in my heart there rings a melody

dsc_2429(grandpa’s old barn)

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The north wind brings forth rain,
and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.

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It is better to live in a corner of the housetop 
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

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Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country.

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Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain
is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.

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It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Proverbs 25:23-28

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

Imagine!  God’s many numerous good things are all around us, oh to have the eyes to see them, really see them!  Even on the “down” days we are going UP UP UP, on our way to glory land.  Eternal life is NOW, it starts now, never to end……..as believers we have so much hope, it’s hard sometimes to keep our minds focused on the wonderful promises of God, but nevertheless they are there in the Bible, they are real and never changing.  Isn’t it incredible to have security in an unchanging Father?  He always loves us, always cares for us, always holds us in his mighty hands.

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My parents have a nice pumpkin patch, we all visited it and “blessed the pumpkins” by giving them a nice pat, you can’t help but want to touch them because they have very smooth looking skins.  I especially love the photo of son David using one as a pillow.

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cousins

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From a distance, the pumpkin patch.  My prediction is that it will be even bigger next year.

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Back at home now, Gentleman Gray is wondering where his friend Snickers is.  Snickers has been missing for a week and we are all beginning to worry.  They keep coming to me and asking about him, but so far there is no news, no letter, no message, no sign.

*sigh* I hate losing cats.  My guess is that the smell of skunk was too much for him.

Speaking of which, the house is smelling much better.  What a relief.  (Now if the dryer would stop screeching….)  Parker the dog is still smelly so he spends most of his day outdoors in the fresh air.

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The garden is still producing tomatoes and my favorite way to eat them…….

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……is generously placed on toasted & buttered Pepperidge Farm white bread, with salt and pepper (more pepper than salt).  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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I also made a banana bread.  (Grace’s favorite, turns out Michael likes it, too).

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“I can see you!” I remarked to the amusing Grasshopper.  He shifted and twitched.  Being upside down is not a safe place to be if your legs are your number one escape mechanism.

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Ah much better.

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I looked & looked without touching and he never did jump away.  I think he liked me, too, but most likely he was scared out of his wits.

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These are a most wondrous scented wild flower.

I looked it up in my wildflowers book:  nothing.
I looked it up online by googling CT wildflowers, yellow:  nothing
I looked it up again online, using the name of what I thought it was, “morning primrose”:  found it!

Its common names are: Evening Primrose (I was close), Evening Star, or Sundrop.

Wikipedia has a very interesting article about it here.

delightful.  You can smell them before you even get close to them.

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And then I decided to pick a pink bouquet.

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“It isn’t what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful, but what you have in your heart.” ~ Author Unknown

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My heart.

Seth is holding the “tough guy ball” which looks JUST like a coffee bean, and is rewarded to a player after every practice.  The player takes it home for the night and then returns it at the next practice.

Look how handsome he is.  I tie his string and buckle his buckles and then bend down to double knot his cleats.  He looks around as I fuss, ignoring me as I adoringly serve him.  It is an honor for us both but only I am conscious of it.

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We arrived at the field’s parking lot for practice and as he briskly took his helmet out of the back of the car, I closed the truck and turned to him to say goodbye, “Have a nice practice, Seth!  Give me a kiss.”  (the test–to see if he would kiss me in front of his friends, I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t.  In fact, I was sure he would wouldn’t.)

Without hesitation, he came over close and gave me a quick, distracted kiss on the arm.  (lip height).  Like of course it was the most natural thing in the world to kiss mama before running off to football practice.

My heart.

**********

I have a song that Jesus gave me,
It was sent from heav’n above;
There never was a sweeter melody,
‘Tis a melody of love.

In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with heaven’s harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody of love.

~Elton Menno Roth~

weekending

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“This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus’ words in John 15:12

We had a house FULL from Friday night to Saturday morning.  We had our own seven, plus seven extra teenagers.  They were staying the night in order to be at the church bright and early.

This is camp week for our teens and Rich is also there as a team leader.

I’m spending the week here at home with Caleb, Seth, and Sarah.  My oldest son, Jacob, is also home because he is now too old for camp.  He’s driving up on Friday to see everyone, though, and keeping himself busy with work, music, friends, and helping his mama at home.

This morning I am taking the kids to the one dollar movie and then to get the boys’ their football cleats because tonight Football practice starts for Caleb and Seth….and I am so glad because they need activity at this point.  No more lazy-daisy summer evenings for them!

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On Saturday morning I drove the campers to the church to get on the bus and then Seth and I went to the bakeshop nearby.  The gardens on the property were stunning!  I wish my front beds looked like this!  Dreams for next year…….

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full and luscious flowers beds.

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Seth chose a cupcake and we took home a blueberry pie.

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For whatever reason, I am determined to keep moving and stay extra busy & active this week while Rich and the kids are away…perhaps to keep those “I’m missing you” feelings at bay?  And to get so tired I have no trouble sleeping in the big bed all alone?  So on Saturday I took the kids on two walks.  It was pretty warm outside so we kept them on the shorter side, but we still saw some pretty sights, the kids climbed big rocks, and the boys found sticks to sword fight with.

Aren’t pond lilies pretty?

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That photo which Caleb took that made me realize just how tall and how big my youngest is getting!

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When I was a little girl, a happy time for me was going for adventure walks “up to the big rocks” in Grandma and Grandpa’s woods.  We would all go, Grandma, the aunts, mom, and the cousins.  We had the best time exploring the rocks and daring ourselves to jump over the crack between two tall rocks.

The rocks we discovered on Saturday reminded me of those days.  My own children loved the experience just as much as we did years ago.

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Soft, dappled sunlight over moss and leaves.

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Caleb helped keep Seth from getting lost because our boy Seth runs ahead and OFF the trail just from the joy of being free…….

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Sarah Joy took this photo of me….it’s the best, out of focus!

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She always has to be holding my hand.  It makes her feel stronger and safer.

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This is Seth making a “tough guy” face when I asked to take his picture.  He is nothing but muscle and bone….he’s the one who gets cold first when they go swimming…has boundless energy and his Dad calls him “Scrapper”.   Our very own state wrestling champ!

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Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and his wife.  We went out shopping, had drinks from Sonic, bought chocolates, ate donuts, and generally ate more sugar than usual.  Back at home, we played a game, drank coffee, ate pie (!), sandwiches, and watched a movie with the kids.

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Before they left we took a couple of photos outside in the sun.

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The kids were flopped on the couch, tired out, while I walked down to our stream to see the Cardinal flowers.

They are a yearly event for me (perhaps I’ll start throwing a party) because they are such a GORGEOUS wild flower, as red as can be.

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They liked the wetness of the earth by the stream and at this time of year the stream is  low and it is easy to get down the bank and stand on the rocks to take photos.

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The wild day lilies are almost done.

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Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod is everywhere.  I like to stop and study them because they are almost always entertaining bugs, which if you stop to see them, can be very interesting indeed.

**Queen Anne’s lace remind me of Great Grandma’s crocheted doilies.

Each season, each month of the growing months has its own flower-time.  Starting with the tiny spring flowers up until the sturdy flowers of fall.  I love to welcome them each year and watch them come and go and come again……  year after year.

God’s creation is always exciting, but also solidly dependable, too.

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Swallowtail off in the distance, tiptoeing all over this tall, wild  “Joe-Pye weed“.

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My house, my gardens, my rock wall, my ferns = I love it here.  We’ve been at this place for ten years now and my heart is home.  I thank God constantly for our life here.

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I don’t care if Anne (of Green Gables) thought zinnias were stiff and horrible….I LOVE THEM!

“Look at that wave of poppies breaking against the garden well, Miss Cornelia.  Susan and I are very proud of our poppies this year, though we hadn’t a single thing to do with them. Walter spilt a packet of seed there by accident in the spring and this is the result.  Every year we have some delightful surprise like that.”
     “I’m partial to poppies,” said Miss Cornelia, “though they don’t last long.”
     “They have only a day to live,’ admitted Anne, “but how imperially, how gorgeous they live it!  Isn’t that better than being a stiff horrible zinnia that lasts practically for ever?  We have no zinnias at Ingleside.  They’re the only flowers we are not friends with.  Susan won’t even speak to them.”  ~Anne of Ingleside, chapter 15

I love them because they last practically forever.  So there, dear Anne.  (I’ll always love you)

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Back in the house, I admire my own dear sturdy boy, snuggling with a very loved and spoiled Gentleman Gray kitty.

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So thankful for these children o’ mine.  Can you imagine if we stopped at four?

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**Queen Anne’s lace reminds me of Great Grandma’s crocheted doilies.

YOU ARE LOVED, dear friends.
A very happy August 1st to you!

wet walk

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I have a room all to myself; it is nature. ~Thoreau

It had rained that day and we were restless.  Therefore, Seth, kitty, and myself went for a rather wet ramble in the woods.

Our feet were soaked…. all the way through our sneakers and socks.  Our feet said, “squish, squash” as we stepped and climbed over logs and streams.

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The Mountain Laurel was in bloom.  These beautiful shrubs are Connecticut’s state flower.  As we drove along the roads on Sunday, to and from church, I looked deeply into the woods and could see Mountain Laurel everywhere.

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Things were very drippy on our wet walk day.

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We found two very small bushes of bog laurel, a pretty blossom.  They were growing among the Mountain Laurel.

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We saw an inch worm dangling from it’s thread.

It was amusing to watch it climbing back up, slowly, awkwardly, and methodically.

It was afraid of our eyes looking at it so closely.

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The woods were very jungle-like, especially after a nice rain

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a secret place…does an tiny elf or mouse visit here sometimes?

(Incidentally, last night I was on the couch watching TV and half asleep with Rich.  The boys went outside to play “man hunt” just in time to rescue a perky eared, black eyed mouse from the cat.  They brought it inside within a cup to show me, but I didn’t know what they were bringing until they handed it over and I looked inside. 9:30pm is much too late in the day to admire mice.)

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my funny Seth

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We went to find some wild strawberries but we didn’t eat this one.

Someone was already eating it.

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I fed my son wild strawberries while he was busy looking for cool rocks.

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“Put them in your pockets,” I said, and he did.

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We crossed the stream to get home quicker and I stopped by the chicken coop to get……….

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…..the eggs!

Want some?

 

 

glad tidings

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“There is nothing like family,” Mom leaned over and whispered in my ear as we watched little Weston struggle to move a heavy chair, one handed, with his paper plate full of food in the other hand.  He wanted to sit by Uncle Isaac.  No one was noticing him but Mom and I, from across the way……

*****

Good morning, my friends!  It is Wednesday and in my neighborhood, it is sunny with a nice cool wind.  There are freshly washed linen sheets waving in the sweet outdoors, pinned up on a porch clothesline.  I just washed my hands and dug dirt out from under my fingernails after weeding and tending our baby plants in the gardens.  The chickens have been let out.  ‘Tis the season for trips into the woods for sticks, in order to stake up the peas.  Everything is growing out there, it’s green and full and lush.  The cats visited me in the gardens and chewed on plants and rolled in the good clean dirt.

I listened to the birds while bending over the garden.

(This morning I became a member of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology!)

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On Sunday, we hosted a pig roast/baptism/Bible study.  I know, the pig is rather disturbing.  In fact, our 7 year old Seth refused to eat any of it after witnessing such a sight on the grill.  However, it was delicious.

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Rejoice with me!  My son Caleb has been baptized.  He is 10 years old, soon to be 11 and loves Jesus and people so very much.  He has a tender and loving heart that has been a source of abundant joy to me and his Dad since the day he was born.  His hugs knock me off balance every time (multiple times a day).  He told me this morning that it is “Step up Day” at school.  He is visiting the Middle school with his class.  He hung his head down against me and confessed, “I don’t ever want to grow up.”  I could very well nurture this attitude because, frankly, I feel the same way.  But I have to make his see that it is better to grow according to God’s general plan for humanity, even if it does hurt at times.  So I say, not “I don’t want you to grow up either!!!!!!!!!!!”,  “Caleb, of course you do!  It’s going to be fun!”

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And our dear Emily, Jacob’s girlfriend, was also baptized.

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Wally had the honor of baptizing his son Jimmy, on his very own 72nd birthday.  He told me it was the best day of his life.  So you see, you just never know what Father God will bring to you in the future.  The best is yet to come!

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Rich and I set up tables in the garage for the food.  Everyone was so generous in bringing side dishes.  The only thing we had to do was prepare the house and yard, hire someone to do the pig roast, and supply coffee and water bottles.

I cut fragrant lilacs, which conveniently bloomed a few days before the picnic, and filled mason jars and vases.

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People brought their own chairs and several people took pictures throughout the day.  It’s been fun to getting the emails.

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Jacob had the camera for a little while and took this photo from the porch during Bible study.

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I sat by Larissa, and Emily during the Bible study.  It was a hot and humid day (in the opinion of New Englanders, but I’m sure Larissa was cold, as she is from Texas).

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From my seat, I took a panorama.  It’s always exciting to try to keep the arrow on the line.

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After the Bible study, pretty much every one left.  But it was nice to have a few people stay longer, including my parents and brother Isaac, and sister in law Cassandra.  Sarah had a great time playing catch with her Aunt Cassandra.  They counted all the way to 200 catches!  (standing in the shade)

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Mom and I went for a walk and counted 10 lady’s slippers.  They are Mom’s favorite wild flower and it was a thrill to have her discover some in a new spot, too.

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We heard a woodpecker up in the trees.

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We were also looking for as many wild flowers as we could.  We pointed everything out to each other.  (I think God was smiling)

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Don’t you just hate it when you have to do your growing in a dry, uncomfortable spot.  Do you know what I think when I see this sort of thing happening in nature?  “What a determined and adorable plant.”

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Mom.

Several of our guests on Sunday stated that Mom and I “could pass as sisters” and it is true.  As I am her firstborn, she was very young and newly married when she had me.  I am forty now, and she is fifty eight.  I am grateful for every day of my life with her and she is one of my best friends.  She has taught me more by actions than words what is important in life; Christ, marriage, family, and the sweet simple gifts in life like birds and flowers, gardens and work.

My little children, let’s not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth.
1 John 3:18

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Who is wise and understanding among you? By her good conduct let her show her works in the meekness of wisdom.  James 3:13

(We all make mistakes and have bad days, but moments don’t prove what a life is, and my mom’s life has been a quiet, unpretentious life of love and work.  We come from simple, earthy, country stock……….)

She, as well, grew up with a Mother of gardens, sunshine, home cooked meals, walks in the woods, trees, and flowers.

The influence of mothers (and fathers) goes on and on.

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^^Do you see the toad?^^

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Dear dad blew bubbles with the kids, played drums and guitar with E, football with Caleb, and probably other things that I missed while running around hosting the picnic.  We sat on the porch and visited and talked.

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Dad loves me.  I can tell by his face.

Or maybe it’s mom, since she is the one taking the photo.

Both.

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When mom and dad had to leave, it was 8 at night.  The sun was down and Caleb walked his Grandma to the car.

“O Zion haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
to tell to all the world that God is light.
That He who made all nations is not willing
one soul should perish, lost in shades of night.
Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace;
tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.”

~Mary A. Thompson

(I sang the chorus as I published this blog post and David said, “I never know when you are going to burst into song.”)

encouraged

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By the pond there is a Pinxter bush about to bloom.  I remember my Grandparents had one of these wild shrubs on their beautiful country farmhouse lawn.  Two years ago I noticed a nice one growing on our own property by the pond.  It took me over five years to notice it because it was hidden behind a boulder and snuggled into a pine tree.  Of course whenever it blooms I think of family, and Grandma.  The comments in the National Audubon Society Field guide say they can be transplanted into wild shrub gardens.  As there is also a large healthy one growing down the road a bit, the next time I go outside I will take a shovel and see if I can find a smaller one growing near it to move into my garden.

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One of my favorite birds is the Catbird.  Why, you ask?  Admittedly, it is a very common gray bird but I don’t care as much about it’s simple looks, what I enjoy the most about the humble catbird is its beautiful songs.  Almost every time I go outdoors the song of catbirds stops me in my tracks.

I was tickled pink to see that one was making a very nice nest in a tree by the pond.  The nest is on a branch low enough for me to look at easily, too.  It is constructed of dry straw and wet mud, which is probably why the wise bird chose to make one near the pond.  The stream is nearby as well.  I bent the branch down carefully to look inside.  The mud was still wet but the nest was lined carefully with dry grass, and the cavity was deeper than I expected.  I looked into it once and am now determined to keep my distance and wait to see if a family is raised.

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The children were all busy cleaning the house on Saturday and while I was taking some pictures, Seth came all the way down the lawn to find me and ask if this cleaner could be used on windows.

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chicken house

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hummingbirds are frequent visitors to the porch

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I went to check the development of the Lady’s Slippers on the dam trail.  This one was opening but still green.

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This one was up and fully open.  It was interesting to me that the two I saw on the left side of the trail were still closed, but the three on the right hand side were open.  It must be sunnier on that side.

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Another name for them is “Pink Moccasin flower”

Comments:  “One of the largest native orchids, this species is found both in low sandy woods and in higher, rocky, mountain woods.  Several hundred of these striking flowers can sometimes be counted within a small area.  Nevertheless, like other woodland wildflowers, it should not be picked.  Nor should it be dug up for transplanting, as lady’s slippers reproduce poorly and are very difficult to grow in wildflower gardens.”

Lady’s slippers are a family favorite.

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These wild Lily of the Valley grow in a large patch close to the ground in the woods.  (Thank you to Johanna for helping me identify them!)

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Then I visited the spot where the wild columbine grows and sure enough, it was up and in bloom.  We called these “honeysuckle” when we were children, and we nibbled the honey-filled ends.

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They grew on the side of the road but the ones I visit now grow on an old rock wall in the woods. And I haven’t nibbled on them in many many years.

“This beautiful woodland wildflower has showy, drooping, bell-like flowers bearing distinctly backward-pointing, tubular spurs, similar to those of garden columbines.  These spurs contain nectar that attracts hummingbirds and long-tongued insects…….”

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wild geranium, growing on the side of the road

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an interesting fuzzy flowered bush that grows by our stream

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unfurling ferns

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interesting patch of tall grass by stream

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A little bouquet of common wildflowers.

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in an Ivory fiesta tumbler

I like it when David comes to visit me while I am reading on the porch.  David is currently:  reading The Outsiders, trying to grow his hair long, drawing, wearing & caring for a leather coat that he bought at a second hand store, making facial masks using youtube videos, and doing a lot of jumping/flipping/twisting on the trampoline.

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bros

*********

 

And now for a short story:  As much of you are aware, Sarah needs surgery to repair an obstructed kidney (it doesn’t drain correctly, which is why she developed infection and stones).  After these particular test results came back, she had a specially-made appointment scheduled ASAP for surgery consultation— for May 24th (today).  When I checked my calendar later that day, I cried because it was the day of her very first field trip, which she was very excited about.  I felt so terrible for her,  “She’s been through so much this year she shouldn’t have to miss any of her fun day for such a dreadful thing like surgery consultation.” (the only reason why she has to attend the visit is so that they can be billed—as they should be)  So I called to ask for advise and to see if I could make the appointment a different day….but no, the doc’s schedule is very full and they had to work it to get Sarah in so quickly and in their opinion, Sarah would have other field trips and this appointment needs to be prioritized, so on and so forth.  So I agreed but didn’t tell Sarah because I didn’t have the heart.

Well………………….this came home yesterday in her folder:

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That’s right.  The field trip was moved to May 31st!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s raining!

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It’s like God said to me, “I got this.”  🙂

 

 

tired

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I am currently sitting on the couch fully dressed and ready to go to yet another Children’s Hospital appointment with Sarah Joy in regards to her kidney.   I have my robe on over my clothes because I am freezing.  It’s 46 degrees outside with a very strong and persistent wind.  In other words, it feels like a rather blustery day, today.  I will take the robe off before I pick Sarah up from school, hopefully, and put on a winter coat.

I am exhausted.  I am thinking about all the things that my family has planned for the next month:  prom for Grace, Senior banquet for Grace (who is dating a senior) and Ethan (my senior son), baccalaureate, graduation, field trips, concerts, a church picnic and baptism at which my son Caleb will be baptized, graduation party for Ethan, Rich has two business trips, and all this along with the little league games that happen several times a week and the little surprises that life throws at us now and then…..and I am exhausted.  Did I mention I am tired?

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I keep thinking:  “Do one thing mindfully at a time with as much love and care as possible.”  This is easier said than done.  Especially the “mindfully one thing at a time” part.

I also keep thinking “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

And lastly, I keep thinking “I want to sleep, but at least I’m not crying or anxious.”

This morning I found nine fiesta bowls, three plates, a bunch of paper plates, and four mugs in the basement, left there by Ethan, Grace, Caleb, Kylie, Zak, David, Caleb, and Zach.  (all teenagers) Seriously?  What I have to say is this:  “There is to be no more eating downstairs, my dear children.”  

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The other day (when it wasn’t 46 degrees), David and his friends played in the stream.  It’s funny because of of them is named Michael, and since we already have a Michael here all the time, we differentiate them by calling the younger one “up the road Michael”.   (Because he lives… up the road.)

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I was attempting a photo of the hanging baskets which are so pretty, but you can’t really see them very well.   Thankfully, the house, garage, and lawns are pretty tidy at this point and there won’t be much to do to prepare outside for the picnic and party.   I’ve been doing a lot of gardening, which is probably why I’m so tired.  My body is trying to get back into the swing of things after a long winter.

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David could not find a golf tee so used a pencil.  Genius (although it took about five minutes to get the ball to balance).

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Entrance to the trails (we call one the Dam trail and one the Adventure trail) by our house.

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starflower

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Fringed Polygala

“this exquisite, orchid-like wildflower resembles a tiny airplane without a tail.”

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Lady slippers, almost ready to bloom

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violets

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The largest wintergreen berry I ever saw.  And then I ate it.

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make a wish!

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I picked a small bouquet of violets, buttercups, bluets, and Kentucky bluegrass.

There is something quite calming about looking through the grass for just the right flower, bending, picking, adding it to the bouquet and then doing it over again and again until you’re done.

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And this little bird…a very dark photo….which is a hazard of shooting in manual mode but then seeing something you have to photograph before it flies away so you don’t think to change your settings and then the picture is either blown out or too dark.  However, I can identify the bird as an…..OVENBIRD.  Thanks to my Merlin ID app on my phone (indispensable!!) “Secretive warbler that lacks vibrant colors, but compensates with its enormous voice.”

Yep, that’s right.  I got a photo of a secretive bird!  I do feel proud.

*****

Well that about does it for this blog post and thank you all very much for listening.  As a writer of blogs and journals, I do feel better after a good scratch of the pencil  or tip tap on the computer keys!

“If you’re completely exhausted
and don’t know how
you’re going to keep giving this much of yourself
day after day
you’re probably a good parent.”
Bunmi Laditan

the very interesting outdoors

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During all these years there existed within me a tendency to follow Nature in her walks.
John James Audubon

Several days ago, after Aunt Colleen and Uncle Roger visited me, I meandered back to the interesting patch of violets we had discovered.  We liked them because of their pale and dainty purple faces.  I took a photo while flat on my tummy and, unsurprisingly, it proved to be a quite comfortable spot for a short rest.  I could hear my two youngest children playing together on the trampoline.  They called to me, “Mom!  Hi, MOM!” and I waved to them and smiled.  I soon heard a beautiful bird song in the trees.  Often I hear bewitching birdsongs but alas, cannot see the bird.  But this time, as I sat and folded my legs up Indian-style, I peered into the trees with my chin high and saw a startling spot of red.  As Colleen and I visited, we had talked of birds and flowers.  I asked her if she ever saw Scarlet Tanagers at her house.  I told her how a few years back I had seen one and would like very much to see another, never expecting that after her visit one would come close enough for me to hear its singing, and see it’s bright red feathered coat.

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I watched the Scarlet Tanager until it flew away.  Then I saw a small red thing in the grass next to me.  I picked it very carefully up, expecting it to be a mushroomy fungus type of thing.

But it had legs.

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It was so all over red!  Quite fascinating indeed.

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dandelions and apple blossoms

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planted peas and radishes in the garden

took care of the hens

checked on my toad babies

sat on the front porch to chat with a friend

watched as two turkey vultures landed in the trees by the stream down at the edge where our property meets state land

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There is a sense of glorious freedom in the air this week.  In the beginning of the month, for dreary days on end, there was nothing but gray skies and cold rain.  But now, once again, the sun is shining and every plant, bird, animal, and human can’t help but be a little more active, a little more cheerful.

I sat against a pine tree by the pond to watch the vultures.  At first I wondered if I was watching a courtship, since there were only two and they were staying close to each other.  At one point they were both on the same branch, side by side.

But then I saw a rustling in the bushes underneath them.  Jacob and I walked over and looked, but we didn’t see a dying animal.  However, we did not search thoroughly because I, for one, had a very creepy crawly feeling and he kept saying “I have to leave in 10 minutes for school, Mom.”

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They are a rather gothic-looking bird, wrapped in long black feathered cloaks.  Red bald heads and a white beak complete the deathly attire.  They are useful but chilling birds, as they are attracted to the scent of dying animals and dumpsters.

They flew away as they sensed that Jacob and I were observing them but they came back at the end of the day while Rich and I were away at a little league game.  Sarah told me later that she saw one up close while she was on the play set.

I feel like there might be more to this story.  I will investigate later on and see if they return today.

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I always look for this turtle, as I can usually find it out sunning himself as I walk along the edge of our lawn.  We have a stream that goes along the far side of our property, and the water is always a good location to see a variety of different flowers, birds, and other creatures.

I loved how the turtle had its funny legs hanging loosely out of his shell, soaking up all the warmth of the sun.  His neck was stretched out as far as it could go, to keep an eye on me (his enemy, he thinks, but I would never hurt him).  Soon he slipped back into the dark water.  It was fun to imagine his sweet and simple life.

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I want to try to draw these curly, swirly vines with green leaves just popping out.  Wouldn’t they make a nice border for a picture?

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Watching fish swim this way and that way is mesmerizing.  Meditation is quite natural while watching them.  There are fish of all sizes in the pond, which I like to think of as our own giant fish tank.  The smallest minnows stayed closer to me and I was able to watch them for a long time.  The way they swim is a marvel.  Smoothly they swim along and then *STOP*– with no hesitation or slowing down, before swimming along again.

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Every black speck is a toad tadpole.  Sometimes a bunch of them get stranded on dry land from living too dangerously on the edge of the water.  They die, but if I happen to be walking by I do some life-saving and scrape them back into the pond again.  Their little tails wriggle.  I ring Jacob on my cellphone to tell him to call the dog up to the house.  If Parker the dog is outside he does whatever I do, and a dog watching tadpoles is never a good thing.

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rather elegant, wouldn’t you agree?

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bits of purple in the woods

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what a wonderful way to clear the mind

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and dazzle the eyes

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with shades of pink

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and blossom time

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I sat by the stream in the open meadow at the dam and saw a tiny speck of orange.  A Baltimore Oriole!

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This sweet little bird wanted me to leave.

It had a nest nearby.

But my seat was soft.  It was moss.

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I saw a Solitary Sandpiper next!  Oh what a day for birds.

This bird bobbed up and down as it walked, so very charmingly!  It made me want to hum a song.  A bouncy song.

I love the refection it made of its solitary self as it edged along the calm water of the open stream.

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I wanted to get a little closer to it, so I took my seat off the soft moss and climbed up on the rocks.

But then……….

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I froze (and so did he).  I considered.  The rocks I was upon were the very best apartment complex for the snake population I ever did see.  Surrounded by water, open sunshine, and many small meals.  But while I admired the wise choices of this snake, I decided not to take another step on those rocks……good bye snake, good bye birds.  I’m going home now.

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In my hands I carried a stick covered in ridges and indentations from a bug?or worm?  The bark was off so it was smooth other than the hollow tracking marks.  It looked like a secret message written in another language, if only I could decipher it.  I had a sprig of apple blossoms, two sweet white violets, a marsh marigold (which promptly wilted in the vase at home) and another yellow wild flower.

I revelled in my alone-ness.  It felt so good (nature’s spa treatments) to walk in my flip-flops through marshy cool waters.  I had been prowling about for an hour or so and felt quiet, dirty, rested, and as deliciously solitary as the Sandpiper I had met.  I came out of the woods at the end of the long pond to see that I had company.  The lawn men had arrived, and one of them was busily cursing his weed eater as he worked along the side bank by the pond.

It was very tempting to turn around and go right back in the woods.

home routine and nature sightings

 

“I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionaires 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

 

Living is always at a quicker pace when you’re raising children but lately I’ve been able to enjoy a calmer morning routine.  As soon as I get up, I wander to the coffee maker.  The teens are getting ready for school and we talk a little before they leave.  Rich has already left for work, and he typically kisses me while I am still asleep (this morning it was tenderly on my hand).  We have a nice connection to start the day.

I look out the door to see what morning birds have come to the feeder, which I keep full of sunflower seeds.  This morning I saw something interesting but soon realized is was a banana peel that someone threw up into the bushes.  It had landed and sat on a branch very much looking like an exotic bird.

I make a cup of coffee and drink it throughout the morning and I realized that I like coffee of all temperatures.

I wake up the three younger kids at around 6:50.  I stopped picking out small Sarah’s outfit because after I leave her room she goes ahead and chooses something entirely different.

This morning Seth was sent to school with a puffy eye.  He had a bad allergic reaction to the dust at the little league field last night.  He looks pretty terrible….and he loves it.  It does itch, though.  I wrote a quick note to the teacher so she wouldn’t send Seth to the nurse.  Seth played very well last night in his game and received the game ball.  I didn’t go.  It was around 53 degrees and Rich took them by himself.

After the kids have left for the day, I usually blog, or run on the treadmill.  We have an “exercise room” in the basement with a treadmill and a TV.  If the TV wasn’t down there I wouldn’t darken the door of the exercise room.  So this TV that I watch while doing my half hour run is how I have now become a watcher of Investigation Discovery Television…..true crime is quite fascinating.  It’s my TV station of choice unless the little kids are at home, of course.

I usually tidy up the house in the mornings….and it’s been a great feeling to have time to clean and have it STAY clean while the kids are at school.

It’s amazing how much a person can get done as they work at a steady but NOT FRANTIC pace…..for so many years I have rushed from one thing to another….but now I have time to settle down do things little by little…and still see a result and have time to read, blog, go for walks, and watch crime tv.  LOL

Once or twice a week I go shopping for food, and of course once in a while I might have to take someone to a doctors appointment (this week it was Ethan).

After a morning of errands, cleaning and/or the treadmill, I have a quiet lunch, and then go outside for a while.  After I come back inside I might read a book and take a catnap to prepare for our very busy afternoons and evenings…..David gets home first at 2:30, then Seth, Sarah, and Caleb an hour later.  Then it’s homework, snacks, dinner preparations, little league, picking up Grace and Ethan from drama rehearsal, and so on……

After the kids go to bed Rich and I generally watch TV in the dark living room while dozing.

Then…..bedtime. love and zzzzzzzzzz

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I took these pictures with my phone at Target last week when I freaked out noticing how much taller Dave was then his older sister.

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A couple pages from my Nature Journal.  Nice, right?  Don’t worry, I found these things A.D. (already dead)…….

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Before and After dinner for 7 (the other 2 were staying after school and they finished everything up later on that evening).  My family loves dorito chip salad.

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Rich’s new car!!!!  We are going to have so much fun with it.

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I’ve had more time this spring to be an even better chicken-keeper!  I love visiting my hens throughout the day.  I let them out in the mornings along with giving them a nice treat of dried mealworms.  Now that I know a fox is around I DO NOT let them out if I’m going to be gone.  There are two big waterers in their coop and a large feeder, so if they are stuck inside they still have plenty to eat and drink.  There is a nesting box for egg laying purposes.

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A cat or two or three usually follows me to the coop.  Gentleman Gray was purring like a steady determined motor as I held him.  I love pressing my ear to a purring cat!

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

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These rest of the photos were all taken with my Nikon camera.  I loved catching these two Tufted Titmice together in the bushes next to the feeder.

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This House Finch had such a lovely song that it made me stop and peer into the sunny bushes until I saw it…….by the way, I have a bird identification app on my phone that really does help!  It’s called the “Merlin Bird ID” and you put your location into the app, tap the size of the bird, the colors, and where you saw it, and it gives you a list with photos and more info on each bird it could be.

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Way up in a pine tree, perfectly safe, was a red squirrel making such mean noises at me!!!  It scolded and shook its tail and made such a fuss that I stood much longer than I typically would, to watch it.  I fell in love with it, truthfully.  I get so sad sometimes because all the wild creatures are scared of me and all I want to do is pet them and take many photos of them.

Come to think of it, I would be scared of me, too.

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Ferns, ferns, beautiful baby ferns starting to unfurl.

Oh it’s so lovely in the woods in dappled sunshine.

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Isn’t this pretty?  I focused the camera on our stream in the background, making the wire fence in the foreground blur.

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One of my goals this spring and summer is to study the types of trees we have in our woods so I can call them by name……(see quote at end of post)

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Again, sadness….because I never SAW the loud woodpecker I heard hammering up in the trees close by.   It became scared of me and stopped its work.  I sat by the stream for a while, binoculars around my neck and camera in my hands.

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Clear across the stream I saw a busy Robin with its beak FULL of soft looking dried grass.

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A marsh marigold was getting ready to bloom.  My books says this, “One of our loveliest wild flowers is the bright yellow Marsh Marigold, which grows in wet places in the Northeast and Midwest and is known also as Cowslip.   A key characteristic is its thick, hollow stalk, up to two feet tall, which carries shiny green and heart-shaped leaves.  The many flowers are about one inch across and have five sepals.  The pistils are in a whorl and produce many seeds because insects have to climb all around to get at the several nectar glands.  It is well worth having in your wild garden.  You could cook the leaves for greens–if you must.”  Alfred Stefferud, in How to Know the Wildflowers

There is another photo here of it in bloom.

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Back at the chicken coop.

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I am still trying to positively identify these birds, they are making a nest under the eaves of the chicken coop.

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This fish was swimming around guarding a circular nest in the pond.

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“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

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I transplanted these wild violets from our yard into a flower garden last spring and they came back so healthy and pretty.

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I peered around our brick chimney to sneak a picture of a Blue Jay at the feeder.

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Arrow Leaved Violet

I love these wild flowers because although violets grow in abundance all over our property, this species is not as plenteous.  Deep dark purple blossoms, harry stems, and different shaped leaves make them unique.  I took this photo by the rock wall near our mailbox.

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The top book was written by Alfred Stefferud in 1950.  He was a great Dad, who took along his young daughter as they intently studied the native flowers that grew near them.  Here one of the first pages from the book:

We  Start  An  Adventure

This book began on Sunday afternoon when my young daughter Christine and I were hiking on Short Hill just behind our house
It was a springtime rediscovery of things we had missed in winter–the rabbits busy in the bushes, squirrels talking in the trees, Dogwoods trying out their first leaves.
In a damp spot near a runnel we delightedly sniffed the rare smell of Skunk-Cabbage.  Farther on we spied Bloodroots, their flowers still clasped in cylinders of leaves.  We greeted drifts of Trilliums and Violets as old friends.
But now and then we came across a plant we did not know.  One intrigued us because it grew in a clump of ferns, where we thought it should not be.  One had leaves like an Oak, only larger.  Another was definitely a Violet–but which one?  We were disturbed, because this close to home we had found strangers.
I went on looking at trees, which were my particular interest.  Christine resumed collecting moss and stones, which were hers.  She was humming a verse we had sung that morning in Sunday School, “All nature sings and round me rings, the music of the spheres.”
She stopped:  “Wouldn’t it be fun to know the plants that grow in our own backyard and everything about them?”
“Everything:?” I repeated.  “Why, everything even here would take a thousand lifetimes with ecology, taxonomy, paleobotany—”
“Now, Dad,” she scoffed.  “You’re trying to show off.  I don’t know a word you’re saying. I don’t care about that.  I’d just like to know the names of flower and who they are.”
“Who?”
“Yes, the same as people.  Where they live.  What they are.  Their families.  What they are good for–”
“And why there are so many?  Why some are red and others white?  But couldn’t you enjoy the flowers as much just seeing them here?  What difference if you call a Trillium a Trillium or Wake Robin or any name you make up, like ‘White Lady’?”
“Well, maybe.”  She thought a moment.  “But I would’t feel then that I really did know them.”
“Hm.  Very interesting,” I said.  Always a teacher because once a teacher, I continued:  “I feel the same.  What say we find out a detail or two about every group of wild flowers–enough so we can tell them apart and they become personalities to us?”
Chris liked the idea, and we started at once.   In the months that followed we derived great enjoyment from collecting names and facts in our heads and notebooks.  We did not collect the flowers themselves; we preferred to let them live.  When (often enough) we encountered something we did not know, we consulted a field guide or reference book–which we found to be most enjoyable and useful but sometimes too complex and cryptic in wording…….
Chris and I discovered, as we went along, that our adventure with wild flowers was giving us a deeper appreciation for everyday things….
 We added to our store of knowledge, which I think is always a good thing, no matter what the knowledge.  We unlocked a treasury of words.  We got new insight into the orderliness of nature and of men who work with nature.  Our wonder grew at the devices of plants for continuing their species.  We had a glimpse of several sciences that closely touch our lives.
We came to feel ourselves part of a vital conservation movement, so important that I call it patriotism-in-action.  Most of all we had fun and relaxation, Christine from her 6th grade books and I from other books that easily can be substitutes for living and finding out one’s self.  All this from a simple subject, a pleasant adventure just outside our door!

turtles, flowers, dogs, & birds

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I’m skipping right over Tuesday and blogging about yesterday because Tuesday’s pictures are on my phone and I don’t feel like retrieving them at the moment…..

We spent the entire day at home as I was feeling kind of crappy (allergies? not sure…but I was tired and fuzzy headed).

The kids basically did whatever they wanted to do, within reason of course.

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Just another carefree day, the kind we love best.

I went over to take care of my poor chickens.  And on the way back from the coop I found a teeny tiny turtle in the grass by the pond!!!!!  I put it in the front pocket of my sweatshirt and darned if it didn’t run right back out onto the ground.  Baby turtles are FAST.

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It was so cute.  I took it in the house to show the children.  Sarah didn’t want to touch it but I “made” her.  (encouraged) She was shaking and giggling nervously.  But once she had it “This is my first time touching a turtle!” She didn’t want to let it go.  She wanted it for a pet.

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The two of us sat by the edge of the pond and watched it enter the water for the very first time.  Then we walked around trying to find more turtles, but we didn’t.  Maybe we will on another spring day.

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There was a line at the nesting box.  This photo is of the front of one hen and the back of another.  I say “poor” chickens because, as I have mentioned in past posts, there is a fox after them.  So they have to stay locked up for now.  Mr. Fox has only killed one hen and that was heartbreaking enough.  This morning I plan on driving to Agway to purchase a supply of tempting feed and treats for my poor hens, to make their stay in the coop more tolerable.

I do let them out in their fenced in area if I am able to be at home to continually check on them.

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Ethan spent the day with his girlfriend, Tessa.  She brought her dog to our house, so Parker the Dog had a lovely time yesterday with his bestie, Benji.  They got wet, they got muddy, they played their favorite dog games.

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Benji received an egg from my pocket, just like Parker, but he was clueless.  See the invisible question mark above his head?  Parker was already lapping out raw egg from HIS shell which he broke himself with his teeth.  Benji’s egg is by his left paw, right where he dropped it.

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?

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So Caleb took Benji’s egg to the pathway and broke it for him……yum.  Nothing like a raw egg still warm from the chicken (so they say).

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Later on, my husband got home and took the boys to Little League practice.  (Grace made chili for dinner).  I sat on the porch with my book but didn’t read it because my friend Sarah Joy had lots and lots to talk about.  I had my camera with me and shot two bird pictures from my chair on the porch as I listened to her chit-chat.  Not too bad for spur-of-the-moment photography, with the birds about a mile away (slight exaggeration).

A Flicker sat on the very tippy top of the dead tree in front of the house.  I read that they eat on the ground—they eat mainly ants and beetles, using their beak to dig them up.  They are such a beautiful bird, one of my favorites.  They have polka dots, a nice black “necklace” and a patch of red on the back of their necks.

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And then Sarah and I saw a duck.

We went inside after this and she read me 30 pages of a 1904 school Primer (early reader).  She snuggled up into my side and I smelled her hair and listened as she read in a sweet voice, laughing together at the funny parts.  (we totally get 1904 humor).