beginning with the nighttime moon

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“Oh, if there’s only one song I can sing,
When in His beauty I see the great King,
This shall my song through eternity be,
“Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me!”  ~Philip Bliss

This hymn is stuck in my head this morning and I’m just so happy because today I have absolutely nothing pressing…..in the last week this family has had a total of 10 appointments (mostly dental, one doctor, and others) and I’m ready to have a peace-full morning instead of getting ready to go…….I’m a home-bird…..

I have a steaming Scarlet fiesta mug of green tea on the coffee table in front of me, and a curled up chocolate lab snoring by my side on the couch and I’m ready to let my fingers tippety tap along the keyboard….I love blogging…everyone should do it.  Life is so interesting.

Last week, Rich was gone on a business trip for five days straight and our college son Ethan was home for the week, too.  After Caleb’s dentist appointment and right before his doctor’s appointment, we had time to sit at the bookstore and drink hot coffee beverages.

(Caleb had no cavities but was put on antibiotics for a sinus infection).

(a page from the latest Victoria magazine–I was so tired last week that I had to read this quote like 5 times before it made sense.  And… Seth, waiting for the bus one morning).

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Hanging out on the porch with Sarah.  She was blowing the whistle CONSTANTLY.

She gets to learn how to play the recorder next year at school and the whistle is a tiny recorder.  So she would blow and then take a break to say things like “Can I buy my own recorder, Mom?”  “I’m going to get a pink one.”  “Did Caleb buy his?”  “Where is it?”  “What color was it?”  “Seth doesn’t bring his home.”  “He doesn’t like to play it.”  and so on.

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These muffins were yummy.

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Rich took this at the football games on Sunday.

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Reading on the porch with my kitty.

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Ethan was home all last week and so (because I’m a good mom) I thoughtfully made him a dentist appointment for a cleaning.  (he was less than thrilled because has bad luck always at the dentist).  He drove himself.  I was at the grocery store when they called me, “Hello we have Ethan here and he has a couple cavities that he didn’t get filled last time and the dentist has time to do them now if you’d like us to do that?”  And naturally I said, “Oh yes, that would be awesome, and please have the Doctor check Ethan’s gray front tooth.”  Then we hung up.  After another hour or so, Ethan came home with his eyes sad and face blank.  He put his papers from the dentist down on the counter.  Ethan doesn’t talk much so I had to pry.  “What did they say about your tooth?”  “They said the roots are a little shorter and it might fall out eventually so I have to go to a specialist to get it looked at.”  I ran over to the referral paper, and called the number right away just to see if perhaps they could get him in while he was home.  And yes, they were able to get him an appointment on Thursday.

So Thursday came.  The appointment was at 8:30 in the morning.  As soon as the kids left on the bus at 7:30, Ethan and I got in the car to head to his appointment, which was on the other side of Hartford.  Ugh busy city traffic.  We had no time to go through the Dunkin Donuts drive- thru.  So we battled on through the traffic and got to the Endodontist with just enough time to park, find the office, and fill out papers.

Ethan was called to the back for his appointment and I followed, simply because, like I said, Ethan doesn’t talk much and I wanted ALL the information.  The dentist took an X-ray, and tapped on his front teeth.  Then he held a tiny piece of cotton with his dentist tongs and sprayed icy cold air on it.  “I’m going to put this on your tooth and you raise your hand when the pain is unbearable, okay Ethan?”  He pressed the cotton on Ethan’s gray tooth and Ethan never raised his hand.  “The reason you feel no pain is because that front tooth is dead,” the dentist explained.  “You will need a root canal and then eventually we can bleach the inside of the tooth the next time you are home from college.  I can’t just put the bleach in it this week or you might end up with a brilliantly refrigerator white tooth and that would be worse than the gray.  I need to check the bleaching process every few days so we can take the bleach out once that tooth matches the other ones.”  Wow, this was getting interesting.  Ethan didn’t say a word.

We left with a root canal appointment for the very next day.  Ethan’s bad luck at the dentist continued but you know what?  It had to be done and it is all done now.  The two of us had breakfast together that morning and then went to the mall and consoled ourselves with new shirts (Jcrew for him and Anthro for me).  Rich came home that night and took Ethan the next day for the root canal and now he’s all set until he can get his tooth bleached.

Why was his tooth gray in the first place you might ask?  He cannot remember the injury, but at some point when he was younger he bumped the tooth hard enough for it to die.  With seven children and five of them boys, it’s a wonder any of them have white teeth.  Seth had a gray tooth for a time, too, but it was a baby one and fell out.  My brother David says Ethan should just get a gold tooth and be done with it.

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I bought this vintage wool hook rug at an antique store this weekend….it’s now on the pantry floor and I love it.  I’ve been waiting for just the right throw rug for my pantry.  The outer part of the rug is dark gray, then a beautiful dark blue and light blue design, with light gray after that and a bunch of bright flowers in the middle.  The blue matches the blue glass bottles in the window.

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YESTERDAY it was Seth and Sarah’s turn at the dentist……(and tomorrow is my turn).

For prizes, they got teeth.

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And then we went to the grocery store.  I made them leave the teeth in the car and when we were checking out, Sarah turned to Seth and cried, “Seth, we can go to the car and put our teeth in now!”

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Back at home…… (with a fogged up camera lens again, it was so damp and rainy)

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David was on the roof.

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He was bouncing a small basketball off the house and trying to make a basket down below, with the help of Caleb and Seth.  He made it once.

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(I took this one through the window)

It was pouring rain.

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Last night my husband went downstairs to check on Seth, who was crying in the basement.  He and Caleb had been fooling around.  David and I looked at each other with alarm when we heard Rich yell, “DON’T PLAY FOOTBALL IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!” and Sarah came running upstairs laughing.  “What happened?  Sarah, tell me!”  “Seth hit his head again and it’s bleeding a little bit right here,” she pointed to her head, “on the side of his head.”

Sure enough, Rich marched Seth upstairs, who already had a goose egg forming next to his temple on his forehead, and got him an ice pack.

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This morning it already looked much better, but you can see the remainder of his injury next to his eye.  (he had a bump up higher on his temple, and a scrape by his eye).  I mean, at least it wasn’t his tooth.

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7:15 this morning as I put away the dishes.  “Mom, take a picture!”

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Kids left on the bus.  All is calm, all is bright.

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The sun is shining!  After a long weekend of rain, it is pure delight.

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We end with the morning moon.

Happy Tuesday, friends.
You are loved.

 

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cobwebs

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I went out the door this morning to sweep a little pile of cat puke off the porch and noticed how lovely it was what with the fog as thick as pea soup.

So I put the broom away, dusted off the camera, and ambled a bit.

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top-heavy sunflowers

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I didn’t know it yet but these cobwebs were a foreshadowing of things to come. . .

(namely, this blog post)

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And it came to pass. . . . . that nature was getting ready for halloween a month early.

S P I D E R   W E B S

It’s a good year to be a spider, a population explosion, lots of neighbors, no loneliness.

Perhaps a shortage of meals, however.

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perfect works of wonder

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And dew-bright webs festoon the grass 
In roadside fields at morning.  ~Elizabeth Akers

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spooky cat

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“I come to the garden alone….while the dew is still on the….cobwebs….”

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“Perhaps no structure made by a creature lower than man is so exquisitely perfect as the orb web of the spider.”  Anna Comstock

ordinary morning, I love you

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Exciting!

We have three black swallowtail chrysalises in our butterfly nursery and the first one emerged today and unfolded its wings.

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“I think this is how we’re supposed to be in the world
~present and in awe.”  Anne Lammott

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homemade rolls, warm from the oven

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There’s the pretty-pretty pinterest way (which I love)….and then there’s the “I took old bread down to the chickens and used the empty bag to gather the eggs” way.  (which I also love).

Happy Monday, friends.

You are loved. 🙂

It’s ordinary to love the beautiful,
but it’s beautiful to love the ordinary.

raising monarch butterflies

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I invite you to gaze upon my caterpillar nursery!  I put it together for myself and the family and anyone who comes over to visit. . . . . . .

Year after year, indeed for the last 11 years we have lived on this property (four acres boarding state land), I have kept watch in the later summer days for monarch caterpillars.  (They are only ever on milkweed).  If I see a caterpillar, I collect it and bring it home to raise on the counter in a big jar or a fish tank.  (We used to have a different fish tank but it broke when someone tried putting rocks in it).

We were fortunate to find perhaps 4 caterpillars, and sometimes none at all.  This year, however, this epic summer of 2017, we have found over 20 of them.  If I were more scientific, I would do a precise count, but it is rather difficult and confusing to try to count caterpillars when they are all over the place and in various sizes.

I am a busy mom and wife, it’s a wonder that I have time to sit and watch a caterpillar nursery at all….or write a blog!  But these things give me much needed rest and enjoyment, they are interests that I have……and no matter what your interest and passion is….big or small….it should be pursued and nourished.

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I picked these five off their milkweed (which was almost gone) and put them on the floor of the tank so I could give them fresh food.  They looked so cute all in a row that I had to take a photo of them.

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Every couple of days I replace the leaves from the three small bud vases I have in the tank with fresh milkweed from the garden, which is conveniently right outside the kitchen door.  Caterpillars are naturally very hungry and grow quickly.  It’s fun to watch their little heads go up and down the edges of the milkweed like tiny machines.  I bet if it were quieter in my house I might even hear them chewing.

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Can you see the difference in this caterpillar?   Grace and I found two of them on Queen Anne’s lace down by the pond.  We are almost positive that they are the caterpillars of Black Swallowtail Butterflies.

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An urge that I have so far neglected this summer is to get out colored pencils and draw these beautiful patterns that I see. . . .(maybe today?)

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I clipped some cut-to-size screen (from an old window) to the top edge of the tank with clothespins.  When the they have eaten their full and are “ready”, the caterpillars go to the screen to “dangle” for a day or two, before bursting their caterpillar skin to reveal a most beautiful green and gold chrysalis beneath.

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This one’s small but they start out even smaller…..

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I have to laugh when I go out to collect fresh food for them because I inevitably end up bringing inside even MORE caterpillar babies.  David says, “Mom, how many do you NEED?”  He is probably the child who is most interested in them and I love to see his face peering into the tank.

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“Oh no this one looks different, what’s wrong with it?”  I watched it closely and realized it was molting.  It was gripped to the leaf with it’s “end” and wriggling the skin down, rather like when you or I take off stockings with our hands, and “stepping out” fresh and clean.

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Almost done!

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Ah, it feels so good.

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“fresh and clean”

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An empty chrysalis next to six green ones.

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This caterpillar is getting ready to “dangle” by finding the perfect spot on the screen and attaching itself to it with its homemade silk.  The children get nervous if I move the screen, they are afraid the chrysalises might fall off, but they are firmly attached and “just think, outside they would be safe even in the winds and rain”.  So I move the screen in confidence.

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This one had attached itself to a milkweed leaf, which wasn’t a good choice, because eventually the other caterpillars ate the leaf causing the chrysalis to drop down to the bottom of the cage.  I picked it up and dangled it over the edge of the tank.  When I hear the children say, “Mom, one of them is black!” I know that we will soon see a butterfly.

In fact, as I am writing this, a butterfly has newly hatched right in front of our eyes, and three more black ones are ready to come out any minute.

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Why just put milkweed in the tank when you can also add flowers?

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They make lovely strands of silk.  I took a picture right after this caterpillar molted.  You can see its bunched up rag of old skin up at the top of the photo.

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They eat so much I wondered what I would do if we ran out of leaves (it won’t happen this year) and then I noticed that where I picked the leaves off, new ones are growing!

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new leaves!!!

I know, this is a simple gardening concept, but I never thought to apply it to my milkweed!  The resilience of growing things is amazing.

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Milkweed grows outside the kitchen door, mingled in with our lilac bush.

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And more milkweed (tall stalks with long oval leaves) is in the side garden.

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I had to laugh when I saw a chrysalis outside in the lilac bush, I guess I missed bringing this one inside!!

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I can move the chest of drawers around to get a better view, or better lighting for photos.

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It stays like this most of the time.  Better than any TV show.

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It’s fascinating to watch them split, revealing a bright green underneath.

These changes are done so silently and quickly that we miss it most of the time.

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It wriggles in such a strange fashion and the bunch of skin drops to the bottom of the tank.

I did a short video while I was blogging this post.

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They first come out with their body much bigger than their wings.  I always think of origami when I see them emerge……it’s sort of like reverse origami.  Only God could package something up like this and have it come out as beautiful as a butterfly…

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The butterfly hangs and dries, once in a while a drip of fluid will fall.  Once I see them opening their wings for the first time I will take them carefully outside on a stick and put them up on the lilac bush.

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“I look upon a year lived as a year earned; and each year earned means a greater treasury of experience and power laid up against time of need.”  Anna Botsford Comstock

“God created the heavens and the earth to be experienced, not just read about or lectured upon.”  Bob Schultz

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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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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

 

 

 

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