ramblings

A park in a city where  I used to live had such a Canada goose problem they hired border collies to get them to fly away. They usually came back the next day, so it took many tries before the geese got too discouraged to bother going back. Recently I rode my bike to the library to get some books and saw a flock of these geese milling around, with a librarian gently shooing them away.

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The point was, she said, to get them off the sidewalk. There are these sheet metal dog-shaped statues in the grass there that swivel and are supposed to frighten off the geese. But as you can see the geese ignore it.

I walk almost every day. Usually for an hour or more, now that the weather has (likely temporarily) cooled some. I don’t take rescue dogs Lily and Lulu now. Lily is still building her strength after her surgery and Lulu just doesn’t like to walk that far.   And generally not without her pal, Lily. So occasionally a neighbor sees me and asks after Lily. I am running out of things to say. No, she isn’t up to walking far, yet. Yes, she seems to be doing some better. But this recovery is incremental. So I am often surprised when I have this very conversation with a neighbor and just a few days later they are so surprised to see me without a dog. These are not particularly elderly people (which is relative, based on my own age. To a 20-year-old they’d be ancient.), so I wonder do they forget? Not hear me? Do I say it in such a way as to indicate recovery is imminent? So I explain, again.

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I have a tiny backyard. Maybe 40 feet by 20 feet. I over planted. Three fig trees, a hedge of lemon grass that’s hard to get around, an elderberry that is very happy where it is. There are many plants that I like but I have to be practical. Even though they do well it makes no sense to have them choking each other out. When they begin to die back I’ll move some, though I have no idea where.

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Same with house plants. This climate is almost tropical in summer so house plants and orchids love being outside. But some do so well they outgrow their pots and by end of summer I have to divide them into more plants. Philodendron and aloes are most, then Christmas cactus and arrowhead plants. These I divided into so many smaller plants I finally consolidated them into bigger pots.

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But somehow when it truly does get colder (for about 3 months) I have to find places for all of these plants inside the house. Which means spraying them for bugs and not overwatering or drying them out.

After hurricane season.

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preparation

Before Dorian blew by nobody knew what it would be like. We watched horrified as it sat over the Bahamas with high screaming winds and drowning storm surge and rain. We saw it cruelly inch away from the little archipelago toward the east coast. Until it had passed the North Carolina shores it took its sweet time moving by. I don’t think I have ever been through a storm during the daytime. They come at night when sounds are amplified by the dark.

A few days before we began preparing for it– brought bird feeders in, overturned bird baths, moved furniture, I noticed the milkweed had almost been eaten to nubs, even managed to get a picture of the monarch caterpillars I have so eagerly awaited.

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I have watched swallowtail caterpillars gorge on fennel almost all summer, and there were one or two still munching away

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But only more recently did I notice the Gulf fritillaries. I have planted passionflowers year after year and had no luck. They just would not grow. So a neighbor who was moving offered a trellis which I gratefully accepted and planted what I decided would be my last attempt at the maypop. It grew and attracted its companion caterpillar

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So I wondered, did these survive and move on to make their cocoons?

There are still a few butterflies even though it is late in the year for them to be laying eggs. A fritillary (not my picture)

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And swallowtail

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and monarch

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An angel trumpet, late bloomer since I only planted it end of June

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And an interesting moth discovered under the headboard on the backyard fence, I don’t know what kind it is

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So except for a couple more roof shingles, and Lily having to go outside once in the wind and rain most were fortunate the storm stayed largely off shore.

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focus

Husky-mix rescue dog Lily’s new injury has once again caused us to slow down. Our routine has changed. Not frustrating, rather a good thing. We notice things otherwise overlooked

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Even Lulu has helped me see things, a butterfly visiting

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Walking Lily in the yard I noticed a plant I’d bought a few years ago, planted and forgotten. Since I never saw it grow the logical conclusion was it had been dead when I planted it, not dormant. But it wasn’t

IMG_0031.JPGChinese Lantern

The past few mornings have been almost comfortable, at least 10 decrees cooler than normal so I’ve taken advantage of the welcome change and begun pruning some of the overgrowth. I was greeted by this little one

IMG_0030.JPGPraying Mantis

Early evening I realized I’d almost missed this surprise bloom. Several buds had dropped from the plant but not this one

IMG_0033.JPGPinot Noir Hibiscus

The humidity and showers from a tropical wave offshore have brought these guys out, but mostly heard, seldom seen

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An evening stroll with Lily around the backyard last night we found this little surprise

IMG_0044.JPGOncidium orchid

So In focusing not on the forest so many individual things of beauty, joys forever.

 

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test flight

One of my past lives was as a librarian. I enjoyed this work because I helped people chase their dreams, start small businesses, children learn the joy of reading, way more than telling people to “Shhhh” or sternly with thin lips accuse them of the desperate owing of library fines. I came into libraries by volunteering, then having to study for a masters, right about the time they began to digitize. Pretty exciting. Besides loving books and reading I am something of a trivia addict.

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Maybe all those other career pursuits I thought would happen but didn’t were just practice. Veterinary assistant, legal assistant, newspaper production, travel agent, and the many years as a temp so I could be home for my son after school. Some are born and just know what they want to ‘be’. I didn’t. So my working life was kind of trial and error. I don’t know that I ever earned my wings but I had many fascinating pursuits trying.

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This is one of those kind of scary large bugs that occasionally appear in great numbers but in off years there aren’t many. On their best years the sound cicadas make is almost deafening. For some reason this one was having a hard time flying the morning I saw it on the front walk. It welcomed my help and grasped my finger for a free ride. I suppose it didn’t know I wouldn’t eat it but climbed on anyway. Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu were very interested until it started its loud chirring, then backed away. I found a thick bush where it climbed into the branches. Maybe a bird tried to have it for breakfast and it escaped, who knows.

This morning after the dogs had their breakfast I walked out to the porch to greet the day and immediately Lulu raced to a corner at the front of the porch and tried to get around the flower pots and chair legs at something. I looked over to find a  fledged baby cardinal that had flown in fluttering against the screen which explained the loud chirping and frantic flying of the adult birds just outside. I leaned over and gently grasped the little ball of fluff, its crest straight up and it stopped struggling momentarily. I walked outside to the fence where its parents darted back and forth chirping loudly, held it at the top of the fence and opened my hand. A flash of red swooped past and the baby immediately followed leaving no trace. A few moments later I saw both parents loudly chirping,  perched in the butterfly bush near where I had released their baby. Maybe they came back to thank me.

IMG_1229.JPGTiger Swallowtail caterpillars

I guess we all are here for a reason. Some of us just have our metamorphosis later.

 

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seeing

Eyesight is so taken for granted. When asked if you had a choice of losing hearing or eyesight (neither!), many prefer to keep seeing. Things we experience by sight are very hard to describe unless others have experienced it too. If the only star someone can imagine is a pentagram or stars in the night sky how do you describe a flower?

0.jpg“Texas Star” hibiscus

How would you describe the curl of an ocean wave, or the liquid gold surface of the ocean as  it reflects the morning sun?

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There are caterpillars that cause a lot of damage, destroying an entire tree, and borer beetles that destroy whole pine forests. There are other caterpillars that eat a plant to a nub, only to have the plant grow back because that is one of the things the plant was created for.

IMG_1109.JPGTiger swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on fennel plant

I can’t imagine not hearing the dawn chorus each morning, rain or shine, cold or hot. Or not seeing the bright red plumage of a black-masked male cardinal. Or floating on the scatter-brained song of a bluebird. The sound of wind in the pines, ocean waves crashing on shore, rumbling of distant thunder.

Offerings of creation.

 

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life on the river

I have never built a raft and explored a river. It seemed though wherever I lived (six states), I found myself near large bodies of water. With the exception of three and a half years in Tennessee. I can count the time I lived in New Mexico because the town where I lived, Farmington, is at the confluence of 3 rivers, The Animas, La Plata and San Juan.

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The other 4 states, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Florida are all coastal and each is  very different.

Here I have the bonus of a large river, the Cape Fear. Being a tidal river some days when rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I go there for our walk we can’t walk alongside the water but this morning the tide was out. Its mouth is near enough to the ocean that it is mainly salt water, not brackish and Lily forgets.

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Which is why I carry drinking water in the car for her. So normally we’ll see a few beached jellyfish, clam shells. As we walked up the bank there were hundreds of tiny scurrying objects that I figured were these centipede-like insects that hang around washed up driftwood. We got closer and they all darted into little holes in the bank sand which those bug things don’t do. They were tiny fiddler crabs.

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This is one hiding in front of a lump of sand. He does not have the fiddle claw, a claw as big as the crab.

IMG_1149.JPGLulu inspecting more closely

The larger claws look harmless but they actually have a powerful pinch so I avoided those with them. The others have tiny pincers which will cling on you but are not painful.

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I wonder what the little crab thought. Cornered by an unimaginably overwhelming creature that didn’t look anything like a crab. Anything that looks unfamiliar is perceived to be the enemy. Fight or flight. The little crabs all fled for their holes but those who got cornered  away from safety raised their little claws. Harmless maybe, but it was all they had. To another little crab it is a formidable weapon.

I am not often up against an enemy. I had the great good fortune to be born in the United States where life has been for the most part peaceful. Despite our differences I also had the good fortune to have parents who taught me to be responsible, never a victim. I was taught to put up my claw and fight when I needed to. Usually with words, calmly but with the strength of truth behind me. When I am wrong I was taught to admit my error and apologize if it was necessary and bear no grudge. My mother taught me to move forward without holding grudges. My dad taught me to be the bigger person in the event of an unfair difference and make amends.

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As I have lived more on my own, and raising a son I have better understood Holden Caulfield’s angst. Catcher in the Rye was not on the banned books list when I was in 7th grade and I understood why some books are worth reading if for nothing else than to emulate and be empathic in what pre-teens go through. Some don’t I imagine but most do.

And God. No matter what or who God listens. He sees. He knows and I can tell Him. I learned the value of His friendship in Jesus Christ.

Never alone.

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calm

There seems to be an increase in doomsday predictions. Naysayers. This is terrible! Focusing on something no one knows anything about except that it will happen loses sight of what’s important.

The here and now.

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No one knows the future. When people get all in a twist about something nobody knows will happen they make chaos.

Stop it.

IMG_1067.JPGLulu dozing in the shade

Being grounded takes a lot of effort for me. I am easily distracted. But doomsday people have never held any interest for me. Staying focused on what’s important matters. But the end of the world? Why stir everybody up over something no one knows?

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Maybe this is why I love flowers so much. And trees. They just are. Day after day, season after season, year after year. They are what they were created to be. Some become diseased and die. So do we. Some grow old. Very, very old. So do we. We have seasons. We change. But nature doesn’t freak out over an ice storm. It endures it. Or a hurricane. Their leaves are blown off, they may get drowned but if they live they put out more leaves.

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We replace siding, or shingles, or whole roofs, or whole houses. But mostly we face whatever disaster or trouble we get. We have to. Jumping the gun, skipping to the end when the end isn’t here yet, when we don’t even know when the end is, doesn’t make any sense.

IMG_1066.JPGLily staying safe under a bench

So I have to take the end is near people lightly. The end I don’t take lightly, but I have no idea when that will happen. So I need to keep on keeping on and trust God. He knows.

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That is all that matters. It’s His business, mine is to trust Him.

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