Tree Gazing

My favorite tree in the fall is the sweetgum. 
It's in the side yard, right outside the window.
When I'm in my workroom, it beckons to me.
 When my boys were little, we used to go out and just lay in the grass 
and marvel at its wide and thick strong arms. It's a huge, ginormous tree, stories high. 
That being one of the beauties of home education! I must confess that as a former teacher  in
an inner city school system, I was never afraid to send my sons into the public schools.
While many portray the public schools as bastions of evil, I know that there are many, many 
caring people there who shepherd their students along in the most positive ways. 
No, I didn't begin home educating because of fear. 
I just wanted more tree time! 
Shared moments of laughter, tree gazing, grass rolling - as many moments as we wanted. 
 It makes a person a little dizzy to think about climbing all the 
way up and getting a view from the tippy top. 
The squirrels and birds peered down at us from their heights - worlds in reversal. 
Now that I'm on my own this fall, I haven't been out there to tree gaze.
It seems like something that begs for a companion, doesn't it?

I brought in all of the plants I'd like to save from the frost to begin overwintering in the greenhouse.
Their stems must be pruned down pretty severely - it's a little bit sad to break back all
of the splendor of summer, but necessary for the plant to survive, if it will survive
I thought it was particularly sad to see the long vines of this gorgeous mandevilla in the weed heap.
All in hopes of enjoying it again next spring! 

Gardening produces so much HOPE, don't you agree?


Frost Warning

It's hard to believe that the gardening season is almost over.
Our temps are supposed to dip below freezing for three of the next four nights.
Whatever is growing out there will be dead and dying, all crisped with frost.

A part of me would like to do the happy dance about that.
We'll * work through the gardens once more and take out any stray weeds, mulch with
leaf shreds, cut off anything that needs it, and declare the gardens "Put To Bed" for 
the year. By the time the Christmas lights go up **, I do NOT want
to be thinking about the gardens at all and certainly not again until March.
OK, I'll start scouting for new life out there by February. Snowdrops!
And (gasp) Polar Pansies! I just put them in - will they return in the early spring??? 

 I had a massive and pretty daggone *** awesome morning glory
teepee out in the front garden this year. I plant one every year and almost every year, it collapses. 
To keep me humble, probably. Windstorms have done it in the past, so this year I had the legs
buried nice and deep, thinking I could combat the elements and win. I planted a Heavenly Blue vine 
on two legs and a Moonflower vine on the third for blooms in the day and at night too. 
In the spring, the vines always look like they're not going to climb. Like it's not going to
be a big teepee year. But then, around midsummer, WATCH OUT! 
If you're standing near the teepee, the vines will reach out and grab you. 
Then it's time to start twining the thin vine tips around the teepee top, topiary style, while waiting for blooms. 
Lots and lots of twining and tucking, keeping the vines from running along the ground and 
taking over everything. And sometimes you have to just go out there and snip them off with shears. ****
 This year, after months of twining, tucking and snipping, I gave up and let them take over the rose, 
the hibiscus and the hydrangeas. It was glorious.  And secretly, I hoped that would
make the whole structure a little sturdier, more anchored, when the fall weather finally set in.
 It wasn't a windstorm that got them this year, it was rain that weakened the ground around the legs and
caused the whole teepee to fall to the ground. It's still blooming out there, even lying on the ground, but it will be all finished tomorrow morning. 

* We = My Wonderful Husband and I, and any Son I can drag into helping.
Girlfriends start to look like garden workers around this time of year. At least to me, they do.

** If we have a warm Saturday in November then the lights will go up early. But
it has happened that they don't go up until a couple of weeks before Christmas. 
They must, must go up for it to be a complete celebration, though.

*** My Grandpa used to say this word. He also often used dagum
He would hate that I'm growing any daggone morning glories, since he considered
them to be a dagum weed!

**** Morning glory vines don't start really blooming until they're finished stretching out as far as possible. 
Once the searching vine tips find that they've reached their limit, the growing stops, mostly, and
then the beautiful blooming begins! Oh, I could certainly take a lesson from this plant! Sometimes it seems
like I spend most of my energy trying to run ahead, peek around corners, take on new challenges.
What sort of blooms would I produce if I could just rest in where I am and what I'm already doing
Something to ponder as I weed/mulch/prune ...



Our October baby boy is turning 21 today!
The son who initiated us into parenthood is going to eat celebratory peanut butter pie 
and may agree to watch his birth video for a scant few minutes before he's grossed out.
I'm amazed.
And grateful.
And as ever, prayerful.


In the Pew - His Boy

I'd like to ask if you ever really look at those worshipping around you on Sunday morning.

Do you wonder what their lives are really like? 

What are their concerns or cares?
What are their joys and triumphs?

Who's in the pew next to you?


He straightened his jacket and fiddled with the tip of his tie. Midway through the very first hymn, he'd had to take his seat. The deafening refrain of his panicked heart galloped onward, as it had for the last twenty-four hours, dimishing the melody of worship.

Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!

He refocused his attention on the song book in his lap. They occupied their customary pew, only six rows from the pulpit. His wife remained determinedly on her feet, one had gripping the pew for balance, her arm protectively encircling their grandson between them. The only son of their only son was just nine years old. 

The music faded to a persistent, jangling background accompaniment for his barely concealed hysteria. He eyed the expanse of low wooden railing just beyond the feet of the musicians. If only he could walk up to that altar right now! Yes, this very minute ... what exactly would he do? Which scarcely  contained emotion would be the first to erupt onto the smooth oak and create an ugly, profane stain on the blood-red carpet below? Anger might be the first. How he'd love to beat the altar rail and demand an explanation of God! What about his boy? Why had this been allowed to happen? Had he not sacrificed enough? Prayed enough? Given enough? Did God look away while his son had been in his greatest  moment of  need? Or perhaps grief would shove its painful way out first. While the delivery would be different, with gut-clearing sobs replacing hot shouts of anger, the questions would remain the same. But the desperation he felt right now, in which questions were abandoned in favor of pleas, bargains, and begging, was dangerously close to spilling over.

He was startled from his anguished imaginations by the small hand of his grandson. The sweaty palm placed so lightly on his shoulder sent heat searing through layers of fabric to pierce his wretched heart. What would become of  this young boy just leaving childhood and entering his youth? What now? What would they do? 

The music finally ended, and the faithful bowed to pray. His only option in joining, the only offering he was capable of bringing was unchanged. 

Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!



Driving might be my best time for thinking. 
Or maybe it's the Shower Hour. The "Shower Hour", you say??? 
Well, that's another post entirely.
SOME people might say that driving is definitely NOT the time for 
deep ponderings
wanderings of the mind 
or imagination
And they are probably right. 
HOWEVER, when something occurs to you, 
you have to either go with it or lose it
Do you agree? 
I mean, for me, if I don't pay attention to a 'new' thought, 
it simply vaporizes, never to return or be retrieved. 
And so...
It occurred to me, while driving, that I am entering a new season of life, 
and that I could probably name that season. 
I've stubbornly avoided letting this idea unfold in the past, 
but this time I made myself let it happen. 
I think I might be ...
I probably am ...
I'm in the FALL of my life!
Here's my breakdown on the Seasons of Life -
you can place yourself, then accept, ignore or dispute as you see fit.
Some of us will remain in denial, and that's OK.

              SPRING  - - -    Childhood, Teens
              SUMMER - - -   20s, 30s
              FALL  - - -  40s, 50s, 60s
               WINTER - - -   70s, 80s, 90s

* The teenagers in my vehicle confirmed my conclusions to be true.
They said it would be smart then, to act accordingly.
And I'm still thinking about that. 

I'm also thinking about how to re-arrange these categories so that I'm still
in the Summer Season. I think it's possible, if I make Spring = 0 - 25 yrs . . .



Tiny, fragile works of art are out there in the grass.
Strung between stem and branch are small universes, 
entire within themselves.
Have you been out lately to inspect the quickly 
changing landscape of your own back yard?
Don't miss out on an opportunity to worship the Creator!

Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—
God’s eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, 
because they are understood through the things God has made. 
So humans are without excuse.