirage | Medium

Human and Budgetary Costs to Date of the U.S. War in Afghanistan, 2001-2022 | Figures | Costs of War

47 Years Ago in IDPH History

Growing Pumpkins: How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Pumpkins | The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Hamburger Helper Package Recipe

Hamburger 80% lean $6/lb—3 oz—213 cal, 17 g fat, 14 g protein,

Hamburger Helper $1.67—1 cup—220 cal, 46 g carbs, 880 mg Na, 6 protein

For $1.53 each

Total calories = 433

Follow package directions. This is mostly precooked.

NEGATIVES: This recipe has over 50% of an adult’s daily recommended allowance of sodium in the package, which is 1500 mg.

Hamburger Helper Recipe From Scratch

Brown one pound of good hamburger meat with 1/2 chopped onion. When onion is clear, add sliced mushrooms, stir to keep from sticking. Check condition of boiling noodles. If done, drain and take off heat. Can add garlic, parsley, or other spices.

Hamburger 80% lean $6/lb—3 oz—213 cal, 17 g fat, 14 g protein,

1/2 Onion chopped medium @ $.50 ea = $.25

Mushrooms 8 oz $1.79—38 calories, 1 g fat, 7 g carbs, 7 g protein, 721 mg potassium

Stir in 1/2 can soup. Store other half in fridge in appropriate container.

Low sodium mushroom soup $.89—160 calories, 11 g fat, 12 g carbs, 2 g protein, 45 mg Na, 15 mg cholesterol (I’d probably use 1/2 of this and toss the hot egg noodles in it. )

Once the sauce is bubbling, add just a spoon of water if it’s too dry. Pour in sauce into noodle pan and heat the mixture, stirring gently. Divide and serve.

Kroger whole wheat egg noodles 12 oz $1.59—190 calories per 2 oz servings, 3 g fat, 39 g carb, 8 G protein, 20 mg Na, (Cook these separately, just tender to the tooth, drain, and toss hot noodles in the mix of meat, onions, mushrooms, and soup.)

For $2.15 each

Total calories per serving = 475 (460 with half can of soup) (very low sodium)

NEGATIVES: Costs $.62 more per serving

POSITIVES: More micronutrients, more protein, extremely low sodium (spices give the taste, not the salt)