birdies

My brother plays golf. He and our mom hit the links every chance since he could walk. I never caught the bug so was not as close to Mom as my brother because she lived to play.

My birdies are the kind with feathers.

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Last spring I put a bluebird box. The backyard is not very big, so a lot of interest in the box but no residents. Rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I spend a lot of time outside. I garden, terrier mix Lulu checks the perimeter, husky mix Lily suns herself or eats small lizards.

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This year we have a family. Barely audible baby cheeps are coming from the box. Conveniently there is a feeder of mealworms a mere few feet away. Lily and Lulu aren’t remotely interested in birds. Good thing. My dad had a setter bird dog that once ate a baby mockingbird. For the rest of her life she was kami-kazied every time she left the back porch.

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These beautiful creatures should have a lot to worry about— wind, rain, mites, ants, snakes, protecting their babies, food. But they don’t. They live in most areas where they are found year-round. And each year they find a home and raise their families. Their only brooding is with family-raising.

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And they sing. They sing with all their heart. It’s a pure, chaotic little song that has a random tune.

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If they aren’t happy someone should tell them they make others happy.

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aMusings

I began this blog around 6 or 7 years ago. Back then I idyllically imagined I would use this as a platform for epiphany, revelation or eloquent personal disclosure. Funny maybe, having some depth, but hoping to not become a forum for aging, malady or complaining (whining).

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Maybe leave a trail of insight or hope, or just encouraging words.

There are bumps in everybody’s road. Forks on the pathways. Brick walls. Cliffs. Mountains. Brambles. Woods. Wild animals. Hurdles. Chasms. Insurmountables and unfathomables.

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And then there’s root canals.

I have never liked dental appointments. So moving to a new place too far from a dentist I had come to trust I had to start over again. For someone with serious trust issues in general it isn’t easy. They tell me what needs work. I make an appointment and soon after I cancel it. I am an adult, this is silly.

So when the dentist said he had to send me to an endodontist my brain shut down. I made the appointment and did not cancel it. I went to the appointment. Exactly one hour later, the lower left half of my face in paralysis  they had finished. The most painful part was paying for it.

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The day after an arctic freeze arrived after torrential rains. Thankful rescue dogs Lily and Lulu woke me early to go out or I’d have missed the 5 minutes of snow flurries. The rest of the day was icy cold with brutally cutting winds making walkies a near impossibility.

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But beyond conquering dental fears, bitter cold, I think the hardest thing I faced this week was a cryptic phone call from my son. I have mentioned in posts that his girlfriend does not care for me (it’s the only conclusion I came to based on monosyllabic responses, or no response at all). This incrementally alters the relationship with my son each time I encounter them. They have been together about 10 years, living together for 7. I realize it is expected that children grow up, leave home and begin lives of their own. This exclusion though was hard to accept at first. It does not get easier, but I get better at dealing with it. I cannot say whether this arrangement he lives with is right or wrong, but I am sorry I am not a part of it. To say it’s worse than having a root canal, well, it’s an analogy I did not think I’d ever make.

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rejoice!

Stress, worry, anxiety is like exercise for the brain, adrenal glands, sweat glands except it isn’t very healthy. But we are told to rejoice, no matter what. We are told to be grateful even when there doesn’t seem to be anything to give thanks for.

It sounds perverse but it is the pathway to peace. Sanity.

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Rescue dog Lily did fine in her surgery. She thanks everyone for thoughts and prayers.  She is textbook recovery dog. Not licking sutures, allowing for physical therapy, ice compresses, hot compresses no whining or objection. Once again a hind leg is completely naked from top of the hip to her ankle, but it’s summer! So even though I have never shaved her hair in hot months now she has her own partial cooling system.

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She rests quietly. She tries, when I ‘carry’ her in her walker sling, to drag me over to the garage. This is to let me know that surgery or no surgery she is ready to get in the car and go to the park or the river or anywhere and start taking her walkies again.

Well, not quite, Baby Girl. We have a ways to go yet. She will get her stitches out in a couple of weeks. Then her walkies can go from 5 minutes to 10. A month or so after that her surgeon will look at her and decide how much more she will be able to do.

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But right now, pain or no pain, she wants to be free. She wants to have her walks and chase little anole lizards and toadies. She is not at all happy having restrictions of any kind.

She is a very good girl. She is obedient and knows her commands and likes to do what makes me happy. But this? This even though she just went through it with her other leg, she is not too patient with.

It will get better.

Sooner than she thinks.

Rejoice!

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a compendium

Since rescue dog Lily’s surgery in early January progress has seemed very slow. She was not permitted to use her leg for about 6 weeks after, then very limited. She was not allowed to go for her beloved car rides so life became uncomplicated, and rather boring.

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This week we have ventured out more. The azaleas are just coming into bloom which is really good because the famous Azalea Festival is this weekend, complete with the Azalea queen and her court of azalea belles (I’m not kidding), hoop skirts, Citadel cadet escorts and all. The parade was this morning and though we were completely awash with rain yesterday it held off today, just cloudy and very humid.IMG_0928.JPG

The fanatic dog was out in full force, with intrepid rescue dog Lulu eager to meet his challenges. Fortunately he did not get over his fence this time, either.

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All the rain has left many swampy puddles and try as I might I can’t keep Lily and Lulu out of them, nor can I convince them it isn’t real drinking water.

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The crazed wisteria vine must cover about half an acre and it is in full bloom. The fragrance is heady.

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Wild blueberries are in bloom! I miss them every year, the birds are way faster than I. Maybe I will get a sample this year.

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For years I have heard that the new growth on pine trees begins a few weeks before the Sunday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. As it gets closer they begin to resemble crosses just before. Here is a small native loblolly pine which I will try to watch and see.

Anyway, a relatively uneventful week, but progress.

Onward and upward.

 

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how much wood….

So Groundhog Day. That little rhyme most kids learn, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

Makes utterly no sense which is likely why it has survived generations and is so easily memorized.

Evidently this tradition really did begin in Pennsylvania, and the German settlers brought it with them. I doubt they brought their own groundhog since they are indigenous here.

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They are actually very cute and resemble prairie dogs to me, so I looked them up. They are all in the same family commonly known as ground squirrels which includes these two species as well as squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots. When I lived in New Mexico I actually saw a prairie dog colony in a nearby nature park. They are much smaller and thinner than groundhogs and very curious. When I lived in Tennessee there were groundhogs in the yard and they burrow a lot like giant moles. Kind of annoying especially if you’re trying to have a vegetable garden but we worked it out.

So apparently the famous groundhog in Punxsatawney did not see his shadow which folklore dictates indicates an early spring.

I doubt that.

Every year I buy a Farmer’s Almanac, the longest-published periodical in America. Not so much for the weather predictions because, well as close as their top-secret prediction formula comes in accuracy each year nobody can really predict weather.

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Or much of anything. But this little book has really interesting stories, odd-ball history and not so odd history about America and other places, recipes, gardening tips, birding tips… all kinds of stuff.

Interesting to note that Canada observes Groundhog Day. They celebrate it in Wiarton, Ontario. Coincidentally February 2 is also Candlemas Day, Jesus’ first visit to the Temple. The day Simeon had long waited and in his song commemorates it–

“Lord bid Your servant go in peace, Your word is now fulfilled. These eyes have seen salvation’s dawn, this Child so long foretold…” also known as Nunc Dimittis, paraphrased for hymnals by James J. Quinn, S.J.

What faith! Since a young man Simeon had waited, daily in the Temple for the Christ child. And he never wavered in his faith. What joy his simple faith gave him, knowing God is always faithful and true in His promises.

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holiday

The etymology of this word has it derived from holy days. But we call many days holidays, and ironically have made this word the politically correct word for many religious days– Hanukkah, Christmas, Easter, Passover, to name a few.

But isn’t the whole point of being politically correct turning everything to cardboard? Not even vanilla ice cream, just flavorless, meaningless days. So we don’t offend anyone, right?

Well, maybe, but no.

A smile can be holy. Anything that moves the heart is holy. So visiting family and friends for a (secular) celebration like Thanksgiving is for me most holy. A reunion, a communion, reconnecting on so many levels. Opportunities to laugh, express concern, to share thoughts, hearts, gifts, walks, the same space.

IMG_0742.JPG  I visited my brother this year for Thanksgiving. He honors me, though he does not maybe know it, when he asks me to accompany him to his office while he works and I read a book. Occasionally he or I share a thought or observation but the space is sacred somehow. And he and his family and I shared dinner together, and his daughter is learning to drive and she wanted me to accompany them on a drive (not harrowing!). And my sister-in-law had car trouble and allowed me to accompany her to the car shop which allowed the two of us a rare few minutes to share a sacred space and time.

I guess I am older enough and have lost enough to realize how sacred our human connections are. The accepting, sharing, forgiving, laughing, understanding, opportunities to grow more dimensions. Funny how for so long people can be so taken for granted until you listen below the surface of what you hear, and see through the lining to the heart.

IMG_0745.JPGSomehow, even if the connections don’t bond strongly there is a cord that holds everything together and more opportunities come around again.

Every encounter is a grand opportunity to give cheer, hope, encouragement. To appreciate someone for something they may not realize others do see.

Hope. It does spring eternal.

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“Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blest. The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home, rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

― Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”   ICorinthians 13:4-13 NIV

letters

I love writing letters. Nobody does anymore though, because of email, cell phones. I have two or three friends who write but infrequently. My letters are not erudite or profound. I love receiving letters and answer by return mail.

I admire authors who write entirely through letters. Introspective, expressive words on paper. I am basically socially inept and do better if I write my thoughts. What I put on paper makes more sense than anything I say. I have no idea why it is easier to organize thoughts that way rather than verbally or why I find it easier.

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I love writing paper, note cards. I have way more than I will likely ever use and I keep buying it. Maybe I can decorate the walls with it. Like those old fashioned roses that used to clutter old wallpaper. When I was growing up we lived in an old drafty farmhouse with 12-foot ceilings, my room was covered from floor to ceiling with these roses. My mother, trying desperately to change me from a lonely tomboy to make me a frilly little girl bought me a little pink wastebasket with dancing white poodles painted on it sparkling with rhinestones. She had my room painted a soft pink and adorned the 6-foot tall windows with filmy sheer curtain panels. I truly missed those roses.

Ironic that I love writing letters now. As a child I was terrible at writing thank-you notes. My godmother taught me a very important lesson about gratitude. She had sent me a pretty scarab bracelet for my birthday and I th.jpgpromised my mother I would write her promptly. I did not and soon after I received a note from her. She said as I had not taken the trouble to thank her for her gift either I had not liked it or was simply ungrateful. Lesson learned. It is always important to let someone know that I appreciate their thoughtfulness.

I never received another gift from my godmother.

Things are way more casual now. Even my family only occasionally acknowledge receipt of gifts so I not only do not know that they received it, I have no idea if they liked it. It’s tempting to take the page from Aunt Adelaide’s book and write a shaken finger letter but I keep thinking how times have changed. It’s rare to find gratitude anywhere, or humility. I suppose expecting to see that is old-fashioned, or too demanding, or takes the fun out of giving gifts (and now there’s re-gifting!).

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When did it become uncool to be grateful? Is it the sense of entitlement so many have adopted either from a fear of losing whatever standard of living they have become accustomed to, or because so much is available to so many for so little? And we assume it will always be like this?

I don’t have any answers. Maybe I’m not really looking for answers. It is sad though. When people are grateful there is a sense of appreciation not just for the gift but for the thoughts of the giver. And a sense of joy about the recipient.

I still like to give presents. I can’t help it. I do know without doubt rescue dogs Lily and Lulu are always happily surprised to find an unexpected treat or toy.

And so grateful.

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favorite quotes: Day 2 of 3

3-day Quote Challenge, continued

“To thine own self be true….. ”      –Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3: William Shakespeare

I don’t think there is much of anything more basic than this. I know my growing-up years were complete turbulence. I was the first-born of 3, the screw-up, not a mistake so much as mistake-maker. I learned everything the hard way. Sometimes those lessons took more than one pass. Eventually I learned in order to not keep everybody mad I could do and say funny stuff. Make them laugh, usually at me. This worked as long as I didn’t look too hard on the inside. Because people pleasers sometimes make others happy, or avert the argument or throw the barbs off. But even if we do, our lives, while doing all this performing are so hollow inside.

So this was my truth for years. My valley of darkness. It became such a conditioned activity I had no idea that it was within my power to stop. But just like Dorothy I had the power all along.

Just stop. I didn’t even need those ruby slippers to get back “home”.

It made a lot of people angry. I was called all sorts of horrid things– cold, selfish, thoughtless. And those words hurt. But then I remembered they were as much talking about themselves as they were about me.

It took practice. My valley of darkness became a valley of decision…. up until then I did my best at second-guessing, perceiving feelings, fortune-telling outcomes. I doubted, restructured, doubted again.
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Basically unanchored, so other-focused I had no perspective of my own.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6 NKJV)

And here I began to find my real truth. For someone who’d become so strong-willed, independent, self-reliant it took a long time and many losses. A marriage ended, parents passed away, yet one Constant helped me, each day, each moment become stronger,th.jpg more discerning, more faithful. He has never disappointed me. He always hears  my prayers. He has proven Himself true over and over. And I know without doubt that He is the only way, truth, life. (John 14:6)

I am nowhere close to finished. But without losing compassion, empathy or kindness my perspective has strengthened and become more realistic, more self-controlled. I take more time to listen. Life is less frenetic. Yes, I am much older now but wisdom is far more valuable.And thankfully more available. Or at least wisdom’s voice is clearer.

 

surprised by grace

Joyous Easter

  he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
    from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
    from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)

 

absolute horror, hatred           unimaginable beauty, love
defeat, shame           humility, victory
despair, darkness           brilliant light, hope

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

He nourishes
He strengthens
He guides
He heals
He loves
He is risen
He is alive

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Expectations

The past couple of weeks I was seduced. The temperatures reached all-time highs. We have had a hard winter (well, for here) and I wanted to believe it was finally, completely over. I expected the warm to stay.

The sun is out, the sky is as clear blue as I have ever seen but the wind is gusting over 30 miles an hour and it is cold. Well, for here it’s cold. 50 is cold after 70s and 80s. And 30s overnight. I expected full-on Spring.

I knew it was still February. I know the saying, “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb”, and it will. It always does. But somehow this year I was fooled into believing the cold was gone and this would be different.

Expectations. When what I want is so much stronger than what reason tells me. When all I believe and hope does not materialize because I didn’t consider all the factors. And sometimes there are factors in my limited experience I don’t know even exist to consider.

So I pray.

There are things I know that I pray for that are just not likely to happen. But they could. It is my way of being dependent on God. Having lived most of my life learning on my own, being resourceful seldom asking for help. Learning to get by with less than most because it was all there was and being happy with it. That was success for me, many times. And my dependence on God is really all I have. Everything else is a gift for which I am grateful but I cannot claim fully as mine. And if nothing else my prayer, if it does not change circumstances right away, changes me. It gives me peace.

My dad used to ask, “Why do you limit yourself?” Funny question. Experience stretches limitations, mistakes refine experience and grace allows others to share the success. So if I limit myself it certainly is unintentional. Who likes being in a rut? Or never growing or changing? So dreams, goals, expectations are visions of better. I use frustration to the same end. Something frustrates I find ways to change it or me so I don’t have frustration again. Not there, anyway.

Fear limits a dream. It’s not possible to achieve in fear. Caution is different. Fear paralyzes. And praying breaks the barrier of fear to where I know I can trust. It helps me know what is limiting me. It shines a light so I can see the fear or the unknown or the question that hasn’t been asked. It puts my dream into the hands of God who knows what’s best for me and when I should have it, or not have it at all. Choices. Opportunities.

If I do not expect anything I am not disappointed. Yet nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Or something like that.

Picture0303181417_1.jpg             Sasanqua camellia

So go! Trust! Try and try again.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds  in Christ Jesus. Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”    Philippians 4:6-8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

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