Pileated WoodpeckerS Delight!

It is a treat to see a Pileated in the back yard. It is unusual to see two at a time. Three Pileateds equal a huge event! We have lived here 15 years and never seen them courting and dancing tree to tree, wing displays, calls and all! Perhaps they were simply defending their territory? We may never know. It was exciting for us! There was no time to set up a video camera on a tripod. Besides, that would have sent them off to some other part of the woods. Robert Dutina shot the video while I just ooh-ed and aah-ed!

Facts from Wikipedia: “Adults are 16 to 19 in long, span 26 to 30 in across the wings, and weigh 8.8 to 14.1 oz, with an average weight of 11 oz. Each wing measures 8.4 to 10.0 in , the tail measures 5.5 to 6.9 in, the bill is 1.6 to 2.4 in.”

I swear, from the kitchen or bedroom window they look like small chickens compared to the black capped chickadee or sparrow! Here is a shot out our bedroom window one winter.

At times when I hear them call I think of the zoo or a jungle somewhere!

Ears and eyes alert! Never know when you will happen upon a treasure! Hoping there are some at our new address!!

 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Matthew 6:26-27

Holy Week – What is A Christian To Do?

I have spent most of my life following Jesus. One of my greatest Christian teachers was Francis of Assisi. He chose to be stripped of possessions and riches and to follow Christ unhindered by things. For several years I was a Third Order Franciscan through the Episcopal church. Recently my friend, Bonnie, reminded me of a quote from Francis on his deathbed. He is purported to have said, “I have done what was mine to do. May Christ now teach you what you are to do.”

How might we go about doing that? The Book of Common Prayer Morning Prayer Rite 2 in the general thanksgiving says “…show forth Your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to Your service ….”

On Monday and Tuesdays when I do not “feel” like writing I am reminded that I give up myself to His service by writing this blog. It is mine to do. I pray what I write will encourage others to follow Jesus. I pray the things I tell about will inspire others to pull down strongholds and walk on with the Savior of our souls. I pray I might amuse others and help lift them from the doldrums of the daily grind. I struggle to put into words my relationship with a Holy God through the power of the Holy Spirit given as a result of the life, sacrifice, resurrection and then ascension of Jesus Christ.

So what is Christ asking you to do?

I have found over the years that if I feel stuck spiritually I need to go back to the last thing the Lord asked me to do, and be certain I did that.

Francis also said, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

So there were things like: volunteer at the homeless shelter. Try to help organize the shelter donations. Set up the construction of a new donation out building. The Church carried that out.

Bonnie also quoted these steps:

  1. Do what is necessary.

2. Do what is possible.

3. Let God take care of impossible details and do as He leads.

Carry on!

But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

House Progress

Whirlwind here in Ohio!
Plumber was followed by furnace installation was followed by electrician. Inspection upon inspection (fine by us!!). Below is a photo update.

My kitchen window. Oops! It is set so that my eye hits the middle of the frame.

Oh well, I will adjust. Look just above the middle of the frame. The infamous hammock! It is on a rope in the neighbor’s yard that the wind wrapped around the tree.

Looking from the front foyer into the great room. Sliding glass door goes in the large opening on left of back wall. Window to the right will be over the sink. Dining room is in front of slider. Kitchen/dining room measure 23′ x 14′.

Great room measures 17′ x 16′. So hard to tell dimensions with studs showing!

Puddle on floor is from before they got roof on.

So the puddle is approximate placement of refrigerator. Left of that will be cabinet, stove, cabinet then pantry in the corner. Wall where the boxes are is wall where TV and photos will go. See the rolls of green insulation? Door to the right of those is laundry room. Use your imagination for the next one, too! Behind kitchen wall is master bedroom. Doorway is left of the insulation. About now you are saying, “Yeah! right!”

We did not want those black cabinets. We chose sort of a cherry finish instead, “Fairfield Nutmeg.” To the right of the black cabinet is our countertop sample. Carpet sample will be in bedrooms and office. Tile will be flooring in bathrooms and laundry floor. Above the tile is sample of the resilient flooring that will be from front door, throughout great room, dining room and kitchen. I think it goes down the hall to laundry and master bedroom, too.

Not the layout of our kitchen, but a sample of Fairfield Nutmeg cabinets.

Maybe we will get that lovely tile work done after we move in?

So we are still finding things to pack, even though we have hired movers to pack as well as move us. Lots of imagination for now. Oh we also have a garage door now! Front door is simply plastic sheet at this point.

Today Bob spoke with the people who lay the sod and install the plants. We want to choose our own plants and shrubs. She is sending a form online where we can define our flower bed, etc. As of now we are uncertain if the sod will be down before we move in. Would be really nice to have that for Lucky! They come and do many new houses at once, so we will wait and see! Then we are responsible to keep the sod watered regularly until it takes root.

The builder keeps surprising us with updates. Seems like at this point the closing will be May 5? Bring me a sugar-free Margarita! Naw, just give me the keys 🙂 The only thing that would hold that up is if we have many days of rainfall. If that happens then the “mud” on the drywall can’t dry thoroughly for the sanding and painting, etc.

Exciting none the less!

Eleanor Grace

My middle Grandgirl is a darling girl. As a very young child she was a handful, at times VERY difficult to cope with. (Would love to post her young pouting photo here, but the older ones are packed away.) As she grew older she has become more and more pleasant and extremely kind.

I have always wanted to pass along my faith to my grandchildren. Difficult to know how to impart that without disrupting family dynamics. St Francis said, “Preach always. Use words if necessary.” Nicole C. Mullen was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She published this song in 2000. She speaks truth about God’s children. Hebrews 1:14 says “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

I often sang this as a prayer for my children and grandchildren to know God. One person said they would each learn by watching how Bob and I live our lives. Before middle school each Grandchild knew we loved Jesus and live for Him.

The oldest Grandgirl, Lizzie, blessed me when she went to Christian Camp in 1994 when she was in Middle School and got baptized. Her Mom invited Bob and I show up at the pool for the event! I was so tickled.

At Christmas this year our second Grandgirl, who has never liked jewelry, was wearing two necklaces. I knew she and her Mom had bought one together a few months earlier. The necklaces were inside her sweater. I asked her if it was the necklace that she and her Mom both wear. She said yes, and showed me the other one she was wearing. It was a tasteful gold cross. I was stunned. When I found my words I invited her to come into the living room with me alone. Through our masks I asked her about her cross necklace.

She said, “Mommy bought it for me.” I asked if that was a piece of fashion jewelry or if it meant more to her than that. Put on the spot, she stammered, “Well, you know, Jesus.” I refrained from jumping up and down! I told her I was so glad she believes in Him. I asked her if she would like me to get her a Bible and underline my favorite verses. She said yes, her eyes twinkling.

Many years ago I got frustrated with the concordance in the back of my Bible. I decided to make my own concordance, gathering up all the verses with special meaning to me. That is my major remaining project before we move. Marking two New Testaments for the Grandgirls to have as their own with my favorite verses highlighted.

They have their own angels assigned to them now. I am beyond delighted. It was a Christmas surprise I continue to rejoice over!

Soon to Be

Our house. Remember the song from Crosby, Stills, and Nash? It was one of our favorites when we got married.

Here is the beginning of 27 Platform Way, our new address!

All photos by r m dutina

In the third photo at edge of white house roof, you can see a neighbor has a hammock stuck in a tree. Bob thinks it looks like a giant blue bra! Wonder how we could get down?!?!

Doesn’t look like much yet, but better than the mud hole we were seeing!

January Flowers

January is the month to purchase flowers at Kroger’s. They had roses for $10 a dozen. I ordered the color I liked through Click List. They were gorgeous! There is no certainty these days that roses will open in a lovely fashion, or wilt and bend over, or stay frozen in the pose of the bud. These opened gradually and in a remarkable fashion. Especially at $10 a dozen! I also splurged and ordered a bunch of tulips. They did not have the small bunch I ordered, so they queried the proposal that I mighty want to accept the larger bunch in its place. Well, certainly! Especially since they only charged me the smaller bunch price.

The wonderful thing about tulips, once they are cut – they are the only cut flower that continues to grow after being cut. (I think I learned that from a weatherman on TV.) So I made arrangements of the two flowers.

Four days later the arrangements looked rangy. The tulips had grown, as Tim Hedricks told us. So I cut the tulips back and changed the water, letting them bloom on!

Aren’t they sweet? Too bad they have no fragrance!

I liked them so much I bought the two flowers again this week, although in different colors! They are especially soothing as we tear up the house, take down photos and favorite things off the walls getting ready to show this house. We have lived here about 15 years. Last time we moved we had lived there 30 years. Raised two kiddos there. So this is not as emotional as leaving where the babies grew up. We do have some wonderful memories here, though. As I went out to walk Lucky last night I remembered the Peter, Paul and Mary song that started, “This house goes on sale every Wednesday morning And taken off the market in the afternoon.” Written by Tom Jones. Now Taylor, if you read that, it’s just a song! You know we intend to move!

I counted in the bedroom. Bob had about 20 nail holes to patch. And my favorite deep purple wall will need painting according to realtor advice. The realtor wants to meet in about 4 weeks and show the house March 1. Seems too early to me, but we are adamant about a clause that gives us two weeks to move out AFTER we close on the new one.

Glad we did not wait until we were any older to do this! Every evening we are weary and making lists of what else needs to be done. Quite a pandemic distraction!

Benefits of Beagle Walking

Remember “Twas the Night Before Christmas?” I know in school we were required to memorize it. Walking the dog in bright moonlight one evening, like Christmas night, I was thinking, “The moon on the crest of the new fallen snow cast shadows like midday from objects below.” I knew it was not the exact verse of the poem which goes “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.” But OH the shadows from that brilliant moon.

This year one neighbor put up Christmas lights galore which were synchronized with music. It took him a few days to find the volume knob on the music. Every time I would step out with the dog in the evening I was blasted by the joyous chorus of Jingle Bells and other songs 3 houses away. When he finally turned the volume down, it became just pleasant caroling. The winds got the better of him and before Christmas Day most of his display was damaged or taken down.

AND BEST OF ALL!! Walking Lucky at about 2:00 one afternoon I heard them in the distance. Just one at first, but as they got closer multiple voices and YES! flying right over head was a flock of CRANES! I have seen them in New Mexico and we visited the large migration in Nebraska, but OHIO?!?! Turns out they are endangered here but have been making a revival. I did not have a camera or even a phone with me to catch a picture, but below is a photo taken in Nebraska when we went to see the great migration for ourselves.

photo by r m dutina

As you can see, there is no mistaking them for geese or herons as they fly with their necks extended, legs extended and have a huge wingspan. They also are really loud with their calls.

Keep looking for treasures in plain sight! Even when you least expect them. This beagle makes me go outside, even when I am reluctant to leave the warm house!

Speaking of Our Beagle

When our daughter’s family came over Lucky Dog was in heaven. After opening gifts we had cake and ice cream and then put our masks back on while we visited. Oldest Grandgirl gives the dog an all over scratching. Same girl does not like to have her photo taken, so sadly, no picture of her. Younger Grandgirl decided to give Lucky a massage. This dog was hoping the girls would just move in and stay forever!

This is the face of Beagle contentment!

See Grandgirl’s smiling eyes!

I love you! Don’t stop!!!
The Parents are not going to take her away, are they?!?!

I believe Lucky almost cried when they left. Such are the glories of a doggie Christmas!

“To Bless the Space Between Us”

John O’Donohue wrote a book of blessings that I occasionally pull out and re-read. I think this one sums up Christmas Day 2020 rather nicely!

Now is the time to free the heart,

Let all intentions and worries stop,

Free the joy inside the self,

Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends

Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,

Those whose kindness watchful and near,

Encourages you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,

Things your effort could never earn,

The health to enjoy who you want to be

And the mind to mirror mystery.

For Celebration John O’Donohue

May you celebrate the indwelling Christ as we remember His birth as man.

Windy December

The change of seasons always seems to hit hard in December. In southwestern Ohio we tend to have high winds during those times. The folks who display blow up decorations are hard pressed to drop their displays in time not to have them suffer permanent damage.

In years past people tended to buy hard plastic decorations. You have likely seen something like the one below over the years.

One year at Christmas time we were bringing our oldest Grandgirl to our house after her nursery school had let out for the day. At our encouragement she was looking at decorations along the way. It had been one of those windy December days. We passed the home of a Catholic family. They tended to not place the baby Jesus in the display until December 24th.

As we passed their yard Lizzie said, “I see Mary. I see Joseph. I guess Jesus blowed away!”

Sweet memory!

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7 NIV

Make room in your heart for Him this year! You will not regret it.