About Shanda

wife, mom of seven, friend, child of God

nature photos (mostly birds)

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“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.

Don’t be impressed with yourself.

Don’t compare yourself with others.

Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

Galatians chapter 6

Ah, such freedom.

I feel it in my soul.

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There has been a great deal of bird activity around my place.  I hear them outside and sneak over to the windows to take a look.  The fledging nestlings are almost grown up and the parents bring them to the feeder.  I laughed at this one female cardinal baby who acted so helpless but by all appearances seems to be big enough to get to the birdseed herself.

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She cannot and will not be ignored.  She vibrates her wings up and down and doesn’t stop peeping (begging).  You would think she was starving.

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“Here take it!”

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“No good.”

It was an empty shell!  Quite funny to see their beaks point down at it, looking. questioning.

I ran outside to fill up the feeders with sunflower seeds just in case the birds were running out.

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Juvenile females have a dark beak.

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And the mature female’s beak is beautiful orange-red.

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It was raining the day I took these photos and all the birds’ feather-coats were clean but disheveled, much to our amusement.

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Even Chippy Hackee came for a visit and was stuffing his cheeks full of seeds.

“I know where Chippy is; a little bird told me,” said Mrs. Chippy Hackee.”  ~The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes by Beatrix Potter (we’ve been reading it over and over lately)

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KINGFISHER (I love them!) They have feather mohawks and their heads look too big for their body.  They are a beautiful slate-blue color with white and blend in well.  I knew this one was there because of it’s calling sounds.  I was on the porch when I took the photo, and he was way over in the trees over the pond (where he finds little fish to eat).

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Look who I found on the roof!

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The most beautiful cedar waxwing Mother.

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And her baby.

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Here’s my baby.  He was outside taking videos of David kicking a soccer ball when I took this photo.  Seth will be 10 in February and I drove him last night to the school to try out the Trumpet, which is his first choice to learn for band.  His second choice is percussion and third, the oboe.  After he was done he asked if he could skip the rest of football practice and I said “No way!” and dropped him off at the field.  Caleb has a slightly hurt knee so I found him dejectedly pacing around listening to his coach (who wanted him to take it easy) and team practice.  I saw Zak, one of Jacob and Ethan’s friends, and chatted with him.  Rich has been gone all week but thank goodness he will be home tonight, Lord willing.

Please pray for my Aunt Carol and Uncle Brian as they just found out that Uncle Brian is facing a serious illness.

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PS, the first photo in this post was of a mother wolf spider.  She’s guarding a nest full of tiny spider babies.

a very special September 16th

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new mama

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first baby!!

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My brother Isaac and his wife Cassandra had their baby!!! and invited us over yesterday to meet her.  Rich and I left David in charge of Caleb, Seth, and Sarah at home, and spent about an hour and a half visiting our new little niece.

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It was wonderful to hold this beautiful baby girl.  She’s perfect.

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Rich had a turn holding her, too.  I think he was surprised that I would share.

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Isaac with his baby girl.

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I took these portraits after she took a little nap and was relaxed, calm, and content in her Daddy’s arms.  Rich remarked to me after we left how sweet it was to see her obviously know and love her parents.

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Welcome to the word, sweet Elena!  You are loved beyond words.

*****

 

When it was time to leave, we went in the backyard and had Isaac take some photos of us, as it was our 23rd wedding anniversary.

It was a very special September 16th, and one we will always remember because it was the day we met baby Elena.

Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 106:1

 

day with the husband

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Rich and I celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary on Sunday the 16th of September and since Sunday is a busy day for us, Rich took today off so we could spend time together while the kids were in school.  He’s at an eye doctor appointment now (4:30pm) so I have time to post a few photos.

We ate breakfast at a diner, the next town over, even though at the moment we don’t “like” this town because their youth football teams beat our teams very badly last week.  That was Rich’s remark anyway, which made me laugh.  This diner was hopping with folks “of a certain age.”

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This is a small town to have so many people at a diner for breakfast and Rich thinks it’s because it’s such a nice place but I think it’s because there is a senior living community just down the road.  It was fun to see people coming in a various times and getting enthusastic welcomes from their friends.  There was an older lady that looked similar to my Aunt Betty and I kept looking at her.  There was an older man with an oxygen tank.  There were hugs and loud conversations.  “Yeah, I feel good today!” said one gentleman to another.  Rich and I settled in to our eggs and potatoes and just enjoyed the atmosphere before heading to my hair appointment.

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This was taken in the car after my appointment.  My hair stylist, I think, let the dye sit a little too long because my head along the hairline is also dyed and it will not come off yet.  I had the roots done and a little trimmed off the ends and Rich worked on his laptop outside in a lawn chair while he waited for me.  We had enough time that I could have dropped him off at home while I had my appointment but he said he wanted to stay with me.   Then we drove the backroads to the mall and stopped at an apple stand/coffee/bakery on the way.

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Rich picked out a nice apple but when he ate it in the car he said it was mealy, so that was a little disappointing.  Out it flew through the car window into the trees.

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He saw this toy tractor and pointed it out because he liked it.  He’s a farm boy still.  He has a small John Deere tractor in our garage.

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He took me to Barnes and Noble and I bought the newest Flow mazazine but once I got home I realized that someone had taken the free wrapping paper out of it so I’m a little annoyed about that.  I also got a Breathe magazine and the Newbery Honor book Echo, which is a big beautiful hardcover book with 585 pages!!!!  I hope it’s as good as I am anticipating.  I can’t read it until I’m done with The Windy Hill (1922).  Rich got a couple of men’s fitness magazines and one of them has a young Arnold S. on the cover only wearing a small bathing suit which was horrifying to see.  Rich is slowly easing into running again after his disc surgery but has been able to keep working on his upper body and to me, looks amazing.  I’m so proud of him and the way he continues to get up early three days a week to work out and keep himself healthy.

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I took a photo of the cover of this book because……..

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Inside there was a photo of fiestaware (mixed with Bauer).  SO pretty!

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We sat at a table by the window for a while.  He had a pumpkin spice latte and I had a matcha green tea latte and then we drove back home.

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We ended up having a good hour to ourselves before the bus came.

morning of the waxwings

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*Jacob and Brittnee*

I took their photos right before my trip to Alaska.

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They make a nice couple, don’t they?  Brittnee is such a joy.  This year she is enrolled at Christian college in Pennsylvania WITH GRACE.

She was Grace’s friend in High School before she and Jacob started dating.  And now they go to the same college!  I would have never dreamed.  God truly has a way of making this sad and dreary life delightful.

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They were all dressed up to go out to a nice dinner together to celebrate their anniversary.

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I still have Alaskan photos to share but I haven’t done it because, in my mind, once I blog about the rest of the trip……. it will be truly “over”.

When David was a preschooler I read him Winnie the Pooh, just the two of us, and could never bring myself to read the last chapter.

I’ve learned that being highly sentimental is a gift.  It takes all kinds of humanity to make the world go ’round.  Each individual is a blessing to the family in which they belong.  I’m so grateful for each grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, parent, cousin….. both my husband’s and my own.

And each friend and neighbor, too.  We belong to each other.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

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Sarah forgot her school folder the other day.  It was mistily raining.  When I went outside to the car to take the folder to school I heard a racket almost like crickets or maybe birds, so I walked around the back of the house to peer up into the tall trees that grow between our house and the neighbors.  After a short time, I saw that the sound I was hearing was tiny birds, up high and partially hidden in the leaves. “Probably just sparrows,” I thought, but because I couldn’t see them very well I thought I better grab my camera and get a better look.  But what about Sarah’s folder?  My curiosity won out and I retrieved my nice long zoom lens from the house to take a photo and discovered these weren’t ordinary sparrows (are not five sparrows sold for two cents? yet not one of them is forgotten before God), but baby Cedar Waxwings!

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Their mother came with some food and the birds became even noisier.

Behind our house is a bank and the trees grow up from the top of it, so it’s rather high up and proved cumbersome to aim a heavy camera almost straight up into the mist for photos, so I went upstairs to Sarah’s room to lean out her window.

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Meanwhile I was also texting with my brother so I sent him this silly selfie.

I thought about going out the window onto the roof of the addition but decided I was too scared.

I wanted to see if my better vantage point would result in better photos but from the window I couldn’t see the baby birds at all.  They were lost behind all the leaves. However, I got a pretty decent photo of the adult.

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She was at the very top of a tree, probably to stand guard, ready to defend her babies from the Lady with the Camera.

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The nest close by with another baby inside of it.  Oh it was just wonderful to see and experience, and photograph.  And yes, Sarah DID get her folder.

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Yesterday when I went outside the birds were all gone.  I still feel that the 20 minute part of my morning the other day (the morning of the waxwings) was a great gift….I’ve never seen baby cedar waxwings and when I see the adults (once a year) it’s always a thrill.  They are such lovely birds and don’t visit the bird feeder because they eat mostly fruit and insects.

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Since I have my camera right next to me as I type, I looked up from the computer to check the bird feeding station we have on the porch just outside the window.  Maybe today I’ll see another unique visitor…….

….but this is what I saw……

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A Very Bad Kitty!

I brought him right back inside and now he and Sherlock are looking out the window at a cardinal eat sunflower seeds.  The tips of their tails are twitching.

Time for me to eat breakfast and clean the house!

Happy Thursday!  Maybe you’ll see a bird!

another day at Brimfield antiques show

*This is a tale of two sisters going to Brimfield AGAIN.

This is a yearly event for us, sometimes even more than one time per year!  We always park at the church and then walk walk walk until we get tired and decided “that’s enough for this visit.”

There is always so much for two sisters to see and lots to laugh about.

Brimfield day fills us up.

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We’ve taken our children before in years past, and this time Amanda brought along her niece, who was so cute and a good sport.

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Look at this collection of Tasha Tudor books we found!!!  The prices were, by my estimation, full market value.  But I didn’t care, because when the prices are high I simply take a photo and learn something.  For instance, maybe I’ll find one or two of these books at Goodwill someday!

We thought of Mom whenever we saw glass jars, and of brother Dave whenever we saw a piece of nautical art.

Amanda looked so cute in her red sneakers.

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Another beautiful glass jar (thirty-nine dollars)

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We thought this huge flat basket filled with dried flowers and grasses was so “primative-pretty”…….it’s fun how different booths have different “feels”.  Some are soft and pretty, some are manly with lots of dusty tools and rust, some are full of dishes (my favorite), some are like walking through a garage sale with no rhyme or reason to the display, some are artfully put together, some have cheerful happy sellers, some have grumpy “don’t insult me by asking for a lower price” sellers.

There were LOTS of shoppers on Friday because it was the nicest day to go, weather-wise.  The heat had finally broken after days of sweltering humidity.

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Oh my, a feast for my fiesta-loving eyes!

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I had to get a closer look at the grasshopper who also obviously loves fiestaware.

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Amanda gravitates toward plaid and wool… (she tried on this shirt).

Our biggest “what the” moment was when we were admiring a stack of vintage wrapping paper and when the lady named her (too high) price she explained that it was “inspiration for Ralph Lauren who was expected to appear in the fashion tent that day”.  When I told her I just wanted it to wrap presents with it she gave me a better deal!!  So that was nice.  🙂  But we were laughing about this situation for a while afterwards.

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Adorable doll house display.

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I was so happy to find a display of “stone fruit”, another collectors item that I LOVE but will be looking for…. at Goodwill.  These pieces are all heavier than you would expect and we picked up some of our favorites to hold in our hands.  You can zoom in on the price list.

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I loved this table of fiesta because he had it priced reasonably (for me–it’s all objective–) and I found a mug for five dollars.

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HOWEVER, I did buy a shelf of vintage fiesta from a guy for 250.00.  The only pieces I didn’t take were the teacups because I hate teacups unless they are a valuable color like lilac, medium green, or sapphire.  He asked for 275. but wanted cash so I said “if I have to walk down the road to the ATM I’ll give you 250,” and he said “fine.”  He was pleasant to do business with and come to find out he was selling the dishes for an older couple who lived in Maine.  The lady was 72 years old and starting to feel like it was time to thin out her collection.  He even showed me a picture of her.

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I paid that much because of the lids….it’s harder to find them…the yellow casserole is perfect, the blue casserole is called Kitchen Kraft fiesta and the lid has a teeny tiny crack on the edge, the red lid is perfect but doesn’t go with the red nappy bowl that they put it on, I also got five deep plates (shallow bowls with a larger rim) in perfect condition, a rose sugar bowl with no lid that he threw in at the end, saying “what am I going to do with it, here just take it”, some small plates, and four dinner plates.  All perfect.  Everything was good except for that blue lid which kind of bothers me but oh well, I didn’t see it until I got home, and I looked up all the prices on everything and still feel that I made out  well with my purchase.  The yellow casserole alone, for instance, was marked 195 in another booth, and a stack of red plates in another booth were 10 dollars each.  So the casserole and dinner plates alone could have cost me 250.

But in all my researching at home on Friday night, I discovered that an annoying vintage plate that I bought years and years ago, which was oddly FLAT, had no marking, and was what I thought a “beginners shameful purchase”, most likely a factory flawed piece, and perhaps not even really fiestaware was REALLY A RARE CAKE PLATE worth 1,000.  But it’s gone.  I’m pretty sure I got rid of it, I’m 95% sure I stuck it in a bag for goodwill one day when I was purging the house.  I already searched every place it could have been in my house to no avail.  This is why people should shop at Goodwill.

Collecting has it’s fair share of thrills and agonies.

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The 24 pieces on the bottom right of my hutch are the new ones.

To my kids and future Grandkids:  someday this will all be yours.

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*Wait was this a tale about Brimfield with my beloved sister, or fiestaware?  😉

newbery books

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I plan on writing more blog posts about these books.

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A few months ago I made it my goal to collect and read all the Newbery books.

MY COLLECTION SO FAR

I had them in a smaller bookcase which quickly filled up until I couldn’t squeeze another book on it.  Last night I moved them into the shelves behind the sectional in the livingroom.  I wonder if I will run out of room there, too.  At first I was organizing the gold medal winners in order and then the silvers after that, but I decided to put them all (golds and silvers) together in order of year.

It was utter foolishness to think I would be able to read them all in one summer.  I remember the day I decided to make it my goal to read every winner and every honor book.  I was standing in front of a shelf of a select number of them, in Barnes and Noble.  The display was paltry compared to what it could have been.  “If I could make a display of Newbery books” …… it would be as impressive as the number and subject matter of the books themselves.  There are hundreds.  And stories for every kind of reader.  Even graphic novels, now.  Anyway, based on what I saw at Barnes and Noble, I had no real idea of how many books there truly were in this category of “Newbery Medal books”.

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Books to make you laugh, books to make you cry, books to read in one day, books that will take a week or more, books to write down quotes from, books to immediately recommend to your son who also loves cats, light-hearted, deep, somber, oh, so many.

(By the way, there are quite a few of them with a cat involved!  A Newbery cat category–will be a future blog post, I’m sure.)

It will take me years to read them all.  And just think, every year there are more added to the ranks.

As I search for them in used bookstores (can you imagine how much it would cost to buy them all NEW?) I find myself getting to know the books, and the authors.  I feel pride for the authors that were/are repeat winners.  What an honor!  Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder won FIVE honors (the most of anyone)?  But no Gold medal?

I love the “one hit Newbery wonder” author (did they empty themselves out in one book?  Then I want to read that book!!) and am in awe of repeat winners.  Their names are familiar to us now, Avi, Kate DiCamillo, Eleanor Estes, Elizabeth George Speare, Scott O’Dell, and on and on the list goes.  Check out wikipedia for more information.

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I couldn’t possibly collect all of the books without the help of a printed list of all the books from year 1922-to present with me.  So off I go, with a three-ring-binder under my arm.  As I find a book, I circle it on the list.  You wouldn’t believe how many double copies I have even with my list *that I am now religious about bringing with me at all times*.  I’m particuarly excited when I get “a complete set”,  (the medal winner and the honors for that particular year.)  My current complete sets are years 1944, 1977-81, 1990, 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2003.

I counted up how many I have left to find:  201

And I thought I would read them in one summer!!!!  (long laughter)

Short Reviews of the Titles I Have Read so Far, (humble, ordinary reader of 42 years of age, stay at home Mom, & lover of books.)

Shen of the Sea (short stories, with flashes of brilliance but dragged)
Gay-Neck  (unfortunate title in this day and age, but wise.  Took me to another place. Pigeons, quoteable quotes)
Hitty, Her first Hundred Years  (cute, illustrated, boring, I love my red covered copy that I found for free at the coffee shop “take a book/leave a book”)
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze (wise, character building)
Caddie Woodlawn (based on true story, homey, family-centered)
Roller Skates (absolutely LOVED)
Pecos Bill (fun to read out loud to your husband)
Call It Courage (Armstrong Perry teaches deeply through a deceptively simple story.  I love my ex-library copy, hardcover with great illustrations)
Johnny Tremain (loved reading as my older 3 all read the same paperback covered copy (now gone) when they were homeschooled, very good story, historical, with a loveable main character.  Makes you want to visit Boston.)
Fog Magic (sweet and yes, magical)
The Twenty-One Balloons (brilliant fun, another favorite of the kids who had it on audio)
Miracles on Maple Hill (seemed so familiar, with land, flowers, farmers, and maple syrup-making.  I want my mom to read it, she will like it, too.)
Onion John (good book but can’t remember much of it now.  Hmmmm)
The High King (“mom, you won’t like it if you don’t read the first 4 books of the series” He was right.)
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm (Oh my word, Nancy Farmer what a mind you have!  I can’t wait to read her other book on the list.  Highly recommended, SO many layers of fun.  The title is also the name of a detective agency in the book! LOL )
The Midwife’s Apprentice (perfection, I love the medieval time period)
Out of the Dust (very moving, unique but effective writing style.  Another author to admire!)
Dead End in Norvelt (fun and moving)
Doll Bones (fantasy about a doll who influences three children to go bury her, in another town, so they have to run away in the night to travel there.  So wonderfully weird!  Also teaches about friendship.)
One Came Home (wow, I loved this book, a mystery for older children)
Piecing me Together (It wasn’t TERRIBLE, but I didn’t think it was worth the Newbery honor.  Great cover, though.  Dull, under-seasoned story.)

 

I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO SAY.

stay tuned.

marvels of ordinary living

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egg holder
strawberry bowl

Just two little treasures picked up recently at second-hand shops.

Good morning, friends, how in the world are you?

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I downloaded photos from two sources this morning in preparation for blogging.  The photos on my SLR camera?  All birds and fish.  The photos on my phone?  All kinds.

I was sitting in just the spot I am sitting now when I looked out the window and saw an almost grown up male cardinal at the feeder, utterly charming, with his *not quite red* feathers grown in.  I took about 20 pictures of him.

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And then a hummingbird, too.

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And a sweet little tufted tit mouse with reptilian toes.  All from the same seat and out the same windows.  How very convenient!  You don’t even have to step foot outside to see nature.

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Then, later on, I was down on the dock over the pond and a Solitary Sandpiper came for a visit.  He bobbed his tail up and down as he walked the perimeter of the pond looking for food.

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Look how camouflaged he is.  Look at his back leg compared to the grasses growing right next to it, the same green color with dark pink.  His white breast matches the rocks and the gray of his feathers matches the ground.  A marvel.

Solitary Sandpipers are not frequent visitors so it thrilled my heart to have my camera ready for a photo or two. or 30.

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Last but not least of the bird photos…..two more juvenile birds.  I think these are young Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  Two of them came together to the edge of the pond for a bath.

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I laughed.  It’s so fun to see what bird life has been hiding in nests around the property.

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The small pond has lily pads growing in it now and as I was sitting on the dock I kept hearing sharp snapping sounds, almost like someone breaking in half a thin dry stick.  It made my head go back and forth as I tried to figure out what I was hearing in different locations of the pond.  Eventually I figured out that the sound was being made by FISH.

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They were slowly swimming to the surface of the water underneath their lily pad of choice and either grabbing it, or biting it, or pulling it, (I don’t know) as fast as a fraction of a second.  Somehow what they were doing was making a popping sound.  Were they eating something?  Having fun?  I have no idea– but I would love to know.  It went on all day every 20-30 seconds.

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This photo is so blurry but I still like it.  Sarah asked if we could walk in the woods and to our joy, Sammy the cat quickly caught up with us.

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This tiny spider stopped me in my tracks.  Sarah kept saying, “Mom, let’s GO,” but for the life of me I couldn’t (and still can’t) figure out WHAT THIS SPIDER HAD CAUGHT.  It’s web wasn’t even complete and still looked perfect.  And it caught this thing, bigger and heavier than the spider himself.  As I looked, the spider became nervous and carried it’s prize as fast as it’s 8 legs could run to the edge of his web on a tree twig.  A white/gray blob with black triangular legs.  I hope it tastes good.

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(On the dock over the pond.)

I just finished Pecos Bill, a 1935 silver Newbery Honor book.  It was fun and I read several of the chapters out loud to Rich in the car.

But really the photo is all about how adorable Sarah and Sherlock look as they peer into the water side by side.

I sat in a lawn chair on the dock all day on Saturday, running up to the house now and then for food or a bathroom break.  It made me smile to see who (besides the dog) would visit it me most often.  The winner?

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Dave.  My Dave.

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He even brought down his dinner to eat next to me.  He made it himself, a pasta dish with homemade alfredo sauce, celery, mushrooms, and garlic.  He also made garlic sour dough toast to go with it.  “You have to rub both sides of the bread with a garlic clove.”  I wasn’t hungry because I had just ate half a box of crackers as I read my book, but he so very gently hinted several times that he wanted me to try it that I eventually followed him up to the kitchen for some.  “And it was very good.”

David also made pizza and cookies this weekend.  He was creative with the cookies.  He made the dough for chocolate chip, but because we didn’t have any chips (I know, can you believe it?) he substituted a cup of PB protein powder.  It made the dough taste just like PB cookie dough and it baked up just fine, too!  I told him he should write to the protein powder company to tell them.

David works out daily and tries to create different drinks using protein powder.

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David has also been charming my heart by doing calligraphy on his covered text books for school.  He told me yesterday as he worked on “US History” with a pen and a sharpie that a girl in his school asked him to do her books for 20 dollars but he said “No.”

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(BTW, Jacob if you are reading this David said that Mr. S asked and begged if he could call Dave “Dives” but Dave said “No.”)  LOL

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The other day I stopped to take a photo of my pretty pink morning glories and Walter the kitten jumped out at me, scared me, and then made a face.

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Orange title, orange cup, orange cat-tail

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Very tired kitten with Caleb

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(Lea Ann, don’t read this part)  She’s jealous because I keep talking about THE PEACH TREE THAT WE GREW WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT!!!!!  My mom calls me the Accidental Gardener because I complain about my gardening skills and then still end up growing a peach tree.  We first noticed a strange tree growing by the porch last year, in fact, I specifically remember it was at Grace’s graduation party and Colleen was here and we were talking about this tree and trying to figure out what it was.

Well, fast forward to this spring when it BLOSSOMED.  Now I’m really intrigued and keep a close eye on it.  Eventually, to our amazed eyes, it grew PEACHES, so many peaches that the branches bent over with heavy fruit.

We don’t think its a coincidence that it grew right next to Parker the Dog’s favorite digging spot in my flower bed (SO annoying!).  We think that probably Rich ate a peach and threw the pit over the railing and then the dog, in digging in his spot, buried the pit.  And it grew and grew and bore a crop of peaches this summer.

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I said, “Mom, they are still hard.” And she said, “It’s peach season I’m sure you need to pick them.  Put them in paper bags for a few days and they will soften.”

Now that I’m 40 I know that I should always promptly and without hesitation do whatever mom tells me to do, so I went right outside and put Sarah to work.

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She could simply reach her arm over the railing and pick peaches!!!!

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And to no one’s surprise Mom was right!  After a few days we started eating them out of the paper bag and they were as juicy and peachy as any old peach in the store……even better.

I have since realized I have a vine of white gourds growing in the same garden that I didn’t plant.  It’s another accidental gardening situation.  The moral of the story is don’t be afraid to throw pumpkins, pits, and old fall gourds over your porch railing.  You’ll grow things.

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We have since picked every single peach and I bought a case of canning jars.  stay tuned!

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Of course, it’s not ALL fun and games around here.

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Unless you’re Walter the kitten.