Monday, July 28, 2008

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 16

Scenes from a Summer's Day

Taking a tour around our countryside neighborhood

Allow me to be your personal tour guide today.

The photos below were snapped at approximately 7:15am. this morning as I chauffeured our daughter to her summer job. Normally I'm sipping a nice hot cup of coffee about now, enjoying the fresh outdoor air, while watching the two younger children swim their laps in the pool. However after a telephone call this morning, it was announced the swim team session was canceled due to cloudy water issues needing correction today.

Meanwhile, as I drove to and from the barn, I decided to snap the photos for you below, those within our sleepy hamlet town. As you view the scenes below, you'll see why we love it here so much, having grown quite attached to this ever peaceful and lovely countryside.

Allow me to be your personal tour guide

Farmers are reaping their rewards as the wheat continues to be harvested all over our area, most fields only show evidence of the chaff now left behind.

College students are now coming out in force for employment to pull the tassels from the corn stalks, arms reaching high in the air to yank them out so the corn seed doesn't become contaminated for the duration of the growing time.

I snapped this photo above while in motion driving, loved the color!

Soybeans, green beans, oats, barley and potatoes are also grown locally, as well as plenty of bird feed materials, hay, straw and other assorted farm animal necessities.

I actually snapped these two photos, above and below yesterday on our way home from church. Each of these round bales weighs in excess of 1000 pounds!

The countryside landscape is always changing around here with crops grown and harvested, several a year in the same fields. The heart of our area is definitely farming, and if you have a pantry reaping such a harvest, why not consider thanking a farmer today.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 15

Scenes from a Summer's Day

Blessings of a perfect day;
...and playing with the sunlight and colors of a sunset

From our early rising and our long trek to attend Sunday mass this morning, we've been blessed all day long this day.

When we arrived at church, it was such a relief to find all the fans whirring round and round and the windows wide open - cool air for my hubby to endure easier breathing, and avoiding the crippling fatigue usually accompanying such situations where heat and humidity aren't given complete climate control settings indoors. It also allowed him the ability to be able to participate more fully by standing, kneeling and sitting without feeling light headed and dizzy.

The most unexpected and heart stopping blessing touched us like no other. It happened there as our family knelt in unison, there where we first began to kneel in silence, our hearts softly filled with own private prayer petitions, intentionally remaining "still", yet fervently seeking for Him and waiting, listening, to hear His voice.

It was there where we were first blessed and filled with much grace, feeling tightly wrapped and tenderly hugged in the arms of our loving Father.

As the sunlight rose to take it's place, arcing high above us in the east, its glowing rays began illuminating through the colorful saintly images in the stained glass windows located high above the altar, its rays drifting forth into the church for all to witness the wonder and beauty of this perfect new day. In fact, the soft rays of light began offering warm hues of lilting colors across the altar - as if to say, "Good morning, I have come to give you rest today..."

It also felt as though a message was sent directly to us, reassuring us our weary and aching hearts would be lifted from the heavy burdens of life after what seemed to be an extra tough week emotionally for my hubby and I.

The great fountain continued to spill over with even more blessings, a fount of loving and soothing salve when we encountered the perfect words from God's holy word, just as though He was waiting for us to bid him good day, just so he could whisper a personal message only my hubby and I could begin to understand with the perfection of the timing, a message which instantly became so touching reaching deep into the bottom recesses of our hearts. Just as a parent knows what to do when his child is injured, so too were we in great need of extra care emotionally this day.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost..

God in His holy place; God who maketh men of
one mind to dwell in a house: He shall give power
and strength to His people.

~ Psalm 67:6,7


Almighty, eternal God, who in the abundance of thy loving-kindness, dost exceeds both the deserts and the hopes of Thy suppliants, pour forth Thy mercy upon us, to take away from us those things which our conscience feareth, and to add that which our prayer presumeth not to ask. Through our Lord...

Please say a prayer for us as we head into my husband's three month respiratory appointments this week. This is the week it was suggested he will likely begin oxygen therapy, and the thought of having to carry around an oxygen tank is weighing heavily on his mind, among hundreds of other things health wise of course. Because there are so many other variables, and we feel the added discovery of emphysema on top of everything is beginning to affect him in general, we pray and trust in all things..

But for today, for today only - we are so thankful for such a perfect day filled with many, many blessings!

Goodnight to all my family and friends

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 14

Scenes from a Summer's Day

Blessings of a clothesline... and I have two of them.

Lucky girl!

I love things flapping in the wind, waving at me

There is one thing I love about summer since moving into this house. I just love having double clotheslines to hang oodles of laundry on, and all those towels and bathing suits summer weather produces after enjoying beach time moments as a family.

We miss our pool this year, the one that sprang a huge leak from stretching and warping so badly from the heat exposure in the east we weren't' used to in the west (with the added humidity of course).

Our pool with Auntie and her three Nieces last summer

We had to pitch it when it became evident it was beyond repair at the end of last year when the plug and filter areas came unglued leaving gaping holes and the pool store encouraged us to bid it farewell.

With the water's edge so near to us though, sure we miss our big pool on our property, but it just forces us to get nearer to the beach often.

It's something we've had to remember to do - on purpose this year, and if there is any merit in the effort it takes in the long run, it is the satisfaction for this mama to just enjoy the beauty and simplicity of it all, including observations at the end of the day when my clothesline sits with fruits of those waterside memories.

Clothesline lessons were complete the year we moved into this home, so everyone knows how to use the clothespins, and spacers for the lines properly. Often one of them is assigned the duty of hanging up the laundry, or bringing it all in for folding when it's dry.

Imagine how just a few handfuls of wooden clothespins provide a tight and secure clipping, good enough for allowing all of the recent day's wet items to flap and sway in total freedom, rhymically moving in sync with a soft gentle breeze. It's as though they are waving at me as, sending a warm greeting and a cheery "hello" at day's end. I just love my clotheslines!

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 13

Scenes from a Summer's Day

Bunny Loving

Time for some "bunny loving" with one of our mini lop bunnies. Their fur has a lovely soft feel to it, and they love being brushed often. This bunny, "Floppy" is such a gentle male, he literally cuddles up around our young daughter's neck when she holds him and reciprocates the bunny loving moments right back to her every time. Everyone loves our bunnies. I'll try to get a photo of our other bunny, "Moppy" uploaded soon. She's almost as big as this one now, but so frisky and silly most of the time. Perhaps this is the way of a female bunny?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 12

Scenes from a Summer's Day

Lounging around poolside on a hot, hot, summer's day!

And now for a nice hearty snacktime

Chili topped nachos

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 11

Scenes from a Summer's Day

Meanwhile... back to the water again... here's what we found!

Surf's UP! - - - WAY UP!

Here's what our family missed while they were here.

These are much too dangerous for the young ones to jump over, but the big ones love to venture in and play when the waves go jumping way up and down.

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 10

Scenes from a Summer's Day

Major Outdoor Summer Projects

Summer is a time for taking to task those grander scaled projects in our home, and this week was no exception to the rule. A large load of cedar red bark mulch was ordered and only supposed to be delivered tomorrow. When the doorbell rang Monday afternoon this week instead, I became a little flustered because we weren't ready and it was just too early for four yards of bark mulch to sit idle on a tarp somewhere for the week.

In progress with 300 feet of
landscape paper to install

Our older son has been parentally employed the past few weeks; first painting the fence - two coats, cutting circles and edging around all thirty some trees on the property where the end result was to add bark mulch into the holes to complete the task. When the bark mulch arrived, he sprang into action, edging around the remaining trees not yet finished, and then swiftly sought out the wheelbarrow to get the bark mulch moving off the pile.

Muscle building 101 - hockey summer workout

Another project was to simplify and create a maintenance-free rear garden bed where all our bird feeders were installed. Last year when hiring our landscaping crew, they insisted our garden would be simple to keep up with, not so. Just ask our children how they enjoy the HUGE task of weeding this flower bed alone each week, no joy found there because the soil consists of much clay, so all those lovely weeds are very difficult to remove from their roots.

To create this maintenance-free mode for the back garden, the project entailed the removal of the existing bark mulch, installing landscaping black paper on the soil, returning the original bark mulch over the paper, and then continue with the addition of all new mulch from the pile in the driveway. It seemed easier than it was, so complicated with just the landscape paper alone to go around all the shrubs and bushes. Golly!

There is nothing quite like already feeling somewhat overwhelmed by this grand task looming ahead, but perhaps God had a funny sense of humor with the arrival of the load five days before of its scheduled timing.

He knows though that I have a husband who wouldn't sit still and just allow the rest of the family to bring this goal to fruition by standing around and watching us, likely instead he would feel tempted to work alongside of us when he shouldn't or worse yet, couldn't, but mustered up a bit of adrenalin because he felt obligated to pitch in.

(Note; Some of these photos aren't great. Thick in laborious duties, I never thought to take photos earlier in the project, and had my cell phone nearby, so guess what I used instead of my camera? Better some, than none!)

Repositioning the bark mulch afterwards

Lots of bending and stooping this day

(note - lone sunflower growing courtesy of bird feeder droppings)

Ah, but wisdom prevailed no doubt, because now after a long hot day of moving together in unison, taking breaks to get out of the summer's heat, hydrating well during it all - I'm pleased to announce TA DA!!! D-o-n-e! This team was terrific! This team was to be praised!

At days' end we were all stiff from stooping to pick the weeds out of the way, cutting and laying the paper, shoveling, raking, pushing a wheelbarrow, raking some more, you know - after much sweat in the 90 degree breezy heat, a fabulous group effort working hard, we did it and I am very pleased it is behind us.


Looking at this garden bed on the size of our property, surely it doesn't look as big as it really is, however I took the photos below to give it some perspective.

Oh, and I stood our daughter in front of the willow tree we planted last year. It blossomed and grew well in just one year. Behind to the right in the photo, you can see the huge willow tree with the damage from the lightning strike fully exposed. We hope it lives.

My our willow tree has grown in just one year!

As the group effort was so wonderful, we all washed up and headed out for huge rewards! First stop, to acquire handfuls of "lickey licks" (ice cream), and head to the water's edge to recover. While there we noticed how lovely the bright blue sky looked against the white pillow puffy clouds to our right, and then when we glanced to our left, what a contrast. A ferocious storm was moving in, and fast!

Gorgeous skies one minute, a fierce storm the next

Not even 20 minutes lapsed between the photos above

Soon afterwards, gusty winds, hail, booming thunder and forks of lightning sounds in the skies and fell to the ground. Yikes!

Tornado warnings were sounding across the airwaves, and on the internet though we never heard or saw them. Just observing the sky we knew it was a scary storm approaching. And it was scary to find out four tornados touched down not far from our home, though no damage was done. We noted many funnel clouds and clouds zooming overhead to shadow that bright blue beautiful sky. Drats! What about my bark mulch I thought. What if the wind blew it all away?

I am happy to report, it rained so hard (monsoon flash flood) it all remained in place. Whew....we are so lucky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mosaic Meme

Fancy this fun today!

A photo mosaic meme for me to try.


(Feel free to click the mosaic to see it larger)

This was so fun and I learned something new today, just when I was feeling a bit low and needed a boost. I first saw the results of this blog meme on Alison's blog, (thank you for the fun) who led her readers to Jessica's blog, and then I saw Matilda's mosaic. All are so beautiful, colorful and most interesting to boot!

So here's how you do this...

There are twelve questions to answer, thus twelve squares on the mosaic above. Here they are;

  1. What is your first name? Renee
  2. Favorite food? Sushi, (Mexican a close second)
  3. Where did you go to high school? Local to my teenage home
  4. Favorite color? Blue/Greens
  5. Celebrity crush? about Pierce Brosnan.
  6. Favorite drink? Love my latte, though I like a glass of "Italy's Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio" upon occasion and I loved this photo.
  7. Dream vacation? After my hubby has his surgery, we want to visit the Mediterranean - Italy, Greece, etc. Just give us all of it, we'd live there for awhile to explore everything! So old world charming, and fabulous history, can't go wrong visiting there.
  8. Favorite dessert? Fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies
  9. What do you want to be when you grow up? Just little ole me doing whatever God wants me to do, to know/love and serve...
  10. What do you love most in life? My big beautiful Family
  11. One word to describe you? Overflowing (with God's blessings in abundance)
  12. Hobby? Taking photos, scrapbooking, all the same to me...memories to store forever.
YOUR invitation to join the fun!

Go ahead, have fun with this like I did today! Get on the bandwagon, come along and ride with us... Denise and Justine, I'm sure you'll love to get in on the fun, right?

So then, here's what you do with this. 1) Head over the Flicker and using the search box, type in the answers to the questions above, one at a time. 2) A page of photos will appear, and you are to choose your favorite from only the first page offered. 3) Copy and paste the URL into FDs mosaic maker at be sure to select your mosaic configuration first, three rows by four. 4) Save your image to your hard drive and then upload and post to your blog. 5) Copy the HTML code for flickr photo credits and paste them at the bottom of your post.

Share, share, share...because there are likely going to be no two alike!


My mosaic's photo credits....

1. Renee's Salon of Beauty Sign, 2. Tokyo Sushi - Spicy Tuna and Salmon, 3. Time..., 4. Mallorca 2007 -- Waiting for summer (Part 2), 5. brosnan, 6. Acquarello, 7. Montee du Souvenir, 8. 14th August 2007 / Day 226, 9. For the love of God, 10. Day 27/365: Two years, 11. come, thou fount of every blessing, 12. 8 days a week

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 9

Scenes from a Summer's Day, 9

A very first swim meet experience

The children were so nervous the night before their very first swim meet, not knowing what to expect from their day ahead. Knowing this was to be their first swim meet, their coaches were wise, only entering them in a few races. In fact, two of our son's were relay races with three other boys.

First though, try waking up two groggy teens on a Saturday morning sometime after 6:30am and see what happens. Actually in all fairness our two sleepy teens happily complied to rise and shine during these wee morning hours because they were going to be attending with us as swim meet volunteers for the duration of the day’s events.

They were two of ten timer volunteers for the day

Everything was new for us. Watching the children become more focused was interesting, especially when the grassy area surrounding the pool grew thick with other team members and their families who had traveled to participate in this same swim meet.

Warming up before the heats began

They've come a long way. Looking back to their very first day when they both attended their first swim team morning session, swimming laps “for fun” , my husband chuckled and thought he wouldn't be surprised if they would never choose to go back again.

Here we are now only a few weeks later and they can hardly wait for swim mornings, rise and shine very early alongside of me, though typically they are plum worn out when we arrive home later on, and sometimes a nap is a good thing if they require one.

If for only achieving extra endurance abilities, this swim meet stuff is mighty helpful. As the coaches introduce games and relays, everything has become very enjoyable to them, and they are so eager to perform the "butterfly stroke" and the "dolphin maneuvers". If only every swim team had so much fun, a little less rigid perhaps, certainly without any doubt more participants would be lining up to register for summer fun.

(Their race numbers were noted on their arms so they would remember to attend the marshaling sessions beforehand when each one was announced. Some children had numbers all the way up their arms.)

Pooped out, but she was so proud to do this.

The whole idea of joining a swim team was never something I wanted in the past. I felt the tremendous daily time commitment alone was too much for me, and usually the swim meets fell on entire weekends where families were expected to bring along their camper, tent or pay for lodging elsewhere. Not for me nor for our family.

Relay races were difficult because you
had to keep up for the sake of the team.
(Strong legs ahead for hockey season?)

So what’s different here?

Each morning as the alarm summons us to rise at 6:30am; our older daughter happens to require transportation to her horse barn summer duties. Three days a week, the young ones tag along and we head for the pool shortly afterwards so good timing on the early morning swims. Only three times each week compared to all five is doable. The relaxed atmosphere allows for absences and there are no rigid requirements to participate in swim meets should we choose not to.

There are no rigid swim suit requirements, no coaches shouting orders in ridiculous competitive ways, nothing of the sort. The children are all doing their best, and there is even one small four year old in their midst who swims well and participated alongside of them this past weekend for fun. Her proud parents and grandparents were there to cheer her on, however it was the rest of the team who screamed the most when her hand touched the wall at the end of her race. Not a dry eye in the parent area!

Overall, I have to admit, this past weekend the children were so thrilled to learn what a swim meet was all about, the rest of the family of course (except my hubby who couldn't handle being outdoors) were right by their side finding out all about it with them.

Surprisingly we were supposed to have a thunder storm interrupt the morning's events, but it never came until much later in the day. In fact, it soon became scorching hot for the duration of the meet, sunscreen desperately required.

We hear there are three more swim meets to come, so the rest of us will be there again, volunteering where needed. Bring it on!