Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Rain Speaks of Spring

The Rain Speaks of Spring, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

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First we had temps in the 80's and we were getting a bit spoiled - starting to settle into the notion of Spring. Mother Nature had different ideas and set us straight; we've now had wind, rain and cold (33 degrees) for several days. Tomorrow it's back to sunny and 70's! ;-)
" ...
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
... "

Excerpt from:
Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
~ by Mary Oliver ~

Speaking of Spring, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

Speaking of Spring 2, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Make a wish ... and blow ...

Make a wish ... and blow ..., originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

I wish ... I wish ... and I wish for my family. If only wishing made it so.

"To understand your parents' love, you must raise children yourself." ~
Chinese proverb

I only hope that someday our children do come to understand just how great our love for them is.

"The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in
the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together."

~Erma Bombeck

"Grey's Anatomy" is a guilty pleasure in which I don't often have the chance to indulge ... but tonight I did. This line leaped out at me and stuck. Here's the setup:

At first glance, the family of a dying elderly woman in ER appeared cold and uncaring ... when the woman was resuscitated from a flat line episode, the indignant doctor wanted to clear the room of all the "family love" said with great sarcasm. The old woman shook her head and said,

"No. People are better than no people. They're MY people."

Then came the time when the flat line was final and true - and so were the family's tears and reluctance to let her go. It became real. And they really loved her - in the way of their own - a way she felt and understood. She was their people.

Brought home to me all the love that lies beneath the faults of each individual in a family. Wow. What a plan. :-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring "Break" ...

... is finally over! I think they call it a "break" because it's so crammed full of activities that it does just that to you!

We filled our days and nights so full as to be overflowing with memories: play days with old friends and others with cousins, saw "Inkheart" (and loved it), went to Chili's for Zach's "Pepper Award" free dinner and had Molten Lava Cake. Zachary went swimming at the health club with Grandpa, fishing at the little pond, a picnic/fishing/hiking day at the big pond with all the kids ...

Just getting this photo was an adventure unto itself! It was like herding cats to get them all safely planted and facing the camera at the same time!

"Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven into the midst of our rough earthliness."

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (20th century), Swiss poet, philosopher.) ~

One Hour with Boys in Spring

One Hour with Boys in Spring, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

This was supposed to be a "fishing" outing ... heh, heh ... ;-)

We interrupted Zach's Indianna Jones play to "draaaag" him to the pond. A compromise was reached with the allowance of boots and hat attire and the roleplay was carried on as it became just another Indy adventure ...

They jettisoned one pole into the pond which necessitated a trip back home for my "hummingbird rescue" pole (a long handled lightbulb changer) for retrieval. They fed a million crackers to the ducks and ate a million snacks themselves. Found a prize in the water (a blue ball), tried enticing turtles to shore with pieces of hotdog on sticks and succeeded in attracting dogs instead. They raced, they climbed; they did everything ... except fish. ;-)

Oh, yes ... the boots? He had to cram his feet in them, but begged to wear them "just one more time". After prying them off later he decided he's ready now to give them to his cousin.

Cormorant Spring Ballet

Cormorant Spring Ballet, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

Another fun collage from the "fishing trip" with Zachary. Watching this cormorant dry his wings was amazing ... he moved around the water in such graceful circles dipping his wings into the wind ... I actually heard this music in my head as I watched and knew that when I got home I'd have to try ...

See the movie set to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Scherzo):

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Just some scenes from my first spring things ...

... mostly from my spot on the patio. I have this little routine ... I don't do many hugely complicated dinners - an hour or so is all I need and most of that is hands/eyes free. So once the prep is done the time til "done" and the call to table ----- that's mine. ;-)

Anyhow ---- I get dinner underway - this time of year I do lots on the grill - and retreat to the patio with camera, book, and maybe a glass of wine. Most evenings at this time of year that would be about 5:30 - 6:30. That's when the cardinals, mourning doves, house finches and common sparrows come calling en masse - fun to watch. So although I usually start off reading, I generally end up snapping shots as light changes and catches my eye or the critter traffic or Zach's BBall game becomes more entertaining than the novel at hand.

Hyacinths, Sparrows and Mums in Revival mode ...

The birds are really enjoying the bird bath recently ... and the butterfly bush just behind it is beginning to green and show some buds ...

Cardinal - on the edge ...

Cardinal - on the edge ..., originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

... looking forward and looking back. Always watching for danger - and opportunities.

Mourning dove and sparrows

Mourning dove and sparrows, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

The mourning doves ... ya gotta love 'em. And I do. But. Now there are sooooooooo many of them; they're taking over with a vengeance!

Tulips After a Drink ...

Tulips After a Drink ..., originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

The tulips had water ... I had that glass of chardonnay. ;-)

Last Light

Last Light, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

I love this time of day ... the last light, the long shadows ...
Almost time to go inside for dinner. Tonight's dinner is not one you'd want to have very often - hard on the waistline and arteries! But it's a family favorite - a true comfort food when stress levels have climbed too high. Delicious ...

Cheesy Potato Casserole

4 T Butter
4 T Flour
2 C milk
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 lb velveeta or grated cheddar
1/2 sharp grated cheddar (for top)
Boiled, cooled potatoes
Chopped sausage/ham/onions/peppers - according to preference

Mix first six ingredients in saucepan until warm, melted and smooth (whisk).

Mix potatoes, veg and meat in casserole and pour warm sauce over.
Sprinkle cheddar on top. Paprika if desired.
Bake 35-45 min @350 degrees.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Such a long and muddled week, full of happenstance and nonsense and all around exhausting sucky muck! The sort of week that sends you:
(a) curling under the blankets in a fetal position
(b) escaping into nature
(c) immersing self into books, movies, games, entertainment of the non-thinking, non-challenging variety
(d) general no pressure home puttering
(f) a combination of all the above.

I chose (f).

I moved the canopy swing back into place under the trees, took my book, water, an armful of pillows and my camera and stretched out for a couple of hours - enjoying the sway from warm sunshine to shadow.

Did much reading and dozing ...

an amazing big, fat epic novel by Dennis Lehane "The Given Day" - a story full of history and action and mesmerizing characters - the kind of work I tend to lose myself in completely.

Every now and then a movement or sound would pull me out of the story and I'd look up to see a downy woodpecker, silly squirrel antics, the first butterfly or the sun highlighting the new spring greens in the branches overhead.

A trip to Lowe's (for a drain cleaning tool for my shower) resulted in the unplanned purchase of a new monster Boston Fern and some gorgeous tulips and hyacinths -

which of course in turn prompted a later unplanned photo session with said purchases.

After a while on the side yard swing I'd amble around to the back yard and my sweet spot on the patio near the bird feeders and my little homemade fountain -

which wasn't flowing properly and launched an all out clean and redo.

I so love that fountain - made it from a huge planter several years ago. Now it gurgles beautifully - so relaxing to see and hear the water flowing over smooth river rocks and the odd whimsical crystal or marbles -

and to watch the sway of the fern in the breeze ... catch the fragrance of the tulips and hyacinths.

The butterfly bush hasn't started to bloom yet, but I counted 32 new rosebuds! I see sprigs on the crepe myrtle and the sage bushes (which have gotten huge!) and the lantanta is coming back strong. Did a bit more pruning and clean up and started some loose mental plans for changes, improvements and additions to the yard.

Toward evening we took an impromptu trip to the little carnival in town ... more and different delightful sights, sounds and smells to rally the senses.

No rides this time for me ... but Shannon, Zachary and the Budman made for fun pics .... then dinner out.

Sunday was more of the delicious same ... slow and easy - reading, mah jong, photo editing and play, a few more errands and general puttering ---
and the weekend came to a satisfying close as we made the most of the first extra hour of daylight with a dinner of burgers, dogs and sausages from the grill.

Monday? .... bring it on! ;-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Any Given Day

I recently visited one of my daughters in a rural/suburban Texas town outside of Dallas ... a little over an hour drive from my own home. She needed a little TLC and help with the kids after a dental procedure. Although it's been harder having them further away (they lived only 20 minutes away before this move!) the drive is always into country that I love to revisit.

When It was time to head for home I caught a few snaps on the way back to the interstate with the notion of a collection along the lines of "things one might see on any given day in Midlothian".

I happen to be reading a wonderful novel titled "The Given Day" - and evidently the phrase has been prodding my subconcious. As I drove along ... (one of the few times I'm alone in the quiet and able to really think ) - the true meaning of "any given day" suddenly struck me as so important.

Not just any day is what we're given ...

Each and every day that the sun rises - that we take a breath - that we go out into the world in what ever way we're able is an unbelievable gift and deserves to be inspected, acknowledged and appreciated with a thankful heart!!! So I replayed the events of the day in my mind and realized how many and how great were the moments ...

On this day's gift I had spent precious time with three of my beautiful grandchildren and a daughter ...

privileged to watch and hear their "tub music".

We made mac n' cheese for lunch, had a tea party, trampolined, basketballed, tire swinged and birthday party planned - every moment, every giggle and hug a gift to remember from this gift of a day!