Saturday was a beautiful, perfect-cycling-weather kind of day. I was mindlessly pedaling along, smiling peacefully, taking in all the natural serenity surrounding me on one of the first gorgeous days of fall.
Not far up ahead a group was pulled off to the side, looking up into a tree-top. Oh, wow, was I ever glad I made a vow to never cycle without my camera again! I pulled over to join them, and as quietly and quickly as I could, pulled the camera out with record speed. I was so concerned he was going to fly before I could focus, and equally concerned I would send him flying with my movements.
My concerns were unfounded as he was happily enjoying a feast fit for an eagle…no movement of mine or any other new-comers were apt to disturb him from finishing his lunch.
I did get pictures of him eating, but I’ve spared you those, just sharing his post-lunch poses.
We were able to enjoy him for at least five minutes. After he cleaned his beak and looked down at us a few times as if to ask, “Haven’t you guys ever seen an eagle eating before?” he took to the skies, leaving us all with a profound sense of awe and gratitude for the incredible display of nature we had just shared.
Until next time, look up occasionally, you never know what spectacle may be perched above your head!
Life is full of beautiful gifts, and yesterday morning brought that truth to light in a very special way…
It was the birthday of my neighbor across the street, a neighbor I have become very close to in the last several months. It was also her first birthday since the death of her husband in early April. When we walked the day before yesterday she told me “…it’s just another day…” but to me, a birthday is to be celebrated-new life is always a blessing to be celebrated. Knowing it was the first birthday since her husband’s passing, I wanted to make sure I acknowledged it in a special way before she met with her family later to celebrate with them.
In the morning I texted to see if she wanted to take our neighborhood walk, then quickly stuck some breakfast cookies in the oven to take over with a card. Three minutes before the cookies were due to come out of the oven, I got a text from her: ” A Monarch butterfly has just emerged from its chrysalis, come see!” Funny, just the day before I noticed all the milkweed in her garden and meant to ask if she had ever seen the Monarchs hatch.
The cookies couldn’t come out fast enough, as I was sure the newly emerged butterfly would take flight before I could cross the street! As it was, I arrived in plenty of time to see the newly transformed Monarch since it was at least another hour or so from taking flight. My oldest son was off that day so was also able to come enjoy the scene with us, reminding me of the time we watched a newly emerged butterfly take flight when he was young.
As we talked and marvelled at the beauty of nature, I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful gift of new life she had been given on her birthday. She said she had never witnessed a butterfly emerge till that morning… a touching reminder that life does indeed bring renewed joy after pain.
My neighbor sent me off yesterday with Milkweed seedlings to plant in my own yard, and today while gardening I had a little visitor of my own, keeping me company as I worked…
Until next time, may you experience renewed joy and wonder in your life as well.
…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning Psalm 30:5
One of my absolute favorite things to do with my children when they were young was read aloud to them. I collected many nature books, both fiction and non, to teach my sons about the beautiful world around us, and the book What Birds Teach Us by Ashley Hewson is one I truly would love to have had in my collection. The below description of his book is taken from his site:
The author and his wife are both avid ‘recreational birders’ This interest integrated with the author’s family counseling studies, fulfills his desire to encourage and build into the lives of our youth, so that they can make healthy life choices and do life well.
The book is a collection of the author’s observations and photographs from his beautiful country of Australia. I have enjoyed his blog for the past year, so I was looking forward to having a collection of his pictures and words of wisdom in book form. The book surely did not disappoint, and in fact, exceeded my expectations in the amount of content it contained.
It is a collection of very positive words of wisdom and advice based on the traits observed by the author and his wife of the various birds they have watched in the wild. In short, it compares the traits and habits of the various birds to different character traits we humans, both young and old, would be wise to incorporate into our own personal lives. In fact, there are so many more character traits than the ones that would first come to a person’s mind, and that is where it truly exceeded my expectations.
My one son has pointed out to me repeatedly how much he hated Aesop’s Fables as a kid. I read it aloud to he and his brother many times and had no idea of its traumatizing effects…I guess I should have known that turtles smashed on rocks due to their pride may have been a bit too much! I wish I had a book such as this one, to teach those positive character traits, and many more, in a much more gentle way! Not to mention, the photographs are simply beautiful.
I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. It would be a wonderful gift for any child in your life, starting as early as age four or five and upwards. Honestly, there are even a few good reminders for adults as well-my personal favorite is the chapter on creativity. It truly is a gift that will keep on giving!!
When I look back on my childhood, there is one movie that will always stick out in my mind as a favorite….Bambi! Somehow I think I’m not alone in that sentiment.
Lately in our neighborhood I believe we could film our own version of Bamb in real-life form. The below picure is one I took after our growling cat (I used to think only dogs growled) alerted me to something just outside the window on a recent morning…
I was able to shoot a few more pictures before it ran off to the more heavily wooded area. All the pictures in this post, with the exception of one, are shot through the window and some at a distance, so they won’t always be the clearest.
A few mornings later my husband and I were enjoying coffee on the porch when we spotted our early visitor…
After I greeted her with a “good morning,” she took off. Apparently she likes eating our flowers in solitude, or maybe her guilty concious got the best of her. Either way, we would have enjoyed having her company a little longer.
Our flowers were not the only ones the deer enjoyed as evidenced when I peered across the street to my neighbor’s yard. In the above picture, the smorgasboard had just begun. They casually made their way all across her lawn, munching as they went. Knowing she doesn’t bother to shoo them away anymore than we do, I captured all the pictures I could to share with her later. She had told me previously that she has counted up to eight at one time in her back yard at dusk and is captivated by their visits as much as we are.
Who needs flowers anyway!?!
When driving by another neighbors late one afternoon we stopped to talk to him and he pointed out his visitors to us-what I have come to call the elusive twin fawns:
The picture is the best I could get with only a cellphone, and though I have walked back several more times to try to capture them with a real camera, they have unfortunately proven to be camera-shy. We saw them a few more times when driving by, but my neighbor has informed me that they haven’t been around for the last several days. In his words “they have eaten all the flowers we had, so they took off.” Neither he nor any of our neighbors seem to care that their flowers have been digested by Bambi and friends, and that is one of the reasons I love living here!
I end this post with what is still my favorite picture of our neighborhood deer…
She was just casually strolling along for her morning walk like the rest of the neighbors when my sweet Princess alerted me to her.
I hope you have enjoyed my version of Bambi, Until next time!
Well, I certainly never thought I would do a part two on a blog post having to do with weeds, but here goes! This post has to do with my statement about my intense dislike of Round-Up, and I have been asked to explain why I hold that opinion by fellow blogger Michelle at one of my favorite blogs, https://rabbitpatchdiary.com. I’ll add some pretty pictures to hopefully charm it up a bit!
The material out there is vast, but I will do my best to sum it up in as brief a post as possible. I will post links at the end of this post so you can do your own follow-up studies and draw your own conclusions. Hopefully for the sake of the environment and ultimately your health and those you love, you will reach the same conculusion as I have come to, and look for alternative methods to control weeds. When I am not pulling, this recipe is a simple one to use and it works!
One of my main sources for health news is Dr. Mercola, and I have read many articles relating to the dangers of Round-Up on his website alone. I will use other sources for this post, however, to give a broader analysis of the topic. According to the Dr. Mercola article, Monsanto is Inside Everything. this so called crop-saver is showing up in urine samples, breast-milk, blood samples, water supplies, and in the very air we breathe.
A study reported by The Detox Project reported that glyphosate, the active main ingredient in Round-Up, was found in women’s breast milk at 760-1600 times higher than the level allowed by the EU in drinking water. So the purest form of food for the tiniest among us is now contaminated by man-made killer chemicals! Further studies showed glyphosate crosses the placental barrier with 15% reaching the fetal compartment.
To quote Angelika Hilbeck, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich:
This is reckless and irresponsible conduct in a democratic society, which still has a living memory of previous reckless chemical contaminations, such as DDT.”
Blood samples and urine samples in Canadian and US women respectively were found to be at maximum levels for urine and levels similar to the concentration found to have endocrine-disrupting effects in vitro in the blood samples.
While on the topic of embryonic health, the inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, in Round-Up was actually found to be more deadly than the active ingredient, glyphosate, according to the article in the Scientific American Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells. In this article, evidence is shown that just because an ingredient is listed as inert-Federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert,”-doesn’t mean they aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless. “This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen.“Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens.
So what if you don’t use Round-Up… why should you care…doesn’t it simply disappear after it kills the weeds, isn’t it “biodegradable” like we are told in most places that sell it.
In 2009, a French court found Monsanto guilty of lying; falsely advertising its Roundup herbicide as “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly” and claiming it “left the soil clean.”
So what exactly is Round-up ready and GMO crops? Simply put, they are crops from seeds altered to withstand the effects of Round-up while the weeds around them die. It is argued that GMO crops increase food supply thereby helping to curb world hunger. There is no evidence to prove that this is the case according to the New Soil Association in 2008. In fact not only does it not increase yield, it leads to terminator seeds-seeds that are grown for a second generation that are sterile…leading to just the opposite of increased yield. In addition to less yield, GMO corn is shown to have 18 times the safe level of glyphosate set by the EPA…I would argue there is no safe level, period. About 75 percent of the food available at the grocery store contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), grown from Roundup Ready crops, in particular alfalfa, corn and soy. (https://draxe.com/monsanto-roundup/)
To help yourself and your family, look for organics and foods labeled non-GM0 whenever possible; shop at local organic farm markets if available and if you eat meat buy only organic, 100% grass-fed or non-gmo food fed animals, ideally from a local farmer you can get to know; on-line sites such as Vita-cost sells organic non-perishables, and they offer great sales from time to time. Shop around, your health is worth it! A list of the top pesticide ridden foods and ones you can get by with not being organic can be found here: http://borntogrow.net/dangerous-pesticide-ridden-foods/ Also, soaking veggies and fruit in baking soda for 15 minutes can remove some of the pesticides, depending on the food, but even that labeled organic should be soaked.
So what are some of the other affects on our health from this ignorantly loved chemical…autism, breast cancer, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and diseases, inflammatory bowel conditions, obesity, cardiovascular disease, infertility, ALS, multiple sclerosis, infertility, allergies, cancer and much more…
A very interesting chart, one that would be very hard to argue with, shows the instances of autism rates with the rise of glyphosate usage, please use the following link to see the astonishing chart as well as watch a very informative interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), revealing how glyphosate wrecks havoc on human health.
I am going to stop here, but trust me, this only scratches the surface! There is so much more that can be said and explained, but this post is very long as is!! And please note, though this post is about Round-Up, pesticide use in general should be thoroughly looked into. Please see the links below, and especially read ways to avoid consuming this chemical, and many others, even if you are against using as I am. I may add a third post for nutritional ways to combat toxins and another on the beauty and nutrition of certain weeds, inspired by Barry.
I will say in closing, it is a shame that those of us who try to protect the earth we have been entrusted to take care of are sometimes dismissed as hippies, crazies or over-zealous earth-worshippers. I don’t worship the earth, though my “About” picture certainly portrays me as a tree-hugger 😉 I do, however, worship the God who gave me this beautiful place to live and I believe as a Christian I am responsible even more to show gratitude for what He made and gave as a gift…this incredible creation, including ourselves, that we are to treasure and take care of.
Until next time, please let’s all do our part…the adorable subjects in the pictures, and those in the future will be glad you did!
Yes, that’s right, weeds, and let me tell you, there was a whole lotta love happening in my front garden today!
This has been the rainiest summer I can ever remember in my lifetime. And when it was not raining of late, the temps soared to the ninetys, when rain was once again a welcome relief. Given that combination of weather, other things of more importance to be done, throw in an out-of-town trip on top, and my weeds absolutely thrived!
Now, I am surrounded for the most part by neighbors with pristine yards who have an ongoing love affair with Round-Up. I could spend a whole post on my hatred of that substance, but since this is a blog focused on “beauty” I’ll forgo that soap-box. On the other side of that scenario, when weeds are pulled by hand, there are those occasions when you are that neighbor.
Since I really don’t want to be that neighbor, and usually I am not, I apologized before taking off on my trip to my fellow outdoor enthusiast across the street and assured her things would be restored to normal when I returned. Since she and I have a shared love of gardening and spent many hours chatting across the street as we happily sweat and battled the weeds, she had no cause for concern.
The first few days back I had other things to catch up on, so I pulled a Scarlet O’Hara and chanted “tomorrow,” but, today was the day! As I contemplated the task ahead of me, I assure you I was not at all looking forward to it. After a quick walk down the street in search of the elusive twin fawns, I donned gardening gloves and hat and headed toward my foes. Or were they?
I had not been pulling for more than a few minutes when the thought occurred to me that this was not at all the horror I expected, and I quickly became thankful for the time of quiet contemplation. Usually alone-time in the morning with a cup of coffee is all that’s needed to start my day, but this day I needed some activity along with my quiet, and my weeds proved to be just the thing. I know they are considered a cursed nuisance to the garden, but on this morning as I pulled…I prayed, Bible verses came to mind, and I remembered the Creator always has the best answers…sometimes shown through a good patch of weeds!
Until next time, wishing you your own patch of weeds, if needed!
Over the past few months one bird has appeared very prominent in our backyard…the rascally bluejay. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the peanuts I put out to lure him in or the sunflower seeds placed strategically about. Whatever the reason, I’m glad he and his many cohorts are decorating the scenery with their beauty and are affording me many pictures of their antics.
I decided the blue beauty was worthy of his own post and looked through the many pictures I have of him to pair up with the following poem by Emily Dickinson. I hope you enjoy!
The Blue Jay – Poem by Emily Dickinson
No brigadier throughout the year
So civic as the jay.
A neighbor and a warrior too,
With shrill felicity
Pursuing winds that censure us
A February day,
The brother of the universe
Was never blown away.
The snow and he are intimate;
I’ve often seen them play
When heaven looked upon us all
With such severity,
I felt apology were due
To an insulted sky,
Whose pompous frown was nutriment
To their temerity.
The pillow of this daring head
Is pungent evergreens;
His larder — terse and militant —
Unknown, refreshing things;
His character a tonic,
His future a dispute;
Unfair an immortality
That leaves this neighbor out.
– Emily Dickinson
Until next time, if a jay’s in your corner of the world, buy some peanuts to welcome in this fun neighbor!
So, this week I officially enter a new phase of parenting…my youngest is now an adult, gasp, where did those years go??!!
I always said I could have bought a second home in the islands if I had a dime for every time I took my kids to the grocery store and an older mom said to me…”enjoy these days, they go by quicker than you know.” They would always look at my kids with longing smiles and eyes seeing long-ago made memories brought fresh to the surface at the sight of my little ones-and now, I am that mom.
Yes, I am guilty of saying that exact same thing to moms I see with little ones in tow. And as I’m saying it, I’m thinking to myself, when did I become that mom, the older one, with kids no longer with me as I shop or run errands. Yes, it does indeed go by more quickly than we could ever even begin to imagine.
With each stage of their lives comes a new set of joys and concerns….the joys hopefully outweighing the concerns.
I taught pre-school before staying home with my own children, and I have to admit, it was the irony little, rascally boys that always brought a smile to my face. When the other teachers were wringing their hands and shaking their heads, I was laughing just a little on the inside at their harmless, mischievous little antics, totally oblivious to what my future held. Oh yeah.
Be careful what you wish for it’s often said, and before long I had my own little rascally boys, and oh what a ride it has been! I am convinced, though, that God needs fun-loving mischievous little boys in the earth as well as proper little chaps, and He seemed to know just the mom to give them to!
This belief was challenged just a bit when high school rolled around and I was convinced the school office had my cell number on speed-dial. I’m sure my hair color consumption tripled as the gray hairs seemed to increase exponentially during these years.
But now here were are, four months from having high-school behind us as well, and like the other stages of their lives, I’m sure it too will go by in a blink. I will greatly miss sharing an afternoon cup of coffee with my younger son as he relates the tales of his school day, and the tears of laughter I shed as he impersonates some very colorful characters. Yes, for all the gray, I’m sure the laughter he inspires has added years to my life.
So to my youngest son, happy 18th birthday “little buddy.” The joy, love, and laughter you have brought to my life and others far exceed what I could put into words. Follow those big dreams, climb those seemingly impossible mountains, use all those talents God blessed you with to enrich the lives of others, and always, always carry a bit of that playful, fun-loving little boy with you, as time keeps marching on.
Those were the words that awakened me from my sound, cozy, oblivious to the -1 degree temperatures outside at 2 a.m. sleep. “What? Are you sure?” Yes, he was sure…and he was, unfortunately, right.
A little back-story on Gabby…
She showed up one hot, summer day at our old home about 6 years ago, emaciated and timid, lurking in a row of trees behind our above-ground pool. My older son was the first to spot her so he named her Gabby. Now, I know the rule about not feeding strays, but I just can’t look at an innocent animal, half-starved, and not offer them a bite to eat. Not sure of her temperament, we put the food down and stayed at a bit of a distance, though we soon found out, that was how she was going to keep us anyhow.
We continued putting food out for Gabby, and she continued to keep her distance. I noticed she would follow me, however, whenever I would go into a certain area of the yard and soon found out why. I was taking care of our pet chickens one afternoon when I felt eyes on me. Amazing how we can sense that, anyhow, I looked up and saw two pairs of the most adorable blue eyes staring back at me through the bushes to my left. Gabby was a mom!
And, what a devoted mom she was! I was ever so glad I ignored the well-intentioned advice to not feed a stray, and she immediately gained my “mom” respect for taking such good care of her kittens even in her half-starved state. As time went on, I continued to feed Gabby, and her kittens, now weaned, would come out to eat as well. Only one of the three would allow me to pet her, and she quickly became my favorite. She was so pretty we named her “Pretty Kitty” and her sister, the shy, feisty one, we named “Bittie.”
Fast forward many months… my precious “Pretty” sadly died and my sweet dog, Princess, was now an accomplice to murder. Gabby was just allowing me to barely touch her, and Bittie, a.k.a. “Miss Pris” or “Fussikins” was slowly warming up. I tried to find homes for the remaining two, as I am more accustomed to dogs, but quickly found out that cats are very hard to find homes for. I got them both neutered, up on their shots, and added them to our menagerie of two dogs, seven chickens, and one rabbit, oh my.
Bittie soon showed she had no street smarts, literally, so was held captive inside for her own good.
She has adjusted quite well…
Gabby would have none of it, so has remained an outside cat to this day.
She earned the nickname “Gladiator Gabby” after we moved into our present home. We have a circular stone area below our back porch, and Gabby soon took to bringing her found objects of prey into the “ring” where she commenced to perform her gladiator show. I and my sons have rescued what we could by a quick knock on the window, and I have to admit, I have secretly cheered as well when a battered mouse or mole escaped her clutches.
Though she is now trusting of us and sweet, her love of hunting and the feeling of freedom has kept her from wanting to ever be confined to a house. Last night, however, I gave her no choice. With temperatures predicted to dip to below zero, I lured her in, untrusting that even her heat lamp could keep her warm in that cold.
I have to wonder if those in the mid-west, or northern states laugh at our reactions to these temperatures and snow. It reminds me of a Texan friend I had while attending college in Missouri, where it snowed in November and the ground remained white until April. On our first snowfall as freshman, we, that is those of us not accustomed to such snow amounts, were sure that all college classes would be cancelled. Not so. Leaving the dorm, my Texas friend fussed and fumed as we carefully picked our steps down the sidewalk to our classes. This was not until after she had called her mother, reporting the un-Godly conditions, that she, her daughter, was forced to face. I’m not sure if she thought her mother could call the college and convince them to cancel classes or if she was just so overwrought she needed to vent…either way, we were soon on our way to face the elements. Now please don’t be offended if you’re from Texas. I love the grit and spunk of Texans, but my dear friend just happened to have a strong sense of fashion, and heels, not snow-shoes (though she didn’t own a pair, thus the dilemma) were more her style.
But, back to Gabby and her 2 a.m. escape. She was put into a large, portable fenced area with a cozy blanket, food, water, litter-box, and a cloth covering to surely keep her from thoughts of escaping to wander the house. She has, in the past, “claimed” a piece of furniture in a way that neither I nor the furniture appreciated, thus the enclosure. Unfortunately, the fence was no obstacle for Gabby, and in the wee hours of the morning she was off to find another couch.
After coaxing her back into her enclosure, my son and I were quite the early-morning team of “walking” the fence to the nearest bathroom, with Gabby following along inside. Despite her howls of protests, and a few more escapes, she, and I, eventually fell back into sleep. I, dreaming of warmer days, and she, I’m sure, of future outdoor adventures.
Today I woke to -4 degree windchill, but it warmed up to a big °15 by 2:00. School is cancelled for a third day tomorrow, and I’m off to get a much needed 2nd cup of coffee. Gabby got her way and made it out today to play in the snow and has refused all invitations to come back inside, sigh. She is a gladiator afterall.