15 minutes of bird-watching

I have sorrow in my heart that these photos aren’t great but that can’t stop me from posting them!!  This isn’t National Geographic, this is an ordinary housewife taking photos because when she waved her children off to school she noticed it was a great morning for birdwatching.  I heard the most beautiful morning song calling to me but alas I never did figure out who did the calling.  However, since I was out there anyway (heeding ‘the call’) with my camera, pajamas, & barefoot, I meandered around to see what else I could see.

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At first I was annoyed with the wires but then I thought they added something cool to the photo……and plus it was so neat to see a woodpecker and a nuthatch in the same frame!  The woodpecker was cool and collected, the nuthatch scurried smoothly around the tree like a mouse.

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Thanks to my camera lens, (which is useful like binoculars) I could SEE this bird.  Without the lens it really did look like a mouse.

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…a little bit of red beauty hiding in the bushes…

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mysterious

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This bird doesn’t come to the feeders, I spied it flitting about in the trees behind the house.    It’s a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

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flying away

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gone

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I love morning-glories.

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The rose-bush is doing well.

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A charming juvenile cardinal….

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Chewing on a twig!!!!  It’s so cute.  I love how he uses his tail as a support so he can reach out and chew the twig.

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a scripture that meant a lot to me this morning:

“But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that basic holiness permeates things and people.  We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely………..since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.  We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.  Each of us is an original.”  Galations 5

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morning of the waxwings

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*Jacob and Brittnee*

I took their photos right before my trip to Alaska.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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……

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A Very Bad Kitty!

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

Time for me to eat breakfast and clean the house!

Happy Thursday!  Maybe you’ll see a bird!

marvels of ordinary living

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egg holder
strawberry bowl

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

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

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

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

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And then a hummingbird, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(On the dock over the pond.)

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

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

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

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Dave.  My Dave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Orange title, orange cup, orange cat-tail

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Very tired kitten with Caleb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unless you’re Walter the kitten.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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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”.

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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.

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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!

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

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“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.

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The parting shot.

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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!

nature photos (and knee-spots)

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purple finch at the feeder

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The glow of the pond.

I’m sitting in my room, I had to get away from Grace so I could focus.  I get easily distracted by her because we have lots to talk about (anything that comes to mind becomes a conversation).  I thought I would be all alone in here but Samantha-cat just appeared out of hiding and jumped on the bed.

Jacob, Ethan, and Grace are home for the summer and it’s wonderful (the only time it’s not wonderful is if I am over-tired or have PMS).  But seriously I do think it’s wonderful.  I’m not just saying that.  I no longer have that feeling of “I wonder what the older children are doing”–  I know what they are doing.  I can see them.  Jacob rides to work every morning with his Dad and Ethan goes to work in Jacob’s car.  I see them in the mornings getting ready.  This morning Jacob asked me where the nail clippers were, and half an hour later his brother Ethan was wondering where tweezers were, he had a sliver in the bottom of his foot from going traipsing barefoot through the woods (photos of that tomorrow, possibly).

During the day it’s still quiet.  The children have gone to work and to school.

Every evening is unpredictable family craziness.  Practices?  Games?  Someone missing (briefly)?  Big dinners, a whole pie getting eaten so fast so you better get a piece while you can, dirty bowls and cups being left all over the house, laundry piling up, homework reminders, tv turned up and up, loud talking, loud laughing, coins being thrown super hard and me getting mad about it, fortnight gaming, singing, playing the piano, telling the boys to take the garbage out, Seth can’t find a pencil, etc………going to bed and hearing the noice of the older kids getting ready to go to bed, too.  Lights being left on.  And then the house is quiet again.

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It (photographing this blog post) all started after dinner last evening, when I went out to the mailbox to mail a letter and was surprised by a wild rabbit who didn’t seem afraid of me in the least.  I stood still and he stood still.  Then, he “came back to life” and commenced his snacking on dandelions and grass.  The dandelions have turned into their moon-like state and I was amused that he picked them with his teeth at the base of the stem and ate it, end-to-top.  It was funny to watch the stem slowly disappear into his mouth with “the moon” last but not least.  I went inside to get the camera and when I returned, he was eating grass.  I am a bit concerned as the vegetable garden is nearby, newly planted with radishes, spinach, herbs, and peas.  Will he be eating that next?  I named him John.

And then I wandered around with my camera.

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I absolutely love the look of this photo of a cardinal in the tall dead tree on the edge of our property (dead tree=GIANT bird perch).

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mourning dove & male cardinal

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I stood and looked up up up into a very tall pine trees to sight this bird.  It was singing an evening song with its back to me.  Finally it looked over its shoulder and I got this amazing photo.  (I had my big zoom lens with me).

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It flew to a different branch.  I am almost positive that its a female scarlet Tanager.

Thoughts?  I never knew the females were yellow!  What a beautiful bird-couple they make.  Now I will be on the look-out for the male.  I hope I see it!!

I think I took about 25 photos of that bird and then it flew away and I moved on.

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Lady Slippers (a favorite wild flower) are in bloom now.

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Seth (9 years old) saw this photo and said, “Beautiful moon!”

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I sat and watched this duck pair for quite a while.  They were peacefully together on the stream at the dam, bathing and grooming their feathers.  The female must have enjoyed this stretch with her foot because she held it long enough for me to take several photos.  I love the curled up feathers on the male’s tail, and the purple color on the female’s wing.

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I walked up the hill and in the distance, where the water of the stream enters the dark woods, I saw a blue heron standing in a pool of water, probably finding some tasty dinner.  I was thrilled to see it and get a photo before it moved out of sight.  (It saw me as soon as I saw it and it was very suspicious of me right away.)

I went home and found the family sitting around in the living room getting ready to finish watching a movie they had started the night before.  It wasn’t a movie I was especially interested in so I got ready for bed and did some reading.  I finished a book titled, When I was a Slave, Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection, and it was very interesting in a sad, inspirational way.  Here is a quote I keep thinking about:

“One thing dat’s all wrong with dis world today is dat day ain’t no ‘prayer grounds.’ Down in Georgia where I was born–dat way back in 1852–us colored folks had prayer grounds.  My mammy’s was a old twisted thick-rooted muscadine bush.  She’d go in here and pray for deliverance of de slaves.  Some colored folks cleaned out knee-spots in de canebrakes.  Cane, you know, grows high and thick, and colored folks could hide demselves there and nobody could see and pester dem.”

Andrew Moss, 85 years old

It’s the concept of having a great need and therefore NEEDING TO PRAY.  It’s the idea of KNEE SPOTS.  All day long since reading it, that term comes to my mind.  When was the last time I got down on my knees to pray?  All the nature that surrounds me, and do I have even ONE “knee spot” to go to in order to pray to the God I love?  Where is my sense of great need?  Great gratitude?  Great praise?  Why go to the knees?  After all, I do pray during each day, but oh my,  in order to pray on my knees I would have to stop everything else I was doing………….and therein lies the beauty and soul-nourishment of “knee-spots”……..

“Be prepared.  You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.  Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.  Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.  Learn how to apply them.  You’ll need them throughout your life.  God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.  Pray hard and long.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.  Keep your eyes open.  Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”  Ephesians 6:13-18

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These are some of the things on my mind this morning as I start the day.  I also took this photo through the window of Rich’s office, which is why it’s so hazy, but still a beautiful bird.