efforts on the last day of summer

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“….a little boy grows up so fast….”

I was secretly calling Saturday the last day of summer because it was our oldest son’s last day at home before leaving for college the next morning.  So I made the effort to take some photos of the ordinary family living that I hold so dear to my heart, knowing deep down that while life will go on just as beautiful and ordinary as ever, parts of it were ending and beginning anew in other parts of the world…….not too far, thankfully.  Jacob and Ethan will be at college together in Vermont this year (3 hours away), and our sweet Grace will be in Pennslyvania (about five hours distance).  As the children grow up, things within the home change, but the bond we have stays true, and the love we share will never die, and indeed, my deepest desire and hope is that it will continue to grow up and out as our family grows up and and out.

So these efforts were made by me in the realm of photography, and the only other effort I made personally was to be “hands off” on the day and let it be as normal as possible, because I have finally learned that while deep in my soul I am in a type of motherly mourning for the fleetness of the years, no one else in the family necessarily needs to know.  🙂

So what did we do?  Jacob headed for work, sicker than a dog, and Rich left for the chiropractor’s with Ethan (they are both getting work done on their backs) and Caleb (who needed a hair cut after the doctor’s appointment).

DSC_1346Confession:  somehow, even though I was truly trying,  I just realized this morning that I took not one single photo of Grace, so I am inserting this one from last weekend, when I caught the sisters sharing a moment over pancakes.  In reality, Grace was so busy on Saturday….she had driver’s practice in the morning, and then worked all afternoon until 7pm….that I somehow didn’t take any pictures of her.

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The brightest red wildflower is in bloom down by the banks of our stream.  It’s like a jungle down there so I can’t get as close as I’d like……

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I watched busy buzzing bees collect pollen all over the wild and tall Joe Pye Weed and then, saw the most beautiful dragonfly I’d ever seen…..

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RED!  DARK RED!

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with shimmering wings!  I admired it until it flitted away.

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Next to the garage we have a tiny wild pond where bullfrogs hang out all day.  I enjoy sneaking  around to spy on them and they always freeze like this and stare at me.  I want to sit down there sometime and see what they REALLY do……

And then, the guys finally got home and went to work on Rich’s car.  Yep, that was the real theme of the weekend;  “Put The Motor In”.

Rich has been itching to do it all winter long and had big boxes in the house which were all delivered and saved carefully for The Day.

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Nice haircut, Caleb.

Now get to work!

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Nothing makes Rich more annoyed than not being able to find his tools because the children have been running off with them and not returning them to the proper place.  Nothing that is, except maybe water running through the ceiling because Seth didn’t have the shower curtain in the bathtub and was getting water everywhere on the floor upstairs…..ask me how I know this…..so the first thing they did was find Dad’s tools, while Rich and Ethan organized and Sarah cleaned.

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The car is under the tarp.  Waiting for it’s motor.

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I’m pretty sure this is it.  🙂

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Sarah was very conscientious about sweeping the floor.

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Seth wasn’t as conscientious about finding Dad’s tools.

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David

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Oh and Jacob was able to get out of work a little early and he went straight to bed, spending his last day at home SICK and asleep.

(I think it’s amusing that the dog is in a lot of these photos being ignored.  But he gets his revenge later.)

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Bringing the boxes out of the house (finally!) and into the garage.

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Finally they were ready and the younger boys snuck away.  David was called for duty now and then, but Ethan was the main helper of the entire day all the way up until it was too late to visit Tessa and he was secretly annoyed.

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I mean, as his mother, I could sort of tell.  But Rich, as his father, certainly didn’t care.  He needed his son and Ethan has vacation days coming up this week to visit his girlfriend.  (It reminded me of when Rich and I were dating all those summers ago and he had to bale hay all weekend for his dad while I was left to my own amusement at home…..so I took pity while Rich just felt like it was the only natural thing to do; helping Dad…there’s no way out of it, not even girlfriends.)

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The younger boys hung out on the patio between the house and the garage.

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And I found Sarah had vanished to her room to play the DS.  So I sent her right back outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

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They made a cake.

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Eventually, hours and hours later, I picked the camera back up to take a picture of CHICKEN that I grilled myself……

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And this is where the dog got his revenge for being “ignored//neglected” all day.

After we all ate, he stole the leftovers off the kitchen counter, eating the chicken and neatly leaving the sticks on the carpet in the living room.  We all got mad because that was really good chicken and I had made a ton so we could enjoy the leftovers, not feed them to the dog.

We ended our day by watching TV on the couch in the dark, all tired out.

*****

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This is where things get sad you might want to turn away.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning to see my son off.  Rich was already awake and in the garage with his car but the rest of the family was asleep as Jacob finished packing his car to leave, although I did hear Seth stir and call out, “Bye, Jay!” from his bed, as he will greatly miss his big brother, too.

I followed him around, back and forth to the car and house, not unlike the dog, silently and with wishful eyes.

We hugged twice.  We held it together.

It was a beautiful morning, with bits of pink in the sky.

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I looked at his dear possessions everywhere in his car, that say “Jacob” to me in so many ways……his collection of hats from working at “LIDS” all summer….his new sneakers that I bought for him during a quick shopping trip we had together last week.

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His music, his new fridge, all his clothes and books (he took a big box of books, which made me smile and touched my heart…I remember when he read them all…and sister Grace struggled with sharing some of them..namely the JRR Tolkien books…), my dear 20 year old son, how thankful I am that I had all of these years with you before you moved on to new adventures taking classes and playing football at college.  I am blessed to call you son and friend.  We’ve had such good times together, haven’t we?  Your downstairs room in the basement is too quiet and still already but we’ll keep it ready for those visits back home!

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“So the life of the true home flows on, sometimes in the bright sunshine, sometimes in the deep shadow; yet whether in the sunshine or in shadow it brings blessing.  It shelters us in the day of storm.  Its friendships remain true and loyal when adversity fails and other friendships are broken.  It lays holy hands of benediction upon our heads as we go out to meet life’s struggles and duties.  Its sacred influences keep us from many a mistake.  Its memories are our richest inheritance.  Its inspirations are the secret strength of our lives in days of toil and care.  Then it teaches us to look toward heaven and the great Home in which all our hearts, hopes, and dreams shall be realized, and where the broken ties of earth shall be reunited.”  JR Miller

 

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back to the blog

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Last weekend, Rich left with Grace, David, and Caleb to go to camp in NH for a week.  Jacob and Ethan stayed home so they could work and I left for NY (back home) with Seth and Sarah.  I thought it would be a good chance for a lengthy visit with family, not to mention that the church I grew up in was also having their children’s VBS and I knew Seth and Sarah would love that experience.   We drove to my parent’s house on Saturday and spent the weekend with them, and for the rest of the week we stayed next door to my Aunt Colleen’s house, in her in-laws’ downstairs apartment of convenience and delight.

I only took my phone with me; no big Nikon this time, and no laptop; thus the silence from wordpress blogging.  I did update FB and instagram now and then.

It’s good to be home!  I have lots of pictures to share from our week away.

Sarah is snuggled up next to me playing my kindle and talking while I type.

 

One of the things Mom and Dad and all their decendents do at this time every year is pick as many wild blueberries from Mom and Dad’s blueberry patch across the road. . . . .

 

Brother Nate and Brother Dave were so fun with their antics….Nate refusing to pick because he was “made to do it too much when he was a kid” and he “doesn’t like picking”.  Dave teasing Dad and having little conversations with Sarah.  There are so many bushes that we end up wandering off on our own, but still talking, laughing, teasing, and making strange noises to each other.  Everyone who was willing to pick had a cup or a basket to put berries in.

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When we were done, my mom and sisters in law baked a cake using Mom’s cookbook that she copied out in her pretty handwriting when she was a young teenager.

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Mom added lemon zest to the recipe and it was fantastic.

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Melissa and Maria went through all the berries we picked and cleaned, bagged, and labeled them.

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We visited the garden and saw snakes.

 

In the end of day golden hour, Mom and Sarah went out for MORE picking.  Sarah ate so many blueberries that day we starting giving her warnings about digestive issues.  🙂

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After church on Sunday, I took Seth and Sarah to my favorite local & independent bookstore in the area where Sarah “adopted” an owl and I bought a crossword puzzle book (too hard) and a novel.

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We walked the busy and interesting main street and made a stop in several shops, including one in the historical society.  I took a picture of the arrowheads; this area of NY has many Native American artifacts which are always fascinating.

I would have stayed and read every word but alas, my little children were not as interested as I was.

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Back at Mom and Dad’s, Mom and the grands made another cake to use up bananas.

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And played foosball.  Mom laughed so hard, I wish I could remember why.  She and I were taking turns playing.  I was sitting and trying to do a cross word puzzle, too.

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Sunday evening, more picking!  Some of the bushes are so tall Mom has to bend them down for Sarah to reach (and hide in).

Tomorrow I will blog about the rest of our week.

(I can’t concentrate right now….too many interruptions).

HUGS!

1, 2, 3

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And the third?  Coming soon.  😉

*****

I liked this quote:

“I never saw my mother sleep.  In fact, she only sat down during dinner and later for about three minutes in the tub of our one bathroom.  Although Mom was perennially pregnant, she was always on the move–a blurry blue Sears housedress topped by a wavy blond perm and supported by two sturdy speed-walking legs.  She had bulging varicose veins that grew with each child, and I was always worried they were going to pop, but they didn’t.
“On any given day, Mom could be found in one of two places:  the outside landing, where she hung the laundry, or the kitchen, where she jogged between the ironing board and the oven.  It seemed my mother could do a hundred things at once, all the while keeping at least one of her blue eyes on her ten children.
“‘Watch yourself, Eddie!’ she’d shout down from the landing to my oldest brother in the side yard.  ‘Remember, you’re a born leader and all the boys are watching you!’  Then she’d vroom down the fourteen wooden steps, hip the laundry basket through the banging screen door into the kitchen, and dump it onto the table.
“‘You’re the absolute best helper, Ellen,’ she’d say as my eager sister did the folding, ‘You’re going to make a wonderful mother!’
“Shortly after noon, Mom would begin preparations for dinner, served nightly at six o’clock sharp, ‘Barbara Ann!’ she’d yell down the basement stairs as she peeled potatoes.  ‘Come on up here and take Florence, Tommy, and Mary Jean.  They need some entertainment and if you’re going to be a star, you’ll need to practice.’
“And that was my mother’s genius.  She kept her house going by putting her finger on the special gift she saw in each of her children, and making each and every one of us believe that that gift was uniquely ours.  Whether it was true or not, we all believed it.”

~Barbara Corcoran, in her book Use What You’ve Got

 

 

 

boys on stilts

I smashed the screen of my iPhone last night when Rich and I were walking.  I had whipped it out from my back pocket to check my steps for the day and it kept flying right out of my hand, landing face down on the road.  It still works, but after a day of looking at it covered in hairline fractures it is a relief to be in front of my computer screen.  The computer screen is so perfectly NOT broken!

Grace and I went to breakfast this morning after a morning of cleaning the house.  Jacob stayed home and watched the rest of the kids.  Grace and I took our books, of course.  She is reading Mark Twain and I’m reading a biography of Jane Fonda of all things.  (I recently read an autobiography by Doris Day, too)  I found a new podcast to listen to that appeals to my “memoir” side, the side of me that LOVES learning about other people’s lives no matter how they lived it, which compelled me to pick up Fonda’s book at the library yesterday.  The podcast is called “You must remember This” and it’s about first century Hollywood.  Like most podcasts, not every episode is worth listening to but the few I have heard gave me a lot to think about in regards to the entertainment culture of that time period.  There is nothing new under the sun!

One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
planet earth.  Ecclesiastes 1:9

So anyways, we read and ate and then went to Goodwill where she found me a fiesta jumbo mug in cobalt for one dollar.  I passed right by it!  We shared a hug in the aisles of Goodwill.  She found a cute little dress and I bought a few books, too.  Then we went to the grocery store to get things for spaghetti because last night Rich came home and was so happy to step through the door into the house……to the smell of spaghetti.  His eyes lit right up and he smiled big…….only it was roast pork and corn on the cob.  So I promised him spaghetti today.

When we got home I put everything in the crock pot for a good sauce; homemade meatballs and chunks of sausage that David cut up for me, a big chopped onion, spices, and a big can of tomatoes.

Grace had her friends Brittany and Tessa over (who also happen to be Jacob’s girlfriend and Ethan’s girlfriend) to make homemade ice cream and I went for a power walk and was almost bitten by a dog.  I was so scared.  The owner was a very large man on his riding lawn mower who couldn’t be bothered to get off it and his dog (pit bull?) was not on his leash.  The dog was following the man around as he mowed and then when he saw me, he ran full force at me, barking in a very scary way and came so close, I could feel it’s breath and mouth touch me as I clutched myself and stood very still…..I eventually got away while the large man simply yelled at his dog.  The dog ran down the road at me a second time, barking.  I didn’t know what to do.  Should I call animal control and complain?  The dog did everything but actually BITE me.  When I had to turn around and walk back, I went into the woods to get past his house because I was so nervous.  How ridiculous to have to do that!

Safely home now, and blogging from the chair in my bedroom.  The house is completely clean; all beds made, bathrooms spotless, because the two maids came today (every Friday), dinner in the crock pot, so it feels extra wonderful to be able to relax.  David is watching soccer videos on Youtube and the girls are upstairs now, visiting.

I’m posting photos today that I took last night when Caleb came in to say, “Mom come and see this”.  I was tired so I said, as I got up off the couch, “This better be good.”

He was on stilts!  Grace got them from Mrs. D at the HS when she helped her clean out the Drama Props Closet.

Thank you Mrs. D!

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It was worth it!

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David had to try.  (you can see a small part of Caleb,too)

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And there’s Sarah in her nightie ready for bed.

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Big sis and big bro looking on……..

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Seth wearing his watch that he got in his Subway kids meal.

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Summertime + end of the day playtime outside = the BEST.

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Ethan’s turn!

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Parker is smiling!  with his girl.

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Sarah wanted to try getting on the stilts but I said “go put something on under your nightie first.” so she did, happily.

*****

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THIS beautiful sunset sky is the reason why everything was pink last night.

 

Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour…….. Ecclesiastes 11:7 MSG

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madame butterfly

Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

“I trust You.  Give me wisdom.  Give me love to spill over.  My life is Yours.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

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A simply DRENCHED bumble bee, waiting out the rain on a bee balm blossom.

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I don’t know…..but again, drenched.

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close up of a zinnia.. .. .gorgeous color pink.

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My nature studies have gone from birds to bees and other insects.  It’s such a pleasure to walk around the outskirts of our lawn, where the mowed grass meets the wilder grasses and flowers and look for insects.  There are always interesting things to see.

I still like to watch for birds, too.  In fact, I keep seeing a yellow warbler (wearing a black mask) peeping at me from the bushes, it must be distracting me from seeing a nest because it’s a typically shy bird.  I’ll try to photograph it today.

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breathtaking greens and yellow

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I showed Sarah the photos and when she realized what she was seeing, she said “Delete it!”

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This is my favorite photo of the bunch.  The wings!  Did you ever guess there would be wings like this on a tiny bug?  (it’s on a yarrow flower, a common wildflower in our area)

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It’s not a very clear photo because just as I was taking it I felt a cold thing go across my bare big toe………

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It was a big juicy worm.

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This gorgeous bug, if it senses an enemy near. . . . .

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….drops down and plays dead.  It literally plays dead!  It had me fooled for a moment.

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Yesterday I was on the porch and saw a Monarch fly by.  I walked around to follow it and discovered it busily laying eggs on the milkweed that I let grow in the garden.  See how it presses it’s tail to the leaf?

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It leaves an egg behind, a teeny white egg.  When it hatches, the caterpillar will be all set because it simply LOVES milkweed leaves.

By gently turning the leaves over on the plants I have found at least 5 eggs.  We plan on collecting them after they hatch and watching them grow.  It’s one of our favorite summertime nature studies.

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****

A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

 

 

like no one’s watching

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt.,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
~William W Purkey

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“……YOUR REAL LIFE IS HIDDEN WITH CHRIST IN GOD.”  Col. 3:3

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No one knows the real you, the deep down you.  Isn’t it grand to know that there are private parts, secret ideas, thoughts, dreams, goals, passions, smiles, and joy that you yourself might not even be able to articulate?  But your Father in Heaven knows, he knows you inside and out, just the way He made wonderful YOU, there is no one on earth like you.

That’s freedom to me.

Being able to be myself; to wander around with my camera, to be with people but only for a little while, to enjoy my family and my community, my church family. . . .not having to explain, or ask questions, thankful that the sacred things of the heart are sacred because they are so often not expressed in words.  Waiting for the Day.

“Our true life lies in the other world.”  Matthew Henry

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We need a little quiet, sometimes, we need a little distance.

We need room for breathing, thinking, being.

Remembering who we are and what is yet to come.

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I love mystery and curiosity.

I want to learn skills, subjects, and ideas that make the world a better place.  I want that for my children, too.  I celebrate those who work quietly, not asking for attention, making a difference in their own circle.  Being true.

I want to be busy enjoying my one little life and the many busy, young lives around me each day as we work and grow together as a family.

There is a deep down contentment in this kind of living.

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I’m thankful to know so many incredible, unique people who graciously and unknowingly show me the grace and joy of a quiet life lived in trust and expectation of a glorious future in Christ.

*****

I am currently sitting on the front porch with the most delicious breeze blowing through the flags and flowers.  Cat and Dog at my feet, the sound of my own three children playing in the pond.  I’ve missed blogging and my friends here.  How was your holiday weekend?  Rich went back to work today and now it’s “prepare for Grace’s graduation party” for the next few days.  We got a good start on it today.  She had driver’s class this morning so I took David, Caleb, Seth, and Sarah with me to Sam’s Club and opened a membership there since it’s in a different “neck of the woods” than Costco and will be convenient to shop there when we are in that direction.

After a busy morning, it’s good to be home.  Grace is taking a nap on the couch before work.   (we have to leave at 3)

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These are some of the pictures I took over the last few days.  We had several family walks.  I try to spend as much time as I can outside because the alternative is being inside (and cleaning).

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It still looks like early spring because of the lack of leaves on the trees. They should be full and lush and green…but thanks to those gypsy moth caterpillars and their appetites they look bare and thin.  However, there is a moss on the trees that has killed a lot of them before they could turn into moths and hopefully next year the forest will be back to normal.

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They amusingly froze stiff when they saw me creep through the tall grasses to their hidden pond.

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Porch Happenings; where we read, drink coffee and iced tea, and put our feet up until we have energy for the next adventure.

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DSC_0857 1All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. – Henry Ellis