Friday, April 30, 2010

Easy to Swallow

This evening as we were out driving around, we happened upon these tree swallows mating. Luckily for me, they seemed too focused on their romance to mind my snapping. The female will now fly off and build her nest, with the male helping to collect feathers for it. She will lay between four and seven eggs, which should hatch about two weeks later. Both the male and female will take care of the young till they leave the nest. And it is true about the swallows returning to Capistrano every year! Pat Boone even sings a song about it, which you can find on YouTube. Every year, the swallows leave their wintering spot in Argentina and fly 6,ooo miles away, to a mission in San Juan, California. They always arrive on or very near March 19, to the ringing of the church bells, visitors from all over the world, a parade, and many other festivities. They always return to the same eaves at the mission. Legend has it that many years ago, the swallows took refuge in the mission from a mean innkeeper who destroyed their nests. So they return every spring knowing they will be protected. And in fact, the city has passed an ordinance making it illegal to destroy their nests. Smart birds, nesting in a place near the altar of God.

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young-a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you." Psalm 84:3,4

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Only God Can Make A Tree

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.Bill Vaughan

We can learn a lot from trees: they're always grounded, but never stop reaching heavenward.Everett Mamor

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.Greek Proverb

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
Ogden Nash

On this Friday, we celebrate Arbor Day. So rather than planting a tree, I will tell you about one that was cut down on January 19. This tree in Maine was so special that he had a name, Herbie. Herbie was the tallest American Elm tree in New England, with a diameter of over six feet. He was well over two hundred years old. Herbie survived fourteen bouts of Dutch Elm Disease, but this last one proved fatal. I took this picture from the paper, where it shows a worker removing sawdust from the freshly cut tree stump. Most of his remains will go to artisans who will make furniture and cutting boards. Several cuttings will be displayed in the town hall, state arboretum, and other places. But the big deal is that scientists from several different places will be examining Herbie's trunk to learn things from it. 1816 was called The Year Without Summer, because volcanic activity from halfway around the world made for a very cold summer in New England. There was frost in every month of the summer. You can tell the weather during the years by looking at the rings in a tree trunk, so these scientists are very interested in what the 1816 ring will show. You can tell many things from a tree trunk, it's like a living history book. And the scientists who are experts at interpreting this are called dendroclimatologists (deciphering the climate through the years) and dendrochronologists (determining the age of the tree) Who knew?

"And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food." Genesis 2:9

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shall We Tie One On?

Beware the deadly necktie!! This was the title of the story I read, taken from the Wall Street Journal, about the growing controversy over doctors wearing neckties. Since ties are rarely cleaned and hang right at a patients sneeze and cough level, they are supposed to be loaded with bacteria and bad germs. Who knew? Do you care if your doctor wears a tie? In more tie news, I was in the local drugstore the other day, at the photo developing counter, and snapped these pictures for you. Besides having your photograph on mugs and calendars, you can now have it on a necktie! Who knew? In times past, my husband's family would have not been pleased with any of this, because the Amish and Old Order Mennonites do not wear neckties. They are considered too flashy and worldly. Men's suits were too stylish, as well. They wore what was called a "plain suit"" with no lapels, which were considered frivolous and unnecessary. My husband wore one of these plain suits for many years until he was somewhere in his early 20's. Too bad I can't find a picture of him wearing one. But you can see what they look like from these family pictures. Here are my husband's parents with three of their children, Phil standing on the right striking a pose. The other picture is my mother-in-law with all her siblings and her father. Plenty of plain suits. They remind me of the Nehru jackets that were so popular with the teenagers in the 1960's. They were trying to be stylish, and the Mennonites and Amish were trying not to be. Go figure.

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and it's desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
1 John 2:15,17

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Mystery No More

I am just wild over the fact that my little wildflowers are a mystery no more, thanks to Judy at Thru Squirrel Eyes. Her blogs are amazing and so is she. She is not only the Squirrel Queen to me, but Queen Bee (for her wonderful bee photos), and now Wizard Of Weeds. She knows about a lot of things, and she knew about my little wildflowers. Thanks, Judy!! The flower in the first picture is Creeping Charlie, a form of ground ivy. And the second is Persian Speedwell. Both are considered invasive species. Creeping Charlie is in the mint family and was intentionally brought to North America. People are killing it with Borax now. But it's leaves are purported to be as effective as any NSAID for fibromyalgia, and also good for inflamed eyes and kidney diseases. Before Hops were discovered, it was the only herb the Saxons used to clarify and improve the flavor of their beer. The second little flower, Persian speedwell, is often used in cough syrups and infusions for it's expectorant ability. A medical paper written in 2002 states that it may be valuable in treating cancer, ageing, arthritis, and inflammation. Weeds? I think not. A whole pharmacy right in my front yard. Perhaps God made certain flowers to run rampant for a reason. If these same flowers were more rare, they would be highly prized and sought after. Be careful, little hands, what you pull.

"Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." Ezekiel 47:12

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mystery Wildflowers

Today I am enlisting the help of my blogging friends to identify these flowers. I have many plant and wildflower identification guides, and these are not in them. This may be because they will be considered weeds, since they grow unbidden in everyone's yards around here. But what others call weeds, I call wildflowers. The pictures are of two different wildflowers. The first three pictures are the same plant, so very tiny that I took a picture so you can get a perspective with the dandelions. So tiny that you can't really see one until there are a whole group. Very daintily growing all over the grass. The last two pictures are a different flower, a bit bigger than the other. As you can see, they even grow in the gravelly driveway and seem to send out some kind of shoots. By the way, though you can't tell by the pictures, they are the same bright blue as the first one. We have had these for many years, but now that I am among some knowledgeable bloggers, I finally have hopes of finding out what they are. Hope you stop and SMELL the flowers today, as well.

"Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into." Henry Beecher

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Always Watching

We happened to drive by these Canada Geese at a local pond, so I snapped a photo. They are eating, but do you notice something? One goose has his head up while the others eat. The goose with his head up is the lookout, or sentinel goose. When the flock eats, there is always one who watches for danger. They are extremly wary, and even with the watcher on guard, they will all lift their heads every so often and look around. They know it's not good for any one goose to keep his head down all the time. Smart geese.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning."

Psalm 130:5,6

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Heart Of The Matter

When we moved into our house twenty seven years ago, our son was thirteen years old. We had never had our own yard before, and he wanted to plant something. He went to the local garden center, bought these parrot bulbs, and planted them out back against the house. That was so long ago and far away. A new house and a son in new adolesence. Everything bright and shiny. And now, almost thirty years later, we are all looking and feeling so much older, but not the parrot bulbs. They continue to remain the same every year, and remind me of a time of hope, new beginnings, and a boy becoming a man. Your mom loves you, Mike.

"You were wearied by all your ways, but you would not say 'It is hopeless'. You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint." Isaiah 57:10

Friday, April 23, 2010

She Shot An Arrow Into The Air...

This video is just a little over one minute long, but if you watch it, you will probably never forget it.

"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day..."
Psalm 91:5

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Where Can I Hide?

Little Ella just loves to play hide and seek, and today she decided to hide marbles from Phil. I think she got the idea from the recent Easter egg hunt. So she ran all around the house giggling and hiding, then called to Phil. But he never got a chance to find them. She was so pleased and overcome with her hiding places that she took him around and showed him where they were! She could not contain herself long enough for him to find them! In the same way, God wants us to find him so badly that he sent his only son down to earth to help. We did not have to go searching, because Jesus showed us the way as clearly as Ella showed Phil those marbles. It's good to know that no one here has lost their marbles just yet!
For "Where Can I Hide?" for part l, where you can learn the many beautiful meanings of the word "Seek", CLICK HERE.

"The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." Matthew 13:44

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Singing For Joy

The Japanese and Red Maples are all glowing right now, and there are plenty of them around here. There are over 800 different kinds, meaning altogether, not just in my city. It is said that red is the first color you lose sight of at twilight, so as the sun goes down, these unusual trees disappear in the gloaming, till only green remains.

"Then the trees of the forest will sing,
they will sing for joy before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth." 1 Chron. 16:33

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." Proverbs 8:17

Today our family came over and we finally had our Easter Egg hunt and celebration with our granddaughter Anne Marie. Why so long after Easter? You may remember from my previous post that our daughter-in-law fell from the attic to the living room on Easter Sunday. She is still far from back to normal and has considerable pain, though she's back to work. Here you see little Anne smelling our lilac bush with Phil, going on the egg hunt, and getting her Easter basket. Every year, over 1 billion Easter eggs are hunted in this country. The first White House Easter Egg hunts were actually held at the Capitol building, but the kids tore up the lawn so much that the president signed a bill that forbid the use of the Capitol lawn for such things. In 1929, President Hoover's wife was so grossed out by the bad smell of the eggs that she tried to replace the egg hunt with folk dancing! Guess that didn't go over too well with the kids! There was an old belief that if eggs laid on Good Friday were preserved for over a century, their yolks would turn to diamonds. Whoever came up with this wacky theory must have had way too much Passover wine! I need to be constantly seeking, but not for eggs.

"...let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. " 1 Chron. 16:10

Monday, April 19, 2010

Set Apart

Phil and I were driving past a local park the other day, and we happened upon this game of slow pitch softball, so we stopped to watch a while. Can you see how this is not quite your normal game? There were male and female players, but the women were all wearing long dresses and head coverings. What do we have here? These are Beachy Amish Mennonites. Being a Mennonite myself, though not from a conservative branch, I have many stories of the Amish and Mennonites. First there were Mennonites. But in 1693, a Mennonite named Jakob Ammann believed that they were getting entirely too permissive and modern. He broke away from the Mennonites, formed the Amish, which is named after him, and stopped time in it's tracks. This was the extremly short version. Today there are way over a dozen types of Amish churches. And yes, there are even Amish Mennonites! But don't bother your head with that right now. Our Beachy Amish ball players are the least conservative of the Amish, as they drive cars and use electricity. Most had driven to the game in their cars. But I must say that the women seem to have gotten the worse part of this deal, because the men's clothes are comfortable and appear to be modern, but the poor women!! Try running the bases in a long dress in the heat! Oh, well, at least they don't have to go home and churn butter!

"You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." Lev. 20:26


 On the outskirts of town, we happened to pass this building. It used to be a gas station. But what a difference now! What was going on? One...