Monday, May 26, 2014

Angel From Montgomery

Greetings from Moraine,

Today we went to the beach for the 8th time this summer.  We enjoy going to the Indiana Dunes State Park as a family.  Little Brother loves digging holes at the beach until we reach ground water.  He jumps and laughs and digs his toes into the "mud".  Big Brother played so much Frisbee today and he waded out into the mighty Lake Michigan.  Soon school will be out for the summer and Big will be playing and helping out around the house.

I recently celebrated my 33rd birthday.  I had a wonderful day and Sweetheart and I were able to go on a date to Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City, IN.  The following morning we took Sadie to Sunset Hill Farm County Park to see some bobolinks.  Sweetheart was on camera duty while I enjoyed my stroll with Sadie.  The photograph of the bobolink below was taken by my wonderful wife.

The past few weekends have been fun working in the garden and barn.  I am excited for our first radish!  Each year we get better at the garden layout.  The love for gardening must have been passed down from my grandma Shawver and my mother. I remember working the soil for my grandma each May.

Big Brother has been helping me on projects around the house.  A few weeks ago, Big brother and I built a wooden planter box for Mother's Day.  Little brother helped fill the box with rocks and soil.  Little brother loves to ride in Papo's wheelbarrow.

Moraine and the Dunes are wonderful places to see and hear the birds.  My grandparents on my father's side loved feeding birds.  Grandpa passed on to me the love for watching birds instead of television.  I remember going to their house and spending most of the time outside walking in the woods.  I can remember sitting on their back porch and watching bluebirds.  I also remember sitting with my grandma and watching hummingbirds.  I think of my grandparents often.  They were wonderful people.

Yellow Trout Lily

White Trout Lily

Dunes Nature Preserve

Moraine Nature Preserve

Common Nighthawks

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Yellow Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Male Common Yellowthroat

Female Common Yellowthroat

Little Brown Bird?


Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

American Woodcock

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Morning Song

The rain has finally stopped. The sun appeared yesterday, late in the afternoon. I half expected a celebration. In a very quiet way, I guess there was.  The birds have been amazing lately here on Moraine.  It feels very much like a spring awakening.  During the five days straight of rain and cold, I wondered what we would lose. The day before the rains started was Mother's Day.  The garden was turned and seeds finally went in the earth.  Planters were filled with the good, expensive dirt and delicate plants.  We built a fountain. Everything was full of promise. I'd like to have the same day over again and keep it exactly the same.

Downy woodpecker

Indigo Bunting

But then the rains came and didn't stop and I thought it all might wash away, but it didn't.  Now today is sunny and sprouts are appearing and the birds are as active as ever.  The quiet understanding that things happen this way was in place and all the little living things, ourselves included, reemerged.


Baseball was put on hold almost the whole week. Big brother's team has now won two games, both times pulling it off in the final inning.  He has moved up the roster to the spot of fourth batter, which would be a lot of pressure if he were the kind of kid to feel a lot of pressure.  He isn't. He does his best, shrugs it off when he fails, celebrates when he does great, and moves on.  It's an admirable quality for someone like me, who lets everything worry them to death.

Speaking of worry, little brother is getting more and more adventurous. He is less afraid to try new things than he's ever been.  This is good for things like food or making friends.  For most other things, however, it's exhausting and causes a lot of stand-offs in the house and the yard. Stand-offs in the store, in parking lots, in the library.  Long stand-offs, promises of something better to come, threats of time-outs. He has mastered the art of switching parents to get what he wants or to get out of things he doesn't want. After taking a stumble in the driveway and insisting he was hurt, he explained to me that the only way to feel better was to swing in the swing.  Of course we did. I can't have him injured from his fall. Two year old logic makes sense in the most innocent way.


Every day has become an adventure with these boys. Good morning boys! What will we do today? Everything. Everything. Everything is possible. Or nothing at all, and you can lay beside me in the sweetest baby boy sweetness and think your quiet baby thoughts. I never know what little brother will say. I am always amazed. There is so much for him to see, and he explores it all with such courage and moxie, forward. Forward. Running happily and curious, with a smile and hands reached out, waiting to touch something he has never touched before. Pulling, yanking, shredding holding so tight in his little hands.

 My gosh, it's so good.  These precious gifts. All this time and wonder. The overwhelming gratefulness that never leaves.

Indigo Bunting

This week is D!'s birthday. We have baseball games and practice, work, and a birthday to celebrate.  I feel full of hope for more sunshine, more growth in our plants, less rain, and lots of runs.  Not one of those things is in my control. Not a one. We'll see how it goes.

Killdeer about town

Happy birthday, darling D!. I hope it's an opportunity to reflect on all the things that have made you smile.  I hope you use your birthday to celebrate these past years in your heart. I hope we don't disappoint you. I hope you remember how grateful we are that you were born, that you chose us, and how full you make our lives just by being alive. I hope you feel thankful, thankful, thankful, for all the opportunities your hard work has given to you. I hope you feel loved and cherished, as you are. I hope you feel young, and as eager as you have ever been to see new things and explore. I love that about you. I hope your day is full of banjo music and crisp breezes through grass. Happy Birthday. You're my favorite human.

Eastern Towhee

 A few bird photos for you to enjoy, dear reader.  When the weather was exceptional one day, I took little brother out and let him play in the water while I sat very still and photographed as many birds as I could. Spring!

Gray Catbird
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Red Tail Hawk

Bathtime - Cowbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

 He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. -Psalms 91:4 


Sunday, May 4, 2014

When The Ship Comes In

We're really rolling along now.  Baseball and errands and frequent weather checks are priorities these days.  Everything else comes second. I got my first sunkiss, can hardly call it a burn, but it's a sure sign of the days ahead.  Today was chilly and pretty uneventful, although we did attempt a hike at the dunes.  Sadie still hasn't mastered the leash and trying to maneuver her 120 pound body down the trail at a reasonable pace while she wants to jog is a nearly impossible feat.  Toss in a charismatic 2 year old boy who also wants to run, and you've got a fiasco on your hands.

little brother has officially requested that we not call him little anymore.  He prefers 'big boy' or 'big guy', but little is unacceptable. Please note this, as he will not hesitate to correct you, should you slip and call him little anything anymore.

For our purposes, and because he is still too small to read as far as I know - I will continue to refer to him as little brother. This stays between us, dear reader. But if he finds out he will

The spring birds are visiting. The full feeders are fleeting. They prefer black oil sunflower seeds. D! has done great at keeping them fed. This morning, around 5:45, as D! and little brother slept in the recliner, he frantically called me from the other room "oriole! oriole! oriole!" and for the second time, we watched her just long enough to smile at her and haven't seen her since.  We have several male red-breasted grosbeaks at once. The eastern towhees are active and quite fearless. The red bellied woodpecker doesn't care if we are out planting flowers just a few feet away. We've already seen a ruby throated hummingbird several times.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak
Yellow Rumped Warbler

I don't know what will become of our garden this year. My seeds are slow going. The evenings are still quite chilly. D! is very optimistic. I believe him. I always believe him. We're getting the ground ready for whatever we can grow.  The local farmer's market started yesterday and there was no produce available this early in the growing season.  We did get a few perennials, including 4 lavender plants, which I am very excited about.

White Trillium

Marsh Marigold
Lately, I've been working hard at getting the house to where I would like it to be - less cluttered, clean, and easier to manage. We have been here 2 years (time flies!) and it's so hard to feel like I have everything just how I like it. Do you ever feel like things are 'just so' or is that a mirage? I just don't know. After a few weeks of working at it, I realized it's not nearly as easy as it should be.  Taking the boys to play in the sand at the beach is much more rewarding. Maybe some day.

I certainly hope these boys of mine embrace those evenings at the beach and forget about how their crazy mother would frantically toss wet clothes from the washer into the dryer - trip over the dog mid-sprint to the kitchen - flip their dinner - crawl into the shoe closet to find the second shoe only to find the laces have been chewed - race to the bedroom to find different shoes - run to the kitchen to simmer dinner - scream at the dog to go outside, then come back inside - jog barefoot to the car to recover missing freight cars - back inside to put dinner on the table - wash hands - and sit down to eat a lovingly prepared overcooked meal.

I hope they practice storytelling, think in words instead of pictures, turn down the volume sometimes and listen to the squirrels running on the roof.  I hope they soak in the tub with only the sunlight. I hope, someday, these boys of mine take the time to watch the progress of a single plant, miss it when the season is over, remember it periodically while they wait, and celebrate when it finally thaws and unfurls.  I hope they marvel at the plan in place all around them - even the smallest plan in motion.

Welcome Fiddleheads


The next few weeks will be a bit busy.  Mother's day is next Sunday, D!'s birthday is this month, and Big brother has running club, baseball, or both every weeknight.  The busy weeks make me love our weekends together much more. The occasional weeknight where we can visit the beach and watch the sun make it's descent provides a peace that energizes us all to get through our responsibilities as a team.


"Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility." -Saint Augustine