First garden order of the year: fruit trees and shrubs.

I went grocery shopping yesterday and was a bit startled by the increase in food prices, fresh produce in particular.  One of our purchases was garden seeds, which I’ll be starting in my little toilet paper roll seed-starter pots soon:

Last year I ordered cedar-apple rust resistant cultivars of apples — Empire, Enterprise, and Liberty — and a peach tree from Stark Bros, which I believe is the oldest nursery in the country.  I ordered these at the end of the summer when they were having a clearance sale.  I ordered the larger sized (“supreme”) ones but was shipped the smaller-sized trees because they ran out of clearance stock.  No problem, but they still charged me for the larger trees.  I emailed them to ask why and they replied they still felt I was getting a good deal since it was a clearance price.  I was a little startled by that response but I didn’t care enough to raise a big fuss.  The trees were good quality and arrived healthy and well-pruned, so I give them an A+ for their products but I’d have to give them a C for their customer service.

I’ve been planning since fall to do this year’s spring order from Raintree Nursery.  They are a well-respected nursery in Washington that carries many unusual cultivars.

Here is what I am ordering:

1. One cherry tree.

How to Grow Sweet Cherries, found on the Vegetable Gardener website, was an extremely helpful article for deciding what I wanted to buy.  Based on the author’s experience and recommendation, I’m choosing a semi-dwarf self-fertile called Lapins Cherry / Gisela 5.  Gisela rootstock was developed in Germany and requires a license to sell, so these trees are not easy to find.  Raintree is currently the only place I’ve found offering them.  The tree can be kept at about 10 feet tall and is resistant to cankers.

The rest of the items I’m ordering may sound a bit unusual to you.  However, the reduction in the diversity of our diets, a by-product of large-scale industrial monoculture farming, is concerning and my little way of fighting back is to plant a wider range of less-common fruit and vegetables.  If this interests you, the Unusual Fruit Plants for Gardens in the North-Central Region from the Michigan State Department of Horticulture is a wealth of knowledge.

2. Two huckleberry shrubs

Huckleberries are mostly found growing wild in the Pacific Northwest but can also be found in Michigan (see: Michigan huckleberries: small berries, big local history for more information plus a tasty-looking huckleberry pie recipe).  Sadly, wild huckleberries in Michigan aren’t easy to find due to habitat destruction.

Because these are mostly found in the wild and are impossible to plant from seed and are difficult to transplant, very few nurseries other than Raintree carry them, which is why I’m willing to pay nearly $20 per small plant.  I’m ordering Tall Mountain (some varieties of Huckleberry won’t survive our chilly Michigan winters, but this one should).

3. Serviceberries (also called Juneberries or Saskatoons):

My reason for planting serviceberries is because they are a fruiting shrub (or they can be pruned as small trees) that can grow in somewhat shady conditions, making them perfect for the second layer of a permaculture food forest guild:

I’m ordering the cultivar Thiessen.  I’m tempted to buy more, but serviceberries are in the same family as apples and thus are also susceptible to cedar-apple rust.  We’ve been working on cutting down all cedars on our property, but neither of our neighbors has done so, which means we can’t totally eliminate the problem.  I am planning to spray Immunox on my two non-resistant apple trees and will also spray my serviceberries.

Permaculture principles would dictate not to plant the serviceberries because I already know I’m probably going to face problems.  One tenet of permaculture is to minimize unnecessary effort by thinking through and planning things in a analytical way.  However, I also think it’s sometimes worth taking a risk to see if you can make something work if the pay off could potentially be worth the effort.  So I’ll start with one serviceberry and see how it goes.

4. Lingonberries

The National Gardening Association has a helpful article about growing lingonberries.

The lingonberry is a 12- to 18-inch-high evergreen shrub native to northern temperate, boreal and arctic regions of Europe and North America. In addition to inherent cold-hardiness (to -10°), once covered with insulating snow, it survives northern winters from New England to Minnesota…

Lingonberry plants spread by underground runners to three feet. The glossy, dark green leaves are 1/8- to 1/2-inch long and usually tinged red when new. This shrub is handsome enough for ornamental use — as a small-scale ground cover or informal edging around larger acid-soil plantings, for example. It is also attractive in containers…

hese fruits are tart. Make them into jam for a superb roast goose and venison topping. Pancakes covered with lingonberry syrup are a Swedish tradition. Use them in any recipe that calls for cranberries. Lingonberries are very rich in vitamin C.

I’m ordering Balsgard (developed in Sweden) and Red Pearl (grows wild in Holland).

Gardening is fun and enjoyable, something I would do as a hobby, regardless of any other reasons I may have for doing it.  However, the total for my order including shipping comes to $129.40.  As I put things in the ground, make infrastructure improvements, and set up our second attempt at raising chickens, I’m going to give you the dollar amounts that I’m investing.

The reason for that is because I want to make a point about how difficult this time period that we are in is; we need to start developing small-scale food independence but it’s expensive to do so, in some cases requiring two incomes.  Because I have to work full-time to pay for all this (though I’m lucky because I have much of the summer off), it cuts into my time to work on things around here.  It’s a tough time right now, but our agro-business food supply is simply disgusting and our supply web is only one Serious World Event away from major disruption, so it’s worth it.  Whatever your circumstances are, you can do something to raise food; folks did so during other difficult times in our history and we can do so again now.

Figure out what you can do now and start making a plan for this spring.

Happy gardening!

Why should she obey God if her husband still acts like a jerk?

Dear Sunshine,

Since I am a Christian, I decided to follow what the Bible instructs wives to do and submit to my husband as unto the Lord.  Imagine my surprise when I did that and he suddenly turned into a prancing queen!

What went wrong?


A Christian Wife

Dear Christian Wife,

I am sorry to hear of your troubles.  While I do not think it is at all common for a wife to obey the straightforward commands in Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1-7, and Titus 2:4-5 and end up with a prancing queen for a husband, it certainly could happen.  Likewise, obeying God in the area of marriage, or really in any area, is not a guarantee of getting a particular outcome that you want.

Wives do not submit to their husbands so that their husbands will then act a certain way.  Rather, wives submit to their husbands in order to please the Lord.  No matter how fruity or how much of a jerk any particular husband may be, his wife will not improve the situation by deciding to disobey God.

We do not obey God to get something that we want.  We obey God because He is God and we are not.  He is always right and when we do not obey His Word, we are always wrong.  For Jesus said,

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”


Best wishes,



False freedom is why we are miserable.

Recently, DF asked my opinion on the following exchange in which DF wrote:

Also on the topic of housework, I think you may come from a different perspective here, not being Christian, but for us, housework is just another way to show those that we love how much we care about them. We’re keepers of the home, and take pride in taking care of our homes well. I know that might make no sense to someone who doesn’t value homemaking and child-rearing as a profession, but for me, this is my job right now.

And Violet Wisp responded (highlighting mine):

“There seems to be some confusion in Christian circles about what ‘traditional Christian values’ are when it comes to the organisation of a family unit. All too often there is an unhealthy pressure for women in a marriage to abandon any paid work they might have doing, in order to exclusively take care of the home and children. This is unhealthy.

Think about how women would have lived in the majority of human societies. Family groupings in close communities; smaller generation gaps and intergenerational living; a mix of community and home based daily tasks e.g. food gathering and preparation, maintenance of common and home areas. People spent a lot of time outside, tasks were very physical and shared with others, children were exploring the world together, under the supervision of a network of adult relatives and friends when young. This is natural, this is what any traditional Christian community would have looked like.

Now think about women today in this artificial ‘housewife’ role. One lone female adult for most the day inside a block of wood and concrete doing physically simple tasks and caring for one to several young children often indoors […]

Human society is not likely to return to the natural community model any time soon. There are too many disadvantages in terms of privacy, wasted time and general comfort. The most sensible way to deal with the changed living conditions of modern society is to consider how to balance life for everyone in a nuclear family.

I take “balancing life” to mean the modern concept of the egalitarian marriage in which both spouses work full-time and split child care and housework 50/50.  The first thing to note is that Violet’s conclusion is wrong.  There may be many reasons why a housewife might feel lonely or unhappy, but since women en masse have entered the paid workforce full-time and sought to make “career” their identity, researchers Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have found that women have become significantly less happy.  So the solution for women isn’t just to get a job, make your husband scrub more toilet bowls, and all will be well.

But even though her conclusion is wrong, her analysis of the problem is correct.  In a post here awhile back, The decline of the gens and familia: we want to live together but we just can’t get along, I wrote:

“We’ve gotten in the habit of thinking of the word “family” as meaning a husband, a wife, and several children, but this is a very narrow view of what family means and certainly isn’t what’s meant by the term “patriarchy”. A patriarchy has generally been a kin-based clan that is headed up by a senior male relative, with each man under him taking on successively smaller leadership roles. For example:

In Roman times, all citizens were divided by gens (clan) and familia(sept), determined on a purely patrilineal basis, in the same way as the modern inheritance of surnames…[t]he gens was the larger unit, and was divided into several familiae…

The idea of the nuclear family being an autonomous unit not embedded in a wider kin network seems to be fairly recent…

Are we happier this way? Maybe in the short-term we are, but I am not convinced we are in the long run.  The decline in the size of our family units has nicely mirrored the decline in our mental health:

Studies show that rates of depression for Americans have risen dramatically in the past 50 years. Research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that major depression rates for American adults increased from 3.33 percent to 7.06 percent from 1991 through 2002.”

So two things seem to be at the root of women’s declining happiness: leaving the home to pursue careerism and extended families breaking apart into nuclear families.  And the major cause of extended family/community breakdown is transplantism, which refers to a person or couple moving away to a different region of the country from the rest of their family, as the author of the blog Face to Face has explained in a number of very interesting posts on the subject.

For instance, transplants are significantly less likely to be in contact with both blood relatives and in-laws, and the result is a decline in happiness:

“A simple comparison between natives and transplants shows that their happiness levels are indistinguishable: 35% of natives and 36% of transplants are “very happy,” while 10% of both natives and transplants are “not too happy” (the rest being “pretty happy”).

That is despite the transplants being more educated (33% hold a college degree, vs. 20% of natives), and earning a higher average income ($58K in current dollars, vs. $47K for natives). Any boost to happiness from being upwardly mobile is apparently cancelled out by not belonging to the broader culture of the place where you live.

[…] here we see a vivid reminder of how simple it is to sever the ties to your extended family — just move away, or perhaps they will. As long as the split is not acrimonious — you’re just leaving to better yourself — no one will be bitter about the diluted and fragmented family web. It’ll be one of those things that just happen, mysteriously and uncontrollably.

I don’t see things changing course due to a change in attitudes toward family ties. There’s too strong of an impulse toward self-enhancement, rather than maintenance and enhancement of everything else that made you.”

It is really quite a paradox.  Born of a selfish impulse for self-enhancement, transplantism and the decline of the gens has actually led to reduced happiness  Truly, we do not know what is good for us.

And what is good for us?


And not only for women, but for men too.  Because in the traditional family structure, wives submitted to their husbands but their husbands submitted to the leader of the larger family group.  Transplantism, like feminism, like no-fault divorce, like atheism, like democracy itself —like all of liberalism’s twisted offspring—is born of the desire to rebel against submission to proper authority (you can do what you want!) and a futile search for happiness in total freedom.

Paradoxically, true emotional fulfillment is only found in dying to self, and true freedom from misery is only found in submission to proper authority: children submitting to parents, wives submitting to husbands, husbands submitting to the family patriarch, family patriarchs submitting to the rightful king, and everyone submitting to Jehovah God.

Edited to added: I should clarify that I do not think it is unhealthy for mothers to be at home caring for their children.  I wasn’t clear about that.  What I do think is unhealthy is the atomization of the extended family into progressively smaller units via transplantism, divorce, and the like.

The kind of help we all can do without.

When I was a young lass back in the 1970s, the feminist battlecry took on a cutsey-pie sex-kitten face in the form of Marlo Thomas in her classic children’s musical, Free to Be You and Me.  Real feminist agenda items like abortion and breaking up families through no-fault divorce were not so palatable to the average person, but who didn’t want to watch Marlo Thomas, Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson cozied up with a guitar?

Mmm, smell the…incense. Or something.

One of the songs on the record is Tom Smothers singing the Shel Silverstein poem “Helping”.  I couldn’t find the clip from the TV show for Free To Be You and Me, but I did find the song on YouTube with a homemade video.

Agatha Fry, she made a pie
And Christopher John helped bake it
Christopher John, he mowed the lawn
And Agatha Fry helped rake it

Now, Zachary Zugg took out the rug
And Jennifer Joy helped shake it
Then Jennifer Joy, she made a toy
And Zachary Zugg helped break it

And some kind of help is the kind of help
That helping’s all about
And some kind of help is the kind of help
We all can do without

That last line immediately popped into my head upon reading Farm Boy’s post Why Feminists Give Each Other Awards discussing Angela Merkel having recently received   the Roosevelt Foundation’s Four Freedoms award.  From the Washington Examiner:

Just two weeks after hundreds of women were sexually assaulted by men who were reportedly asylum seekers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been announced as the recipient of an award based on her management of the refugee crisis.

Merkel, who was also Time Magazine’s 2015 person of the year, will receive the Roosevelt Foundation’s Four Freedoms award on April 21. The organization cited her work on the refugee crisis as part of the reason she was chosen for this prestigious award.

“In the current migrant and refugee crisis Merkel is committed to Europe’s humanitarian duty to protect those fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and to tackle the causes of the crisis by working for peace in Syria and the region,” the organization said in an announcement about the award.

Farm Boy muses:

“Now consider Feminists throughout recent history.  Rush Limbaugh once suggested that Feminists were a bunch of women who gave awards to each other.   Feminists have pushed through legislation and cultural change that has affected women, but one needs to ask, “Has this change on the average been positive to women?”  And this is precisely the question that Feminists do not want women to ask themselves.  For the answer, upon reflection, in many cases would be no.”

Indeed, Farm Boy.  Feminists give women the kind of “help” we all can do without.

I’m no feminist, but I can give out awards with the best of them.  So in honor of her open-door policy that allowed 1.5 million migrants into Germany in 2015 alone—far more than the country could safely handle, as the New Year’s Eve sex assault debacle demonstrates—I hereby officially present to Angela Merkel the Kind of Help We All Can Do Without Award.

Ah, the feminists are clapping already…




Is the problem a lack of listening or a lack of submitting?

In She Only Acted Crazy To Get Her Own Way, Dalrock asserted:

There is another point worth bringing up in this episode, and that is the meaning of the complementarian expression “listen to your wife”.  This is another case where the complementarian expression means something quite different than what the words would suggest on their face.  Just like “servant leader” doesn’t mean headship, and “submission” means rebellion, “listen to your wife” doesn’t mean simply listen to her.   When spoken by a complementarian, “listen to your wife” means do as she says”

In Just Shut Up and Listen, I tested the validity of Dalrock’s assertion by examining one of the most popular Christian marriage curricula of the present day, The Art of Marriage, and found that Dalrock’s assertion was confirmed.  I then reiterated how this listen to your wife=obey your wife teaching directly contradicts the Bible by inverting the Christian marital hierarchy of headship and submission.

Insanitybytes took exception and asserted that the problem isn’t wives throwing tantrums to get their own way but rather husbands who abuse their wives by not listening to them. She commented (highlighting mine):

Sometimes men don’t understand the seriousness of the situation and women need a way to get their attention. Men like Dalrock have no idea WTH they are talking about and “never listen to your wife” is so anti biblical it makes my blood boil. Men are to love their wives like Christ loves the church. Does God not hear our prayers? Does God not listen to us? Does God not preserve our mental health?

I’ve addressed this several times. Not listening to your wife is psychological abuse. Not being heard sent this woman into an emotional crisis, one in which she was destroying her wedding china.

So, we all agree that examples of wives wildly acting out are highlighted by the Christian media as worthy of emulation.  What we obviously don’t all agree on is what is causing this acting out.  Thus the question we need to answer is this: Are these out-of-control behaviors caused by (as Dalrock asserts) wives who want to get their own way or by (as IB asserts) husbands who won’t listen to their wives at all?

In other words, is this a lack of listening or a lack of submitting?

Let us find another example of a wife exhibiting multiple instances of acting out in a rather unhinged manner.  My example for this post comes from As For Me and My House: Crafting Your Marriage to Last by Pastor Walter Wangerin (you can click the title above to read the parts I quote from in this post via google books):

The first thing to note is that Pastor Wangerin is not part of the evangelical marriage industry.  He has been a Lutheran pastor for many years, serving for a number of years in an inner-city congregation.  He is also a fantasy author, well known for The Book of the Dun Cow, among others.  I’m very fond of Pastor Wangerin’s writings, and about five years ago I read his book on marriage.  There is some very good teaching in it, but one of the things that stood out to me even then, before I had really thought these things through, was a series of anecdotes about a troubled time in his marriage.

At the beginning of the story, Pastor Wangerin and his wife have been married for some years when he wakes one night to find his wife not in bed. He gets up to look for her and find her crying alone in the dark in the living room.  He is terribly worried and begs her to tell him what is wrong but she refuses even to speak to him. She gets up, runs to the bathroom, slams the door, still refusing to speak to him, and bursts into fresh, angry tears.  He continues the story on page 75:

How long can a silence last? Long. How long could Thanne continue not talking to me – not talking, at least, of matters crucial to our spirits and our relationship? Long. Thanne had a gift for silences. And after the night when I found her awake I suffered a bewildered misery.

Oh, I was such a fool in those days. But I was working blind. What could I do, if she wouldn’t talk to me?

No: I was a fool in those days. I did not see that even my efforts at healing hurt her. Well, I wasn’t looking at these present efforts, only at past actions to find the fault; but, in fact, the fault was consistently there, in me, in all that I was doing. Therefore, I kept making things worse for all my good intentions. I was a walking fault!

At night she always went to bed before I did. When I came to the bedroom, carefully shading the light from her eyes, doing everything possible to care for her, I always found her turned away, curled tightly on her side, at the very edge of the bed. Her cheek was the only flash I saw, and the corner of her eye – closed. Was she sleeping? I didn’t know.  I was scared to ask, scared to wake her if she was, and scared she wouldn’t answer if she wasn’t. I got under covers cursing creaky bed springs. And my heart broke to see the cheek I could not touch. Her skin was no longer mine.

“Did you sleep well?” I asked in the morning, as casually as I could.

Thanne was growing pale, gaunt in her thinness, drawn around the mouth parentheses (from so long, so pinched a silence).  Her hair broke at the ends, dry. She fixed breakfast for the children in her house coat. Her poor ankles were flour-white.

“Did you sleep well?”

Thanne flashed me a glance as sharp as a scalpel. “I didn’t sleep,” she said and slapped eggs on plates. Her tone said volumes, but left the interpretation to me: because of you.  Or, what’s it to you? Or, you asked me just to rub it in. Or why don’t you just go to work? I could take my pick. I left for work.

But I was not a bad man, was I? I didn’t fool around with women – that’s worth something in this world, isn’t it? I didn’t fritter away our money, or beat her, or even talk back to her. I wasn’t a drunkard. What I was, was a pastor! I had given even my professional life to God. I was a good man! Then where was the problem between us?

All day I argued my defense in my own mind. All day I truly suffered a stomach pain which felt very much like homesickness and intolerable loneliness. It prickled my back to think how much I loved Thanne; but it drew my gut into a knot to remember that we were not talking. And the knot was guilt; but the knot was self-pity, too. For God’s sake, what did I do?

In the evening I planned to prove my goodness to her. I vacuumed the living room. With mighty snaps, I shook out all the rugs in our house. When the children had gone to bed (so quietly, so quietly, like mice sneaking beneath their parents’ silences) I noticed that Thanne hadn’t yet done the dishes. Good! I thought. My opportunity! And I rolled up my sleeves to help her out.

But when I was halfway through the pans I felt the hairs on my neck stand up – as though the Lantern had haunted our kitchen. I paused in the greasy water. I turned and saw Thanne standing in the doorway, glaring at me in silent fury, her thin arms folded at her chest.

She hissed, “You are just trying to make me feel guilty.”  She disappeared from the doorway and went to bed.

No – but I thought I was trying to help. The dirty pans beside me made me sad.

He continues on to describe several more stories in which his wife acted out crazily, including leaving home on a Sunday afternoon without telling her husband where she was going, or when/if she would return.  Because they had guests coming over for dinner and he did not know if she would return, he cancelled the get-together, only to have her return a few minutes before the dinner party was to begin and throw a massive tantrum about his having canceled it. Disturbingly, he writes of this event:

I knew for sure that Thanne was right.  I had sinned terribly against her, sins which I will name before this chapter is done so you will understand that it wasn’t a single act or a number of acts: it was I myself. I was sin.

 Finally it is revealed that she was upset about him being gone so much for work, attending to his pastoral duties, and not prioritizing her enough (this should look very familiar to you; it was also the reason for the tantrums of Mrs. Bright, Mrs. Keller, and Mrs.Wilson).  Furthermore, as a pastor’s wife she felt like she was losing her own identity. Part of the resolution involved Pastor Wangerin watching the children more often so she could pursue her desire to get a degree in computer programming.

Pastor Wangerin had repeatedly pleaded with his wife to talk to him and tell him what was wrong; not only was he NOT “abusing” her by refusing to listen to her, he was actually begging her to tell him the problem. yet she would not.  She not only threw tantrum after tantrum to get her own way – having her husband home more so she could pursue personal fulfillment – but she wouldn’t even tell him what was wrong.  She faulted him for not being observant enough to read the situation without her having to say anything.

Pastor Wangerin goes on to explain some of the little ways he treated his wife unkindly; he was not blameless.  Yet the overarching reason for Mrs. Wangerin’s tantrums clearly was not that he did not listen to her but rather that she wanted to have her own way and thus continued escalating her behavior until he finally got the message (and leaving without telling your spouse when or if you ever plan to return is clearly a message with an implicit threat to it).

Let us answer the question I posed at the beginning – is this a lack of listening or a lack of submitting?  We can see that listening was not the problem in the Wangerin home, which means the problem was primarily a lack of wifely submission.  And once again, a Christian pastor has held his wife’s lack of submission up as good and sound teaching for other Christian women.

Edit: I misidentified Mrs. Bright as Mrs. Rainey originally.