Looking light-ward

Ah, dear readers –

Today was one of those days that you trip over and just keep falling. I decided to let the ugly stuff go and focus here instead:

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This is flowering dogwood, Cornus florida (iPhone, uncropped).

Dogwoods are native trees and they can be seen with branches full of pretty white blooms all around the woods near me.  I could go on about all the varieties of this lovely tree that are used as ornamentals, and the sweet varieties of color but –

This one small tree, with one pink-tipped white bract glowing in the sun above a few perfect young leaves is all I needed to know of spring today.


Readers, I hope your days always have a spark of sweetness. Your comments and questions are always welcome – I read them all and I am grateful you are here.

Loafing

Greetings, dear readers.

I have been baking, so – yes – I accept any and all groans at the pun. Being my father’s daughter, it was hard to resist; Dad loved puns. He also loved to bake.

IMG_5803Saturdays are busy days around here – pets, house, laundry – it all jumps into the jumble. When the timing is good, I bake bread, too. At day’s end, if I’ve done it right, the pets will be content and asleep and there will be loaves of sourdough rising in a warm spot in the kitchen.

This is one of the projects I have taken on while working safe at home. The bit of risen whole wheat dough left behind in a bowl one day became a second project from one recipe. I scraped it together, added a little more flour and water, and let it go. It kept going.

It’s not the world’s most vigorous starter, but it does rise, slow and steady, an alchemy that takes timed doses of water and flour and turns them into warm brown fragrant breads.

 It is sweet to bake loaves in the evening and wake in the morning with the scent of fresh bread still lingering in the kitchen. Because my father taught me to bake, it’s as if he visited overnight. 


Readers, here’s hoping your kitchens are warm and fragrant and that you are safe and well. All of your comments and questions are welcome – I read them all and I am grateful you are here.

Half a Story

Greetings, dear readers.

In spite of some chilly days, spring is in full swing here and while heading to the mailbox this morning I found half a story.

IMG_5785This half an eggshell is no bigger than a finger’s end, and not the blue to be expected of robin’s nest just above where I found it in the grass. Given that the shell is relatively intact and very clean, I am pretty sure that the inhabitant hatched successfully.

Two other recent observations suggest what is going on:

First, the only birds nesting in my yard right now are the robins, always early nesters and the bird has been incubating consistently for about a week, which is when she would have stopped laying. Second, just about the time the robin began to spend time around the nest, several cowbirds showed up, including a cocky little male, who pranced his sky-beak display on my deck rail. He was on the hunt for a mate.

While robin’s eggs are blue and about an inch long, cowbird eggs are speckled and smaller, like the one I found. Cowbirds also hatch several days faster than robin nestlings.

A-HA! As they say. The game is up. Cowbirds are opportunistic brood parasites – they will lay eggs in other birds’ nests to spread around the parenting responsibilities and their genes at the same time. Clever little creatures! Last year the Carolina Wrens built a dummy nest in a dense climbing Euonymus and then abandoned it, tricking the cowbirds. The robins are not so suspicious.

I won’t know for a week or so which nestlings have thrived in the nest. The robin parents have not started constantly foraging for insects yet, so most of the household is still quiet in their eggs, keeping warm under feathers on chilly spring nights.

I am hopeful that the robins will raise some of their own, along with their precocious adoptee, and that in about ten days I will be treated to the sight of gap-mouthed, pin-feathered, gawky little robins teetering on the branches by their nest, quickly outgrowing their pushy but smaller sibling.

In the robin’s nest, there is space for all. That’s a story I am glad to learn.


Here’s hoping you are all warm and safe in your nests like the robins. Be well, dear readers! All your comments and questions are welcome – I read them all and I am grateful you’re here.

Found Flowers

Greetings, dear readers.

Spring continues here at HaQ HQ and this seems to be the week for tiny purple wildflowers. On my walk today I found two species of dead nettles (these aren’t nettles, don’t sting, and are related to mint) and this little beauty.

Creeping Charlie

This is Creeping Charlie, also known as Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea. It’s tiny. The leaves are no bigger than a thumbnail and the blooms look like miniaturized purple orchids. It’s delicate size is a bit deceiving. It can be invasive because it propagates both by seed and by runners and it has a wide reach. In my area, people swear when it gets into their lawns.

Given that I once cordoned off an entire section of the yard so that a random run of Meadow Pinks could bloom in peace, I am not too worried about a bit of violet thuggery that doesn’t reach the top of my running shoes. This is why my yard also has runs of violets, spring beauties, and some renegade oregano that escaped the herb bed and pops up in odd places. The neighbors may think I’m crazy, but I can live with that, along with the flowers I won’t call weeds.


Wishing all who celebrate a warm and blessed Passover and Easter. I hope you are all safe and well and enjoying the beauty around you. All comments and questions welcome! I read them all and always appreciate that you are here.

 

Uh oh… A WFH Confession

Greetings, dear readers.

Like many of you, my regular workplace is closed for health and safety, and we are asked to work from home. I’m grateful for the opportunities that affords … Annnd having reached Day 21 of WFH, some of the rough edges are showing and the squirrels are coming down from the attic.
You might recognize some of these new experiences:

1. I now have “day sweats” and “evening sweats”. I never stand up during video conferences.

2. My coworkers are a little suspicious of my “personal assistant” on audio calls, to whom they heard me say “Who’s a good boy?” Accompanied by pro-level panting.

3. I refer to the post-it note over my laptop camera lens as a “privacy screen”.

4. I enabled the privacy screen because one of the residents of my abode spilled something unidentifiable on my last clean shirt and I was not about to be like the coworker I saw in flannel jammies printed with baby animals and just … I will never be able to unsee that.

5. When the phone rings I automatically pick it up and give my name and title. And then facepalm when my mother says “Hello, dear” and I remember that it’s Sunday morning.

6. I trip over a dog toy for the umpteenth time and threaten to take it up with HR.

7. HR does not care because they have a full schedule already, what with grooming and claw maintenance and ordering the staff around. This includes the house human – I’ve been told to get that dish refilled now, or get written up.

8. When yet another neighbor starts up some loud lawn implement, after several hours of the weed whacker concerto while I am trying to work on something that requires my nonexistent concentration, I begin to fantasize about in-person committee meetings in buildings that have no lawns.

9. I cannot figure out how in the Sam Hill I managed to lose the only physical paperwork I have in my possession until I realize that HR is napping on it.

10. On Fridays the grocery store pickup app automatically asks for my birthdate when I log on and then says “the usual?” and loads two bottles of chardonnay into the online cart.

And you know things are a little squirrely I’m already thinking about that online cart on Monday…

Sometimes all you can do is laugh and try again tomorrow.


Squirrels aside, I am grateful you have spent some of your time here today. All comments and questions are welcome. Be well and safe, dear readers!

May I have your intention, please …

Greetings, dear readers.

I know –  that title almost sounds like the start of  another one of the endless online meetings many of us attend now.  (Seriously, I think I was on video platforms for about fifteen hours last week and my computer did a face palm when it saw the schedule for next week.)

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Individuals and communities are going through unprecedented changes so that all may be kept safe and well. It’s disturbing and disorienting and it feels wrong, even if you know you’re doing the right thing by NOT doing the usual things right now. The requirement that we pull back and think carefully about what we really need is unfamiliar. And maybe not entirely unwelcome.

An email from – of all things – a florist made me ponder this. The term he used was “forcing function”. That’s apparently what you call a routine that requires deliberate attention to complete. It sounds a bit unpleasant, like some kind of coercion, but all it means is that you have to be aware while doing it. Hmm. Which implies that sometimes we aren’t. Hmm again.

Because all my old patterns are broken, awareness, attention, and intention have cropped up in my daily doings. There is a certain peace in being intentional about every need, every purchase, every action. I am finding that because my old habits won’t work and I can’t do things without thought, I do each with more intent and attention. As a result, I do many of them better, often in less time. And I’m only doing what really needs to be done, and using resources carefully while doing it. That does make you think – what was I doing before?

Times of stress are hard; they throw sharp borders between what is important and what is not. I have put my finger on that line. This time is an invitation to be mindful of it. To be grateful for the reminder. And to be intentional in how I move forward, even after restrictions end.

I hope we will all move forward from this soon, together, with a clear sense of community and purpose, and a will for the greater good.


I am grateful you have spent some of your time here today. All comments and questions are welcome. Be well and safe, dear readers!

 

Spring 2020 Return Tour

Greetings dear readers!

I am grateful to be with you today. There is much afoot in the world and it is a good time to reach outward, when actually going out is, at least for now, less possible.

So here I am, with you. And it is a chilly spring day. Which means that while I try to keep my ice-brick feet warm and wrestle with the many big events of the day, I will remind myself of all the small wonders of spring.

Like these:

coltsfoot

This is coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), a small yellow wildflower in the aster family that blooms in the most unusual spaces, growing even right up the edge of asphalt . They are among the first to flower in spring here, lifting those sunny little faces even if I am shivering on my walk by. 

It is a good time to be grateful for every sign of renewal.


Readers, I am as grateful for your presence as for the flowers, after my time away. I’m intending to stick around this time; I hope you will, too.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome – they are moderated, so they may take a little while to appear, but I read them all and appreciate that you were here and took the time. Thank you!

Wear Your Sparkly Hat

Greetings, dear readers!

It’s International Women’s Day and I’m thinking about women who stand out. Especially the ones who didn’t really intend to – not really… but. But there was something meaningful they just needed to grab onto all their courage and stand up for. You know what I mean – there are some things so important you are willing to wear the sparkly hat and go public, because people need to know about that, do something about that, remember that, and you don’t care what you look like doing it.

I bet you’ve done it. You’ve stood up, maybe on shaky knees because you don’t like being noticed, but something inside said, this is too important to hold back. You got out there to that public forum, that 5K, that fundraiser, that microphone, and did what you don’t normally do because there are some things too big for your inside voice.

Shout it. You got this. We all have our sparkly hats. You’re rockin’ yours.


PS. My sparkly hat moment is an annual walk to raise funds for breast cancer research and survivorship. It is close to my heart because more than one woman close to my heart has been touched by breast cancer. So shy me, the person who won’t even wear nail polish or bright lipstick, gets her sparkly on – in public and all over her person – for a cause.

What’s your sparkly hat moment? I’d love to know – drop in a comment and share the awesome causes that make you step in front of your fears!

Comments are moderated and always much appreciated.

PPS – Guess what? This is post # 100 on this blog. It took a while to get here and I am grateful you are here with me.

These Gifts

Have you ever had a day when all the gifts around you are suddenly in focus?

It’s not the big things I mean here – new jobs or new homes or new love. Not those. Those are awesome – and they don’t happen everyday.

I mean the gifts that do – the person who looks up and smiles when you hold the door for them; the goofy way your dog acts like she won the Oscar when you give her a treat; blue skies on a sunny day; a chance to chat with a colleague you don’t see very often. Every little thing.

They’re all gifts. They all count. And they’re all around us every day.

Your presence here today, dear reader, is a gift to me. I am grateful. What gifts have you found waiting for you today?

N.B. – I know that some days feel like ugly dark no-gift days. If you’re having one of those days – I am sorry and I wish you better days ahead. Just because your day isn’t all sunshine and pickles doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it right. Maybe the gifts are waiting for you another time; maybe you aren’t ready to receive whatever gifts might be there right now. They’ll be there when you are.


Yes – I’ve been away awhile. And I am here now. I’m glad you are, too. I promise to be back again soon.

Amuse Pooch

Greetings, dear readers. I know – you’re probably thinking, “What the heck? Amuse pooch?”

Actually it’s “amuse pooch”, as in the French. Like “amuse bouche“, those tiny little nibbles to start a meal; only it’s for – oh, yes – the DOG.

Here’s the story: My little Chiquita (AKA Pogo Shark, Miss Chickie, Kiki-boo, The Terrierist) is a Jack Russell/dachshund mix. She is small, adorable, ferociously energetic, smart, loyal, loving, and funny as all get out. She is also a slightly picky eater. Well… she is somewhat picky around her own bowl. Around anyone else’s – she’ll dive right in. So, even if she is hungry enough to sneak my food, cat food, or Olive’s food, she will curl up in royal repose and ignore her own enticingly prepared bowl of kibble mixed with the yummy, squishy, strong-smelling canned stuff they love.

In the effort to get her to eat on time one evening, I got some of the canned food from the spoon onto my finger and extended it toward her nose. She lapped it up and trotted over to her bowl. And, thus, the amuse pooch was born. Now she almost always waits for me to present her with this little pre-treat before she will show any interest in her food. So I do it every day, twice a day, when it’s time to feed the dogs. I fix up the bowls, I give her a little taste, and she happily chows down. Olive, on the other hand does not need enticement. She will happily apply face to food any time she gets the chance. Yes, I am crazy about my critters. How could these faces not be worth it?

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Yes – I’ve been away awhile. And I am here now. I’m glad you are, too. I promise to be back again soon.