Humor and Discovery on Our Vacation

Driving through Ohio we came up a hill, the billboard said “Your Turn Next” and then a cemetery came into sight. I don’t think that is what they meant, but I guffawed at the faux pas!

Having lived in turkey vulture country for sometime we often see them in early morning drying their feathers perched on lamp posts, or atop telephone poles, etc.

Driving one day we passed little white signs along the road, reminiscent of Burma Shave: “Come to the Church on the hill”, next one said, “You will feel closer to God.” Just about the time I began reading the signs we came to the top of the hill and there was indeed a church! Bob said, “Oh look at that eagle on top of the church!” as we whizzed past. I said, “That was no eagle. That was a turkey vulture.” Of course, we had to make a u-turn to be certain. Indeed there was a turkey vulture, this time drying his wings in the sun. And not just one, but two!

Photo by Robert Dutina

As we drove away I began thinking and chuckling. Birds drying out on top of the Methodist church. Hmm, wasn’t it Bill W who began AA on the tenets he learned from the Methodist church? Or maybe it was the Oxford group. Anyway, it struck me as amusing that the turkey vultures were drying out at the Methodist church. Thank goodness so many churches allow AA meetings at their facilities.

We passed many Amish people as we entered their neck of the woods. I told Bob we really were in THEIR part of the state. One development we had not encountered before was the women on motorized bicycles. I am assuming most of them were Mennonites.

At the Stop Light
Bonnet strings flapping in the wind. Battery Pack on right rear of bike.

Bob finally asked a waitress in Mennonite dress how they charge those bicycle batteries. She mentioned employers with electricity, some factories with propane generators. She said her parents have electricity.

Much in Amish and Mennonite life depends on whether you are old order or new order. We learned this trip that most new order Amish will affix the orange triangle to the back of their buggies but old order families refuse. I would be frightened driving a horse and buggy without that sign for slow moving vehicle!!

Remember Monkey see, Monkey do?

At the Cincinnati Art Museum I had to wonder what this artist was thinking!

Future Retrieval: Close Parallel

Future Retrieval, the studio collaboration of former University of Cincinnati faculty members Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis, appropriates imagery and forms from historical objects to create new art that speaks to our twenty-first-century experience. Their practice is rooted in ceramic art, but also incorporates a diverse mix of media and techniques that combine age-old methods with new technologies.

For this exhibition, Future Retrieval will take over two museum galleries as project spaces where they will construct an unconventional response to objects “borrowed” from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s decorative art and design collection. In pairing their own work with objects from the museum’s collection, the artists will create an experience that encourages visitors to consider aspects of our historical collections and practices in a new light.

#CAMCloseParallel

At home when I enlarged the photo I wished I had gone around the other side of the ape. Evidently it was holding something in its hand! And chin on other hand. How like us! was it thinking “Should I eat this?”

Well, it was at the end of our museum visit and we older folks get tired. The painting of mushrooms and sculpture of mushrooms was interesting also.

Perhaps more interesting in person, but thought I’d distract you with these art items. Careful next time you look in the mirror. Make certain there is not a monkey looking back at you!

What a Relief!

We have been suffering the extreme heat along with the rest of the nation. This morning the sky is pouring rain. Not drizzle but downpour. I guess one of those clouds finally decided to bless our sod and the yards of our neighbors.

I have spent quite a bit of time consuming Mark Buchanan’s book “The Holy Wild.” It was so meaty I decided to savor it. Then it got lost in the shuffle. I finally determined to finish the book. What a blessing. The subtitle is “Trusting in the Character of God.”

Here is the publisher blurb to draw you in:

“Our perception of God makes a difference in every crevice of our character, from our inner anxieties to our public conversations. It determines whether we’re trusting or suspicious, whether we’re happy or discontent – and whether or not we can rely on God matters mightily on the day of our death. Mark Buchanan’s third book continues his penetrating exploration of the God we worship. Bravely and honestly, he poses the direst question of human existence: Can God be trusted?

“It’s life drunk deeply, lived to the hilt—where we walk with the God who is surprising, dangerous, and mysterious. It’s the terrain where God doesn’t make sense out of our disasters and our boredom, but keeps meeting us in the thick of them.

“But unless we trust in His character, we’ll never venture in. We will sit at the stream all day, dying of thirst, but not daring to drink. To follow God is to drink and drink from the stream, even if it means—especially if it means—getting swallowed up.

“Let Mark Buchanan show you the entrance to the Holy Wild, where you can live face-to-face with the beautiful, dangerous God of creation.”

The idea of “unless we trust in His character we will sit at the stream all day, dying of thirst, but not daring to drink” really pulled me in. I have had many prayer experiences with the image of the stream of Living Water.

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

John 7:37-38

There is a river in Psalm 46 whose streams make glad the city of God. I believe that includes the citizens. Do you simply sit by the stream or do you dare drink from it? Have you asked the Lord to help you slip your feet into the stream, then your lower body and perhaps your entire self? Have you been for a swim in this holy stream? Have you allowed the Lord to wash you in this holy water from Him? Soak in it?

If not, why not try this during your next quiet time? He has promised there is a river of living water flowing in your heart, i.e., the depths of your being. Are you willing to accept His gift?

What if our yard or the neighbors new sod across the street refused to accept this blessed downpour this morning? What if their sod said, “No thanks. I don’t trust that water. Give me water from the ch-ch-chuk rotating sprinkler any ole’ time. Not that downpour stuff that occurs so unreliably.”

Unlike rain from the sky the river of Living Water runs continuously within us as we stay joined to , abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives the water, not the clouds or weather systems.

What are you waiting for? If your soul is dry and thirsty now is the time to drink deeply from His eternal source.

Cincinnati Art Museum

We found humor at the museum this week. At the display of artworks from the Monuments Men of World War 2, pieces that were reclaimed from Nazi Germany, we found this portrayal of the Madonna and Child.

Now my ignorance and humor will shine. I saw the artist’s name and thought Fra – thinking to myself fraulein, young woman. How like a woman to be the only one I’ve ever seen to paint a pouting Jesus! Well I stand corrected. Fra stood for Friar. The artist was Friar Fillipo Lippi, an Italian painter and Carmelite priest.

But really, have you ever seen a painting of a pouting Jesus? Likely a rendition of a 2 year old Savior.

In another exhibit of contemporary “Paintings of the ’80s” we found this from a huge donation from the Shore’s collection. Bob and I are not usually drawn to dots and splashes of color. We let our imagination run wild in this exhibit and had great, raucous fun!

My first impression? “Oh, their rubber band ball burst!” Naughty me. Here is the actual museum description.

What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I am so grateful to have a husband who keeps track of these fun things to experience!

Other House/This House

When we lived on Siesta Drive our large wind chimes, tuned musically, hung from a hook off the second story balcony. Even when we had constant wind, we rarely heard them. Now we have them on a “shepherds crook” in the back yard. We are enjoying their melody almost all the time!

Yep, that is temporary home for rain gauge!

At our other house we had the hummingbird feeder on the front porch. We often saw them through the living room windows or if we were sitting on the front porch. Now we have the feeder outside the office window. We tried it outside kitchen window but some sort of bees took over and would not let the hummers feed.

(Before tree was planted!)

Photos were taken through the screen, but those birds cheer me on while I write or sit here to pay the bills. Today I actually saw a male and a baby hummer on the feeder at the same time!

New house, new perspectives on old favorites. Bob hung a smaller wind chime just outside the office windows. When the one in the backyard is not ringing, the smaller one in the front yard often is! Cannot see it from indoors, but if the window is open can certainly hear it!

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

John 3:8 NIV

We have plants!!

When we moved here in May we placed a special order for what plants we wanted in our front flower beds. The first order they brought to us was wrong so we sent it back. Then we had to wait for the sod to get established before they could being us the correct plants since they would bring mulch and drive over the yard to bring the plants with machines.

So we waited. And Miranda in the office went on vacation. And we waited and finally one day they brought the plants!

Oak tree looks a little tipsy, but it will get established.

The shrubs are butterfly bush (near door) and sweet viburnum (near corner of building). We asked for Vitex which is a native butterfly bush. Not certain they found one, but the shrubs are in now. The other plants in front bed we brought with us from the old house. Rose and ferns. Bought the rose blooming brightly below. It lived in a plastic bag for a couple months before getting planted in a 5 gallon bucket. There is also calla lily which began as a spring houseplant. I find it amazing that all these plants can be grown, transplanted, re-established and flourish in new surroundings.

The edge of the sidewalk has some iris from the other house, oregano and columbine plus new Astilbe which are not blooming. (Well, there is one dried flower on the Astilbe.) I will eventually put spring bulbs in there. The broad leaves are amaryllis which will be taken up in autumn, dried and re-potted for winter blooming. You can just see the stone that says Bob and Molly’s garden – a gift from friends. And, of course, little black fence to discourage the dog from wandering into or taking a shortcut through the flower beds!

On the corner is a purple hydrangea that was a housewarming gift, hosta from other house and the new small decorative grass.

Hosta and decorative grass repeat on other side of garage door. We are delighted. Just praying and wishing for rain. Soaked the tree once and will need to soak it again until it seems established.

Watched a sermon on being rooted in Christ. Wonder how long it takes an oak to be rooted on Platform Street?

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7 NIV

Focus or Observation?

Focus is defined as the main or central point of something, especially of attention or interest. Over 45 years ago Bob and I were driving around Kentucky. As usual he was taking photos. After he snapped the one below I commented, “Oh I can’t wait to see how that horse comes out!” He responded, “What horse?”

I said, “Why the horse in the barn!”

“I didn’t see any horse,” he said.

“Didn’t you see the galvanized tub hanging out the side of the barn for the horse to drink from?” I asked.

“No. I just took a photo of the barn!”

As we drove on down the road I said, “Well, when you develop and print those photos you will see the horse. I thought it made the picture special.”

Amazing how people can look at the very same thing and see totally different items. Was it focus or observation? Now fifty years into the marriage we continue to focus and observe different things even when we are in the very same setting. I find that continuously amazing!

Lucky Explores Her New Yard

Now that the sod is established we have created two tie outs for Lucky, front and back. She cannot be in just a fence as she digs to escape. This morning while I was working to clean the front step, sidewalk and front door I tied her out front. She has been really good about staying out of the flower beds so far!

When I went to the garage to get the window cleaner I noticed she was jumping around nosing at something in the sod. Upon exploration it was a large crawdad!

Not my photo because no phone handy.

She was not liking that thing. I got the poop scoop and scooped him up. Took him to the water flowing along the side of the street. Guess the rains are bringing out every creature! Lucky went on exploring the yard, but seemed more wary than usual. I was delighted it was not a snake 😦 Yuck to snakes. I know they eat small rodents but they freak me out.

Her favorite yard thing seems to be eat a little grass “salad” and rest in the shade. That is a behavior improvement. A few weeks ago she did not seem to have the sense to get out of the sun, even when she was panting and obviously uncomfortable!

I went back to work on the entrance. Needed a little soil where it had washed away from a plant. Bent over to scoop some up and there was a toad! Oh glory! They eat lots of bugs. The one I saw was about 2-1/2 or 3 inches long. It was as black as the composted soil and manure. Wikipedia information digest says: “The color and pattern is somewhat variable, especially for the females. Skin color can change depending on habitat colors, humidity, stress, and temperature. Color changes range from yellow to brown to black, from solid colors to speckled.” There was a brown toad in my garden on Siesta. So glad to have this new friend!

In early spring I bought as inexpensive fragrant rose bush wrapped in paper and plastic, I moved it to this house that way. Following Jeff’s example, Bob drilled a few holes in a five gallon bucket for the new rose. In the bucket it leafed out, but some of the leaves did not survive. It sent up a few sturdy new shoots. We cut off the dead shoots and waited for sod and gardening area. Bob and Jeff planted it for me the weekend of July 10. This week I was delighted to look at the flowerbed and voila!

It obviously needs some rose food with bug resistance in it, but I am amazed it has made it this far! The other larger bush was bought here is five gallon bucket. This is it’s third home. And so fragrant! No Knock Out roses for me, thank you!

There is still a thick layer of mulch to go in the flower bed. Hopefully they will bring our shrubs, Astilbe and mulch soon!

Muddy Bubbles

Until our neighbors get sod, I have been enjoying a phenomena during rain showers that I call Muddy Bubbles. Writing in the Wall Street Journal Helen Czerski says:

“When things are just right, the [raindrop} splash rebounds off the bottom of the puddle and the circular wall reaches up even higher than usual. The surface of the water acts as if it’s an elastic sheet, so that as the elongated crown travels upward, it also bends inward to form a dome. The edges collide in the middle but stay intact, leaving a hemisphere of air trapped underneath a watery shell and creating a nice big bubble. In a typical outdoor puddle there is likely to be a bit of organic material that will stick to the bubble’s surface, helping the bubble to last long enough for us to see it.

The organic material in this case is clay, plant material, insect detritus, etc. And Helen is right. These are BIG bubbles. I have not however deliberately ventured out in the rain to try to capture a photo – yet. Below are photos of the puddle area a few hours after a rain.

Walking around our backyard you will find we likely have more water than that trapped under the growing sod. Taking these photos I was sinking over the tops of my flip flops. I do not think having a garden across the back of our property line will be an option. The wild Queen Ann’s Lace is about four or five feet tall due to the water!

Other than the drainage problem the sod is growing, we have had some rain (alleviating the twice a day watering Bob had to do) and the yard is coming along swimmingly!