Thursday, May 17, 2012


A few weeks ago, we experienced a huge storm. The wind blew, the rain brought flash flood warnings, thunder cracked and shook buildings while lightening split the night sky. I heard none of it. I was sitting in a darkened auditorium completely enthralled with our local high school spring play “Beauty and The Beast.”
It started me thinking about how can we insulate ourselves against the storms of life. Storms that include a man in a suit standing in the front of an auditorium telling my co-workers and me our jobs were being eliminated. It’s a storm when one hears the words “the treatment isn’t working and the cancer is growing.” Knowing you will never see your 25-year-old son again is a heart-breaking storm. When you hear “the prognosis is not good.”
It’s impossible to keep ourselves as oblivious to life storms as I was to the thunderstorm that swept through our area, but where is our protection? Recently I was reading how God give beauty instead of ashes.

.... to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mouring, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of rightesouness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3).

You have kept track of every toss and turn through the sleepless nights. Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book. (Psalm 56:8)

Storms of life still hurt, they send us reeling , we are not oblivious to them, but God holds all of those tears and hurts in a bottle and so I hold onto the faith that he will turn those ashes into beauty.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A New Family

After the disappointment in the nest box, the bluebirds have found a new place to make their home and start a family.

I took this picture yesterday and when I looked tonight, there were three eggs. Busy, busy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Life in the Wild

I love having my windows open in the morning waking to the sounds of the birds chirping and singing. As I continue to attract birds to my yard, there are three types that I would love to have visit - bluebirds, orioles and hummingbirds. Very briefly I saw an oriole in the past and I spotted a hummingbird here and there, but they have not visited my yard in great numbers. Mark built me this great oriole feeder that will hopefully help the orioles find their way to my yard.

I have been delighted to find bluebirds in my yard and, once again, Mark built some nice little houses for them and I set out a dish of raisins, cranberries and mealy worms. We have been rewarded with at least one bluebird couple (there may be more, but we haven't been formally introduced). The bluebirds had built a nice little nest in one of their houses and there were 3 eggs, but then "something" got to them and broke up all the eggs. I am relieved to see that they have not left our yard and we are keeping an eye on the other house we have for them. I wish I knew how to keep their nest safe.

 My little camera does a pretty decent job of capturing these guys, but I would love to have one that would really show off their beauty.

Here's another visitor we had one afternoon:
and a couple of raccoons the size of medium sized dogs who did not get their picture taken. I just told them to go play in the street. It's tricky attracting the delightful creatures you want in your yard versus those you would like to go somewhere else, but it's been a fun hobby and hopefully the orioles and hummingbirds will find their way here as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love Is In The Air

All winter, I have fed the birds that come into my yard and I have been able to watch the variety of birds that visit my feeders. .
I have had a lot of success with cardinals. In the winter, Mrs. Cardinal would stop by the food and would eat a little bit and always be on the lookout for, I think, Mr. Cardinal. Then Mr. Cardinal (the little man above) would swoop in and Mrs. Cardinal would have to leave the food and fly away. Well this spring, I have seen an entirely different scene with the cardinals. Mrs. Cardinal still leaves the food dish when Mr. Cardinal stops by, but instead of flying to a tree further away from her cardinal food, she will walk along the rail of the deck where he can defnitely still see her. When she gets past him, she will look over her shoulder to see if he's noticing her and then she flies right next to him showing off her graceful flight and shiny feathers. He, of course, pretends not to notice her at all. And then both are gone, perhaps building a home or doing whatever it is that cardinals do, like lay eggs or something. Ah yes, spring love in my own backyard.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hills Are Alive

My hillside is waking up after sleeping all winter. We didn’t cut anything down last fall and it was looking quite scraggly. So we, okay Mark, went out and chopped all the dead stuff down. We decided to just leave it out there and not clean it up as sort of a mulchy, organic, hopefully helpful environment for all the new growth. I can see that the crown vetch and I will continue to wage battle against one another. There is a newer plant out there and although I have seen it in the past, it is much more abundant this year. I was pretty sure it was something that did not belong there, but when I see so much of one type of plant, I always have hope that it's going to bring me joy. But no. I pulled one up and brought it to my neighborhood Earl May and they assured me it was a weed that would never amount to anything. So I have my work cut out for me out there.

At first, I was a bit dismayed that my nemeses seemed to have a head start on everything else, but then I realized I could see them and start working on them before the other plants got bigger and filled everything in. So I took a look and I warned them .. "I will get you my pretty." Except they aren't so pretty and they are tough little *#@*!.

After a nice rain last night, it will be the perfect time to get out there with digger in hand this weekend and work on removing some of those unwanteds and check how everything else is going. I'm also starting to plan my garden, which always proves to be an adventure.

Weeds beware!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pinterest Pick of the Week

Like about a gazillion other folks in Internet Land, I have become more than a little interested in the ideas on Pinterest at  First of all, I think it is very cool that the mind behind this idea is Brian Silbermann, a DSM native along with his Yale college buddies who I guess are not DSM natives, but still.... Young Mr. Silbermann’s parents are ophthalmologists here and I truly believe that having the opportunity to receive an extra measure of intelligence genes can lead to good things. But here is my favorite Pinterest find this week -- homemade laundry soap.

Here is the recipe and some other fun things on this young mom's blog someone might find interesting:

I had never heard of Fels-Naptha soap, but it was right there in the laundry aisle of my local Hy-Vee. I don't have a food processor so I had to shred this stuff with one of those hand graters. That was the most difficult part and I do believe there is a tiny sliver of finger skin in my laundry soap.

The cost of this was around $17.00 and after using it for a couple weeks, here is what I have left:

Of course we are a 2-person household so it doesn't go quite so fast as it would have, say 10 or even 15? years ago. Laundry day at our house is when the sun is shining and there is a hint of a breeze. On this day, however, there was more breeze than just a hint. Phew, just glad my clothes didn't blow into the next county. This picture does not even give justice to the strength of the wind that day.

I have to confess this all makes me feel so Laura Ingalls Wilder :).
Happy Friday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Love This

I found this mom's blog today. She explains so beautifully what I want for my daughter and I wanted to share it. This is just a part; to read the rest of it go here

Now I see her bent over her drawing, and I realize: this is what I want for her. The free time I give the kids, my determination not to schedule their lives any more than the public school already does, and the ready availability I make of art materials - these have become a habit that reveals a purpose. I want her to have the chance to throw herself into something she loves just because she loves it. I want her to know the thrill of leisure time spent lost in what fascinates, because too soon she will be grown and her leisure time will all but disappear.

I want to give her the gift of love. Not just the love I feel for her, but the love she discovers for something else.
Since she was born, we have made up stories for each other. My stories for her and her sisters are often princess stories, fairy tales that begin "Once upon a time" and end with "happily ever after." But I don't make marriage the happy ending. Some people long to get married and never get to, and if my girls have that life, I do not want to add to their heartbreak by building in them the belief that marriage is their mother's expectation for them. Instead, my princesses have something they love to do, - flying kites, raising dragons, digging tunnels - and the happy ending comes when they find a way to do that thing for the rest of their lives.

My stories whisper that I want them to find a vocation in life, a calling that satisfies something deep in their soul, whether that is marriage and motherhood or something else.

And I think of that when I tape her new drawing to the kitchen wall (our fridge ran out of space long ago), wondering if this will be her lifelong love, or if she is still waiting to meet it.