The Wonder of Birds

IMG_3722 (2) Kestrel

Baby Kestrel

 

This morning brought a rare treat for me. For some reason, unknown even to me, I really like kestrels. I have no idea why I find these little hawks fascinating but I do.

My husband was outside for a bit, this morning, and suddenly came back to the house. He told me to follow him and bring my camera. He would not tell me why, he only assured me that I would not be sorry.

I found my shoes, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door after him. After being married to this man for nearly 37 years I have learned to trust him when he tells me to follow.

We went down to what used to be the hog house/lambing shed. Once we got there my husband looked really disappointed. He showed me a cinder block that a baby kestrel had been perched on just a few minutes before.

We stood there a bit and started to look around to see if the little bird had hopped somewhere else. (We weren’t sure if he even knew how to fly.) We found the little kestrel hiding under a roll of woven wire that stood next to the building.

I moved in to take a few pictures, which did not make the little kestrel happy at all!  It was pretty sunny and that also made it hard to get a good photo.

We disturbed him enough that he did fly to another outbuilding, which answered the question of his flying ability.  We stood and watched a bit, and heard him calling to his parents who were flying overhead.

I went back to work in the house and it didn’t take long before my husband came to the door again with the same request…..follow him and bring the camera. This time he had spotted a pair of Baltimore Orioles bringing food to their babies in the nest.

IMG_3735 (2) Papa Oriole

Baltimore Orioles

 

It is always amazing to me how they build those sac-like nests. It is also amazing to me that those baby birds don’t get motion sickness when those branches are swinging during the windstorms that we have.

Those nests are so hard to see when the leaves are full on the trees. My husband said the only way he spotted it was by watching to see where mom and dad Oriole landed each time. (If you look closely the nest is the brownish blob beneath the male Oriole.) You could also plainly hear the baby birds begging for food every time a parent landed with lunch.

It was an amazing way to break up the chores of the morning. To stand in the sun and watch the birds. It really was a treat to be so close to a small kestrel. I loved knowing that the kestrel pair had successfully hatched and raised at least this one baby.

I am so blessed to be married to a man who loves the outdoors and loves to share it with me. I have seen so many beautiful things because of him. It is a wonderful thing to be able to stand with him and just watch the birds…..and the next time he comes to the door and tells me to bring the camera and follow him….I will!

“Everywhere we look….
the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.”
Van Gogh

Advertisements

The Best Laid Plans…….

IMG_3712

 

Sometimes things don’t always turn out how you think they will when you make a plan. I am not sure if anyone else ever has this issue…..but I seem to run into that rule more often than I like.

Let me back up here a little. The next weekend/week are going to be busy for us over here. We have a wedding of a nephew that we need to attend this coming weekend. Family from four states will be coming this direction for the wedding and there is lots of planning to be done.

We want to gather as often as possible, so meals are being planned, there is housecleaning, baking, cleaning some more, bedding to be washed, lawn to be mowed, cleaning, field work to finish, weeding, and of course some more cleaning.

There probably wouldn’t be so much cleaning….but I would rather be outside than inside so now I am hitting crunch time to catch up on all the stuff I let go while I was outside. There are also some projects that I have been hinting I would like done. (I think I need to do more than hint…..) One of those projects involve a chair.

In a bedroom upstairs there is a chair that I have wanted to get rid of long ago. As of two days ago it was still there. Yesterday, I as I was putting clean sheets on the beds, I stood and looked at that chair. I looked again at the chair, I assessed the doorways, I pondered on the stairwell and decided I could get that chair out of there myself.

I put the chair on its side as it was too wide to make it through the doorway. That worked great! My confidence was boosted. Through one more doorway and I was at the top of the stairs. I found if I stayed on the step above the chair I could ease it down step by step to the landing.

Things were progressing wonderfully up to this point. The chair and I negotiated the 90 degree turn on the landing and started our way down step by careful step. I discovered that gravity is a wonderful thing when trying to get a chair down the steps. In looking back…I realize that might have just been an illusion!

I was incredibly impressed with myself….right up until the legs of the chair became firmly wedged in the doorframe at the bottom of the stairwell. No matter how much I tugged, pulled, pushed, coaxed, pleaded and sweat glistened, would that chair budge.  (It was kind of reminiscent of giving birth…..)

Another problem soon became evident.  I was stuck on the stairwell above the chair. My husband was outside and would never hear me holler for assistance as he was hooking up a cultivator to a running tractor. It was time to once again assess the situation.

I decided I could possibly stick my left leg over the chair and carefully feel for the steps below the chair. I started that maneuver and half way through it realized that there was really no way my legs were that long. I also realized that never in my life, have I ever been able to do the splits and this was not a good time to try them again.

I finally managed to get my left foot on a step, while firmly (or should I say frantically) hanging onto the doorframe. I still had one issue….my right foot was stuck, higher than my waist, up on the chair. It was so sad…..I actually had to use my hand to unhook my foot. In my defense….there is only so far a woman my age can stretch and only so long you can keep your foot at a level somewhere between your waist and head.

When looking at the chair from the bottom angle I realized I should have started with the other end of the chair. I briefly wondered if I could get it turned around and try again. I had an entire conversation with myself over that idea and decided against it as I did not want to get stuck on the steps above that chair again!

I wandered outside to find my husband. I told him the problem, told him there was no hurry as that chair wasn’t going anywhere on it’s own and then did some other things while I waited for his help.

I should have had the camera and got a picture of the look on his face when he saw the chair wedged on the stairs…..then again….maybe that wouldn’t have been a good idea. It was kind of a look that alternated between a cringe and wonderment at how his wife managed to get a chair stuck like that.

I am happy to report the chair is released from the stairwell and nothing (and no one) was damaged in the incident.

So…..now this has me wondering…..how has your week been going? Tell me I am not the only one to end up doing stuff like this!

(I just could not resist the first quote! I laughed out loud when I read it because, I should have read it before my journey down the steps with that chair!)

“That’s a horrible plan.”
“Yes, but I have chosen to ignore that.”
Christopher Moore, Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art   

 

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Winston S. Churchill 

 

 

Friday Blessings

IMG_3711 Red Headed Woodpecker

Red Headed Woodpecker

 

Today was a marvel, weather wise. The last while, we have been sweltering and today, the day just kept getting cooler and cooler. One weatherman thought we should tell people we are in the month of Junuary. I think he might be right!

As I sat on my porch enjoying my cup of tea and breakfast this morning; I even had to wear a coat….that is really unusual for this time of year. I will say it does smell nice and fresh when it is cooler out in the morning.

My husband and I really do enjoy the quiet start to the day. We get to share the outdoors with lots of wildlife. It is so interesting that these animals don’t even seem to pay attention to us as they go about their morning rituals.

We had a wonderful time watching the Red headed woodpecker clinging to the tree in the front yard. I hope he is eating a lot of bugs and ants…..it makes for less bugs and ants that get into my house!

This morning we had a very enterprising little squirrel join us. He was so busy digging up previously buried corn kernels that he did not even care that we were sitting so close and taking pictures of him. I think he felt very sure that we would not meddle in his affairs.

It didn’t take long and a rabbit decided to make his appearance. This was really no surprise as we seem to be overrun with rabbits of every size. The rabbit population is a running argument conversation between me and my husband.

IMG_3707 Cottontail

Cottontail/Bean Eater

 

He thinks we can’t have too many rabbits around…….I think we have waaaay to many to be compatible with my flowers and vegetables.  So far, the rabbits and my husband are winning. (Can you hear the big sigh from where you are?)

I must confess the baby bunnies are cute….but eventually they turn into bean eaters and that is not cute whatsoever! I am hoping my husband commits to doing something this fall about the rabbit population. (He does like rabbit soup, so there is hope.)

Watching these animals this morning was a great reminder of trust and faith. None of these animals worried where their next meal was coming from. They just figured that it would be provided when they went looking.

They do have predators to think about, but it doesn’t seem like they live their lives in fear of what is coming. I sometimes wonder if we spend so much time and energy in fear of what the future will bring, that we find it hard to live in the present.  I think if we could live the way these small critters do……..full of trust and faith; life would be so much easier.

I am sure they have hard times……times where food is scarce, times when they are cold and uncomfortable, and times when they have to run or fly for their lives. And yet, they live and enjoy the moment for what it is. They bask in the sun when it is shining to warm them. They eat their fill when food is present. They live fully in the time they are given.

May your weekend be full of life lived fully. May your life be lived in the present and may you enjoy the small things that can be hard to see. Have a blessed weekend!

Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:26-27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Day of Summer

IMG_3676 Red Sky in the Morning..

Today is officially the first day of summer.  It is also the longest day of the year… at least that is what they tell us. We woke up to a sky that looked like it was on fire with the reds and oranges. I attempted to take a picture through the window that had a screen on it as I didn’t feel like standing out in the rain.

Once the rain had quit, I let the girls out of the coop for the day and took my camera with me on a little tour. Everything looked freshly washed……. the grass greener, the sky bluer and the clouds whiter. It smelled wonderful too!

The flowers were beautiful with the raindrops still fresh on their petals. The blossoms of reds, purples and yellows were so vibrant they begged to be photographed and shared.

Even the mud on the driveway had the neatest texture to it and made me stop and pause just to look. There was an odd beauty to it and the stones were wet with the morning rain.

IMG_3683 After the Rain

It was a great start to a day….it was cool and beautiful but the cool was only temporary and transient. Then the day must have realized we were still in Iowa and it was the first day of summer. Once the sun was fully up it quickly became steamy with warm temperatures and lots of humidity. I guess I should not have been surprised.

As the wind blew today it felt like liquid air flowing over my skin. It was thick, heavy and felt like you should be able to reach out and touch it. I have a feeling it is good preparation for the summer days to come.

I am in awe of the variety of weather we have here in the Midwest.( Some weather I like better than others). I am also in awe of the beauty that is there for the seeing. The colors of the sky, the grass, and the flowers.

It is like a love letter from the Father to all of us here on earth. A letter that tells us that we are His. It tells us He loves us enough to create and surround us with beautiful things. It is a letter of faithfulness. And it is a letter of grace.

May you be surrounded by His love letter and may your eyes and heart be open to read it.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 96:11-12

Liebster Award Nomination

liebster-blog-award.png

A big thank you to Patricia over at  kindergartenknowledge for nominating me for the Liebster Award. She has the most amazing blog over there and writes on any number of topics. She has become a wonderful friend and I cannot wait to meet her in person some day.

I found out there are some rules to this award so I am going to post them here for those of you who wonder what they are:

*Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
*Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
*Give 11 random facts about yourself.
*Nominate 11 blogs.
*Notify those blogs of their nomination.
*Give them 11 questions to answer.

Time to answer my questions:

  1.  Why are you a blogger?
    I had always toyed with the idea of trying this because I always enjoyed writing.  My kids decided for me that is was time to blog. My daughter-in-law set it up for me and I have been blogging and enjoying it ever since. Since blogging I have made so many amazing friends from all over the world.
  2. What is your greatest accomplishment as an adult and why?
    I would have to say being a wife and mom has been and still is my best accomplishment. Loving and honoring my husband, raising my sons to be men who would make great husbands and dads has been rewarding in ways I never imagined. We are all still works in progress but we are progressing!
  3. What was your favorite subject in school? Why?
    I loved Creative Writing and Literary Experience. (Sorry I could not choose one!) It was wonderful to write everyday in class and then going to another class where all I had to do was read books and make reports was absolutely the best!! I love words!
  4. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    I would have to say Mrs. Hester Vande Garde (5th grade elementary school). She taught us geography by showing slides of her travels around the world. It did put a wanderlust in me that continues to this day. She also had us color maps of every state in the USA. These maps were detailed and had pictures on them of what every region produced and what they were known for. I still have my maps in a three- ring binder. She is a teacher who opened up our eyes to the possibilities of places to go.
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world…where would you go? What made you make this choice?
    I don’t really care where I go as long as I get to go and can go with people I love and/or really like. I love to see new things and new places. I enjoy going to historical places as I like history. I like museums. It doesn’t have to be spendy for me to enjoy being there. I also love to go visit family and friends. Road trips are some of my favorite things to do with my husband. Getting up before the sun, throwing a couple sandwiches together, and heading down the road is a wonderful thing….the joy really is in the journey!
  6.  Do you enjoy sports? Which ones?
    I am not an athlete whatsoever!!! Unless reading a book is a sport, or gardening or crafting LOL. When my sons were in high school they ran with the cross country team. That was a sport I really loved as it was one sport where there were no negative words. Everyone encouraged all the athletes, no matter what school they were from. I always felt anyone who finished one of those races was a winner if they came across that line first or last.
  7. Do you play any musical instruments? Which ones? Did you take lessons?
    My mom made me take piano lessons for a couple of years. This is not to say that I play piano!  I know the notes but am not proficient at all!  I quit when I was in the Second Thompson book and I clearly remember the song was “The Bee and The Clover”  I hated all those staccato notes!  When I hit 40 I purchased a guitar (that may have been my mid-life crisis!) I started teaching myself but did not pursue it. It would be cool to be able to play “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” .  That guitar is still hanging out in the back of our closet….maybe someday……
  8. If given the opportunity would you travel in space. Why or why not?
    Nah….I don’t think so. There are so many places I want to see on this ball of Earth…I don’t think I have enough time to even see all of the ones on my bucket list!
  9. What is your favorite season? What is that season like where you live?
    That is a hard one because I have favorite parts of all the seasons where I live! I would probably have to say Fall. The hot days of summer are past, the harvest is coming in, the air smells like fallen leaves, dirt and bonfires. In the evening hours you can hear the hum of grain dryers, combines in the fields, and dry leaves rustling on the trees. The colors are beautiful in reds, golds, and yellows. Fall is really quite wonderful!
  10. What advice would you give a teenager about achieving success in life? How do you define success?
    I would advise them to find humor in every day. I would tell them life is too short to stress about things you cannot change. I would want them to know that who you think you are; is more important than who someone else thinks you are. I would encourage them to find a job they love and that fact is more important than the paycheck they will draw. (Being in a job you hate is an awful way to live). I would tell them relationships mean more than material things. I would also tell them to keep their eye on God and the rest will fall into place in His timing. Achieving those things are how I define success.
  11. What is your favorite meal?
    This one is also hard!  I happen to love most food (unfortunately, it loves me also and sticks around on my waist, my thighs…..) I like Chinese, I like Mexican, I also love good old American hamburgers on the grill with a side dish of Taco Salad or Deviled Eggs.

Alrighty…..11 random facts about me. (Nuts, thought I had covered that in those questions!!)

  1. Way back in 1977 I spent a month backpacking around Europe with 5 other gals. This did not decrease the wanderlust in my soul! (See question 5).
  2. If I had gone to college after high school, I would have been a teacher. I think I would have liked teaching junior high. You don’t have to teach them to use a scissors and it would be fun to make them think out of the box.
  3. Driving a tractor in the ditch for baling scares the daylights out of me. I am relieved when I am done with those slanty areas that make me nervous!  I am getting better at it…..slowly.
  4. If I need to get something accomplished I cannot make a visit to the local library. Once I get a book, I want to start reading it immediately. Once I start reading it I usually cannot put it down till I am finished!
  5. I loved reading words so much as a kid that I would read the ingredients on the cereal box, catsup bottle, cake mix box etc!
  6. When I was a child I loved the program “the Flying Nun”. I really wanted to be a nun because I loved the outfit and the fact she could fly!  My mom informed me that we were not Catholic…therefore I could not be a nun. I made the mistake of telling my husband this one time and he has never let me forget it!
  7. I enjoy being outside mowing the lawn or in my garden more than I enjoy being in my house doing housework….unfortunately you can tell that. I really need to find a sign like my mom had in her porch, “If you come to see me….come anytime. If you come to see my house….make and appointment.”
  8. I would love to be able to paint beautiful pictures.
  9. I do enjoy crafting of any kind…..card making, crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, sewing……
  10. I enjoy cooking…this is one good reason to stay in the house! It is also a great thing to do in the wintertime as it warms your kitchen up and makes the house smell wonderful!
  11. My family is my pride and joy. I love having them all around as much as I can! I love the fact they enjoy being together. It does scare the willies out of me when my three sons do their annual mountain climbing thing in Colorado’s 14’ers. My heart’s desire is for them all to know Jesus and live their lives in a way that shows that fact.

I am now to the part I need to nominate 11 blogs. There are so many out there that I so enjoy. I know some of them are award free so I will try leave them alone! (If I did nominate you and you are award free…I apologize!) If I do nominate you and you have already done this award or do not want to do awards I totally get that…so not too worry. This nomination is meant to be fun and not stress you out. Only do it if you really want to. I will not be offended…I promise!

I nominate:

atimetoshare.me

Leadership2Mommyship

Al

samanthamurdochblog

whitneyibeblog

Ame

susieshy45

George

Anne Mehrling

Tales From the Cabbage Patch

And now (drum roll) …….My questions for my nominees…

  1. What is the top item on your bucket list? Why?
  2. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
  3. What makes you cry?
  4. What makes you laugh….hard?
  5. Who had the biggest impact on you in your life so far? Why?
  6. Most embarrassing moment?
  7. What is a hidden talent that others would be surprised to know you have?
  8. What advice do you wish you had listened to when you were a teenager?
  9. What would make the perfect day for you?
  10. What is your favorite song and why?
  11. Do you have a favorite quote and if so …what is it?

Once again….thank you so much Pat for the nomination! I encourage everyone to head over to her blog and stay for a visit…you will not regret it!

“Don’t do something for recognition.
Do it out of kindness ..because out of giving,
it will make you whole and complete.”

Angie karan

“Never pass on an opportunity to say thank you
or give recognition for a job well done”

Mark W. Boyer

 

 

 

 

 

Gardening, Weeds, and Sugar Scrub

IMG_3535 Tomatoes and Weeds

Healthy Tomatoes & Healthy Weeds

It is definitely the gardening season in our part of the country….or should I say it is definitely the weed-growing season? In the heat of our late spring, the weeds have become overly prolific. The sheer volume of those growing, generally worthless things can be a little overwhelming.

I thought I would share the picture of my tomatoes……before weeding. The weeds are still there due to having gotten 1.2 inches of rain in a couple days ago. The rain was great even though it did put a halt to my weeding for a bit. I cannot honestly say I really felt to bad about having to wait to do more weeding!

I knew that those weeds would not disappear if I waited an extra day to get rid of them. It would be nice if there were a weed fairy who just waltzed in overnight and took off with them! Alas she did not, and I spent time hoeing and pulling said weeds this afternoon.

I do have some milkweed plants that I leave grow behind my summer kitchen/garden shed. I figure the monarch butterflies need all the help they can get so I leave a small patch just for them.

IMG_3538 Milkweeds

“Everything has it beauty, but not everyone sees it.”~Unknown

 

I hope to be rewarded with beautiful monarchs floating by on the summer breezes. I remember as a kid there was nothing quite as exciting as a watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly.

We used to take the branches they hung on and put them in an old aquarium so we could watch them when they emerged. Once they started the process, we carefully put the stick with the chrysalis outside so the butterfly could unfold and dry it’s new wings in the sun. It was one of the best hands on science lessons I have ever witnessed.

I also remember getting the liquidy stuff of the milkweed on our hands as kids. I have no idea what that stuff was but it stained our hands just as much as dandelions did. I have also found that weeding in the garden can be hard on hands and fingernails and leave some serious stains on skin and under fingernails.

This week I made some sugar scrub that should help with getting those stains off my hands and help get the dirt from under my fingernails. I am going to share the recipe with you so you can make some yourself!

Lemon Sugar Scrub.JPG

Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
20 drops Lemon Essential Oil
8 ounce glass jar
In a glass or stainless steel bowl, mix all ingredients.
Spoon into glass jar
Top off with more grapeseed oil so mix is not dry.
Use whenever you need for greasy hands, paint-spattered hands and anytime you need
to really scrub them.
This smells wonderful and is a great all natural alternative to other cleansers.
NOTE: you can also use sweet almond oil in place of grapeseed oil.

If all else fails with stained fingernails, you can always go ahead and use some dark fingernail polish to mask those stains. I am not sure how this would go over if you are a guy…but as a female gardener….I find that dark purple works wonderfully!

May you have a wonderful weekend. If you are a dad or grandpa may you have a blessed Father’s Day and enjoy your family. And may all your vegetable gardens and flower beds be weed free….. or at least have weeds that are pretty when they bloom.

 

A good garden may have some weeds.
~Thomas Fuller

 

 

 

Busyness and Bonfires

IMG_3542 Mallows.JPG

I have to confess.  I started today’s post at least three different times. Each time I ran stuck and my brain headed down a different track. I started out with the fact I was privileged to go to an amazing concert the other night, detoured into weeding my garden, headed down the path of the hot muggy weather and ended up at the end of the day by the firepit.  Okay….maybe I had four topics!

For some reason, focusing was not my strong suit today when it came to writing and I still feel a bit scattered.  I think I will stick with the fire pit topic and work my way backwards on those other topics over the next couple posts.

This week started out in a busy fashion that is typical of the late spring season that is Iowa and farming.  We started out the week with grass hay down in the ditches and in the waterway. Once we heard the forecast for possible rain we decided we needed to give out attention to getting it baled up before it got rained on. By Tuesday night we were so glad we had baled as we actually had 1.2 inches of rain.

For us, lately that is a pretty good amount as rain has been kind of hard to come by around here.  It is amazing what a nice rain can do to refresh the earth and your spirits!  The rain also gave me a break from weeding in the garden and let me catch up on other jobs I had been putting off.

When I look back at today I have to really think to figure out what I spent my day doing. There were so many little odd things like cleaning out a couple drawers and getting ruthless with the stuff that was in the back of those drawers. It was a day spent doing things that no one else will notice…..but I will!

By the time it was evening the wind had died down and I talked my husband into building a fire in the fire pit. I have had a stash of tree branches mounded up in the back yard since last fall. They have been waiting a long time to be burned…and tonite was the night.

I love that the bonfire served a two-fold purpose – time to sit and relax and also a great way to finally get rid of those branches.

There is something so very relaxing about just sitting in the darkening evening and watching the flames dance skyward. It was especially sweet after the busy start to the week. It was a good way to taper off the busyness of the day.

Sitting there, listening to the frogs singing and watching the fireflies dance through the night was one of those Aaaahhhhhh moments. We watched the chickens head in for the nights. We listened to the snort of a deer as it bedded down in the grass behind the grove. We got to enjoy the first stars as they came out for the night.

Life is indeed good when you take the time to slow down and enjoy the small things.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had
are sitting around a camp fire.
Robyn Davidson

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robyndavid704971.html?src=t_fire