good for what ails ya

A bit under the weather today. I was up last night with a nauseous stomach and just felt super gross all night and allowed myself to sleep until 8. I decided not to go to Bible Study but then I started discouraging myself with self-condemnation since it was a BIBLE study I was going to skip— when every other day I wouldn’t hesitate to go out shopping or what have you even if feeling under the weather. The pros and cons were battling it out in my mind so I called my husband and explained it all to him: I didn’t know if I felt up to going to Bible Study, but I did know that I needed to go to Tractor Supply because I ran out of bird seed. What sort of good godly woman would skip Bible Study because she wasn’t feeling well and yet still go to the store is what I wanted to know.

“God’s birds need to be fed.” is what he cheerfully answered unto me. And that was what did it! A good laugh lightened me up and I remembered something. God allows me the freedom to make choices for myself, He loves me and never leaves me based on what I do or don’t do, or ever at all. I am free. The Bible Study I go to is very comfortable and I am just one of the participants, I’m not a leader or anything. It’s there to bless women in the community, not to take attendance or make demands.

In essence, NO ONE CARES. Lol

So, did I go?

Yep! After all that I still went. Out of duty? Out of the belief that it was the righteous thing to do? Nope!

The only reason why I went was because I wanted to. That was why. I wanted to go because chances were very high that someone might say something or read something that might change my day and my outlook. I wanted to go because I wanted to be around these women who show me what genuine and safe love and acceptance looks like. I wanted to go because I love those ladies too, and I need the fellowship, which is a beautiful word to describe the way humans can be together. I tend to isolate and I know I need people and experiences to add layers to my life. Anyway the Bible Study didn’t disappoint. I was “glad to go to the house of the Lord.”

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As I drove away afterwards, I decided to treat myself to an iced matcha latte from Dunkin. Now, I had a bit on my mind from the study that I was thinking about and maybe that’s why I ordered a “venti” in the drive through, out of the habit of mostly getting matchas at Starbucks. WELL! They startled me into the present moment by correcting me, “WE only have small, medium, and large HERE!” — oh well my apologies I want a large.

I get up to the window and had to wait because the system was rebooting because of the wind. Fine. After waiting for several minutes I was finally able to pay and was handed a matcha which looked just like a Venti but not necessarily a Large. “Is this a large?” “No, You didn’t order a large”. “Yes I did —remember I asked for a venti and you all laughed and said what’s a venti and I said— it’s a large.” It was all good natured and fun banter but still, I needed my large because, hydration. Ohhhhhh yes he remembered and conceded the point. He was gonna correct the misunderstanding. I went to hand back the medium which hadn’t even made it all the way into my cup holder and he said with a wave of his hand “oh just keep it, and I’ll make you a large.”

Then I was thinking “how the heck am I going to drink a gallon of matcha”…but quickly realized “wait Shanda, you’re sort of under the weather today and feeling a bit weird and I bet this is what’s going to cure you. God knows a good matcha latte has a lot of health benefits that you can’t remember off hand but you KNOW you read an article online somewhere that affirmed your propensity for endless matcha lattes. They’re scientifically proven to be good for what ails ya. This, THIS, is why you’re out of the house today. You THOUGHT it was for Bible Study and birdseed, but it was for the medicinal properties of Matcha!!!!!”

The End ….. only it’s not.

Because I’m still drinking them.

belly button piercing

I got it done last week after absorbing the last needed amount of courage from my girls. I was taken back into a little office/medical room by an amazing young lady who had multiple piercings, tattoos, and was wearing black fishnet stockings under her denim shorts. I liked her instantly for her authentic, lazy manner. Nothing was going to alarm this woman. She would probably yawn while pushing the needle through.

She explained things to me and had me stand so she could clean and mark the places where the needle would go. Then I sat on the table while she carefully, while only touching the paper, opened the needle package, and the piercing package, dropping the items onto the clean sterile tray. Then she put gloves on and told me to lay back. She asked if I wanted the door shut for privacy. How comfortable not to care about it and I said, leave it open. There was a fan slowly blowing on the floor in the doorway, and right across the hall was a man in a chair with his back to me, getting a tattoo on his forearm. The two of them didn’t look our way once and were lost in their own conversation and work.

She readied the needle, which was about three inches long and rather thick, and said “Breathe in, and when I tell you to breathe out that is when I’ll insert the needle and then the piercing.” So I took a deep breath and when she said “okay, breathe out,” I felt the needle go through my skin and…….she mumbled, in her quiet yawning manner, “I’m sorry your skin…..it’s tough, you okay? There, it’s through…good…now the piercing jewelry is through, I’m all done, just turning the little top piece on, you okay? Now I’ll just clean you up, the purple marks, it’s not blood…..”.

I had felt like slow motions the stinging sensation of the needle going through my skin and then up and out of it again as she explained to me, in these simple words, “your skin is tough” and all I could think was a shocked, “My skin. It’s tough. I’m rather like an old hen at this point. If I WAS an actual chicken I would only be good for…….for the stew pot.” Wow, what a realization, I’ll tell you.

Oh well, at least this old hen has a beautiful belly button!!!

flash-back

I’m sitting on the couch in the livingroom, after reading through blog archives from 11 years back, searching for a photo of Caleb with his wooden Thomas trains.

School has begun again, and he is now a freshman in High School. He takes drum lessons, is in marching band and also playing football. He’s taller than I am, with light brown, wavy hair, blue eyes, strong arms and legs, and most likely wearing Hollister clothing (my boys’ favorite).

I was busily vacuuming the floors when they left for school this morning, when I stopped in my (train) tracks and turned off the vacuum.

Caleb recently turned 14, and for his birthday we bought him his most requested and beloved gift of dreams…….and it wasn’t a Thomas train like it was 11 years ago.

It was an electric drum set.

I took him to Guitar Center to pick it out. We were there for a very long time, because he wanted to try out every sound and every feature. He was in his own little world, sitting there and moving the wooden sticks, making beats, listening, enjoying himself.

A week ago, I found Sarah Joy prowling around in the storage room in the basement. She was looking for things forgotten about and the next thing I knew, the wooden crate of Thomas trains and tracks were back in the land of family again. They had been away for so long. I was charmed as I watched Seth and Sarah down on the floor, pushing them, setting up track, and making up stories.

Once upon a time, these same trains took naps with a smallest blond haired boy, he covered them in sugar, and paint, and golden glitter. He threw Devious Diesel into the pond, never to be seen again, because he didn’t like him. He parked his trains under the pancake griddle as I made breakfast. He let one roll down the auditorium (it was James) during his older siblings’ music concert, he carried them in his little paws, everywhere. He not only played with trains, he also watched the videos and read the books, he even had Thomas bedding and clothing.

Now he plays with drums. He carries drumsticks in his hands.

So, this morning I stopped in my (train tracks). The house was empty and quiet and the tracks had led me to Caleb’s drum set and a bunch of his old playmates parked underneath. Somehow, as I stood and considered, I imagined that the trains must have whispered to Caleb’s little brother and sister to put them close to where he would be.

Maybe he would play with them again, later.

heart & mind

Rich is away today for a meeting by the shore of Connecticut. Jacob and Ethan are at work, Grace is home with me and cheerful, David, Caleb, Seth, and Sarah will be home from school soon.

I did a lot of crying yesterday but look! I’m still here. I’ve felt like crying a few times today (even now) but so far…..have been able to restrain myself. I feel quiet and calm and deep down sad. This is an improvement over yesterday’s “my heart hurts so bad make it stop sobbing”.

There is a chicken bubbling in broth on the stove with celery, onion, and seasonings. When it’s done I will let it cool, take the meat off, and add it back to the broth with noodles for dinner. Or maybe I’ll make biscuits. This is an improvement over yesterday’s dinner of “nothing”.

Seth has a band concert tonight. Have I told you he plays the trumpet? He’s 10? A new player? Not very good? And it’s loud?

I went for one walk today so far and did some reading. Mainly I’ve been parked here in my favorite spot on the couch most of the day with my camera nearby to snap photos of birds visiting the porch feeders.

baltimore oriole, hopping off the railing to the grape jelly below

They were fussing at each other (oriole and female rose-breasted grosbeak)

“and what is wrong with YOU”, I asked the cardinal

I saw six lady-slippers by the trail.

ground-ivy by the side of the road (“It is used as a salad green in many countries.”)

I think this is called “Celandine” and I read that it is poisonous to chickens. It’s growing and blooming on the side of the road.

In all their affliction He was afflicted. And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them all the days of of old. Isaiah 63:9

My mom wrote this verse in my journal for me when we visited last.

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“He started carefully down the trail, knowing that at any moment something unexpected might happen……knowing that nothing was exactly what it seemed to be.” Anpao (newbery book) page 183

back at home with Grace, Bible, journal, markers

Then, my friend Bridgette sent me a link to an article about Charles Spurgeon and I read it with interest and copied down some quotes.

After this I continued reading Beartown and rested for a while.

Caleb just got home from school, Grace is reading and I’m going to go for my second walk and try to get the rest of my steps done (10,000 per day).

Thank you for stopping by, friends, you are loved.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

me

all of these lines across my face…….
tell you the story of who I am……
so many stories of where I’ve been……
and how I got to where I am……
.

~brandi carlile

Today I’m looking like a bum. I laugh, I smile, I walk, I clean, I think, I dream, I feel everything deeply, I read books that might help, I play music…..and I have these photos from just an hour ago. But they only show the outside of me. Only I know what’s real (on the inside) and I’m okay with that.

***

thank you for stopping by, friends!
you are loved.

it doesn’t take much for a heart to glow

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Good morning friends!  After a raining evening we awoke to a glorious sunshine.  Rich took this photo of me at Seth’s little league game the other night.  ‘Tis the season.  Tonight we have three things going on; David at a track meet (really want to go), Seth at little league (want to go, slightly) and Caleb at a band concert (music trumps sports, IMO).  Therefore, the band concert is where I will be.

I was so tired yesterday that I went to bed at EIGHT THIRTY and slept all night.  I got up a couple times to get a drink but never fully woke up.  Then this morning, when Caleb dared to come right in the room to ask for lunch money, Rich got up to help him and let me sleep for another hour.  It feels so good to sleep again after months of restless nights.

As I sit here, I still feel like I could go back to bed and sleep.

However, I have dirty laundry washing, a load in the dryer, a big basket of clean n’ dry to fold, a cake in the oven (dinette), the dishwasher going, and am going out to lunch soon.  No time for sleeping.

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It’s also the time of year when I’m constantly going for the camera to take bird photos so bear with me.  Maybe you like birds, too?

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This one was from yesterday evening when it was raining (again).  I thought the drops of rain on its feathers was pretty.  It sat nice and still so I could get close.  I was out on the porch for a while as it rained, it suited my tired mood.

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A Heron visited the pond, which is how I got out on the porch in the first place, as Caleb came inside to announce “There is a big bird by the pond, Mom.”

He wasn’t happy about it though because he does not want the fish eaten by a heron.  He wants to catch them himself.

In fact, when I see worms outside I think of Caleb.  Yesterday I rolled over a log and found a nice big one and put it in my pocket.  Thank goodness Rich saw me do it because hours later he had to remind me to get it back out again.  (I had changed out of my skirt and into jeans).  The worm was still in the pocket, as moist as could be which I am sure was a survival tactic as pockets can be rather dry places for a worm.  I said, “Caleb I have something for you,” and you should have seen his face when out came a worm from the pocket.  We put it in a small box with dirt in it for when he goes out to fish again.

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I kept telling him to smile and he just kept twisting his ears.

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Somehow a log ended up in the pond and all day it floats slowly around.  Sometimes I see it on one side, at times it’s in the middle, or the other side, but it always has a turtle or two on it.  I want so much to add a whole fleet of logs and see if each one will gain a passenger or two.  Maybe I’ll even add sails.  How charming would that be?  Turtle boats.

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Irridescent feathers in the EVENING TIME

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Different lighting (same spot) MORNING TIME…..  are you the same bird?  I can’t tell.

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Sweet little bird and do you wonder how I got the yellow background?  My forsythia bush was in the distance and blurred out as the camera focused on the bird.

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showing off a fine suit of clothing (made entirely of feathers!)

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David went outside in the evening to shut in the chickens for the night and caught a spring peeper.  I was thrilled.

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Spring is made more beautiful because of their sweet singing.  Look at those toes.

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I haven’t stopped reading the Newbery books.  I’m currently on this one and I love it.  I’m a forever fan of Nancy Farmer now.  What a bright and original mind she has.  This is the second Newbery book I’ve read by her.

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I made this huge pasta salad yesterday.

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But the rabbit got a dandelion salad.  (possibly more healthy)

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We babysat our neice!  She’s so so so cute and looks so much like Isaac (her dad, my baby brother).

After Isaac and Cassandra came back we ate pasta salad and hamburgers and played a game of PIG which I won (as always), humbly noted.

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Last but not least.

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The beautiful Marsh Marigold (New England wildflower).

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Thank you for the comments left on my blog posts!   I do wonder sometimes if you guys see my replies, as I try to reply to most comments, can someone pretty please let me know if they are seen?  Should I bother?  Thank you. xo

Happy Wednesday, friends!
You are soooooo loved.

“Make someone happy, you can you know,
It doesn’t take much for a heart to glow.”

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but my heart.”

PS, the cake baked to a nice golden brown and smells so good.  I wish I could give you a piece!

 

 

 

 

 

 

last night’s moon

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my flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is my portion forever

Last night we were driving home from a little league game when I noticed the moon was a beautiful sliver in the sky, thin and barely noticable and I loved it.

Anything that pulls me out of my thoughts and into the present moment is a good thing, and nature always does this for me.

“Let’s trust God and see what He has for us.  He loves us more than we can imagine and He will give us strength no matter how things go.”  ~notes from my scrapbook

you are loved.

weekending

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.”  Erich Fromm

hellloooooooo

I have something to say to you!

The sun is shining for the first time in (what feels like) years!

How was your weekend?

I’ll tell you all about mine.

First of all, Rich came home super early on Friday to surprise us.  And with all the extra time, we decided to take the children bowling.  Dave didn’t want to go, so it was just Caleb, Seth, and Sarah.  We all bowled our best in the first game.  Rich got like 5 strikes and I myself got my new P.R. which was 113.  The next game wasn’t as good.  In fact, Seth made me laugh when they all watched me accidentally release my bowling ball in such a way that it went up in the air and then halfway down the lane with a boom.  I turned around in embarrassment and he said, “Mom, this was you,” he made the same motion that I did throwing my ball in the air, “here you go, Lord!”  

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It was much fun.

THEN

on Saturday……the boys got haircuts while Sarah and I went to a consignment store.

 

The clothes that I am wearing were the actual clothes I had worn to the shop.  The only thing I bought myself was a cute sweatshirt.  Sarah found a bunch of things, including this April Cornell dress.  I used to love buying Grace their dresses and was happy to find this one, and not only that but Sarah actually liked it, too.

Then we went to get the boys who were all done and waiting.

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When I pulled into the parking lot, I turned right and drove completely over the curb.  They all saw me do it with basically these same expressions.  They ridiculed me and Seth said, “Woman up, Mom!” in a rebuking way.  It made me laugh because I had worn a tshirt two days in a row that week with the words “woman up” on the front.  Apparently it made an impression on him and gave him the words to say when I ran over the curb.

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We went home to change and I put on my new gray sweatshirt and then we left for baseball games………. it was FREEZING COLD and I was a big baby the entire time.  It didn’t help that Caleb’s team lost terribly.

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We did some walking around and around the field.  (keeping an eye on the game)

 

David had a friend to hang out with, Sarah read a book, and Rich sat next to me in our lawn chairs.  We also ate wraps and cheetos and I had a scone (which is why we had to walk).

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Caleb catching.

He’s really good at it.  Funny note, a few years ago he became “famous” for making chicken sounds and everyone in baseball (including coaches) STILL calls him Chicken despite the fact that he has deep regrets and doesn’t make the sound anymore.

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Back home gathering eggs.   I was happy to find five, as they usually get eaten by the hens.  These were saved because a hen got broody and sat on them.

As you can see, the grass is turning green.

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Sarah fell asleep on me.  (heart melts)

 

Our college children each sent us a selfie.  Cannot wait to get them back home for the summer.  In fact, Rich and I are going to get Gracie this weekend.

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Beautiful Sarah; this is my favorite photo of the weekend.  Taken with my new iphone X! Portrait mode!  And…..she’s wearing one of her new shirts from shopping with me.

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We went on a 4 mile walk in the cold (she ended up wearing her Dad’s sweatshirt) and then went downtown for ice cream.

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A favorite place to stop for a bit is an abandoned house.

 

We picked flowers.

 

Took selfies and photos.  It was so pretty and felt secretive.

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I thought of my dad when I took this at someone’s house by the road in the neighborhood.  The wood is stacked so very carefully.  Art.

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When we got back home we found the boys watching tv and Seth sound asleep looking angelic.

 

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This morning I fried the dog an egg.  He waited just long enough for me to take a photo for the family group chat before he scarfed it down.

*****

It was fun to sit here and type although hard with these long fingernails.

Happy Monday friends, with lots of love!

(please leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing!)

“I never knew love had a sound until I heard you laugh.”

flowers

Last week I was tiredly standing in line for the bathroom at Trader Joes when I heard a man say cheerfully “We’re here for another free sample.”  I looked up from the floor and down the hallway to see a young Dad, dressed in a plain sweater, jeans, and a casual rumpled suit coat.  His hair was dark blond, long, and pulled back messily into a pony tail.  He had his little girl with him and she looked to be about four years old.  Her hair was cut in a bob with bangs across her forehead and her hair was charmingly windblown and messy.  Her face was clean, open, and happy and she was wearing a sweet feminine dress with a full skirt.  The free sample was for her, “I don’t know why but I just liked it so much I had to have another one,” she explained happily.

I was seeing with my heart.  Something about this little girl drew me out of my sad little world and into her pure and joyful one.

It was my turn for the bathroom and then I continued shopping.

As I paid for the groceries, the little girl and her Dad were just leaving their line at another register.  As she walked by me and my cashier, she flung a wilted dandelion on the counter for the cashier as a gift.  Not waiting or looking for a reaction, and with her Dad smiling at her, she continued to leave the store, flinging different flowers at each register, even the registers that weren’t open.  I had a distinct feeling this was all her idea, and my heart smiled to think of her busily picking flowers before going to Trader Joes with her Dad.  I also had the feeling that he had nothing to do with his daughter’s kind pursuits.  He was standing back and watching and keeping her in his sight with a proud smile.  It was like they were in their own quiet and beautiful little world.

I took my cart and left the store.  I was heart-worn and weary from days of crying and working through my own personal challenges.  I walked behind the two of them and headed toward my vehicle, leaving them behind me, my mind returning to it’s own gray thoughts again.

I heard the fast slapping of little running feet and before I knew what was happening, the little girl was at my side ……handing me a flower.  I looked down at her, seeing the innocence and happiness of a sweet angel child.  I bent down and asked her for a hug and she flung her arms around me and nuzzled her nose back and forth lovingly into my neck.  I’ve raised seven four-year-olds so I am an expert judge of their hugs and this one was as precious as any, and warmed my soul.

Rich was in the car waiting for me.  I put my head in his lap and cried as I told him what I had just experienced.  His heart melted too as he said, “Shanda, that little girl was you.  You are a giver and your loving and thoughtful personality is a gift to the world.  You and she are the same.”

The heart sees what it knows.  It recognizes.  It loves.

I’m almost positive the next time I go to Trader Joes I’ll be taking flowers, too.

 

“You have a place in my heart no one else ever could have.”  f. scott fitzgerald

the second walk

Praise to the Lord,
Who oʼer all things so wondrously reigneth
Shieldeth thee under his wings,
Yea so gently sustaineth
Hast thou not seen, How thy desires have been
Granted in what he ordaineth

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Sarah wanted to go on another walk the next day so I agreed.

I also want to mention that on both days I had expressed longing to her that I wanted to find a feather.  I wished to find one.  I was looking.

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We admired an algae filled little stream in the woods, filled with the reflection of trees and sky.

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And saw frog eggs left clinging along an underwater (the clearest of water) branch that had fallen from the trees above.

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exploring

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We started to head home and to be different we left the trail to go through the woods and across the stream to home.

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Scattered among dry leaves we found a whole entire pile of yellow feathers!!

Not a brown feather, not a gray feather, not just one single feather, but many many bright YELLOW ones.

My first thought was “goodness, poor bird!” and my second thought was, “Well, I found feathers!” and my third thought was “Thank you, God, for the little things……for answering these tiny almost meaningless wishes we have, just to make us smile.”

If You care enough to answer in the little things, You must care enough to answer in the big things.

For Your good and glory.

Sarah said, “Check the bird application on your phone and see what kind of bird it was!”

And since you don’t necessarily need the bird to make a search (just the feathers), we stood there next to the pile and looked it up.

We decided it was a Northern Flicker, as they have yellow tails and wings, which obviously proved indigestible and were left behind.  We gathered them up.

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See the itty bitty red feather between my thumb and pointer finger?  Red as my nails!

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We took them home and let them soak in a bowl of warm soapy water.

Hours later, after Seth’s first little league scrimmage, and after I put the children to bed, I stood in the kitchen and carefully took each feather out of the water and arranged them to dry on paper towels.

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feather art!

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After they dried they fluffed right out again like proper feathers.  I’m saving some for my flying pig (stay tuned), sending a couple to Joanna, and putting a couple in my journal.  Some of them belong to Sarah.

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Something else made me smile this week.

I had given away a book here through the blog to Dawn R and mailed it out to her.  After she received it she asked for my address (I had ordered and sent the book through amazon) and so I gave it to her.  I was expecting a thank you card but she sent a package with a sweet little bird, a book, a note, and a lotion (my FAVORITE KIND!!).  It made my day.  Well, at the same time I was ransacking the house trying to find my Birth Certificate and to my absolute astonishment in the midst of my papers I FOUND AN OLD CARD FROM THE SAME BLOG FRIEND FROM 8 YEARS AGO!!!!  ( I save ev.er.y.thing.) So, thank you dear Dawn R, you’ve really been an encouragment to me!!!

“We have shared together the blessings of God.”  Philippians 1:7

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Last but certainly not ever least, 2019’s very first spring violet.

For Thia.

You are loved.