my parents, my friends

“Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.”  Aurelius

Good morning, it’s 7:50am and 38 degrees here in our neck of the woods.  I didn’t get to see David and Caleb this morning as I got up after their bus came and left.  I woke up Seth with a kiss and he asked his typical, “Can you  make me an egg sandwich with cheese and ham?  Do we have bacon?  No?  okay, than with ham?” and then he took a 20 minute shower.  I had to go back upstairs to knock on the door and tell him, “Your egg sandwich has been done for ten minutes!”  Sarah Joy didn’t sleep well last night, and neither did I.  When I got up at 2 to drink some milk, I found her sleeping on the couch.  The dog was a few feet away, snoring and snoring.  It was rather cozy I must admit.  She was back in her bed this morning and didn’t want to get up.  The sooner she realizes that she can live life even when super- tired the better.

They have left for school now, leaving me home alone.  I’ve been feeling rather lonely lately and think I’ll try making a list of things to do in order to fill up my day and feel more productive.  This morning I want to blog, shower, get some groceries, clean the coat closet, go for a walk, and get some laundry folded.  Then this afternoon I’ll have to think of some more things to get done.

Sherlock the orange cat is stretched out on my art book, which I keep out on the table in front of the window here in the livingroom.  I have paints and pens and papers, my Bible, note cards, glue, and books all over the table and he seems to feel at home there.  Our black cat Bagheera is curled up next to me on a red wool blanket.  I am sitting cross-legged on the couch with a pillow on my lap, with the computer on the pillow, typing away………at times I reach out and stroke his beautiful black fur and he always purrs in reply.

I’m thinking about what I was doing last week at this time.  I was at my parent’s house and mom was frying us eggs.  She fried four; one for me, one for Dad, one for her, and one for the dog.  Dad mixed a few nuggets of dog food in with the dog’s egg and put it on the floor for him.  Mom made gingerbread pancakes for me and herself.  Dad didn’t want one.  We all had bacon.  Just as we were about to eat, Aunt Carol came.  She lives just up the road from mom and dad and recently lost her husband.  She would normally walk down for a visit but it was only ten degrees outside so she drove.  Dad made coffee and we all enjoyed having a cup together.  Mom showed Aunt Carol the scrapbook she is working on and I enjoyed watching the two sisters look through it, sitting side by side, and talking together about childhood memories.

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for my family, each one is so special in many ways.  I’m glad that we have each other.  I’m glad I have parents who love me so much and want me to visit them.  Mom took Monday morning off so she could be home with me and not have to go to work until I had to leave.

We looked at old family photos, ate a yummy St Patrick’s day boiled corned beef dinner, watched tv, worked on Mom’s scrapbook, talked, went for a wonderful walk outside, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

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With my dear Dad!!!

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Little me, with my mom and dad over forty years ago.

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A meaningful quote in Dad’s writing, found propped against his books.

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These words are engrained in my mind, as I remember reading this plaque through the years.  The truth of them astounds me now, and comforts me.

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The sisters looking at mom’s book.

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Mom and Dad tap maple trees and boil sap in the springtime, so we walked up to check the buckets.

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And guess what?

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The sap was hanging from the spigots as icicles!  Dad had boiled a few days before but knew he’d have a few days off since it was freezing cold.  I love that they make syrup, there’s just something so satisfying about it and they have mason jars full of the finished product to enjoy all year-long.

My brother David sent me photos from this weekend that I’ll share tomorrow of the boiling.

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There is something deep inside that is always put at ease when I am home again, especially outdoors.  I find myself again and I’m me, just me, my mind relaxes as I listen to quiet and smell and see all the familiar things.

“I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world—present and in awe.”  Anne Lamott

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Just Shanda, out on a walk with her Mom and her Dad.

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Dad was telling Mom about the tree he found to cut up for firewood and mom was telling him all the ways to do it safely.

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Mom stopped to admire this rock.  I smiled.

“I tell you the truth, if they kept silent their praise of the Lord, the stones themselves would cry out the message.”  Luke 19:40

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Beautiful morning frost on the moss.   I got right on the ground to get closer.  Look at the perfect patterns!

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There is loveliness all around us, we just need the eyes to see and hearts to appreciate.

“The earth has music for those who listen.”  Shakespeare

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Back inside the warm house…..I gave mom the mushroom Joanna gave to me!  I knew Jo wouldn’t mind, as she loves my mom, too.  It just goes so well with mom’s corner collection (the one from me and Jo is on the green leaf).  Look, she even has a mushroom planter which maybe I’ll try to steal next time I visit………….

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Mom made this recently!

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Look at the back!  This was all her creation, no pattern, just some lovely fabric and an artsy soul.

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Time for this girl to go home to her own house and family.

But first a hug from mom.

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And a hug from Dad.

Time with you is always precious to me.

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My parents.

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My friends.

you come too

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“I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too…………”  Robert Frost

 

Before I went on my long walk I stopped at the chicken coop to open the doors and check for eggs.  I found three in the barrel, along with a chicken.  I took all three eggs and put them in my pocket but one of them must have had a thin shell because it promptly broke as I did so.  I’m not disgusted by much, but a warm gooey egg popping in my pocket is one of them.  I threw the shell out in disdain, along with an egg covered tissue.  I bent down and rubbed my hand off in the snow and went on my walk with a soggy pocket leaving egg residue on my jeans with each step.

I was glad I had decided to put on boots as I walked through hard snow, slushy snow, mud, running water, puddles, and regular ol’ dry forest ground, too.  My feet stayed dry.  It was 50 degrees and I wore a sweatshirt and a jacket and was nice and warm.

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I thought this was fun, doesn’t it look like a mushroom?

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Soon my eyes were opeed and I was seeing alive things, mainly birds…….

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Birds have such elegant lines.

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This one was flying SO SO FAST!!!

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Like a rocket going across the sky.

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I sat down on the hill and looked at my phone, lost in my own little world and resting in the fresh air and quiet.  Then, I looked up to see a brown animal walking straight toward me out of the woods.

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We looked right into each other’s eyes and gazed.  Then, as I picked up my camera, he turned around to run away.  Thankfully he stopped to look back a couple of times.

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He lifted his upper lip and showed me his smile.

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Then he ran off like a little bear.

Never in all my days!!!

I figured out it was a fisher, the second largest member of the weasel family in our area, the first being a river otter.  I read online that fishers are useful in eating porcupines, however they are also known to eat housecats.  This one better not eat any of my housecats!  Or chickens!

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Well, nothing could top that but I kept trudging along nice and slow.  I stood here in the woods for a while listening to a woodpecker, the thing about them being they sound so close but you peer and peer and can’t see them.  Finally I stopped being stealthy and moved in confidence and sure enough it flew and I saw it but then of course I coudn’t take a photo. But I did see another small and sweet bird busy buzzing up and down tree bark looking for insects to eat.

See if you can spy it.

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Doesn’t it look soft?

And such a small sharp beak, too.

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A charming trail.

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It’s amazing to me that the moss stays so brilliantly emerald throughout the winter months.

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It was eating.  But how did the food get there?  Did he put it there?  Did it fall in from the trees above?  Was it a bug?

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And then I came out of the woods and saw what I had been searching for all along.

A bluebird!

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And another!

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And another.

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A spot of blue, and then………. a spot of red.

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I ended my walk the same way I began it, in the chicken coop.  There were two more eggs, for a total of five this morning.

PS, Mom this post was for you.

amazing

It had been a long while since I had gone to the woods by myself so I practically ran.

I spent so much time over the holidays inside malls, inside the house, inside the car, doing, doing, doing.  It was time to just “be”.

I took all of these photos on Friday.

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First stop was the chicken coop where I found some eggs.  Walter begged and begged to go on the walk with me but I said “no” right away because I knew (from what Grace had told me) that all he would do is feel lost and scared and meow a lot.  Therefore,  I put the eggs and the cat in the house.

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I’m so thankful to live close to running water.  In fact, I was outside again yesterday in the cold sun, laying back on the frozen ground with my eyes shut, listening to the sound of it.

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The tree I hugged.

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self-portrait

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funny icicles hanging down from a fallen pine tree

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Looks like snow or styrafoam, but it’s really some kind of fungus.

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more pretty pretty fungus on a fallen tree

The sunshine was really lovely to see on this walk, after several gloomy days.

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I am an admirer of ice.

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In fact, I ate a bite of it.  It tasted good, like pine, but later on when I gave some to Sarah she spit it out and said it “tasted like the stench of the forest.”

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As I made my way around to the stream again (the same stream from near our house, only deeper in the woods)  I found that it had flooded the day before, well beyond its banks.  Then, it froze overnight and the next morning when the water started to recede, it left its coat of ice spreading across the ground.

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I stood up on a bank to take this photo, looking down across the ice.  I closed my eyes and could hear it falling and cracking.  It almost sounded like someone else walking throught it in the distance, but I was alone.

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I got as close as I could to the water and sat on a frozen moss covered boulder for a while.

(A good thinking spot.)

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I didn’t see any birds but the closer I got to the field the more I could hear them.

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The trees had sheets of ice hanging off their lower branches.  Sometimes a wind would blow gently through and shake the ice enough to make a sound like soothing wind chimes.

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It was all such a delight and my face was pleasantly cold.  It felt good to BREATHE.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say over and over again.  Everytime I go outside for a walk I get surprised (and smile a lot) over something in God’s big beautiful world.  Which is why I always take my camera along.

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My heart, mind, and soul go back home refreshed.

“If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

~Mary Oliver

 

 

 

..the dark sacred night..

dsc_0188I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world  

Good morning, it’s -5 outside, ice coating everything, sunshine lighting up the trees so they look all-over silver.  The most beautiful world outside, do the little wild animals in the woods enjoy it, too?

My heart is overflowing with joy.

I stayed up last night taking photos of the moon.  This morning I woke up to the children being so charming; Sarah already outside with her hair yellow and glowing down her back, Caleb and Seth laughing and fooling around together downstairs, David trying to make a fire using foil and batteries (“it only made smoke”).  Sports Center blaring on the TV, cats eager to be fed, and a movie playing on the small TV in the addition with no one around to watch it.

Good morning texts on the phone from my beloved sister and brother.  Today is Weston’s birthday, I can’t believe my little nephew is eleven today.

I couldn’t wait to look at my moon photos.

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Dear Joanna watched it with me, way way faraway in Pennslyvania.  My family all fell asleep.

The magical moon.

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It was so cold that I went out the front door, said hello, took a few photos, and then went back inside to warm up for another 10 minutes or so.

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I didn’t bother with a tripod.  I just tried my best to get the settings on my camera correct and then *didn’t fiddle around* simply because it was too cold and I had no mittens on my hands.

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It really does look as if it’s hanging in the sky.

 

I have needs and hopes and wishes and wants and complaints.  But last night when I was standing under an inky black sky, under a beautiful moon, in my slippers on top of a cold hard snow and my nose was freezing and my hands were freezing, and I was wearing a coat and a robe and a hoodie, I thought to myself………..

God is 1,000,000,000 bigger than any of my petty problems.

Vast, immeasurable, mighty, and……. and amazingly…….He loves & cares for you and me!

 

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders You have done, and the plans You have for us–none can compare to You–if I would proclaim and declare of them, they are more than could be numbered.  Psalm 40:5

one and two & everything in between

ONE:

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Good morning, friends!

“There is Sunshine in my Soul today, most glorious and bright!”

It’s also gloriously pouring through the windows when yesterday it was pouring rain~

The sunshine seems that much more wonderful after a few rainy gloomy days.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in that.

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The haircuts!

Sarah got in the photo although she didn’t get a haircut.  After the barber we went straight to the bookstore and another store, just for fun, and then we went home again.  All through the rain, on election day.

Are you thinking about Christmas yet?  For your information, these kids (13, 9, and 8) seem extra interested in slime/putty type of things, and squishy/stress reliever types of toys.  Maybe yours will be, too.  Quick and easy stocking stuffers.

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These boots have a satisfying “stomp” to them.  Sometimes I keep them on when I get home and feel much more productive on our hardwood floors….until David says something sarcastically funny about all the noise I’m making.  Drama!  (both of us)

What else did we do yesterday?

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Sarah and I took Sammy to the vet.  She had a sore on her back shaved, and one on her paw which was shaved, too.  She had two shots (rabies booster and a convenient antibiotic) and was given pain medicine.  Hopefully after a few days she’ll start using her front left paw again and her infections will go away.  Other than that, she checked out fine and healthy. Sarah was a bit disturbed by it all.  She told me, “I know I couldn’t be a vet because I would feel too sad.”  What’s she going to be like when (if) she is a mother, I’ll be curious to see.  Now THAT’s heart-wrenching.

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Caleb said, “I’m going to read all the posts about Christmas Day on your blog, I do it every year.”  He wholeheartedly approved of the one that I included Christmas music to listen to at the same time, and requested that I do it again this year.  My heart smiled and smiled to see the children’s appreciation for the last 10 years of Christmases photo-documented faithfully on my part each year.  I see that in writing it for myself, my blog became theirs…….

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We found Walter in his very own cat bed on the porch.  Every time I see this cat in a strange place I take a photo and send it to the college kids.  It would make a good blog post one of these days.

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Me and Seth at music lessons, waiting for Caleb and Sarah.

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After music lessons Sarah had cheerleading practice indoors and the boys’ football practice was cancelled so we waited for her (after dinner at Subway) at the library.  And I found this book!  How could I have not known about this new book?  It won the Pulitzer Prize!!!  I leafed through it at the library and it looks soooooo interesting.  Should I put it on my Christmas list?  Or just click over to Amazon for instant gratification?  I would have checked it out from the library, but it’s about Laura, I must have my own copy!

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I FIRST made Seth let me read him a few picture books (The Tiger Who Came to Tea always brings a tear to my eye, and Steven Kellogg books are a favorite, too) and THEN allowed him some computer games.

Other random photos:

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I stood on the porch and took a photo of the sunrise.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

We’ve also been drawing a lot lately.  sketchbooks might be on the Christmas lists, too.

Monday Night Football Snuggles during the game:

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Sarah was right next to me, Seth was on my legs, Walter on my lap, and Caleb right there, too.  What is it about family pile-ups that soothe the soul?

‘Touch deprivation is a reality in American culture as a whole. …
It’s not just babies needing to be touched in caring ways or the sick.
It’s not just doctors and nurses needing to extend it.
It’s all of us, needing connection,
needing to receive it, needing to give it,
with genuine happiness at stake.”
— Rev Anthony David in “The Power of Touch” by Nora Brunner

“A pat on the back, a caress of the arm — these everyday, incidental gestures that we usually take for granted, thanks to our amazingly dexterous hands. But after years spent immersed in the science of touch, I can tell you that they are far more profound than we usually realize: They are our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion.”
— Dacher Keltner in “Hands on Research: The Science of Touch”

AND During the Commercials:

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TWO:

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Bringing the outdoors in.

He is not rich, that enjoyeth not his own goods. ~Pythagoras

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

be amazed!

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First of all, it’s been a joy and a delight to watch kitty-kitty Walter (our new pet) get used to his new surroundings.  He is curious and “literally plays with everything”, says Dave.  You see in the photo that he is being tempted by Sherlock’s twitching tail.

Second of all, it’s 8:07 in the morning and I’m the only one awake!!  Seth NEVER sleeps past 7 and most of the time is up even earlier.  I just found him sleeping in the addition on the couch.  He spent the night in there because of the air conditioning.  So I wonder, is he still asleep because 1) he didn’t sleep well? or, 2) he COULD finally sleep peacefully out of his hot upstairs bedroom?  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to sit here and type………….

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“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  Psalm 16:11 (thank you, husband, for sending along the verse)

I was thinking this morning about the enjoyable fruits of the Holy Spirit, those only-from-above giftings of God to our souls.  In those oftentimes rare/unnoticed moments of deep spirituality when we find ourselves really able to love outside of ourselves in a mysterious way.  We have joy,  and it is unexplainable, gentleness toward every living creature, peace, beyond comprehension!  And, patience like our *big brother* Job.  These beautiful character qualities/fruits aren’t from us (we cannot muster them up, they cannot be faked) and are the Holy Spirit within us, given to us, and no reason for pride or boasting.

….the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Alas, sometimes it’s just simply hard to breath “down here”.  And this is the reason we pour over the Scriptures as much as possible, and remember, and think of Him, and pray, we do these things to stay connected, to stay reminded.  To stay breathing.

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”  ~CS Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia

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Home on Earth, real Home “in the sky”……….

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We have had such hot days lately, it was pleasant to sit with my latest Newbury medal winner (I’m attempting to read them all) while the children swam in the pond……..

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….and to have Jacob walk down the hill to show me a cool caterpillar.  Thanks, Jake, for grilling us all a nice lunch yesterday!!!

At my house yesterday there were all these people:  Rich, myself, Michael, Jacob, Ethan, Caleb T, Grace, Kylee, Brittnee, David, Caleb, Jack, Seth, and Sarah.  But not all at once.  Some came for a while and then left.  Some worked all day and then came home.  🙂

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Yesterday afternoon on the couch, David helped me identify a bug using the internet.  It didn’t take us long, but seeing the different insects online filled me with the desire to go back outside to look for even more bugs with the magnifying lens attached to my camera.  It’s such fun to stand over the flowers and plants and search for insects with your eyes……….at first you see “nothing” but little by little you see 100’s of creatures……and much activity.

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This was a small moth, about the size of a fifty-cent piece.  But with my lens I can get a nice close-up.  It’s amazing to see the details.  Observe.  Study.  Be amazed.

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These pretty little white flowers grew in clusters along a thin vine-like stem.

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Meanwhile, Dave was looking in the pond for a big snake but had to make do with a little frog (sitting on his leg next to his thumb for size comparison).  He sat nicely for his portrait.

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This plant has been tearing the skin on my legs my entire life.  It’s just a tad thinner than spaghetti and grows plenteously by our stream.  One direction of the plant doesn’t scratch you, but the other direction, oh it sticks so tightly to your legs and scratches them terribly.  I’ve never identified it’s name, there is a small white flower that grows on it, maybe I can look it up in my flower identification book today.

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a cluster of silvery eggs……so beautiful!

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The band on his tail makes him special.  You can see Ambush bugs to the left of it.

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THIS IS THE BUG I JUST HAD TO FIGURE OUT.  AMBUSH BUG

The other day I saw one gripping a yellow jacket.  The yellow jacket was upside down and dead in its front claws.  It was a sight to see.  And these ambush bugs are all over the flowers right now (especially Joe-pie weed and goldenrod).  I beg you to read the link, you will be amazed.

In a nutshell, it sucks the bodily fluids out of its prey.

As my brother Dave says, “its horrifying”.

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“slurp”

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It would take me a long time to identify all these insects but I sure would like to do it.  Each one has fascinating characteristics and wears the nicest bug-clothes.

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Another ambush bug!

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And this one!  I’ve never seen it before, it was so tiny I only noticed it because I was photographing another bug nearby and saw it waving around first one tissue-paper wing and then the other.

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This bee posed so nicely, I felt as if it was just WAITING to be noticed.   Yes, you’re lovely.

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After I breathlessly captured this photo (I thought it would fly away before I could get close) I talked to my friend Lea Ann and then took the kids to music lessons and football practice.  I spent time walking around the cemetery next to the fields and then met my husband for a quick trip down town for strawberry sundaes, just the two of us, before practice was over.

When we got home, David made a chocolate cake from scratch …….

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……and we had a rain storm.  I sat on the porch to watch it for a while before bedtime…..

If you watch carefully you will see the world light up in a quick flash of lightening.

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And now it’s Wednesday.  Good morning!

You are loved.