Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Friends Aloft

Here is an image from my rainy morning walk. I watched him for sometime, but the moment after I took this shot, he was on to me and took off.
The next day, I leaned on my kitchen counter and watched the birds at my feeder. I must say that in my previous post, that is a momma, not a baby goldfinch...I hadn't realized the females share the same wing pattern with the males. She was back Sunday, with her 4 babies. She didn't pay me any mind, other than to teach her young to notice and be cautious of me. So often I, too, teach my young to be cautious of things, when I know it is ok, "this time". Kids generalize so much, that often, we find ourselves teaching him the larger lesson, rather than the lesson of the moment....I never realized how much parents have in common. The young goldfinches were so motley!!! Hilarious and unkempt...much like my own son's shaggy hair.
A momma cardinal joined the crowd. She is not as comfortable with me, and so taught her young son to be even more cautious. The tits and carolina chicadees and purple finch were far less cautious...but they didn't have young to worry over.
It was a nice escape. In the past, I didn't put the finch feeder up until the garlic is in bloom. I would have it up at the bedroom slider, which is nearer the garlic. As they grew comfortable with us, I would move the feeder up to the kitchen window, nearer to where we enjoy, "deck time". This should be a good season for enjoying the goldfinches.
My son commented to his daddy the other day, "The birds don't leave when you get up and go in the house, only when you walk towards the steps, near them". I am so glad he notices things like that, and on his own. A couple of years ago, I saw a pack of kids coming back from the pond, where there were some 17 baby ducks. I asked the kids how many there were that day and they looked at me like I was daft...I thought it so sad they were raised to not even notice the wildlife....and even more blessed to know that my son "watches", too.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dawn Breaks

After 6 days of rain, Saturday night winds began to reveal the stars once again. Sunday was a beautiful sunny day, albeit windy and chilled. One can easily hear the water rushing over the dam, overshadowing the waterfall's melody behind us. It was a glorious backdrop to stay in with family and friends and that is what we did. I had a house full of "boys", 5 in all, ranging from 7 to 56...it was wonderful. I even took time out for Sunday afternoon, power-napping. Last night, the moon shown a smiley grin, seemingly asking, "Remember me?" and it's full orb was easily visible. After 11 years, the SC drought is nearly over (for this year). That's a real positive sign for the flora & fauna!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Walking in the Rain

Yesterday, I went for a walk in the morning rain. If the neighbors woke up and peeked, they would have been greeted by a strange sight,indeed!!! An adult, in a bright turquoise hoodie, splayed out in their front garden, actually lying down, in the pouring rain. (No, I do not know these folks).
I had a truly creative outing, watching the high contrast of fresh, spring color against the darkness of wood and bark. I actually set out in search of the new baby spiders'webs, glistening as gems. I found a myriad of other treasures. More to come !!! I seem to be in a daffodil phase. I will let them speak for themselves.

I Found a Secret !

I FOUND IT ! Not a very clear image. I have better, but this tells of it's shape. Though opossums prefer to live in a pre-made burrow, they will inhabit an old squirrel nest...and apparently ours have.
We have had opossums living in the side forest as long as we have been here and I have been searching for their nest for a few years. Apparently, I was just stopping short. It is on the back-side of a tree, surrounded by kudzu vines on the far side of the forest. I hope we get to see the babies out this year!

(By the way, there IS a difference between "opossum" and "possum"... an Australian man, named a similar Aussie marsupial, "possum" after our "opossum". He altered the name to distinguish between the two.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jesse & Vic's Garden

The combination of vivid, red tulips and bright, yellow daffodils take me thousands of miles away to the Cahill's "back garden" in Kenington, Oxfordshire, England. Those were among the first blossoms to burst forth the spring I was there. Joining them were "polyanthas", or what my momma calls, "primrose". This year, in my late winter bulb-buying excursion, I splurged on 5 polyanthas, as well. They were so lovely in our home...they moved with me from art table, to kitchen to living room. (Yes, it is all the same room). I carried them to wherever I was at the moment to more fully enjoy their bloomtime. How wonderful !!! I also purchased some more tulips this year, purple and red, along with 8 blue, hyacinths. I picked some of our yellow daffordils and placed them near the polyanthas and red tulips ! As I sipped my Oxford-blend, "white tea", I almost felt that I was back on the couch in their kitchen, watching the garden come to life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stealing Moments

This weekend did not go at all as I had planned.It was busy with "had-to's" rather than relaxing, reflecting and creating.....but I managed to steal time to collect some images...I spent about an hour inside of daffodils....did you ever notice all the wonderful thought and care our Creator put into the smallest of details !?! How many people would ever truly look in there?!? The Bible says that "not even a sparrow falls" that He does not see and care....Perhaps such beauty is for the hummingbirds & butterflies & bees.....I gazed at this view for a heavenly escape! ......"how much more must He care for us", His beloved children and heirs to His kingdom !!!!

I so miss when the red-tailed hawks nested across the cove from our home!! This last week, I have been watching a new hawk. He has been around most days. I so yearn for him to move in, but am pleased that he has chosen our retreat as his hunting grounds. I managed to steal some alone time out back....Several times, I watched this red-shouldered wonder soar at, or just above, eye-level. I watched as he landed atop on old oak, where he sat and groomed himself....about eye level with my view. I spent over a half an hour watching his every move, gazing in wonder through binoculars.

Later that morning, I walked into my kitchen and discovered that the goldfinches return earlier in the season than I had realized. My feeder is about 10 inches from the glass over my counter. As I went to the window to check out this young male, he turned to check me out !!!!

Later, in the evening, I was settling in on the deck, when I heard a famiilar rustle of leaves. I knew right away that it was "Pat". We checked each other out for about 40 minutes...we have grown accustomed to each other over the last few years. We often look curiously at each other, for a few minutes. Her attention has never lasted this long. Even though the image is grainy, I couldn't resist putting my camera on digital zoom....(I just HAVE TO get my good camera fixed!! Then I would have some worthy hawk pix to share, as well!)

Even though it was a busy time, I was able to steal moments to get away from the world and bask in the richness of God's creations for awhile....what a great way to escape!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Still watching

(I am sorry for the break. The blog site has had some problems, but I found a way around that text problem. If you didn't get a chance to read the last one, please do. It is very meaningful to me.)
Let me tell you about today: I awoke early to watch what is perhaps the last sliver of moon rise over the forest....I suppose tomorrow morning, it will be "gone"...It was amazing to see this tiny shard blend in and out of the morning light, like some kind of heavenly camouflage !!!!
On the way in to work, I passed two wild, Tom-Turkeys. They were in a grassy meadow next to a church...to see their posture, and the way they looked back and forth, it was as though they were waiting for a light to change....very wise, indeed !!! Perhaps Ol' Ben Frankiln knew what he was talking about to have them as our national bird....or perhaps, he was predicting the future?
Keep checking in as I have some fabulous images from my weekend of "watching"!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


What a difference a couple of weeks make ! Just 2 weeks (?) ago, I arose early to watch the full moon set over the lake....this morning, I saw her waning crescent rise over the pines beyond the pond.

Believe it or not, this is an actual picture of the moon that I took last December. It was the night it was to be it's closest to the earth. I made all of "my boys" (Tom, London, Uncle Wesley and our neighbor, Jimmy) all go out and see it rise.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Simple Abundance

One of my favorite, all-time books is by Sarah ban Breathnach and is called, "Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy". ( I actually met the author once in a MD thrift store). The book is designed with about a page a day reading and I have been doing so, off an on for over 10 years. Rereading the introduction, I realized how much of her philosophies on life I have incorporated into myself. I will simply quote her:

"Simple Abundance has enabled me to encounter everyday epiphanies, find the Sacred in the ordinary, the mystical in the mundane, fully enter into the sacrament of the present moment".

The other day I had to stay home as I was not feeling well. It is my annual 40 days & 40 nights ot tea-time and I had just come across this cute tea set at "The Boutique" ( GoodWill) for 2 bucks....I decided an additional treat to comfort myself was to have flowers with my tea....the last of my blue hyacinths...just as fragrant as the first ! What a wonderful treat!!!!

Farewell Winter

This evening I reacquainted myself with watching the day. Not that I haven't all along, but today it was different. At 7 p.m., I had the house to myself for a short while. The roads were strangely quiet and it felt like the comfort of my morning time, yet with the glistening sunlight reflecting onto my face from below.
Last autumn, I had somewhat looked forward to to my winter hibernation, or as I often call it, "my cacooning". I had also somewhat feared it, reticent to give up the long, glorious days of color. I guess I should have known from those mixed feelings that it would be a season for self-nurturing and growth for me. Not only did I adapt to the long, dark hours, but with my candle-lit morning time, I would say I fully embraced it. I suppose it is time to come out into the sun. Am I really prepared for the day? Am I ready to bloom as an artist?
Last summer, I relished the long hours of daylight~watching the sun glitter off of the lake onto my face & on my eyelids as I lounged in the pool. It is hard to imagine pool-time again....deck time has already begun by fires' glow with family and friends & a hot dog cook-out with strawberry smores! A new fire-pit replaces the much cherished chiminea as a symbol of new beginnings with the familiar comforts of home.
On this vernal equinox, the daylight hours are marching forward and so I follow. I need to savor these remaining, mornings of darkness, stealthily walking the neighborhood's shadows and gazing at stars and cozying up in candlelight. Last autumn, I could not imagine the bareness of trees...and now I shall long for the images of their refined sculpture. The mornings will grow longer and the hours of darkness shorter. It will happen slowly and I "do change slowly"...so it will all be, as usual "All good".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mood Enhancement

I don't think a living soul could not at least chuckle to see a lop bounding across the house !!! In theory, my son received this girl for his 8th b.d....but she has become mine. We rescued her from an outdoor, caged life in MD. She now resides with us in our home... She is so content and happy. When she is caged, she usually sleeps on her back, paws up..looking like much like an ex-rabbit...a rabbit "who has ceased to be".... More often than not, she is bounding around our home and seeking affection. Who knew a bunny could be so warm and sweet?!

I have battled clinical depression for many years and one of my best counter-measures is "bad, British pop"...brilliant in it's badness and it's mass appeal! When I am in a funk, there is nothing quite like, "Spice Therapy". It is impossible to be down when listening to the Spice Girls. I have been ill for the past few days and seeing a lop hop across the room, or dash laps around the cat, claiming him for her own is just hilarious and a great mood enhancer !!!

Now on my 3rd rabbit (the others were years ago), I have noticed something and tied it in with people I have known.....whenever I change out her litter box, she immediately goes to the bathroom and sits on her creation....have you ever met people like that? I now call people who are not happy unless they are sitting in the middle of a self-made mess, "a lop of a person".

Moment of Glory

Have you ever lost yourself in the moment the dawning sun first kisses a dense fog? The sun arises reminiscent of angels. Not those secular , even demonic, pretty little girls in dancing dresses, but the Heavenly Host~ messengers and warriors of golden light~seemingly afire in their brilliance.
It is the moment before the dawn begins to devour the cloud and the two become one. All of creation is enveloped in golden mist and I am awed anew at the endless bounty our Lord and Creator, has provided to remind us of His presence & His care for us. The Master Artist blesses us each day with an overflowing abundance of riches for us to explore and delight in !!! He surely does delight in creating !!!!

Walking in a Cloud

After several days of overcast skies and steady rain, I awoke the other morning to a dense and glorious fog! Fog forces the eye to look carefully. There is a magic to peering intently into fog and finding hidden treasures tucked away in the colors of the mist. I even found a blessing in the neighbors' security lights. Typically glaring through the trees, they were warm glows of light, reminiscent of van Gogh. Reflecting off of the pond, they accented the thick air. Best of all, the half-moon shone, veiled and muted. The mist was amazingly heavy and I could actually feel it fall...it truly was walking in a cloud!
I checked out the moon behind my favorite moon-rising pine and over the usual back forest trees...But, I found an awesome new image! I positioned myself behind a mosaic of lacy, delicate branches, where the moon was cradled between the oak and the lesser pine. I stood and gazed for...well, I can't possibly say, but it was glorious ! A new memory image~ one of those images that cannot be captured on film, but is only for the film of the soul. I have come to treasure and rely on such special, even sacred images~ the ones no lens can capture save for that of spirit, of heart, of soul. Such images lift me when I need them, comfort, inspire and encourage me at other times. As the light began to creep up, the fog took on somewhat of a "midnight~violet" hue...so as to almost grasp. What a great way to start a day! At times like this, it is hard not to feel like God has made it just for me, though it is for all who care to pause and watch.... He has added the tiniest of beautiful touches to the grand design and I feel so much closer to Him to discover such treasures.... That is why I watch and watching is when I listen best.....I wonder how many people just saw the fog as a nuisance to drive in......

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Disgusting science (Pt 1)

We gave London an awesome "Disgusting Science" experiment kit, which my dad found online.

Yesterday, we made gelatin and prepared petri dishes to grow molds and bacteria. We also enacted peristalsis...the muscle contractions that carry food through the digestive track. In a nutshell, we put food in the balloon. It went down the "esophogus" and into the "stomach". We added "acid" to the "stomach" and kneaded to assist digestion just as muscles do. Turn it over and the balloon neck becomes "intestines"... In this shot, Tom and London continue peristalsis and the food becomes....homemade poo!!! Way gross ! Way FUN !!!

Peep Jousting

Peep jousting season has officially begun and a 6th team has been added to the line up: Team Orange!! The pre-season opened with players squaring off for control of this newest team. Early polls show that orange has an amazing ability to swell larger than the plate and in record time. In the first match of the season, L's Peep easily overtook J's as her player lost control of her sword early on. As you can see by this photo, L's peep remained standing well after the gruesome match.
As of this afternoon, "bad food tossing season" has also begun. Sadly, pita bread does not soar the way a frisbee does....This weekend, we re-rig the 3-man slingshot for some food launching !!!

What a Pair !!

Through the grace of a borrowed cord, I was able to upload over a month's images from my little camera...over 2000 pix & vids !!!!!

It was quite a process, but I found a FABULOUS quote that I want to share :

"We of artistic bent find our selves often dancing frantically enraptured by the music only we can hear , as we are caught up in the joy of making something beautiful ,we break our zenlike focus,and realize that others are staring at us. Look at them and ask them can you hear that muslc? If they say no ,whisper under your breath, "you poor b*st*rd!", and then without hesitation tune back into that music and dance with abandon!"

I was so moved!! It so truly resonated with me !!! I was at one with the writer and he with me !!!! I read it to Tom and asked if he knew whoever had written it....it was, of course him !!!!! No wonder we make such a pair !!!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Windows into Worlds

I must give Tom credit for this photo from last spring. I go to a 2 hour event and come back with hundreds of photos...Tom took London out for 4 hours and came back with 3 or 4 pictures...and he managed to capture this image!!! Wow!
We have a 50 gallon aquarium that a recent catastrophe left emp[ty save for 1 poor guppy and 1 blue, beta. (again, predator & prey). This past weekend, I made a good start on restocking our tank. What a joy to do so, spontaneously with 7 & 8 y.o. boys !!! They saw the fish and suggested we get some and were floored when I told them yes, but they had to help me pick them out !!
We came home with 4 bags of freeshwater fish: The boys picked out 3, soaring, silver, shark-like cats that are very active and a blast to watch. I picked out a big, black, wobbly ball of a moor. We got a loach-like algae-eater and 3 little ghost shrimp. The boys named them all "Jacques" after the cleaning shrimp in Nemo. "Shark-bait" would probably be more appropriate.
I had forgotten how much fun it is to have a full tank of variety....

Monday, March 16, 2009

We Play

Blindfold painting to music, left;
London's"Goo Man", above (I call it, " fun with hot glue")
Adults don't play enough, if at all. Children truly play. A child with paint may begin with an image, then they add color...more and more color..until the original intent has become what adults deem, "ruined" or an unclear mess. Having completed what he set out to do (experiment and play), the chld may no longer care what becomes of his work. he is finished. The adult focuses on the product and the child on the process.
I often espouse that drawing is a technical skill that we are all born driven to do.At some point, someone, perhaps ourselves, teaches us that we "can't draw" or are "not creative". Developmentally, this is at about age 8 or 9. As adults, we may try again, but with limited success. As I ask my students, "If you stopped walking when you were 8 and tried again now, how would that work out for you?"......
The writers of "Life, Paint & Passion" draw a parallel from when children stop focusing on process and start getting hung up on product, to to when they begin to stop playing. I think it is a valid conclusion and worth pondering....perhaps this is why so many artists are not taken seriously by our society and don't seem to "fit in"....when was the last time you painted? Did you let yourself have fun and explore or did you beat yourself up over the end result? when was the last time you truly played? Something worth thinking about.....?


I usually get up between 3 & 5 ~ "oh-dark-thirty ~ and I listen. Not yet ready for starkness, I fill the room with the soft glow of a dozen or more candles. I settle in with Mikey, gently warming me with his purrs, comforting cup of tea or coffee, my journal and my Bible. Imagine ! The Creator of all things actually used the hands of man to write down his Holy Word in a book!!!...and I have access to it !!! How can I not read it ?!? I get to know Him better that way and myself, too.
I pray, but I try to listen most af all. It's not just a doing kind of faith, or a checklist item. It's not just dumping my requests and feeling better~ a cosmic kind of feel-good remedy. It's about relationship. I thank Him, praise Him and worship Him.
Outside, I stand so small, over-shadowed by the forest silhouette. I gaze in awe at the night sky. "When I consider the moon and the stars, what is man that thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. 8). And me? That you care for me?!? I wonder in amazement that the Creator of the Universe wants to spend time with me !
It's all about relationship and relationship is 2-way. I pray & I praise, but most of all, I try to listen. I hear "His still, small voice" best of all when the world has not yet arisen. I am His beloved child. He has adopted me into His family and made me an heir to His Kingdom...how can I not be amazed and filled with wonder !!! The Master Artist has made me in His image~ Once again, in the glow of candlelight, I am driven to create, still in praise and worship.
Soon, I will head out to spend my day with middle schoolers, but I invite my Lord along. I will learn to know Him even better as he allows me to help others find their image of Him through the act of creating.... and I continue to listen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I live with a menagerie. Mikey-kitty, the alpha, and Juliette our herder. Here, predator meets prey...and Mikey was NOT amused. Juliette simply sighs, knowing that her herd has grown, & so too, her work load. They have learned to co-exist. Bun-Bun seeking companionship with the closest to her kind, Mikey wanting no part of it. (translation: the lop chases the alpha-kitty around the house).
In addition to our 4-footers, he have a tank of albino frogs and a 50 gallon aquarium of tropical fish. Soon, our TWO "hotel tanks" will be open for overnight stays of local residents....toads and skinks, turtles and anoles and perhaps even a snake or 2. They will vacation for a day or two. My son and his friend will spend their days hunting insects and rushing back to feed our guests, before returning them to their real homes...outdoors. Most have names and we know where each of them live, so it is easy to bring them back for a return stay. This winter, we had no hangers-on and so we look forward with even geater relish to their return.
I wanted to add a bird to our menagerie...my husband is not keen for any more living things inside of our home. I do have window feeders full of songbirds. After keeping up with the lop's litter pan, I have decided he is right. I have found a no-maintenance way to have 7 birds and have added a wonderful relic to my home: a mobile. It is the mobile that my parents chose to lovingly adorn the crib of their firstborn son, some 56 years ago. The birds soar over me as I write and remind me of the part my parents played in my love for ALL of God's creatures.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I Watch

I live in a little cedar cottage, nestled into the forest in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am richly blessed.
In middle school, I devoured the "Billy Jack" movies. In one of them Billy Jack spoke to an Indian Elder, sitting beneath a desert mountain. The old man gestured to the mountain and told Billy to look carefully. After a brief while, he told him to look away and then look back. He asked if anything had changed and Billy replied that it had not. The elder resoponded that that was where Billy was wrong....things change all the time. "If you look carefully, you can see them ".
I have been watching ever since....perhaps before......
I get up long before the sun...God wakes me to start my day in conversation. You see, I am one of his beloved children. Sometimes He wakes me with His moonlight. I rise to watch her set over the big lake, to my right. Each morning, I watch Him paint the sky to my left, over a small lake. The forest in front of me gently murmers with the rush of a waterfall as the birds and peeps begin their daily song. I know most by their call and where many of them live. I know when the geese will leave and where they will go for the night. Soon they will head north for the summer, but I know they will be back next autumn. The towhees have already passed back through and the bluebirds have returned. The pterodactile-like herons make their daily round-trips across my home as they pass from lake to lake.
I watch.
In the evening, I watch the above scene. The herons make their return flight and spring peeps begin their evening song. I know when to watch for the beavers and what their routine is....
I am richly blessed and I watch.