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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Birthday Fun

This past Sunday was our daughter Emily's 27th birthday, she is our youngest child, and it is hard to believe she turned 27! 

Happy Birthday Emily
When Emily turned 16 she asked for a chocolate chip cheesecake for her birthday cake, picture hereOn and off over the years she has made the same request and this year was no different. On Saturday afternoon I made the chocolate chip cheesecake from a recipe given to me eleven years ago by a former neighbor. Emily asked that I make a kid friendly cake for the grandchildren, so I asked the kids if they wanted birthday cup cakes or dirt pudding. They all wanted dirt pudding, no surprise there, LOL.

I asked Emily what she would like to eat for her birthday dinner, she opted for grilled salmon with blue cheese. For sides I made boiled red potatoes served with butter and parsley, and fresh green beans cooked with mushrooms, garlic, and vidalia onion in a little olive oil. There were hamburgers and Nathan's hot dogs (a favorite of the grandchildren) for those who did not want salmon. 

Earlier in the day everyone went to the zoo. This past Sunday was the first day the zoo was open for 2020 due to the pandemic, you had to be a member and you had to sign up for a time slot to go so that proper social distancing could be observed. The weather was amazing, super sunny and temperatures in the low 70's. Because of the social distancing rules a number of exhibits were put away but nothing that really deterred from the zoo experience. I went to the zoo with our daughter Amber and her boys at noon, our other children all had different time slots. Everyone enjoyed the zoo and then a nice birthday celebration dinner in the evening. It was all in all a perfectly wonderful day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

A Wonderful FB Group

I was out walking with grandchildren last week and one of them noticed a butterfly, we all crowded around to look and I took a few pictures. I had no idea of the name of this type of butterfly so when we got home I posted the pictures on Facebook to see if anyone did know. A good friend suggested I post it in the FB group IN Nature and sent me a link to join. I joined the group and posted my picture and literally within thirty seconds I had the answer, it is a Red Admiral butterfly. 
Red Admiral Butterfly
Yesterday while out hiking with many grandsons, we kept seeing beautiful emerald green insects on the trail who would fly away as we got close. I had know idea what type of insect it could be, the next time we saw one on the trail we all stopped and stood quietly and I started snapping pictures as I crept closer and closer until eventually it flew off. When we got home I posted the picture to IN Nature, and again in less than a minute I had an answer (several in fact) and all agreed it was a six spotted tiger beetle.
I am LOVING this FB group, each day I have learned something new and it is so nice to know that there are many, many other Hoosiers who are out and about exploring our natural environment and are curious about the things they see. And I am really thankful that there are so many knowledgeable people who can answer questions and provide identification as the requests are posted. 
Six Spotted Tiger Beetle
And last of all, on Saturday afternoon I walked to nearby Leo, IN, each time I cross over a bridge over a small tributary to the St. Joe river. The last three times I have crossed the bridge I have stopped to look in the water and have seen a Muskrat swimming around. This past Saturday he was very busy and I was able to take a few pictures of him swimming before he disappeared underwater. 
Mr. Muskrat
These are but a few of the many pleasures of walking, not only does it clear and soothe the mind, it strengthens and tones the body, and because you are walking you notice so many things in nature that you will never see from a car window. Walking reconnects you mind, body and soul back to the earth and all that is wonderful.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Calm or Windy It's All Good

On my morning walks I almost always pass this pond, and every once in a while the air is so calm that the pond surface becomes like a mirror. I simply love the way the way the trees are reflected, if you look closely you will notice that I flipped the picture upside down :)

 This picture I took five or six years ago at the same pond. Again it was a very calm day, it is a favorite picture of our four oldest grandchildren. I call  this picture Blue Sky Thinking, the children appear to be at the top of the world.

This picture was taken at a reservoir a few miles from our home, it was not a calm day, it was very, very windy, but the sky was spectacular and I think makes this an interesting photograph. I really like the contrast between sky, water, grass and gravel footpath.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Calming Effect of a Front Porch

I love our front porch, it faces east and gets the morning sun, and in the afternoon it is a pleasant shady spot to sit and relax. This past Sunday morning the weather was absolutely delightful, I got around to eating breakfast around eleven in the morning and decided to eat alfresco. I headed to the front porch with a mug of coffee, a book, and a bowl of berries mixed with sprouted mung beans and sprinkled with a pinch of oats. 

I love my front porch because it is a restful place, a place for reflection, a place to pray, to contemplate, to simply be. I always feel restored after sitting a spell on our front porch.


Monday, June 8, 2020

Moving Day

Every other Saturday I watch our grandson Masen for the day, he is always disappointed that none of his cousins are coming to grandma and grandpa's house to play. Usually I arrange something for us to do, and often times do meet up with our daughter Amber and the five boys and this makes Masen very happy.
This past Saturday was moving day for our sons Matt and Ben. Matt and Tracy recently sold their house, it sold very quickly, like within four hours of going on the market and for thirteen thousand dollars over asking price, unbelievable especially during a pandemic! Anyway, they close with the buyers on Monday morning and have to be fully moved out by then. Unfortunately they have yet to find a new home to buy, so are moving to temporary accommodation. Ben and Taylor purchased their first home, just a few miles away from us, they closed this past Thursday, and spent all day yesterday moving the bulk of their possessions. I offered to watch all children so the parents could work steadily at packing and moving.
Masen arrived a little after eight in the morning, I told him our plans for the day and he was very excited. We left a little before nine to head to Matt and Traci's, we picked up Alivia, Aubrey, and baby Harrison, then we headed to Ben and Taylor's to pick up Ralph. Ralph was sitting on the porch swing waiting for us, it was so cute. We headed back to my house, and the cousins all rushed outside to play on the trampoline. We decided to have a picnic lunch, so I made sandwiches for everyone, packed up some cookies, cheese puffs, and juice and we headed out. We went to a little park in Grabill, popped the sleeping baby Harrison into his stroller, laid out the picnic blanket under a nice shade tree and enjoyed a very relaxing lunch. I found the song Teddy Bears Picnic on my phone and they enjoyed listening to it, and kept giggling a lot at the word unawares, as they interpreted it as underwear! After eating they all went to climb up and roll down a big hill close to where we were sitting. I kept an eye on them and read my book for a bit. After tiring of the hill, and the baby had woken up, we decided to pack up the picnic and walk the mile long trail around the prairie restoration area. It is a good trail as the entire path is paved which is very nice when you have a stroller to push.

the teddy bears on their picnic
The picnic packed in a lovely woven basket my mother purchased for me in France a number of years ago

The children enjoyed the trail, a perfect length for little legs, they enjoyed the flowers, and we saw a few butterflies. Then there was great excitement when they saw a caterpillar.

Checking out the caterpillar

Then disgust and outrage when they found a dead bird, all that was left were the wings, and some intestine, they were so concerned and wanted toknow what could have happened. I explained that perhaps a cat caught the bird, and then had to explain that the cat wasn't bad, it was just being a cat and that is what a cat does.
After our walk they were all hot and ready to go home for an ice cream cone. 

A short rest half way around the trail path

While scooping ice cream cones Amber and boys arrived at the house, so I ended up serving nine cones. Oh boy, there was so much excitement, nine children and baby make a lot of joyful chaos it is lovely. They were in and out of the house, out to the swing set, back to trampoline, play, play, play. The boys went home, Alivia, Aubrey, Masen and Ralph wanted dinner, so I made them chicken nuggets and fries, their favorite, and then everyone lay down to watch a Sponge Bob movie, the baby, Aubrey and Ralph fell asleep and peace descended on the family room. It was a wonderful day.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Favorite Auther - Barbara Pym

This year I have been re-reading all of my Barbara Pym books, I love her writing and very much enjoy all that she has written. I own a copy of almost all of her books, and I have three used books on order to complete my collection, Crampton Hodnet, The Sweet Dove Died, and Civil To Strangers which is a collection of short stories. I think I only have one more book to purchase, Some Tame Gazelle, and then I own all she has written. I also own A Very Private Life, an autobiography in diaries and letters by Barbara Pym, and The Barbara Pym cookbook. The cookbook contains recipes of dishes cooked by various characters in her books. 
Barbara Pym has been described as the Jane Austen of the 20th century, and this is very apt, as her novels are all witty, amusing, a sort of comedy of manners. Characters from older novels pop up as a mention here or there in newer novels, someone may notice their obituary, or they are a friend of a friend, that kind of thing. It brings a realism to the world created by Barbara Pym. Pick up a copy and see if you enjoy her writing. I can't really recommend one story over another, as I enjoy them all. My first Barbara Pym was Excellent Women and I so enjoyed it I was spurred on to read everything she ever wrote, and I have returned to the books time and time again over the years and have never been disappointed.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

WOOHOO The Annual Veggie Planting

Over Memorial Day weekend Dave finished getting our two veggie patches ready for planting , he had tilled the ground a few weeks ago so he wanted to go over everything very thoroughly to loosen the soil for planting. On Memorial Day we ran over to a local Amish greenhouse, we have purchased plants there for years, and picked up some seeds and a selection of veggie plants. On Tuesday I went into work, but at ten-thirty the power went out, since I am the only one going into the office during the pandemic, all my co-workers are working from home, I sat alone in the dark for an hour listening to various computer alarms beeping and chirping. As the electric company still had no estimate of power restoration after an hour I decided to go home. I am glad I chose to leave as the power was not restored until after three in the afternoon. I got home and luxuriated in an unexpected free afternoon all to myself, what should I do? Well at first I read for a bit, I am currently re-reading all of my Barbara Pym books, and then I dozed off. Upon waking I felt very refreshed and decided to head outside and plant the garden. It was an extremely pleasant afternoon in the upper seventies with abundant sunshine, perfect to work in. I planted ten tomato plants, six red bell pepper plants, six yellow bell pepper plants, six kale plants, four cucumber vines, four canteloupe vines, four watermelon vines, and eight broccoli plants. I planted seeds for giant zinnia, cosmos, marigolds, and giant sunflowers, and a row of green beans, some kale and beetroot. I put in a row of onions, but we had had the onion sets for quite some time and I am not sure if they will revive and grow, but nothing ventured nothing gained as they say. Dave had planted a few rows of potatoes a month or so ago and the plants are looking good. We have had a nice mix of sunshine, warm temperatures and rain, perfect for our newly planted gardens, and on Wednesday I noticed that the cosmos and sunflowers were up. I really enjoy having a row of flowers here and there in the vegetable gardens. I am looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Garden 2

Garden 1
Garden 2, different angle

The Happy Gardener
We have put most of the plants in a small enclosed garden as the deer seem to think we are providing an all you can eat salad bar. Unfortunately not all of our plants will fit in the small enclosure, so some had to be planted in the other garden, this morning I went out to check on things and every single broccoli plant was gone! 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Daily Walks

Every morning I get up early, four-thirty to be precise, drink a large glass of water and take my vitamins and supplements, pour a mug of coffee and head upstairs to do a few crosswords and read a chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Around five-fifteen I put on my gym shoes, pop in my earbuds, and head out for a brisk morning walk for the next hour. I love my daily walks, every day I see something of interest, spring flowers, pretty snowfall, fall leaves, cats, raccoons, turtles, a variety of birds, newly unfurled leaves, beautiful sunrises, the moon in all its phases, no matter the day or time of year there is always something to spark joy.  



I often take my grandchildren on walks, or probably a stroll as the pace is much, much slower than my early morning walks. And the children, just like me, always find things of interest. Lately we have had a lot of rain, so we have seen many, many earthworms and that generated a lot of questions, so we watched a documentary on worms, and learned a lot. Another day we saw a number of big bumblebees, they were worried about being stung, no one was. When we got back to the house we looked up some information about bumblebees and learned they can sting over and over again as their stinger is like a needle, but a honeybee can only sting once. The honeybee's stinger is barbed and when it is used it won't pull back out so instead a portion of the honeybees abdomen is ripped out and it dies! This past Wednesday we were on the lookout for turtles, this time of year in northeast Indiana they are on the move, we didn't see any. But yesterday morning on my walk I saw a nice size turtle so I took a picture to show the grandchildren. This morning I saw a mother raccoon with four babies, they were crossing the road, so I waited until they all made it across, the boys were very interested to hear all about it.

Throughout the spring I have visited local parks to walk the trails, I love finding woodland flowers, so many colors and they really are a beautiful sight in the woods in early spring. A week or so ago I headed into Fort Wayne to visit the farmers market with our almost five year old grandson Masen. We were walking from one market to another and were passing the Botanical Conservatory, there were some plants in full blossom, I had Masen stand in front of them to take a photo, he is a bit of ham for the camera. Suddenly I noticed some Lily of the Valley in bloom. I said, "hey, Masen, look this is Lily of the Valley". Apparently my phone was listening to me, because its computer voice piped up, "Lily of the Valley, a small woodland plant, highly poisonous", at which point Masen yelled, "it's poison, it's poison" as he ran away from the plants. Ahh, the joys of technology.

Lily of the Valley, a small woodland plant, highly poisonous :)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Campfire Fun

This past weekend we had a lovely campfire with our children and grandchildren. Saturday evening was sunny and pleasant with temperatures in the low sixties, perfect for sitting around a campfire. I picked up some goodies on my weekly shop for a campfire feast, our son Ben supervised the cooking of pudgie pies in the campfire. A good number of years ago my husband, Dave, picked up four campfire pudgie pie makers at a yard sale for a few dollars, and we finally used them. I got pizza sauce, pepperoni and grated Italian cheese blend for the pudgie pies and the grandchildren really liked their pepperoni pizza pudgie pie. A pudgie pie is a sealed toasted sandwich, the filling can be whatever you like. Some people put fruit pie filling in them and then dust with powdered sugar after cooking, or peanut butter and jelly, or cheese, really whatever you think you might enjoy is what you should put in them. And of course no campfire would be complete without s'mores. Bags of chips and some cookies added to the menu and Emily brought chicken and vegetable kebabs to grill for the grownups. I had a nice vegan salad of course. It was a lovely and relaxing evening with some of my most favorite people on the planet.

My husband Dave, or as I call him, DaveyPoo

Grandson Charles with his dad Brad

Granddaughter Aubrey

Grandson George, or as I call him, Georgous

Grandson Patrick trying to avoid the camera

Our daughter Amber with her nephew Harrison

Our son Ben with his son Ralph

Henry, Alivia and Ralph being goofballs

Aubrey, or as I call her, Dolly Dingle

Masen aka Mr. Macaroni, with Henry in the background


Ralph and Charles

Our son Matt with his youngest Harrison

Our son Ben and wife Taylor
Our wonderful, amazing, fabulous grandchildren