Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wild and Crazy

It's been another wild and crazy kind of day. We headed out to VBS this morning and picked up Sara and Alysa on the way. Yesterday I just kind of hung around and looked for little things to do. Today there was a crying three year-old who wanted his mom (she was teaching) or brother. He insisted on crying and the opening program had just started so I, heartless as I am, decided to take him out until he was done crying. He carried on for quite a bit longer than I had anticipated but I didn't give in either. Actually, I am not totally heartless. This is the same little guy who just spent the entire past school year here with me and he will be back in September. I knew he would be fine. When he finally gave up and stopped crying I took him back in and became a helper in the preschool class. (Believe me, they need help!)

After VBS we went over to Rachel's for a swim. My very kind brother in law offered me a cold drink. I was quite warm and graciously accepted. He gave it to me in a kiddie cup complete with a lid and a built-in straw/handle. I decided to pour it into a regular glass and in the process proceeded to pour the drink out of the straw/handle and down the front of my shirt... I think I should have obliged him and used the kiddie cup. At least it was a nice clear drink and not red Kool-Aid!

It's another tired evening and I have more berries to pick... Good thing a second wind usually arrives not long from now.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Putting My Feet Up

My kids arrived home from Nova Scotia yesterday morning, very tired but safe. Six lobsters, which were promptly turned into dinner, also arrived. We cooked them up along with some fresh corn on the cob. Mmmm, good!

Today was the first day of VBS at church. Ben and Hannah are both helping and had to be there by 8:15 am. We left church at noon, ran home for a quick sandwich and then Hannah and I headed up to town so I could have my van inspected. I already knew there was an issue with the horn (it wasn't a big deal), but they also found a problem with something in the steering which was about ready to give. No money saved this week... I spent the afternoon visiting Shelly and Hannah had some time with Jessi. Aside from washing my sheets and blanket, I didn't accomplish much of anything here at home and now I'm tired. I just finished a small cup of coffee, maybe that will wake me up enough to pick a few berries in another half hour or so...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Berry Nice!

I have spent hours out in the blueberry patch today. My face and arms are probably sunburned, a natural occurrence when standing in the high noon sun for too long. I picked two buckets full of berries, most of which will go out by the road to sell. I literally work for peanuts when it comes to this job. There are times when I love the peacefulness of the blueberry patch and other times when I dread going out there again. Funny thing is that even when I'm dreading it I can't seem to drag myself away. Thursday evening I went out, the sun shining overhead, and in five or ten minutes it was raining. The rain was warm so I just kept picking until the timer hooked on my pocket started to beep signaling it was time for supper. The rain was streaming down my face and my shirt was soaked.

My blueberry patch looks a little bit sadder every year. Today while I was picking, a couple of people dove a golf cart by on the orchard road. I heard the woman say, "There's a lady picking her blueberries. That patch doesn't look near as healthy as the Foxes blueberries. Do you want to go see them?" She had no idea I could hear everything she was saying over the sound of their motor and the crunching of gravel. The Foxes own the orchards. They have a beautiful blueberry patch. Maybe some day I'll have a patch like that... maybe not... For now, I'll just enjoy what God has given me and be glad that I can share them with my friends and neighbors.

Friday, July 27, 2007

She Eats Like a Bird...

What does "eats like a bird" mean anyway? I looked up the phrase and this is what I found-

Definition: eat very little
Explanation: Used when speaking about someone who needs very little food to get by, often used when criticizing someone for not eating enough.
Examples: She eats like a bird, it's no wonder she's skinny! - You're eating like a bird, I wish you would eat just a little more.

Well, I knew that is what the definition would be, trouble is I'm not sure that's what it really means. I think people who eat like birds likely just pick and poke at their food. Maybe they eat very little, maybe they eat a lot, just not all at once. I think they play with and poke at their food enough so that it isn't fit for anyone else to eat. Maybe they don't even want it themselves but they pick at it anyway. Maybe they take a bite or two, find they "don't like it" and then ask for something else.

There are more than enough blueberries in the patch for both myself and the birds, but the birds have this annoying habit of leaving just a peck or two in about a bazillion berries and finishing very few of them. Nobody but Jasmine really wants to eat bird-pecked berries so they are tossed aside. I don't suppose the birds find them once they are "berried" in the grass and I'm afraid to collect them to feed my feathered friends lest I should attract even more. For now, I continue to throw them away or toss them to the dog. She doesn't know the meaning of "eat like a bird", she just "wolfs them down".

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Taking Pictures

I decided to take the camera in to the camera store and get some advice. The zoom is stuck out, which means the lens is out too, and it won't go back in. I can't take any photos because there is no picture in the view finder. I can, however, still see the pictures on the card and transfer them to and from my computer. The cost to fix it? Likely between $150-$200. The cost of a new camera very much like this one, $300. It was also suggested that I email Olympus and ask what the estimated repair cost would be but I'm thinking it may be smart to start saving for a new one rather than send this one in for repairs. Between selling blueberries and babysitting Sara and Alysa (I don't charge full price for either), I could have the money in three or four weeks providing that I don't need to buy anything else... I can always hope. (Maybe I'd better start praying too.)

These are my Black-eyed Susans. They're so pretty blooming in the summer, a little splash of sunshine in my yard.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

News Flash! The Vacationers Part 2

Here they are again, Joe and Beth, at the Atlantic Ocean. (No throwin' those rocks in the lake!) By the end of this week they will have travelled all over Nova Scotia and will be too tired to come home again.

I am really appreciating the photos as the original plan was for Bethany and I to drive up there together. I'm sad that I couldn't go but more than blessed to have three of my kids there. When I was a kid my dad took us to the coast of Maine two years in a row. It's one of my favorite vacation memories.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


How Does Your Garden Grow?

I like my garden. It looks lush and green. I am growing celery, tomatoes, 2 kinds of cucumbers, bell peppers and chile peppers, and butternut squash. Oh yes, and a bed of annuals too. This year I can actually walk between the rows of vegetables and stay on my feet.
I do miss the beans, beets, and corn this year. My neighbor is supplying me with zucchini and last night we had it sliced and stuffed with meat, rice and cheese. I'm still trying to figure out how to get my chile peppers to grow 8-10 inches long instead of 2 inches. If anyone has any ideas, throw them this way. My spinach bolted in the hot weather (time to plant some more pretty soon) and peas just don't grow good for me. I've munched a few raw pods but there just weren't enough to have for supper. Sweet corn... my that sounds good! Might have to drive around the corner and find some of that for supper!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Guessing Game

Yesterday afternoon was our church picnic down at the park. This year someone decided to have a little bit of fun and filled several canning jars with various candies and gumballs. Our job was to guess how many were in each jar. I found this slightly amuzing because just a couple weeks ago I found a book at the library on estimating. It was a kid's book so I brought it home. I glanced through the book and apparently my kids did too. Not only did Ben win one jar and Hannah two, but they told my favorite daughter in law how to figure about how many were in the jars too. There were ten jars of candy and the Teals went home with seven! Go Teals!

News Flash! The Vacationers

Here they are, my three darlin's at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia. (Thank you Grandmanita for the wonderful photograph!) They arrived safely yesterday afternoon and, of course, Grandma had to take them out for a little tour.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Evening

Don't know why I chose this photo tonight. Guess I just wanted to post something before I head upstairs to bed. Tomorrow starts a new week. I'll need to go to the grocery store because I decided to stay home and pick blueberries on Saturday. Soon it will be time to pick cucumbers and make pickles. I think I'm going to miss the camera...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Glowing Report

Ben and Hannah had a great week at camp. I don't think Hannah has ever had so much to say in her entire life as she had to say on the drive home. They learned new songs, made new friends, and can't wait to go back again next year. Bethany made sure to get a package in the mail in time for Hannah's birthday. Whoever gets a package or three letters in one day has to sing in order to receive their mail. This is a long standing tradition which Bethany is well aware of. They do sing as a group so it isn't quite so embarrassing but they must sing. Aside from going to chapel twice a day there were plenty of activities; fishing, archery, swimming, crafts... Each group had to make up and perform a skit for the rest of the campers. I'm told these can be quite entertaining. They also had Bible verses to memorize and lessons to complete. There was a rest time at mid-day and a bit of free time too. They had some rain, mostly at night, and a lot of wind on Friday morning. I'm so glad my kids love this place as I went as a fifteen year old and was less than impressed.

The camp is just over 85 years old and consists of several small cabins for groups or children's camps, a dining hall, craft shack, the "tabernacle" for group meetings, and several privately owned cabins. It sits directly on the shore of Lake Ontario in the shadow of Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant. I joke that my kids always come home glowing but remember too that Moses also came back glowing after his encounter with the Lord.

I'd post a few camp photos but my camera has decided not to work properly. (Wouldn'tcha know?) I will probably be sending it in for repairs early next week. Until then I'll just have to post pictures I've already taken. Good thing I have a bunch!

Singing the Blues

It's blueberry picking time. They're a little smaller this year due to lack of rain, but sweet and yummy just the same. Jasmine thinks they're wonderful and accompanies me to the patch whenever I venture out there. She knows I'll toss her a berry or two every once in a while. She gets those which have been pecked by birds but she doesn't care or know the difference. For the next couple of weeks we'll be stuffing our faces with blueberries and hopefully picking enough to sell a few quarts out front. If you call and get our answering machine, you can bet we're out in the blueberry patch. Mmmmmm!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ready for the Weekend

I've been doing slightly better than normal keeping up with my gardens this summer. Sara and Alysa have been helping me dead-head marigolds and the rain of the past couple weeks has given me a rest from everyday watering of the vegetables. The cats would help if they just knew what to do. Instead they follow me out to the garden or come meowing in the midst of my job. They're always looking for a little attention. Even marigolds don't keep Oreo out of the garden and the dive-bombing Barn Swallows don't deter the cats either. I think my animals enjoy this time of year as much as I do and just want to share the time with me.

Anyway, the kids are home from camp and the weekend is here. I wish I could say that weekends are relaxing but they usually aren't. There is always plenty to do. There are errands to run, chores to accomplish, and places to be. Tomorrow there is a graduation party in the park and on Sunday afternoon a church picnic. By Sunday night I'll be ready for Monday and a break in the activity!

The Warm Fuzzies

When I was a little girl we used to catch a fuzzy seed floating past in the breeze, make a wish, and blow it back into the air. I used to wish for a baby brother (I thought it would be fun to have a baby in the house) but I never got one. I recall wondering where those tiny seeds came from and where they were going. Sometimes I feel like one of them, tossed around by the wind, hanging on for dear life, never really knowing where I am headed. I'm sure those little seeds aren't concerned about their destination. Somehow they trust that the One who made them is in control. He will take them safely to the journey's end. I have to wonder why I struggle so to hang on when He has me safely in His arms.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Out of the Ordinary

It has been a different kind of week. With Ben and Hannah gone to camp the house has been quieter. There seems to be less to do and yet more at the same time. I have accomplished only a few of the tasks I had in mind to do while they were gone, forgetting that I would still have two little girls here with me four out of the five days. I thought maybe I would have a chance to do a little visiting but I didn't plan ahead and Monday passed me by. On Tuesday I took the girls over to swim at Rachel's house. (Thanks Rach, I needed that!) Yesterday I slept longer than I wanted to and too soon it was time to get the girls from summer school. We popped in on Shelly before heading home and interrupted her plans. (She was very gracious and didn't throw us out.) Today we stopped at the library after school and found that they were just finishing up a presentaion on birds. (We did get to hear about and see the Barn Owl named Melinda.) Late tomorrow afternoon we'll head back up to get the kids from camp, watch the closing ceremony, and return home. It will be dark when we get back and the week will be coming to a close. It's not been a bad week just different than I had anticipated. Now I'm looking forward to next week and hearing about my kids and their vacation adventure.

Consider the Lilies

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27
Lilies have never been one of my favorite flowers but the more I see them the more they grow on me. I never realized how many varieties and colors there are and I'm actually thinking maybe I should have something in my gardens besides this orange kind. Maybe some of those Asiatic lilies, bright colors that face downward and look like a chandelier.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

She's gone to camp this week, but this is her big day! She's turning twelve without me. What happened to my baby?

A Gaggle of Goosenecks

Funny little flowers that grow in one of my gardens. I used to think them rather ugly but now I kind of like them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You're Buggin' Me!

I'm having more fun watching the bugs in my "Ugly Garden" than looking at the flowers in the others. There must be a million grasshoopers and, ya know, they all look just slightly different. They are brown, gray, bright green, and stripey looking. Some stare into the camera with a funny, curious look in their eyes and others hop away before I can get anywhere near them.

I'm not sure what they're eating in there but I don't think it's caterpillars. They're likely eating anything green and growing, grass, flowers, weeds... I wish they'd finish off some of those pesky Japanese beetles!
A grasshoppper could never be lonely in that milkweed patch! There are not only plenty of other hoppers but frogs, toads, bees, beetles, and caterpillars, not to mention a cat or two who like to take naps in the shady milkweed forest. It also makes a super grasshopper playground! Lots of stems to climb, leaves to bounce, and flowers to swing on. Pure grasshopper adventure! Then again, maybe the milkweed patch is just a nice cool place to hide from the birds who are looking for a tasty grasshopper snack. (Too bad they already made a movie!)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Make It Snappy

I decided Jazz and I should go for a walk this afternoon. We didn't go far, just a short ways into the orchard, around behind the house and back home again. I need the exercise and Jasmine enjoys going along. In one section of trees there are clusters of tiny"scambled egg" snapdragons, at least that is what they look like to me. They grow where the grass has been sprayed and is dead and brown under the trees. They add a splash of color to an otherwise all-green landscape. I'm not used to taking summer walks in the orchard because it is usually so busy with workers, but this year, with immigration being such a hot topic, it is much quieter. The apples look very small and some trees are dying. I suppose it has to do with our very hot and dry weather through the months of May and June. Hopefully we get enough, but not too much, rain the rest of the summer and some workers to harvest the crop once it is ripe.
Jasmine seems to be tiring out much faster than she used to and she falls down more often too. Having only three legs can be tough and will likely age her much faster. Maybe that's why she goes home when we go for long walks.

Gone to Camp

July 1998 (I think)
Ben and Hannah have gone to camp for the week. Ben went once when he was eight but Hannah has waited many years for the opportunity to attend the same Bible camp that her brothers and sister loved so much. (The photo was taken nine years ago.) I hope they have fun. Each has a friend there, a brother and sister from our old church, so not everyone is a complete stranger. Also, Hannah will be twelve on Wednesday and celebrate her birthday at camp. (I wonder what they will do for her? Make a cake and sing, I think. Bethany knows...)
The house is strangely quiet today, no kids of my own (Nate is off on a job with James), no kids to babysit. What will I accomplish today? Nothing if I spend too much time sitting here...

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Happy Frog?

I went searching for more monarch caterpillars in my milkweek patch this afternoon and found a new friend instead. He was feeling rather sleepy until I put my camera right up close to his face. He looked up and gave me a big smile before he turned and looked the other way. What a great place to hang out and take a nap on a summer afternoon, a milkweed leaf.
Just imagine being tree frog size and stretching out for a snooze in your milkweed leaf hammock. The bird sized bees buzzing overhead, grasshoopers bouncing on your bed, and caterpillars stopping by for a snack. Just the right amount of sunshine and shade... Ahhh.... this is the life!

Friday the 13th!

I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I don't feel any different than normal. Do you think it's bad luck?

Thirteen Creepy Crawlies

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Going Buggy!

We discovered a new friend in the milkweed garden yesterday, a ladybug. A few years ago we were innundated with swarms of these pretty little creatures, but this one seemed to be all alone, just crawling up and down the stems of thses white flowers. Funny how we tend to think of some bugs as friends and others as enemies. I don't usually mind a ladybug crawling up my arm but I don't even like touching those yucky Japanese beetles!
A manarch caterpillar is supposed to be in the milkweed, but I don't want green hornworms in my tomatoes! (I hope I don't find any of those.) Ask anyone who knows me well, and they will tell you that my favorite insect is the ladybug. I'm happy to find them anywhere.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Lady's Artwork

A couple days ago I wrote about my ancestor Fanny Harwood. This is a piece of her artwork that remains somewhere in the family, tiny pieces of tinfoil, painted and mounted on black velvet. There are two pictures done this way and two other paintings. What a nice little piece of encouragement from the past telling me to keep up with developing any artistic talent I might have. I know its in there somewhere!


At the height of yesterday's heat and humidity, I began to wonder if we would ever get a good soaking rain. Well, it arrived today in the form of a wonderful, thundering downpour. I had just told Nathan that I wanted to see puddles in my driveway, not in the backyard, just the driveway. I got my wish, my prayers were answered. What a beautiful rain!
I wanted to go out and run through the back yard, letting the water drench my hair and clothes like we used to when I was a little girl, but the threat of lightening kept me on the back porch. Lucky for me one corner of the porch likes to collect a puddle of water where I could cool the bottoms of my feet and splash my toes in the water. Mmmmm... nice!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hot and Hazy, Feeling Lazy

It was a good day to take the kids over to Rachel's for a swim in the pool. Sara and Alysa love it as much as my kids do and the weather was calling for a dunk in the water. First I had to take Ben and Hannah for a 10 o'clock physical here in town and after that I planned to go home, grab some lunch supplies and head over to Rachel's.
At the doctor's office my plans were rearranged just slightly by the fact that the appointments weren't until 1:45 pm. (How did I do that?... ha! Today is the 10th, must have gotten the time and date confused...) Okay, so I run home, grab some lunch and the swim gear and head out early so as not to disappoint anyone. The kids spent some time in the pool, ate some lunch, rode the zipline and we still had just enough time to get back here for the appointments. Phew!
Tiny Toads

These little creatures have invaded the back yard of a friend where we stopped while running errands yesterday. These tiny toads seem to be everywhere and are no bigger than my fingernail. (That's my husband's hairy arm, not mine!) I have to wonder how many we squashed just walking through the grass...
I suppose they make tasty snacks for hungry birds and snakes but I imagine one would need to eat several toads to constitute a good meal. Hmmm... do they taste like chicken too?

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Very Old Woman

- Fanny Betts Bixby Harwood
Meeting my great-aunt Margaret has sparked my interest in ancestory again. While looking around online last night, I came across this old photograph taken in the late 1800's. Fanny Betts Bixby Harwood was my great-great-great-great-grandmother. I don't know how old she was in this picture, but she died in 1893 at 93 years of age.

Lewis Bixby was Fannie's first husband and the father of her children. Sometime after he passed away she married Rufus Harwood, the father in law of her two daughters. (I guess that makes her twice related...) She was a graduate of a seminary on Long Island. Old records also tell me that she was an artist as well as a teacher. Somewhere out there is some of her artwork. I'm hoping to find a photograph of it. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Japanese Beetles have begun their invasion. I am trying not to let them ruin my summer with their endless munching of my gardens but frustration does mount when I see my plants being chewed up. This afternoon I armed myself with a large vase of soapy water and started knocking them off the plants and into the suds. It seems a losing battle but for every one I kill there will be fewer eggs in the ground.
As I was went from plant to plant in my rather scraggily looking milkweed patch, I spotted another little creature, one I have been waiting for, a monarch caterpillar! I have seen the butterflies flitting about and have been eager to find the next generation. This one is nearly ready to crawl off and find a safe place to finish his journey to becoming a butterfly.
The milkweed patch, which is really rather an ugly garden, is full of life. Bees are buzzing, beetles are chomping, caterpillars are growing and grasshoppers are hopping. Sometimes the ugly isn't so ugly if you take a closer look, unless its a Japanese beetle!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Simple Pleasures

There are days when it is easy to accept the simple pleasures of life, and days when I am so out of sorts that nothing makes me happy. The latter are those in which I need to cry out to God for His help and forgiveness. I am really blessed abundantly and beyond measure but I have a tendancy to forget all about the blessings when I start feeling selfish or sorry for myself, when I get my eyes on all I don't have instead of being thankful for all I do.

I have an awesome God who loves me more than I could ever know, and who gave His all for me. If that wasn't enough, He has given me a wonderful family and a beautiful home. He has surrounded me with plants and flowers, birds and bugs, with fresh air and sunshine, and given me more than enough to eat.

Oh that I could remember to be thankful for each and every day, to soak in all that surrounds me and realize the tremendous gift that it is! I can see... I can hear... I can feel. And I can know He loves me.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, [And] into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, [and] bless His name. Psalm 100:4
An Answered Prayer

Sometimes God answers the simplest prayers, like mine this morning. "Please, God, send the hummingbird." I had my camera ready and suddenly, there he was! I had time to snap one picture before he was chased away by the female. These little birds stop by my feeder often during the course of each day but I'm not usually ready for them or they disappear before I have a chance to take a picture. Thank you, Lord, for that little blessing this morning!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sweet Peas

These pretty little flowers grow along the side of the road not far from here. Once in a great while I will stop and pick a bouquet to take home and set on my table but I haven't done it yet this year. The purple colored Sweet Peas are among my favorite flowers and I have often said I should plant them at home, maybe along the hedgerow, but we still don't have any. One year Ben and Hannah planted some where I now grow my spinach and snow peas but they didn't do well there and now they are gone. Maybe some of God's blessings are meant to be enjoyed at a distance, little treasures that make us smile as we pass by. I can't have everything in my own possession but if I set my mind to, I can enjoy it in the hands of others and be happy too.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Bee, See?

Without any cats around to bump against my legs, I was finally able to catch one! (Okay, two.) It's a good thing a I have a relatively moderate fear of being stung. If I sit still and stay calm, it is possible to get a pretty good shot of one.
I have a nice little milkweed patch which I am watching for monarch caterpillars. I've seen the butterflies flitting about but so far no eggs or crawly things. I'll just have to keep my eyes open, I guess. In the meantime, they are a good place to watch bees too.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Aunt Margaret

Just about two weeks ago my parents recieved a phone call from one of my father's many cousins. In the course of the conversation they were informed that one of my dad's elderly aunts lives in a nursing facility very near to where we had today's family picnic. Aunt Margaret is a very sweet 93 year old lady (she's in the center of the photo) with a wonderful collection of her own paintings hanging in her room. (Oh yes, and a couple on the dining room wall too.)
Maybe you can see where Priscilla gets some of artistic abilities? Aunt Margaret seemed happy to have some family come to visit her, even if she was just a little bit confused as to who Priscilla and I were. Dad played a couple of songs on his banjo and harmonica and he and Mom sang too (Priscilla and I listened). Aunt Margaret held my hand. She looks and acts amazing for a woman her age and makes me miss my own grandma just a little bit. I'm hoping I get a chance to go back and visit her again someday soon.

Happy 4th of July!

We have not had a good soaking rain here for about two months, so complaining about rain today would be nothing short of criminal. We desparately need water on our crops and we got a slow steady dose of it this afternoon. Instead of being grumpy about wet weather, I am very thankful that my Uncle Chuck rents a pavillion in the park each year. We have had many wonderful family picnics there the past (can it really be?) fourteen years or so. Today was fun too, only it was mostly inside fun. The kids did ride Uncle Chuck's famous bicycles and also tried out the stilts outside in the rain, but the rest of the action, including a game of jump rope, took place inside.