Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day, my favorite day of the year...

Today is Earth Day.

Mother Earth was kind enough to give presents -- a gentle rain that turned our Arkansas back yard into a rain forest. The sun is shining now. Like all females, Mother Earth is prone to changing her mind. As I look out the window into the woods, droplets of rain on the still new leaves sparkle as the warm sun caresses them. The landscape shimmers as if dressed in sequins. Thank you Mother Earth. The effect is spectacular.

More than thirty years ago, I experienced a kind of environmental awakening that has forever changed how I see and think about things. This new kind of spirituality inspires deeper thought, a kind of peripheral vision that takes in new dimensions, and a sense of connection to all living things.
John Muir, American conservationist.
American conservationist, my hero, John Muir 
photo credit: Wikipedia
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe," said John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, who was born on this day.

That quote has been my favorite since I first heard it. Connections are not always clear. Sometimes they are difficult to discern, but we must not be blinded by the obvious.

On that day so long ago, I walked with a group of other nature lovers along a trail. It was a time when "Save the Earth" was a popular slogan. I was disturbed about oil spills, killing dolphins in tuna nets, too much plastic that never degrades, landfills overflowing with trash that could have been recycled into useful products, and the very future of the only planet we can call home. But as I walked the trail, in the forest remnant that had been largely untouched since it was carved out by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years ago, I realized that humans aren't able to save the earth any more than they can affect it. Mother Earth will save herself, even if it is at our expense. I fear for humans who totally miss the point. The only thing that man's work will destroy is man.

I'm saddened that little has been accomplished in the past 30 years. And I am frustrated -- no angry -- at recent political attempts to reverse protections of the environment.

Even though I'm unhappy that there must be legal efforts to thwart man's destructive behavior against himself, it is too important not to be supportive since not everybody gets it. My hope for the environmental future of mankind is that more people simply realize the connections all around us. Man is not the center of the universe. He is just another piece of it.

...reprinted from 2010 but still relevant today

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year's Resolution #1

Tolerate Mr. Squirrel
I didn’t think I would make any New Year’s Resolutions this year. I rarely ever do. And, this isn’t exactly a resolution anyway. But it is only the second day of a new year and I am making a small change in my thinking with this recent proclamation, so I why not call it a resolution?

The fact is that winter in the Ozarks isn’t supposed to be this cold. Temps have been below freezing for some time. I’m retired, so I really don’t have to venture outside if I don’t want to, or need to—to run errands, attend previously set appointments, or fill the bird feeders.

I seem to be doing the latter quite often during these cold days. It is pretty frustrating to have to reach almost to the floor of the garage just to scoop up a coffee can full of sunflower seed. After all, I buy seed in huge 40 lb. bags.

Running out of bird food would definitely qualify for having to leave the warmth and comfort of the house. But feeding my feathered friends is very important to me.


squirrel
There is no wonder why the food goes so fast. One look out the window makes it quite clear—Mr. Squirrel.

I have not been happy with squirrels at the bird feeder for a few years now. They have proven to be quite gluttonous, stopping at nothing to feast on the food I put out for the birds.

This year though, I’ve noticed they haven’t been as destructive as in the past. Or perhaps I’m just becoming tolerant in my old age. Then again, perhaps it is a little of both. I’ve watched Mr. Squirrel for a while. This generation seems to be a little more civilized, only taking one seed at a time, scurrying off and coming back for more. He is a little more careful in his approach as well, which means the seed doesn’t scatter all over the place, the branches of the nearby Magnolia haven’t been decimated, and he isn’t just bullying the birds. There seems to be some sharing among them. So, as long as he and his friends behave, we won’t have a quarrel.

Mr. Squirrel
Suffice it to say, my resolution is qualified. I will try to get along with all the feathered and furry critters that come to visit as long as they get along too. Perhaps 2018 will be a peaceful year. We can only hope.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

With only 77 more days until the first day of Spring; if this is a sign of things to come, count me in.

The reality is that even though my front yard is seemingly filled with birds I have come to recognize as signs of spring, it really is still winter in the Ozarks. In fact, winter really just began less than two weeks ago. We all know how annoying it is when Walmart puts out Christmas decorations before Halloween, but I just can’t help rushing the season—this season.

Granted the days are getting longer, even if the change is almost imperceptible. But what quite apparent is the appearance of Eastern Bluebirds, Robins, and even a Cedar Waxwing, the first I have seen here in all the 14 years we’ve lived here filling the front yard. Turns out it was just warm enough with the sun shining brightly to melt a little of the ice in the bird bath.


CHMusings bluebirds and robins
Flashes of blue filled the front yard as dozens of bluebirds flew from one tree branch to another, resting awhile on a tall bush before returning to the bird bath again and again. While most of them relished the drinking water supply, some felt the need to do their own version of the polar plunge as they plopped into the middle and played in the water. It is always great fun to watch my feathered friends, but to see these springtime birds frolicking in the water, well, the sight made this season so much more bearable as we await my favorite season of all—Spring. It won’t be long now.With only 77 more days until the first day of Spring; if this is a sign of things to come, count me in.

The reality is that even though my front yard is seemingly filled with birds I have come to recognize as signs of spring, it really is still winter in the Ozarks. In fact, winter really just began less than two weeks ago. We all know how annoying it is when Walmart puts out Christmas decorations before Halloween, but I just can’t help rushing the season—this season.

Granted the days are getting longer, even if the change is almost imperceptible. But what quite apparent is the appearance of Eastern Bluebirds, Robins, and even a Cedar Waxwing, the first I have seen here in all the 14 years we’ve lived here filling the front yard. Turns out it was just warm enough with the sun shining brightly to melt a little of the ice in the bird bath.

Flashes of blue filled the front yard as dozens of bluebirds flew from one tree branch to another, resting awhile on a tall bush before returning to the bird bath again and again. While most of them relished the drinking water supply, some felt the need to do their own version of the polar plunge as they plopped into the middle and played in the water. It is always great fun to watch my feathered friends, but to see these springtime birds frolicking in the water, well, the sight made this season so much more bearable as we await my favorite season of all—Spring. It won’t be long now.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Before and After

I couldn't be more thrilled with this project. It is something I've wanted since we moved here 14 years ago. There is still more work to do to complete the bathroom, but the hard part is behind us. 


I have been enjoying the luxury of a hot bath before bed. In cleaning out the closets for this project, which was a massive undertaking, I found all kinds of bubble bath and scented 'this and that' I didn't know I had. 

It is all about the mood. Some nights I smell like a fruit bowl. Other nights, I feel like I've been strolling through a vineyard or played in an herb garden. Some nights there are bubbles; others, just a fresh, clean scent. Still other nights it is all about the health benefits of a soak in vitamin and mineral salts. No matter, it is all good. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Clearing out and cleaning up

I'm going to get a new bathtub

For the past several years, I have wanted to have a bathtub installed in the master bath. It is plain to see in this photo, at left highlighting the tile I had recently installed, that the shower is very small and rather utilitarian. 

I wanted more, so it is time for a change.

For years I have been saving for this project. I have devoted hours contemplating every possible option, including gutting the room and starting with a blank floor plan. While that would have been the simplest solution, it would also have been the most expensive, making it just not practical.

So, I opted for the easiest option, knocking out the wall behind the toilet and turning the toilet 90ยบ to the other wall. That would open up the room for a standard size, of course jetted, tub, the only item on my current bucket list.

This would not be easy for me, since behind that wall is a bedroom closet, a
secondary space where I keep quilting supplies and other artsy goodies like buttons, batting, lace, ribbons and other sewing needs. The picture at right is deceiving because it doesn’t show the entire closet. There is a lot more crammed into the space.

Fortunately, there is another bedroom closet, so this one is not exactly vital, except when I try to figure what to do with what is there.

This past week, I set out to clear out the closet, and at this writing, it is empty. Thing is, I have filled my house with piles of stuff that seemingly has no place to go. My solution, clean out all the other closets and get organized.

Getting organized is a project in itself, But it is one that is rather satisfying when completed. At least I can attest to that once it is finally completed. I admit I am well on my way. So, I spent the week cleaning out three closets at a time, the bedroom closet, the hall linen closet, the main bathroom linen closet, and even the laundry room, just for good measure. The bathtub will be installed in two days; the closet is now empty, the hall linen closet has now been deemed the artsy room, and the bathroom linen closet now contains all the towels, sheets, and other such items, with room to spare.

The older I get, the more I realize the adage that everything has its place and everything must be in its place. Unfortunately, I’m not quite there yet, but it is coming along. The garage sale items are piling up and there may be one or two extra trash bags, but I’m on my way.

Before long, I’ll be able to ponder solutions to all current and future problems while I soak in the hot, swirling water, as I take in the aroma of scented candles and sip some wine. I’m just sure this will make my brain more efficient, my body more relaxed, and my temperament greatly enhanced. For now, it’s bBack to work!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

I struggle no more

The perfect omelet is now in my grasp.

Isn’t this Denver omelet a thing of beauty?

I couldn’t be more pleased. This is actually the first omelet I’ve had in some time. I just stopped trying to make them because they always came out messy and unappetizing. That is, they used to, until I bought new All Clad non-stick skillets. I could not be more pleased with these pans.

No matter what the endeavor, good tools are essential. The same holds true for cooking. I finally decided that if I was ever going to work on my culinary skills, I had to give myself the best chance, even though I doubt I will ever be a great cook. I can follow a recipe, but I lack the imagination to just ‘come up with ideas’ that make a dish exciting and delicious. That’s OK. There are so many recipes out there, that I suppose I don’t need to go that extra mile.

By the way, this omelet was delicious!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Bringing the outside in

It is always a sad time when I have to bring the plants inside for the winter. On the other hand, it is nice to enjoy the ‘outside’ plants indoors.

While I didn’t have a plethora of plants this year, there were a few that are already doing quite nicely inside.

I love petunias and I hope I can keep this plant alive long enough to plant it outside again next spring.

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy this pretty purple petunia on my back porch. There are actually a couple of plants that are blooming, so the odds are pretty good that I’ll have petunias next year.

That just makes me happy.

I grew these in a pot on the deck where they did so much better than they ever did in the ground. I need some major soil amendments to be able to grow any flowers in what I hope will one day be a perennial garden.

I’ve always thought the purple coneflower was the perfect flower with its simplistic form and perfect color—my absolute favorite.


I still have a pot of the pink begonias that I dug out of the ground two winters ago. They have been simply thriving in our south-facing sun porch.

I hope to be treated with hot peppers all winter long.
Then last but not least of my noteworthy selections, is the Serrano Pepper plant that is still producing. I wasn’t going to leave that outside to die. So I brought it in as I have done in the past.