Golden Rain to Killing Frost

Just a couple weeks ago it was raining gold in our backyard.

Music provided by tuned wind chime

If you are as old as me you might remember the television offering songs where they showed the lyrics and told you to follow the bouncing ball to sing along in pace with the rhythm. Dan, Mike and Bob could explain the bouncing green ball in this video. I just like the video!

This morning everything is covered with a crisp layer of white frost. Not snow, mind you, white frost, like the icing on a cake. Do you recall this from childhood? Not the creep in some of the latest movies.

Jack Frost

Look out! look out!
Jack Frost is about!
He’s after our fingers and toes;
And, all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows.

He’ll climb each tree,
So nimble is he,
His silvery powder he’ll shake;
To windows he’ll creep,
And while we’re asleep,
Such wonderful pictures he’ll make.

Across the grass
He’ll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white;
Then home he will go,
And laugh, “Ho! ho! ho!
What fun I have had in the night!”

by Cicely E. Pike
Picnic anyone?
Grill cover decorated also!
Exquisite

Ice and snow, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.

Daniel 3:70 CPDV

Gin-Gins and My Weird Connections

This morning when I opened my computer the Bing page had a grand photo of a manatee. Sadly, it said use of the photo was for wallpaper only. Their page with manatee date is located at https://www.bing.com/search?q=manatee&form=hpcapt&filters=HpDate:%2220211115_0800%22

I have had a fascination with manatees for many years.

Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), Crystal River, west-central Florida, U.S.A.

The idea of a sea cow seems to me something that only God would think up for amusement! I was amazed that some translations of Exodus 26:14 refer to building the tabernacle using the skins of manatees. Others translate as seal skin, fine leather, goat skin, badger, ram, sheep, porpoise. I was told by a young graduate of Bible college that the Holman Christian Standard bible may be the best translation that we have. You guessed it, they translate Exodus 26:14 manatee skin.

Here are two previous blog entries about manatees and water bears.

microscopic Tardigrade, Water Bear

I find the world just fascinating! Treasures every place we look. Below are links to two previous posts about these animals.

https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/185

https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/1728

Checking out recently at Cracker Barrel restaurant these candies were at the register. I took one look and bought them. Not only do I like ginger, but I found the cartoon on the box irresistible! You will draw your own conclusion 🙂

Oh Lord of sea and sky, thank You for blessing us with amusing animals. Help us to keep the rivers and seas habitable for the manatees. Thank You for cartoonists who delight me. I praise You for the tardigrades around me that I never even see. You are an amazing God.

Then I hear the Dan Schutte song made popular at The Walk to Emmaus retreats, “I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry, all who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save.”

Grooks

In 1966 Piet Hein published a little book of poetry entitled Grooks. It brought me cheer and challenge. The cover says he began” writing Grooks during Nazi occupation of Denmark. They were, quite literally, underground literature – Piet Hein was in hiding as as resistance leader. …they enabled Danes to talk to one another about what really mattered in a range just beyond German understanding and several octaves beyond Nazi sensitivities. “

A Maxim for Vikings

Here is a fact that should help you fight a bit longer.

Things that don’t actually kill you outright make you stronger.

Yes, that has challenged and comforted me through many, many years. Now I have passed my 71st birthday. We have a tiny (by comparison to past houses) front garden. Each spring at other locations I would participate in what I called “Death by Gardening,” cleaning up the flower beds and putting in a new perennial or two. Suffering the consequences for days and at times weeks afterward.

Bob had planted over 200 of my favorite daffodil bulbs at the last house. When we were packing last spring, I was lamenting leaving that glorious daffodil display. One friend bought me two pots of large daffodils to plant at our new house. I nurtured those bulbs through the spring and into the summer awaiting a flower bed. Another friend attended our open house and gifted us with a sack of daffodil bulbs and a sack of tulip bulbs.

Our weather went from summer hot (think 80s) to chilly (think 40s). For the last few days we have entertained 60 degrees. Twice I have gone out to plant a few bulbs. Whereas I used to spend 3 or 4 hours in the garden I am no longer able to do that due to fibromyalgia and arthritis. Now I might spend 45 minutes or so.

Here is the deal. When Ryan built this house, they delivered tons of huge gravel for the eventual driveway. First, the crane parked there to lift the walls and roof trusses into place and then the construction dumpster sat on it.

The rocks spread. Then the driveway and sidewalk were concreted and the rocks spread.

Rocks throughout the rain sitting on top of the clay

Then the grading machine came to shape the yard and the rocks spread. Our son advised adding inches of good topsoil to the garden area before they came to put in our plants and single tree. We did that with his help.

So now this old lady is out trying to plant flower bulbs. The soil and top layer of mulch have settled. The bulb digger is a handy gadget we have used for years.

Here is the current struggle. To plant the daffodil bulb at the suggested depth (about 6 inches), I twist the bulb digger to make a hole. Before I reach 6 inches deep the digger hits either clay or rock or BOTH. The clay is wet and will not drop out of the digger, so each attempt the clay must be removed with the dandelion remover. This is no longer a simple matter of place a few bulbs in the ground!

“Things that don’t actually kill you outright…” Make me ache and moan and groan the next day. Actually I was gasping for air and having trouble getting upright after planting, too.

What was I thinking? I have this gardening bug that makes me believe I am 27 instead of living into my 72nd year. I want to plant and grow things. I delight to see flowers blooming and bobbing in the breeze.

I must try to content myself with a few lovely daffodils and let go of the glories Bob planted for me in the past. I placed the clods of clay into a flexible tub. It was so heavy when I finished placing about 15 bulbs I could barely drag it to the sidewalk, much less dump it in the garbage can.

Weighty Clay Clods

Ryan homes has done nothing yet regarding the drainage problems in our backyard. I had hope for a perennial bed out there by now. The mums and aster from this fall will need to be thrown out as there is no place to put them in the ground for the winter.

“Make you stronger …” Maybe this yard will make me strong enough to embrace gracefully that I am no longer a strong young woman? The crocus bulbs are in. All the plants we brought with us are in the ground (thanks mostly to Bob and son Jeff). I will see if I have grown wiser when the new plants are available in the spring?

Wiser to embrace the blessings I have and release the ones that have passed as my younger years fade away. Oh Lord, You know how much help I need with this!

The grass withers, the flower fades;

    but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8

Overflow Perhaps Unseen?

My husband thought that since only a few read this perhaps it did not post correctly? So here is a re-posting. Hope it helps you overflow.

As if in a canoe, I hit a hidden boulder. And just like that I could not write. Capsized. Nothing. No ideas, no inspiration, just tears of frustration over an ongoing situation. Eventually I just got in the car and went out. Thought it was better than stewing and stumping over what to do next. I still felt guilty about not writing.

This morning I remembered Streams in the Desert, September 3. And he saw them toiling in rowing (Mark 6:48).

Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children. When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done. The way to let Him do His work through us is to partake of Christ so fully, by faith, that He more than fills our life.

“A man who had learned this secret once said: “I came to Jesus and I drank, and I do not think that I shall ever be thirsty again. I have taken for my motto, ‘Not overwork, but overflow‘; and already it has made all the difference in my life.”

“There is no effort in overflow. It is quietly irresistible. It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites us today and always.
–Sunday School Times

Not overwork, overflow. So I return this morning to the keyboard and screen praying for overflow. My straining effort does not produce anything worth reading. Help me, Lord to flow around that boulder and create something live giving. The Spirit brings me an idea, but it is up to me to develop the idea and work to make it clear. No, things are not just dropped into my head fully written. But this work is different than striving, straining and driving effort.

Equip me as you did Rainer Marie Rilke to say unsayable experiences clearly that others might love You, too.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Wow. Turning 71 years old … actually that means I will be in year 72! I still like gifts. And coconut cake is the best! Either Lyn’s homemade recipe or Sam’s Club. Sam’s is huge and yummy. Seems parts of me will never grow up. Though most parts have grown out!

The story goes that when I was born the cord was around my neck. I was known as a ‘blue baby’. When I pinked up my Dad wanted to call me Cherry. My mother let him choose the middle name Cheryl.

I have been clinging to this verse for several years.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?

Psalm 71:17-19 NRSV

Today I was directed to this one!

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Isaiah 46:3-4 NRSV

Repeatedly EVEN TO …. old age and gray hairs! Seems like a happy birthday wish to me!

In 2009 I wrote this story about a turtle at the pond. The photos were taken in July, but I think the story is perennial. This is how some of my prayers and insights evolve.


I came upon a turtle at the pond today. I missed her completely the first time I walked past. She was totally camouflaged by duck weed. The lily leaves were withering and the ones left standing placed shadows around her similar to the shape of her shell. I took one photo and drew closer to the water’s edge for another, hoping she would not slip into the water and vanish completely from my sight.

I posed no threat as she remained in her position on the log. I began to realize that she must be a very old turtle by her size. As I changed my position along the shore, I could see her more clearly.

I noticed the lily leaves, first as obstacles to my photographic efforts, and then as tattered, themselves old from a hot summer of sun and storms and wind. I was reminded of the poem I wrote at the Cincinnati Nature Center 19 years ago about the lily pads, and the subsequent admonition from the Lord to me, “Perhaps I could ask you just to be a lily leaf. Fill up with mercurial spheres and overflow. Stand and tip. Ponder this My lily shield.”

(To read entire poem see https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/6669 )

Here I am at the same location these many years later, seeking solace and direction at my current age in my current state.

The next photo attempt brought the lovely lily bloom into my photographic range. I had seen a dropped petal in the weeds along the shoreline. It was fresh and somewhat velvety as I placed it between folds of paper in my journal. When I tried to frame the next photo, the blossom made for good composition. Tired leaves, old turtle, flower blooming, though fading.  Suddenly I was looking at a mini portrait of my life in the very frog pond that inspired me so many years ago. I have been wrestling with the topic of aging with the pain and distress that seem to be increasing in my body as I age. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 came to mind: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  

I had recently mentioned to my husband that I do not like to grow white roses as the petals begin to darken with the slightest bruising. Here I see a creamy lily flower bearing the beating of sun wind and storms and barely showing the effects in her waxy petals. The aging turtle remained on the log, still enjoying her sunbath, unperturbed by one woman on the shore taking digital photos. The lily leaves though tattered, yet most still erect on their flexible stalks, able to gather a summer shower and tip when the pad is full.

At first glance my negative mind set cries, “Just look at her! Surrounded by decay and destruction! Duckweed hanging on her lovely shell. Leaves decaying and spoiled all around her! All alone on that log!”  Then as I ponder, I realize her wisdom caused her to cover her shell with duckweed to blend in, her courage in taking a sunbath even if the other turtles choose not to, and regardless of her surroundings she is looking up, and even now, the changes in my attitude begin. Upon closer inspection I can see the lovely colors in her neck, the awesome nails and webbing in her feet. The coloring continues around the under-edge of her shell into her legs.

Most importantly, I realize she is looking up, as I am called to do, fixing my eyes upon things eternal.  Letting go of the obvious pain and aging issues, I am able to relax on my favorite bench and simply soak in the pond activity: belching frogs, passing humans, bird song and noonday joy.

“Stand and tip. Ponder this My lily shield.”

May I too have wisdom and courage and the ability to always look up!

Autumn Upon Us

Was given this mum as a gift at our open house in August. As the blooms faded, I cut them off. Eventually fed it some Miracle Grow as there were many, many buds, but few open flowers. Then KABOOM! here it is now.

Yes, that is our new deck!!

A walk at our favorite paved trail above the lake produced these lovelies.

Red so bright it made my eyes pop! And this just made me want a cup of sassafras tea! It was restricted for a time as someone found carcinogens in it. I can still taste it from my childhood though!

Our temperatures have been wavering between autumn and summer. The changing sunlight has effected the leaves greatly.

I just love that little oak tree to the left of our property. So vibrant!

Tree line to the right ….

Today the deck reflects the leaf activity during the recent rain storm.

PSALM 148 Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for at his command they were created,
and he established them for ever and ever—
    he issued a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
    stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
    small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
    you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
    old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,
    the praise of all his faithful servants,
    of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.

Nature Humor

“So if I stretch out here in the sun, do you think I will be noticed?”

“Does this hydrangea make me look fat?, Really now, be honest!”

Walking at the lake on Prairie trail, first I noticed a hairy stem.

Glanced up and ! Wait! That is not a stem!!

Almost missed this sunbathing caterpillar!

Our first walk on Prairie Trail at the lake. Not paved, by grassy, fairly level and mowed. Our first autumn day with jackets. Bob in shorts and fleece jacket. Lucky leading the exploration, of course!

The prairie trail will be more fun in spring when we are hoping to discover wildflowers there. It is nice to find new places for an easy walk. We wished later we had done two laps or taken the side path to see where it went.

Keep your eyes open for those treasures in plain sight.

High of 66 This Saturday

These photos were taken in the height of this seemingly endless “Indian Summer.” I am so tired of being hot and sweaty! Soon we will be complaining of the cold. Today the high is forecast much more like autumn with a high temperature lower than most evenings have been lately. This was a walk we took with Lucky last week. If you need a touch of autumn be sure to watch the few second video at the end! Second #8 was quite a catch if I do say so myself 🙂

Starting to rain leaves!

Watch for the leaf at second #8!

Autumnal Gallery

Walked at our favorite place above East Fork Harsha Lake on September 27. Here are a few pictures to put you in the Autumn mood! FYI Click on photos to enlarge!

And Lucky really knows how to dig in those front legs! Look how her collar is pulling. She does not care in this and many other instances.

Another lovely walk.

“As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Genesis 8:22

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

Ecclesiastes 3:1

What Happened to Telling My Story?

I have found that as I approach 71 years old it is not so easy just to report to you the facts of my life with God. I keep reading new things that influence how I say what I have to say. You see, it is not easy to relate an incident with the Holy. Words automatically diminish the experience.

I ordered one book from the Search Ohio library system. It is entitled “Writing in the Sand” by Thomas Moore. Subtitled: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. I had previously read Moore’s Care of the Soul. Decided since we just purged SO MANY BOOKS when we moved, I should try to borrow this one to see if we need to own it. Now half way through this one, I think we probably will own it. Very meaty and will take me more than one reading to fully comprehend.

I was sent an email notice about a book called Letters from the Mountain written by Ben Palpant being sold by Rabbit Room. The description said, “In this memoir of the craft, Ben Palpant unpacks a lifetime of wisdom gained through the long, hard work of learning to write and to live well. Delivered as a series of letters from father to daughter, he patiently and gracefully paints a vision of what it means to enter into one’s creative work as an act of generative obedience – an act that blesses the writer, the work itself, and the world that receives it.”

I clicked purchase without any hesitation. A few days later as I walked the dog while retrieving the mail, the book arrived in our mail box. As soon as I unwrapped it in the street, I was reading it standing on the sidewalk waiting for Lucky to “do her business.” I was drawn like I have not been drawn by a book for a long time. First drawn by my longing to have a father’s advice on the writing life. Then stung by not having my Dad most of my life to guide and encourage me. Then grateful for the book as if the Lord was handing it to me. Joyful over the aspect of being touched and led. Now chewing on the bones and meat of this tome.

The quote his daughter chose in the forward by Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet, sum up my struggle.

“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us to believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.”

Rainer Marie Rilke

Unsayable. Holy things are immediately diminished when we try to put words around them. Poignant becomes less than when I try to pin it down with words. Struggling with how to relate this to you, the reader, I was reminded that often the Lord has asked me just to be His lily leaf, stand and tip.

So my walk with God is just percolating with these refinements and struggles to express myself. Finally, I have decided to work my way through my journals (and there a TON of journals, maybe 30 or more) and poetry to try to relate my story with God to you. Mostly in chronological order, but am certain there will be times when I jump out of order and just tell the story.

He calls me to stand and tip. 

My prayer on October 1, 2021. Father, You led me to this. How do I express in the blog these unsayable things in my own life that have been steeped in Your Presence, soaked with Your love, dripping with Your power especially in my weakness? Help me find the words from my experiences and through the journals and poetry to encourage others, show the way to Your heart, reveal my soul, uncover my hidden-ness and show forth Your glory … Your Presence here and now. Only You can guide me in this. My methods have been faltering. I want to do Your work and Your call. Guide me, O Thou, great Jehovah.” It is almost too difficult to even write that prayer. I am not asking for help for my own glory, but so that You may be glorified and lifted up.

I will stand at my watchpost,
    and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
    and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
    it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
    it will surely come, it will not delay.
Look at the proud!
    Their spirit is not right in them,
    but the righteous live by their faith
.

Habakkuk 2:1-4