cleaning & shopping together

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Well, part of the reason why I went to Mom and Dads was to help Mom out with some spring cleaning.  We ate eggs and the homemade pumpkin bread that we had made the night before for breakfast and made a list of what our Saturday would entail.  Could we do it all?

We cleaned for hours and hours and then when we decided we had done enough we headed out to visit some of our favorite places and one new place.  Dad had plans with Uncle Brian so it was ::girl time::.  (whenever Sarah and I end up alone we sing to each other “GIRL TIME” and give high fives.)

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(“vintage” grocery store, LOL) Just like when I was a little, it was so small!  Why are grocery stores so big these days is what I want to know.

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Perry’s ice cream is the best because it’s what I grew up on.

Perfect way to end the day.

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It was A-MAZE-ING how much we accomplished!

*****

Things I bought, in their new home:

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Over the master bed I’ve been collecting flower prints that I love.  The second one from the right is the one I purchased with mom for only 8 dollars.  It’s an old framed print of Irises.

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wire egg holder shaped like a pig!  Perfect for me in many ways.  5 dollars

(filled with eggs from my flock)

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Mom had told me once that her Grandma suggested brown glass bottles for rooting plants.  So I bought this old one with the paper label charmingly almost gone for 6 dollars.  She sent me home with a begonia stem to root.  It’s on my kitchen windowsill and I can’t wait to see the roots start to grow.

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Striped fiesta round platter (bigger than a dinner plate)

Fiesta salt and pepper shakers, and a small souvenir plate from the factory.  I can’t remember the exact prices of the fiestaware but it was very good because it was half off.

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Last but not least, all that cleaning inspired me to come home and clean my own house.  I’ve been itching to deep clean the pantry (one of my favorite little rooms) and I tackled it this morning.  I wiped down all the shelving with yummy smelling Method cleaner, pulled the freezer away from the wall and cleaned the filthy floor under it, washed the dusty windows, and rearranged the foods and other items on the shelves.

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I wiped down the glass doors on the hutch and moved it away from the wall, too.

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You know that feeling when you clean one room spotlessly and then realize how messy every other room in your house feels?  That’s the feeling I have now, but Jacob told me to get over it because it’s not a very nice one.  And the house is clean enough.  😉

flowers under cloudy skies

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I hit the road Friday morning and drove to my parent’s house to spend a long weekend.  Although I felt a little sad leaving all the children home with Rich, I knew that it was important for me to get away for a *body mind and soul* rest away from the endless rewarding yet sometimes quite stressful jobs of parent and housekeeper.

A retreat to Mom and Dad’s house was just the place of peace and relaxation for me.

***

We had a chilly but invigorating walk on Saturday morning.  But before we went up the road, Mom and I put on our necessary rubber boots and meandered about the gardens to see what was coming up.

Mom has extensive flower beds; she absolutely LOVES gardening and has over 45 years of experience growing things.  She knows where everything is and where everything came from and delights in the many surprises gardening holds, too.  Volunteer plants show up all over the place.  She knows when she weeds she has to be careful, but not too terribly careful, because then in one of those fun surprises, the flowers will transplant down the bank where she throws the weeds.  And that’s a smile just waiting to happen.

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pink and salmon hyacinths

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The only one we saw.

(I have a small patch of them in my garden, too; does anyone know the name?  I forgot.)

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Daffodils

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Aunt Rita started planting them here years and years ago and Mom continues.  Daffodils are very obliging when it comes to multiplying each year.

“I hope to have them go all the way down the stone fence eventually!”

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darling mini daffies

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Mom planted Tasha Tudor foxgloves by the house but now they’re gone; they reappeared at the edge of the woods.

I gave her the seeds from Tasha Tudors website years ago when Tasha was still alive.  She also has a signed print from “The Secret Garden”.  We are fans.

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There are things all over the place in the beds to make things interesting.  For example, this roundish rock has been in the garden in various locations since I was a kid.  Her brother Chris (they were less than one year apart in age) found it on the farm and asked her if she wanted it.  We call it the Fred Flintstone bowling ball and mom believes that perhaps the groves were made so that Indians could crack Hickory nuts in them (you can see the tool marks on the rock).

Besides the flower gardens, Mom and Dad work on a big rustically fenced vegetable garden and maintain trails through the wild blueberry patch and into the woods.  There is a crick, mature trees and forest, wildlife abundant, places for summertime campfires, benches, and healthy moist lawn perfect for barefeet.  In my opinion, all of their well-tended 16 acres could be featured in any issue of Country Living magazine.

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After the garden tour we headed up the road together to take ourselves and the dog for a walk.

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Uncle Brian and his dogs were out; we stopped for a chat.  He had recently seen two big Tom turkeys both trying to impress a hen in all their feathered glory.  We told him he should have had a camera and he said he had enough to keep his hands full with the dogs.

He and Dad do a lot together throughout the week working in the woodlot.

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The land on both sides of the road used to belong to Mom’s parents.  It’s old farmland.  Much of it is still in the family; the parts than aren’t still feel like “ours” deep down inside.  It’s quiet and peaceful here; hardly a car goes by and you can’t even hear the sounds of distant traffic, only nature and maybe some of the far away neighbors target practicing.

This day was cloudy and overcast but the sky made all the photos beautiful.

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When we arrived back home we had some visitors.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” –Robert Louis Stevenson

We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.
~A. Bronson Alcott, “The Garden,” Tablets, 1868

bringing it back {this moment}

I hope blogger soulemama doesn’t mind!  She was the original mastermind behind these posts and a whole bunch of us were following along and had great fun.  Alas, she discontinued her “this moment” Friday posts a while back now.  However, I missed the opportunity and the fun it was to be on the look out for that “something sweet” to photograph and put on the blog~with no words.  She intended it for sharing so I don’t think she’ll mind if I once again take advantage of her generosity, so without further ado;

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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hobbies

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“A hobby is an activity, interest, enthusiasm, or pastime that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, typically done during one’s own time.”  -wikipedia

Just a common red winged black bird but it was singing and making such pretty sounds that I had to share the photo of it.  It stood on a slender branch and gracefully inched it’s way to the top of it.  It flew a short distance to a fence and then down to the edge of the stream, drinking and fluffing up it’s blackest of black feathers…….

I sat on a dry little hill of land by the stream, surrounded by old last year’s grasses and springtime wetness from the swampy wide stream.  I wore jeans, a tshirt, a flannel, and a vest with sunglasses in one pocket and my headphones and phone in the other.

I had my camera in my hands; a Nikon D3300 with a 55-200mm lens.  A very nice camera!

I’m generally very content with my camera and lenses.  How do you justify a hobby that uses costly equipment?  A bigger zoom lens would cost quite a bit.

I was sitting probably about 60-100 feet from the birds I was trying to photograph.  When I got home, I put them on the computer and cropped—and laughed at the horrible quality of images I took of this bird:

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler (first sighting)

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It’s so beautiful, but not in these pictures!

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I was on FB this morning and someone from my town had posted photos of a pileated woodpecker—stunning crystal clear close ups that took my breath away.  I asked what lens he used and found out that he had a much better zoom lens.

I have dreamed of a better zoom lens but now I REALLY want a better zoom lens!

But like I said, this is only a hobby.  I don’t sell my photos or use them for anything but my own blog and photo collections.   There is a little voice in my head that says “What is the POINT?  This photography pastime is a money pit!”

Of what value is a hobby?  To me, my hobbies (photography, reading, collecting Fiestaware) add priceless value to my daily life for a variety of reasons.  But to what extent do I maintain and invest in my hobbies, especially in photography?

The hobby itself is not a “thing”– it’s not a material possession.  However, regardless of the way it feeds my soul and gets me outside exploring nature, it can be costly as it takes money to purchase photography equipment and time to study the information so I can use it properly.

Part of these feelings about spending a “large” amount of money on a lens is due to my personal penny pinching ways.  Although I have no ethical issues with shopping, I am a thrifty shopper and like the challenge of looking for ways to “save money”–coupons, clearance, thrifting, free stuff, library, etc.

But then again, almost every adult I know has a hobby that costs money so why can’t I?

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sparrow

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Eastern Phoebe

*****

While I was writing this post, I went ahead and researched and found a lens for a somewhat reasonable price and texted Rich all about it….his reply?

“GO AHEAD”

Stay tuned!  This is going to be a great summer of bird/nature watching!

What do you think?  Do you have a hobby?  What is it?  Is it easy for you to invest in or do you feel guilty?  How do you justify spending money on an “extra” expense in your hobby? Do you have ways of off setting the cost?  What are they?  Do you have a business online?  Do you use your hobby to give back to others?  How does your hobby make you feel?  Do your children have hobbies?  Does your partner have a hobby?  What are some of the values in a hobby?  

I found a caddis worm

Yesterday afternoon I went to the chicken coop.  It was the first day back to school for the children so I was alone and greatly enjoying the quiet.  There were three eggs in the coop which I promptly put into the pocket of my shorts.  I held in my hand a mug of lukewarm coffee.  A rose fiestaware mug, to be exact.

Seth and Caleb were playing catch by the road last Friday.  Across the road from our house is forest and when they heard a cracking sound, they looked up just in time to see a small bear jumping down from a tree and running away into the woods.

I had this in mind as I stood and gazed around me at the edge of our property.  Would I see the bear?  Was I nervous?

Our property sits on four acres and it borders state forest.  A shallow but constantly running stream also borders part of our land.  I walked away from the coop into the forest and toward the stream.  I was wearing shorts and sneakers, the air was warm with a cool breeze and sunlight streamed through the tops of tall pine trees.  Beneath my feet were old damp leaves and pine needles, and crackling twigs.

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A frog hesitated and then took a flying leap into the water and swam under water soaked leaves to hide.  I had surprised me so I stood still for a while just in case there were any others.  In the center of the water beyond reach was a gelatinous mass of eggs.  The stream had overflowed its boundaries with the rain, forming a nice big puddle of fresh water, just right for a frog nursery.  As I looked, I saw a tiny little wooden thing slowly crawling in hesitant dips and bobs on the bottom of the puddle.  It looked like a small pine cone … walking under the water.  But that couldn’t be right, could it?

I was wearing my perfectly good black sneakers and for a brief moment I had to decide; would I or would I not get them wet?  For a pine cone?

I would.

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I dumped my coffee out and dipped the mug into the water to rinse.  The water was cold and my sneakers were instantly filled with it.  I bent down to scoop my discovery into the mug and brought it back with me, just a step or two, to dry land.

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It was a tiny creature living inside it’s own homemade case of twigs.

I kept it in the mug as I took a few pictures and a video.

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It’s “front door” –one the end of the case– was finished off with whitish twigs.

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Right before I put it back I held it in my hand.  It was less than an inch long.

I proceeded on my walk and as I walked down the trail to the road I almost stepped on a snake.

It moved away from my foot fast enough but then had a hard time slithering away because it was so cold.

*******

Back in the house, I quickly located my favorite nature book and identified the strange water creature that I had found.

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“People who have never tried to fathom the mysteries of the bottom of brook or pond are to be pitied.  Just to lie flat, face downward, and watch for a time all that happens down there in that water world is far more interesting than witnessing any play ever given at matinee.  At first one sees nothing, since all the swift-moving creatures have whisked out of sight, because they have learned to be shy of moving shadows………….and then something strange happens.  A bit of rubbish on the bottom of the brook walks off.  Perhaps it is a dream, or we are under the enchantment of the water witches!”  ~Anna Comstock

Pity me, because I have to say I have never (until yesterday) tried to fathom the mysteries of the bottom of our stream….and it was only because of that frog jumping that I stood still long enough to discover my very own “bit of rubbish.”

Things I learned:

*You can take these things home, put them in an aquarium to observe them, remove the top twigs of its case, give it tiny strips of flower pedals, and watch it rebuild using the blossoms.  They are “underwater architects.”

*The inside of the case is lined with silk.

*The worm is not attached to the case and if you turn the case wrong side up and hold it down, the worm will flip over within it to right itself.

*An artist named Hubert Duprat collects them, keeps them in climate controlled aquariums, removes them from their cases, supplies them with precious metal and stones, and thus creates (using the worms) beautiful little works of art.  Click HERE to see.

*When they are ready to pupate (turn into a fly), it fastens itself to an object in the water and seals itself up inside.  Eventually it emerges as a caddis fly.

* People make fishing lures using the caddis fly as inspiration.

*If they are located in your backyard stream it is an indication that the water is clean.

*They can make their case out of almost anything including sand, stones, or even a hollow stem.

*Someone made this.

For more information you can read the wikipedia article HERE.

In fact, the more I dig around the internet studying these things, the dumber I feel!  Why haven’t I learned about these before?  What fascinating creatures they are!

“Little brook, so simple, so unassuming
–and yet how many things love thee!”
~Edward Carpenter

PS, I didn’t see the bear.   However, I thought I heard one at one point and peed a little in my pants.  Bears, worms, and snakes….oh my!

easter happenings

Happy Glorious Easter!

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us–set us right with him, make us fit for him–we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.  And that’s not all:  We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
     There’s more to come:  We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary–we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
     Christ arrives right on time to make this happen.  He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready.  He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready.  And even if we hadn’t be so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.  We can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice.  But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.
     Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way.  If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life!  Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose.  We sing and shoout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

*****

We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end.  Never again will death have the last word.  When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us.  From now on, think of it this way:  Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word.  You are dead to sin and alive to God.  That’s what Jesus did.

*****

A whole, healed, put together life right now, with more and more of life on the way!

(from the book of Romans in “the Message” translation)

I could just keep typing and typing, copying out these rich and wonderful words!  Even on the worse days, the Holy Spirit keeps ministering to God’s children.  The bad days are a little better, the best days are a foretaste of Heaven!

One of those “best days” for me personally happened just yesterday.  We visited Mom and Dad’s church and then I was able to ride along with them to the Otesaga Resort for our buffet Easter dinner.  I felt like laughing all day, I was so happy.  Even when we didn’t quite know where we were going for a little while there on the back roads……..

Our reservations were for 2 and we arrived with time to spare and were seated at two large round tables, side by side.  We were in a nice open room with huge windows which opened out to the bluest lake.  The weather was lovely, warm and spring like.  The food was served buffet style and we all ate until we could eat no more, with laughter and fun conversations.

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We were missing Ethan very much.

(My sister and her family also could not make it this year.)

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Cassandra’s dear parents joined us though, which was a fun treat; we love this family!

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Dave was able to play a few songs on the grand piano!!!  He was dying to get his hands on it.

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LOVE IT!

And one last drive away photo from out the window!  the parents! xo

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Well then, it came out in the car that Rich was in a bad mood because of something a couple of our children did that I didn’t know about until we were driving down the road and he was able to fill me in on the details.  I had wondered why he had sort of “deflated” toward the end of the meal.  My poor husband, I always have complete confidence in how he handles the issues that arise in our family.  Very thankful for that.   However, as we drove along, his irritation was causing him to retreat inside of his own thoughts and problem solving so that he wasn’t paying attention to his driving….I did notice that he was going a little fast but what with the situation and all I decided to keep my mouth shut and not nag him about speed limits.

Instead, I took pictures out my window.

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You can sort of tell by these photos that we were going 60 in a 45, right?

However, the officer was merciful and decided to only ticket us not for speeding but because our vehicle had tinted windows (I guess in NY you can only have a certain shade of tint)….and even that was eventually thrown out because after all that he wasn’t able to get his computer to work- so off we went again on our merry way and at a much slower pace, praise the Lord.

We still arrived home at just the right time; bedtime for the younger children to be exact!!!  And heart to heart time for the ones who needed fatherly guidance and instruction.

All is well.

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I took these photos just this morning; things are growing fast now that the snow has melted and the ground has warmed up.

April showers and all that.

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I saw the first spring violet this morning when I walked Sarah to the bus; picture to follow!

You are loved, xo

~Shanda

What we believe is this:  If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection.  Romans 6