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.

one little patch of beauty

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The ministry of kindness is unceasing. It fills all the days and all the nights. In the true home, it begins in pleasant greetings with the first waking moments, and all day goes on in sweet courtesies, in thoughtful attentions, in patience, in quiet self-denials, in obligingness and helpfulness.

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Out in the world kindness goes everywhere with . . .
its good cheer,
its gladness of heart,
its uplift for those who are discouraged,
its strengthening words for those who are weary,
its sympathy with sorrow,
its interest in lives that are burdened and lonely.

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Some of us, if we were to try to sum up the total of our usefulness, would name a few great things we have done:
a gift of money to some benevolent object,
the starting of some good work which has grown into strength,
the writing of a book which has done good to many lives,
the winning of honor in some service to our community or to our country.

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But in every worthy life, that which has left really the greatest measure of good, has been its ministry of kindness. No record of it has ever been kept. People have not talked about it. It never has been mentioned in the newspapers. We do not even remember it ourselves. But wherever we have gone, day after day, if we have simply been kind to everyone, we have left blessings in the world which in the aggregate mean far more than the few large things we set down as the measure of our usefulness among men!

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Our Lord’s wonderful picture of the Judgment reveals another phase of the splendor of kindness. He tells us that the little things we do — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, showing hospitality to the stranger, visiting the sick, and the other nameless ministries of love of which we take no account — if done in the right spirit, are accepted as though they had been actually done to Christ himself! He tells us that the godly will be surprised to know that in their kindly acts they had been ministering to the King, when they supposed they were only doing little things for needy neighbors. This revealing exalts to highest honor, the lowliest things of the common days, wrought in love for the Master.

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The best thing we can do with our love, is not to watch for a chance to perform someone fine act that will shine before the world — but to fill all the days and hours with little kindnesses which will make countless hearts nobler, stronger and happier.

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

~J.R. MILLER~

I found a new podcast that I listen to as I walk and it never ceases to soften my heart.  The speaker simply reads excerpts from books or essays from various spiritual writers.  His voice is soothing but –be aware–the children will laugh.  I was listening to it when I picked up David from track practice and he dropped his head back on the seat pretending to be put sound asleep by the voice reading to us.

The name of the podcast is Inspirational Living.  Yesterday was a reading from J.R. Miller called Be of Good Cheer:  The Blessings of Cheerfulness.  Miller has been quoted many times on this blog, so I thought it was high time to quote him again.  There is a great website full of Miller’s writing you might want to go peruse it…GRACE GEMS.   Highly recommended.

PERUSE:  read, typically in a thorough or careful way.

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Lily of the valley is coming into bloom.  I found some in the ditch as I walked yesterday and picked one so I could enjoy it’s lovely scent.

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A little peak at the flower garden by the patio and garage.  Hens and Chicks, Phlox, and Iris.

The best part of the day, besides figuring out the Marco Polo app so I could video text with my friend Lea Ann……..

…….was these two fine young men returning home for the summer.

We were all so happy as we ran to the car to see them.  They had quite a morning of trying to load the vehicle with all their stuff.  SO MUCH STUFF.  They learned a valuable lesson or two for next school year.

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As soon as they opened the doors it started falling out.

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Ethan showed me his seat, he had no room for his legs or any movements on the 3 hour drive back home.

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For whatever reason even the hens ran over to investigate.

Seth, Sarah, and David helped them unload.  I had made hamburgers and pasta for dinner, and peanut butter cookies, but had to leave after just a few minutes to take Caleb to his game.

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This is how they brought their clothing home.  Stuffed in a hundred thousand plastic bags found in a trash can at school.

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JUST as I took the photo, Jacob threw his football to Ethan.  We couldn’t have timed it better if we tried…..

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Rich and I sat in our lawn chairs at the top of the hill and watched Caleb play in his game (they lost 9-7) and the rest of the kids (but Grace, who comes home this weekend).  Jacob talked to us nonstop about his recent college stories.  As I studied their faces I was filled with pride and joy.  “What do you think of these fine sons of yours, Rich?”  And we looked at each other and smiled.  If you have children, you know the feeling.  These moments make all the stressful moments worth it, tens times over.

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Caleb was hoping that his big brothers would come to his game.  And they did.

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They were playing catch with the football right in front of me.

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Sarah came to get me so she could take me to a tiny nest that she found.  Could the night get any better?

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David said “I finally feel like I’m not all alone anymore.”

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flashback:

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This photo recently caught my attention again…..it’s from almost 8 years ago…..I made Sarah’s dress.  And look at those arms and legs and that face.

Just a few more quotes before we go:

fullsizeoutput_54db 1“Our attitude is to be ever toward joy.”

DSC_0633 1“Shall we not seek for the bright side? There is really sunshine enough in the darkest day—to make any ordinary mortal happy—if he only has eyes to see it!”

DSC_0659 1There is no lot in life so dreary—
that it has not
at least its
one little patch of beauty;

or its one wee flower looking up
out of the dreariness,
like a smile of God.”

*J.R. Miller

 

you are loved.

bird notebook

Good morning Monday, my friends, do you feed the birds?

A thoughtful collection of bird feeders will bring an interesting variety of feathered visitors.  Sometimes I even say, “Thank you for coming!”

From where I am sitting on the couch I can look right through the living room window and easily see my feeders on the porch.  I have one hanging and three make-shift feeders (which are really copper sifters) sitting in different places; on the porch railing, a plant stand, and a little white table.  Because their bottoms are screens I don’t have to worry about the seed staying wet after it rains.  There is black sunflower seed in three of them, and dry mealworms in the fourth (wishing, hoping, dreaming…….of bluebird visitors).

I have a camera nearby with my zoomiest zoom lens attached.

And in this simple way, our days are peppered with bird behavior.  Sometimes the feeders are empty.  But sometimes chicadees fly in, take a seed, and immediately fly out to eat it in the bushes by our driveway.  They don’t stay long.  As soon as one leaves, another one takes its place, it is well-choreographed and there are never any collisions.  Sometimes a pair of cardinals come to visit.  Or a beautiful house sparrow and nuthatches, and a titmouse or two.  I remember that we need more suet to cater to the local woodpeckers.  I haven’t seen any bluejays lately but I saw some at a neighbor’s feeder yesterday.  My parents get a whole flock of mourning doves on their front porch!

Sometimes one of the children will notice a bird and tell me to “come look, Mom!”  I love that.  I tiptoe over as quietly as I can.  Sometimes I’m too late and “oops, it flew away.”

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“Think of all the animals you know and you will see that there is not another one that is clothed with feathers.”  Fields and Fencerows, by Porter and Hansen

“He will cover you with His feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Psalm 91:4

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“A wave of song moves across the continent each morning, east to west, with sunrise.  Light–a certain intensity of light–starts birds singing.”  Backyard and Beyond, Edward Duensing and AB Millmoss

“He redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.”  Job 33:24

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.”  Psalm 96:1-2

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The more things should learnest to know and enjoy, the more complete and full will be for thee the delight of living.”  Phalen

“However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all……”  Ecclesiastes 11:8

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“Use at least one full page in your notebook for each bird sighting.  First, record the day and time.  Next, record the place you saw the bird.  Was it in a field or near the water?  Was it on a grassy lawn or in a woodlot?  You might want to add a brief sentence describing the feature by which you identified the bird–it’s color, shape, or field mark.  Do a small sketch of the bird and make notes about the bird’s behavior.  You can squeeze a lot of information on one page.”   Field Trips, by Jim Arnosky

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“These birds were probably not drawn, even thus loosely, together by any social instincts, but by a common want; all were hungry, and the activity of one species attracted and drew after it another and another.  ‘I will look that way, too,’ the kinglet and creeper probably said, when they saw the other birds busy, and heard their merry voices.”   Signs and Seasons by John Burroughs

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