Saturday, July 18, 2015

Luxuriating in the dust

In her book A Window Over the Sink Peg Bracken writes of when she first looked through the window she had installed in her kitchen…
I was astonished at the way my mind took off in seven-league boots . . . . I was traveling eastward ho, across the ocean, past the Rockies and the small Idaho town where I was born, to the small Missouri town where I grew up, and to some other places where I may have grown up some more, though I'm not entirely sure about that
I sometimes wool-gather when I look through my kitchen window, but usually there are enough interesting things going on in the front yard to keep my attention firmly in the present...

A chipmunk full of nervous energy searches for sunflower seeds caught in the cracks of the wooden platform I feed birds on.

A turtle makes its way across the driveway, moving surprisingly fast for an animal that has a reputation for moving slowly.

Rabbits have created a dust bath in a sandy spot on the driveway. Two rabbits meet face to face near the public bath and creep cautiously toward each other. 

They touch noses and one sort of leaps away and they chase each other down the driveway.

A Brown Thrasher lands on the driveway and scurries over to the dust wallow and, as its name implies, begins to thrash around in the dusty place.

It behaves exactly like the birds that take a bath in the water I have provided in the birdbath a few feet away on the grass. It flaps its wings and spreads its tail and splashes in the fine dust. It lays down writhing and flinging the sand around with its beak, attempting to get the particles into its feathers.

The bird acts like it is in ecstasy.

It gets up, shakes itself, and runs across the driveway into the brush, and then a half-a-minute later it comes running back and does it again, and then finally flies off.

We’re often shown scenes in movies of beautiful women preparing to luxuriate in the perfect bath. They light candles, pour fragrant oil or bubble bath tub as it fills, and then lay back in the steaming water. I have to say that bird was enjoying its bath every bit as much, without all the extras.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The benefits of careful pruning

The tulip poplar we donated in our son’s memory was planted in the park in March 2012.

It was less than 3 feet tall and was basically a bare stick.

Within a week, another tulip poplar was planted next to our tree. It was the same size and also a bare stick. Both trees soon begin to put out leaves. Our tree had a small setback when the tip got broken shortly after it was planted, but it recovered nicely.

We watered both trees that summer, the next summer, and the summer after that to make sure they would survive through July and August, when is very hot and little rain normally falls.

In 2013, our tree was very healthy and growing well.
So was the tree next to it, and they were about the same size.

And then I began to carefully prune our tree. Richard did not want me to, but I explained that it really was OK, that I wasn’t going to do a hack job on it, and that the tree would benefit from it. As we walked around the park one day before he finally agreed, I pointed out that none of the big trees in the park have limbs below about 5 feet. Eventually, all of the lower limbs on the small trees would be cut off anyway, so there was no point in the tree putting its energy into these lower limbs.

Don’t worry, I said, the tree will be fine.

The family that donated the tree next to ours has not done anything to their tree since it was planted. Both trees are healthy and are growing well, but now, 2 years after I began pruning our tree...
 the difference in the two trees (ours is on the right) is quite obvious.

It’s hard not to miss the object lesson -- sometimes we need to prune things out of our life that can stunt our growth or divert our energy away from things that are more important. Taking secateurs to a thumb-sized tree limb is one thing, and applying them to our own lives is quite another. And not always very easy. Jesus certainly talked about the importance of pruning when He compared the need to prune grape vines so they bear better fruit with the pruning God does in us so that we produce better fruit in our own lives.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Learning Some Life Lessons: Have I Finally Got It?


As long as we are alive, life presents us with opportunities to learn life lessons. Sometimes these are huge and come at a great personal and emotional cost, and times they are rather inconsequential in the whole scheme of things, but just like the little foxes that ruin the grapes, even an in inconsequential event can have a big effect on how we feel about ourselves.

I have had some experiences recently of the more inconsequential variety that have taught me a couple of lessons:

Three times a week I eat for breakfast, along with the homemade yogurt I regularly eat, a serving of frozen mixed fruit with berries (raspberries, blackberries, and sometimes blueberries) that has been thawed. The thawed berries produce quite a bit of juice at the bottom of the bowl.

Twice last month I went to town to pick up the mail after eating my breakfast and came home to find that I had dribbled purple berry juice on my chin. Both times I met people at the post office and visited with them, so they had plenty of opportunity to observe that my face was dirty.

After the second embarrassing episode I learned life lesson 1:

Always check my face after I eat the fruit and before I leave the house. Always. No exceptions

And I have done so, and that hasn’t happened again.

On Saturday we had chopped spinach as one of the vegetables for our evening meal. I play the piano for a contemporary service at a local church, and so about 45 minutes after we finished eating, I changed my clothes, went into the bathroom, looked at my face in the mirror, and combed my hair, and left.

When I got home, my dearly beloved greeted me as I walked in and said something funny that made me smile, and then he started laughing and wanted to know did I realize I had spinach in my teeth? Had I done much smiling or laughing at the meeting?

No I didn’t know…. and yes I did. Of course I did—well, perhaps not laughing but certainly talking and smiling.

And then we had an interesting discussion about how people will not tell you when something like that is wrong.

To say I felt embarrassed about the spinach in my teeth doesn’t quite cover it. 

So life lesson 2:

Always brush my teeth before I leave the house. Always. No exceptions.

Today it was once again a day for a frozen fruit with berries for breakfast This morning before I left the house I did not forget to inspect my face in the mirror (it was clean), and I remembered to brush my teeth, and when I did, I observed blackberry seeds stuck in my front teeth.

Whew!!!

To quote Professor Henry Higgins: By George, she's got it! By George she's got it!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A little change of plan.


Today is our anniversary and we had big plans. We were going to go to the Big City, do a bit of bulk buying at the big box store, go to the art museum, have a late lunch at a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant that serves good Italian and Greek food (spinach spanakopita to die for), and then go see a movie.

And then early in the week my dearly beloved went on a hunting-and-gathering expedition and severely twisted his knee when part of him turned and the other didn’t, and so we thought we had better change the plan.

I am very thankful that his knee is much better and not all that disappointed that we stayed home. As much as I enjoy the art museum, which is really quite a good one for a smaller big city, we are usually thoroughly exhausted by the time we arrived back home. 

We went to the movie last night at a local theater and saw the Pixar film Inside Out, which is a wonderful cartoon for adults. It has gotten amazing reviews, and rightly so. Some of the funniest parts of the movie occur during the closing credits. There is a scene involving cats that is hilarious.

And today, instead of driving 2 hours for Mediterranean food, we will drive 15 minutes down the road for good Mexican food.

I married him 44 years ago...


and I am very happy that I did.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Flying Purple Berry Eaters


 
Mulberry trees grow here with abandon, and indeed, some consider them a “weed tree.” The fruit comes in various colors – we have trees on our property that produce white fruit and those that produce purple fruit. There is a tree with white fruit near the fork of our driveway and there is a purple one not too far from the back door.

The fruit is just starting to ripen.

 The mulberries do indeed resemble berries–blackberries in particularand they have a mild, pleasant taste. For a few years after we first moved here, I attempted to make jam out of them. I even got instructions from the Agricultural Extension Service on how to do it, but what I ended up with was mulberry syrup. Which tasted fine on pancakes, but I eventually decided that standing out there and picking the fruit and then processing it was not worth the time and effort.

The big birds—Jays, Robins, and Brown Thrashers—and the small birds—Cedar Waxwings and Wrens—and all the others in between love the mulberries and they flock to the trees to gobble them up and carry them off to feed their babies

What goes in eventually comes back out, and a lot of it ends up on the cars.

Purple bird poop…and it is not a pretty sight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Speak! Speak!

 At my last visit to the clinic I had an ultrasound examination of my leg, and after it was over, I sat up on the examination table and finished wiped off the gel and cried, and the ultrasound guy patted me on the shoulder and said It is going to be OK. Don't worry. Not a Doctor Bob came in and gave me a hug and said You are going to be fine. Don't worry....

And then he proceeded to give Richard a series of specific instructions on what the signs of stroke are so that he could get me to the hospital if I showed any of them.

Not a Doctor Bob told him to "get her to the hospital" if
  • she sticks her tongue out at you in the morning when she gets up and it is off to one side...
  • if one side of her face looks droopy...
  • if she has trouble talking....
  • if she has trouble moving one side of her body...

So far none of those things have happened, except the part about having trouble talking.

I often have difficulty speaking, especially when I am trying to say three things at once and it comes out garbled. I was trying to tell him something the other morning and wasn't getting very far, and he began waving his arms and with a foreign accent he said...

"Speakl! Speak! Words come out mouth"

And then he stuck his tongue out at me, and of course it was off to one side.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

A surprise for Mother’s Day

I am not expecting flowers for Mother’s Day, and that’s OK, because I have some spectacular flowers that have appeared just in time for the occasion.

In November 2012 my dearly beloved bought me an orchid. I don’t remember now what the occasion was. It could have been a belated birthday present or it could have been simply because he loves me and knew I wanted an orchid.

The blooms lasted a long time, but eventually they died and dropped off the stalk. I trimmed the stalk back, and began taking care of the plant as best I could by trying to follow the information I found on the Internet.

And the plant just mostly sat there for 2-1/2 years. A new leaf would appear occasionally, and an older leaf would shrivel and drop off, but that’s about it. Richard said if it were him, he would have given up a long time ago and tossed the plant.


I am very glad that I persevered and did not give up. About a month ago I noticed that the plant was starting to send out something that did not look like the air roots (or whatever they are) that stick up out of the potting mix.
Could this be a bud stalk? I began to get rather excited.

And then I noticed little buds were forming on the stock, and then and got really excited…. and then…. and then… within the last week…
We aren't going out for dinner tomorrow. Instead, I am making one of my favorite meals, which  I cook in the crock pot. It starts with a layer of potatoes cut in quarters, on top of that goes an onion cut in quarters, and on top of that a bell pepper cut in quarters. Italian sausage is placed on top of the vegetables, and tomato sauce is poured over with Italian spices and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Mother's Day can be a minefield for someone whose mother has died and whose child has died. But enough time has passed that I can enjoy the day without falling apart. So tomorrow I will celebrate the life of my wonderful Mother, who was a wonderful example of how to be a mother, and will reflect on the years that I had the privilege of being a mother myself, and most of all, will celebrate my husband who was kind to give me a gift that has kept on giving.