Month: April 2008

  • The Garden, Neighbors, and Tails

    I am positively loving this Spring. I’m not sure why this one in particular, but I honestly never have seen this little corner of the world ever look so beautiful. Goes to show that there is beauty everywhere, if I only have eyes to see it. When we moved here, it was dry and brown. Last spring we were in a drought, so it was dry and brown and crunchy. The grass was crunchy, that is. Throughout last summer it rained a bit but was so hot it was still dry and brown. Then, of course, it was winter and you all know that stuff is dry and brown then as well. All that to say – this is the first time I have ever seen this area green and alive!! I just love it! I also feel like spring, with its aliveness and vitality, is in my heart as well. I am truly enjoying life these days…

    Probably the only negative thing about spring is that the snakes are enjoying sunning themselves too. Ben and I were walking across the yard today when he suddenly yelled, “It’s a snake!” I’m sure I leapt about 2 feet in the air and landed 2 feet backwards; I have this distinct aversion to snakes. But it’s good I did leap backwards because my next step forward would have landed on the tail of a 3-foot King snake. At first Ben wondered if he should kill the snake. I gave him an icy look. Of course we kill the snake – whether or not he eats bugs, mice, and armadillos. When there is one serpent there is bound to be a family of serpentines. And I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of a family of serpents in my yard.

    So Ben – hero that he is – ran to the garage and grabbed a hoe while I guarded and glared at the snake, to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t have a game plan in case he did move, but I guarded. Well, Ben’s first valiant swing with the hoe broke the hoe in half, and completely missed the snake. Amazing, the snake just stayed there, unmoving. My husband’s next move was to go get his shotgun and blow the snake to smithereens. But the baby had just been put to bed and we decided we didn’t want to wake her up over a snake being shot. So, option #3 was a shovel, and that finished off the deadly serpent. shiver I hate snakes. Then Atlas took me over to a fire ant hill, where he dropped the dead snake into the pile. Said he did that when they were kids, and loved to watch the snake writhe. I must admit I felt a little sorry for the snake at that point. I mean, it doesn’t feel good to have one ant bite, much less have the whole army of them chewing on your back. But the serpent was dead, and that was what mattered.

    So, on to other things… We have begun The Garden. Actually, we’ve begun it almost 2 months ago already, but now the plants in The Garden have begun as well. It’s Ben’s baby, really. I’ve always enjoyed gardening, but starting from nothing with sandy soil and needing to haul in lime, manure, fertilizer, among other things, looked too overwhelming for my lonesome. So I was very happy when he was inspired by the Genesis mandate to “cultivate the earth.”

    We have an evening ritual. Every night when Ben gets home from work we go out and look at The Garden. He exclaims over every little plant and notes its progress from the day before (very excitedly Oh LOOK!” The lettuce grew 6 inches!!” annoyed “That rabbit must be eating my eggplant. How DARE he!”) At first it was just Ben that went out and looked. And at first I’ll admit I was a little irritated that The Garden was the first thing he wanted to see after he got home (“Want to see my lovely clean house, Babe??”). But then I decided to join him instead, and he says that means a lot to him. So we continue the bonding evening ritual.

    the Master Gardener himself. And the tiller we bought second-hand, so please don’t laugh at the crooked everything about it.

    One of the first flowers on the potato plants.

    [I think this is the first time ever I'm using that awful default green border color. So it DOES have a purpose!]

    The onions sprouting nicely, with the weedy potatoes in the background. It really is hard to keep grass out of a first-year garden.

    Some of the Musclin (sp?) lettuce mix.

    Big heads of Romaine.

    Up close and personal.

    Mrs. Red Leaf wanted her picture taken too.

    We also have 23 tomato plants, so if you all want tomatoes for your canning [salsa, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, tomato juice, chunk tomatoes, diced tomatoes, etc.] we will have all you want. My husband did the purchasing, and I don’t think he realized just how many tomatoes will come from 23 tomato plants!

    We have bamboo that is threatening to overtake our backyard. We didn’t plant it, but it’s sprouting up everywhere. And let me tell you, this stuff can spring up and grow 6 feet in one week. It’s unbelievable. I’m not really excited about that idea, but the vibrant new green is just gorgeous…

    Zoe’ was out with us too. And was quite disturbed that we didn’t just let her play in the dirt the whole time. We’ve discovered it’s dangerous to let her play in the dirt. She goes for the leaves and twigs and we’ve had some near-CPR episodes where she chokes so badly she can’t breathe. So, in the stroller she stays.

    Little Blue-eyed Girl. It’s been so fun to experience Spring with her. Showing her Tails [see below]; the nest of new little birds that just hatched in the shrub outside our garage; the butterflies that come fluttering by (ha! pun intended); the pretty flowers; taking her out during a rainstorm and feeling the raindrops… All this reminds me of so many little songs my mom used to sing to me. “Rain, rain, go away…” “Who Made the Pretty Lilies?” “The birds upon the treetops sings their songs…” And she just loves when I sing. She’ll start dancing in her seat, trying to move to the rhythmn.

    I’ve befriended a green anole, whom I affectionately call ‘Tales.’ He. got his name in hopes that his missing tail will grow back quickly. I wasn’t there when he was in the unfortunate circumstance of losing his tail, but it must have been tragic indeed for only a poor black stump remains. But I meet Tails almost daily on the back porch, and we’ve grown rather attached. He’s a shy little fellow, doesn’t want to be held or any such thing, but he allowed me to come within 6 inches of him while he posed for this picture. Today he was sunning himself on the umbrella pole. He really isn’t that cute close-up, but I remind Zoe’ that beauty is more that appearances.



    These coke bottles have a story. They come from an older gentleman down the road, whom my friends and I meet almost every time we take our tri-weekly walks. He’s sitting outside in his golf cart, getting a little fresh air while he reads his paper. Sweetest old man, always smiling. I told Ben about him, so one evening we walked down to his house with a loaf of fresh bread so Ben could meet him. We found out that he’s a World War II veteran, who even has the flag that was flown at Pearl Harbor. Apparently he lives on stories of WWII and Coca-Cola, so I don’t know how much a loaf of whole wheat bread meant to him. But he was delighted with the company and was handing us mints within moments of us walking in the door, telling us stories of his time in the Navy. I don’t think he has one single tooth in his mouth, so that along with a strong southern accent made him just slightly difficult to understand. But we had a lovely time chatting, and before we left he told us to take a 6-pack of Coke along home. I chose one pack from the stash that covered his dining room table, and now Ben and I are enjoyed our Coke from Mister Jack. Cool old-looking bottles. I think Coke always tastes better in glass bottles.





    Also, because this is such a newsy post for all you dear family and friends, and because you always save the best for last —- this week it was 4 years since Ben and I started dating! Time is going by far too quickly!IMG_1899

    I found this rose on my planner as well as his little note to me one morning…

    Happy Weekend to everyone! I sure am excited about mine!

    “The Earth laughs in flowers.” – Emerson


  • The Strawberry Pickin’…


    Today was a day spent berry picking! My mother-in-law and sister-in-law invited me to go along with them to pick our own strawberries about a half-hour away, and we had so much fun! We only picked 3-4 gallons each, but by that time we were glad to be done – our back were starting to ache. It was the kind of fields where you couldn’t squat – you had to bend over the whole time. Thus the aching backs… But fun times!

    We had our little kiddos along, and I had great visions of pictures of them in the patches. The strawberry fields weren’t quite what I was expecting for perfect pictures, and I wasn’t planning on letting my daughter actually eat the strawberries for the pictures, but..

    She was overjoyed when I set her down with the bucket, and immediately started munching…



    After asking advice on whether I can even get strawberry stains out, I allowed her to chow on.



    “Where do these wonderful things come from??”


    She kept picking berries out of the bucket, taking a (gummy, toothless!) bite, throw it down, and take another one. And even without teeth, she managed to take some pretty good-sized chunks out of the strawberries. I love this picture with the little juice drip barely hanging on to her chin.


    And this is little Sir William, one of the most adorable little boys ever. My nephew through marriage.





    He was sure he was the biggest helper, and was thrilled to carry his own bucket with the few strawberries that made it from the patch without entering his mouth. I just noticed he is munching on a strawberry in almost every one of the above pictures!


    My mother-in-law – couldn’t stop picking even after her buckets were full!


    Waiting for our berries to be weighed… Notice Zoe’s stained shirt. :)


    Little Andrew is thrilled beyond words to have his picture taken. :)


    Tender cousin moment - William and Zoe’.

    And now all the clothes Zoe’ was wearing -undershirt, onesie, and pants – are sitting in a bucket of hot Oxy-Clean water, hopefully soaking away the stains. Oh the things we won’t do for a few little pictures! Now she’s going to wonder why she can’t always munch on strawberries!

    By the way, I am truly loving this spring time. I have never seen south Georgia this green and lush – EVER. I told Ben that I didn’t think it could actually be pretty down here! These few gorgeously-perfect weeks of lovely weather and verdent outdoors have changed my mind on that matter. So I will enjoy it to the max until the 100% humidity arrives and it’s too hot to go outside anymore…

    Enjoy your springtime!



  • Sweet City Couple

    I took a friend’s engagement pictures while I was here this week. Had a great time walking through the city, and this was a fun couple to shoot pictures of! These are some of my favorites…



    These umbrella shots were this bride-to-be’s idea. I thought it was adorable.















    Congratulations, you two!!

  • Ode to Family


    Well, I’m back in PA again! It’s been a great week with my siblings… I arrived last Sunday, but because my mom was gone until 2 days ago, I spent most of my time at home with my brothers and sister this week. Going to the library, going to market, watching “Night at the Museum” together, cleaning the entire house from top to bottom (really big deal, just ask my brothers), just being together and enjoying one another… It’s been fun. Zoe’ positively adores my family, and if I don’t take her downstairs immediately after she wakes up, she starts bouncing and wiggles her little body toward the door to go see everybody. Ever so darling!

    It’s been a special week for me here at home… My mom was recently diagnosed with a severe case of Lyme Disease, and anyone who has had that or knows about it, knows that it is a very difficult illness to overcome and people can get so very sick. And my mom has had a very hard time physically the past few months… It’s been so hard on me to be so far away and not be able to help with things at home. Part of it is probably that Oldest Sister Syndrome, where I feel responsible to help out. But most of it is that I want to help out. They are my family!

    It seems that my family has been under a physical attack recently. My mom’s health (for the past few years actually, but was just diagnosed); my dad has been facing some health challenges too that are still undetermined; one sister was in a very bad accident and was miraculously spared; one of my brothers fell and gashed his shin all the way to the bone on an iron beam; another sister sprained her ankle/tendon in her foot. As for the rest of us, we are praying that no further attacks will be permitted as we care for the wounded!!

    We are a family. And this is my family, whom I care about, love with all my heart. And to see them going through such a hard time – from such a long way away – has been so difficult. So this opportunity to be here this week has been so wonderful. True, I haven’t seen friends so far (except at the wedding yesterday and today, and that was so lovely), and I feel like I can’t return to GA without seeing some of them, but it’s been a priceless week with my family. When you or someone you know and are close to goes through a difficult season of life, it just puts a  new perspective on life and makes relationships seem as important as they really are. Sometimes in the hum-drum of life it’s easy to get caught up in little things that really are  insignificant in eternity. But when things like this happen, it’s a jolt to reality, and really draws my heart back to God, to people, to things that really matter. Previous little irritations now seem minute, and instead, the positive attributes of each other are what we see and appreciate. My heart feels so full sometimes –  it aches with the sweetness of life, and yet, at the same time, at the bitter things that threaten the sweetness as well… So, with all that briefly describing the state of affairs in my family, I am so thankful to be here and to be able to give to my family in whichever ways I am able this week…

    I came directly from Ohio and will return back home next week, after being the wedding coordinator today at a good friend’s wedding in PA. Such an extreme pendelum of emotions within the past week. Extreme grief and sorrow at my friend’s father’s funeral, which was one of the most achingly saddest funerals I was ever at. And such happiness at the wedding of my friend Cindi and seeing her joy with her fiance’. My heart doesn’t feel big enough sometimes, to enter someone’s pain so deeply, and to turn around and enter someone else’s supreme happiness. I think God is stretching my capacity to love. And I want that, because so often I wish I could do more for someone – like at the funeral for my friend, like today at the wedding…

    We are a family. A family because of blood ties. And a family because of friendship. And even beyond technical “family” family, we are, in a larger aspect,  a family of believers, created by God to stand together in support and encouragement, to enter each other joys and sorrows, to care for one another. And that makes us sisters, even with no blood ties. And brothers, with no previous relation. It’s beautiful… Let’s keep it so.


    A few pictures to show the beauty…

    Zoe’ looking out the window on one of the flights. She should have frequent flyer miles by now – with this trip up here and back, she’ll have flown 8 times in her 8 months.

    The changing table in the airport. See the cooing woman behind her? So funny.

    I stayed with Gaylord and Celesta when I was in Ohio. I positively adore that family!

    Zoe’ never lacked for attention there!

    Little Michael (age 6) told us, “I wish you would stay for 50 days!!” Ever so cute!

    Ever so proud Papa

    At Central Market

    She desperately wanted David’s ice cream come. And, well, she got it.

    Some of us sibs. Forgot a picture of brother Chris, who met us for a fun few minutes too