be amazed!

DSC_0571

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………….

DSC_0575

“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

DSC_0578

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

DSC_0582

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……..

DSC_0586

….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.  🙂

DSC_0650

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.

DSC_0652

fullsizeoutput_587f

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.

fullsizeoutput_588f

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

fullsizeoutput_5887

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.

fullsizeoutput_5886

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.

fullsizeoutput_5884

a cluster of silvery eggs……so beautiful!

fullsizeoutput_5883

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

fullsizeoutput_5881

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”.

IMG_9401 2

“slurp”

fullsizeoutput_5891

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.

fullsizeoutput_588e

Another ambush bug!

fullsizeoutput_588c

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.

fullsizeoutput_5885

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

DSC_0672 1

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 …….

IMG_9467

……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.

DSC_0677

And now it’s Wednesday.  Good morning!

You are loved.

full & good

fullsizeoutput_53db

Things That Have Been Happening Around Here Lately:

  •  Rich has been away more than here. (business trips)
  • basketball with neighbor boys
  • Sarah had a brunch date with friends.
  • I bought a giraffe at an estate sale.
  • Someone gave me a gospel track — Rich said I must’ve looked in need of Salvation.
  • I yelled, “Get OFF the roof!”
  • I yelled, “WHAT are you DOING?”
  • One of our black cats ate a purple ribbon.
  • Sarah broke a rose fiesta bowl.
  • We had a warm weather day.
  • We had rain.
  • We had snow.
  • We had ice.
  • The boys had baseball practice.
  • We are listening to The Hobbit on audible to and from the fields.
  • Seth didn’t want to hold my hand on the sidewalk in town. (rite of passage)
  • This week is spring break.
  • David had an appointment this morning.
  • And is now back to bed.
  • I said, “If you ask me that one more time you are going to stand in the corner” to my 12 year old.

 

fullsizeoutput_53e1

’tis spring; come out
to ramble
the hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found.  a.e. houseman

fullsizeoutput_53e2

golden edges

fullsizeoutput_53e4

bluebird sighting at the suet

fullsizeoutput_53e6

One morning I could hear a bird singing and I sighed, “I wish I could identify birds by their sounds.”  The children got on the bus and a little while later I went to get in the car and was distracted by the bird that was making that same sound I had heard earlier!  So I learned what it was, a Red Headed Woodpecker!  I ran to get the camera……..

fullsizeoutput_53e7

It slipped the tip of its beak under the edge of the lichen to get bugs; making its calling noise the whole time.

fullsizeoutput_53e9

No human has a naturally red head THIS red.

fullsizeoutput_53eb

And then, a cardinal appeared.

fullsizeoutput_53ec

And a goldfinch.  It was a lovely bird morning.  I took the photos from the porch.

fullsizeoutput_53ee

The children spent the entire day outside on Saturday.  In my opinion it was our first spring day. . . . .absolutely gorgeous weather, bare feet, fishing, turtles, basketball, baseball.

fullsizeoutput_53ed

Caleb ran to show me the turtle he and Jack found.

DSC_0326

And like his big brothers before him, he named it and put it back.

DSC_0328

DSC_0331

And then they caught a nice fish.

DSC_0334

DSC_0339

I repotted some plants I started for my friends and family.  It’s been fun collected different planters and pots on my thrifting adventures.  I’ll have to do a blog post soon to show them off.

life is full and good

cold feet

fullsizeoutput_52dd

I just got back from taking old cornmeal muffins to the chickens.  I did what every other New Englander would do when it’s March 24, sunny, and 39 degrees.   I threw on a jacket….and sandals.

Parker the Dog couldn’t get any closer to the hens because of his Hidden Dog Fence.  He was very much longing for an old cornmeal muffin.

I have sent various children to the coop for the last three days and they all skipped back to the house cheerfully saying, “No eggs!”  “None?”  “No, they ate them!”  “Did you check the barrel?  They’ve been laying in the barrel lately.”  “Yep, there weren’t any!”

Just to be sure, I also went in the coop.  I found seven in the barrel and 3 each under two brooding hens.

fullsizeoutput_52df

I put them into the same bag I had brought the muffins.  By this time I was calling myself Stupid because my toes were turning pink and icy and I had sandy textured snow in my berki’s.  There was a bit more darn snow than I had anticipated.

I kept my eyes on the warm dry dock as I slipped toward it, planning to warm my feet.  Upon arrival, I kicked off my sandals to get rid of the snow and dry off.  One of them slid right across the dock and….into the pond.  Thank goodness for cork bottoms.  While Parker stood on the bank and leaned across the water with his nose stretched out toward my shoe doing nothing, I also leaned over the edge of the dock stretched out my arm to retrieve it.  “Stupid” I called myself.  I tapped my shoes on the wood to get as much snow and water off before slipping them back on to walk back to the house, keeping in as many of the bare patches as I could.  This must be why the children are always skipping into the house after they go to the coop.

fullsizeoutput_52db

I washed my dishes and 13 eggs.

And put socks on.

SaveSave

birds and blooms

DSC_0172 1

DSC_0177

American Goldfinch; in the trees at the dam by the stream

DSC_0180

Eastern Phoebe; wire fence by stream

DSC_0189 1

Black and White Warbler; high in treetops

DSC_0191 1

Ovenbird; in the woods (next pic shows the stripes on the top):

DSC_0197 1

DSC_0212

Tufted Titmouse; tree by my house

DSC_0215

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; bushes by the driveway (first sighting) It’s a small and very pretty bird.

DSC_0221 1

Sparrow; very common, however I loved him because he threw and stiffened his whole body into his singing.

It takes a powerful amount of energy to be a song bird.

DSC_0231

This bird was in the woods this morning, I identified it as a Veery using the Merlin ID app on my phone.

DSC_0234

Chipmunk frozen in fear in the woods because he saw me.

DSC_0244

Warbling Vireo; bushes on the edge of the field

(not positive about the identification)

DSC_0254 1

Catbird; I love the way they sing

DSC_0264

This unidentified hawk (?) made several passes over us all (myself and the little birds) which put a damper on things because he (I’m sure) likes eating little birds.  But maybe he was looking for mice?

DSC_0277 1

Common Yellowthroat; isn’t it’s black mask and yellow bib pretty?

DSC_0289 1

I think this is a Female Eastern Towhee but it was difficult to get a photo.  It was on the ground the whole time, scratching into the leaves finding food.  As soon as I found it in the camera frame it would hop out of it again.  The bird book shows a female looking like this with a white breast (which this one may have but I couldn’t see it).  A male Towhee was singing up in the branches which also led me to believe it was it’s mate.

DSC_0292

Male Eastern Towhee

DSC_0305 1

Mallard Duck; I sat on a boulder with him in the distance but close enough that I could still hear him quacking now and then.  Very companionable.

DSC_0306

Cardinal; isn’t it pretty with all the gray background and spots of red buds?

DSC_0311 1

Apple blossoms

DSC_0314 1

and Marsh Marigolds

The gypsy moth egg casings are hatching out which means that there are tiny caterpillars EVERYWHERE, it’s rather like a plague.  It’s a nature phenomena that I have never seen before in the 10 years we’ve lived here.  WAY too many.  So I’m hoping that all the birds (and chipmunk) photographed in this blog post like to eat them.

I brought home a branch of apple blossoms and put them in a blue vase by the sink.  I picked some white and purple violets, too.

I found a caddis worm

Yesterday afternoon I went to the chicken coop.  It was the first day back to school for the children so I was alone and greatly enjoying the quiet.  There were three eggs in the coop which I promptly put into the pocket of my shorts.  I held in my hand a mug of lukewarm coffee.  A rose fiestaware mug, to be exact.

Seth and Caleb were playing catch by the road last Friday.  Across the road from our house is forest and when they heard a cracking sound, they looked up just in time to see a small bear jumping down from a tree and running away into the woods.

I had this in mind as I stood and gazed around me at the edge of our property.  Would I see the bear?  Was I nervous?

Our property sits on four acres and it borders state forest.  A shallow but constantly running stream also borders part of our land.  I walked away from the coop into the forest and toward the stream.  I was wearing shorts and sneakers, the air was warm with a cool breeze and sunlight streamed through the tops of tall pine trees.  Beneath my feet were old damp leaves and pine needles, and crackling twigs.

17972157_10154996929071343_1767869824873076305_o

A frog hesitated and then took a flying leap into the water and swam under water soaked leaves to hide.  I had surprised me so I stood still for a while just in case there were any others.  In the center of the water beyond reach was a gelatinous mass of eggs.  The stream had overflowed its boundaries with the rain, forming a nice big puddle of fresh water, just right for a frog nursery.  As I looked, I saw a tiny little wooden thing slowly crawling in hesitant dips and bobs on the bottom of the puddle.  It looked like a small pine cone … walking under the water.  But that couldn’t be right, could it?

I was wearing my perfectly good black sneakers and for a brief moment I had to decide; would I or would I not get them wet?  For a pine cone?

I would.

17972230_10154996929501343_4820161259206404718_o

I dumped my coffee out and dipped the mug into the water to rinse.  The water was cold and my sneakers were instantly filled with it.  I bent down to scoop my discovery into the mug and brought it back with me, just a step or two, to dry land.

18010607_10154996924086343_8256573613528379492_n

It was a tiny creature living inside it’s own homemade case of twigs.

I kept it in the mug as I took a few pictures and a video.

17990190_10154996926996343_8012122888558391940_o

It’s “front door” –one the end of the case– was finished off with whitish twigs.

17917310_10154996927756343_8774314130021339540_o

Right before I put it back I held it in my hand.  It was less than an inch long.

I proceeded on my walk and as I walked down the trail to the road I almost stepped on a snake.

It moved away from my foot fast enough but then had a hard time slithering away because it was so cold.

*******

Back in the house, I quickly located my favorite nature book and identified the strange water creature that I had found.

17972295_10154996998906343_1212963284706095926_o

“People who have never tried to fathom the mysteries of the bottom of brook or pond are to be pitied.  Just to lie flat, face downward, and watch for a time all that happens down there in that water world is far more interesting than witnessing any play ever given at matinee.  At first one sees nothing, since all the swift-moving creatures have whisked out of sight, because they have learned to be shy of moving shadows………….and then something strange happens.  A bit of rubbish on the bottom of the brook walks off.  Perhaps it is a dream, or we are under the enchantment of the water witches!”  ~Anna Comstock

Pity me, because I have to say I have never (until yesterday) tried to fathom the mysteries of the bottom of our stream….and it was only because of that frog jumping that I stood still long enough to discover my very own “bit of rubbish.”

Things I learned:

*You can take these things home, put them in an aquarium to observe them, remove the top twigs of its case, give it tiny strips of flower pedals, and watch it rebuild using the blossoms.  They are “underwater architects.”

*The inside of the case is lined with silk.

*The worm is not attached to the case and if you turn the case wrong side up and hold it down, the worm will flip over within it to right itself.

*An artist named Hubert Duprat collects them, keeps them in climate controlled aquariums, removes them from their cases, supplies them with precious metal and stones, and thus creates (using the worms) beautiful little works of art.  Click HERE to see.

*When they are ready to pupate (turn into a fly), it fastens itself to an object in the water and seals itself up inside.  Eventually it emerges as a caddis fly.

* People make fishing lures using the caddis fly as inspiration.

*If they are located in your backyard stream it is an indication that the water is clean.

*They can make their case out of almost anything including sand, stones, or even a hollow stem.

*Someone made this.

For more information you can read the wikipedia article HERE.

In fact, the more I dig around the internet studying these things, the dumber I feel!  Why haven’t I learned about these before?  What fascinating creatures they are!

“Little brook, so simple, so unassuming
–and yet how many things love thee!”
~Edward Carpenter

PS, I didn’t see the bear.   However, I thought I heard one at one point and peed a little in my pants.  Bears, worms, and snakes….oh my!