What No Eye Has Seen, No Ear Has Heard, No Heart Has Imagined

Sitting cocooned in a luscious, lemon minky blanket as a brace against the damp chill of an early May breeze, I conceal myself and wait in the southwest corner of the back patio. You must make yourself small and discreet when bird watching. Our fully blossomed, lush purple lilac tree sends its bouquet of deliciousness, so sweet I can almost taste it, around the corner of the brick wall serving as part of my cover. A couple of mature, verdant green, newly leafed-out river birches dwarf the trio of bird feeders directly between them. The birches’ treetops are full of Goldfinches, Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, House Finches, and Tufted Titmice singing in brilliant chorus as they rise and fall on the quivering branches with the waves of the wind. Bluejays, Mourning Doves, and Chipping Sparrows hop along in the fast growing blades of grass as they hunt for and peck at seeds on the ground below the feeders. Near the trunk of one of the birches a pair of shy, but gorgeously vivid, Blue Buntings huddle close together . A Baltimore Oriole, clothed in his jet-black hood with a juicy orange throat and chest, hesitates to leave his perch in the tree canopy before carefully alighting on the feeder tray to snack on sunflower seeds. Four male Red-breasted Grosbeaks swoop in and spread out on various limbs, followed moments later by a female. Their striking v-shaped patches of rosy red on a clean, linen white chest reminds me of cool summertime treats like strawberry ice cream.

Blue Bunting
Rose breasted Grosbeak
Baltimore Oriole

I can’t describe the incredible joy it brings me to be near these tiny creatures, to share moments of their lives with them. I’ve been trying to learn and recognize the songs and calls of a few of the species that regularly visit our feeders. Some of the common songs have been easy, but each kind has several sounds and I’m often stumped. It has also been fascinating to learn that Chickadees, Titmice, House Finches, Goldfinches, and Chipping Sparrows are plucky and not very afraid when I’m close to the feeders. While, on the other hand, the much larger Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves,and White-brested Nuthatches are much more reserved and hesitant when they see me.

Every single time I watch the birds, without exception, I find myself praying with thanksgiving to God. I think it is the natural result of spending quality time with other creatures or features of His creation. I find myself praying when I am holding my cats, or watching dragonflies and frogs at our neighborhood lake, or am near the ocean or in a forest, or surrounded by mountains. I often think of how God has revealed Himself and has shown us the awesomeness and majesty of His mind through His creation. Muggy, hot, swamps full of crocodiles and toads; blindingly white, frozen, snow and ice covered tundra with polar bears and walruses; mesmerizing shades of brown, dry, barren, sandy, dune-laden deserts; eye-popping colors of coral reefs swaying in the vastness of the oceans; mossy, earth-smelling, leafy forests with arms lifted up toward heaven. These are just a few of His many carefully balanced ecosystems and all are interconnected through meticulously designed life-cycles of plants and animals. His ability to create such diversity and His attention to detail astounds and humbles me.

Mourning Dove in the rain
Downy Woodpecker

Of all He has made, His detail and attention to color is the most overwhelming aspect to me. This may be one of the reasons I am so fascinated by birds. Consider the common Mourning Dove. At first glance it seems like a dull, gray bird with some black dots and stripes on its tail. But if you look closer, it has stunning pastel blue eye rims and lids! And, if you look closer still, you will notice a small, round patch of iridescent pink on both sides of its neck. It’s as if God wrote His name there in a flourishing signature. The color of Cardinals is so distinctive and singular we have called it by it’s moniker, “cardinal red”, and made millions of crayons duplicating it so it can be scribbled across children’s artwork. Goldfinches fly around sporting dazzling, buttery-yellow feathers topped with ebony heads and wings, like rays of sun flashing across the sky. In the style of modern art, the black and white markings of Downy Woodpeckers are set in extraordinarily striking patterns. And then there is the Painted Bunting. Many years ago, long before I knew anything about birds, I used to drive all over Southwest Missouri seeing patients at their homes as a speech language pathologist. I remember driving down the highway at 60 mph and seeing a crazy flash of color in front of the car and then watching it stop and land in a tree at the edge of a park. It was so arresting and marvelous that I actually took the nearest exit and drove to the park hoping it was there, not caring if I was late for my next appointment. Thankfully, the little critter was still perched on the branch of the tree on which I had seen it alight. I had never seen anything like it before. It was so tiny, yet it was an unbelievable array of vibrant colors. I watched it for several minutes before it flew away and was so impressed by the encounter that I still harbor hopes of seeing one again someday.

If this is how God has made His earthly creation, then I sing the old hymn How Beautiful Heaven Must Be with renewed vigor! I can only imagine!!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

May God be with you! ❤️, Amy

Hoppy May

I always look forward to a visit from the migrating red-breasted grosbeaks each spring.  I noticed this sweet lady this morning but haven’t seen a male yet. 
Grosbeaks are in the same family, Cardinalidae, as cardinals.  Can you see the family resemblance?
This robin hit the jackpot by our neighborhood lake.
Evidence that spring is all around us.
Several frogs were sunning themselves in our neighborhood lake earlier in the week when the weather was nice.  There were only a few pink petals floating in the water but this little fella found one.
I’m not sure who was watching who.  Those eyes 👀!!
I love how you can really see this frog’s tympanic membrane 👂.
The eating must be good at the lake 🦟
I have no idea what this is but it was pretty cool with all the bubbles inside it’s top.  If it was an inkblot, I’d say it looks like a person walking down the street with an invisibility cloak over the top half of their body.

I hope you are enjoying your week.  See you next time!  ❤️, Amy

Recent Scenes

It’s been a very good couple of weeks 😊. My MS has loosened the reins a bit some days and not ruled my life as such a tyrant every moment. I’ve seen a lot of family, especially this past week, and they have boosted my spirits immensely.

These little friends came to visit too 🐦🪶!

Downy woodpecker, male, wearing his bowtie.
American robin catching some rays.
American goldfinch sporting his full 💛 coat.
House finches on a lunch date.
Tufted titmouse – you can see it’s thoughts written across it’s face.
Female downy woodpecker – gorgeous!
This little chickadee posed so patiently as I walked around under the tree snapping away at it and it’s snack 😋. The chickadees seem to be really getting used to me.
My sister came up from Texas over the weekend (❤️) and we hung out at the lake in our neighborhood one afternoon. This turtle was out for a swim.
Eastern redbud petals were scattered around the edges of the lake making a beautiful contrast of color to the mossy water.
Little minnows 🐟 and their shadows.
I think a starling has moved into the box at the lake 🙄
Blue violets fluttering by the lake.
Glorious spring!

My Hubby makes the best thin mint concretes – such a treat!

I hope you are enjoying your little slice of time in whichever corner of the world you call home. God be with you! ❤️, Amy

Cozy Days

Hello again, Friend. Below you will find some random pictures of things I’ve been doing to fill my winter days.

I really enjoy following several YouTube vloggers in the sewing world and wondered how hard it would be to take pictures of each step of garment construction like they do. I gave it a go and learned they have a lot more patience than me! Most of the pictures I took are in my camera’s trash and there they will stay. I’m sharing a few just to make myself feel like I didn’t waste all the effort it took to complete the experiment.

My notions and the PDF pattern.
The tail end of cutting it out.
I had enough fabric to make two tunics. I found the jersey knit on Etsy and loved the prints together.
Sewing the pocket on.
Finishing the hem.
It was my first time sewing a cowl neck.
The little pocket in the contrasting fabric turned out so cute 🥰.
I’ve learned to keep a stash of bandaids by my machine 🙄. Blood, sweat, and tears 😉!

My favorite Laudy pics of the past few weeks…

We had some really beautiful warmish days since my last post so, of course, I sat out in the backyard and watched the birds.

House finch pair with a goldfinch looking on.
Carolina chickadee
Downy woodpecker
💛

But, my favorite winter activity? Snuggling with Hubby!

Lord willing, I’ll write again soon. God be with you! ❤️, Amy

Hello, Again

Hello, again.

The last time I posted I told you I had a relapse of my MS and was getting ready for a few days of steroid infusions to try and hasten recovery. Sure enough, it happened and my symptoms have improved. My left eye stopped twitching and feeling numb, I can move my legs again and walk with less of a shuffle-stumble sort of thing. My energy level has improved to allow me to be up for more than 3-5 minutes at a time. Things are still not back to where they were before, but I’m hoping the trajectory continues to move up.

The IV was placed right where my wrist bends, not ideal. It was a long three days.
Hubby made me a “splint” to remind me not to bend my wrist. It worked a treat other than the fact I had a piece of wood there day and night. I cut a sock and used it to keep my splint in place.

Huge doses of steroids given in a short time creates numerous icky side effects – one of the worst for me is flushing of the skin. That being said, the side effects during the infusion are nothing compared to the slam your body takes when your last dose is done. Agonizing, insipid, catatonic-like fatigue reigns for about three days while your skin hurts to the touch and your muscles ache down to the bone. Slowly, the goo seeps out through every pore of your being and, around day four, you sense you are morphing back into feeling like a human.

I’m so thankful it’s all behind me now. It’s been four years since I had a relapse necessitating steroids. Yesterday marked four years since I completely retired due to MS and April will mark 32 years since my diagnosis. I’ve never felt bitter about this disease nor thrown my fist in the air screaming, “Why me?”. I think a better question is “Why not me?”. Everyone has some struggle to deal with in life. There’s no such thing as luck, good or bad. There is such a thing as attitude, though. As Philippians 1:27 says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Though “whatever happens” here is in reference to whether Paul can come to visit the Philippians or not, he goes on, in the same verse, to tell them, “Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.” No matter what diseases, frustrations, difficulties, or unexpected troubles come our way, we are to respond with a Christlike attitude that brings honor and praise to the glory of God.

Nothing makes me think of God more than His creation.

Carolina Wren
American Goldfinches
Tufted Titmouse
Lucky shot 📸
Carolina Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Fisheye lens through our birch trees.
Hubby threw some eggs in the yard and some American Crows enjoyed them. I love all birds.
Blowing in the wind…
… beautifully.

I hope you are doing well. May God be with you. ❤️, Amy

Feathers, Flurries, Felines, and MS

Hello again, it’s been a while. I’ve been remiss in writing, distracted by other things in life. Well, actually, just one thing (drumroll)…my MS. Shocker, I know. The last couple of weeks have been simply outrageous. I’ll spare you the details, but I have IV steroids coming my way to try and get things under some sort of control. Yesterday, the day the home infusion nurse (yes, Bill 😀) was ready to come to the house and hook me up, winter storm Landon arrived covering the roads with ice. Today, Landon dumped 7 inches of snow before going on his merry way. Bill texted to say he will come over this weekend to get me going once the roads become traversable.

The snow has been beautiful to watch as it swirls and blows in frigid gusts. We’ve had 30+ birds at a time come to the feeders these past couple of days for an easy meal during the storm.

There’s a dark-eyed junco somewhere there in our lilac tree.
Bluejay
Cardinal, male
Cardinal, female
Buff tan dark-eyed junco
Slate-tan dark-eyed junco

As ever, the cats are keeping me company.

Gratefully, neither they nor my sweet Hubby see someone with MS when they look my way, they just see me – full stop. I feel so loved, and I know it doesn’t get any better than that.

God be with you. ❤️, Amy

December

I think the beginning of November and the start of December swapped their weather garbs here in Southwest Missouri. 70+°F today!?!

My Hubby took this photo while riding around Fellows Lake in Springfield, MO.

My sweet tooth took over my phone last month and before I knew what it was doing it had ordered TWO advent calendars!

McCrea’s Caramels out of Boston, MA. Look at this artwork… adorable! Caramel flavors include: Black Lava Sea Salt, Classic Vanilla, Cape Cod Sea Salt, Deep Chocolate, Tapped Maple, Ginger Fusion, Cafe Noir, Dark Roasted Mocha, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Chocolate Peppermint, Cinnamon Clove, and Anisette.
This beautiful box of goodies is from Parisian candy maker Bossier. The website was full of beautiful handmade candies and I can’t wait to try each one. Chocolate covered almonds and hazelnuts, cocoa coated almonds, fruit flavored candies, honey flavored hard candies, caramels, jelly filled candies, almond puffed rice chocolate, bear gummies, strawberry candies, heart shaped gummies, fruit jellies, dark chocolate pearls, fruit flavored chocolate petals, chocolate balls, heart shaped chocolate truffles, calissons (French specialty candies), and fondants.
Ohhh, and I also got these little fruit flavored hard candies, they taste a lot like lollipops.

My MS has been very “assertive” over my legs and energy levels (among other symptoms) these last couple of months. That means lots of sitting and boredom. I’ve filled the time with some hand sewing and needlework. These little puffs turned out pretty cute.

We kept my Dad’s dog again for a few days. She’s growing on this die-hard Cat Lady.

As you can see, life has been very exciting around here 😂. Of course, no post of mine is complete without a few photos of birds.

Male downy woodpecker
Male house finche

Carolina chickadee

I’ve been rereading through the Bible each day, great gulps at a time, two or three books per day. I’m overwhelmed at the scope, harmony, depth, awesomeness, faithfulness, mercy, loving kindness, and holiness of God. Everything He does is Right. Everything He says is True. In this season of Christmas, it is especially important to remember how all history, all time, all hope, all fulfillment of prophecy, all meaning and purpose is found in God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ. He is more than a season, more than an Eve or a Day. He is Creator, King, Redeemer, God with Us, Promise-fulfilled, Hope, High Priest Forever, and so much more. Come let us bow before Him and worship Him in His majesty! ❤️, Amy

Autumn Leaves and A Recipe From 1909

I rode my scooter around our neighborhood this past week.  Autumn is my favorite season and, despite a later than usual start, trees in our neck of the woods are glowing with color. 

Glorious yellows and oranges 💛🧡
Maple leaf aflame
Maple leaf in a sea of green
Maple leaf with scars and scratches
The last of our neighbor’s summer roses.
Our River Birch leaves in the throes of death.

A couple of obligatory bird photos because, well… I love birds ❤️.

I’ve been seeing a lot of this female downy woodpecker lately.
Friendly carolina chickadees are frequent diners at the feeders.

My Dad has slowly been giving me a lot of our family pictures and genealogy material this past year.  As I looked through the latest batch I found a small book of “receipts” in the Edmunds Cookbook, compiled in 1909. Edmunds is a town in Indiana where my great grandparents lived in 1909 as members of the local Quaker community. I thought it would be fun to try to make a cake from the scant directions provided.

I have no idea who Mrs. Henry Berg was but I chose this cake because (a) I had all the ingredients on hand, (b) it seemed seasonal, (c) my hubby would probably like it, (d) it looked pretty easy.
The batter seemed promising.
It baked up nicely.
And.. it tasted DELICIOUS with a moist, airy crumb. The mix of raisins and spices provided a pleasant spicy sweetness.
This is me sitting down at the kitchen table to go through the cookbook to choose a recipe. 😹🐾😻

I hope you have a wonderful day! God be with you. ❤️, Amy

Breath In, Breath Out

Sometimes I’m really proud of myself for being able to keep the rhythm of breathing going, such is the joy of MS fatigue.

In my last post I said I would try to write something about my MS, so here it is. Whew, this summer has been a challenge! I have had a smattering of a few good days here and there and even a few strung together in sequence, but more often than not I’ve been under the thumb of pervasive, domineering MS lethargy. Nope, it’s not the kind of tired that needs a nap and sitting to rest for a spell doesn’t shift it at all. Like having a bone dry fuel tank, no matter how hard you try to go, you end up getting absolutely nowhere. The engine won’t start, the wheels won’t go anywhere, the brakes won’t compress, the electric windows won’t budge… technically it’s a car, but it’s good for nothing. I still look like Amy on the outside but there’s no juice to animate me. The electrical wires of my nerves are stripped and the signals my brain tries to send to make my body move either can’t or only partially get through. As a result, I don’t walk right, my hands don’t work the way they’re supposed to, my bladder doesn’t know if it’s holding or letting go, my thoughts struggle to be strung into words, and my balance is all over the place making me stagger around like I’m drunk. Normal things like showering, getting dressed, eating, and even sitting up use inordinate amounts of energy because my nervous system is having to work 1,000 times harder than yours just to get the signals through. Some days, for some inexplicable reason, I spontaneously recharge fairly quickly and I get to do things other than basic human functions – these are my good days. Other days, most days if I’m honest, time passes from my favorite chair or lying in bed. I read, listen to audiobooks, put puzzles together on an app, watch TV, and snuggle with our cats.

MS and heat don’t mix, it makes all symptoms worsen, so I haven’t been on the patio taking pictures much the past few weeks. However, the past couple of days have been milder allowing me to snap a few pics of my feathered friends.

I’ve learned to love bluejays and all the sounds they make.
Matchy, matchy red!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, cardinals are one of the most beautiful birds of all!
Male downy woodpecker
Female house finch
Sweet lil’chickadee
Mourning doves are another personal fav.
The butterfly bushes we planted in the spring have more than doubled in size and smell wonderful!
There have been 5-10 hummingbird moths around the butterfly bushes all summer.
Oh, and the skippers love them too.
Hubby has just a couple more days before he heads back to work. This chore has been on his list and he’s glad to have it done. It’s still hard to believe God has blessed me with such a perfect guy ❣️

May God be with you! ❤️, Amy

Under the Birches

Hello!  The weather has been beautiful the last couple of days so I’ve been soaking up the unseasonal coolness by bird watching on the patio.

I got a couple of new feeders, they work a treat!
Yarrow
Verbena
American Goldfinch, male
Can you see the 💛?
This female cardinal is a looker!
American Robin
I think this pair of House Wrens is moving in!
He’s been singing all afternoon 🎶
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Carolina Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
I’ve named this little Chipping Sparrow “Chippy”, he is particularly friendly and let’s me get close to him.
I’ve been learning how to get action shots. This one didn’t turn out too badly.
This one isn’t bad either.
Blue Jays are very skittish but I can occasionally get a good portrait shot.
This is just a funny pic of Pip riding around the house with me while I’m on my scooter. I haven’t written much about my MS lately. Maybe I’ll do that some time soon. The abbreviated version is, yep, I still have it.

I hope you have a wonderful week. God be with you! ❤️, Amy