Ireland Birthday

One of my best gifts EVER was when my husband took me to Ireland to celebrate my 60th birthday. We visited Connemara and learned “Connemara is bounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean and encompasses a wide variety of natural and semi-natural habitats. It also has diverse economic resources. Among the more unusual are extensive deposits of soapstone and veins of green marble and vivid white quartz.The marble is a serpentine-rich rock, popular since ancient times as a decorative facing stone. With its ‘forty shades of green’ and its wild patterns, it represents perfectly the landscapes of the Emerald Isle.”

This morning as I looked at one polished piece of marble from there I was struck by a similar sight off my deck!

Same polished piece, turned over.

Lovely marble indeed. Just one of the many, many shades we saw in the showroom. And then outside my window …

Lichen? on standing tree and
on fallen trees.

Camera did not quite catch it, but the shades are so alike in my eyes that I was startled. Fond, fond memories from May, 2011!

Married to a Photographer

My husband has decided to take a photo a day for 2019. This had been quite a venture! First it is difficult for him to take just one photo, so he shoots things that interest him or depict the day. Most of them are lovely in my eyes. He deletes and deletes and feels fortunate when he is left with one photo at the end of the cutting session.

Later this year we are planning a month long road trip. We have maps and books and markers to highlight the points of interest and routes. We have ordered triptiks from AAA and planned which route we will take first if winter decides to linger and make our travel miserable. Now if the government shuts down again, that is an entirely different thing. AGGRAVATION! When we visited Yellowstone a few years ago, our trip was cut short by one day when they closed the gates.

Oh my! We took a recent road trip to northern Indiana. It was a gorgeous sunny day. Cold, but lovely. Recently the entire area had drenching rains and then a cold snap. Rivers and creeks rose and ice formed around trees and along the banks. There were even weird shapes on some ponds where the high wind had whipped up the water and it froze in waves. The Wabash river was flooded for miles and miles and miles.

After multiple stops at many places for’ just one more photo,’ my husband realized that at this rate, when we make our long trip we will never make it to St. Louis on the first day! His caveat: “Of course, we have already been to St. Louis.”

I don’t object to all of this unless of course, the car door is left open and it is 20 degrees outside. Solution, turn up the heater and put fan on a higher speed. When we are obstructing the passage of other cars I would prefer a blinker or the flashers be turned on to help them see us as NOT moving. When he got back in the car once and said, “Oops! I left the gear shift in drive.” I almost panicked, but we turned it to gratitude that nothing awful happened and laughed it off. From then on, when he jumped out I checked that gear shift, you betcha!

On the return trip home the next day we got caught in miserable snow squalls. Not many photos. Just glad to get home safely.

Grandgirl #1

On a recent outing Grandgirl #1 was wearing her favorite winter jacket. One button was hanging precariously. I suggested we pocket the button until we could sew it on. She had tied a knot in the thread. She asked if I could fix it for her? I told her certainly! If I had known she needed repairs I would have brought supplies and done it during our meeting.

This is the young lady who can spend hours designing and creating woven bracelets and bookmarks made from multiple strands of embroidery thread.

I had to wonder why she did not sew the button on herself? So the thought crossed my mind that perhaps she just wanted me to feel needed and useful!

After doing the repairs on every dangling button and loose button, I put the dry clean only jacket in the dryer on no heat with a dryer sheet. A friend had told me this method is quite effective for removing dog hair. When I took it out of the dryer there was less hair, but there was one more button that had come off. So I sewed it on. Afterwards I noticed it was right over the area of the upper pocket, where you can put your hands in for a quick warm-up. I did not want not remove it if she never used the pocket.

So I texted her and this is when she cracked me up! ”

Me: Do you use the upper pockets on your jacket or only the lower ones?

G-Girl#1: Where are the upper pockets?

Me: Guess you don’t then, huh? You have 2 sets of pockets on that jacket. You crack me up! The upper ones are fairly tiny.

G-Girl #1: Oh okay

I redid the button so she could actually USE those tiny pockets if she wanted. Then I put a dollar bill in each one and wonder now how long it will take her to find those once her Pop returns the coat tomorrow.

Oh the differences in generations! And the joy Grandgirls bring ;-D

Another Plant I Admire

Did you have a story in elementary school about the pussy willow shrub? I think I must have because it brings a smile to my face each time I see it.

In our old neighborhood I let a friend cut some branches to take home. She told her girls about the bush. Trying to say back the name her youngest exclaimed. “Oh look! Squishy Pillows!”

These shrubs are fun because they shout a promise of spring and they are easy to cultivate. Cut a few branches. Let them root in water. Transplant to a moist place in the yard and let them go! Each spring after the leaves emerge from the buds, my husband cuts them back so that new branches will form for the next spring.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/pussy-willow/growing-pussy-willows.htm/?print=1&loc=bot

The above website says: “The technique of coppice, severe renewal pruning, is often successfully used as part of pussy willow care too. Branches of the pussy willow are somewhat weak, so yearly pruning when flowers are spent encourages new growth for the next year.

“Cutting branches for indoor display is an excellent use of catkins and flowers when growing a pussy willow tree. Cut branches with buds and place them in a tall vase in bright sunlight. You’ll be rewarded with indoor blooms before the outdoor tree breaks bud, in many cases.”

When the daffodils are in full bloom I love to cut these for a nice spring arrangement!

Ha! I found two older ladies singing the song from elementary school! Guess it was not a story, but a song. Think pussy cat. (Sadly, the word has become vulgar in today’s political society. ) I was impressed that these ladies could do the movement at the end! I found a video of children singing it with movements, but their voices were very faint. Enjoy!

Moss, Beautiful Moss

Quoting from http://www.akron.com/pages.asp?aID=15774

“Moss is an equal opportunity plant that readily grows anywhere it finds favorable conditions. It has a shallow root system and thousands of tiny spores that can be quickly dispersed far and wide by wind and rain. This allows moss to gain a fast foothold and spread easily.

“Moss loves shady conditions with dappled sunlight, moist acidic soil of low fertility and poor drainage and little or no air circulation. Its favorite side of anything is the north side. Heavy clay soil and overgrown shrubs and trees all help to contribute to conditions that are favorable to moss growth. Although the moss may be unsightly, plants and grass are not harmed or killed by moss.”

Moss promises me that even in ugly areas (like clay on parts of our hillside) beauty can be found and spring will return! When we photograph flowers in the Smoky Mountains I love to try to capture close-ups of moss. I can imagine an entire village of tiny creatures and people populating it. Look closely next time you see moss! I once brought in a clump to grow on our window sill. It was very difficult to keep the light and moisture to it’s liking.

Love the yellow green amidst the browns and gray of winter!

Winter Growth

Today, if she were still alive, my mother would have been 106 years old! She loved flowers and worked in a flower shop much of her adult life. Not as a designer, but a shop clerk. A few weeks ago I showed you the first clump of daffodils growing on our hillside.

My favorite photographer taking same photo.

Here they are February 4, 2018, a little worse for wear from all the snow, freezing rain and bitter cold we have had. One delight from living in southwestern Ohio, you never knew what you will find once the snow melts and you can see the plants once again!

Obvious blossoms in those buds!

Forecast for the next two days is warm with a possible two inches of rain! Can’t wait to see how the daffodils respond! One day soon I hope to write about my lifelong fascination with daffodils.

A Prompt in Plain Sight

Found this a year or so ago on the sidewalk. I have kept it ever since. It is a writing prompt and in some ways a prod. How so? you ask.

If you have a broken pencil you cannot write much unless you sharpen it and determine to use it. And that is the prod part. Was I willing to use it and sharpen it? This was before I started writing the blog. For years I had been putting off actually writing with regularity and purpose. Once again, I was being given the choice of just keeping a broken pencil, throwing it away, or putting it to work.

And the prompt? Even the stub of a pencil can be used to write. What is to stop the finder from using it? Yes, some kid is missing a green pencil from their colored pencil set, but what about the senior citizen who found and kept it. Will she make use of it, even in old age and gray hair? Will she step out in faith and just do it?

You can scroll through my posts and see if you agree. I think I am onto the discipline of using it and helping the last years of the pencil produce a harvest! Not to mention, the older woman holding said pencil.

Steve Green summed it up nicely with the song “You Want To, Now Will You”


You’ve heard the words
And know they’re true
And now they ring inside of you
They’re calling you to come away
Now will you come or stay.

You want to, now will you
You want to, now will you
The truth that burns within you
Like a bed of fiery coals
Contains that power to liberate
A thousand captive souls
But if the truth will ever set you free
Depends on you
You want to, now will you
You want to…now will you

Bitter Cold!

And yet the birds await us. “Please fill the feeder!” they seem to say. They take turns on the suet block which is already out there. Even the yellow-bellied sapsucker who rarely comes this close is willing to feed on the suet this morning.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker I posted once before on a day with no snow!

Thirty mph gusts knock the snow off the deck railings and at last the birds have a place to perch without fighting snow. The wind almost knocked a cardinal off a tree branch and he had to seek a lower perch.

As I watch my husband fill the feeders, wearing his warmest down jacket, scarf, hat and removing a glove to open and close the seed holder, I wonder where the birds shelter when it is this cold? They are saying in our current conditions frostbite can occur on skin in thirty minutes. What about the birds’ toes? After a sudden snow squall moved through at twenty-five MPH the cardinals each had white snow around the feathers surrounding their eye on the side that was exposed to the snow. The red-bellied woodpeckers were lined up on one side of a thick maple tree like planes on a runway, but out of the blowing snow.

More importantly, what about the homeless man in our neighborhood? He walks and walks likely many miles per day. Sometimes he uses the toilet at United Dairy Farmers. Once I saw him go in there and slipped the cashier five dollars for him. He refuses things we have offered him and I thought she might have more luck if I did the offering anonymously. Our son has even offered to buy him fast food and he always refuses. Last year someone gave him a thermal jumper like some outdoors workmen wear. He wore it until it fell apart in the spring. But where is he today in this thirty minute frostbite warning? Where did he sleep last night? What about tonight?

Sunshine is forecast for this afternoon but the wind chill warning continues into tomorrow afternoon or longer if they extend it. I will pray for the man who is living out in this weather. His red hair and beard always confirm to me that, yes, it is the same guy. I do not know what ails him that he feels he must live that way, but Lord protect him. If there is some way we can reach out to him, please show us and we will do it speedily. Maybe I will run up to “The Dairy” and find out if they have seen him the last couple days. Perhaps buy a gift card for them to give to him?

The Weight of Wood

How much do you think your sins weigh? Just your personal screw-ups and errors? I know mine weigh plenty.

In Pilgrims Progress Bunyan wrote: “Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. “He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulcher. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.”

Have you intentionally taken your sins to the foot of the cross and let go of them? I find I cannot grow until I let loose of them.

Have you ever tried to move a piece of tree that has fallen or been cut down? I blew out my back once thinking I could move just a log, about 30 inches around but only 20 inches long. Partially ruptured a disc that still gives me fits years later. Now I find out by an on-line search that a sugar maple branch that is 10 inches on one end, 12 inches on another and 3 feet long can weigh 123 pounds!

So often I see crosses in this day and age, made from wood, but on close examination you can see that the shape is made of wooden planks and hollow on the inside. I know that is more practical for hanging on a wall or erecting in a yard, but imagine if they were solid wood like His was?

Can you imagine the weight of the cross beam that the Lord had to carry to Golgotha? The actual weight of the wood and the additional weight of our sins must have made it tremendously heavy! 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV 2011) says “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

The cross used in Roman crucifixions consisted of two parts: “the upright or mortise, referred to as the stipes, or staticulum, and the tenon or crosspiece, which is called the patibulum or antenna.” “In Mark 15:36, the scripture reads that Jesus was offered a sponge with vinegar stuck to a hyssop reed. The average height of a male in that time period was approximately 5 feet, and the reed of a hyssop averages 1 to 2 feet long. These figures indicate that the cross was approximately 7 to 9 feet tall. The patibulum that Jesus’ arms were outstretched and nailed to was likely 5 to 6 feet long. The entire cross is estimated to have weighed well over 300 pounds.” https://www.reference.com/world-view/were-dimensions-jesus-cross-406d63ed53e6b194?qo=contentSimilarQuestions

The horizontal bar known as the patibulum had a weight of between 75 and 125 pounds. Some believe that this is the only part of the cross that was carried. https://www.reference.com/world-view/much-did-cross-weigh-jesus-carried-299ed7bac97a3f86

“In the Passion of the Christ movie, Jim Caviezel was seemingly the perfect candidate to play Jesus Christ. What you may not have known is that he experienced a shoulder separation when the 130-pound cross was dropped unto his shoulder.” That scene is still in the movie. “That was a heavy cross. It was probably more than half the weight of a typical Jewish man. It took great inner strength for Jesus to carry such a weight after being severely scourged with a cat-o-nine whip, hit in the head with a reed, had a crown of thorn pressed into his head, and abandoned by all his friends. “Jim did it with a separated shoulder, though we are sure he did not traverse the full length of the journey but the pain in his face during that scene would have been real.” Read more at https://www.beliefnet.com/entertainment/movies/galleries/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-passion-of-the-christ-movie.aspx?p=2#3m5q2PY4OhVyx0Tb.99

God says that you are worth all the pain and suffering that Jesus endured. He would have done it if you were the only person on earth. In Isaiah 49:14-16 (NIV 2011) we read “But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” And God replied: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

You are precious in His sight. Drop your sins at the foot of His cross and let them fall into the abyss. Thank Him today for each and every blessing and especially His sacrifice on your behalf. Walk with Him, talk with Him, rejoice that He has called you His own!