the cutest little worrisome concern

“There is a great difference between worry and concern.
A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.”

Harold Stephens

For as the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day,
so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all.

Aristotle

RSCN4029
(a close up of my returning resident…who has got to go / Julie Cook / 2016)

I’ve mentioned before that I was not like most little girls growing up…
Whereas many a little girl donned fancy little party dresses,
complete with lacy little petticoats underneath…
whiling away their hours playing with baby dolls and the like…
I was in a pair of shorts with matching flip flops, wearing a Gilligan’s sailor hat,
while building pine straw forts in the woods….

On reading day, that most exciting day of the week, when we were all marched to the library,
in order to pick out a book for our weekly reading,
with most young girls choosing books about the adventures of Madeleine or
books about fairy princesses–
I was picking out science books about bats…

Oddly I found bats to be the cutest little things.
Brown and furry with tiny beady black eyes—
kind of like a teddy bear…
yet where there were to be arms and paws, the bats had wings and claws.

I don’t know where any of that came from…and bless my mother’s heart for enduring such…
but just remember…I was adopted…

However, fast forward to today…
to this now grown woman who has been around the block a couple of times or more…
This woman who has had much learning and experience now tucked safely up
under her belt.
She knows that things such as bats are good for the environment,
as they are Mother Nature’s natural insect eradicators.
They are our secret weapons against things like malaria and zika….

Yet I also know that bats are susceptible to things such rabies and the like…
And whereas their droppings make for great fertilizer, it is also rife with bacteria….
Several small caveats to having them in close proximity to humans and their pets…

So I was thrown into a bit of a tizzy when I walked out on the back deck this morning
just to find Percy, my dear sweet cat, sitting directly at the door.
His head cocked at an almost 90 degree angle making those
odd little sounds he makes when he spies a bird.

I follow his gaze….

Knowing there was no bird hiding up under the awning of the back deck…
just wanting to hang out with the resident cat…I had a sneaky suspicion what I was seeking…
And sure enough, wedged between the awning and the house was a lumpy dark mass….

DSCN4010

DSCN4028

I snatch up Percy like he’s on fire, whisking him inside before he could utter a sound.
That’s all I need…a bat to bite Percy… sending all that money down the drain on rabies shots—
I don’t know how all that really works—is he, isn’t he now immune from rabid bats???

I grab a broom.
I poke the broom up in the crevice gently attempting to nudge the little bat loose in hopes
that he’ll opt to fly away.
The bat makes a crackling sound at me like a giant bug….
I drop the broom and jump in the house.

You may notice in the picture above what appears to be a dryer sheet stuffed up by the little bat.
You are correct.
It is a dryer sheet.
And I suddenly have a moment of deja vu….
as I think this little fella tried to move in here last summer.

Last summer I panicked, like I’m doing today, wondering if the bat I spied
wedged up between the awning and the house had actually bitten the cats…
Plus I fretted about bat droppings covering my grill…

So I did the only thing any former Girl Scout could think of at that very moment
which might act as a bat deterrent…
I grabbed a box of dryer sheets.

I stuffed dryer sheets in all the cracks and crevices between the awning,
the deck and the house.
However it soon became obvious that bats like a fresh scented crevice—
the now pair of bats paid the dryer sheets no never mind—
Continuing to fly out at night and back during the day only to roost
in a clean scented crevice.
At least they are clean scented loving bats.

As I was now to my last resort, other than taking a flamethrower to the awning which I would imagine would result in a small fire…I grabbed a can of hornet spray, aimed and fired.

Out shot the bat, narrowly missing my head…

So today, with this latest little guy back and obviously up to his same idea of moving in,
I have decided he must have a very short memory and now needs a refresher course in eviction.

So once again, this evening, when the sun goes down and this sleepy
little thing decides to finally get up, and seek the myriad of disease carrying mosquitoes…
I’m going to douse his bedroom with wasp poison—
and pray he decides to move on once the sun comes up….

Otherwise I might just go purchase said flamethrower….

RSCN4012

DSCN4017

DSCN4011

DSCN4002

*****This little brown bat is native to Georgia.
Recently, their declining numbers have alarmed both scientist and
wildlife management specialists alike.

Bats, like frogs, are first responders to changes in the environment.
Their declining numbers indicate that environmental troubles are afoot.
Currently there is an epidemic, in the state of Georgia,
which is adversely affecting the little brown bat population.
It is known as WNS—white nose syndrome.
It is a fungus that is decimating entire colonies…by the millions.

This little bat is most likely a male as they tend to roost alone.
They are marvelous insect gathers.
But in close proximity to humans, they do raise a concern.

This little bat is obviously aggravated that I keep snapping his picture
all the while as he’s trying to get his beauty sleep…

And the broom is a real pain in his behind….

Please visit the following Georgia wildlife link for more information concerning
the plight of the little brown bats….

http://www.georgiawildlife.com/WNSFAQ

in or out… or both

“There are three kinds of men.
The one that learns by reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

Will Rogers

DSCN3673
(my cat Percy who wants the best of both worlds / Julie Cook / 2016)

You and I want it both ways.
The best of both worlds.
You know, the whole having our cake and eating it too scenario.

Sadly, I just think it’s in our nature.

Take my cat for example.

Percy is a rescue.
Percy, short for Perseverance.
Long story…
I’ve written about him and his story on a previous post entitled “my best friend”…

Percy has no bottom teeth…due to a horrific injury he endured at the hands of some bad humans…
Bad humans who had an encounter with him when he was just a few weeks old.

As a tiny kitten he came to us in a near death condition…
And because he has had to have several repairs (aka surgeries to deal with smashed teeth)
he is strictly an indoor cat.
Sometimes much to his chagrin.

We live in a rural part of our county where more things than bad humans prowl about.
Coyotes and fox are keen to set their sights on family pets.
Having no teeth for defense can be problematic—so indoor he is.

Percy has access to our back deck.
A deck that is basically two stories off the ground and would spell the breaking of limbs
should anyone, cat or human, decide to jump.
So everyone seems content just to sit and relax.

The deck is covered and protected from the elements…with the exception being the heat.
The black awning seems to only intensify the summer sun’s heat.
It is therefore for that very dangerous hot reason that I keep Percy inside during the heat of the day.

Percy enjoys his early mornings and late afternoons lounging on “his” deck.
He watches the hummingbirds and will occasionally “hunt” a wandering wasp…
which results in a usually painful hunting experience…

I leave the kitchen door to the deck slightly ajar when he’s out on the deck.
Loud noises, from both passing trucks and motorcycles, terrify him.
Upon hearing any loud vehicle noise, Percy will frantically push the door open, flying into the house.
I think it goes back to his traumatic childhood experience with the cruel humans.

As the morning wears on and the heat sets in, Percy likes to push open the door and lazily lumber into the kitchen where he will immediately plop down on the cool wood floor enjoying cool while keeping “his” door to his kingdom open for easy viewing and easy access.

This is problematic.

It is neither wise nor cost effective in the South, in the dead heat of summer, to leave a door open allowing for the hot heat from the outside to enter into the comfortable AC cooled inside..nor is it wise having the cool AC from the inside…escaping to the hot heat outside…
either way, you get the point.

This is a real sticking point with my husband.
He tends to get very angry whenever he spies the door just sitting wide open while no one is near…
as he sees money exiting the door.
He has that gift…
The gift of seeing invisible money flying out both doors and windows when no one is looking.

So I have two choices…
Stop leaving the door ajar, therefore causing Percy to have apoplexy while being stuck outside near loud noises…
Or,
I don’t let him out, period.

Or…there is a third choice…I could teach Percy to close the door.
Which would be perfect…
yet sadly I don’t think I would live long enough for him to master such a feat.
He’s a slow learner.

So a conundrum has arisen.

Percy wants the best of both worlds.
He wants in and out…both at the same time.
He doesn’t understand why that is not a good idea.

I think we are a lot like Percy…
We, as in me and you, want the best of all our worlds.

We want to have our cake and eat it too.
We don’t want to be told what we can and cannot do.
We don’t want God, the Church, or anyone for that matter, telling us what we can and cannot do.
We like our world, our things, our gizmos and our gadgets…
We like our vices, our often poor choices and the things that we know are actually bad for us.
We like our possessions, our shiny baubles, our stuff…
We don’t want to “sacrifice” or give up our wants…
We have mastered the fine art of convincing and justifying every aspect of our lives.

If we must give up “this,” then we’ll make do with “that.”
We’re ok with trading, just not sacrificing.

We prefer sitting on the fence with the world on one side and God on the other.
Sitting in the middle makes perfect sense….
We think if we can keep one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven, it’s all good.
We think that’s all zen-like as we have the perfect harmony of balance…
hence, the best of both worlds….

But what we don’t get, what we fail to understand and comprehend,
is that we’re balancing between Heaven and Hell…

and that is problematic.

God is not an either or sort of Creator.
He’s never been big on us having our cake and eating it too…as that just doesn’t work.
He never said that we could keep one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven.
He’s always been an all our nothing sort of Creator…

He did not say that He would share us with Satan.
He said we are His and His alone…

Yet…
and here’s the rub…
He then turned around and gave us the final choice to decide.

We can either be His and His alone….
or…
not…
Our choice.

The only thing is, we can’t be both…
end of sentence…

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go close a door…

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15

Hallelujah

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
― Pope John Paul II

DSC00142
(tiny redheaded woodpecker / Julie Cook / 2015)

And on this January day,
as the sun rose high into the crisp blue sky,
all of Nature could be heard rejoicing. . .

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

DSC00153
(female Flicker looking skyward / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC00145
(female sparrow nibbling a branch / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC00198
(both Peaches and a lizard enjoy a respite from the cold rains / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC00202
(closeup of someone who should still be hibernating up on my sleeve / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC00167
(small bed of moss / Julie Cook / 2015)

And as the beautiful sun settled downward in the distant western sky,
at the ending of this beautiful January day,
all of Nature could be heard whispering . . .

Amen, Amen, Amen

DSC00054(Day is done as the sun sets in the western sky / Julie Cook / 2015)

I have the perfect solution. . . does anyone know where I can get an anteater or two??

“As regards intellectual work it remains a fact, indeed, that great decisions in the realm of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual, working in solitude.”
Sigmund Freud

DSC00958
(Sleeping anteater at the Vienna Zoo–isn’t he a cutie? Julie Cook / 2012)

How delightfully appropriate that the subject of today’s posted image, as well as the author of today’s quote, both hail from Vienna. Not originally mind you as Freud was born in Moravia which is currently considered a part of the Czech Republic and our little cute sleeping beauty is originally from the wilds of South America, yet both made their permeant homes in Vienna. I am thinking however that our sweet little sleeping friend did not come to Vienna by choice, but I digress.

I have decided that I desperately need to procure an anteater, maybe even two.
They look easy to keep. I can certainly provide a place for them to sleep. I can water them, brush them as that coat of theirs looks like it could do with a nice brushing. They seem docile enough. Surely that little mouth of theirs isn’t filled with fierce teeth and I bet they wouldn’t scratch the furniture like the two knot heads, aka our cats of which my husband so lovingly refers, who happen to call our house home and who scratch with a relentless zeal—hence why I sit on tattered rags. . .digressing.
I bet I can even provide said anteater with a smorgasbord of delectable foods.
An endless and amble supply!!

In fact my yard is full of their food!

DSCN7786
(one of hundreds of ant mounds hiding just on the surface of the South / Julie Cook / 2014)

There have been three recent incidents which have lead me to the desire of the procurement of said anteater–all of which have been of the Alfred Hitchcock variety. . .or more of the Rod Serling Twilight Zone variety. . .or perhaps more like a B grade horror flick. . .or maybe just all three rolled into one.

The latest “episode” transpired earlier this week.
It was late and I was ready to call it a day.
I was just getting into the shower when I looked back noticing Percy (aka one of the knot heads that I dearly love) staring intently at my shirt, the one I had dropped on the closet floor as I was preparing for my shower, intending to take it to the laundry room once I finished washing up.

Now mind you I was currently naked as a jaybird, as that is how I prefer to shower–plus I had removed my glasses as I also prefer to shower with naked eyes. As Percy wouldn’t stop staring at my shirt, I hesitated shutting the shower door, preferring to lean outward just a tad to get a better look at my discarded shirt.
Why was it appearing to twinkle or vibrate or move in place?
Hummmmm.
With the water running, I step out of the shower to inspect this odd phenomenon. Even without my glasses I can immediately figure out as to why my shirt is “moving”
AAAGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
I run screaming from the closet and bathroom, yes, still naked as a jaybird, shower door wide open as the water is still running. And please, don’t let your mind go there as it is not a pretty sight.
My poor husband, who had fallen asleep in his favorite chair watching the late night news, jumps from his chair as if he had just been catapulted heavenward.

“ANTS ARE IN THE CLOSET!! GET THE POISON!!”
This as I make a mad dash in search of poison.
“Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?
My confused, tired and bleary eyed husband asks in great annoyance.
He seems to think company is always about to ring the bell any time day or night whenever I decide, out of grand necessity mind you, that I must make some scantily clad dash here, there and yon.

“ANTS!!! FIRE ANTS ARE IN THE HOUSE!!! GET THE POISON!!!”
Finding a spray bottle of bug killer I make a mad dash past my husband who is finally making his way to see for himself, firsthand, the cause of my commotion.

Sure enough, my shirt is teaming with ants as a nice orderly line is coming and going to the baseboard along the outside wall of the house.

“KILL THEM” I scream as I precariously pick up my shirt and run to the back to door to fling it outside. Yes I’m still naked as a jaybird but its late and its dark out, I could run around naked all night in the yard and no one would see me so it’s okay.

I dash back in and begin wildly spraying the remaining mass and the now confused little trail leading to the baseboard.

“TAKE THAT. . .AND THAT” I shout in triumph of extermination.

By now my husband has made his way to the basement in search of his high powered poison and proceeds to make his way outside in the dark to spray the base of the house outside the closet as there is obviously a mound hiding in the pine straw a bit too close to the house for my liking.

DSCN7789
(I’m not trying to push this brand, but it’s all we had)

I finally throw on some clothes ( you realize that I can hear you sighing in heavy relief) as I proceed to spray and wipe up, then mop the closest.
“DAMN ANTS” I can be heard to wail and lament for the remainder of the night.

The two times prior to this invasion were each similar.
It always starts the same.
Percy begins staring.
One time it was at his food bowl–which was oddly, once again, moving—as there was also a nice little line of soldiers coming in from a kitchen baseboard, once again from an outside wall. My husband, most likely to avoid my high pitched screams of hysteria, immediately dashed outside, finding the mound in the pine straw, at the base of the wall to the kitchen and began spraying the spray of eradication.

The other time was in the laundry room. All with a similar scene of pandaemonium, chaos and poison.

Now you must know that I pride myself in the keeping a very clean, immaculate home. I scrub, mop, dust, vacuum like nobody’s business. I keep a neat and tidy yard doing my best to eradicate the damn mounds which liter the yard like weeds gone mad.

DSCN7788

DSCN7787
(you can’t see them in this picture but had this been a video, the earth would be violently moving)

I spend hundreds of dollars on poison, sprays, powders—anything and everything in order to kill these most painful and even dangerous pests.

DSCN7657
(don’t inhale, it will kill you)

If you’ve ever flown into the Atlanta airport. . .as the next time you make your way to baggage, look up—there for all the world to see, is what some whacked out “decorator” thought would be cute—a sculptured trail of giant fire ants climbing the walls onto the ceiling. I find this to be a grave embarrassment for our fine state.
I hate the damn things, and here, for all of humanity to see, the airing of our dirty laundry.
Yes, we here in the South have a terrible problem with fire ants, and we can’t seem to do anything to fix it.

I won’t go into the odd dance performed by many a blindsided southerner who mindlessly ventures outside, rather oblivious as to where and where not to step. Any passing neighbor will quickly recognize the fire ant dance. One step, inadvertently on a camouflaged mound hiding in the thick cool summer grass and within a millisecond, ones foot, leg and lower torso is engulfed in searing pain sending the poor unsuspecting victim hopping, swatting and jumping around the yard madly striping out of any and all clothing.
It’s the only way.
Perhaps dousing oneself in gasoline is the only other option but I don’t recommend that.

All humor aside fire ants have been known to kill young calves, deer, dogs and cats not to mention cause grave concern for those who are allergic to bees. Their bites pack a painful punch and imagine timesing that by 1,000,000,000!

So I have decided on what appears to be the most sound and rational solution, not to mention the most environmentally friendly, riding my need of poisons all in the name of the eternal quest of the total eradication of these damned fire ants!

DSCN7658
(no, my yard does not have a drug problem, rather a poison problem)

Now if I could just talk the Vienna Zoo into letting me borrow their sweet little “pets”. . .

DSC00965
(a sleeping mom anteater with her young draped over mom’s head / Vienna Zoo / Julie Cook / 2012)

Signs

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
― David Eddings

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.”
George Bernard Shaw

DSCN5961

DSCN5965
(the signs of things to come in this black oak tree, a myriad of forming acorns / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sitting out on the back deck yesterday evening, something up in the nearby oak tree caught my eye.
“What in the world?!” I hear myself asking out loud to the cat.
Ok, so my asking the cat ‘what’s up in the tree’ is for an entirely different sort of post–let’s just stick to the current question at hand—and that happens to be what’s up in the oak tree.

Thinking I know the answer to my own question, I dash inside searching for the camera—remember, it’s never where one needs it, when one wants it.
Finally locating and immediately grabbing said camera, I zoom back out to the deck in order to zoom in on the tops of the tree.

Yep, I knew it—the tree is loaded with acorns.

DSCN5966

DSCN5967

“And that means what?” you’re wondering. . .
It’s a sign silly.
“A sign?”
Yes, as in a sign, a prognostication, perhaps even a harbinger.
“A harbinwho?
Harbinger—as in an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.
Of course I suppose it doesn’t have to be all that dark and sinister—it can be a heralder or announcement of something maybe positive to come—

“Such as?”

A hard winter or not a hard winter.

“Hummmm. . . ”

I have noticed a couple of wooly bears.
“Wooly who’s?”
Wooly bear caterpillars–those prickly black and reddish caterpillars which make their presence known this time of year.
They’re harbingers too you know.
As in harbingers of a bad winter.

However I suppose it is only the middle of July. . . Who wants to think about let alone chatter about harbingers and winter when it seems most of us are still trying to forget this past winter ?!
And anyway, in case anyone was paying attention, St Swithin’s day was Tuesday, July 15th.
As in:

St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

All of which means that it was hot and sunny here on Tuesday. According to St Swithin— it’s going to be hot and dry for the next 40 days!
Do you have any idea what that’s going to mean for my plants and my water bill?!?!?

As a former girl scout, I do think it is always best to be prepared. . .
One certainly never knows when the weather is going to change.
Keeping watch for the harbingers and signs of impending change is most important. . .

And now if you will please excuse me—I need to go out and check on those bulls across the street. . .if they’re laying down, you can count on that needed rain!! St Swithin or not!

Gifts of wood

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.”
Erma Bombeck

“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.”

St John Paul II the Great

“The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

DSCN5656
(Percy checking out Michael’s stool or perhaps he’s looking at the peaches. . .)

I’m wondering if you were listening, or more aptly reading, back around Thanksgiving when I was extolling the talents, gifts and craftsmanship of a certain little woodworker hailing from South Carolina?
Did you fail to catch that post?

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/functional-or-decorative-or-both/

or the post at Christmas-time highlighting a few of my favorite things–as in gift giving??

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/raindrops-on-roses-er-well-not-exactly/

Did you not take notice of the beautifully crafted cutting boards that Michael, over on Michael’s Woodcraft & Blog, has been cranking out for the discerning and not so discerning kitchen aficionado??
Because if you never had an opportunity to do so, now is indeed the right time!

http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com

I simply must share a new wonderment created by the skillful hands of our friend Michael!!
A few months back Michael shared with his blog friends a project he had taken on for his wife. He had just procured some beautiful planks of gorgeous walnut which he was going to turn into a step stool for his lovely wife Debbie.

Michael carried us through the play by play of choosing just the right boards, planing the boards, creating a pattern for the stool, cutting the wood, painstakingly assembling his pieces, sanding, staining and finally lacquering the new creation. He was curious as to the hours it would take him to make such a piece so he kept a running time journal, complete with photographs of his progress and timeline.

The end result was stunning.
Not only was it functional, as in serving a purpose, it was decorative, warm and a beautiful accent to their home.

I immediately inquired if Debbie would permit him to make perhaps another stool–one I could purchase.

As luck would have it, both Michael and Debbie were more than happy to share.
That’s when my aunt got on board.
When she was up visiting during THE wedding hoopla, I had showed her Michael’s blog with the stool. I had given her one of his cutting boards at Christmas so she knew immediately how great his work was and being a lover of fine wood products, she too wanted a stool.

Here are a few shots of the stool I recently received from Michael and his workbench.
As it is absolutely beautiful I don’t know where I want to place it as it’s truly a work of art and craftsmanship.

DSCN5652

DSCN5651

DSCN5649

DSCN5662

And as Michael is also quite the little chef, most recently posting a recipe for homemade ice-cream, I’m thinking I may just need not only to copy the ice cream recipe, but I just may need to put in an order for one of his hand turned ice-cream scoops. . .

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the cat and peaches are not included 🙂

Just happy to be here

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
Martha Washington

DSCN4799

DSCN4801
(a fledgling cardinal / Julie Cook / 2014)

I had noticed her hopping about out of the corner of my eye—that is, only after I had heard the distinctive “chirp chirp” alerting me that a cardinal was close at hand.
This, however was not just any run of the mill cardinal. This was a new addition to the yard cardinal. As in a fledgling who still had the moulty little tufts of feathers still adorning her head.

I watched her for a while–chirping and hopping here and there as she continued poking and prodding the ground in search of whatever tasty little morsel and grub she could find. She seemed not to have a care in the world. Even with our cat Peaches lounging about in the grass just a few yards away, each animal oblivious and uncaring that either was within “meeting” distance.

A single moment in time that is a wonderful snapshot of Harmony. Our cat being a bit atypical, caring less about the birds in the yard, more interested in what I may be doing. She is just as happy and content as I am to simply sit and watch, or for her, to rather sit and nap.
The little bird should have felt a threatening danger, but blissfuly did not. Peaches has never given any of the birds any cause for concern—of which I am pleased.

DSCN4662
(Peaches more interested in the camera rather than the little bird / 2014)

These small snippets, vignettes of the microcosms of a world seemingly in slow motion, are the soothing balm to the often jaded and tired souls which manifest themselves, day in and day out; byproducts of the rat race we create in life.

Maybe it’s the weather.
Maybe it’s the warmer days.
Maybe it’s the longer days.
Maybe it’s the lazier and slower way in which the world seems to now turn.
Perhaps it’s all of that and more as to why I enjoy the tranquil day’s of an approaching Summer season.

It’s the time of year in which the World seems to offer a collective sigh–exhaling as it begins to relax, and finally lets go. . .
Here’s to sitting under the canopy of an ancient oak tree.
Here’s to the sounds of harmony buzzing and chirping about the yard.
Here’s to the tell-tale summer scent of a freshly mown lawn.
Here’s to spending more time outside rather than inside.
Here’s to time, which may finally be on your side.
Here’s to being happy that we’re just all simply here, in the moment. . .

DSCN4656

Up, up and away…

“Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”

― Dr. Seuss

DSCN4295
(the persimmon Up band by Jawbone / Julie Cook / 2014)

“What is this?”
It’s an Up band.
“What is it for, what does it do?. . .”

So the other day a friend of mine, (and just so you know, I may be using the term friend a bit loosely right about now) told me she’d bought an Up band.
“A what?”
“An Up band”
“Why?”
“It monitors my steps throughout the day plus it monitors my sleep”
Ahh the kicker. . . She knows that I do not sleep well, nor does she for that matter. . .not since we’ve both reached that certain age—the age women reach when they don’t really talk about it any more.

Humm.. .
So she’s telling me that I need to go buy a bracelet. Some sort of bracelet that’s going to tell me how much I’m not sleeping. Why do I need to be reminded of my tortuous nights?!
“How much is this little puppy going to set me back” I inquire.
“A HUNDRED AND FITY WHAT?!” I practically scream over the phone.
She tells me there are a couple of versions but the one she had syncs to her phone wirelessly.
“I’m telling you, it’s worth it. You’ll be amazed tracking your steps and movements. You can log-in the food you consume and it’ll tell you how many calories are burned and turned into energy.. .”

“Is butter converted to energy” I feel my brain digressing.. .

Off to the Best Buy I go.

Walking into the store I immediately inquire as to the Up bands. The nice man points directly in front of me to the huge display. Wow!

They come in 3 sizes and 4 colors.
Hummm.
I quickly call my friend.
“There’s a size guide attached to the package” she explains “but you’ll want a small.” “People with chicken wrists wear a small” she quips.
My wrists are indeed the smallest thing about me—my husband calls them grasshopper wrists. I’ve always wondered what that means. . .

I choose a small band in Persimmon—they didn’t have the blue in a small so persimmon beat out the black or white.

I get home and quickly tear into the package.
I download the Up app to my phone inputing my data—age, weight—why does everyone keeping wanting to know those things?!
It tells me that for a female of my age (arg) that I need to average 10,000 steps a day.
Next I plug the thing into my computer to charge it up.
Once it’s fully charged, I put the band on my right wrist.

Off I go.

Sure enough it keeps pace with my steps. Alerting me to my idle burn, my active burn, my total burn—as in burning calories I assume. It alerts me to the percentage reached of my goal of the 10,000 steps and how many I need in order to reach the magic number.

Humm . . .

By 8 PM I notice I’m at 94 percent of my goal.
Ohhhh, I need to get a move on before it’s time for bed!
I begin running in place at the sink while doing the dishes.
“What in the world are you doing” my husband snaps as he rounds the kitchen corner.
“I’ve got to up my steps if I’m going to reach my goal before I head to bed later” I sputter breathlessly.
He rolls his eyes.
I than take a few laps around the house. ..

In the morning it tells me how much sleep I logged. Heavy deep sleep. Light sleep. How long did it take me to fall asleep. How long was I awake in the middle of the night.
Humm. . .this should be interesting.

“You woke 0 times”
WHAT?!
I’m sorry but when the cat jumped up on the bed, landing on my face at 2:45 AM and I had to make certain I still had both eyeballs in my head and was not bleeding profusely, and you’re telling me I woke up zero times. . .Houston, we have a problem!!

Ok, so I think it may be a little off.
I wake up all through the night, but I just lay there real still like, fighting my brain to go back to lala land. . .so perhaps it’s not registering movement, or whatever it needs, to alert itself that I am indeed a wake.
Trust me, I know awake and awake, on an off all night, I am.

Then there is the elliptical.
My nemesis.
Remember, there’s a June wedding in our future.
Have you forgotten my husband’s suggestion of duct taping my butt in place?
The elliptical and I are one each morning.
30 minutes of pure torturous bliss.

The band has a spot on the app for me to input a workout. It will measure my heartbeat and pulse, but it doesn’t seem to think an elliptical equates to steps.
Let me tell you one thing, if my knees are moving up and down, trust me, I’m stepping!!

So yesterday morning, I was working out really fast and furious.
I wanted the blasted band to be proud of my workout.
“Did she just say she wanted a plastic band to be proud of her?”
Stay with me. . .
I was huffing and puffing.
Up and down I went.
4.3 , 4.5 , 5.0 mph while coming up on mile 2. . .5.4 mph. . .
Faster and faster.
We should note that I like to put in a piece of gum in my mouth before a workout as my mouth gets so very dry.
Pushing to 6 mph as I’m moving my legs up and down, sweat is dripping down my face. I glance downward noting what looks like droplets on the cement floor. A small wave of panic. You must remember that woman of a certain age who have had children can have, well, accidents when jumping, coughing, laughing—-thankfully this time it’s just the sweat pouring off of my head.
Whew!

At this point, I have just 3 more minutes to go.
I push it even harder, practically hopping up and down.
I’m so tired I lean down onto the stationary handles as my legs kick into hyper speed.
I’m so out of breath by now that I’m sucking in any available air through my open mouth. . .when it happens.
Imagine a car barreling down the interstate at 80 mph.
A bug meets the car.
Woosh.
That bug is either splattered or is sucked into the the grill.
Suddenly the gum that was in my mouth is sucked down my throat.
Sudden panic sets in with the blink of an eye.

“Oh dear God, I’m going to die!!”
The gum is going to lodge in my windpipe (I think we call that a trachea)
I’m going to fall out right here, in the basement.
My poor husband will come home, many hours later, only to hear the odd sound of music rising up form the basement. He’ll go to investigate finding me sprawled out on the cold basement floor in a pool of now dried sweat, with Bono blaring from my phone as U2 is on shuffle mode—sadly it will be determined that I had asphyxiated on my sucked in gum.
All because I wanted the damned band to be proud of my speed. . .

Within the millisecond the gum went down my throat and my brain preformed my funeral, I’m relieved to realize that I am very much alive, sweating, sucking in air and still pumping my legs like a mad woman.
The small alarm sounds.
The 30 minutes are up.
I’m sweating, huffing and puffing, and wobbling on jello legs.
All the while as the thoughts of what happens to the a piece of swallowed gum circles my brain.
Surely I will live, right?!
How many pieces of gum did I swallow as a kid?
Does it digest?
Will it clog my poor pipes.
That’s just what my poor guts need, a ball of plastic stuck somewhere in the recesses of my feeble guts. . .

I look down at the band muttering. . .
“I hope you’re happy” I disgustingly tell the orange thing on my wrist.
A quick check the progress on the phone. . .
“you are at 38% of your goal”
“WHAT?!”
Damn band!!!

Unexpected visitor

Visits always give pleasure – if not the arrival, the departure
Portuguese Proverb

What a surprise we found yesterday afternoon upon our arrival home after a long day away. As we turned into the driveway from the road, we see a most unusual individual standing on the driveway… just outside of the open garage. My husband immediately stops and we just sit in the truck perched at the top of the driveway in awe.

DSCN2040

A young deer is standing on the driveway right by the house! It looks at us sitting in the truck at the top of the driveway but continues standing and even edging it’s way slowly closer to the garage and house. What these photos don’t show is that our fluffy orange cat Peaches is sitting on the walkway just behind the big bush on the left of the picture. The deer is standing just about 2 feet away form Peaches in a bit of a stare off.

DSCN2043

I think if we’d sat in the truck a while longer, the little deer would have eventually edged its way over the Peaches–perhaps nose to nose introductions. Peaches, who in turn was not budging, is a very docile cat who no doubt was equally intrigued with the visiting larger 4 legged “guest.”
“We can’t sit here all day” my husband reluctantly admits as we proceed to edge our own way down the driveway as the little deer simply turned and walked down the bank, wandering toward the back yard and “mom” as she waited by the tree.

DSCN2048

What a special treat…. Who knew we’d have “company” waiting on us when we arrived home. Just goes to show that none of us ever knows what necessarily awaits us upon our arrivals here, there, and yon…. with that thought in mind, on this new day to this new week, alway be ready for the unexpected–and remember the words of St Benedict from his Rule for living…..
“Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
“I came as a guest, and you received Me” (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown….”