morning of the waxwings

fullsizeoutput_5759 1

*Jacob and Brittnee*

I took their photos right before my trip to Alaska.

fullsizeoutput_5761 1

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.

fullsizeoutput_575b 1

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

*****

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

fullsizeoutput_59e5

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!

fullsizeoutput_59e9

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.

55836394087__8B4F1AB4-22E4-4B59-9D37-3B2F6F4680F7

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.

fullsizeoutput_59ee

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

fullsizeoutput_59f0

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.

*****

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.

*****

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……

DSC_1099

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!

walking and cooking

DSC_0407

Seth plays video games every day for a couple hours but his time doing it is controlled by his loving mother to a certain extent.  This morning, he asked if he could have “his time” at 9am and I said, “sure”.  But at 8 he had eaten breakfast, showered and dressed, and he didn’t know what else to do with himself so we went for a walk together.  Grace was awake but Sarah was still sound asleep.  (Seth is an early riser)

It always happens that the boys will pick up a stick and start battle on trees and such.  From Jacob to Seth, they were all the same in that regard (and still are).

DSC_0419

pretty pretty Indian Pipe flower.  The website (linked) adds: America’s eminent poet, Emily Dickinson, called the Indian pipe “the preferred flower of life.” In a letter to Mabel Todd, she confides, “I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering child, and unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.

DSC_0425

I told him how to pose on this fallen down birch tree and he was obliging enough to humor me, still with his weapon-of-a-stick in his hand.  He looks pleased.

DSC_0428

He even likes hitting the caps off wild mushrooms with his stick, he calls it mushroom golfing.

DSC_0431

This is that same fallen down birch tree, I wanted to see the wood where the tree broke and fell.  What a wonderful home for God’s smaller creatures.

DSC_0432

little things of interest on the forest floor…..

DSC_0439

DSC_0443

He walked barefoot.

DSC_0446

There are even orange mushrooms.

DSC_0447

Big healthy ferns are squeezing in on the path, reminding me of childhood games and forts in the woods.

DSC_0448

Teeny tiny white mushrooms

DSC_0451

some mushrooms had red caps

DSC_0452

This one looked shy.

DSC_0457

DSC_0458

mushrooms on a log

fullsizeoutput_5865

This large mushroom was broken off and on the ground……Seth’s barefoot show how big it was.

DSC_0465

Seth spied these gorgeous Cardinal wildflowers before I did.  They bloom at this time of year on mossy rocks in the stream and I always delight in them.

DSC_0466

DSC_0468

DSC_0482

DSC_0476

DSC_0486

Almost home!

He was a good sport and I found myself thinking, “I do so enjoy walks with a child or two or five or seven, and my camera!”

Dinner Tonight:

Crock-Pot Gingered Beef
2 pounds round roast, trimmed
2 onions, sliced
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup ketchup
6 T. brown sugar
3 T. vinegar
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef on all sides (I skipped this part).  Place sliced onion on the bottom of crock pot, place roast on top.  Mix remaining ingredients in bowl and whisk together.  Pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender and can be shredded with a fork.  Pour cooking juices into a saucepan and simmer on the stove until reduced, about 10 minutes.  Serve over the top of the beef.

I haven’t made it in a while but in the notes I wrote “Yum, E approves.”  So I’m hoping he still approves tonight when he gets home from work and eats it for dinner.

Grace and I have been enjoying this today:

Black Bean and Rice Salad
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 onion, chopped, and 4 cloves of garlic, pressed, sautéed until translucent
3 cups rice
salt and pepper

Mix together in a big bowl and serve each portion with a spoon of salsa on top.

Both recipes from my ever-favorite cookbook Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely

I’ve done lots of laundry (don’t you love hanging clothes outside on the line?) and still have some to fold, which I will do while the Waltons are on TV.  Seth and Sarah are outside playing.  I fell asleep reading a book on the couch with Seth next to me earlier and now Grace is in my spot, reading her book:  Messenger, by Lois Lowry.  She says it’s nice to read a book that doesn’t task the brain like some of the old classics she’s been reading.    I am reading Dead End in Norvelt, which is a Newbury award winner.  I’m almost done with it and it’s been delightful.  I love it.  Maybe you would, too.

 

PS, ANOTHER WALK WITH SETH that’s kinda making me cry right now.

 

 

 

lovely things

Jeremiah 32:17   Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too hard for you.

DSC_0191

Lovely things are silent…
Rosebuds waxing bloom,
Shadows stealing softly
In a darkened room;
Dragonfiles on rushes,
Stars in dark blue skies;
Hatching, fuzzy birdlets,
Love in sweethearts’ eyes.

DSC_0194

DSC_0199

DSC_0203

Lovely things are silent…
Rainbows in the sky,
Violets shedding fragrance,
A soft breeze waltzing by;
An apple tree in blossom,
Sunsets all aglow;
Moonlight on the water,
Falling soft white snow.

DSC_0205

DSC_0214

fullsizeoutput_5824

DSC_0215

fullsizeoutput_5820

Lovely things are silent…
Foam clouds in the sky,
Hummingbirds at flowers,
Butterflies gliding by.
A spider’s dainty spinning,
Wild flowers on a hill.
I bow my head in silence
And in my heart I’m still.
~Betty Fox Solberg

fullsizeoutput_5821

fullsizeoutput_5822

fullsizeoutput_5823

The cobwebs look blue in this light.  I’m down on my stomach in the woods to take a picture of a mushroom and I ask God to show me one more thing and I turn my head and see another tiny mushroom pushing up the leaves that I wouldn’t have noticed if I was walking…….

I like this feeling of walking without being in a hurry.  The woods around me are so still.  And I’m becoming still as well……..

I stand in one spot and don’t move anything but my eyes.  

Shanda, July 13, 2018 6:26pm

 

day cruise with my friend

GLACIER:  an extended mass of ice formed from snow falling and accumulating over the years and moving very slowly, either descending from high mountains, as in valley glaciers, or moving outward from centers of accumulation, as in continental glaciers.

IMG_7805

Hannah and I took a Stan Stephens cruise and it lasted all day (from about 10am-7pm).  This was toward the end of the week but I was excited to see the photos so I’m going to post them today.

We had some beautiful weather days during my 10 day adventure, but it was raining the day of the cruise.  The cost of the ride included unlimited hot beverages and a nice lunch and a cup of soup in the evening.   The hot beverages were greatly appreciated on this cold rainy day.   There were seats outside and inside.  Naturally we spent most of the time inside, but we got up now and then to take photos of the views; waterfalls, animals, fishermen, mountains, and the glacier.

DSC_0976

massive waterfalls tumbling down the mountains; if I were sitting at the top I would be a dot.

DSC_0980

DSC_0982

DSC_0983

DSC_0995

Seals

DSC_1006 1

“Do you see the goat?”

DSC_1008

I actually enjoyed the “not so nice” weather days, as the mist and rain and fog gave a beautiful mood.

DSC_1028

DSC_1039

Just in case you’re like my daughter I will tell you like I told her, “It’s just a boulder”.

DSC_1086

DSC_1092

“Glacier ahead!”

DSC_1106

“Hannah in a red coat”

DSC_1112

We heard creaks and groans as we bobbed in the sea watching the ice.  Now and then, large pieces of it dropped off and into the water with thunderous splash.

IMG_7865

DSC_1118

The birds flying in this photo above the water make it easier to see how huge the glacier was.

MEARES GLACIER (click for more information)

 

fullsizeoutput_57bc

DSC_1129

Sea Otter

DSC_1131

Whale

DSC_1139

Everyone was in awe to see a mother whale and baby.  We stopped and stared at the sea for so long it is permanently & forever etched in my mind.  You only have a second or two to take a picture.  Don’t blink, you might miss it!

DSC_1146

Sea Lions

DSC_1149

with lovely brown skins

fullsizeoutput_57b9

Seals are funny.

fullsizeoutput_57bb

Geese

fullsizeoutput_57bd

more sea lions, they were also thunderous (like the glacier) and made such rude sounds that reminded me of my sons for some reason.

fullsizeoutput_57be

IMG_7811

IMG_7839

IMG_7871

It was really relaxing but Hannah got a little sick for a while on the choppy water.  She recovered well though and we both agreed that it was an amazing day!

 

alaska

IMG_7352“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”
  ~John Muir, Travels in Alaska

I deliberately packed light so I could bring things home with me from Alaska.  It’s a good thing, too, because Hannah and I visited several used bookstores and I found approximately 10 or more titles to add to my Newbery book collection.  I was able to get everything packed and weighing less than 50 pounds for my trip back home, which was yesterday.

I was in Alaska, visiting my friend Hannah, for ten days.

After such adventures in travel and sightseeing, I am happy to report that I am perfectly well, just a little bit tired.  Indeed, it was good to sleep next to my husband last night, with the light of a gorgeous June full moon outside our windows.   Together again.

DSC_0770

Thank you to Rich and Hannah’s husband, Ryan, for all they did to make this experience possible.  I flew to Anchorage, and Hannah met me right at the baggage claim to drive me to her house, which was six hours away in Valdez.  The two of us always along famously, with nary an awkward feeling or impatient word or disagreement about our activities.  Well, except for the times when we were fighting over the check.  By the end of our visit, we didn’t even do that anymore.

DSC_0777 1

As I expected, the views and nature and fresh air were beyond imagination.  The vastness of Alaska is only to be experienced, mere words are inadequate.  I often felt in awe of what my eyes were taking in.  The mountains, the clouds, the trees and flowers, the mosquitos……..

DSC_0795

Hannah and I met through blogging years ago, and then we were pen pals, and then she visited my family three times here in Connecticut before I went to visit her.  Our common interests in Jesus and His love and grace, family, motherhood, reading the same books, and many other things kept our friendship going over the last 10 years and more.   We truly do get along comfortably “like two peas in a pod”.

It was a joy to visit Alaska because of her……..

DSC_0800

fullsizeoutput_5769

fullsizeoutput_576c

fullsizeoutput_576b

DSC_0921

DSC_0806

DSC_0814

fullsizeoutput_5766

DSC_0901

DSC_0931

fullsizeoutput_5768

fullsizeoutput_5767

DSC_0936

DSC_0924

I’ll be sharing photos from the trip for a while.

 

big bow, books, and a heron

I had serious reservations about Sarah’s requested hair style this morning (I’m her hair stylist).  “I want the ponytail on the top of my head like this,” she turned upside down and gathered it up in her hands, “and then put the bow on.”  The bow was all of 8 inches across, large, white, with silver sequins all over it.  She won the bow yesterday by “moving up her clip” at school.  Rather ridiculous.  Still, I couldn’t see any reason to deny her.  Up up and up went the hair, with the big bow on the very very top.

Two hours later, I was sitting in the front row of the auditorium trying to find my girl, the one with the big white bow on her head.  And to my amusement, there were girls all over the place with big bows of all different colors on the tops of THEIR heads!  It’s a trend!  An 8 year old school girl fashion trend!

*****

After the concert, where I heard adorable songs sung by adorable children, I decided to check out a local used book store for more Newbury books.  I’m trying to collect all the gold and silver medal winners, and read them all, too.  Or rather, I determined I would read them, and then found myself collecting them.  I have already read some of them, of course.   And we owned a surprising amount.  But there are over 300 titles and now that I’ve set this goal as a 40-something year old woman, it will be an absolute treat to read most of them for the first time, and some of them over again.  I’ll be sharing most of my “Newbury book news” on my instagram account, with some now and then updates here, too.  Since I began my challenge, I’ve read 1)Roller Skates 2)The Dark Frigate 3)Sounder 4) Secret of the Andes 5)The Twenty One Balloons  and am currently reading 6) Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.  It feels like it’s taking me a hundred years to finish it but that’s not to say that it isn’t a good book because it is.  It’s just taking me almost a solid week to read it.  Next I’ll read Out of the Dust because when I posted a photo of it on Instagram two of my friends said it was a favorite.  If I’m going to read them all I want to own them all (a treasure of a library for myself and my family) and since I love a bargain and a treasure hunt I’ll be spending the summer searching.  It’s such fun.  I get confused.  Some of the titles I’ve never heard of and don’t know what the covers look like.  So I printed off a big long list of the titles to check and double check and rely on my phone to look things up, too.  All that said, I still have managed to end up with some “doubles”.

*****

I didn’t realize my laptop would stay connected to the internet away far over here by the chicken coop but it is and it does so I am!  The pond is just down the bank in front of me, and I am sitting in an Adirondack chair, with my purse on a little table next to me.  Inside the purse there are 8 eggs as I didn’t want them to roll out of my pockets and crack against the chair seat.  The chickens wandered around my feet for a while, one of them beaked my toes!, but have mostly wandered away, eating bugs and grass while making soft cooing sounds.  They look so pretty against the tall dark pink clover and daisies in bloom next to the coop.

*****

When I stopped outside with my book to read, I saw a heron at the pond so I put the dog in the basement (he would bark and chase it away) and put my zoom lens on the camera.

They aren’t the best photos in the world but they’re special because I took them standing on my own front porch!

fullsizeoutput_56f0

fullsizeoutput_56f3

fullsizeoutput_56f6

I’m mainly amused by the long legs.  And knowing eye.

fullsizeoutput_56ed

“The Knowing Eye”

After trying to hide from me in a pine tree, it flew far far away and I retrieved my laptop to try to post the photos outdoors in the very best office in the world!  Nature!  I heard someone say this morning that nature isn’t romantic it’s just out to kill you but you know what, that’s just part of the charm.  At the moment, I feel perfectly safe.  I doubt the Heron would say the same.  He probably thought my long camera was a gun.

DSC_0632

The parting shot.

*****

Back to Hitty!  I’m determined to finish it before 2!  That’s when I need to pick up Grace from school (she’s been helping her former HS English teacher this week!  One more step closer to her dream of becoming a teacher herself).

Happy Thursday!