Memorial Day 2015

vetmenWe are halfway through the Memorial Day weekend…a time set aside to remember those who gave their lives in defense of our freedom.

Originally known as Decoration Day, the first celebration took place in Waterloo on May 5, 1868. The name was changed to Memorial Day in 1967. And our own state of New York was the first to declare it a holiday.

We salute those who have fallen, and keep their loved ones in our prayers and thoughts.  Hopefully some day, we can all live in peace.

We remember.

New life all around

robin nest smWarm days…and new life!  This robin’s nest was actually in a shrub yew, kind of surprising to have it relatively low to the ground.  Mama Bird may have erred in putting the nest where she did, I can only hope the little family can survive predators.

Otherwise, I came back last week from a weekend at the retreat house where I helped out with a couple of things, gave a retreat on Saturday the 9th, and caught up on various tasks once I got back home on Tuesday.  I did get a few photo ops in my free time, and took a couple at a local park on the river as the sun came up.P1160105 A few people were already out at 5:30 AM, jogging, walking their dogs…getting ready for their day.  For me, it was a great opportunity to get some shots before the day got hot, and the mosquitoes come out. I heard that the black flies are out up north, so I think I will stay local for about a month.

Signed up for a hermit retreat for a couple of days in a little while…and I am looking forward to that. Voluntary solitary confinement.  And a very good time to get my thoughts in order – preparing for 2 more retreats in August.  Time just seems to fly and I look forward to seeing old (and new) friends up north at that time.

Also, it’s time to go off to the garden center and pick up annuals for the plant pots here at home.  After a long, cold, snowy winter it is wonderful to see color again.  All we need is rain (believe it or not). And a little bit of precipitation is due tonight and tomorrow.

Keep smiling!

Suddenly…Spring!

sunset5-2-15The past couple of days, it seems we finally turned the corner to Spring, or maybe even pre-summer.  The temperatures are going to be in the 70’s, some days ahead almost 80!  My forsythia finally decided it was safe to bloom, I planted some geranium bare roots in pots then had to move them indoors because the squirrels thought it was a grand location to bury God-knows-what.  And nip off the new shoots while they were at it.  The pots are now safely in the sun room while I figure out how to protect the plants once they emerge again. Perhaps I might buy a little screening that I can cut and fit to the pots.

The yard gets cleaned up a little at a time, it’s warm enough to open the windows and let the fresh air in and everywhere you look, folks are outdoors.  We have had some grand sunsets and amid the scent of things blooming, you can smell barbecued delights. The best part is that the bugs are not out in full force…yet.

After a long hard winter it is good to see the kayaks and canoes out on the local lake once again.  The photo with this post was taken down by that lake, and you can see the leaves coming out on the trees.  The geese and ducks are around, and in about 3 weeks we should see the little ones.  Just a delightful time of year, one we dream of during those dark, cold winter months.

Welcome Spring…we have been waiting for you!

 

Aunt Katie’s 20th Birthday Bash

1This post will have a few more photos than usual…because I went to a 20th Birthday Bash for Aunt Katie’s Attic.  You don’t stay in business long these days unless you are exceptional and her vintage shop IS just that.  I’ve known Kate for many years and covered a lot of her functions…her birthday parties, flea markets, Girls Night Out and more.

A lot of the neat things you remember from your childhood can be found at Aunt Katie’s…and every time I go there she has freshened up displays, repainted walls…picked up new treasures.  So for now, I’ll just let you enjoy some of the fun and folks.  By the way, I was there early, and left just as the cars were lining up along Route 5 to get in!

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Kate and her birthday balloons

 

 

 

 

Chair massage was available.  It was awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

Kate and “Mr. Aunt Katie”

 

 

 

 

Some wonderful ladies who recognized me from the web page!

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of real cuties out for some shopping.

 

 

 

 

The movie stars came out also!

 

 

 

 

One of the “rooms”…something for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Refreshments were also available.

 

 

 

 

Some kitchenware on display.  Some great old stuff here.

 

 

 

 

..right down to little dolls, and so much more.

 

 

 

As you can see, there was a LOT to see and experience.  Happy 20th and many more, Kate!  You’re the best.

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day“Keep close to Nature’s heart … and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” — John Muir

John Muir is only one of the many environmentalist and naturalists that I have loved for a VERY long time.

Although these people wrote many years ago, their messages are timeless…and as we lose more in the way of natural areas they point out how important preserving our planet is.  Patterned for abundant life, Earth is a wonder, a miracle of existence.  Home to an enormous diversity of life forms it should be protected.  We have nothing as a Plan B.

Not wanting to get on a soapbox, nature contains everything we need for life (as long as we stop messing with it).  Air…water…sources of food and herbs for medicines.  Its plant life gives us wonderful natural aromatherapy.  The sound of waves crashing against the shore, a brook babbling or the wind in the trees can be a very relaxing thing.  We do have some wonderful things that technology has given us but so often, the simple things are the best.  And that same simplicity is lost in the cacophony of modern life.

A day dedicated to earth awareness is a great idea.  Started in 1970 (and I have, somewhere, a button for the first Earth Day) it is still celebrated 45 years later.  If just one person hears the message and learns more about this planet, our home, it’s worth it.  It can’t be replaced and hopefully we will listen to the lessons and accept the gifts they offer to help us better our lives and the lives of those to come.

Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  So why not start today?

The change begins with us.

Rite of Spring

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“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

Every year in mid-April a friend of mine and I have a custom…a trip to a butterfly conservatory to celebrate my birthday AND spring.  The one we usually go to at that

particular time was closed so we opted for the larger one we usually visit in winter (but didn’t as I was laid up with those pesky injuries.)  To be surrounded by literally a couple of thousand bits of flying beauty is like walking into another world.  And indeed it is. These delicate creatures don’t live very long, some only days and some only weeks but in that time, they live.

11The wonderful thing about these conservatories is that you can see varieties you will never see in your garden (most likely)  We have the (diminishing) Monarchs and Swallowtails, Skippers and such but at Magic Wings you see specimens like this Glass Wing, and many other  colorful beauties.  Fluttering amid the flowers that were in profuse bloom we took picture after picture.  No matter that we have hundreds of photos from past trips, each one is different…perhaps just a bit of a different angle…better light.  Like sunsets and sunrises, photographers can never have too many photos of something beautiful.  Never.

5Also, these little butterflies teach us that life is fleeting.  That we might get a little tattered at times but it’s always worth living.  Focus on the positive…the good…and fly above the  negative energy that threatens to pull you down.

Take some time to pursue a little beauty in YOUR life today.

It’s About Time!

crossings sunsetsmallThe past couple of days, Spring has made a bit of headway around these parts.

Winter, as usual, was quite reluctant to give up its icy grip but finally some warmer days have melted just about all of the snow (with the exception of snowbank remains in shady areas).  The grass is beginning to show some green, and the waters are open once again, to the delight of the local waterfowl. Ducks, geese, gulls, herons…all wildlife has returned and the scouting for nest location has begun.  It is a wonderful time of the year.mallard3

One of my favorite things is to sit in the car alongside one of the local ponds or lakes and watch the ducks and geese come soaring in… skipping across the water like a flat stone and settling in for a paddle.  Some scolding and territorial fights arise and it can get pretty active.

I can imagine that the water feels good…clearing off dust and mites.  I have to admit on the cold and windy days I sit and shiver and they splash around like they are in a hot tub.  You have to admire exuberance like that.

In the same way, I stretch my mental wings, wash off the dullness of winter and get down to the business of living, loving, BEING in the present moment. For here is the secret of happiness..right before my eyes.  Shaking off troubles, embracing the newness of another season, finding the lesson in the observing.

Simplicity.  Pure simplicity.

Birds, Wild and Tame

canaryA couple of times, I have mentioned the wonderful sound of the birds singing and how you can hear it once again in the early morning hours.

Even watching them swooping through the yard to the feeders, drinking or taking a bath in the bird bath, lined up on the edge of the garage roof or arguing within the branches of the shrubs brings a smile to my face and can cheer up even the dreariest day.

I think also of some of the “pet” birds we had years ago.  The canaries that would sing so sweetly or the parakeets that would squawk from their perches.  One friend had a parakeet that would spend time out of the cage and sit on her shoulder trying to steal her Cheerios.  Or sit on the curtains and scold all comers. My mother would put on a canary “training record” to encourage or teach the bright little birds to sing.  And sing they did! Another friend had little finches – lovebirds – that didn’t do too much that I remember but they were lovely birds.  I often wonder though, if captivity is kind to them.   Dogs and cats can become very comfortable in the role of “domesticated” but do birds miss flying free?

Just some of the random thoughts going through my mind today.

Happy Easter!

easter“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.” ~Martin Luther

It’s Easter.  Although it’s kind of chilly and windy for Easter dresses and bonnets, the snow is just about gone.  I was thinking this morning how, in about 3 weeks or so, the leaves will be coming out and the grass will be green once again.  After a long, snowy, cold winter everyone in the great northeast is more than ready for…Spring!

And how appropriate that Easter is celebrated in this season of new life and rebirth.  In plants as well as in our hearts.  Actually, each day is a “little Spring” in that we have a fresh slate to make the most of what we have.  One thing that we all share in equal abundance is Spirit.  There are always difficult times in life, just as there are storms to contend with in nature.  Harsh times can crop up in both winter and the other seasons…and they can pop up at any time in our lives.

Having been confined most of the winter recovering from injuries sustained in January, I had a LOT of time to reflect.  And in this healing time, I am amazed at the capacity for humans to heal even as we get older.  Of course, like anything else in nature, our time here is limited but what we can accomplish in many diverse forms can be almost unlimited.  Everything is reborn right now.  We have new chances, right now. Maybe not exactly the way we would prefer, but growth nonetheless.

Begin to live again.  Right now.

A little touch of Spring

casting callOutdoors, the weather bounces back and forth from “almost warm” to snow flurries.  It seems that in the Great Northeast, Winter will not give up without a tug-of-war with Spring.

These bunnies at a local Country Store are trying their hardest to be harbingers of Easter, warmer days, sunshine and a touch of carefree whimsy.  I have to admit they DO look just a little perplexed…like they looked out the window and can’t see the early flowers for the snowbanks.  We are only a couple of days away from April but I think March might go out like a lion.

In other news around these parts I have been watching the gradual transition in the neighborhood as the “For Sale” signs go up.  One house…the one next door…should have a revolving door for all of the activity it has seen over the past 20 years with folks moving in and out. Another…the house of a long time friend…will soon house another family.  We are one of the few remaining “old timers” here and I have to say, I do miss the old times quite often.

But life changes, as seasons change, and we are called to be open to each new chapter of our lives.  To learn and grow from every experience that comes our way.

Welcome, Spring, welcome life

Welcome.