Thursday, May 29, 2014

There Is No Title for All This Mess

Oh goodness! How does daily life get away from me and spin off on its own chaotic path? I just checked comment moderation, and I had TEN comments to allow. I'm so behind.
Right now, I have 8 minutes until I need to be at Prayer Shawl this morning. I shall be late.
Julia and I spent Tuesday in the Emergency Room. She fell from a tree on Monday, onto her upper back/neck, and it was hurting. I don't like to take risks with things like necks and vertebrae.
 She got a brace immediately, then an x-ray, then a CT scan. She checked out okay. No fractures!
 When she fell, she forced tiny bubbles of air from her windpipe into the soft tissue in her throat. That's what was hurting and causing pressure. We came back home after a long day.
When I have a chance I take the bike out, ride along the water, and still my heart.
 Wednesday Adam returned to the doctor in Greenville, hoping for a good report and latitude in bending and applying weight to the leg. He got it! He left his leg brace there. The P.T. department will donate it to someone who can't afford to buy one. I thought that was  a neat thing. When we return in 3 weeks, I'm taking all the old splints, braces, and slings I have around the house. They mostly belonged to Peter.
 We went to lunch, and Adam enjoyed crossing his legs again.
This was my sandwich. I post it here only so I remember how extremely delicious it was -- a chicken pesto panini.
 The hollyhock was blooming and bowing in front of the sunset yesterday.
 And the bumblebee busied herself inside.
 Another entire blog post will be dedicated to the lovely book Adam bought for me online, JRR Tolkien's newly-published translation of and commentary on Beowulf. It is a delight and a challenge and a wonder, and I'm thrilled every time I sit to study it.
 Adam made a lovely loaf of bread Saturday morning early. But it's already long gone, of course.
 Many fun-named boats have come and gone as well.
 I have four patio tomato plants in containers on the back stoop.
 And a few sweet peas too ~
And I'm reading a Gladys Taber book at last!! Stillmeadow Sampler is delightful. (I've used that word twice now, but that's because my reading this days truly does make my heart and brain sparkle.) Her writing style is one of those that makes me smile, say "Ah, yes!" to myself, and causes me to remember things from my own childhood I'd forgotten. How does one forget such precious things? More blog posts on that too.
So you see, I'm unsuccessful in cutting back, slowing down, and becoming unbusy. Ah well. And I have no time to proofread this post, so please forgive any errors. As my mother says, "Don't pay attention to what I say, just what I mean."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bees and Butternut

Last Wednesday one of our beehives swarmed. That means it was really full of bees, a healthy hive, and some of the bees decided to leave with a handful of queens, and start a new hive elsewhere to relieve the over-crowding. They swarmed into a nearby tree.
You really don't want to lose a swarm if you can help it. Those are good bees that you've worked hard to grow! If Adam were healthier right now, he could have managed the hives earlier to split them and avoid the crowding, but he simply could not do that work with his bad leg. So ... we decided to attempt to keep the swarm. We got an empty hive ready for them.
We spread a sheet under the tree branch, and shook the bee swarm from the branch. It's a little scary to have several thousand bees suddenly descend on you, to maintain your cool, fold over the sheet to enclose about half of them (while the rest buzz around your body), walk the sheet to the hive box, and gingerly attempt to quickly shake the bees off the sheet and into the box. We shook the branch four times and did our best. We stapled mesh across the entrance to keep them in, and hoped for the best.
Three days later, we moved the hive to the bee table where the other two hives stand. We opened their entrance. Would they stay?
We gave them sugar water to eat. They started drawing comb. They're carrying pollen into the hive. The bees from the swarm were already old bees, and they're dying off each day, so the new hive has a diminishing workforce until its queen can lay brood in the newly drawn comb and the brood hatch out. Let's hope they make it happen! And see the red/white hive on the left with the bees bearding on the front? That's the hive that's doing so well it has swarmed twice this spring.
The tree near the bee hives is the only significant tree in our yard. I've been wondering what kind of tree it is -- it's an odd one. It's a spreading type of tree with long, low-slung branches.
Its leaves are compound pinnate. Recently the fruit has begun to form in large green clusters, and then I really had to know what it was!
While we sat and looked at bees (a lovely passtime), I flipped through this handy little book:
And I found it! Apparently we have a butternut tree.
Last night, finally, I took Adam to our old date spot in front of the harbor to sit on the bench there. It's been too long. It was a tad windy ... even chilly! ... but we enjoyed ourselves. We chat a bit, look at boats, imagine what our neighbors are up to, and enjoy the sunset.
Considering how beautiful our children are, we are not very photogenic. Although that doesn't keep me from trying the occasional series of double-selfies!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Dreaded "No-Reply Comment"

Hi all. This is a short post about blogging.

When you leave a comment on someone's blog, would you like sometimes to hear back from them? Especially if you ask them a question? :) Do you go back to the blog comments, hoping they've replied to you there, only to be disappointed? Girl, you're out of the loop!

Some of you, when you leave a comment on my blog, I often reply to you with an email. That's because your comment comes to my email, and I simply click "reply" there, and shoot you an email. It's fun! It's one of my favorite parts of blogging, this short, personal conversation afterward. Recently I've really enjoyed getting to know some of my newer blogging friends that way.

However, some of you never, ever hear from me that way, and it's because you are a No-Reply Comment blogger. And you may not even know it! Here in my blog-land, I know that Pom Pom, Kezzie, Lisa, and now Lori (I think), and GretchenJoanna -- all of you give me the "no reply" when I'd love to email you. I often wish I could converse better with you!

You need to fix your settings to get email replies. Go to your blogger dashboard. Look up in the top right hand corner. See your name/photo, with a little arrow/drop down option. Click the arrow. Choose "Blogger Profile." You'll see your familiar blogger profile page. Click "Edit Profile" (the orange box you can't miss). The second item under "privacy" says "show my email address." CLICK THAT BOX. Also, look beside it to make sure you've got a real email address there that will reach you.

Simple! If you've sadly switched over to the dark side Google +, here's a great link to a blogger's page that tells you how to fix it in that case.

Perhaps you don't really want your private email address out there in blog-land, and that's fine too, of course. You might want to consider getting a new email address just for this, for lovely conversations with other bloggers. We often talk about how the real value of blogging is in the relationships that are formed with like-minded ladies flung around the globe, and it's true. Relationships are built on conversation, and conversations are so much more rich and meaningful when they're not awkwardly trying to happen in a comment thread of 20 comments.

Recently some of my old buddies with whom I've emailed regularly have somehow slipped into the "no-reply" category, probably because they've switched settings somehow, changed up their blog, or switched to Google+. It's worth it to check. Love to you all! Here's to better blogging!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Growing a Heart of Thorns

I'm reading in the gospels right now, and today finished the parable of the sower, which parable appears in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Clearly, it made an impression!

This time, the third type of ground caught my attention. As the sower (Jesus) strews the seed (God's Word) into people's ears, apparently the seed falls on different types of hearts. The third heart is the heart full of thorns. The seed is heard, but it doesn't survive on this soil. Here's why:

"And the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." (Mk. 4:19)

It's always bothered me that the seed does grow here, albeit temporarily. It bothers me that the Word of God could end up being "unfruitful." It bothers me that worry and riches and pleasures (as Luke says) are strong enough to kill God's Word. But Jesus tells it like it is.

Some people do respond to the gospel; it sparks something in them. They like what they hear. But ... look what kills it: worldly worries, deceitful riches, desires and pleasures. I have to admit, that list describes most people I know. Do you know anybody who is immune to the temptation of worldly worries? That category is as big as a house! We worry about politics. We worry about international affairs. We worry that we'll be victims of crime. We worry about our mortgages, our debt, our kids' educations, our car repairs, for goodness sakes! If there's a worldly care to lose sleep over, most of my friends will do it. How in the world do we get rid of worldly worries? By sharing them on facebook? Ha!

We're equally sucked in by the deceitfulness of riches here in the Western world. And the Eastern, Southern, and Northern worlds too. If you have riches, you're deceived into a false security, and if you don't have riches, you're equally deceived that they would provide the same. Beyond security, we truly believe that wealth gives us joy in our lives, better relationships, beauty in our days, better health, leisure time and ease.

We are utterly deceived.

I will not bore you with the many excuses I've heard from friends about how they are not sucked in by the lure of wealth. They can take money or leave it, they say. They're not worshiping money; they're merely being good stewards. They're not really attached to their money; God has merely blessed them. They cannot share as much as they otherwise might because they really need to keep it in the family and invest in their children's lives. (Sigh) I've heard all this and more. We are deceived.

And the third patch of thorns in these hearts? "Pleasures and desires." At least my non-believing friends are honest about pursuing their pleasures. My Christian friends often keep theirs under wraps, and if the pleasure is a sinful one, they really keep it hidden.

Let me put it bluntly, and you can take offense if you like. If you're a Christian man who spends more time fussing about the opposite political party than you do reading your Bible, who longs for the day when you can afford that sports car you clearly can never afford, and who has a porn issue -- you are nurturing a heart of thorns where Jesus's gospel can never reign.

If you're a Christian woman who spends hours fretting over the finances, the kids, the finances, the pets, the finances, and your own looks (!!), who solves these worries by shopping and piling on more debt, and whose favorite passtime is gossiping with buddies -- you are deliberately growing a heart of thorns where God's Word cannot transform you.

I didn't say it. Jesus said it. And I'll add that that woman is often me. I found this passage utterly convicting today. Me, who worries about everything and even a few things unworriable. Me, who scrambles for every last dollar I can get and clutches it like a miser. Me, whose secrets sins are worry and covetousness.

Your heart is a garden. Weed it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Looking for Curves

Someone asked to see more of Julia's art. Here's last week's effort. She and I agree that this is a boy turtle. I think his name is Herbert, but she says Wilbur.
Beau is a bad dog. He loves nothing more than sneaking dirty kleenex and shredding them in an empty room for me to find later. Shame on him! He particularly likes to get my kleenex and napkins from my bedroom -- kleenex from the trash can and napkin from my breakfast remains. I find them all over the bedroom floor. Grrr.
So I foiled him. I dug in a drawer or two and found a cloth napkin and a real handkerchief. Ha! Let's see him try to shred those! He'd better not try.
On a happier note, I'm rather proud of our local WalMart ... look what they installed last week! And I doubted them.
I took the loveliest, longest bike ride yesterday morning.

The jasmine is blooming all over town, in woodlands and along roadsides. As you glide along on your bike, it wafts to you in sweet gusts.
This might be one of the most peaceful yards in town. Note the fishermen on the water.
I've been trying to figure out what they're doing to this little riverside home. It was for sale; now the sign is gone. They were stripping away the skirt around the foundation. Clearly they weren't demolishing it.
And now I see they are raising it, of course. A wise choice this close to the river.
One mailbox clematis
Two mailbox clematis
We have quite a few local artists. This is Sue Henry. I asked if I could take a photo of her working yesterday, and she graciously agreed.
Now this was an interesting thing to see -- the town is changing the intersection, removing old asphalt that used to lend a nice curve to those turning right. I'm sure it encouraged "cheating," or as we call it, a "rolling stop."
Will they fill space that with grass? Will people's tires fall into the dirt if they cut the corner? Why are they making such a sharp turn? I like curves. I'm realizing that curves and irregular lines are how God does things. Straight lines and right angles are how Man does things. This is pretty much true across the board. I think I don't like this change in the roadway.
I'm off to prayer shawl this morning, one of the few things I keep in my schedule during summer, and even then I leave myself open to skipping if I prefer. Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Starting with Magnolias

I'll begin with some photos of a magnolia tree in town, just an ordinary Southern magnolia. They're in bloom now, with their massive, dinner-plate sized blossoms. This tree is being crowded by another tree on the left, as you see.
It's flowers are low on the tree, and thus easy to photograph. This magnolia hasn't had its lower branches lopped off (for easy mowing around), so its skirt flows to the ground.
For those unfamiliar with this magnolia, its blossoms have a strong aroma that is exactly like concentrated lemon -- delicious!
Fully open ~
I bought Julia a very large sketch pad, and she's enjoying her easel. She wants to adorn her walls with artwork.
The doggies love to be on Julia's bed.
My new banner for my soap business arrived! I hung it on my tent Saturday morning, but soon the gusty winds required us to take the tents down.
The English robin in the corner is Julia's handiwork.
In addition to the banner, I've also put together some new packaging and labels for my products. I buy the blank labels at WalMart or Staples and design the labels online, and then print them. This lotion bar is a huge hit -- I sold all of them at the market Saturday morning.
Same kind of label, here used on new soap packaging. The bag is clear in the back and the ziploc opens so customers can still see and smell their soaps.
Lavender salt scrub ~
I took these two on a bike ride and wore them out! Relaxing at Lou Mac Park.
This line of Knock-Out roses at Deaton's boatyard looked so perky and bright in front of the masts.
And now, a few boat names for your enjoyment!

Arcturus is a star, appropriate for a sailing vessel.
The name above was on a catamaran.

Julia brought these flowers home to me for Mother's Day, and they're still lovely!
Here's a brief video to give you the sound and enticing sight of the river at the town pier: