Coffee Chat: Symphony Days

Gosh but it's warm.  Tomorrow the temperatures are to be in the 90's.  Time to find some nice cool images of iced tea, huh?

Do come in.  You're just in time for a much needed break and a bit of coffee.  We can take it on the porch if you'd like.  The breeze and shade make for very pleasant sitting these days.  I relish these days of mid-Spring when the temperatures are mild enough as long as you are not working in the sun.  I do love the sound of the birds and the wind in the leaves of the trees.  It's a lovely symphony isn't it?  Fresh and lively.   Different than the autumn song of bass wind pounding upon us and rattling cacophony of dry, dead leaves skittering across the yard.

The variety of bird call this time of year is worth noting.  The Mocking Bird kindly serenades us year round, but one morning this week as I stood on the porch to see John off to work, I listened to a Whippoorwill call from across the field and this afternoon when I came home a quail called 'Bob, Bob, Bob White!'  I've heard a lovely trilling bird call.  I'm not sure what kind of bird makes it but it's common here from spring through the first cool days of autumn, then the bird must migrate from here to somewhere much warmer.  Still it is a beautiful sound.  There are so many lovely bird songs and calls to hear.

I've been busy in my yard.  I pinned just loads of lovely pictures and I am always amused at the variety of plants photographed and shown in magazines and online landscaping/gardening photos.  So many plants and so many colors!  Do you know what I find when I shop?  That every nursery within 50 miles of me has the same thing.  My color choice is the color they  have chosen to have this year.  So petunias this year are a variegated marble looking purple, deep purple and a magenta and white mix.  I did see a few pale yellow which I suppose might be rather stunning mixed with the dark purples but I can't bring myself to like them very well. 

Geraniums are raspberry pink and red, though I did see one gorgeous coral colored one today.  My favorite is the raspberry pink but I really like the pale apple blossom pink geranium for an all time favorite.  Haven't seen one of those.   Coleus in a half dozen colors are available.  Begonias in red or white, salvia in purple, red, or white, ditto for verbena.  Sigh.  Not at all what I had in mind this year nor anything like what I'd pinned. Verbena is so lovely but it curls up and dies very quickly here.  I'm told it's sun and heat tolerant but you sure can't prove it by any luck I've ever had with it.  Except the wild sort that grows at roadside.  That will grow here, but roadside plants and I have come to a cross roads. They want to take over.  I want them to act like their cultivated cousins.  They do not.  The battle goes on and on.  Never mind.  I shall use what I can get and get rather inexpensively and be quite pleased to see the blooms and the color regardless of wishes.

At least the discount grocer has a variety of coleus this year from an almost inky black variety to the
vivid lime green.  The one I want, naturally, is the one I cannot find.  It is a deep solid red color and used in various landscapes about commercial businesses in the next town.  I think I shall have to go pinch a piece of it and root it in order to get any of that color.

I am puzzled by herbs at the moment.  The basil was beaten to a pulp by the heavy rains two weeks ago when we had storms so it's gone.  I'll get more of that to plant or put out some seed.   I've had very good luck with basil in the past and the bees do love the blossoms when it starts to flower. The dill I purchased wilted away and died.  It had no use at all for the sage and oregano that I planted it in with.  I suppose I might have read up on how to care for it but why do that when I can just pop it in a pot?  I would like to get some chives started.  I think once I have basil and chives I'll call my herb garden complete.  The Rosemary that died down last summer during the drought put back out and is slightly bald but green.  The lovely Christmas tree shaped one I purchased after Christmas?  Dead.  I have no idea why.  I hoped it would put back out as well but the only thing growing up out of it is weeds. 

Bess and Sam removed a HUGE rosemary from Mama's. It was growing in a pot and had put roots down into the ground under the pot.  It was easily 3 feet in circumference and nearly as tall.  I never looked at that rosemary bush without thinking of the book by Elizabeth Goudge titled The Rosemary Tree.  When Mama moved she asked Sam if he'd like to have it.  He took it home, removed it from the pot and planted it next to his shop.  That bush has grown easily another foot and is just as full as it was the day he moved it.  This astounds me since my own little Christmas tree shaped rosemary had a deal less trauma than that one that rode in the back of a hot pick up truck for four hours after being wrenched from what it might consider it's native soil and then was planted in unfamiliar ground and climate.  You just never know with plants do you, how they shall react and thrive or die?

I have a big push going on in my home at the moment.  I have guests coming in two weeks to spend the day with us on our family day.  I am pushing hard to get my home pretty and nice.  I do like things to present well.   I am never perfect, mind you.  There is always something not quite right but overall I like things to look as though I make an effort.  And so it is that just now I am pushing myself a little harder than I might otherwise to get stuff done.  Hence the work planting and getting porches up to snuff.  I've just finished the little flower bed at the back steps (except for wanting basil and chives and maybe dill) and two of the chairs are  planted in front of the porch.  I need something for the middle chair.  My next focus area will be shepherds hooks and hanging baskets in the rose bed and filling the planters on the front patio.  The pansies are officially dead except for one pot that insists upon blooming heartily there.

I've just this morning been at work on painting the café set for the back porch.  John's admired a neighbor's red set repeatedly as we've gone by her home.  I had three cans of cherry red paint.  I need perhaps one more, two to be on the safe side to touch up all the missed places I find.  I've also worked on the front porch a little.  I have a new feature on the porch and it's different, an inspiration based on seeing a similar piece at the antiques store.  I was amused at their price for something I had just sitting in the yard, but I 'saw' it decorated in my mind when we were in the antiques store.  I've made a semi-start at it.  I need to make up my mind to move a few things off the ironing board, like the bird houses.  They simply don't fit with my current idea.  I can use those around back in another section of the flower bed, or weight them down to sit on the steps I keep meaning to paint and where I'll display a few more pots of flowers. 

I keep a few plants out there on the old ironing board but not too many as the cat has a bad tendency to knock them off.  I do want a few blooming plants there though. I like flowers! I want flowers about me.  The dog house stays on that porch as well and takes up a whole section of the space. If it weren't for Maddie I'd move it.  Of course, the cat sits in daytimes lately but Maddie likes the comfort of that dog house next to the front door when it's storming.  So no plants can go in that section of the porch... Any more plants would be in the way when we're hanging clothes out. 

You see, my clothes line is attached to my front porch posts.  It gets loads of sun there and is very convenient.  John hung it there when we first moved in because we had no back deck at the time and the back steps were treacherous.  He simply would not hear of my going up and down them with a load of clothes in a basket, so he 'temporarily' affixed the lines to the front porch posts and there is where we still hang our clothes some 20 years later.  I'd prefer it was in the yard most days but on those days when I've been super busy and I'm aching and hurting badly from doing too much, I most certainly don't complain that I have only to walk out to the front porch to bring in the laundry!  It's not the nicest thing but you see why I don't push hard for perfect in all ways.  I have put my foot down though about him doing the same on the back porch. I just am not having it!

Speaking of clotheslines, have you all seen Annabel's lovely clothesline?  It has iron filigree and is painted white and it's so lovely it makes you smile.  I've shown it to John.  He would most like one of those umbrella type lines that carousels around but I worry what the winds here will do to one of those.  I suppose there's no hope for it but to let him have his way and hope it lasts...but I should really love one as pretty as Annabel's.

I've tried hanging baskets on the front porch but I can't reach to water one of them (due to the dog house)  and the other is always being whipped by the flag.  The other places where I would hang them are covered by clotheslines.  So no more plants unless I gather them under the ironing board.  Here too I must be concerned with Maddie who will shy away from her food if a plant is too near.  She is such a picky sort of dog!

Never mind all that.  I'm excited over the new piece on the front porch and feel it will eventually work into what I envision.  I'm terribly hindered just now by funding, lol.  I've money enough I might use but I'm concerned with filling up those sub-accounts for annual fees and such.  I felt an urging to do this last autumn and got started on it in the winter months but I had several of those annual fees due in December, January, February.  So when I say I am hindered by funding it's truly that I've just chosen to make the sub-funds a priority and so I shall 'make do' in this area.

I don't mind, really.  I have found that making do is the very best incentive to be creative.  John and I have been admiring rain barrels for months now.  We've seen various sorts and styles but I found one on Pinterest the other day that was a trash can with an inverted lid that holes had been drilled in.  It holds 50 gallons and the least expensive rain barrel I've seen is also 50 gallons and costs $50.  A big trash can runs around $17.   I can do that!  It costs so much less than any of the barrels we've seen thus far and will do the same job.  When I told John of it he agreed that sounded just what we wanted.  It's not pretty but we can't afford the really pretty sort anyway and it is functional while being fairly unobtrusive.

I've been busy outdoors and indoors, as well.  I went to Hobby Lobby this week and picked up three or four new items to add to my grouping of skeleton keys, locks, and lock plates. I wanted old door knobs and lock plates but could I find any reasonably anywhere?  No.  I went for made to look old but brand new at Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars instead.  It looks lovely.  I wish I were as happy with the seed packet art I have hung in the living room.  I might try repainting those green frames and see if they suit me better.  I picked up some blue chalk paint the other day for a lamp and I'm pretty sure I won't need it all for that small project. The seed packet artwork  is not on my priority list just now, though. It will do until I figure out what exactly is wrong with it.  It jut doesn't suit me.

I have the back entry wall to get things hung on.  I've asked John three times.  I'll ask him once more this week and if he still doesn't make time I'll do it myself, though I hate to climb the step ladder to attempt the task.  I've done nothing in that area for years now and I've got my pieces all nicely framed and ready to hang at long last.  I'd sure like to see them on the wall!  What I have for that wall is three flour/meal bags. They are paper and someone had just loads of all kinds of them in their booth for $3 each.  Framed they are really quite pretty and interesting.

Anyway, if I sound busier than usual, it's me pushing myself to make things pretty before guests arrive.  Not necessary at all, just an excuse to make me work at projects I have been planning for some time.  It is the fire I needed to be lit under me.

Now I've had almost a full week of my new Housekeeping routine, I am well pleased.  I love that I have focused time each week on the whole house, rather than focusing for a full week out of each month on one area.  I feel my home overall is showing the care and attention it needed.  I'd begun noticing myriad little tasks that simply weren't getting done.  I felt my home wasn't as clean as it ought to be (and I do not have stringent standards!) nor was it as nice overall as I wanted it to be.  Nothing like Spring cleaning to bring home how much wasn't being attended to on a routine basis!  And nothing like ending each day of that two week period totally worn out, too tired to read, too tired to write and too tired to speak. 

I do not want to have to do another big seasonal cleaning.  I may well end up doing seasonal cleaning twice annually but not as I had to do this Spring.

I didn't work my routine yesterday and here I find the beauty of the set up.  The kitchen was my focus area yesterday but we were going out and the day acting as though it were all holiday.  Sigh.  Not unusual when John works these 24 hour shifts and comes in completely done in!  The next day is always the day he feels he should do something with me and so I tend to take it as my especial day to do as I please.  Yes, the kitchen work will get done.  You see tomorrow morning, he is headed off to work.  I've gone as far as I can with outdoors work until I get new plants.  So I'll work on the kitchen, then take off to the diy store with my gift card and get more plants for the yard and then I shall try to get that work done next Tuesday when it's porch work day.  So my schedule is a little bit flexible for my odd weeks and I like that! I'll try to stop exulting so often over how well this new routine is suiting me but it's going to be hard!

I'm currently working on 30 days of menus for warmer season.  It's not going very well at the moment.  I'm still in cool weather foods mode. So far I have a grand total of two meal ideas, lol.  I'll go through my recipe books and files and look for something fresh.  It's usually about this year I get bored bored bored with all the usual option.  I need to stretch myself a bit and try new things.  That was something Bess helped with last year when they moved in about this time. 

I do want to try my hand at grilling more often, say once a week.  It always seems such a waste to go out and just grill one thing but I'd like to try my hand at things that aren't all hot and fast.  Daddy used to cook roasts on the grill.  Yes, he had a rotisserie and I don't but that bothers me not at all.  I think I can manage this without a rotisserie.  It's a stretch for me, grilling.  I'd want, really, to do it early in the day if I'm standing over the grill because doggone it's hot at noon when you're standing over a grill outdoors.  My plan is to avoid heating the house as much as I possibly can with the stove especially come summer months.

John and I had a rather fun sort of day yesterday.  We shopped.  Typically if it's to do with groceries or home improvement we will shop but we went to look for new work books for him.  He happens to like the Magellan shirts at Academy which suit him as far as fit goes.  He bought two shirts.  He bought work boots.  I found inexpensive tank tops which I like for summer.  I have an older one on right now under one of the sundresses from last summer.  I feel so much more modest with it than I did with all that exposure I'd experienced previously.   I also bought a pricy (to me) pair of Nike white flip flops.  Mind you they fit absolutely to a tee and have lovely support at the arches and cushioned heels. They wore very well for grocery shopping a little later that day.

I'd found them on a clearance shelf but the price tag said they were much more costly than the clearance shelf had marked on it.  Well they weren't on sale.  I wasn't about to get them but John asked me, "How long have you been looking for a decent pair of white sandals to wear?"  "Uhm...about three years I think."  "Yes, I've heard that you wanted them each time we've been anywhere near shoes.  So let's just get them."  "But all we're really paying for here is the name."  "Do you see any others you like?"  "No..."  "So let's just get them."  Well I'm not sorry, not at all, and neither does my knee or ankle hurt after spending most of the morning on my feet walking on concrete floors!  So I guess sometimes, the name isn't the thing but the comfort that name affords most surely is the biggest factor.  I know this from wearing Aerosole shoes and I should expect from a pair of Nike flip flops, I guess.

After we left Academy we went to The Fresh Market.  I had a $10 off $50 purchase coupon, a $25 gift card from the store for an error they'd nicely corrected and then John gave me a gift card he's been carrying since Christmas.  He just wouldn't pull the trigger on using it or kept forgetting to use it until he'd already paid for things.  We got a little more of the lovely priced meats and picked up a few items we needed here at home that would have been extras this pay period anyway.  We ended up spending 29c out of pocket for all our purchases, most of them practical as could be.  We splurged on chocolate covered raisins for me and chocolate covered peanuts for him.  All the rest were so practical they are hardly worth mentioning.  I suppose we could have gone into the store and just splurged away but I'd much rather have done as we did and been practical with it.  It's not romantic but it's useful and I felt we'd splurged enough buying things at Academy. 

I've been thinking about this particular store and I think I'll look into setting up a little sub-account for spending there.  It will make it a little easier on the purse when we go up to purchase our ground beef and chicken breasts and since I know about what it will take for such a trip it would be nice to have that socked away.  Of course, it counts as part of my grocery funds and that's okay, but since it's basically the quality meat we go for, it won't hurt to have it set aside.

John mowed the lawn for the first time last week.  He went to work extra early that morning, about 7am and he finished up about 2pm.   It wasn't that the grass was so extra long, but he trimmed limbs and used the weed eater about the edges of things and got a few privet bushes that had snuck up on us in the midst of a group of trees where we wanted no privet.  He sat down and shared with me that he'd had a rather long thinking session and gone over a dozen things in his head and prayed a lot.  Then he'd heard, "Pray as if you meant it."  He said that gave him pause.  He wondered what it meant and he worked it that for him it meant he should pray for a certain person, praying for something that solely benefitted that friend and would in no way benefit himself.  I was a bit overwhelmed with his prayer to be honest because it truly is a prayer that will require some sacrifice on his part.  John, by his admission, likes things to stay the same.  He wants them to stay just as they are until he's ready to face change, which is never.  Mind, I'm not telling tales on him.  He will be the first to own this.

When he first spoke his revelation of "Pray as if you meant it," I was pretty sure it meant something different.  That it meant praying for 'those things that aren't as though they were."  That it meant praying fervently and passionately and with intensity.  It meant single minded prayer.  Praying with prayer and gratitude even when it looked like nothing at all was changing.  It meant praying hard.

I was however, awed by his response to the phrase he'd heard.  If it was a sacrificial prayer...well that changed things considerably.  What could I pray for that would require sacrifice on my part?  Not patting myself on the back here, but I am a prayer warrior.  I'm accustomed to praying for others.  But that's not sacrificial, exactly.  I mean it's costing me very little time and just some thought.  To pray sacrificial prayers would require me to let go of something, some pre-conceived notion, my own self-interest, stepping from my comfort zone. 

I knew just what prayer would do that.  My soul balked.  I mean it took my breath away and my heart ached and a thousand protests rose up within me and I wanted to do anything but pray the prayer that came to mind.  It's been nearly ten days and it's not gotten any easier.  I don't expect it's going to.  I wrote about it in my journal and realized that this prayer was necessary for me to pray because not only did it mean a sacrifice on my part, it also meant I trusted God. 

If you've been following along with me over the past three or so years, you'll know this is a theme in my life at present.  I've experienced these long exercises with God in the past.  He brought to my attention my rebellious nature and then worked with me on rebellion for years.  Years.  Then it was discipline.  Another long stretch of years.  Selfishness.  Years.  Trust...well it's going on years.  I stretch so far and think "I've got it!  I've got it!  I trust You, God!  I know now that I trust you!"  And God, in his infinite wisdom says "Yes, you've got this...Now try this."  Crud.  I haven't got it all.  I just got one tiny portion of it. 

  If I pray this prayer, I've got to let go of all my self to lay this before his feet.  I've got to trust Him to change the situation. I've got to trust Him to change people whom I don't trust to change.  I've got to believe God can do it, or I have placed Him in that box that limits Him to just what I find plausible.  That's not what I want to do.  It means praying afraid, and praying despite what I want or what I think I can handle.  It means praying for someone else to have something I've wanted for myself and haven't been given despite grief ridden hours of acceptance.  It means I stretch hard.  Hard.  Not just beyond comfort but to the point that I am broken.  It's called dying to self for good reason.

I never dreamed the day we stood on the side of that mountain just about five years ago and uttered that desperate prayer how often I/we, would have to let go of what we held on to  if we meant what we said, "We're going to trust You, God."  I cannot tell you how often he's shown me/us that we don't trust Him in some new area. It was a promise we made and he's held our feet to His fire, individually and as a couple, urging us to do as we promised that November day.

I won't lie.  There have been mornings I've looked at this prayer and I've felt sick.  I sometimes go half a day before I can finally bend my will to Him and say the prayer because I know I must.  There are days when I skirt it all day long, aware that I ought to and just can't utter the words. There are days when I sob quietly and say it despite myself.  Sometimes I don't manage to utter it until late at night just before I go to sleep and then only to say that I've done it.  There's no heart in my prayer yet.  There's no 'as if you meant it' yet, but I will keep trying.  I'll keep trying until I do mean it and I'll keep trying until I don't even think about how ill it makes me or how afraid it makes me.  I'll keep trying until I can say quietly, "I trust you in this God." 

And that's where I am this week.  In the midst of the every day happy homemaking world and in the midst of trying to be obedient spiritually.  Because that's the way life is, isn't it?  It's not all skittering across the surface though it feels that way at times.  And you can bet, if I ever say I'm just a water bug skittering along that something is about to happen in my life that plunges me deep into unknown depths, deeper than I've ever been yet.  There's a part of me that is a thrill seeker, at least in this area.  I want to go deeper.  I want to test myself and test God, too, and learn what there is about me that needs to be broken.  But I will not ever tell you that it's easy, that it's not a challenge, that it doesn't exact a cost.  I am puzzled that we can live on two separate plains at once, this one here on earth amidst all our human things and at the same time on a different plain that is purely spiritual that makes us groan and moan and push hard in order to birth what we're meant to be.

I'm reminded of dragonflies whenever I think I'm done and find myself having to change once more.  Stay with me here dear, there is a point and it's valid.  A dragonfly begins life as a tiny little egg that hatches out as larvae in a pool of water.  Dragonflies have three life stages from egg to mature dragonfly.    That's just not all there is to it.  This larvae changes into a nymph and that little nymph has as many as 15 stages of growth that occur during a four year period.  That's a lot of growing and changing and transforming. It lives in water for years.  Years.  Then one day it  crawls out of the water and transforms into another creature entirely courtesy the sun which dries it's wings and causes them to become taut.  That nymph becomes a new creature, one that can fly.  Lifespan at this point can be anything from a few months to seven years. 

I cannot even imagine how it must be to be water born and then discovering flight and sun and air but it does seem to represent a spiritual life to me, all that transformation.  To be one thing from embryo to human body and then one day to be transformed into a soul that takes flight from the earth I've known...Well it seems fantastic and awesome and wonderful to me.

And that is enough chatter.  Time to get back to my work.  I think I'm going to get busy and make those patio chair cushion covers.  I should paint that patio set too but I've for sure got to have some cushions on those chairs painted or not.  I hope you'll stop by again soon!


Anonymous said...

I am sorry to comment completely off the topic. I discovered two garden helps and if I don't share them now I will likely forget to ever do it. One is I use soaker hoses. Sometimes one pin hole will stay small but the water squirts off in the wrong direction, or too far from where it is needed. I gathered several large pinecones and one day dropped on and realized if I put it over the hole it stopped the water from going off course. Yet it looked neater and very natural unlike the plastic pots I was using over the holes. :) The other is this; We had a 15' avocado tree. They have floppy branches. One branch we did not want to lop off and no matter what we used to support it would need redoing often. The fix was a camera tripod ! A used one. They can be raised as high as needed, have three legs for good support and the top has a natural U shape to it and that is where we place the branch. It works! Sorry again. The post was a beautiful, heart felt one and I will comment later on it. Sarah

Lana said...

Terri, I wish you had been here thrift shopping with me on Tuesday because there was a like new rain barrel for $10. Later that day I saw rain barrels at Aldi but it was more of a box shape. I did not look at the price.

GinnyBerry said...

Dragonflies are also symbols of blood clotting disorders.

Angela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Baker said...

Wow, was that ever interesting about dragonflies. Never knew anything about them but have a new appreciation of them. The spiritual analogy you shared was brilliant. God challenges us and can bless us when we are up to it.

Kay said...

Thank you for being real as you related about your prayer & spiritual life struggle. It helps me to know others struggle also on "our" way to becoming Christ-like and holy. I've been reading your blog all along but haven't had time to comment or email you. I want you to know you are often in my thoughts and now will be in prayer with you on this struggle. **hug**

Terri Cheney said...

Thank you, Kay...I can use prayers in this area. Already there's been some sign of a change coming. I find it easier to go on knowing others are praying for me.

Diary for July: Week Two

July 7, Shabat Saturday:   So very much I want to chatter over today and perhaps I will...I don't typically write on Shabat, having al...