A Blustery Day…

I love winter.  I really do.  I love the cold, the wind and whatever is thrown at us in precipitation.  Snow, rain, ice, it’s all wonderful.

Today is a blustery day.  Yes, I know, I live in the south.  It can’t be that blustery.  But, yes, it is a blustery day today.

I just came in from walking our dog.  The moon is bright in the clear sky.  The flags on the porches are all blowing straight out, like they have been starched stiff.  The wind is whipping around the cul-de-sac and down the hill (well, as much of a hill that can be found here in the Lowcountry).

As I walked up the hill, I thought how blustery it is.  I chuckled because I know there were times in my life that I would consider this weather a hot spell.  So, as I walked our little Shugo, I thought of the different places I have lived and the blustery days I have experienced.

Being born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I know what cold is.  I know what snow is.  I have fallen on ice walking to and from school, uphill, downhill, two miles along.

From there I went to Norfolk, VA.  We lived in a small cheap beach apartment the winter before we were transferred to Japan.  We would turn on the wall heating unit before heading to bed and wake up in the morning to see a mound of sand gathered on the floor around the heating unit, which was stone cold….  Youth and young love made me think this was wonderful!

In Japan we lived on a converted WWII Japanese airstrip.  We lived in occupation era Navy houses.  The view was incredible, Mt. Fuji and Sagami Wan (bay), but our house was one all by itself at the end of the runway and we had nothing in front of our house except open field.  The wind would whip up and buffet that little house and it would almost knock me over every time we left the house in the winter.  Of course, now it most likely wouldn’t move me at all, since I was young and skinny back then.

From Japan, we went to Maine.  Need I say more about knowing what cold is like?  When the temperature rose to  O degrees we thought it was spring!  I loved the winter in Maine and the other two seasons, July and August.  It is heaven on earth and I would move back there in a minute.  Snow, ice, wind chill and all.  It is truly God’s country.

From Maine we thawed out in San Diego.  I know you are thinking, no bluster there.  You are right for the most part, but, living there as long as I did, I saw some frost, and even a hint of snow.   And, we went for a 40 minute ride to the mountains to experience our wind and cold.  The last Valentine’s Day in California, hubby and I actually took a ride in the mountains and got snowed in up there.  It was cold and windy and very snowy outside the beautifully warm bed and breakfast we landed in.

So, I have decided blustery days happen everywhere.  Those days that chill you to the bone.  Where you come inside and think of warm drinks and warm jammies.  Tonight is like that and I am very content and happy that my hands got cold as did my cheeks while I walked our dog.   Who knows, I may decide he needs to go back out again, just so I can enjoy this winter feeling.


The Progression of Decorating a Front Porch…

Hubby and I are late getting Christmas decorating done.  I had started a bit last week.  I put our dog’s bow tie (red) on his collar.  He is now ready for Christmas.  He looks dapper.

I went outside and decorated our mailbox.  It looks pretty good.  Except for the fire ant mound at the base of the post.  (Fire ants beware! We are planning your demise).  I put up a little garland on the bannister on the porch.  It looked bare and ugly.  I gave up, came inside and sat to ponder what to do next.

Skip  to today.  Well, actually to the beginning of the week when hubby purchased lighted garland for the front porch.  The boxes have sat in our dining room waiting to be unpacked, unfurled and hung.  This afternoon, around 2:30 p.m., I went outside, took down the ugly garland, brought it inside and declared that I was going to start to decorate the porch.

I announced to hubby that I was going to trim a couple of branches of a bush that is near the porch.  Hubby jumped up and declared that he had wanted to trim all the bushes first and off he went to get his electric trimmer.  While he was setting up, I decided to clean the banister and posts.

Hubby came out, he was not happy.  His electric cords were missing.  Evidently they decided they liked Flagstaff, AZ and stayed at the campground, and we did not notice their absence until today when we needed them.

So, off to the hardware store we went.  I didn’t really have to go, but I wanted to look at any other decorations that needed to be bought.  An hour later, we returned.  I finished cleaning and hubby set to work on the bushes.

I went to help with the branches and then picked up the rake to rake up the debris.  This is where we took a big detour in the decorating department.  The simple act of raking up the branches turned into the major job of raking most of our yard, the front and side yards.  We bagged leaves, we raked leaves, we carried leaves, we pruned dead branches off our trees.  We worked while we watched the beautiful sunset and moonrise.

We walked the dog, and then I came in, shower and collapsed.  On the way through the house we saw the boxes of the lighted garland, still waiting to be unpacked and unfurled and hung.   The porch is empty of lights, but the yard certainly looks a lot better!

I’m tired and sore, thanks for stopping by though, DAF

Ponds…. 31 Days of Observing…

31 Days Observing

There are ponds all over the low country.  It seems that most neighborhoods have at least one pond.  Our first house had a beautiful pond in the back yard.  It was a graceful looking pond.  It butted up to the marsh and there were lovely pines and palmetto trees and marsh grasses.  A pathway led around the pond and the neighborhood children were often seen playing in the area.  Yes, we had the occasional alligator or two or three, but it was a genteel pond.  It was clean, manicured and a delight to look at.

Now, the pond at our current house is unsophisticated.  It is a deep narrow pond.  It looks like a drainage ditch, if truth be told.  It is unkempt.  A large growth of brush is at one end of the pond.  It is never cut, or at least has never been cut since we have lived here.  The mowers come in, circle the pond and leave.  A sign on the other side of the pond says, ‘Do not feed alligator.  Do not throw anything into the water.’   Wise words considering there are three resident alligators living there.

Weekly, one of the neighbors and his children come to feed the alligators.  They throw bread into the pond, like they are feeding ducks.  Also, weekly there is a bottle or two floating in the pond.  Hubby has bravely pulled out several containers since we have moved in.

This pond is different from the one we had the pleasure of living by before.   I look at the pond daily, in fact, several times a day.  I have enjoyed watching the gators and the birds that come by for visits.

In looking the past couple days, I have seen beauty appear at this pond.  At first, it was the cattail opening up that caught my eye.  They were by the thick brush at the one end of the pond.  Yesterday I saw yellow at each end of the pond and there were yellow daisy like flowers blooming.  The pond is coming alive with color and texture.   It is amazing to me, as this was the last place I had expected to see beauty in this neighborhood.

My observation is simple today.  When we least expect it and in places we think are void of beauty, beauty will appear.  I need to keep my eyes truly open to see the beauty that I may miss in expecting the normal.

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF

Summer Ending…

Tomorrow is the middle of August.  August is still before that magic holiday that somehow marks the end of fun days and vacation days.  Labor Day is not until September.  To me, Labor Day is the day that marks the end of summer.  It’s like the door closing on so many things.  Pools close, parks close, kids leave the streets, playgrounds empty… it all goes hand in hand.

This year, though, I have noticed that summer appears to have ended sooner than I expected.  We went to the pool today and realized there were only four more swim days left.  Our neighborhood, although always quiet, seems even more desolate.  The leaves seem to be falling already in the back yard.  (Of course, that could be from the heat and not much rain).

The stores all have back to school sales and items and signs coaxing people into buying school supplies within.

It’s not that I am a big fan of summer, I am not.  I love autumn.  I love cooler weather.  This year, however, summer seems to have slipped by, making an early exit.

A part of me wants to follow the trend.  I want to remove my wreath with its red, white and blue decorations and replace it with my wreath filled with oranges and browns.  I want to pull out my pumpkins and go ahead with autumn.  Something is keeping me from doing that this year.  I want to hang on to summer just a bit longer.  I want to complain about the heat and humidity and mosquitoes just a bit more.

Time seems to be flying by too quickly.  I haven’t felt this way since I was in school myself and didn’t want to have a schedule yet.  But, school is starting for children.  Neighbors are packing up their college age children with dormitory things filling the back of pick up trucks.  Friends who are teachers are heading back to the classroom, and I , I must let go of summer.

I know it will not hurt to let go of this season, it never does.  Autumn has so many wonderful things about it.  But, I cannot deny a small sadness within me that is sorry to see summer end this year.

 There is something deep within us that sobs at endings. Why, God, does everything have to end? Why does all nature grow old? Why do spring and summer have to go? ~ Joe Wheeler

Enjoy the remaining days of summer, have a bar-b-que, plan a picnic, enjoy the bugs and ants and mosquitoes, for soon, we will complain about the ice, the cold, the wind and having to wear a sweater or coat.   DAF


Dance of the Dragonflies….

Around my home I have several objects that were gifts from friends.  Each time I see one of these, I think of the person who gave me the gift and I pray for them.

I have a little angel from a high school acquaintance who came to San Diego for a conference and we met for dinner.  When I picked her up from the hotel, she gave me the angel holding a dog.  She didn’t know how much I love dogs, so I love this little angel.  Each time I dust it, or look at it, I think of her.  I pray for the things I know of her.

I have a set of salt and pepper shakers that sit by my stove.  They are empty, but they are from Mexico and are from the pastor’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  This couple is a missionary family in Mexico.  So, each time I look at them, I pray for them, for their service and for their safety.

Each room holds things like these.  Every place I look I have reminders of the people in my life.  I do this on purpose.  It is a good reminder for me and although it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to my knick knacks, there is.

I have a friend in San Diego.  She has visited us here in Charleston a couple of times.  Her visits are long visits.  She likes to spend time here.  We travel to places around this area that she has never seen.  We make jam.  We cook.  We talk and play board games.  It is a fun time when she is here.

This friend loves dragon flies.  I have a painted glass with dragonflies all over it.  Yes, when I use it, I pray for her.

I haven’t talked with this friend in a while.  We do that, we have that kind of friendship.  We can go for months and months without talking or communicating with one another.

Lately though, I have had her on my mind.  Each time I walk outside I think of her.  This new place is a dragonfly sanctuary, I think.  There are dragonflies all over.  They really are pretty insects.  They fly around and land on my porch.  They fly right by my ears.

Today as I looked out my kitchen window at the pond I thought of her again.  There were dozens of dragonflies dancing over the top of the water.  They would float on the air and light on the pond for a minute and take off again.  I stood studying them for a while.  It was a beautiful dance I am glad I was able to witness.

It gave me a chance to thank God for the beauty He gives us when we take the time to look.  It also makes me think that I need to contact this friend soon…

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your visit.  DAF

Just Below the Surface…

We live in South Carolina.  That is not news, really.  South Carolina is a beautiful state, and here in the low country we have beautiful waterways and marshes that are set around our landscape.  Most housing areas contain at least one pond.  These ponds always come with a warning, “Alligators may live here.  No pets. No swimming.”   Seems logical, I think.

As I wrote before, the sign by the pond that is about 10 feet from the side of our house reads differently.  It says, “Do not feed the alligator.  Do not throw anything into pond.”  We didn’t notice this sign until AFTER we signed our lease.  Yes, I did learn my lesson…. look closer to your environs.  (Duh!)

The other night, dear hubby and I were eating our dinner.  The eat-in area of our kitchen has two windows, each facing a different view.  Hubby’s view is out towards the wooded area behind our house.  My view is the pond.  We sat eating and carrying on a conversation, it was a nice time.  During a break in conversation though, something caught my eye in the pond.  It was not one of the turtles frolicking around.  It was not one of the beautiful birds that stand by the ponds.  No, this creature had a big (and I mean big) smile.  His nose was pretty pointed and he was at least 5 feet long.  A gator!!!  Now, this is not the first alligator I have seen.  We had them visit our backyard in the other house a couple of times.  They are majestic creatures.

The difference, and this is a big one, is that the pond in the other house was at least 20 to 25 feet away from our house.  An alligator could come up to our yard in the former place and it was a safe distance to watch and admire.  I saw this guy’s eyes and his scales and I have to say, I was startled.

Being married to a big kid, my hubby immediately went out to look at this creature.  Fortunately, by time hubby made it outside our dear amphibian creature had gone underwater.  Hubby, like a true little boy, was disappointed.  He came back into the house, finished his dinner and questioned me over and over about where in the pond I saw this creature.

Now, we haven’t actually seen him again, but I have had it explained to me that these creatures feed (turtles are their favorite food) and then go to the bottom of the pond and wait until they are hungry again.  Although their brain is small, they are aware of everything going on outside of the pond and they wait and calculate  their attack.  So, the trick is to not do something at the same time every day, which fortunately, we don’t.

When I look outside now, I see the pond.  I see the birds around the water and I still see one or two turtles (we used to have several). It looks peaceful, calm.  Just below the surface, though, is danger.

How often in our daily lives is danger lurking just below the surface and we are not aware of it?  Yes, I can be startled and frightened of this big,   yet to be made handbag or shoes (I know, peta would not like that, it was an attempt at a joke…) .  I can avoid going outside and definitely avoid walking on that side of the house.  I even look out before heading to the porch and once on the porch I look under the cars (sort of  like checking under the bed for monsters before going to sleep).  But, the truth of it all is, there is danger everywhere, and we are just not aware of it.

I had posted on Facebook about the alligator and got several comments.  The best was from our dear friends out in San Diego.  He was joking about said alligator and how he was not scared at all about the gator in MY backyard.   My point about danger everywhere came back home late last night, when, not being able to sleep, I got up and went back online.  There, on my Facebook page was a picture from a friend who rents a room from my friend I just mentioned.  This picture was of a visitor in THEIR backyard.   It was a picture of  a rattlesnake.    Yes, danger is below the surface everywhere.

And, although Luke 10:19 says, “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.”  (New Living Translation)  I will not purposely step on a snake (or scorpion).  I will, though, trust that I will be safe from the danger lurking just below the surface as I continue to trust and follow the Lord and use my common sense.

Thanks for stopping by today.  DAF


We plan the way we want to live,
but only God makes us able to live it.

                                                Proverbs 16:9 (The Message)

Did you ever feel like you were living in a maze?  One of those corn fields that are turned into mazes during the harvest?  I have actually never gone to one, but have seen photos of them and know that they can be confusing to go through.  The plantation down the road has a corn maze during the fall and there, in the middle of the maze is a platform that can be climbed upon to see where to go next.

When we moved four years ago, I left San Diego with a mental image of life in Charleston.  I had a plan.  I had a visual of what our life was going to be.  It was wonderful.  I was confident, hopeful, full of plans and ideas.  Ah!  naiveté!  To be able to come to this beautiful low country full of what amounted to ignorance on my part.

This scripture has become my life and I am learning it.  I learn the hard way.  I need to have it pounded into my head.  I am an object learner.  I need to see object lessons for things to become a part of me.

I had a plan.  It was, in theory, a great plan.  God had a greater plan for me.  A perfect plan for me.  He is a patient teacher.  I, however, an impatient student.

We moved.  We had family events, unplanned, unpleasant.  But, those times made for a new dynamic in our family.  It brought some of us closer. It was a good time.  Even in difficulty there is joy.  There is healing and bonding.

We had illness.  Long term illness.  It is becoming better.  We have had good news lately.  It is wonderful.  Major illnesses that lurked in the back of our minds, scary words we did not want to mention have been erased.  No longer does the specter of Alzheimer’s peek out from the dusty corners of our minds.  Relief that I will not lose my dear hubby to this disease is a relief.  My breath seems to come a bit easier in the 24 hours since we have found out that this is not what the problem is.  Reality of this is still settling in.  Thank you Lord that this is not an end of this part of the maze we have found ourselves in.   That prayer has rattled in my mind for the past few hours.

Still, we are in the middle of a maze.  We are still not released from doctors.  But, it looks like daylight ahead, it feels hopeful.

Loose ends seem to be fusing together.  God is still molding us, fixing us, changing us.  He is bringing into focus the life He wants us to live.  My plans fell to the wayside over a year ago.  They are collecting dust and I grieve that they are not part of the greater plan.  But, with the coming spring, I think hope will bloom and blossom.  That in the newness of the new season, a new plan will form.  A plan that will be perfect.  A plan, that may not be exactly as I had thought it would be, will be a fresh beginning, a renewal.

So, I take a few minutes here on the platform of our maze/life. I see the dead ends.  I see where paths twist and turn.  I think I can see the end.  I am still figuring out how we get there.  I guess the best way is to hold on to the hand of God and continue to ask Him for directions.

Thanks for stopping by today.  I appreciate your visit.  DAF

Nature was still

Go to the nearest window. Look out for a full minute. Write about what you saw.

This is today’s Daily Prompt.  At first I wasn’t going to write on it.  I have a beautiful view that I thought I actually saw each day.  But, while waiting for my coffee this morning, I stood at my patio door and looked out to my back yard.

At first, it looked the same.  Deck with winter dirty furniture on it.  Dormant grass, leafless trees and the pond.  I stood and actually started to see what I was looking at.  There is a difference, you know.

The pond was still.  No ripples, no currents.  No fish jumping, or turtles swimming, nothing.  Still as the glass I was looking through.  The morning sun reflected on the water.  The brown, dry reeds on the other side of the pond swayed almost without causing notice.  I looked at their reflection in the pond.  The sun made the dry brown reeds look golden when their image reflected on the still water.  They were very pretty.  So pretty, I thought I might venture over and walk around by them.  That is the marsh side of the pond.  I have been over there a few times, but haven’t ventured over there recently.  It was tempting.

I stood and looked at the beauty of my yard.  I didn’t notice the deck needed cleaned.  I didn’t notice the window also needed cleaning.  I just saw an invitation from nature to come and visit.

As my alloted minute was about to end, a great grey heron flew from the corner of the pond and soared between the houses.  What an excellent end to a minute.

As I drank my coffee, I returned to the window.  It was such a pleasant experience, I thought I would continue.

Shortly after coffee this morning, we ventured out to walk our puppy.  Hubby and I took a longer walk today, which suited me just fine.  I was in the mood to get out into this beckoning nature I had witnessed.

We left the quiet of the house and heard the stillness of nature.  Well, not really.  The air was alive with the sound of birds chirping and calling out to one another.  Crows were perched in leafless trees cawing to one another.  There was the distant sound of traffic on the interstate. Squirrels jumped from tree to tree, busy in their days.  There was life to the nature I quietly viewed.

As I sit and write this, the wind has picked up just a bit.  The reeds across the pond are dancing now and the pond is full of ripples.  The reflections are broken up and longer.  The marsh seems alive.  Not quiet like this morning.

Still, there is an invitation to come and visit.  To be in the midst of the palette given to us by our Creator.  He leads us beside still waters.  He restores our soul.  He paints the sky with colors so vivid we stand in awe of them.  He created the life that is not still, the squirrels, the birds, the herons, and the snakes living in the marsh across the pond.

I am grateful that I stopped today and looked beyond my boundaries.  I am glad I actually saw what was in front of me.  Too often, I think, we do not see the beauty and the joy and the invitations issued to us by what surrounds us.  I hope that this is not just a short, quick lesson for me.  I hope that I actually stop to look at what is in front of me from now on.


Thanks for stopping by.  I appreciate your visit.  DAF

Slow Dance into Fall

In mid August I wrote a post about autumn approaching.  How there was a nuance of its impending arrival… well, here we are in late September and the temperature is still in the mid 70’s creeping up into the low 80’s.  Autumn, when are you going to fall?

As I was walking my dear little puppy this morning, I was thinking of this.  I am tired of the heat.  I yearn for my jeans and sweatshirts.  Mostly, I am tired of the mosquitoes, that somehow don’t realize that by the end of September they should be gone, munching in some other tropical locale.  But, no, here they stay making a mid morning snack on me.

But, I digress.  There are hints of fall in the air.  I know this from sneezing at absolutely nothing visible.  So, I know there are dying leaves somewhere.

The air is warm, bordering on humid still.  But, there is a respite when you walk into the shade.  It toys with you.  You feel a slight temperature drop, you feel a gentle breeze.  It reassures me that, yes, fall will be here.

The leaves are starting to be tinted with the colors of fall.  Like the Lord using a small tipped paint brush and gently shading in the edges of the leaves.  Just enough.  Teasing me, taunting me to write and complain once more about the warmth.  Yes, I know, give me a few more weeks and I will write on the wind whipping through my jacket and my cheeks burning with cold air.  What can I say?  I’m weather fickle.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons though.  It is beckoning the arrival of the holidays.  I am glad to see it coming.  I know it is doing a slow dance to get here, but personally I would like to see it jitterbug its way here already!

Thanks for stopping by… As always, DAF