Gloomy Days and then It Rains!!!

My Sunshine Flowers

I have had some pretty gloomy days lately.  So many things are going on in my life right now that are really emotionally challenging.  And to be honest, quite distressful.  I could elaborate and go into detail about every single thing that is going on, but instead I will give you a short synopsis.

We are still dealing with stuff since the house fire this past February.  We have a house full of unpacked items that I have already or need to give away or get rid of.  There are a few things that I want to sell and hope I am able to.  Then I need to go out and buy more things than anybody should ever have to at one time.  And in the meantime, I am still waiting for enough money to cover all of that from the insurance company before i go completely into debt.

The other thing is my husband, whose health is not good at all.  As some of you may remember, he has been fighting cancer since 2005.  And the after-effects of all the surgeries (14 or 15 so far), the days and days of chemo and radiation, and the subsequent horrible effects of having certain medical conditions as a result have wreaked havoc on his frail body more than I can even begin to tell you about. He is in constant pain despite the fact that he does take some pain relievers a couple of times a day.  He is struggling to be the man he used to be and mentally he certainly could be, but physically he cannot.  He is at maybe 35-40% of what he used to be and it is blowing his mind.  And, of course, standing here and watching him is a very very heavy emotional thing to have to go through.

And, then I have a daughter who has made a lot of poor choices and decisions in her life and is a few years away from turning forty.  She is in a situation and environment that breaks my heart.  I can’t bail her out of it but I am very hopeful and prayerful that in some miraculous event, she will turn her life around and live the life that I know she could be.

And then with some other little incidentals, that when added to the ones I just mentioned, my life has become very distressful indeed.  It is really hard to keep the right attitude where you don’t find yourself sinking into a big pool of self pity or a sense of guilt or I don’t know.  It is affecting me extremely, both emotionally and physically.  I have lost quite a bit of weight and have absolutely no appetite.  Although I do eat at least once a day to make sure I stay alive……   Not meaning that as a joke, but seriously.

Thank the Good Lord I have become aware of and am taking advantage of plant “concoctions” of which I mean picked leaves, roots, berries, seeds (and etc…), which are tinctures, or teas or salves form.  I use a variety of them throughout the day depending on what my body says I need.  How amazed I am of how my body knows and more importantly how amazing Father is to have created so many wonderful creatures that reach out to us and heal us.

I actually now have my pain under more control than I ever have.  No more pills or supplements!!!  Yay  My energy levels are such that I can go for an hour and I mean a hard hour.  Then I have to take a break for about 30 minutes or so.  However, if you put that into a 10 or 12 hour day, you can get a lot done!  And, I feel really good about that.

Anyway, today was one of those days that I genuinely fell completely overwhelmed by my situation and I had managed to get down into a very depressed place.  So I started writing to a friend, some of you know her.  But for those who don’t, suffice it to say that she is probably the best friend that a human being could ever ask for.

So, we were communicating back and forth and she, in her special way, was able to at least give me reason  to get out of this dark place and find something better to do with myself!  Ha ha

And then it started to rain.  I was so excited and so happy.  My heart was beating with joy because I was actually hoping it would rain.  I  LOVE the rain.  I don’t care if it is an horrific thunderstorm with lightning so bright that it knocks you off your feet and thunder so loud that it makes your heart beat faster than you could ever imagine.  I LOVE the rain.

As I write this, I am sitting out on my deck and I am watching the rain.  But, back to when I first noticed it.  I was sitting at my desk, sending another little quip to my friend.  And, when I heard the rain start, I ran outside and down the steps.  I stood there with my arms outstretched and I was just lifted up, in spirit and in my heart.  Oh yeah.  There are plenty of you out there that know what I’m saying.  Especially my friend.  (Yes, I just mentioned you again!!!! )

Anyway, back on the deck…..  It is still raining. Good.  We have had a total of 2.1 inches in the last 3 – 4 days.  As you know, hot days and high humidity makes for storms.  Just about every afternoon, there is always a pop up shower or thunderstorm somewhere close by.  The chickens have now gone back into their condo; I can hear crows cawing in the distance, the rest of the birds are probably wherever they go when it rains.  Wait, what do I see?  I see a little finch has hopped onto one of the bare branches on one of the maples.  Cool.  Oh!  Daddy bluebird just flew down onto the grass, grabbed something good in his beak and flew off.

Back at my desk now, finishing this up.

How wonderful can this be?  I went from seriously gloomy to being at peace.  Right now, there is a smile on my face, my heart is at rest and all is well right here, right now.  My dog is sleeping on his throw, the sun just came out, the birds are back at the feeders and I am heading back out to the deck.

Amazing what can happen when you turn your attention away from gloom and towards the rain?  Ha ha

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My Love Affair

Those of you who visit my blog with any frequency are well aware of my love affair with my yard.  Most especially, I love my feathered friends.  They delight me throughout every single day.  Their lovely songs, especially in the early hours of the day, drown out any human sounds that tend to invade the air.  Their antics bring smiles and laughter to me.  The gorgeous array of their colors is exhilarating and sometimes downright intoxicating.  On very rare occasions I even get to touch them.   That is usually when one is injured and requires a little TLC from someone who cares.

This year is no different than any other with one exception.  I have a real camera.  And that has opened up a whole new world to me.   I can zoom in or out and then crop on the fly.  It is a rare time that I am outside without it.  I am not much of a photographer but when it comes to snapping shots of nature, I am very avid about it; enough so that I will just keep on taking shots until I get it right.  And, it is so much fun.  (:^)

I have folders and folders of pictures I have taken in the last few weeks, so as usual, I want to share them here.  With you.   Hmmmm.  Where to start.

Grabbing a sip

Well, how about my little hummingbirds?

Here’s one at the feeder.  And one perching on a branch in one of the maples.

Closeup

You will have to zoom in and see if you can find it.  If not, here is a crop of it.   

Out hopping about around the chicken coop, was a rather large rabbit.

 

Bunny Rest Stop

And, we can’t leave out the squirrels, can we?  We have a herd, almost.  Uh, yeah.  A LOT.  Ha Ha

Yeah. I’m watching you.

Playing in the pines

And then there are all the woodpecker varieties, included here are the red-bellied, a downy and maybe a hairy.

Mom and young fledgling red-bellied

Young red-bellied

The last two are REALLY hard to tell apart other than body and beak size, but at a distance, it isn’t easy.

And here, a Downy

 

Maybe a Hairy?

 

 

 

 

Dad red-bellied

 

In that same branch where the humming bird was perching, there are a lot of birds that hang out there as you can see.

This cardinal has a male buddy. Guess all the females are taken this year! Ha ha

 

Gorgeous bluebird. His house is right behind this tree and brood number two is on its way.

 

 

 

 

This robin was just a-singin!

Great crested Flycatcher. Top of his head fluffs up but not always

 

 

 

 

 

Check out these goldfinches that were chowing down on my sunflower.  Pretty cool, huh? 

Male Goldfinch

Male and female

 

 

 

And, I just have to throw in this picture of the echinacea at the bottom of the steps to my deck.  Can you believe all the blooms?????   BLOWS MY MIND.

Echinacea “Purple Coneflower”

Well, that is it for now.  I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did taking them.  And don’t forget, if you click on the pictures, they will open up for better viewing!

Another day has just dawned.  I was just out on the deck as the sun came up and all of my birds are filling my yard with their songs.  So pleasant.  Father blesses us abundantly with his creatures.  That joy it brings wells up inside of me every single day.  Wow!

 

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Of Granddaughters, hawks and snakes

This past Tuesday was my granddaughter’s 12th birthday.  We had discussed a few weeks ago what she wanted to do.  Since we have been spending time together every week since she was 6 months old and she was out of school, we decided to spend the day doing something fun that SHE would like to do.  We went to the Museum of Natural Sciences in the city.

The day started out having lunch at a really nice Thai restaurant.  Part of the discussion we had was where should we have lunch.  I suggested to her that we start trying foods from different countries.  To her surprise, she really liked the food!  Afterwards we spent several hours visiting each floor and exhibit and found lots of cool things to learn about.  The museum has hands-on labs and we took advantage of them.  I was quite impressed by all there was in those labs for young people to “play” with and learn from.

T-Rex

After I dropped her back home, I headed to my house and, as is my usual, I sat right down on my deck to relax.  It wasn’t but a few minutes as I was looking out over my yard, that I saw a hawk standing on the ground and he appeared to be hopping around.  I grabbed my Canon, which I had with me from our little excursion and zoomed in.

Hmmmm. What is he doing?

I just kept on snapping pictures.  And

He definitely has something

it was obvious what was going on  as I did.   He had a snake!  And from the color of it, it had to be a black snake and a rather large one at that.

Hawk vs Black Snake

Of course, keep in mind, when a hawk and a snake are going a round, they don’t hold still for a picture.  Ha ha   But I am hopeful that you can zoom in and still see clearly what was going on in this battle.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of this.

The battle continues

The hawk was making quick work of the snake.  He kept reaching down and tearing parts and swallowing.  It was kind of gruesome in a way but I have no doubt there are eyas (baby hawks) close by.  I see both male and female pretty regularly in the pine grove on the edge of our yard.  I don’t even have to see or hear them to know they are near.  As I mentioned in another Hawk post, all the birds in the yard start squawking and calling everyone to come and chase the hawks away.  So, when I hear many kinds of birds all freaking out at the same time, I know one of the hawks is nearby.

And then, I turned away for a couple of minutes as I was having a conversation with hubby and the hawk was gone.  What a picture that would have been had I been able to capture that.

So, that was my day.  Spending time with my sweet and beautiful granddaughter was so enjoyable and I am so grateful and so blessed to have been able to do that.  It continues to amaze me that she actually looks forward to and enjoys being with me as often as she is.  When she started middle school (6th – 8th around here), I asked her did she still want to hang out on Fridays with me.  She said “Uh, YEAH!!!”.  I really am blessed.

And then to end the day with that amazing scene in the backyard, well, what can I say?  I have never seen anything like it and probably never will again.  Talk about being at the right place at the right time!

Father blesses in so many ways.  And, yet, I still seem to find reasons to whine and complain.  Talk about needing a Gibb’s slap!

I hope and pray that all of you have similar moments and people in your life that you are able to enjoy.  It is those kinds of moments that we must cherish and look to for inspiration and hope.  There is way too much “mess” out there guaranteed to distract and discourage if you don’t.

Til next time.

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Surprise Guest

For the last couple of months, I have heard an unusual sound deep in the woods around our neighborhood.  Now, having lived here for over 20 years, I am pretty familiar with the sounds of the creatures that dwell nearby.  This one was a stumper.  Was it a screech owl?  Or maybe a fox vixen?  Wasn’t sure.  It was strange.  It was a mystery.

Our surprise guest, Mr. Peacock!

A couple of weeks ago, we had a surprise guest come visit us.  Me, oh my!  What a beauty!  He was as handsome and colorful as any creature I have ever seen.  One of our neighbors raises every fowl and barn critter you can imagine and I thought maybe this was one of his.  Nope.  His were all at home and accounted for.  Where did this guy come from?

Since he first appeared, he makes regular visits here.  He especially loves our wood pile as you can see.

Getting a “bird’s eye” view

I suppose it gives him a wider and better view of what all is going on.  He also seems to appreciate the lovelies in our chicken

Visiting our little ladies

coop as he struts himself about and around their house.  They don’t get too close.

Lovely display

He has shown off his tail feathers to us.  Turning in a

Pretty, aye?

complete circle to grace us with those amazing colors.  Here’s a closeup.

Even from the backside, the colors are incredible.

Now, I shall end this with a few more of him.  I can’t help myself!  Every time he comes to visit, I take dozens of pictures of him.

 

I am so blessed!  Not only have I countless memories of days spent in my yard watching all the critters that live with or just visit me, now I have an exotic animal from a far-away land.  It just keeps getting better!  Next time, I am going to bring you some more pictures of how my yard life is coming along.

 

 

 

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Heart-Led Happiness

Up in my Pines

As my full body awareness with all of my senses lead by my heart-led being takes in my surroundings here in my yard, I am amazed at the feelings, both physical and emotional that fill me.  It can be overwhelming sometimes because the intensity is that much.  It can bring me to tears of both kinds.  It can well Joy up inside of me until I almost feel like i could explode.  And really, words don’t quite cut it at times like these.  It is not of this world, obviously.  The world of the human kind anyway.

The world is too busy, too side-tracked, too selfish, too mesmerized by and of itself.  There’s just too much going on for most to extricate themselves from all of that to focus on the real stuff.

And, it’s a shame really.  Creation has so much to offer in the simple things where man dwells the least.  Although there certainly must be many of us who walk the off the beaten path, most probably do not.  And how would one even begin to describe or explain its beauty in words that most would understand?  Such a dilemma.  As if Nature, the earthly manifestation of Creation, needs explaining or defending?

You would think that everyone would know and enjoy all that Creation has to offer, wouldn’t you?

Butterfly on Hypochoeris radicata

Living and being heart-led enables me to actually be one with all that is in my yard.  Not that my yard is the limit of that existence, but it is an amazing Gift that I get to enjoy every waking moment.  By breathing in His Spirit and having Him in my heart, I am able to join in communion with each blade of grass, each blossom, each branch, each creature.  Each drop of dew and each gentle or hardy breeze becomes part of me in a way that fills me with such a sense of belonging.  To Him.

This is not something that I have felt all my life, nor something that makes me anymore special than anyone else.  It is something that only recently entered my awareness and became a part of who I am.  And, now that it has, I never want to lose it.  And, I could in an instant.  Without gratitude or by allowing my self to rule my awareness, I can really mess up a good thing.  And I do.  Repeatedly.

Thankfully, He is never away from that awareness. I don’t stay messed up for long.  And it is that awareness that keeps me connected to Him.  And, that awareness is also from Him.  So, it must be with gratitude and humbled heart that I continue in communion and harmony with Creation.  Else, it leaves me.

I am not sure if how I am describing this makes sense to you.  It is way over my head as to the how or why.  I just know it is.  And that is probably why my words are so pitiful in their ability to explain any of it, much less just talk about.  There are SO many others whose words have far more depth.

Wild Scuppernong Grapes under the Pines

I just know that this is who I am, how I am and what I am.  Madly in love with my yard!  And why I am.

I’m going back outside, where I belong.  Tee hee

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Dirty hands

  I love to get my hands dirty!  It means I am doing something I love!  Working in the dirt brings me more joy than most things.   It’s something I have been doing most of my life, one of those things that my dear dad instilled in me when I was very young.  He loved his yard and kept it spruced up with a lovely array of flowers, shrubs and trees.  Sometimes I begrudged him for it; there were other things I would much rather be doing, especially when I became a teenager!  But, instill it in me he did and for all of my adult life, I have spend many a day in the dirt.

With Summer soon to be here and so many lovely things to entice me outdoors, I have been spending hours fussing over and enjoying my sweet plants.  Although they really aren’t mine.  I consider them all, the wild and the cultivated,  a gift from God.  With the joy in my heart He has given me at the slightest flicker of His Creation, I am grateful.

Today, I will share some pictures of how my yard is coming along and hope that in some way, you also will find pleasure in them.

As you can see, my echinacea is doing splendidly this year.  It is really exploding with buds and flowers more than I can ever recall.  Of course with this having been the wettest year in the last 30 years, I can’t help but think that may be a factor!

Penstemmon

And my Penstemmon has many stalks of its beautiful purple flowers which the bees and hummingbirds visit often.

Salvia “Silke’s Dream”

My Salvia is healthy too!  My male hummingbirds visit every single bloom while the females visit their feeder first then dip their tongues into the flower buffet.

Out front, my pretties are showing off a lot better and healthier than I expected.  With all the rain we have had, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  My spirea is part of a long generation of plants that I have had for decades.  Its delicate little pink bouquets are so sweet.  It’s at the base of my bell post on the left.

Front Bed

I found some lovely purple verbena that loves its spot.  And the baptisia, the blooms of which are pictured in an earlier post, have now formed some very interesting seed pods which I am just going to leave alone and might try to germinate this fall.  In the far back, my lone phlox is pushing upward and will soon reward me with its perfume and the hummingbirds with a sweet snack. Between the yellow and blue baptisia, I planted some more of that ajuga I have out back.  In the center is my swamp milkweed, that is finally going to bloom for me.  It never has, but it keeps coming back.

Spirea

Swamp Milkweed baby bud

While gazing at this particular bed, I discovered a very large spider who had a gazillion (well, seemed like it!) babies all over her body.  She was about the size of an italian plum and blended in so well.  The only reason I saw her was because she started scurrying across the mulch.  I am pretty sure she was a wolf spider and definitely on the LARGE size!

Wolf spider and babies

Sorry if the picture is not as clear as I would like since I didn’t have my Canon, just my phone.

And, all the while, as I was digging and poking in my gardens, my little dog, Tank, was doing his most favorite thing.

Catchin some rays

He was laying on the deck.

So, I have been outside most of this morning.  Robbie the rabbit enjoyed his apples, carrots and millet stalks.  The chickens got the leftovers from cutting up a watermelon and some grapes that had kind of gone soft, so to speak.  Mom and dad red bellied woodpecker have been feeding their fuzzy spike headed little boy (I think he’s a boy).

Man, how grateful I am for all of this.  Never in my wildest dreams as a younger person would I have expected such blessings nor did I even realize what a blessing it would be!  When I moved here, it was just a house with a big yard for my daughters to finish growing up in.  Now, it is my haven, my Gift from God.  I will never leave until the day I die.  I hope.

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Spring or Summer??

I will be posting some pictures here of how quickly our Spring is turning into Summer.  Already.  With our temperatures at least 10 degrees warmer than what is our norm, our trees are almost completely leafed out.  Well, almost all of them!

I feel strange about all this.  So much seems to be out of whack anymore.  I know why.  Most folks haven’t a clue or deny the obvious or prefer to take a more logical, rational, scientific approach to it all.  And I ain’t talking about climate change or global warming or, for that matter, who is ruling in Washington or anywhere else in the world.

But then, that is most assuredly content for another day, another post.  Maybe.  I am not much for expressing those types of emotions or thoughts, whatever you wish to call them.  The human side of me that runs out of my brain is not dependable enough to allow it to express itself, especially out loud to others.  I prefer to let my heart speak for me.  That part of me is true and I can trust it completely.  And the way that seems to happen is when I write about Creation and the many ways I am aware of it.  I can hear it, see it, feel it and love it and it loves me right back.

As I meandered the yard the other day, I was actually amazed at how far along everyone had come.  Most of the trees are covered with all their leaves open!  Plants are flowering profusely and, much to my surprise, some of the ones I planted last Spring and was sure had died over the winter, are coming up in abundance.

Here the trees are two weeks later!

So, here you go!  Oh, what a foretaste of Glory Divine!

April 1, 2017 Leaves just starting to show

My lovely Japanese maples. If you zoom in and peak around you can see the hanging buds about to open!

Just beneath the Japanese Maples, you can see their reflection in my birdbath!

Baby buds on my potted sedum dasyphyllum

Our lovely willow oak

Talk about camouflage! Ground skink on Mama Pine

Carolina Anole. I usually see them everywhere in this green color; but sometimes they are brown

Red verbena with yellow sorrel and white starry flowers of chickweed

My red tip photina in bloom

False Indigo or Baptisia with yellow blooms

Creeping Jenny, variegated Ajuga blooming and hens n chicks.

My lovely comfrey and its flower clusters of purple. Chocolate mint in the foreground

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