A Pop of Squill

Our home was built by a  returning WWII veteran, in the late 1940s. I grew up not more than a mile from my someday home and even visited here as a child in the 1970s. I remember clinging close by my dad's dungarees, unable to see over the counter, while he bought tomato plants from the owner of what was then the local garden nursery. When we moved here twenty-four years later, every raised bed sported a stubborn, and somewhat evil, grass and weed mixture. 

With our almost two-year-old son needing lots of fresh air,  I was often outside. Digging in the dirt seemed to appeal to both of us since there were plenty of bugs and worms to examine and and collect. We sang nursery tunes while the work of establishing gardens progressed. He danced his toddler jigs around our little acre, and I cleared grass and broke clods. We played the 'question game', while I raked and planted - he was always happy to  water. Every spring and summer, a few more yards of the long  garden beds were reclaimed from grass and planted with perennials, bulbs and flowering bushes.
Finally the day came when the last bed was cleared and planted - what a victory!

I planted the bulbs for these spring blooms late one fall when my pregnant belly was almost too big for me to fold over and dig the holes. Now twenty years later,  the wind flower has spread to make a beautiful carpet of bloom and the squill pops in as a little extra reminder of the beauty of a spring resurrection.

Side Thoughts:
- The reclaiming and planting of the garden beds was hard work. Sometimes I ended up in bed with all my muscles aching, and trembling in every limb. 
- Even though it was stinky, dirty work, I was happy to do it. No one TOLD me to do it, and no one has ever prompted me to 'get back to it'. 
- Part of the enjoyment is in the sharing of the results with my sons, my husband, as well as my family and friends. What fun it's been over the years to help a new gardener establish her flower beds!
- I made lots of mistakes in beginning, but the trial and error aspect has always been part of the fascination and satisfaction. 
- If a venture* turns out to be a burden, no longer filled with joy and interest, is it worth pursuing? 
- Does age make a difference in the discarding of an undertaking that's turned into a burden?
- Should perceived success have any role in the same decision?

* I'm not pondering responsibilities here, which are must do - as unto the Lord
 and, as we all know, usually involve difficulty and perseverance.


A New Thing

Pay attention - the Lord is speaking:

"Behold, I am doing a new thing;
 now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
 I will make a way in the wilderness 
and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:19

Do you ever feel pushed and pulled about by the Lord? He's doing new works in my life, pointing His prompting, gentle finger at things I've never before seen. As if His arm is around my shoulder, He's directing my gaze toward a new route. 

I have to confess, I'm a little afraid. 
OK then, I'm a LOT afraid. 
At 47, I've scratched out a pretty comfy rut over here. I know a few things I'm pretty good at and I stick to those. It's easy to control those on my own and appear to be reasonably capable and acceptably competent. I've been avoiding anything at which I lack the power to excel. But He's pointing. He's lifting my chin and beckoning me out of the rut and toward a new path where HE may excel through an obviously weak vessel - me.

What new thing is He doing in your life? 
Where is He calling you to walk that you've always been fearful to go?
Will we leap out of our ruts and scamper toward a certain WIN-WIN situation?


On the Verge

Spring is full of verges, isn't it?
Things are waking up out in the garden, grasses are going all emerald, and 
this afternoon, an actual warm breeze blew across my willing face.
I'm going to appreciate this spring season more than any in a very long time.

Crocus are up out there, purple and yellow, and anemone have begun to carpet under the red maple.
Here's the first bunch of daffodils - a wild group that were here when we moved in 20 years ago.
Leave it to the wilder bunch to bloom out first!
 The more snooty, stately blooms are getting ready behind the curtain.
Can you see the outline of the blooms inside the leaf sleeves?
They're on the verge of a really big show ...


Willow Spring

I have curly willow  sprouting on my dining room buffet. 
So I KNOW it must be spring.
Even though outside, snow is blowing in almost white-out conditions, if only for this one hour.

The unselfish gifts of a fellow gardener are much to be treasured.
These branches came from a generous cousin who just happened to have pruners in his back 
pocket. As with all garden plants that have come to me as 'slips', 'cuttings' or 'handfuls', 
every time I look at the growing version in my yard, I'll be reminded of the giver.
What could be better? 

(Except that fellow who gave me pink primrose. He wasn't a friend, 
though, and the plants were for sale, but this is the only plant
 that I've ever really wished I'd never seen.
Makes sense, I guess.)

We have an old fashioned weeping willow in our front yard already, but
it hasn't sprouted any tender leaves - not yet. I'm watching, though,  for those light green, 
tiny leaves that carry so much emotional weight for me. That special tree is a living memorial, 
marking the life and death of one precious hope. The new pearl-like buds of a willow 
returning to life in the spring reassure me that there is New Life to be anticipated by all His 

We need not mourn without hope!


A Sign

Snowdrops in the Snow


In Contrast

It's still happening. 
Ice storms in March.
Where are the snowdrops?
Are the crocus still asleep under their snow blanket, or did they give up?
Every time I think we're on the downward slope into spring, we head back out 
into the winter wonderland.
The ice on these hydrangea heads did not drip down and form
ordinary icicles ... it skittered sideways instead.
If I had to pick one photo to represent our winter, this would be it. 

Just for a little contrast, a reality check of sorts,
this is what was happening on February 23rd, at the end of another winter.

Instead we have this -

No February squill this year -

But just glance outside to see last year's roses encased in ice - 

These are usually among the first to find their 
way to the sunshine in February or early March - 

Not this time - 

Will the hyacinth ever appear?

Or will we wear our snow boots forever?



  Seraphina closed her hymnbook and carefully replaced it, taking care to avoid any noise that would obscure the ethereal sounds coming from the choir loft. She took her seat with the permission granted by the Bishop and folded her daintily gloved hands. The voices of the cloistered and concealed nuns seemed to float far above, borne aloft on the heavily scented air of the basilica. 
'Someday,' her heart whispered silently.

Buy Seraphina's dainty gloves here.


Fight, Fight, Fight!

For some Smaller Than Life daily drama, all I have to do is turn
(with relief)to the bird feeder.
This red-bellied woodpecker was minding his own business, enjoying a solitary meal at a usually crowded spot. 
It wasn't long before one of the Evil Starling Mob  peeked around an edge and 
 the game was afoot!
Quickly there were two attackers, but no way did our hero is give up his spot at the buffet bar.

When a third one flew in and put its foot in the woodpecker's face,
I thought they would win, just as they had bullied all the other birds away.
But no!

This leg-grabbing move sent them all squawking.

And they stayed away ... for at least 15 minutes.


Balloon Buddy Tutorial - Meet Henry

  Meet Henry.
 He's been floating around our house since last Friday night, an envoy of all things Valentine. 
1.  Buy any $1 balloon at your local Dollar Tree or other super-deep discount store. 
 When I taught first grade, I used to get a Christmas air walker for my classroom - sometimes a snowman, a reindeer, and once - a Santa!  Carried by air currents to visit desks  and perch atop bookshelves, occasionally the silent wanderer would drift across the heat vent and go shooting at high speed across the classroom.  
(screams and giggles of delight)
2. Use any color crepe paper in lengths of 12 inches or so to make arms and legs. Attach them to the bottom and sides of the balloon with clear tape. I used packaging tape.
3. Cut gloves and shoes from light paper and attach to the arms and legs with tape. I used the paper insert from a box of candy, but you could use construction paper, wrapping paper, a magazine cover, etc.

 An impulse buy at the Dollar Tree, this re-made Valentine's Day balloon has made for some cheap entertainment for my family here at home. I wish I had made these for my kids when they were little! But even as teens, they are enjoying the travels of this little character around our house.  
He does turn up in unexpected places...
We've found him waiting at the top of the stairs and staring into the computer screen.
He's been by the back door seeming to ask to go out with the dog, and he's 
hovered in front of the TV screen for a better view of Olympic curling.

4. Make eyes from a scrap of computer paper and tape or glue them to the balloon. I traced the bottom and top of a vitamin bottle with a Sharpie marker to get  nice round circles. To save weight, you could draw the eyes (and other features) directly on the balloon with a permanent marker.
It's been a nice distraction from the 

5. He (or she!) should float with shoes coming to rest every now and then. To add weight, attach paperclips to the arms or legs.  As the balloon begins to deflate, just remove paperclips. You may need to shorten the arms/legs, or trim the shoes and gloves to keep your character light enough to float as the helium escapes.

Extra Thoughts:
- The possibilities for these are endless, and they last for about a week
- Spring-themed balloons will be in the stores soon - a Flower Balloon Buddy?
- A Birthday Balloon Buddy would be a fun surprise to find at the breakfast table. 
- Use a plain balloon and allow a child's imagination and creativity lots of room for expression. How about using some feathers? Hand shapes instead of gloves? Adding shoe strings for weight instead of paper clips? Search for and print photos of real eyes instead of hand-drawn?
- A Balloon Buddy would make a 'listening' pal to hear stories from a reluctant reader, or ...
- A really cheap little brother or sister for the youngest of the family who keeps begging you to have another baby.
- Fun to hide in the closet of an unsuspecting teenager. Or behind the shower curtain. Or to strap in the passenger seat of his car. So much excitement - so little time!


Power Bulb

 One battered amaryllis bulb, on Christmas clearance.
I didn't think it was going to produce. It's happened before - 
bulb just sits there like a flaky brown lump, finally rotting away at the bottom.
Not this time!
Just when the paperwhites were finished ---
a tropical show began in my kitchen window.


Snow ... Again?

This mamma bird looks like she's about finished with snow. 
It's all over her beak, and she can't seem to keep it from piling up again.
Can you identify?
I can.


A Blue Door and Bora Bora

Shabby Charm
A starred, sky-blue door makes this place seem almost livable, don't you agree?
If I was homeless in Indiana, I'd try to get a spot in here, for sure.
Do you think we'll each be given our own mansion in heaven?
The gospel music of my childhood says "YES! A Mansion Just Over the Hilltop!"

There is debate over the meaning of the word 'mansion' in old King James' translation.
In my opinion, being given a mansion to live in  over there  seems almost contradictory 
to what He's been teaching me while I've been living  over  here.  I'm no Bible scholar, of course, 
but I find rest in the plain-spoken truth of these passages:

Matthew 6:19-21

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal."

John 14:2
"There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you 
that I am going to prepare a place for you?"

We've been getting some clarification on our final destination while reading 
50 Days of Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, a short devotional and biblically anchored. I find that 
my teenaged sons are interested, and that this topic is one they willingly ponder.
And personally, I'm finding that when you know where you're going, it gives a certain order to the rest of life
It all started with a trip to Bora Bora and the Price is Right ---

Game shows are a Snow Day Indulgence around here. (And there have been too many of them!)
I'm a little embarrassed to admit to game show watching, but there it is, out there on the 
internet, and everywhere now. ANYway, a lucky, screaming, flapping woman won a 
'once in a lifetime' trip to Bora Bora and in a flush of pure envy, 
I said to my game-show-couch-pals,  
"If you won a trip like that, it would change how you live. You could be thinking, 
'School stinks, but I'm going to be in Bora Bora in a few months!' " 
We went on about how you would make lists and prepare, planning and plotting your
time in this far-away exotic location, completely free of cost. The adventure! The food! 
The sights to be seen which had never even been imagined! The show closed, and 
we sat there in our snuggies, imagining the wonder and excitement that awaited the Bora Bora lady.

I guess you can take it from there. 
As Christians, we DO have a destination of unimaginable magnitude to look forward to
far beyond anything we could dream up, way better than any trip planned by TPIR staff.
Why is it that I forget to keep an eye on that and let it temper every less than lovely thing
 that is happening right now? 

Hence, the Heaven book - it's like a Divine Destination Brochure

More HERE.

Price Is Right clips here and here ... and one more here.
No extra charge.