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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Doorway to Heaven

I can not even imagine how they felt.  Their Lord, their friend was dead.  I have no doubt they were confused since they didn’t truly understand what was really happening.  Some probably couldn’t believe or accept it.  Others thought for sure this was NOT how the whole thing was supposed to play out.  Perhaps some were angry or disappointed.  I would hope that maybe one or two knew EXACTLY what was going on though a little apprehensive that perhaps they were wrong.  After all, He was DEAD.

He lay in a cave of sorts, the tomb a very rich man had purchased for himself.  And, for reasons unknown to us, that man made his tomb available for Jesus.  I guess to keep vandals and animals away from the body, a very large stone was placed in the entrance.

The powers that be were quite concerned that someone might come and remove the body.  Not for compassionate reasons, they were afraid that if the body disappeared, all of Jerusalem and beyond would believe the outrageous claims that He could raise Himself from the dead.  Guards were placed to keep everyone away.

On that fateful Friday (as the Sabbath drew near), the agony and the suffering that our Dear Lord went through must have been a gruesome spectacle for all who loved Him.  His ravaged and bloodied body hung from a wooden stake or cross for all to see.  Some jeering, some laughing, some crying in despair.  His mother, His friends and curiosity seekers watched and heard Him as He took His last breath.  As having been completely and totally connected to and a living part of His Father, it must have been terrifying for Him to have to let go and cease to be.  No amount of physical brutality could possibly have hurt Him more.  Darkness covered the area, thunder roared and many fearful things occurred as He gave up His Spirit.

As the dawning of the third day appeared, something miraculous happened.  As Mary and some of her friends went to visit His grave, they found it empty.  Not even the guards could say what had happened or where He was.  They were probably fearful for their lives, having failed to prevent that which they had been ordered to do.  And then much to the ladies’ joy and amazement, they saw Him for He spoke to them.

Throughout the coming weeks, He visited with His friends, His followers, His family.  Can you imagine the initial shock and excitement that followed upon seeing Him?  Hugging Him?  Hearing His voice?  Oh my!  We can imagine how it would be for us to have a loved one die and return!

On His last day on this earth, He literally was lifted up into the clouds.  As those who were with him witnessed this incredible event, attending Heavenly beings told them He would return in like manner.

If Father raised His Son from the dead, there is no doubt He can and will do the same for us when the time comes.  If Jesus said He is going to Heaven to prepare a place for us, there is no doubt that is where we shall be.  What/where is Heaven?  That can only be answered by Him.

Regardless of the origins of “Easter”, I do use the occasion to ponder more than usual the awesome reality of what He did for us.  The amazing and holy life He lived.  The beautiful example He led and gave us.  The hope He bestowed upon us.  The Love He poured out into our hearts.

Oh, yes, Jesus loves me.  After that darkness that settled in surrounding His death on the hill, His Light shone through and continues to shine on us all.

Death has no power.  Death frightens me not.  It is, should it come for me before He does, simply the doorway to Heaven.

 

 

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Of Chickens and Dogs

My chickens love treats.  Bread crumbs, chunks of fruit, chickweed or clippings out of the garden makes no difference.  And, when they see me coming, they are running for the goodies that they know I am bringing to them.

I have posted a lot of pictures before of my chickens.  We have been keeping them for almost twenty years now.  And, no, we don’t/can’t eat them.  It’s the eggs that we are after.  And, what eggs they are.  Nice big brown ones with the most golden orange yolks ever.  You really can’t “go back” to store bought eggs once you have fresh home raised chicken eggs.

I have had my favorites, but mostly I just love them all.  Some have really interesting personalities and actually seem to try to communicate that love right back.  Others can’t be bothered by people as they have a lot more important things to do.  Becky is a black speckled Sussex chicken.  She is new to the flock and fortunately, she fit right in.  I used to have a beautiful Australorp hen named Hannah.  She was sweet and friendly and loved to be hand fed and to ride on hubby’s shoulder.  BUT, she was mean and nasty to all the other hens.  She went back to the neighbor we got her from who raises hundreds of different varieties.

We always had a rooster.  Sometimes, once our bitties grew up, we had more than one.  And, trust me, unless you have a rather large area for more than one rooster and “his” flock, one rooster is all you should have.  Our last rooster, “Roo”, died after getting sick.  And, this time, we opted not to get another one.  I do miss hearing the crowing throughout the day.  I was concerned when he was gone, because one of our hens “Mama Hen” never left his side.  She still sleeps in the same spot she did – right next to him.  The others sleep on their roost.

She is in one of the pictures below.  She has always been a brooder.  If anybody could raise bitties, it was she.  It made no difference who laid the eggs.  She was the one to gather them up under her breast and keep them until they hatched.  Without a rooster, of course, eggs aren’t fertile, so no bitties anymore.  Not from our hens anyway.

Anyway, every time I get ready to feed my hens, my little dog, Tank, has got to run up there with me.  Just in case a morsel of food drops as I am tossing it into the pen, he is ready to grab it.  The other day, as I was sitting on the deck, he decided to go greet his feathery friends.  I had my Canon handy and shot the following pictures.  It was just too funny to let it pass by without sharing them with you.

Yes, Tank, I see you!

Hanging out with Becky

 

 

 

 

 

Flock chatter

 

 

Hmmmm. He is definitely looking for scraps!

Mama Hen doesn’t really want to share…..

 

Time to check out some other stuff, he said! Ha ha

Well, guess he found what he could and decided to wander off elsewhere

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Backyard Sex

Gotcha on that title, now, didn’t I?

Walking around in my backyard or sitting on the deck is the most wonderful thing for me to be able to do!  I could never get enough of it or ever run out of things to watch.  It’s way better than any TV show, movie or story around.  And, when I am doing so, I often carry along my Canon to grab shots of what’s going on.  And, believe me, there is a lot more going on then you could ever possibly imagine.

As I wandered around the other day, I observed how Spring is just issuing forth in oh so many ways.  New leaves or blossoms on trees, plants pushing forth through the garden or grass, birds singing from everywhere and everything just shouting with JOY.  It is so uplifting and exhilarating!  As you can see by the various pictures in this post, lots is happening.  Don’t forget to click on the pictures to see a full version.

Many years ago, while we were visiting relatives in western Michigan, a friend of the family gave me a few lilac bushes.  Moving them to North Carolina was not as successful as I had hoped.  Though they have grown quite tall, they never bloom much.  I have no doubt the distinct differences in climate have a lot to do with that.  BUT, this Spring, they have more flower stalks on them than they ever have.  And, oh, that scent.  Lovely, isn’t it?

Beautiful Lilac blooms

In North Carolina, we have a LOT of pine trees.  And, one of the things that these trees so love to do is proliferate.  We have about a six week period when everything is covered in a golden coat.  And, I mean EVERYTHING.  Nothing escapes it.  Lucky for me, I am not allergic or sensitive to it, but a lot of folks are.  It floats on the water in the birdbath, covers the cars in every nook and cranny and on a windy day, you can see it floating in the air like a golden, glittery mist.  It is amazing.

Golden globs of pollen waiting to drift into the air

And, I dare say the dogwoods are just stunning this year.  One of ours was a pink one but over the years, it reverted back to the natural white.  This year the ‘blossoms’ have hints of pink in them.   Very pretty.  You may not know this, but the flowers are actually in the center of what appear to be petals, but they are actually bracts, which are a type of modified leaf.  The flowers themselves are numerous and teeny.  Zoom in on this so you can see that lovely pink tinge.

My lovely dogwood tree

 

 

 

 

 

The Japanese Maples have leafed out beautifully.  I love their deep rich purply red leaves!

Japanese Maples leafing out

But, wait, didn’t i say SEX?  Well, yeah, that’s what Spring is all about, isn’t it?

So, anyway, back to my walk around.  I had been out with my Canon and eased back up on the deck to rest a spell.  Nothing was going on, so I thought, “oh, just go put the camera up and relax.”  Which is what I did.  Doncha know I wasn’t back out on the deck but a few minutes and all kinds of things started to happen.

One of our hawks in a tree back by our creek

Up in the air, above old Mama Pine were two of our red shouldered hawks spiraling around each other.  One of them landed in a high branch of a sycamore tree that stands above the chicken coop.  (You can probably see it in one of the many pictures I have posted of my coop).  The other landed next to the first one moments later.  They just kind of perched there for a few minutes and then!  He mounted her and they had sex right before my very eyes!  Wow!  Not that I haven’t seen birds do it before, but never a pair of our hawks!  I felt honored.

Shortly thereafter, two crows landed in that same tree.  They were several branches away from each other. One of them was preening constantly and looking back and forth.  Well, once again, without my camera, I was honored by the crow couple.  Good grief!  What is it about that sycamore tree????  Ha!

Preening crow

Between the deck and the pine grove at the edge of our yard, there is a maple tree.  I glanced up and there was a very brightly colored male purple finch.  He was just a singing.  Just above him in another branch was a female.  She was playing the hard to get game.  He hopped to her branch, she flitted away.  They played that for a while and I was SO sure I was going to be honored again.  Nope, they flew off into the pines.  I guess they may be a bit more modest than the larger birds.

Throughout the day whenever I would step outside, it seemed like all the birds were courting or fussing amongst themselves over a potential mate.  The air was alive with, what?  Lust?  Ha ha

Yep, backyard sex.  That’s what it was.

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Demolition Day

So, as most of you who follow me know, we had a fire last month.  Yesterday was six weeks since it happened.  Finally, tomorrow begins the restoration of our home.  It will begin with the complete demolition of our office, where the fire started.  With blackened walls and ceiling, melted mini blinds, terribly scorched carpet and a nearly destroyed wall, everything has to be removed and replaced.  So, let the demolition begin!

I am so glad this day has finally come.  It had been three and a half weeks ago when the packing and cleanup crew was finished removing everything we own.  We kept our bed and a few kitchen and bathroom items to survive on for however long it was going to take.   With all the estimates, approvals and who knows what all else, that three weeks seems to have taken months.

Once the office is rebuilt, the rest of the house will be finished up.  All the ceilings and walls will be repainted.  The old carpet will be ripped out, the squeaks that the subfloor has developed will be fixed and new carpeting will be installed.  I mean, it will be nice when it is all done; but what a way to get new stuff!  As my hubby puts it, “this is one hell of a way to get spring cleaning done!”

The next step after this will be the return of all our belongings that were hauled off by various different companies: contents, fabrics/clothes, electronics.  Of those items, I am hoping to get the “non-salvageable (NS) items list” so at least I can start looking around for what I need to replace.  I would like to know before everything else returns.  The sad part is that most of the NS items are sentimental.  The doilies and afghans my grandmothers made or the silk flower arrangements my youngest crafted for me.  I can’t really find replacements for those.  -SIGH-

And, then, what to do with all the stuff they do bring back?!  Do I honestly want it all back?  I mean, it’s not like they will keep anything I don’t, but it sure is going to be challenging to decide what I actually want to keep, give away or sell.  After so many years of collecting “stuff”, i really am not all that interested in keeping much.  Of course, i have been telling myself for years that it’s time to go through and get rid of.  Now, I can!

If one could look past all the trauma that this event plopped into our laps, you can see a really huge blessing.  It’s like a chance to start over fresh.  And, I do indeed see all of this just that way.  Father sure does keep me so very well in His Arms.  And, I thank Him so very much for keeping my heart in line with Him.  If not for that, I have no doubt I would be a very whiny baby.  (Cause I do sometimes whine, though not as much as before).

Demolition day!  Yep, brand new start to a new life, free of clutter and dirt.  Ha Ha

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Happy First Day of Spring!

Wow!  The first day of Spring.  I know, some of you may not see any evidence of it just yet.  However, I would love to share with you some pictures I took on a walkabout of my yard just now.  We have around two acres.  It’s shaped like a trapezoid.  If you were standing on the street in front of our house, this is how it lays out.   The front faces East and our road, which ends in a cul-de-sac.  We have five very large Eastern Red Cedars that run across the road front on each side of the driveway.  I would guess they are about 30-40 feet tall?  I am NOT good when it comes to distance or height measurements.  I can measure flour with my eyeball though.  Ha Ha

This winter, the cedars did not have their usual blue berries that the migrating cedar wax wings always drop by to gorge themselves on.  I haven’t studied up on what influences the berry development, but there was nary a one on those or any others in our yard.  Here, as you can see, if you look closely, it looks like the right conditions have generated baby berries beginning to form.

Baby berries starting to form.

Along the north side or to the right from the perspective mentioned above, is a 60-70 foot tall pine grove that sets on about 1/2 acre.  Many birds and squirrels make it either their home or a good place to hangout.  The southern border of the yard, or to the left, is a long row of Photinia that has grown to at least 30 feet, but is dying out for some reason.  See pictures.

Bare branches, little new growth

Healthy new reddish leaves, flower buds forming

Interspersed amongst them are some pines that are of decent height.  At the end of the Photinia row, almost to the southwest corner of our lot is a great big old Oak tree.  I love that tree.

On the western border of the yard, lies a creek that 80-90% of the time flows with some water.  There’s about a three foot drop from where I was standing to the creek itself. It can go from an almost dry creek bed to a rushing torrent that you can hear from some distance whenever we get a huge deluge of rain, especially when a hurricane or its remnants come through.  You can read some of my previous posts by searching for hurricane if you want to hear about any of those adventures.

Looking downstream

The deepest part where sometimes minnows hang out. Lots of frogs

If you were to follow the pine grove on the northern border, at its end, our property zigs to the southwest at about 45 degrees, where it intersects with our creek and western edge.  The rest of our yard is kinda roll-y, not hilly and is probably 1.5 acres.  It is made up of what I call our grassland because of all the different kinds of native grasses and ground plants that grow on it.  There are a lot of adult trees of varying kinds scattered about.

Then in the center of the front eastern chunk sets our house.  Behind it we have a  small shed.  Behind that is our big barn.  And then, with a clear view from the back of the house and to the right rear of the barn is the chicken coop.  I have plenty of pictures of that coop somewhere on this blog and some of my chickens.  Here they are gobbling up some chickweed that I had just thrown in for them.

Eatin chickweed

I have no idea if you can picture what I just described, but you could just draw it out on a piece of paper and get the drift.

Anyway, this morning I traversed our yard (doin’ my walkabout) and observed how Spring has come forward.  I had my phone in my pocket so whatever pictures you see in this post were taken with that.  I am only going to caption them so as not to make this post any longer than it probably will end up being.

So, Happy First Day of Spring.  What a joyful time of year for me!  All this rebirth and feelings of newness and freshness.  What a fine way to experience a foretaste of Glory Divine when Father re-creates this lovely planet into its Original Beauty!

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Getting to know Snakes

A friend of mine offers many a pearl on her blog about doing walkabouts around her home in Canada.  Through her many jaunts she has become familiar with many of the native animals and plants that abound in the wilderness that surrounds her.  Her more recent post discusses the “do’s and dont’s” should you decide to wander your wild areas where you live.  One animal she has seldom encountered is the snake, so to further enhance the joy and challenges of doing your own walkabout, I thought I would talk about snakes in this post.

Now, please don’t cringe, just in case you just did, because for all the horror stories you may have heard about these beautiful (yes, I said beautiful) creatures, they really are nothing to fear if you learn more about them.  Besides being very fascinating, they provide us all a good service by controlling a lot of other creatures that, if left unchecked, would soon cause us all many problems.  Come on!  Do a little reading if you don’t know the value of a snake!

So, let’s say you really want to go out and about in the woods, mountains, fields or desert where you live.  And, you really would prefer to avoid a snake or, at least, the poisonous ones. First off, NEVER go out on a walkabout without the proper attire especially if it is warm out. Most of us will dress for the weather, but on a walkabout, you have to dress for the whatever.   Whatever might bite or scratch or trip or hurt you. Trust me, between the mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks……….

So, wear some boot type shoes and socks with pants tucked into them.  Wear a long sleeved shirt; white helps when it is hot.  Make sure you have some good gloves as well for any just in case moment you might decide you just have to touch something.   And, some sort of headgear that will keep the hot sun, wind, rain or whatever off you and your face, neck,etc.  One other very useful tool is a nice, long and sturdy walking stick.  It is very useful for leaning on while traversing rugged terrain, ditches, and the like.  It is handy for pushing or poking at things so YOU can keep your distance.  Hopefully, not needed as such, it could be a weapon, though at the very most, it could probably only be useful to whack something.  And, you don’t need to go out and buy one!  Just look around outside and you probably can find one just right!  And, if it works out really well, save it for the next time.

The first thing you really should do is to download some pictures of the snakes that are native to your area.   Study them, get to know them.  What colors and designs do they have?  What shape is their head?  Is their body long and thin or thick?  If they have colored bands, which colors are next to which?  Read further and you will learn why that is so important.

Here in our part of North Carolina, the most common venomous snakes are the copperhead and water moccasin.

Copperhead

I have encountered the copperhead more often.  We have a LOT of ponds and creeks and plenty of woods in our neighborhood so these types of snakes are quite common.  Although rattlesnakes are also native to NC, I have never heard of or seen one in this part of the state.

Once you have a decent idea of what they look like, you now know what to look for.  Where not to look is the next thing you might want to ponder.  In most cases, snakes will be in tall grasses, under some old wood logs or leaf piles or a pile of rocks.  So you really don’t want to go moving things around with your hands just in case you get a real surprise!  Use your stick!  On a nice warm and sunny day, you may come across a snake “sunning” itself on a rock.  Some snakes hunt during the day; others at night.  Should you come upon one, just walk away.  They won’t slither after you!  The only time I have ever experienced an aggressive snake was, while during their mating season, a big black snake actually advanced towards me while he was on the back steps to my house.  I came upon him when I opened the door and there that big boy was!  I left him alone and he gradually made his way back into the woods.

One mistake I made in determining whether a snake was venomous (poisonous) or not was the misconception that they all have obvious triangle-shaped heads with jaws that jut out just above the “neck” as opposed to a rounded jaw.  Well, that may be true in almost all cases, but it is not always so obvious.

Eastern Coral Snake

The coral snake is a good example of that. The eastern coral snake is native here in NC.  We also have the scarlet king snake.

Scarlet kingsnake

They both have colored bands in red and black and sometimes yellow or white (in the case of the king snake).  These are two snakes that are often mistaken for one another.  Of course, the old saying, “Red touches yellow, kills a fellow. Red touches black, friend of Jack” helps IF you can remember it!  An easier tip (in North American ones) is that the coral snake will have a black head.  Keep in mind, if you are in Asia or South America, your coral snakes may not fall into these descriptions.  KNOW your area’s snakes!

However, one characteristic is their coloration.  In most cases, a solid colored snake is not poisonous.  But patterns are very common in a lot of non-venomous snakes, such as some varieties of garter, king or rat snakes.

Smooth green snake

Red cornsnake

Striped Garter

 

 

 

 

 

So, back to one of the major points made in this post is to KNOW your local snakes.

Handling even a non-venomous snake is not a good idea.  Unless you have been taught proper techniques, just don’t do it.  Snakes vertebrae are very fragile, especially the ones in the “neck” area.  Also, even though they may be non-venomous, they can still bite you as all snakes have teeth.  On the few occasions when I have been “bitten”,  it still can pack a punch.  So, why was I bitten?

When I was in my twenties, I had a large variety of reptilian pets.  Some of them were snakes, though none were venomous.  Until I learned proper handling techniques, one of them could easily twist its body and sink their teeth into my hand or arm.  I learned quickly the proper way to handle them.  However, I still have been bitten again since then.  Remember: All snakes do not have fangs, but they all have teeth!

Once I no longer had those pets, I continued to interact with snakes in the wild.  Not to play with!  Since my comfort level is good with snakes, many a neighbor has called upon me to “take care of a snake” they found in their yards or barns.  Though harmless, I knew if I didn’t find the snake a new home, far enough away, it would probably end up shot or smooshed.

One horrific experience I had involved my having to kill a black snake.  It was late one evening and I was sitting on my back deck.  It was dark out.  All of a sudden, I heard my chickens raising a commotion.  Since they can’t see at night, I knew something was very wrong.  I grabbed a flashlight and headed back to and into their pen.  There was my rooster (and he was a big one), on the ground with a very large black snake wrapped around him.  I grabbed Mr. Rooster up into my arms.  He was completely immobilized as the snake was seriously wrapped around him.  I slowly uncoiled the snake off of him and, as I did so, the snake started coiling around my arm.  DAMN!  My adrenaline and defense mechanisms were in high gear.  I rushed out of the pen, and ran, snake and all, over to the lit driveway.  As I ran there, i grabbed my hoe.  Much to my dismay afterwards,  i peeled the snake off, stood on his body with my feet and chopped its head off.  So much for the snake.

Believe me, it wasn’t all that quick and easy to do because snakes really do have incredible muscles in their bodies and they can wriggle out of just about anything.  Yes, I really did feel badly about having to kill him.  But, with all that anger and adrenaline coursing through my veins, it’s what i felt i had to do.

Anyway, there you have it.  Certainly this doesn’t cover everything you would ever want to know about snakes.  Most importantly, I do not claim to be anything even resembling an expert, so take anything I said here with a grain of salt.  And, depending on you, it may have piqued your interest or scared you away farther than you were to begin with.  But whichever the case may be, I know my admiration and respect for snakes will continue.

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