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.

 

 

 

 

 

first violets & secret garden quote

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For all the February babies, including myself, my son and my friend ~Thia~

Mary did not ask any more questions. She looked at the red fire and listened to the wind “wutherin’.” It seemed to be “wutherin'” louder than ever.

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I wasn’t even looking for them yet.  We’ve had almost entirely cold cold spring temperatures.  These grew in a warmer spot, by the kitchen door.  Oh it was such an encouraging moment to see these first deeply rich purple wild flowers.  I bent right down in the rain to pick them, knowing that soon there will be hundreds and thousands of them.

At that moment a very good thing was happening to her. Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor.

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She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her;

she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm;

she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life;

and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one.

~The Secret Garden

Sarah and I have been listening together and enjoying it very much.  A beautiful book.

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“I found them in a book last night, these withered violets.”

I ended up closing the first spring violets in-between pages of poetry given to me by my friend Marcia, years ago.

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an anomaly

I waited for two hours this morning while my vehicle was serviced; oil changed, tires rotated, a latch fixed, vacuumed, and washed.  I read a book the entire time so now…….I’m sick of reading and have some free time to….blog.  I have all kinds of lovely little stories to tell.

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Starting with our son Jacob, who is a college football player now.  He LOVES school, is keeping very busy, and is also keeping a pet fish alive in his dorm room.  He had several football games this weekend, one of which was shown live online.  Rich hooked his iPad up to the TV and we all sat and watched it, keeping our eyes peeled for number 88.  And I was thrilled when we finally saw him!  I just had leap off the couch to take a crappy picture.  ((It’s beautiful to me.)) Seth asked me to print it so he could hang it on the wall in his room.

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On Sunday, Seth had to be at the football field at 9:45 in the morning and Caleb had to be there for 2.  However, Rich was preaching and the game was away, so I had to take both of them with me, meaning Caleb was over 4 HOURS early for his game.  It was a hot autumn day, very dry.  Perfect “baking” weather.  Caleb was in the sun so long that by the time he had HIS game (at 2:30) he was much slower than usual.  In fact, our team did win, but most of the boys were a little “off” from overheating.  I took this picture just as Caleb was saying, “Dad, next time coach says I can’t get here too early.”  LOL

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MONDAY NIGHT football was on TV.  My children were in a clump on one part of the couch.

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While their dad gave me a foot rub on another part of it.  I love Monday night football!  🙂

(He was have a conversation with David about why David wasn’t waking up on time in the morning….Dave was blaming his alarm …….because it’s NEVER his fault, right?)

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I recently rediscovered this photo of me and the children (before Seth and Sarah were born).

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Sarah had her things all set up for playing with marbles but then she left for school and Sherlock the cat walked over and had a turn.

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Chickens enjoying leftover morning cereal and milk.

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why kids, why????

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I couldn’t stop myself from buying mums (and ornamental grass) for the garden.  I also put Rich’s old riding tractor from when he was little in the garden.  I found a “pretty plate” garden decoration, too, which includes a chartreuse luncheon plate (Fiesta!).  I did some weeding and Gentleman Gray the cat got some on his face while he watched.

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Last night, Rich and I watched the boys practice football.  I love watching them (kids and coaches) so much that I sometimes get tears in my eyes.  They have such fun out there.

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THIS MORNING……a brief quiet moment, trying to wake up, before I left for the car appointment.

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The FED EX truck came and dropped off two storage bins that we ordered from Costco.  My hope is to contain sports stuff (one for football, one for wrestling).  And so on.  Rich and the kids get to put them together later!!  (have fun, honey!)

Also, we recently had our side steps extended on the porch. (not painted yet)

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I went to a thrift store after the car appointment.  This was in the same plaza outside of a yoga studio.  Since I had finished my book I left it behind on the shelf.

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Well, after the thrift store shopping I was hungry so I cast my eyes about the plaza and only saw a Vietnamese place.  “No”, I thought.  But then……

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“Yes”, I decided.  And I sent a picture and a text to our family group chat.

“The menu makes me cautious.” said Ethan

“Hmmm, adventurous?” said my husband

“In my own very small way,” I agreed.

and then

“What is their compelling differentiating advantage that made this place stand out to you?”  asked Jacob.

“It was right next to the thrift store.” I replied.

“It had good reviews on YELP.” I continued.

“and I was able to read the menu on YELP.” I further explained

“Okay, so your unconscious need was food, and they revealed that to you by placing themselves in a convenient location where shoppers go.  Their feature is that they’re a sit-down restaurant, their advantage is that they’re close by, and the benefit is you will no longer be hungry and you’ll feel good about yourself for supporting a small business,” Jacob texted, “These are my thoughts as I leave my sales class.”

And then Rich replied:  “But if they were not near the thrift store no matter what they had on yelp or what their menu said they wouldn’t have had a chance.  Your Mom’s not a good business test case, Jake.  She would be an anomaly in a field of data points.  And absolutely special beautiful one–but still an anomaly.”

I laughed all the way home about being “an anomaly in a field of data points” as they continued to banter via text messaging.

I eventually texted, “I think everybody should just shut up.” but no one listened.

MY VIETNAMESE COLD CUTS SANDWICH WAS DELICIOUS!

It had pork belly on it.

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When I got home, I washed my thrift store purchases (mama and baby tiger) and put them in the girls’ room.

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And found my cat—can you believe it–in the same spot I left him….4 hours ago.

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tasha tudor book finds

DSC_1487 1“When I’m working in the barn or house I often think of all the errors I’ve made in my life. But then I quickly put that behind me and think of water lilies. They will always eradicate unpleasant thoughts. Or goslings are equally comforting in their own way.”  ~Tasha Tudor

Jacob is doing fine in Vermont, he is so busy we don’t hear from him very often but all his texts end in that happy LOL face — yellow circle with a big grin and laughter-tear eyes.  He’s very busy with football; conditioning, practices, and meetings.  I read the group text this morning in which he confessed that he finally put the sheets on his bed…after three days.  He read the blog post I wrote and had to text me and say “great I’m crying right before my meeting, Mom.”  oops.  He’s coming back home next Sunday to get Ethan but Rich and I will be in PA getting Grace settled so we will miss seeing him.  Vermont is an easy state to visit from Connecticut, I honestly LOVE the drive to the college because I pass several very nice antique stores and the Vermont Country Store, which is an amazing place to shop for unique items, including food.

So anyway, back to when I visited Aunt Colleen two weeks ago now.  We had an afternoon just the two of us.  Her girls babysat Seth and Sarah (they are the best babysitters).  I wish I had taken more pictures with Colleen that day.  We stopped first at an antique store that was inside of a big huge old house.  We had just as much fun seeing the inside of that house as we did searching for treasures.

Then, we found a consignment shop basically in the middle of a very quiet shopping plaza, one of those places that you hesitate going inside because they don’t seem to have much business.  However, we entered the store and had a simply delightful time prowling around and I was very excited to find Seth a Derek Jeter tshirt for only 2 dollars AND……..(this is most exciting)…..on a shelf of children’s books I found……

TASHA TUDOR BOOKS!  THREE OF THEM!

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This was the one I was most amazed by….because when I opened the cover I saw….

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….that it was signed!!!  (swoon)

My friends, it was ONE DOLLAR.  ONE DOLLAR.

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The first one was published in 1971, and this one was written in 1997.

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“But then Caleb thought his end had come:  He tripped over a taunt rope in a clump of hemlocks where he had thought to conceal himself.  He fell flat, giving his chin a nasty whack.  He just managed to retreat, undiscovered, to the shelter of some rocks that were covered by bushes.”  

Naturally, the fact that there is a CALEB in the books makes them even better, as that is the name of my own dear fourth son, who is currently 12 years old.

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The third book I bought (they were each one dollar) was a copy of Tasha Tudor’s Fairy Tales, and as it was very similar to the Bedtime Book (already tucked away on a shelf at my house in CT), we promptly left it with Aunt Mary, on her porch, with a note.  She loved Tasha before I even did (as did my Mom).

When I got home I pulled all my books out of their various places in the house to take photos of them.  It’s been too long since I last READ them (I’m currently reading Harry Potter #3) so I plan on doing that very soon, while wearing a long skirted old fashioned dress, a kerchief on my hair, while turning off the electricity in the house, seated next to a huge dollhouse I made myself, with lit candles, a stuffed owl, and tea that I brewed also myself in old English chinaware!  Oh and I cannot forget the big vases of flowers from the garden, using homemade goat fertilizer to make them bloom extra lushly.

(dreams, only dreams)

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This book is a treasure for lovers of old fashioned gardening.

“Daffodils are an optimistic flower, and foolproof. You know what Shakespeare said:
“Daffodils,
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.”

…I plant them in big clumps with a trusty shovel. I make several large holes all around and put quite a few in. That’s why it makes such a spectacular look when they bloom.”  ~Tasha Tudor

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Mother Goose book (of which I have two copies). . . . .

(all these books have been found in my wanderings through library book sales and second hand shops)

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(She passed away in 2008 at 92 years of age)

“You should see my corgis at sunset in the snow. It’s their finest hour. About five o’clock they glow like copper. Then they come in and lie in front of the fire like a string of sausages.”  ~Tasha Tudor

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Another page of her delightful drawings.  I have a print which I really need to get framed one of these days…..its of a small girl holding a chicken.

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This newsletter/catalogue was tucked inside one of the books.

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Joanna gave me this cookbook for Christmas in 2001, she is also a fan.  All the cool girls are.  (wink)  If you haven’t seen her work, I challenge you to find her books at the local library and enjoy a quiet hour or two turning the pages, you will be whisked away into another world for a time, and come back gently with a soft smile on your face, determined to maybe try a few of the things she loved so much; her pets, cooking, gardening, drawing, creating.

*****

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This huge hawk sat at the top of our old dead pine tree for well over an hour early yesterday morning.  As soon as I woke up I found myself down by the pond, in a soft rain, trying to get a good photo.

It’s beautiful.

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(Sarah was wearing her sister’s glasses).  These three were cute yesterday, visiting on the porch, so I had to get a photo.

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They brought me my camera, “We took pictures outside,” they explained, “he’s in the trash can.”  ooooookay…….

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Apparently they were pretending that he was Bugs Bunny (which explains the teeth) and because they didn’t have a proper rabbit hole, they used the almost-empty garbage bin.  Yuck!

“I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionnaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It’s an admirable profession, why apologize for it. You aren’t stupid because you’re a housewife. When you’re stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare.”  ~Tasha Tudor

morning meditations (cheerful and bright)

(I almost wrote morning medications!)

So this morning I made my cup of coffee in a marigold java fiesta mug, let it get cold while I did laundry, warmed it back up in the microwave, and carried it outside to our “under the porch swing” with my current read.

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(As an aside, I want to explain my current read.  This book caught my eye at the thrift store in town because I thought I would mail it to a blog friend who is a big fan of Doris Day.   In fact HERE is her Doris Day pinterest board.  Godeliva is a friend of mine on Facebook and also has left notes on my blog for years, she lives in a different country so English is not her first language, she leaves charming little comments that I have to translate, and it’s because of her that at times I have Doris Day photos on my Facebook feed, along with other lovely thoughts, photos, quotes, and beautiful inspiration.  So anyways, she is the reason why I gave this book a second glance at the thrift store that day. . . .I don’t know anything about Doris Day other than she’s blond and cute so naturally I have started reading this surprisingly interesting book instead of mailing it out promptly.)

Because I am a morning person with lots of energy at this time of day, once my coffee was drained, I began to get antsy and my eyes left the words on the page (very interesting account of her first marriage which failed because he beat her and abused her even while she was pregnant) to wander around the garden just across the way, and the patio with the furniture rather haphazard and the ground beneath the swing which was starting to fill up with weeds.

I left the swing and began to weed.

I soon discovered there were about 100 or more legos mingled in the wood chips and weeds beneath the swing.

“Oh those boys, I’m going to get them out of the house and have the pick up every single solitary lego!”

The weirdest thing happened.  It was kind of like magic.  Or sorcery.  As I continued weeding, the legos became so sweet, so perfectly natural to MY life as a mom, MY boys that I love so much, that my heart. . . . .simply melted, causing my brain to decide OF COURSE legos must be scattered beneath the swing!!  Of course they must!

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In fact, I may just get another couple of cups from the toybox and scatter them under there, too!

Legos are part of the landscape here.  They represent a house full of children who have loved playing with them for almost 20 years.  20 years worth of legos, I say, we must have about a million pieces.  They.are.everywhere.  They really are.  They may as well be under the porch swing, too.

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So cheerful and bright.

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Look I even found a horse.

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Last week, (after I brought home my big box of Rose Fiestaware) I went through all my dishes and (believe it or not-this is shocking-) decided to get rid of a big stack of fiesta saucers of various colors and put them in a box to go to Goodwill.  A few days later, as I was working on the flower beds I thought “Hmmmmmm, this idea might be kind of redneck but perhaps those saucers that are in the box for Goodwill would make a nice border.”  So I tried it and yes Rich did ask a sincere “Why are your dishes in the garden?” but I think they look “so cheerful and bright” rather like…………….this just occurred to me………..LEGOS!

The mama has her fiestaware, and just around the corner down the path, the kiddos have their legos.

Perfection.

 

weekend report

He has been with me everywhere I have gone.  Genesis 35:3

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.  Job 5:9

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to you be the glory.  Psalm115:1

The friends and pleasures of which you speak cannot compare with the joys which I seek.  Christian, in Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan

If you love me, feed my sheep.  John 21:17

*****

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Sarah’s last school program for 1st grade.  Next year she will be moving on to the bigger elementary school in town.  (my baby!)

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On a flower the size of a dime.  Sarah and I made baby sounds at it because it was so small.

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The tree we planted from Grandma and Grandpa  (Rich’s dad and step-mom).  The children never forget about this tree and love to check on it.  “It’s growing, Mom!”

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Lady’s slippers in bloom

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We found a small toad….. I took this picture moments before she started jumping around (similar to a toad) because she’s trying to be brave holding it in her hands….but she’s really feeling rather squeamish.

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~Buttercups and guess what?  We all like butter, very much.  Especially on toast and popcorn.

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Gentleman Gray walked with us.  I had to carry him back, he’s not a cat that enjoys walking in the heat through tall grass with a strange dog “over there”.

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While I had Gentleman, my sister randomly texted me a picture of herself with her fur baby.

Sisters!

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Tessa’s Jr. Prom!  She invited Ethan, of course.

They’ve been dating almost 2 years.

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It was so hot outside.  I did a five minute photoshoot on the driveway before they left.

Aren’t they good looking?

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cuties

They didn’t get home until around 1:30 in the morning so I didn’t sleep very well.  Mom-worries, you know.  🙂  They had a wonderful time, so happy.

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Lots of baseball games for the boys!

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I turned to Rich and silently mouthed, “Take my picture!” seventeen times before he got it.  I had to be sneaky because if Seth had heard me he would have run off — he likes to tease me.  This boy…..we rarely see him during his brother’s games but every once in a while he’ll come visit me.  In this case he was coming to say,  “No one’s working the food booth today.  If you had a key would you work the food booth Mom?”  Maybe he was hungry.  Or wanting candy.  Look at his outfit.  Batting gloves, knee high Garfield socks.  He’s so cute!

But what I love the most…..is he is still so much a Mama’s boy and loves to come close for some obligatory lovin’ .  He knows it’s his duty so mom doesn’t get lonely and sad because her children are growing up.

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Grown up Jacob came to the field after work.

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The little kids spent most of the time up in the unused announcer’s booth watching the game from up high.  Sooooo cute.  Rich and I could see them from across the way.

The little league fields are our “home away from home” these days, we are there almost every day.  If I drove a horse and wagon I wouldn’t even have to direct the horse….I would just say, “Take me to the ballgame” while flicking the reins and off we would go in the wagon.

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Our rabbits are not caged, they live free in the chicken coop and when I let out the chickens they are also consequently free to roam.   Number 1 bunny never hops out, but number 2 bunny is more adventurous and we were highly amused when we came home from the game and found it talking to the cat.

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Sunday night dates, we love Pinkberry and Auntie Anne’s pretzels at the mall.  And each other.  Rich says, “I don’t even want to buy anything I just love walking around with you.”    He’ll stare at me while we eat our treats and say things like, “you’re beautiful.”  or, “I love that hair color on you.” And he’ll walk behind me five steps as we go upstairs and whistle.  You know, regular & comfortable married couple stuff like that.

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We went to Barnes and Noble and I took a picture of books I want to look up at the library.

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Sunday evening walk all by my lonesome.  I picked a few wayward lily of the valley (they spread through the years and I found some fair game– in the ditch) one of them pulled right up with it’s roots attached so I transplanted it in the garden back home.

I found a feather on the side of the road.  I also got scared by the neighbor’s little vicious white dog.

Thus concludes the weekend report.

46 photos if I’m not mistaken

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HAPPY MAY 1ST

Today is a “catch up day” on the ol’ blog of all the photos I want to share from the last week and a half.  I have 46 photos in this post.  Life is good, full, beautiful, cherished.

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  Psalm 1:9

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Mom, as she always does, made homemade meals when I was visiting; soup on Friday.

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pumpkin bread on Friday evening; I grated the nutmeg and ground the cloves.

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pizza on Saturday night

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with homemade sauce preserved last fall from her own garden tomatoes

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It was so good I was almost crying as I ate it.  Tears of joy and of sadness because I can’t make pizza like she does and I have been trying for years.  Mostly joy though, I ate three pieces.

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She showed me how to make breadsticks using leftover pizza dough.  She divided it into pieces and we rolled it out thin (like a snake), drizzled lightly with olive oil, and then twisted it and pressed it through a sprinkling of spice mix of mom’s own choosing on the counter.  I remember smoked paprika, fennel, sesame seeds, pepper, poppy seeds.  We put them on a cookie sheet to bake and they ended up delicious and fragrant.  The next day Mom and I each took one and used it as croutons on salad by crumbling it on top of the greens.

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Salad fixings on Sunday afternoon; asparagus, seasoned chicken, tomatoes, cheese, homemade salad dressing.

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I went with Dad to his drumming lessons with Kubla the dog.

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And for several walks with my parents.

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And a nice long walk by myself on a sunny Sunday.

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Sunday morning we woke up to frost and a pileated woodpecker!  God knew what would get us outdoors in that kind of weather…Mom and I quickly pulled on our coats and boots and had a lovely walk before church, birdwatching.  In fact, come to think of it, I do have more photos of that morning but they are on another memory card so I’ll have to share those maybe tomorrow, if ever.

It was a thrill to see the pileated woodpecker; they are the largest woodpeckers in our area and so pretty with the red hat on top.

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Mom and Dad’s cat Asian.

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Mom’s vegetables started at the window.  She uses cut down milk cartons to transplant the tomato seedlings into as they grow bigger.

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Dad keeps busy doing wood and keeping the fire going.  Even this is picturesque with the wood sheds and rock path, wood smoke, forest in the background, and Dad in his pop of orange.

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Sunday afternoon was fun.  The frost had melted and the temperature had risen enough to make being outdoors the very best place to be.  We worked in the flower bed by the driveway.  Mom has a “Rusty Garden” with a collection of old rusty things that she uses as decoration.  It’s a fun theme.  We took everything out and threw it behind us on the grass.

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You can see the different objects she has, most of which came from her Dad’s farm and land years ago before they sold the property.

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We cleaned up the edge of the bed and thoughtfully replaced everything in new spots.  By the end of summer the plants will fill in among the decorations and be so pretty.

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Back at my own home; last week was The Week of the New Lens.  The first day it came it was raining outside.  (sobs) But then the weather cooperated and I was able to try it out. (cheers)

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I was quite far away from these birds and I am thrilled with the photos.

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Baltimore Oriole!  I stood and listened to it’s beautiful voice before I finally saw it.  It was hard to take a photo through all the tree branches–my camera didn’t know what to focus on.

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It’s too bad that the roof of the car was in the way but nonetheless, I was so happy to get this photo of a female cardinal and her mate. In my peach tree.

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And then on Friday there were four ducks on the pond!  I sat on the bench and snapped bout 50 pictures with perfect ease.  🙂

I texted Rich “this lens is awesome!”

He texted back, “I love you, too.”

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It’s so funny when they go “bottoms up”.

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quacking!

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Rich was on a business trip and sent me this selfie!  🙂

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Thursday was “take your child to work day” and Seth was the chosen child this year.  He went to work wearing clothes just like his Dad wears and with his hair slicked back all handsome.  By bedtime he was asking/begging me (and not Dad) to tuck him in and I understood he had had a huge dose of Dad that day.  His little love tank was full to overflowing.

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Which leaves us with photos from Saturday; Little League Opening Day!  It was hot and bright all day long.  I went to Home Depot before the game and to my sister’s house.  I picked up Naomi and Weston so they could watch the games, too.

The photo of Seth is from the National Anthem.  Rich took it with my new lens.

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Caleb at bat.

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I was sitting on the bleachers!!!  So happy with my camera!

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After making a double play!

This boy is very verbal and keeps his attention on EVERYTHING, encouraging his teammates and getting them ready and watching for the next plays.  He gets VERY into the game, even at home it’s all about baseball with this boy now.

(By the way, he’s a Yankees fan)  LOL

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I’m going to get him that black stuff that you smudge on your cheeks.

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POOR SETH!!!!!!!!  He gets TERRIBLE allergic reaction to the dust; his eyes were so red and swollen by the end of the day.  Bless his heart.  I’m giving him allergy medicine and eye drops now.  He’s a good ball player, too, and got to pitch for a few innings.

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And that dumb string was dangling all day long.  I never did get close enough to tell him to put in inside his pants where it belonged.  🙂

Isn’t he so cute!?!?!

Last, but not least; DAVE!  He is 14 and on Juniors this year.  He’s known for his speed around the bases, he runs around them just as fast as his dad did when he played.  He’s like the Flash (his favorite show on TV).

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LOOK at that face of intensity!

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I’m so proud of my baseball players.  There is practice and/or a game every evening but it’s all worth it.  We get outdoors, talk to friends, and watch our boys do great things.  In every game there are impressive catches, scores, etc.  The moms laugh and try to keep track of everything.  Even when the team loses it’s fun simply because they are working together and learning so much.  Pastor says baseball is a spiritual sport because “you’re trying to get home”.

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ALSO: in pond news:  the toads came and mated and then left again (leaving their long strings of eggs behind to hatch and grow on their own)

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I had a moment of peace on Saturday evening down by the pond with the toads.

*****

It’s May 1st so try to include flowers in your day or better yet surprise someone else with them.  That’s my advice for the day.

Time for me to get off my behind and get to work.  Be blessed, my friends.  🙂

flowers under cloudy skies

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I hit the road Friday morning and drove to my parent’s house to spend a long weekend.  Although I felt a little sad leaving all the children home with Rich, I knew that it was important for me to get away for a *body mind and soul* rest away from the endless rewarding yet sometimes quite stressful jobs of parent and housekeeper.

A retreat to Mom and Dad’s house was just the place of peace and relaxation for me.

***

We had a chilly but invigorating walk on Saturday morning.  But before we went up the road, Mom and I put on our necessary rubber boots and meandered about the gardens to see what was coming up.

Mom has extensive flower beds; she absolutely LOVES gardening and has over 45 years of experience growing things.  She knows where everything is and where everything came from and delights in the many surprises gardening holds, too.  Volunteer plants show up all over the place.  She knows when she weeds she has to be careful, but not too terribly careful, because then in one of those fun surprises, the flowers will transplant down the bank where she throws the weeds.  And that’s a smile just waiting to happen.

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pink and salmon hyacinths

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The only one we saw.

(I have a small patch of them in my garden, too; does anyone know the name?  I forgot.)

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Daffodils

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Aunt Rita started planting them here years and years ago and Mom continues.  Daffodils are very obliging when it comes to multiplying each year.

“I hope to have them go all the way down the stone fence eventually!”

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darling mini daffies

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Mom planted Tasha Tudor foxgloves by the house but now they’re gone; they reappeared at the edge of the woods.

I gave her the seeds from Tasha Tudors website years ago when Tasha was still alive.  She also has a signed print from “The Secret Garden”.  We are fans.

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There are things all over the place in the beds to make things interesting.  For example, this roundish rock has been in the garden in various locations since I was a kid.  Her brother Chris (they were less than one year apart in age) found it on the farm and asked her if she wanted it.  We call it the Fred Flintstone bowling ball and mom believes that perhaps the groves were made so that Indians could crack Hickory nuts in them (you can see the tool marks on the rock).

Besides the flower gardens, Mom and Dad work on a big rustically fenced vegetable garden and maintain trails through the wild blueberry patch and into the woods.  There is a crick, mature trees and forest, wildlife abundant, places for summertime campfires, benches, and healthy moist lawn perfect for barefeet.  In my opinion, all of their well-tended 16 acres could be featured in any issue of Country Living magazine.

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After the garden tour we headed up the road together to take ourselves and the dog for a walk.

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Uncle Brian and his dogs were out; we stopped for a chat.  He had recently seen two big Tom turkeys both trying to impress a hen in all their feathered glory.  We told him he should have had a camera and he said he had enough to keep his hands full with the dogs.

He and Dad do a lot together throughout the week working in the woodlot.

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The land on both sides of the road used to belong to Mom’s parents.  It’s old farmland.  Much of it is still in the family; the parts than aren’t still feel like “ours” deep down inside.  It’s quiet and peaceful here; hardly a car goes by and you can’t even hear the sounds of distant traffic, only nature and maybe some of the far away neighbors target practicing.

This day was cloudy and overcast but the sky made all the photos beautiful.

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When we arrived back home we had some visitors.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” –Robert Louis Stevenson

We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.
~A. Bronson Alcott, “The Garden,” Tablets, 1868

the grubby pumpkin

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This was more of a gardening problem.  I didn’t even plant the pumpkins but we were thrilled (the children and I) to find them growing in the garden.  My mom is the expert pumpkin grower so I texted her the other day to ask when it was that you picked the pumpkin.  We had one that had been orange for a while and two that were still green.  She told me that if I started rolling it, it would break away easily from the vine so I went outside to roll a pumpkin.  I was so excited.

But when I rolled it I was confronted with a ghastly sight of a family of grubs living underneath.  One of them stayed attached to the pumpkin and I quickly flicked it away, far away out of sight.  It appeared that they were eating the pumpkin as much as their tiny little mouths would let them.

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“That’s Barry’s pond,” said Matthew.

“Oh, I don’t like that name, either. I shall call it–let me see–the Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, that is the right name for it. I know because of the thrill. When I hit on a name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill. Do things ever give you a thrill?”

Matthew ruminated.

“Well now, yes. It always kind of gives me a thrill to see them ugly white grubs that spade up in the cucumber beds. I hate the look of them.”

“Oh, I don’t think that can be exactly the same kind of a thrill. Do you think it can? There doesn’t seem to be much connection between grubs and lakes of shining waters, does there?”

~Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 2

The pumpkin did break away nicely from the vine and I carefully lugged it over to the hose to wash it off.  I wondered if the grubs had eaten holes through the rind.

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After a wash, I cautiously pressed my finger all over the blemished side of the pumpkin and discovered that it was still hard without any soft spots or holes.  I sent photo after photo to my Mom and she was just as grossed out as I was, if not more.  She suggested throwing the whole thing in with the chickens to enjoy.  After all, what if the entire pumpkin was crawling with grubs?  “I wouldn’t want to see what might be inside it.”  she texted, “It’s like a little nightmare for Halloween.”

Like any loving chicken keeper would do, I did go back over to the grubs and scoop them up along with a worm.  I threw the handful of dirt n’ grubs into a bucket and carried it down to the coop.

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They were gone in no time.

By the way, grubs are the larvae of Japanese beetles.  And guess what else I learned?  Moles  are the natural predator of grubs and only live in lawns that have them.  They eat up to fifty grubs a day.  If you have a lot of moles in your yard, you have a lot of grubs.

Aren’t things getting interesting?

So anyway, what to do with the pumpkin?

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This is what the grubby side looks like today.  Scratchy and rough, I’m keeping an eye on it for any spoiling.  So far, so good.  It’s our very first *we grew it ourselves* pumpkin!

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It still has a pretty side and so I decided to place it by the walkway near the house, next to the rocking chair.  I like to sit and wait for the bus and/or watch the kids play while sitting in my chair.  Every once in a while I give the pumpkin a loving pat, or use it as an end table for my phone.

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion.  
Henry David Thoreau

 

 

now and then

We just got home from running errands, Caleb, Seth, Sarah, and I.  Now Seth and Sarah are playing together and Caleb is curled up at the other end of the couch reading a book.  I bought it for him at Costco; Treasure Hunters, Peril at the Top of the World.  He says he will probably finish it today.

When I was his age, my favorite thing to do was get a big stack of library books and read, read, read.

When I was a little girl, I lived on a very quiet country road.  The lawn was green and soft and the air was sweet.  I loved going outside whenever I finished my books.  I would go for walks, climb trees, make a fort, pick flowers, walk down the crick, turn some cartwheels, or ride my bike.  I did some of these things alone, but mostly with my aunt or cousins or siblings.  There was never a lack of playmates and the farm was busy then, too.  We could visit the calves or kittens in the hay barn.  We could wave to Grandpa as he passed by on his Tractor.  If we walked by Grandma’s house she would come out on the porch to wave and say hello.

I liked the smell of the farm.  I liked it when Dad got home in the afternoons and we all ate dinner together.  I didn’t like my mom’s macaroni and cheese but I do now.  My Dad and brothers liked to play basketball outside and sometimes they would try to shoot baskets from as far away as possible.  Dad was good at side shots.  Dave and I would race but we always tied.  We kids all went barefoot all the time.  I loved my cut off jeans.

We could always find mom in the garden or in the kitchen.  Just knowing she was there made us feel secure.  I think I had the best childhood.  I felt surrounded by family but I also felt like my own person, too.  I was free to do whatever I wanted and think my own thoughts.  My life wasn’t controlled by my parents, it was loved, nurtured, and there were rules like there are in every family, but I felt that my days were my own.  I lived off fresh air, family, freedom, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

We went to church on Sundays.  In the car, I sat in the seat behind my Dad, who drove with Mom by his side.  Church, like home, was a safe place, too.  I loved going to church, singing hymns, spending time with my special friends whom I only saw on Sundays.  I loved the comfortable feeling of sitting so very long listening to a sermon in Pastor’s familiar voice and style with my stomach getting hungrier and hungrier.  Every time I looked at my Mom she would smile at me.  As I got older, I was able to help in the nursery and I loved playing with the babies.  I liked listening to the ladies talk and visit.  I observed all the women in the church.  I liked to see how they fixed their hair and make up, the way they dressed and walked.  I especially loved the musicians and  I longed to play the piano like our church pianist did.  The older ladies and men were the friendliest to us children, and they smiled at us and spoke to us with love.  I loved all my teachers and the things they did to make church a nice place for children.

These are just a few of my memories from childhood.  I’m thankful for the way I was raised and even though it certainly wasn’t always sunshine and roses, it all became part of who I am today and God was near to me then just as He is now.  It was a slower life back then, which is why I think it is important to be nostalgic now and then, so I can remember to slow down now, too.  I can remember to simply let my own kids play, realizing that they don’t need “ME” in ALL of their activities, knowing that just “finding me in the kitchen” is a comfort to them.  I can remember to look forward to their Dad coming home just like I did my own Dad.  And perhaps I will very soon bake up a nice big bowl of my mom’s delicious homemade macaroni and cheese.

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Yesterday Sarah had a procedure done to remove the stent she’s had since her surgery on July 6th.  She was very anxious and the doctors and I had to lay her down on the table and put the mask on her.  I held her in my arms and let her look at my face as she fought sleep.  Each time she started to relax she would get afraid and clutch at me again.  Her little arm was up around my shoulders.  It was quite heart wrenching.

She woke up sobbing and upset.  She didn’t like the way she felt, “Why am I tired?” she cried.  Thankfully the whole experience only took a few hours and soon were were back in the truck going out to lunch.  Sarah insisted on tacos.  We had to carry her into Moes but she ate her taco fast and determined with the hospital bracelet on and a bandaid from the IV needle, looking pale as a ghost.  Then she shared my food.

Later on, I took her outside with me.  It’s been hot here but yesterday evening was cooler and it was such a lovely ending to a very stressful day.

I wanted to show her the flower she gave me when she was still in school.  She planted a marigold seed and gave the plant to me for Mother’s Day.  It is now almost as tall as she is and covered in buds.

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Then I showed her a giant sunflower.  She carried her little blue owl every where she went.

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She helped me give the plants some water.

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David was with us, too.  So I took a sister and brother photo.

These are from this morning:

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I have a morning glory vine in one of my front garden beds (which need a lot of help).  It’s been a nice surprise to watch it grow all summer.  I’ve been training it up to the porch railings.

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M I N T

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P U M P K I N

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Q U E E N    A N N E’S  lace, growing near the side steps.  Sherlock wants to be let in.

******

Today Ethan and Tessa are celebrating their one year anniversary of when they became a couple.  So they went to the beach with Michael, Zach, Grace, Caleb, and David.

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It was after I took this photo that they left and then I left with the little kids to run our errands.

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I found fiestaware at the Goodwill!!

Happy Tuesday, friends.