The Getting of the Tree

We're getting the tree tonight, at Lowe's. (sigh)
Our favorite tree farm never did re-open, and we miss it every single  year!
 Finding and cutting the tree has been a tradition since our boys were just little guys. 
Some old photos:
(You don't see anyone snapping pics of tree-buying at Lowes, do you ...?)
Check this one out! Each boy with his specific gear, ready for the big event. 
Rope, saw (a privilege of the eldest), pacifier and Dr Seuss board book. 
I think the one pictured is  Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb - which, after reading 1.27 billion times,  I could whisper from memory into the tiny boy's ear while still paying attention to a sermon. I still can recite parts of it! 
It was bitterly cold that day. We hiked uphill and downhill, up and down, and.... up and down again. I voted enthusiastically for every even marginally acceptable tree, worrying over frostbite, sock layers, and toenail loss.

This might be on the same day, although the hats are different and coats can sometimes 
be made to last two winters and not only one. 
Judging from his overjoyed look, this boy was the first to spot the winning tree.

Sibling Issues 

These two were taken at our favorite farm, probably the first year there.
My Middle Son is taking the above shot. There are so many things to say about this photo, which might seem like a simple one. I'll just share a few, since I know you're sooo interested in the nonsense that swirls around in my head:
Whew- no paci...Those boys are so small...My Husband - that SMILE!...Tall, rubber barn boots are so useful AND make thighs seem smaller... That red coat was my favorite kid coat - every one of them wore it. 
And various thoughts of longing, which seem too great  to press into print. If you're a mom with grown children, you probably can fill in those blanks.
 And every year, he chose this tree.
I loved that - go big or go home!


It's Already Begun

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas around here!
We try to hold it off until December, but it sneaks up.
There are already some Christmas movies out, not viewed yet, but at the ready.
A plastic holiday soldier (25¢ at a yardsale) is standing in my living room, 
just begging to be plugged in so he can strut his 1950s stuff.
And the lights went up on Thanksgiving Day, while it was still warm enough to view them without a coat. 
There have been issues with the lights this year, as it seems they cannot coexist 
nicely with the washing machine, but it seems to be all worked out after a couple of dark nights. 
My Youngest is eagerly anticipating every small event that comprise our holidays. It's almost as if he (also) knows that the childhood sort of seasons may be behind him now. When they were all little, there was so much more childish wonder,  just smooshing out everywhere - it's tough to be the youngest one.  Living with a houseful of semi-adults, the last to be still lingering in youth can have a difficult time of it, I think.
I've been browsing Pinterest, looking for new sweets to make for the season. Funny, though, that the things everyone requests are the old standbys! Do you find that to be true also? The Men and Almost-Men would feel meanly cheated if there weren't some hefty containers of buckeyes to pillage. 
The make-ahead-hide-seek-and-eat game - a classic! 
I make ahead and hide; they seek and eat.

And playing on the radio right this very minute - this.
Is anyone else enjoying the full moon? 
Was anyone else awake with me at 2:30 this morning, standing at the window and gawking at the oddly-visible nighttime landscape of your own backyard? 
I opened all the curtains and finally fell back to sleep, the whole room flooded with silvery light. 
Blessings overflowing blessings!


Thanksgiving Imaginations

If I ever get to host the Thanksgiving ...
(with random fall photos)
Doesn't this look like a face???

 Right now we celebrate with our parents and siblings. Every year, I add to the feast - whatever anyone wants me to bring. This year, I'm just finishing the stuffing and mashed potato dish - WONDERFUL smells are wafting through the house! The stuffing has a diced apple from a Dear Friend's tree! 
No, we've never had apple in the stuffing before, and Yes, that might turn out to be controversial. What's a family gathering without a little controversy??? And if the raised eyebrows are ONLY over alternative stuffing ingredients, then we shall be truly blessed!
ANYway, if the celebration ever comes my way ...
And just how would that occur? Every year, I deliberately turn away from considering the mechanics involved in that. 

So - when that eventually happens, I have plans.

We will sing the doxology
Either before the prayer, after the prayer, or maybe even instead of the prayer! 

We would definitely include the kernels of corn tradition. I think just knowing that you're going to share something for which you're grateful would cause every person to seriously consider the many, many options available. 
And that would be time well spent.

OK - do you think the doxology is going too far? But it's so beautiful. And ancient. And traditional.  
That just makes it a WIN WIN WIN!  Yes, I was wavering, but the Doxology stays. 

It's firm.
Oh the dreams we dream about days ahead!
I know it is highly unlikely that the future Thanksgivings of my imaginations
will actually occur. And in knowing that, it's safe to dream.


Pampered vs. Wild

So you know about me and gourds, right?
How I pursue them every growing season? To my own embarrassment and sad failure? 
This year, after nursing the gourd vines through a drought and spraying 
the fuzz right off their mildewy leaves ...
I was able to harvest a few tiny gourds!
This few was all that came from the vines I kept in a pot, nearby, so I could water adequately and add sweet talk (begging) to their diet. Not a very good showing, but these vines had issues, so I was happy with these few adorable, wee spinner gourds.
I put two vines out in the flower beds, pairing them with the 
zinnias which I figured were sturdy enough to bear almost anything I threw their way. 
It's a teacher thing, right? 
Seating the naughty child next to the steady one, 
hoping they will balance one another out?
ANYway, I only checked those two vines occasionally - as often as I went out to cut zinnias. They seemed to be getting along famously, with less water and less attention than the spoiled potted vines. The stalks of the zinnias made climbing posts and I didn't see the same pinched stem problem out there in the beds that was happening with the potted gourds.
The yield from those less cared for vines ended up being almost double that of the other!
And check out that big fatty white gourd in the back of the photo - what the heck? 
That was the ONLY fruit from one of the vines. 
So weird!
And fun! I love experimenting in the garden!


Sinister Chickens

What makes chickens so SINISTER?
(adj. - threatening, menacing, ominousforbiddingbalefulfrighteningalarmingdisturbingdisquietingdark)

Could it be those odd, brilliant red bits of skin protruding from their heads - the 'comb'?
That's just weird, folks. Maybe if it was the same color as the surrounding feathers, that wouldn't seem so disturbing. 
Look here  for more on the menacing COMB of a chicken.

Maybe the SINISTER-ness is all about the scaly and pointy, taloned FEET. 
How do those match their fluffy-puffy, friendly seeming bodies?
There's a lurking family story involving chicken feet and the pulling of a certain tendon that will cause the foot to open and close in an disturbing way. I'm fuzzy on that one - I think I blacked out during the telling.

But what about their EYES! 
It was my impression that a chicken's eyes DO NOT BLINK. That they remain staring, at you, at all times. 
And don't they seem to be glaring...?   Why do chickens look so angry?
Just to keep it educational, read here about chicken's eyes to find out if they blink or not.
While I have no trouble imagining sweet little mice snuggling into matchbox beds,  
jacket wearing bunnies (sans pants) raiding gardens, 
or toads out for a joyride in a gypsy wagon ---

I just can't get my mind around the loveliness of a chicken.



 You know ... ?
OK, maybe you don't. 
I'll be you've already brought your over-wintering favorites into your cozy home and have saved them from a freezing death. Well, this week's below freezing temps caught me by surprise (it's a yearly surprise) and I found myself running out for a Rescue Attempt before eight a.m. In my treadmill garb, which includes pajama pants - don't ask - I rushed out there and got such a wonderful surprise!FROST
I ran back in to grab my camera and spent some time trying to capture a tiny bit of beauty for myself. 
The light on the frosted leaves - people
Truly Amazing.

Are you spending time marveling at the wonder of His ever-changing creation? 
His handiwork on display in the most ordinary and transient occurrences? 
Join me and drag your eyes away from the stuff  for just a few minutes and LOOK
Even His smallest and most incidental works are sufficient 
to put us in our place in the best and most relieving way.
So take a deep breath and go look!


Spam and Me

It's funny how I've enjoyed the blog's spam folder lately. Or maybe it's just ODD. Yes, that's probably it.
But you know what? There's always something waiting for me in the spam folder, and I really like that.  
This is what happens when you turn off the word verification. 
At first I was annoyed by all that spam
But like most annoying things, it can be funny --- if you choose to see it that way. 
And now Spam and me, we're just like that. 
At least MOST of the time. But we'll come back to that.

Here's a Spam sample for you:
- Hi there, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this blog post. It was funny. Keep on posting! 
Check out my blog :: ottawa airport shuttle service 
This one was fun - it actually sounds like someone may have read the post. 
Until that subtle plug for shuttle service gives it away.
- jordan 8 retro sale I unquestionably like your website, I can a you man as a remainder a friend jordan retro 13 ? Looking saucy to your befall my website thumbjordan 6 retro sale 
I like the 'looking saucy' part of that one, but for the most part, and this is just the way of Spam  - it makes no sense at all. It's endearing don't you think? And somehow very...European.
- Keep this going please, great job! Also see my webpage: rainbow titanium ring 
Who knows when you might want a titanium ring, after all? 
The next four years might demand one, after all. Great idea, Spam!

But this one threw me for a loop:
- ceгtainly likе youг website hoωeѵег you have tο tеst the ѕpеlling on quite а few of уour poѕts. Α numbеr of them aгe rife with spеlling problems anԁ I in finding it very botheгsome tο inform thе realіtу on thе otheг hand Ι ωill surely come baсk agaіn. Feel free to surf my website
Criticizing my spelling???
Spam! That really hurt!
Even if it might be true...


Driver Training

You know, parenting the third child is another ballgame.
You realize that perfection is not critical. 
You come to understand that it's not even attainable.
Not that anyone in their early years of parenting actually forms the conscious thought, 
"This beautiful child of mine is going to turn out to be a perfect human being." 
I know we didn't actually voice that thought. 
OOOHHH, but it was in our heads, bumping around as an Icky Expectation creating lots and lots of tangles for future unraveling. 

But, ANYway, as I was saying ...

I decided that it was pretty silly to wait until the more socially acceptable and lawful age of 16 to begin to train a driver. I mean, that's just about exactly when they have become newly certain that you probably became brain damaged at some point shortly after their birth, and that they should be recognized as 
Resident Family Genius.

I'm generalizing, but if you've been there, then you know, I'm pretty much nailing it.

Why  not go ahead and put them behind the wheel BEFORE their brains swell so tightly that they have terrible trouble following direction? Less frustration for everyone involved, I think. It's probably safer!
And this kid is certainly big enough - he's adult sized, after all. 

Imagine yourself giving some important driving instruction like ....
 "Get ready to stop.   Brake!   STOP!"
Being only 13, he's wwaaayyyy more likely to bring the vehicle to a stop in time 
instead of casually reasoning aloud that he still has 
'plenty of time to begin to stop before he gets too close, blah, velocity, blah, blah, acceleration, blah' 
Did I mention swollen brains? It's just maddening. 
No Big Driving Words thrown around by a thirteen year old.
When you consider your own bumper, you will probably begin to agree with me.
And maybe you won't be too offended by him becoming a Driver In Training at the age of 13.
If only just in the park...?


The Hometown Crowd

Are you in the hometown crowd?

I am.

Jesus left that place and came to His hometown.

I became a Christian when I was 11 years old. My early years were spent in Sunday School and Vacation  Bible School, so by the time I took my first independent step of faith toward Him at eleven, He was very familiar to me. I had diligently studied His every expression in the stained glass, I knew what He wore in every flannelgraph set, and many memorized prayers were part of my young life.

And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished, saying, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?...

Over the years between then and now, I've often encountered a Jesus that does not seem to be the same person that I became comfortable with in the spring of my life. His actions, or non-actions, seem to be uncharacteristic at times. And I'm often shocked, and sometimes a little scandalized, by what I see Him doing in the world.

...Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?" 

I'm left trying to match the Lord of my Ecclesiastical Youth with the Lord of the Unexpected Now, and my faith-legs seem too wobbly sometimes to make the leap.

And they took offense at Him. 

And He could do no mighty work there...

I do not want to be part of this story from Mark, chapter 6, but this morning, I saw myself there! Do you ever see yourself in the scriptures? Yikes! 
You're in there, too - I  just checked. 
Thanks to the gentle revelations of His Holy Spirit, we have an opportunity to repent and remove ourselves from having a Hometown Crowd sort of faith. Because this -

...He marveled at their unbelief.

is not what I'm going for.

Are you in the hometown crowd?


Invisible Cords

toward the sun
In these chillier and chillier fall days, it seems like that's what we're all doing around here.
The sun looks bright and hot through the glass. But when you get outside, thinking you might get to bask in the heat one more time, the cold air sends you right back indoors. 
I couldn't help but sympathize with these zinnias as they seem drawn
almost by invisible cords, toward those morning rays.
Don't we all tend to lean into warmth?

"...the goodness of God leads you to repentance..." Romans 2:4


Dream (almost) Come True

If you've read for a while, or if you know me well, you know that I've 
always wanted to hand feed chickadees. 
Look here and here for some history.
I have no idea where this nature geek-ish desire came from - I just go with it. 
It finally happened!
Sort Of
This is a perfect example of :
Things Don't Turn Out The Way You Think They Will
I thought my experience would be like this amazing video.
But that's not how it went. 
You see this poor, confused bird got stuck in our greenhouse.
After beating himself senseless against the glass, 
My Husband scooped up the exhausted and stunned bird and brought him to me.
I love how he tries to help me accomplish my life-goals!
I ran for some seed, hoping he would eat from my hand, but he never even noticed it. 
He's squinting at me in this photo, trying to figure out what sort of tree I might be
while I try to convince him with baby talk that I'm actually his new BFF.
He flew away after he heard a buddy from a nearby tree chirp, 
"Hey, Stupid! You're in a human hand! 
You're in a HAND!"