What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Thursday Thankfulness and Friday Foto Friends

 Oh my dear friends! Where shall I begin?  There's been a lot going on the past few days, and I have been keeping quite busy with some different kinds of things than the usual watching the wildlife on Still Waters Pond, although I have been doing some of that as well.  Maybe I will start with that and then move on to the more involved "stuff" that may take some 'splaining', as Ricky Ricardo would say to Lucy.  So let's start with the pretty stuff first and then talk about the deeper stuff.

I can't remember if I showed you these pictures already that definitely show the two Sand Hill Crane eggs on the nest...if you've already seen these, then just move on to the next batch of pictures...but this will prove that there are definitely two baby Crane Colts on their way! Mama and Daddy are keeping close watch over the nest, taking turns doing the nesting duty. They are very responsible parents and "parents to be".

Mr. Great Blue Heron still comes to fish here on Still Waters Pond, but he keeps his distance from the Crane nest. I think he knows better than to tangle with those critters!

The Goldfinches continue to come and feed at the finch feeder. Their colors are starting to get brighter every day.

And speaking of bright colors, Mr. Bluebird is sitting on his perch here above the birdhouse, while Mrs. Bluebird is tending to her nest duties inside.
He keeps a close watch out for pesky birds who happen to get too close to their territory, and he chases them away just as quickly as they arrive...
I'm not sure just how far along the nest sitting is going for now...I've been too busy with other stuff to keep track of the days that they have actually been staying inside the nest.  I'll just be surprised someday when the babies arrive.

One morning this week we took a ride up to one of our favorite places to visit, Lake Swan Camp,  about 20 miles north of us.  We like to go and just look at the lake and take a walk around during the week when we assume there won't be much activity going on.  However, we were sure surprised to see THIS:
From a distance we couldn't tell what was going on, some kind of headless lake creatures gathering for a rather weird and creepy looking meeting?  Are they aliens getting ready to attack? LOL.  Of course, on closer inspection we realized that these were wetsuits, hanging up to dry.  We soon discovered that there was a group of people staying at the camp who were doing some scuba diving training as well as other projects, like helping to build a new porch on one of the buildings, etc.   We looked up the name of the group that we saw written on a large bus parked on the campgrounds: International ALERT Academy from Big Sandy, TX.  It is a Christian academy where they "forge extraordinary men who influence their world for Christ."  Scuba Diving and rescue, fire fighting, aviation, missions, discipleship,  construction, EMT,  and much more are all a part of this nine month course of study and training.    We had never heard of this school or program before, and it was quite interesting to learn about this.  We just stayed out of their way and didn't hang around because we didn't want to interfere with their program.  But it was fascinating!

I did manage to take one picture of the lake without involving any of their group.

So now back home and back to what else has been going on the past few days.  As many of you know, our son and daughter in law have been involved with a furniture business in one way or the other over the past several years. They owned and operated a furniture and gift store here in our town called "Dixie Cottage" for a while, but sold it last year. However, they continued to put refurbished or custom made furniture in the store for sale as vendors.  Recently they have decided to get out of that business altogether, except for their own other business ventures online on Etsy and through their own "Ben & Rose's Country Woodshop".  However, they still had some furniture in the store waiting to be sold, and they needed to get it out by the end of this month (today).  Since this particular bedroom dresser and nightstand still had not sold, I kept thinking about it and felt an urge to replace our very old dresser with one that is newer and much easier to "operate".  So let me go back in time and share more of what all of this entailed for me to consider such a proposition.

This is the "old dresser" that I've had for forty years. It has  quite a history. 

Inside one of the top drawers is this information, written by my father, probably after my Mother received this dresser from her parents' estate back in the late 1960's.  The only thing I would disagree with was the date of 1905.  I was of the impression that my grandparents had this dresser when they first got married, which was in 1901.  Either way, it is well over 100 years old.  

After my mother got the dresser from her parents' estate, she kept it for a while, but then my brother and his wife needed it, so they took it and kept it for a while. I believe my (then) sister in law actually refinished it. Sadly, my brother and his wife divorced, and he didn't want to keep the dresser, but since it was a family "heirloom" he brought it back home to my parents' home.  At that point there was apparently no room in the house for it, so it was put in my father's workshop/garage, where he subsequently started storing parts for his toy train collection and other various miscellaneous tools, and "stuff".  

In 1984 our little family was moving to a new home/parsonage, and we needed an extra dresser. So I asked if I could have this dresser, and my parents agreed that I could have it. From that point it traveled with us through many more moves over the next 40 years.  It originally had a very large and heavy mirror, but the silver on the back of the mirror was quite old and scratch and you really couldn't see yourself very well in the mirror. Plus the frame was coming apart, and so I believe that mirror just kind of got "left behind" at one of our houses when we moved away.  

One of the things that I stored in that dresser was my first real journal. I wrote about that journal HERE, for one of our "Random Journal Days" some time ago.  In this particular post I also shared more about my Grandma Tedlie, the grandma who had this dresser for so many years. You might appreciate her more when you read more about her story.

Here's an excerpt from my journal, written not long after I received this dresser:

So with all of this family history and sentimentality connected to this dresser, why would I not want it anymore you may ask? Well, it's not so much that I didn't want it, but it is starting to show its age (after 123 years you'd show your age too!).  The two big drawers are so big and heavy that they are very difficult for me to open and close without hurting myself.  And there really wasn't any other place in the house where it would fit.  So finally, after a LOT of prayer and working through guilt feelings, I made up my mind to "let it go".  I told my son that I wanted the dresser that he has for sale (I would pay for it, of course!), and I wanted this old dresser to go to a new home.  He and Rose could not take it to their house as they do not have room for it either.  So I sent out an emergency message to all of my siblings and nieces/nephews and told them that if anyone was interested in having Grandma Tedlie's 123 year old dresser to let me know asap and make arrangements to come and get it like this weekend! One by one they saw the message, and either responded with their regrets over not having space for it either, or they just didn't respond at all.  So with that final step out of the way, I told my son to come and get it and take it to our church thrift store when he delivers the "new dresser" to the house.

Last night I spent the evening cleaning out the drawers and throwing some things away, putting some things in a bag to donate, and then reorganized what was left. (Still way too much stuff!).  Then this morning he and Rose came and brought the new dresser and nightstand and took away the old to our church thrift store.  I didn't even cry, but I thought for sure that I would.  No, it took a lot of strength for me to finally "let it go", but when I did I felt so much better and am at peace with my decision.

And here is the new to me dresser:

The drawers all slide so nice and easy and it is not groaning and stiff with age like my 123 year old Grandma's dresser.  I have a feeling that Grandma is actually smiling at all of this and congratulating me on making such a difficult decision over something that really shouldn't be such a big deal.  It's really only furniture and we can't take it with us...
OH, and yes, my old journal is in the top left hand drawer, just like before.

Here are some pictures of the "old dresser" on its way out and then at its current resting place until a new owner comes along to claim it:

This is in the garage at our church Thrift Store. I am praying that God will send someone who will love it just like I did and who will treasure it and make new memories with it.

Tonight, as a way of celebrating this "event" and also thanking our kids for their help with this today, we took them out to eat at Cedar River Seafood.

Rose and I had fun figuring out the puzzles and riddles on the back of the placemat while we waited for our dinner:

Oh, here's Benton and Rose now...two very hard working and sweet kids that we greatly love and appreciate!

And here' s me and hubby, trying to take a selfie, but somehow we didn't quite get our eyes in the right places...LOL.  But we were having a good time and it felt good to get out with the kids and relax after a long day filled with a lot of hard work and some anxiety on my part.

In closing for tonight I thought I should look at my devotional book for today's reading...Hey! It's Leap Day!!! This only happens once every 4 years, so this is a very significant day!  And would you please read what this devotional and scripture reading says for today:

Oh my goodness! I promise you I did NOT look at this until just now!  What an appropriate message for what I have been going through in this past couple of days.  Trust me, I wanted to figure out a way to keep the old dresser and have the new one too...but it was as if God was trying to help me learn about "letting go" and "letting God" guide me into giving up something that even though it was wonderful and sentimental and special, it was starting to cause me pain not only physically but emotionally.  Letting go of this world and all its attachments is not easy for any of us, but the day will come when we will leave this world behind and all of those "attachments", and God will give us something so much greater on that day...a new home, new peace, and joy for eternity in His Presence.  

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; 
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

And with those thoughts still swirling around in my mind, I will bid you good night dear friends! 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Tuesday 4 The Music of Home

 The Music of Home

Hello again! You are very welcome here at Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4.
From the play Greenwillow comes the song The Music of Home:

Tis the music of home
The music of home
Full of wonder as angel song
All the music of home
Thе music of home
Singing, "Home is wherе I

There is a music to home.. let's talk about the music in your home.

1. Was home always your safe place? Or did it leave a lot to be desired? What would improve the music in your home today?
Yes, the home I grew up in was a safe place. I am very thankful for the home and parents God gave me.  
What would improve the music in my home today?  Hmmm, well, I am not really sure how to answer this...my hubby and I are both very musical in our minds and hearts. We don't play instruments, but we love to sing.  My hubby tends to always be humming some kind of tune, many of which he actually creates.  I wish that I had kept a tape recorder going throughout our life together, because he often comes up to me and says, "Listen to this song that I just made up".  Sometimes he gets me in on it by teaching me the harmony while he hums the melody that he just created.  Sadly, they've never been recorded or written down, and so they are all long gone by the next day, or even the next hour.  But to have music constantly flowing in one's heart and mind is a lovely thing, don't you think?  I am not creative like he is, but I do get a lot of music "stuck in my head" throughout the day and often find myself singing tunes we are practicing in the choir at church, or something I might have heard on the TV or radio.  However, we really don't listen to the radio much anymore. I find it too distracting to the real music that is all around us.  I don't think I answered the question about what would improve the music in my home today...

2.Do you like coming home at the end of a day? How about when you were a kid?
Oh, yes, "there's no place like home."   When I was still working I couldn't wait to get home every day, even if it did mean I would have to get to work cooking and/or cleaning and taking care of the house and family, but still, it was home and there's no other place I'd rather be.  When I was a child I also loved coming home. After school I could be free for a while to run outside and play or stay inside and play...however, of course there were always "chores" and homework to take care of, but still, I was at home and happy to be there.

3. What is the music of your home? How would you describe life in your home growing up.. in the middle of your life and right now? Is there a song that might fit your home?
Picture above: At my family home with my family. If you notice the clock on the mantel behind me (in the middle), that clock was the backdrop of "music" every hour in our home.  No, it didn't play the Westminster Chimes or anything else so melodic. It basically just sounded out the number of hours in a most loud and awakening way...especially during the night, but it was a sound of home.  I miss that old clock today, but thankfully my niece Sandy in North Carolina has it at her home and she treasures it. Some time ago she sent me this video of the clock chiming at 3:00!  I'm glad I found this to share with you today.
To describe my home growing up, I would have to say that it was a pleasant place to live. Even though we didn't play musical instruments, well, I take that back...my parents bought an electronic organ when they retired and they enjoyed playing it...as did all of the grandkids:
Our son Scott playing the organ at Grandma and Grandpa's house

And playing it again later, when we were packed up and moving, hence all the boxes in the background...he still plays it today. It is in his bedroom here, and that is the first place he goes when he comes home to play music that he makes up as he plays. It's actually very good, and again, I wish it was recorded.

Back to my original home, our family did love to sing...well, at least my parents and my sister and I did. My brothers weren't really into singing, except on Christmas morning when we lined up by age, (me as the youngest got to go first!)  in the hallway and had to sing Jingle Bells before we could enter the living room to open gifts...but anyway, my parents both sang in the church choir and my daddy also sang in a Barbershop Quartet and chorus.  My sister and I both sing in our church choirs to this day.  At our home it was a requirement to watch "Lawrence Welk" on Saturday nights. LOL.  Oh, and my mother did take violin lessons and really wanted to be a violinist, but she never really progressed very far in that desire, except for a recital or two. My dad loved music and had quite a large record collection, which he enjoyed playing until he was too old to manage it by himself.  Then we watched a lot of "Gaither Homecoming" programs together up until his very last days.  He loved gospel music.  So yes, music was a big part of my home growing up.  

As I said earlier, my hubby and I both enjoy singing and used to do a lot of solos and duets in church during our younger days. Now I still sing in the choir, and hubby and I still do an occasional duet.  I wrote about the first day we met HERE a few years ago, when we sang the song "Getting to Know You" to each other. We discovered then that we both loved music and it seemed to set the tone for our whole life together.

A song that might fit our home is "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine"...Most people know the chorus as "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long."    This little magnet on our refrigerator reminds me of that song every day:

My favorite t-shirt speaks to this theme:  "The earth has music for those who listen"

4. Like a symphony, home has it's ups and downs as the picture to the side illustrates. What are your homes best ups and worst downs?( stories of happy times, busted water heaters, goofy things that have happened, etc)    

I loved that picture at the beginning of the woman locked outside her front door in her nightgown, with the newspaper and milk, calling to someone to come and open the door for her!  I can well imagine such a crazy thing happening.  As far as stories of goofy things, happy times, etc., gosh, where do I begin?  I may not be able to answer this in one post, there's been so many.  Instead of trying to answer this, I will just post a link to one funny story that I wrote about many years ago HERE, entitled "alarms-sirens-whistles-bells-and-things that go bump in the night."     That's the best I can do without writing another whole book! LOL.    

Yes, all homes do have their ups and downs, and I can attest to the fact that we have had our share of them, some funny and many not so funny. But through it all God has been with us, walking beside us, before us, and often times carrying us.    Since this is about music, here is a great song to sum it all up: Through it All, by Andre Crouch, sung here by CeCe Wynans and Andre Crouch.  

You can join in with Tuesday 4 HERE

Sunday, February 25, 2024

It's A Special Day

Today, February 25, 2024, would be our son Matthew's 51st birthday! That in itself doesn't seem possible, but the fact that he has been celebrating his birthdays in heaven ever since he arrived there in May of 2014 means that this is his 9th birthday spent in heaven.  When I try to wrap my brain around that I really can't. So I don't actually dwell on the number of years since he left this world for his eternal home. In some ways it seems like it's been forever, and in other ways it seems like he was just here with us yesterday.  Time is relevant...or is it irrelevant? I'm not sure, but all I know is every year that goes by puts us another year closer to being reunited with him in heaven, so from that stand point, let the years fly by! This world is not our final home and we are just passing through.  The sooner we can reach heaven's shores the better off we will all be.

 So in the meantime we do things to pass the time and to also mark the day in some way so that we can focus our attention on his life.  We don't always talk about him, because I think in some ways that is like peeling off a scab that has finally started to heal.  It stirs up emotions that we find difficult to contain, so we just try to do something positive and pleasant and family oriented to mark the day.    

Therefore, today, after church the "kids" all came home to our house for Sunday dinner.  Scott came down from his place and Benton and Rose and the grandpups came over.  I don't always cook a big "dinner" on Sundays anymore due to the fact that we have to leave the house by 8 a.m. for Sunday School and then church, so there's not much time to prepare anything.  But today I wanted to do something a little more special than sandwiches, and we didn't want to go out to eat.  I had a pork tenderloin ready to roast, and the nice thing about that is they only take about a half hour to cook in the oven at 425 degrees.  So that is pretty easy to do after church and still eat at a reasonable time.  I did go ahead and peel and cut up the potatoes and put them in water before we left for church so they would be ready to cook as soon as we got home so we could have mashed potatoes.  I also prepared fresh carrots and broccoli, and had it ready to start cooking as soon as everything else was cooking. I actually par-steamed the carrots in the morning since they take a little while longer than the broccoli to steam cook.  I don't like overcooked broccoli.  When we got home from church I put together a tossed salad while we waited for everything else to cook.  We sat down to eat by 12:30. (we get out of church around 11:20).  We also had a homemade chocolate pie to eat for dessert that I made yesterday. (with a little help from Marie Callender's frozen pie crust!)  Our sweet DIL Rose had to work some long hours yesterday so I didn't want to ask her to help with anything.  But everyone pitched in to help get things on the table and then clean up afterwards so we could do some other special projects after dinner.  (I'm calling it "dinner" because it was more substantial than what we normally do for "lunch"...does that make sense?) Believe it or not I didn't take any pictures of our delicious meal.  Just try to imagine it. LOL.

So after all of that we went outside to do our "special projects".  I recently purchased some plants to put in our butterfly garden and hadn't planted them yet.  Then on Friday I found a beautiful rose bush and decided that would be a lovely addition to the garden, and that would be our "memorial plant" in memory of Matthew.  It isn't going into the "Memorial Garden" per se, because that area is too shady and I've found that roses and other plants just don't really grow very well there. The wonderful rose bush that had produced so many beautiful blooms over the past almost 10 years finally seems to have given up. It made me very sad to have that happen, but I think it is because of where it was planted, so I wanted this new rose bush to get more sunshine.

Below is a previous picture of a blossom from the "old rose bush", or "the Memorial Rose Bush" that we have had ever since Matthew passed away. It was originally planted in the first Memorial Garden at our old home in Salt Springs, and then we brought it with us when we moved here almost 5 years ago, and until this past year it has always bloomed on special days.  I have cut the stems back and it is starting to show some signs of new growth, but I still wanted to have a "back up" rose bush.

So today the "boys" helped us plant the new rose bush along with the other new plants in the Butterfly garden.

Here "Daddy" is showing the boys where to put it.

Scott and Benton did the digging and planting and watering

And here it is all planted.  I wanted it where I can see it from inside the house and enjoy it's lovely flowers. Now let's pray it grows and thrives here!

After this project was done we had a few other little jobs that the boys could help us with, like finding the big tote filled with the spring/Easter decorations in the shed and bringing that into the house for me. It was under a stack of a lot of other heavy totes and other items and hubby and I just could not manage it alone.  I also found my Valentine's Decorations that I couldn't get to in time for Valentine's Day so I had to pick up a few new things at the Dollar Tree this year.  Hopefully next year I will be able to find everything and not have to buy anything else! LOL.   Anyway, now I have my work cut out for me to get the spring decorations under way this next week.

After all that work we all came back inside and relaxed for awhile before the "kids" had to head back home.  Sugar and Spice were especially worn out from all the excitement and activity:

Oh to be able to sleep like a Puppy again!  (of course they aren't really "puppies" anymore, but don't tell them that. LOL)

All in all it was a fitting and special way to honor the memory of our dear son Matthew.  He would have enjoyed the day and being with his brothers and family doing projects together.  Someday we'll all be together again.

This was the last time we were all together, for Matthew's 41st birthday.  He passed away exactly 3 months later after a 4 year battle with cancer.
L to R: Daddy, Benton, Noah (our grandson and Matthew's son), Matthew, and Scott

And again, l to r: Matt's wife Nicole, me, Benton, Noah, Matthew and Scott

and one more time:
front row:Daddy (hubby), Me, "Nanny Steiner",
Back row: Noah, Benton, Scott, Matthew and Nicole

I will close with this comforting passage from John 14:1-6

14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 
2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 
4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

I am thankful to know that our Matthew is there with Jesus in our Father's House, and because we know that Matthew loved Jesus and believed in Him for salvation, we will one day see him again.  That is why I can spend this day with joy in my heart and a peace that passes all understanding.  This home is not our final home...and someday soon Jesus Himself will come again and receive those who believe in Him to Himself, that where He is , there we may be also. 

Today we sang this song in church, "Oh How He Loves You and Me".  You may enjoy singing along with us...

Oh, how He loves you and me, Oh how He loves you and me. 
He gave his life, what more could he give?
Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.

Jesus to Calvary did go, His love for sinners to show. What He did there brought hope from despair.
Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.

1975 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)


Friday, February 23, 2024

Friday Foto Friends~More Excitement on Still Water's Pond and Beyond!

Happy Friday everyone! I have some exciting news!
There are two eggs!!  Yesterday morning, on George Washington's birthday, our early morning view of the Sand Hill Crane nest showed TWO eggs!  So now, my plan to name the new "colts" in honor of President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln is going forward as stated earlier this week on President's Day, when we discovered the first egg.    I think we will call them George and Abe.  I know we don't know if they will be male or female, and it is actually quite difficult to tell the difference even when they are adults...but we could call them Georgianne and Abby instead. LOL.  
This picture was taken early in the morning, hence the lighting is not great, but I could clearly see the two eggs with my binoculars.

Mr. Sand Hill Crane continued to stand guard while Mama rested on the nest. Once in a while they would actually change places so that Mama could go get something to eat and stretch her legs a while.
As you can see, the Canada Geese are still out there swimming around, occasionally getting too close for comfort and Papa Crane takes off after them with loud shrieks and flapping wings...

They both continue to maintain the nest, adding more sticks and mud and repositioning the eggs to keep them in the best spot.

Yes, watching these proceedings pretty much occupies a good portion of our days right now.

And yes, the geese are still here...mostly just relaxing in the water, but with occasional forays into the Crane territory just to keep things popping.

It seems like they are gathering together to plot their next move to harrass Mrs. Crane!

I still don't know if the geese are building a nest here or if they are just hanging around to be pests, but either way, they keep things interesting and we enjoy all the activity.

So what else do we do with our time besides watch the birds?  Well, let's see, 

 We take walks in the woods and notice the contrast between life and death you might say...

This fungi is growing on this dead tree branch...the fungi is a living organism that actually feeds on decaying wood.

The woods are full of this Deer Moss, which grows on top of the sandy leafy soils of our woods. The deer do eat it apparently, hence its name, but it is really a type of lichen.

Just another way that God provides for His creation!

Amazing that this cut section of an old tree is still laying there in the woods...

Same photo from 2020...when I thought it looked like a baby in utero, a child waiting to be born that was cut off from the living before it had a chance to be born...some poignant thoughts...

And here is another fascinating dead tree, reaching up to the skies, surrounded by living trees. The woodpeckers and insects also find this as a good food source and/or a place to build a nest.
Amazing the natural beauty that we can find around us when we open our eyes to God's wonderful creation.

Besides our walks in the woods, we also took a nice ride through the woods yesterday afternoon and had supper with some dear "old friends" from our previous neighborhood in the Ocala National Forest. I forgot to take any pictures, but we enjoyed a delightful dinner of homemade chicken and dumplings, and/or chili...salad, cornbread, biscuits, and a delicious cinnamon and nut Bundt cake for dessert. I was told not to bring anything, but I still took a couple of containers of fresh strawberries, which we enjoyed along side our cake with some whipped cream.  It was all wonderful. Our friends live on a small lake where I used to take a LOT of pictures back when we lived there.  And guess what? They also have a Sand Hill Crane couple nesting right now in the middle of their little lake!  It looks just like ours!  'Tis the season for new life everywhere!

This is actually a picture I took of a Sand Hill Crane nesting on that same little lake back in 2018.  Their current Crane Mama and nest looks pretty much the same now. It may even be the same family as it was back then. They do come back to the same nesting grounds over and over again!

Here's some thoughts for today from Proverbs chapter 3:24-26

24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.

This morning's sunrise!

Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1

Well, It is now nighttime and about time for me to start shutting down for the night.  Thank you for visiting here, and I apologize if I haven't gotten around to visit you yet. I am still trying to get caught up with everyone as I can. I probably need to quit watching the activities around here so I can read your posts!  Thank you for your patience!

God bless you all, and have a wonderful weekend!