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    The Value of a Day

    This year, even in its infancy, has already been a full one.

    (Which raises contemplations on life in motion.  Not busyness, really; fullness.)

    My husband, our sons, a daughter-in-law, my brother, and other extended family have first-of-the-year, wintertime birthdays; one son and daughter-in-law have a wedding anniversary.  I tutor, sing with the local chorale (we’re now rehearsing for our May performance), worship, engage in bible study, write, enjoy various hobbies, spend time with family and friends, and host a weekly conversation/study night.  Throughout the week there is still time for research, contemplation, movie watching with GB, dreaming, and lengthy phone conversations with a far-from-us son and a bestest friend.

    It is a blessing to be home – I love creating, gardening, cooking, family time, and exploring my new cheese making passion.  Occasional happy events and spontaneous activities help fill the days.  

    On top of all this wonderfulness, I have several goals this year – some projects started, others still in the paper planning stage. One or two of them (like reading the complete works of Frederick Douglass) may necessitate hunter-gatherer skills.  Some are lone pursuits, some require (and I desire) my handyman husband, and others are accompanied by family.

    And, now, hey-ay, it’s Spring already!

    Where has the time gone?  Flown and flying by.  Gardens to plant and resuscitate, yards to mow, pictures to take.  Walks and trips and foraging.  Busy, you say?  A full plate?  Maybe.

    So, in March a niece was wed.  We attended a lovely lakeside celebration complete with Texas barbecue.  Fun and family.

    So, in two weeks another niece will marry.  I’m thrilled, we’re thrilled, to participate in the preparation and to be present for the ceremony.  Love and honor.

    So, the day after the wedding I board an early flight for a highly anticipated visit with the far-from-us son, his lovely wife, and our excellent grandson!  I get to hear his sweet voice in person and share his floor space for loads of toddler fun.  Relationships.

    So, in May we honor family – two university graduates and a fifty-seven year marriage.  Celebrations.

    So, in June we welcome our second grandchild – another fine boy.  We’ll travel to welcome him, love on him; and I’m blessed to be able to stay for an extended period.  (An almost-two-year old and his newborn brother – can life be any finer?)  Quality time.

    The mid-year calendar, even now, is penciled in and filling quickly.  Really, through early autumn.  Another trip for a weeklong stay with good friends, seeing a nephew off to graduate school, more birthdays, more anniversaries, family reunions.  Memories.

    So (again), how is it that I sometimes feel like a time-waster?  By some opinions, sitting and thinking, sitting and watching a show, sitting at the computer, or sitting and reading are not productive.  No physical activity going on, you see.  Brain cells firing - usually.  Muscles relaxing - yes.  Brain fog clearing - possibly.

    Maybe I’m programmed, have been programmed, to think of all things restful or rejuvenating as time ill-spent.  No one can see or measure my daily productivity (we’re assuming, here, that there is some).  No one knows what I’ve been thinking or planning or creating.  You don’t know.  Do you?

    Can our accomplishments be accurately measured by another?  They are, sometimes.  Measured.  By family, friends, watchers, bystanders.

    Do the hours of each of our days warrant scrutiny or evaluation?

    I think, yes.

    What we do, how we do it, how we spend our time – these are, and should be, examined and accounted for.  But, only by our own, finely-tuned parameters.  (Which, for me, includes God’s standards.)  

    How is my down time profitable?  It enables me to start that next project, strengthens me to pursue a goal, or prepares me for service to others.  Rest, thought-gathering, soul-searching.

    To what benefit are hobbies and the like?  They expand our creativity, fulfill a need and desire for recreation, sharpen our senses, and, often, fine-tune our physical selves.
    Even on an elementary level –

       reading:  increases our vocabulary, educates us, thrills
       study and research:  keeps us updated on world events
           or pertinent topics
       recreation:  builds healthy minds and bodies
       conversation and people-time:  provides emotional
           support, negates self-centeredness, and equips us for

    Yes, most of our lives are filled and full to the brim.  Can some of our pursuits or time-users be pared down?  Probably.  That is why evaluation of our days is profitable.  It’s why we should examine ourselves and our world.  More time for others, more room for growth, more vision for beauty.

    “Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.” —Frederick Douglass, Autobiographies

    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

    a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.

    What gain has the worker from his toil?  I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.  I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.   –Ecclesiastes 3:1-13


    Moving Right Along

    What a grand adventure!

    I love teaching; I love conversation, writing, artistic expression.

    I love our sons - as babies, as boys at home, in their adulthood.

    I love my husband, my parents…all the family.

    I love our grandson and the one yet-to-be-born.

    I love God.

    How wonderful and exciting it is, what a blessing, to have had all this (to have all this) and still find time and resources to add fulfillment upon fulfillment.

    I love gardening, herbs, and baking.


    I love reading, hiking, glass, screened porches, and songbirds at feeders.

    Last night’s sunset.

    Love –
      :  warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
    transitive verb:
     :  to hold dear : cherish
     :  to thrive in
        Synonyms:  appreciate, cherish, prize, treasure, value, set store by

    Fulfillment –
       :  the act or process of fulfilling
          Synonyms:  accomplishment, achievement, discharge, enactment, execution

    I find, more and more, that expressing myself through the written word is valuable.  I really love it.  Just like baking a lemon-blueberry cake with lemon, goat cheese icing for a niece’s wedding party or gathering poesies of peppermint for drying in the shed.  Acknowledging that sunset, filling those bird feeders, enjoying that sink full of hot, sudsy water.

    Whom do you love and who brings you love?  What do you do that you love?  How do you find-or where do you find-fulfillment, purpose, and satisfaction?  Even the simple, maybe the unexceptional; but always close at hand.

    Enjoy this day.  Take notice, lift your head, admire, create, and be thankful.


    Please stop here often, at Good Living at Home; there are new articles, weekly, on each of my pages.  You will find them across the top.  Just click the buttons:  Home; The Healthy Home; Kids at Home; The Nourishing Home.  There is a new posting on the Nourishing Home - check it out.  I soon hope to add a fifth one:  The Spiritual Home.

    What fun.

    P.S.  I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment after each article on each page.  Click the ‘Post a Comment’ button and write away!


    Hi, Hello, How are You?

    Isn’t it funny (funny or weird) how time flies with living?  With fun, full days.  Life worth living and living well.  So it is and has been for me. 

    Let’s see…a new daughter-in-law, one son and wife moving close, a light-of-our-lives grandson (with another on the way!), nieces and nephews in college and then graduated, another son becoming a PhD next month.  Marriages, births, renewals, and joys as a companion bookend with deaths, partings, and losses.  Life and love - joy and sorrow.  Photographs and keepsakes which fill me (and us) with stories and memories.

    Here we are again and I have so much to say and to share.  The writing and cataloging and research and word-capturing have continued, on and on, so there is no shortage of fodder for this journalistic beast.

    Stay tuned.


    The Days are Flying By

    Promised update:  so far, so good, using the Magic Potion (see the preceding article).  A Praying Mantis was accidentally sprayed while going over the Spider Flowers and he just turned his big-eyed head and looked at me.  No more munching grasshoppers as far as I can tell.  All God’s insects have their purpose and their place around the home and garden (I grudgingly suppose), but managing them is the key.  Just like adopting the “live and let live” policy with the various wildlife that inhabits our immediate vicinity.  And now, we think we have a skunk living under the porch (the odor always gives them away - never mind that we’ve seen him visiting with the cats).  So, groundhog family, visiting raccoons (one year we had several generations living in the attic - cute little bandit babies and all), opossum poachers (they love the cat food), garden snakes, brown snakes (one of which I picked up while pulling weeds - THAT is another story), various garden pests, moles (who have had their share of the garden bounty from the roots up)…

    I say we try to “live and let live”; but that is more GB than me, really.  I have been known to holler loud enough for the various backyard varmints to hear me, that I want them “dead, all dead!”  They can be destructive to the property (especially raccoons who have, more than once, destroyed screening and woodwork), make messes, eat huge holes in the just-about-to-be-picked cantaloupe, dig holes in the yard and garden, disrupt plantings, scare me to death, make my stomach turn (possums, you know who you are), smell up the place, and wreak general mayhem.  Raccoons are cute, so are the groundhogs (did you know groundhogs are just big ‘ol rodents?).  And their offspring.  (Raccoons have, over the past few years, placed themselves on my list of undesirables, though.  They can be very mean and are the most destructive of all our backyard visitors.)  I understand that ‘good’ insects have their place among my flowers, herbs, and vegetables.  I love honeybees.  Skunks and possums, well, they just cannot live in the backyard.  They really are not invited to visit anymore, either.  Skunks are prettier in person than they are in pictures, but fear of their noxious spray makes me antsy.  Snakes are the unmentionables, even though stories of their benefit to the gardens have been floating around since I was young.

    How do we manage?  Well, we trap those that are the most harmful and cart them off to the uninhabited locales around the lake.  Our wonderful, elderly neighbor told us once that we were just foisting off our problem onto someone else; and that comment still haunts me.  We called our city’s animal control office once to tell them we had captured a raccoon, but they said they would only take care of pests if they were trapped within their own live traps.  Hmmm, great management style.  If we ever see signs of marauding armadillos, well, I guess the war would be on.  Knowing that some of these creatures may carry disease makes them even less welcome.  Skunks can carry rabies, and armadillos, leprosy.

    Mostly, we try to deter.  We block up holes they’ve dug in the ground, shoo them away, use sprays, and find their dens and destroy them (to encourage them to move on).  GB hasn’t dispatched one in a long while.  He hates to kill any wildlife that we’re not going to eat.  I don’t always feel so lenient.  Maybe it’s  the mother part of me that wants to protect and take care of what we have worked so hard to achieve.  Management and stewardship sometimes means being a hard-liner.  Maybe?

    I guess we’ll just look at it this way:  we have a lovely, ‘wild’ property that is inviting.  Right in the middle of town.  Humans, as well as animals, love the yard and the proximity to flowing water.  We have horse pastures next door and a large Bed and Breakfast property across the creek.  We are fans of the wilderness and want parts of our property to exhibit that.  With a love of the wild comes — wildlife.  In addition, how can we begrudge them if they wander into a cultivated area with luscious fruits and vegetables?  Well, I may sometimes begrudge them; but they are only doing as their natures direct.  Therefore, we work to manage them, try not to curse them (sometimes unsuccessfully), and hope to adopt a happy coexistence attitude.

    With “try” being the operative word.


    Pesky pests. . .

    Do you see that?  In the picture.  Do you see that there are NO LEAVES on the upper half of those precious baby plants?  And how about the Echinacea bed - look at those poor, leafless stems.

    Doing my detective work, I have narrowed the suspect list down to two - the backyard groundhog or grasshoppers.  I’m leaning more toward grasshoppers, as they are hopping in abundance right now and there is no garden bed destruction.  We set out the live trap in hopes of catching the groundhog, but no luck.  (Before you PETA folks rise up in alarm, we release our destructive wildlife into the true wilderness…”no groundhogs were harmed in the building of the gardens.”  Hence the term live trap.)  The hot, dry days of middle summer usually see grasshopper populations skyrocket, so this invasion is not unusual.  However, the prolific chewing and decimating is not usual.  Lack of moisture is probably to blame - grasshoppers need a drink just as we do!  There are also high numbers of Praying Mantises in the gardens this year.  Hmmmm…

    The Purple Coneflower will survive - being a prairie plant it is used to abuse.  The Morning Glory plant, however, will need some tender loving care.  In our organic management quest, the yard and gardens never feel harsh chemicals or non-organic pest control methods.  Earlier this year, we defeated a flea beetle infestation on the eggplant by placing a live mint plant (growing in a container) right up next to it.  We also use diatomaceous earth to keep down other plant chewers; with insecticidal soap, deterrent interplanting, heavy mulch, and homemade plant sprays rounding out our arsenal of pest control.  Keeping your plants healthy and unattractive to pests is also accomplished with good soil - full of great organic compost, earthworms, and the right balance of nutrients.

    Anyway, I’ve had my fill of missing sections on the cantaloupe vine, bare flower stalks, and holey leaves.  Grasshoppers are hard to deter, but I’ve mixed a magic potion that I hope will do the trick.  After spraying down their favorite plants, maybe the grasshoppers will move on to the horse pasture next door.  I will keep you updated.  For now, here’s the Magic Potion recipe, which should be helpful in keeping all those munchers and crunchers at bay.

    What you will need:

    An inexpensive, plastic spray bottle (no qualms about using plastic in this case)
    Liquid dishwashing soap - Ivory is good
    Freshly peeled garlic, 1-2 cloves
    Fresh or dried hot peppers, 1-2 tablespoons dried or 2-4 fresh - cayenne is best, but any will work
    Peppermint essential oil or mint herb (fresh or dried, teabags are fine) to make a strong *tisane

    Pour 1-2 tablespoons dishwashing soap into the spray bottle, also adding the garlic and hot peppers (chunk them into smaller pieces first).  Use the larger ingredient amounts for a 24-32 oz bottle.  If using dried peppers (or ground hot peppers), add them at this time.  Fill the bottle with hot water and gently roll the bottle around to disperse the soap, garlic, and peppers.  Don’t shake it.  Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature, and then add 30 drops peppermint essential oil.  Gently shake before each use, as the essential oil will settle at the top of the bottle.  Mist the plants to lightly coat, reapplying after rain or heavy dew.  If there is no rain, it would still be a good idea to spray the plants twice a week.

    * If you don’t have the essential oil, then bring the water to a boil, add fresh mint, dried mint, or mint teabags, and steep until cool.  (Use 2 rounded teaspoons fresh mint, 1 rounded teaspoon dried mint, or one mint teabag per cup of water.)  This makes a tisane, which is an herbal concoction usually made to drink.  Herbal ‘tea’ is the common name, but tea is truly that - a beverage from leaves of the various tea bushes.

    Companion Article:

    Beginning Gardening