Monday, March 31, 2008

Essential Oils Kill MRSA

It's becoming more and more obvious with new research that plants truly do hold the health of our future. Although herbalists have known that for a very long time, scientists are now finding out why.

University of Manchester researchers found three of the oils, usually used in aromatherapy, destroyed MRSA and E.coli bacteria in two minutes.

They suggest the oils could be blended into soaps and shampoos which could be used in hospitals to stop the spread of the superbug.

Hospital-acquired infections, such as MRSA, kill an estimated 5,000 a year.

Dr Peter Warn, who carried out the research, said: "When I tested the oils in the lab, absolutely nothing grew. Rather than stimulating bacteria and fungi, the oils killed them off."

Learn more about essential oils. Pure essential oils pack a potent punch, so be sure of potency and purity when you select essential oils.

Black Tea Against Anthrax

A cup of black tea could be the next line of defense in the threat of bio-terrorism according to new international research.

Published in the March issue of the Society for Applied Microbiology's journal Microbiologist, Professor Baillie said: "Our research sought to determine if English Breakfast tea was more effective than a commercially available American medium roast coffee at killing anthrax. We found that special components in tea such as polyphenols have the ability to inhibit the activity of anthrax quite considerably."

The study provides further evidence of the wide range of beneficial physiological and pharmalogical effects of this common household item.

The research also shows that the addition of whole milk to a standard cup of tea completely inhibited its antibacterial activity against anthrax.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Live in Today

by Donna L. Watkins
Originally published in "A Healing Moment"

I'm reading a book about St. Francis of Assisi. Because of my love for Creation, my neighbors call me Saint Francine. I'm sure I'm far from what the Catholic church would require for that title, but the Bible does call all the believers saints, so I guess it's okay.

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - Great Spangled Frittilary
The book mentions this about Francis: "In his sincere desire to wholeheartedly apply the Gospel to his life, Francis embraced persecution as the emblem of God's love. From the beginning of his religious life (when townspeople jeered him, threw things at him, and called him a madman), to his later years (when he took risky journeys to visit Muslim rulers to talk to them about the Christian faith), Francis saw persecution as the smoke that accompanies the fire of a burning love for God.

In his own life, he accepted persecution with joy. And in his instructions to members of his movement, he portrayed pain as part of the package that goes with a thoroughly spiritual lifestyle."

Embracing persecution as an emblem of God's love! That's a tough one, but the Bible talks about sharing in Christ's sufferings in I Peter 4:12-13,"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation."

Do not be surprised! With much of the world and media trying to tell us the 100 things we need to do to be ultimately and blissfully happy, we tend to think that's what life is supposed to be about. But it's not. It's about preparation for our true Home and our Eternal Life. It's not about ME! It's about glorifying our Father until Jesus returns and being a disciple that we might lead others to eternal life also.

Happiness is based on happenings. Joy is available from within through the Spirit. We can be sad about something and still have joy!

People will notice if you are different! Anybody can go through trials downcast and sad and depressed. When we walk through with the peace and joy that we have available to us in our "new man" we can shine His Light for a lost world to see that He truly does make a difference. It gives people a reason to be drawn to Jesus.

We must know that our trials are our tests in this classroom of life and that we should desire to pass the test the first time around. In many areas, I've seen that I've taken some classrooms of life many times. Like a child left behind in the same grade, I have not given my best and applied myself with the tools that I have.

Now that I see life as a classroom with many subjects to master, I feel more disciplined and capable of being a better student by knowing that God is in control and all will go well if I just rest in His love for me and His power to take care of me.

Adam and Eve sinned because they thought they were missing something. We today think we can control our own lives and destinies by having more knowledge and power, but it only leads to sadness, anger and frustration that things don't go the way we planned. Francis, in the book I mentioned above, taught that joy comes from abandoning ourselves into the hands of God.

It sounds like we don't get to have a life when we do that, but this submission actually connects us to life more deeply and more passionately. When we "give in" to seeing every event and circumstance as a gift from God, whether it be a lesson book, or a sweet treat, we can rejoice in every event. Considering it all joy as Scripture instructs us to do.

Live in the moment. I believe that 95% of our stress, anxiety and fear will be gone when we can live in today. You do not know what will happen tomorrow. "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14)

We cannot control our lives or the lives of our family. Stop ruining your physical and mental health trying to do it. Let go! We do not see things clearly and what we understand is not always Truth. Believe in Him and allow Him to lead you through each day focusing on that day - not the future, not the past. Live in today! Live in Him.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

7 Nature Quotes

"If the world can no longer afford the luxury of natural beauty, then it will soon be overcome and destroyed by its own ugliness. I myself feel deeply that the fate of man, and his dignity, are at stake whenever the earth's natural splendors are threatened with extinction. We are forever condemned to be part of a mystery that neither logic nor imagination can fathom, and your presence among us carries a resonance that cannot be accounted for in terms of science or reason, but only in terms of awe, wonder, and reverence. You are our last innocence." -- Romain Gary (1914-1980)

"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all."
-- Cecil Frances Alexander, (1818-1895)

"For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has non advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity." -- The Holy Bible, Ecclesiastes, 3:19-22

"No, it is not because I am filled with obscure guilt that I step gently over, and not upon, an autumn cricket. It is not because of guilt that I refuse to shoot the last osprey from her nest in the tide marsh. I possess empathy; I have grown with man with his mind's growing. I share that sympathy and compassion which extends beyond the barriers of class and race and form until it partakes of the universal whole. I am not ashamed to profess this emotion, nor will I call it a pathology. Only through this experience many times repeated and enhanced does man become truly human. Only then will his gun arm be forever lowered. I pray that it may sometime be so."-- Loren Eiseley, (1907-1977)

"The greatest of all sources of pleasure is discovery. Given a plot of earth, whether in a suburban garden, a prairie, or a rain forest, it will be... crowded with insects. There are... many levels of discovery. The first seasonal report: the first swallowtail of spring crossing the backyard. The first personal discovery: perhaps a two-spotted lady beetle devouring rose aphids. The first regional record: perhaps a Carolina mantid in Montana. Or, of course, something wholly new to science: a new host relationship, new insights on behavior, fresh knowledge on details of life histories. Most estimates have it that only about half the existing species of insects have yet been named and described; most of these are in the tropics, but not all ... there are currently intensive research programs on such commonplace insects as hornworms, blister beetles, and honey bees. The air and the bushes are full of
wholly unstudied insect species. There seems no end of what may still be learned, and all of what we learn will have a bearing on our ultimate success in coexisting with insects." -- Howard Evans

"The trouble with writing about the wilderness is that there is almost none of it left, and so, although more and more writers are born, grow up and appear in print, fewer and fewer can possibly have had even an approximate acquaintance with the wild -- Edward Hoagland

"Unless the soul goes out to meet what we see, we do not see it; nothing do we see, not a beetle, not a blade of grass." -- William Henry Hudson (1841-1922)

Used with permission from

Toxic Dryer Sheets & Cleaning Supplies

When I was reading about information on what to leave out for birds to build their nests, the information specifically stated NOT to use dryer sheets. I wondered why. This is what I found. You can easily see why they could kill baby birds ... but what about our babies? Nobody needs to be using clothes and towels coated with these chemicals.

* Benzyl Acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer

* Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant

* Ethanol: On the EPA's Hazardous Waste list and capable of causing central nervous system disorders

* A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage

* Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list

* Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders

* Chloroform: Neurotoxin, anesthetic and carcinogen

* Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders

* Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

Even the liquid fabric softeners are filled with the same and similar chemicals. Our skin absorbs these things, especially when we sweat and our pores are wide open. Throw them away and use vinegar in your rinse cycle. I pour it where the fabric softener goes. It's been working for me for 20 years.

We got rid of the chemical cleaners and detergents a long time ago because my husband had continual rashes under his arms and where he would sweat. I had chronic dry skin using chemical soaps, so we replaced them all with Sunshine Concentrate. It goes in our soap pumps, in our washer as detergent, and in the countertop spray bottle I use (with essential oils for antimicrobial properties).

Easy to keep my cleaning cabinet organized now. And there are a zillion uses for Sunshine Concentrate.

What to do about fabric softener? Use white vinegar. I fill the dispenser in my washer that's for fabric softener with vinegar. Have been using it for 15 years and it does a great job on the towels. As for clothes, I don't have a need for anything else after they've been washed in the Sunshine Concentrate mentioned above.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cat Litter Options

The type of cat litter for the litter box is critical to the success of litter box training. Your cat will be most interested in the smell and texture of the substrate (litter).

Your concerns may be safety of use, scoopability, disposability, and odor control. The bottom line, of course, is "will your cat use it?" Read the entire article.

For a totally natural and environmental slant on the subject, view this previous post.

Dangers Of Fluorescent Bulbs

Companies and the EPA are aggressively promoting the sale of compact fluorescent light bulbs as a way to save energy and fight global warming, but these bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin, and the companies and federal government haven't come up with effective ways to get Americans to recycle them.

The mercury is inside the bulb and safe as long as it doesn't break, but they'll break before they get to the landfill and workers may be exposed to very high levels of mercury when that happens. There's also dangers within the home if they break and fall into carpet where children, pregnant women and pets can be exposed to the dangers.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency program concedes that not enough has been done to urge people to recycle CFL bulbs and make it easier for them to do so.

Read the entire article.
Get info on recycling these bulbs from the EPA site.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back In The U.S.A.

It's been two weeks since I've returned from nine weeks in Costa Rica. I've adapted to my culture shock of the U.S. and gotten the house in order, but I spend many visual moments revisiting Costa Rica. The tropical pace was such a delight. I've been slowing life down for many years but they've got it bred into their genes. It's a wonderful reminder that life is in the being and not in the doing.

So far I've not been able to pick up my speed and that I am glad about. I still have my "to do" list and I work through my tasks, but what wa still left of the "drivenness" within me prior to leaving for the trip, has not been there since I've returned. It's been a long-standing prayer request to take away the inner drive that leads to destruction.

Living in a body with a brain that remembers how I used to be has been a bit odd since I'm no longer functioning in the same manner as when I departed. I keep looking around every corner to see if the "old" Donna will return in full force. There's nothing wrong with goals, accomplishments, jobs well done and wanting to do many things in life. It's when they have a life of their own and take over that the problem occurs. It's when you find yourself not getting to do the things you'd really want to do. Not making the priorities come first. I used to feel like somebody flipped the switch and I was all production. I designed my life around what I wanted to be doing, but there were still some "fun" things that I just didn't take time for.

One thing Costa Rica did was give me a visual image of work vs. play. The people work hard (although not in a driven mode), but when the weekends come they play hard. They know how to relax. Since I stayed in a home while I was in San Jose I experienced the life of the neighborhood on weekends. Besides Mama and Papa, there were two adult children in the home, age 23 and 26. Children generally live at home until they marry.

From late afternoon on Friday, the whole atmosphere of the street changed. Music began pouring out of the windows. You could hear different styles and sometimes even hear people singing to it. The family I lived with slept late and spent time together at meals, went shopping at the market together, cook together, and on Sunday afternoon they all gathered in the master bedroom to lie in bed and talk.

The engaged daughter would have her fiance join in many of the family events and when she was missing I knew she was joining in her fiance's family events. They would also visit parents/grandparents during the weekend or talk to them by phone if in another town. The emphasis on family is very strong and it was a delight to see them interact.

Well ... I'm in Virginia now and I don't hear the same bird sounds, but Spring is bringing some migrants through and I am able to putter around the garden a bit. No orchids and tropical flowers but soon there will be blossoms that will attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. All in time. The seasons and cycles of life and weather mold and shape life. I'm finding ways to bloom where I'm planted rather than waste any time wishing I was in Costa Rica.

A few excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3 help me to focus on what Solomon thought about life:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to be silent and a time to speak. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil - this is the gift of God.

You're Beautiful!

I was blessed this week when an online friend sent me a link to her speaking engagement at a women's conference. We all need to be reminded that we're beautiful, but the way she presented it has stuck with me. Stacey Robbins has quite a story of victory having weighed 270 pounds at one time. She's discovered God's amazing grace and also discovered her own beauty. When that happens we can discover a whole new world from the eyes of love.

Be blessed by this video and beautiful topic. :-)

Nesting Materials For Birds

We enjoy providing a bit of help for the birds making their nests. This is a nice checklist to determine if your yard has enough materials to provide for the construction of a new home.

Dead twigs, leaves, dry grass, human hair, animal hair, shredded paper, feathers, moss, and pine needles. You can put all of these in a wire mesh suet feeder if you want to hang them or just put them in piles or in a plastic planter saucer for them to sort through. It's fun to watch them choose building materials.

Do NOT use string, dryer lint, or cut fabric softener sheets. Do you know what's in those dryer sheets?

Some articles I read mentioned using string no longer than 6 inches, but I have also heard personal accounts of the babies mistaking it for worms and eating it and then dying of intestinal problems, so I rule all string and yarn out completely.

If you are mounting birdhouses, remember that south and east is the direction to face the opening to keep out the wind and rain. Having a feeder and/or birdbath nearby is also an attraction that makes it easier on the adults to feed and bath themselves while they're busy raising their young.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dealing With Storms of Life

by Donna L. Watkins
Originally Published In "A Healing Moment"

Some of life’s storms come upon us suddenly as was the case for the disciples in the ship. (Mark 4:37) We suddenly lose someone we love, we have a bitter disappointment, a crushing financial situation, or a physical illness that threatens to change our life forever or even threatens to end it.

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - Resting Squirrel
Other storms may come slowly as you see the sky darken around you and the visibility of your life become dim until it seems a black cloud has surrounded us.

It is in the storms of life that our God equips us for service. The history of mankind has always been rough and rugged. None that wish to be of value in this world will escape the storms that shape and mold us.

In the forest, an oak tree becomes great because the storms shake it and the rains beat down upon it and in the battle with the elements the oak develops its rugged fiber and becomes king of the forest. It has learned to sink its roots deep into the soil till it becomes one with the rock beneath it.

Jesus is our Rock and we need to sink our roots of faith deep until we become one with His Truth and Word.

The strong winds of adversity are only for our benefit. We live in a world that promotes ‘easy’ and ‘have it now’ but it’s not the real world.

A noted scientist, observing that early sailors believed the coral-building animals instinctively built up the great reefs of the Atoll Islands in order to protect themselves in the inner waterway, has disproved this belief. He has shown that these organisms can only live and thrive facing the open ocean in the highly oxygenated foam of the combative waves.

It is commonly thought that a protected and easy life is the best way to live. Yet the lives of all the noblest and strongest people prove exactly the opposite and that the endurance of hardship is the making of the person. It is the factor that distinguishes between merely existing and living a vigorous life.

The beauties of nature never shine brighter than after a storm. We will have His glow and give honor and glory to Him if we weather our storms with faith and hope and knowing that He is in the midst of them, as Jesus was in the boat. When the disciples woke Him, He spoke to the storm and there was a great calm. And then He asked the disciples, “Why are you so fearful?

How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)

We are here to become more like Christ. The storms will carry us there if we trust in Him and what His Word says to us. Have they left you broken, weary, and beaten? Or have they lifted you to the sun-filled summits of the mountain tops of safety with a richer and deeper purpose of life? You will surely have more compassion for those in the storms of life and the muscles of faith you built will life others around you.

We are here to be Jesus to those around us. How many storms will you need in your life to choose to sink your roots down deep to the Rock of Ages and stand secure when all is tossed and swept around you?

“ This is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.” I John 5:4

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

No Bees, No Food

In 2006, a Cornell University study found that in the U.S., bees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops—mostly fruit, vegetables and nuts. In the UK, they are responsible for the pollination of $420 million worth of food crops.

Bees’ role in the natural order of our world is crucial, and their importance as pollinators, both for agriculture and for wild plants, can’t be underestimated.

Bees are what is known as a “keystone species,” ensuring the continued reproduction and survival not only of plants but of other organisms that depend on those plants for survival. Once a keystone species disappears, other species begin to disappear too.

Albert Einstein’s apocalyptic and oft-quoted view was: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

Read the entire article.

Law Forces Spay and Neuter

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed one of the nation’s toughest laws on pet sterilization, requiring most dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered by the time they are 4 months old.

The ordinance is aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating the thousands of euthanizations conducted in Los Angeles’ animal shelters every year. Will this set a precedent for other city and county laws?

First-time offenders will be given an additional 60 days. If they still fail to comply they could be fined $100 and ordered to serve eight hours of community service. A subsequent offense could result in a $500 fine or 40 hours of community service.

Read the entire article.

Organic Food vs. Inorganic Studies

Non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizer. Studies show that more than 90% of children in the U.S. "have detectable residues of at least one neurotoxic pesticide in their urine." Neurotoxins are poisonous to your brain and nervous system.

Pesticides have been found to change hormones and reproductive systems of animals in the wild. A lot of our human systems are similar, so they must be hurting us too. These chemicals are considered hormone mimics and endocrine disruptors.

According to a study outlined in a 2003 Environmental Health Perspectives article, children "eating organic fruits and vegetables had six times lower levels of pesticide byproducts in their blood versus children eating conventional produce."

Choosing organic foods also provides more nutrients. Mother Earth News reports that organically raised chickens lay eggs that contain:

* 1/3 less cholesterol
* 1/4 less saturated fat
* 2/3 more vitamin A
* 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
* 3 times more vitamin E
* 7 times more beta carotene

There are more than 30 studies comparing the nutrient content of organic crops and those produced conventionally with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In these studies, various individual nutrients in individual crops were compared, such as zinc in organic versus conventional carrots, or Vitamin C in organic versus conventional broccoli. In the more than 300 comparisons performed in these studies, organic crops had a higher nutrient content about 40% of the time.

For three individual nutrients, Vitamin C, nitrates and protein quality, there is enough evidence to suggest that organic crops are superior to conventional ones. Compared to crops grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, organically grown crops generally have a higher Vitamin C content, a lower content of carcinogenic nitrates and better protein quality. Read more details on these studies.

Addtional Resource
How To Make Your Diet Eco-friendly On a Budget

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Purple Martins Not Good Mosquito Control

Before you decide to set up nestboxes for a purple martin colony, you might want to consider that none of the published statements appearing in the popular or ethnological literature that attribute a mosquito-feeding habit to the Purple Martin are based on a factual study. The oft-quoted statement "a martin eats 2,000 mosquitoes per day" has no evident means of support.

When scientists analyzed the stomach contents of purple martins, they've found very few mosquitoes. Since mosquitoes mostly fly at night 15-20 feet off the ground, and purple martins during the day at around 300 feet, this makes sense.

Only 2% of the purple martin's diet is mosquitoes. Insects on the menu are flying ants, beetles, butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, mayflies, moths, stinkbugs, wasps, a few houseflies. Out of all of these, their favorite food is probably the dragonfly. During year end nest cleaning, the compartments are littered with dragonfly wings and skeletal parts.

Read scientific info on this topic.
Read general info on purple martins.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stay on the Road

by Donna L. Watkins
Originally Published in "A Healing Moment"

It's hard to change old habits and many of them go generations back, yet we have been given the power to do so and to enjoy this life, we must make the choice to always have hope lit within our souls.

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - White-throated Sparrow
I was reading a devotional book by Kathy Troccolli and she mentioned Romans 8. There is enough there that can take back a lot of ground we give over to the enemy when we succumb to the hopeless feelings of circumstances. If I just remember to 'Stay on the Romans 8 Road I can make my way back to the Light of Hope.

How often do we fail in using and allowing God's Word to protect our hearts and minds? Too often we look at the circumstance or the feeling rather than what God's Word says about us. Many times when I'm up against a circumstance I can't see the forest for the trees and I don't seem to remember where to run for cover. It's like my memory of The Word has been dubbed over by the overwhelming circumstances and the emotions that go with them.

Sometimes I surrender to the moment before I read Romans 8:37: "... in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." When I hear those voices saying I haven't done it right or I've failed or guilt comes to cover me like a dark blanket, I read Romans 8:1: "... there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

As I walk through the most trying of situations, I read Romans 8:18: "consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

When I can hardly remember how to reach for heaven and pray, I read Romans 8:26: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

If I think that life is too hard with trouble all around, I must remember Romans 8:28: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

When I feel like I've been backed into a corner with no options or way out, Romans 8:31 reminds me that "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

The Word is Truth and Faithful and Unchanging and Forever. You can't go on feelings. Don't let circumstances take you down. The devil will forever be tossing them at us for a laugh. The stronger we become and the more we trust in our Heavenly Father and believe and live in His Word, the less entertaining we will be to the devil and he may just leave us alone and bug somebody else that doesn't apply the Truth and Love of the Father that they have at their disposal.

Loneliness A Problem?

The darkest nights are not reserved for those who endure loss from fire, accident, earthquake, or hurricane. The darkest hours are destined for those whose tragedy goes unnoticed. The deepest pain belongs to those for whom no rescue is intended - those who must endure loneliness.

Refuse to be alone. You can meet people in some way, whether at church, at a support group, at a club meeting of interest, or even in forums online. Don't allow the devil to isolate you from your brothers and sisters in Christ and those kindred spirits who will resonate who you are as soon as you meet them.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lawns: God & St. Francis

Imagine the conversation the Creator might have had with St. Francis on the subject of lawns:

GOD: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies,
honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it - sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No! What do they do to protect the perennials, shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough!! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have they scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: 'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a real stupid movie about.....

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Overcoming Through The Cross

by Donna L. Watkins

It's impossible to make a good life for yourself without overcoming your past. Too many of us live in the past and base our decisions for the present upon it. Remove it! It's gone, it's over! You can't change it, but you can change the results of it! Don't allow the past to mold your todays.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Female Northern Flicker
Feeding on God's Word is the only way to shape the kind of tomorrows that you want to have. Sometimes you just have to surround yourself with continual morsels of food from the Bible.

When we choose to make life what we want it to be, it seems there are so many smooth ruts that each day seems like an alpine slide from beginning to end. It's like you have no choices and misery just takes over. Not true! God's Word will renew your mind if you stay in it.

Three times a day Daniel prayed. He was an exile in a heathen land run by an egotistical king. I imagine he needed to pray more than three times a day but he had many duties assigned to him. You can make it through this world with as much faith as Daniel had in the lion's den if you stay in God's Word and bury those wrong thoughts.

Tomorrow is Easter which represents Christ's death on the cross so that you are able to leave the past behind and take on a new life in Christ. Some people get saved and hold on to their past lives and then wonder why the Christian life isn't working for them.

The symbol of the cross is all around us. On jewelry, in print, on countryside hills, on churches and in cemeteries. I read a question today in my devotional that asked why this instrument of torture remains with us as a symbol of forgiveness and hope for so many? After all, you don't wear little gold guillotines around our necks.

The cross shows us the breadth of God's love with the cross bar and the vertical beam shows us the height and and depth of His love. It reaches from earth to sky to show us that all our sin is covered by Christ's death on it.

If you make yourself suffer and surround yourself in guilt over the past, what victory does that portray of Christ's power to redeem you? Let go of it. Stop crying over spilled milk. Wipe it up and pour another glass. Don't waste any more time and energy on something you cannot control or change.

Get on with life! You're missing the best! Focus on what you've learned from the past and what you can become because of it and then take those steps forward. A Chinese proverb says, "He who deliberates too long before taking a step, will spend his whole life on one leg."

Old habits take time to change, so schedule a specific time for doing what you know to do, even if you have to battle your way through the fear of the unknown to do it. Each time you follow through and do it, you'll be getting better at it.

Life can change, but YOU are the only one who can change it. It's not the people around you. You can be who you want to be if you find yourself and appreciate who you are. If you don't love yourself, you can't make good choices or design the kind of life that you deserve.

Take this opportunity to have your own resurrection and thank Christ for His death on the cross that promised you could have new life. God's promises are true ... take hold of them.

Cat Declawing Dilemma

Veterinarians across the country perform the procedure daily, sometimes marketing it in conjunction with spaying or neutering. But the opposition is vocal: “It’s permanently crippling and it should never be performed by anyone,” says Laura Brown, an animal care specialist.

Some proponents see laser declawing, more widely used in the last five years, as a good compromise. It simplifies the surgery and minimizes recovery time and pain, but a portion of the cat’s toes still has been removed.

Read the entire MSNBC article.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Your Weeds May Be Wildflowers

Spring is upon many areas of the country and we gardeners want to get busy outdoors. Don't move too fast on those "weeds." They can tell you a lot about your soil and can provide plants for your garden that will outlive and outlast nursery raised plants. They are pioneers and I love having them since they require no care at all. They are wild and know how to take care of themselves. Your local extension agent or Master Gardeners group are available to help with plant ID.

Let this article give you a different frame of mind while you begin to discover what's coming up in your yard.

Let Your Weeds Be Your Guide

by Leonard Perry, Extension Horticulturist, and Sid Bosworth, Extension Agronomist - University of Vermont

Knowledge of what weeds you have, and what conditions they prefer, can be your guide to what may need correcting with your lawn, garden, flower beds, or landscape. Change these growing conditions, and you will go a long way to preventing future weeds without the use of excess labor or herbicides.

The first step is to find out what weeds you have. Many are wildflowers, so can be identified from wildflower books or websites. [Editor's Note: The county extension agent or local Master Gardener's group may provide a help desk for your questions and identification.]

A weed is simply a plant out of place by some definitions, so when not in your garden where you don't want them they become wildflowers. There are useful books and websites which also can help identify weeds in your region.

Once you know what you have for weeds, you need to know what conditions they prefer in order to know what may be wrong. Keep these facts in mind with your diagnosis.

1) Many plants are very adaptable across a wide range of conditions. Therefore, it is advisable to also use other diagnostic tools such as soil testing.

2) Do not use single plants to judge a condition. Use plant communities--groups of the same plant, as well as the combination of all the plants. For instance, moss may indicate several conditions. When found with chickweed or creeping speedwell, this combination may indicate too low mowing.

3) Use the healthiest plants as indicators. Stunted, poor growing plants may be growing in their own marginal conditions.

4) Perennials are the most reliable since they must live longer in one place. Annuals often appear over a wider range of conditions.

Moss has already been mentioned, and is one of the more common "problems" we hear about with lawns. Actually this may not be a problem, as moss gardening has become quite popular. Unless you really want or need a lawn, if you have a healthy crop of moss, perhaps you should consider this trend!

If you do have moss, this may indicate too low mowing, low pH, excess soil moisture, or shade. Chickweeds may also indicate too low mowing, and mouse-ear chickweed may indicate substantial shade.

If you think low mowing may be the problem, simply raise the height of mower blades. Most lawns generally should be mowed around two inches high, and with no more than one third of the grass blade cut off at any one time.

Annual bluegrass may indicate too low mowing, but may also appear in compacted soils, or those with excess moisture. Creeping speedwell may indicate too low mowing, excess shade, or drought conditions. Prostrate spurge may also indicate compaction or drought.

If you think soils are compacted, you can rent or buy an aerator for you lawn. This is merely a series of forks or spikes which make holes in the soil, helping to break the surface and to allow water and air to enter, hence the name. You can even buy shoe attachments with spikes (similar to golf shoes, only with longer spikes) to wear while mowing, aerating the soil as you walk.

Clover species may indicate low nitrogen. Rabbit's foot clover may indicate drought or low pH (soil acidity). Hop clover, on the other hand, indicates possible high pH. We actually like some clover in our lawns, as in drought it will remain green. It is also a legume-- a type of plant whose roots take nitrogen from the air and turn it into forms plants can use. Having clovers in your lawn means you wont need to add as much nitrogen fertilizer.

Birdsfoot trefoil and vetch, similar to the clovers, also indicate low nitrogen . Docks, mullein, hawkweed, sheep sorrel, and wild strawberry may indicate low pH. Mullein may indicate low fertility in general, as can wild carrot, wild parsnip, wild radish, foxtail grass, or mallow. In addition to creeping speedwell and spurge, dry soils may be indicated by the presence of crabgrass, pigweed, yarrow, yellow wood sorrel, and curly dock.

So before you rush out to spend money on herbicides or a lawn care service, look at your weeds more closely. Let them be your guide on what corrective measures to take first. You merely may need to aerate a compacted soil, add some lime to increase the soil pH, cut a few tree limbs to allow more light, or improve watering practices and organic matter for dry soils.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Bird Discovered In India

A new species of bird has been discovered in Northeast India. This is the first such discovery since 1948. The spectacular new bird, Bugun Liocichla, has a combination of many colors.

The discovery was made by Ramana Athreya, an avid birder and professional astronomer who has been searching for the species ever since first sighting it over a decade ago. At that time, he spotted a pair of unique birds that did not match any descriptions in the field guides he consulted.

Read the entire article and view this pretty bird.

Beauty All Around In People

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Poro Gigante Blossoms
La Selva - Costa Rica
While I was walking one of the trails at La Selva in Costa Rica, I came upon an area that was covered with red-orange flowers.

It was an incredible sight as I turned a bend in the trail; like coming upon a field of wildflowers. They heavily covered the trail and extended far into the woods. The trees that they came from were bare of leaves, but were covered profusely with these flowers.

Later I learned the tree is called poro gigante. It's part of the sandalwood family (Erythrina genus). I love the smell of sandalwood so I understood why I had such an attraction to the flowers, which didn't really have any scent at all. The tree did draw a lot of birds since these flowers are edible to wildlife and humans.

© Donna L. Watkins - Red-lored Parrot - Finca Luna Nueva
When we visited Finca Luna Nueva, we could sit near one of them and watch the incredible Montezuma Oropendolas, various parrots, toucans, aracaris, and other birds fly about the tree eating.

Now widely naturalized in Costa Rica from its original distribution from Panama to Bolivia, this tree grows up to 98 feet with this spectacular red-orange bloom mid-February, which was when I was on this trail. It's also used in the central valley of Costa Rica on shade tree coffee plantations. The leaves and flowers are well liked by the iguana but I was always busy watching the birds so I didn't see any on it.

© Donna L. Watkins - Poro Gigante Blossoms - La Selva
As I stood in the midst of this mass wonder of color and flowers I thought about how sad the tree might be to lose all that beauty to the ground, but then I corrected that rather negative thought to think that it must be proud and happy to provide such a colorful woodland portrait for all who came by to see. If the flowers weren't on the ground, you might not ever look up and see the beauty of this tree.

I wonder how often we walk by people without seeing their beauty. They're just another person (tree) in the crowd (forest). Every person is unique and has something wonderful to share and sow into our lives. Often we rush through life (the trail) without looking up, only thinking of the destination. Slow down. Look around. There's something beautiful that will drop on your trail if you take time to notice.

Gardening With Global Warming

Plants across the nation are affected by global warming. You have probably seen that many plants in your backyard are blooming earlier. Global warming will mean that many native and iconic plants may no longer find suitable climate conditions in major portions of their historic range. Click on your state at this site to check out your area.

Many gardeners are familiar with the USDA's garden zone maps. They help us know which plants to put in our backyards. They are determined by examining rainfall patterns, sunshine and temperature. The National Arbor Day Foundation has updated the map to reflect recent trends. Check the map to see how your area is affected.

Download the free Gardener's Report here.
Consider this alternative view about global warming.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pets: Prepare For Disasters

It's better to take a half hour to pull some things together when all is calm, than try to think of what's needed when a disaster threatens. With all the storms across the country and world, it's certainly worth a bit of time to read the basics and take the steps so our pets will not suffer.

Find shelter for your pets
Unless you rely on the assistance of a guide or leader dog, Red Cross and other public shelters cannot accept pets. It’s up to you to make other arrangements for your pet. Contact your veterinarian, Humane Society or Animal Control office for more information. There may be space available at “pet shelters” on high ground in your community.

Your pet survival kit
Before a disaster strikes, be sure to put together a Pet Survival Kit. Include: proper ID collar and rabies tag, carrier or cage, leash, at least a two-week food supply, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions, newspapers and plastic trash bags for handling waste. Make sure your pets have up-to-date shots. Pet shelters require proof of vaccinations.

Other dangers to avoid
After the disaster has passed, be careful in allowing your pet outdoors. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered, and that could be confusing to your pet. Be careful that your pet doesn’t become lost. Downed power lines present real danger to your pet, as do snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by floods.

For more complete and detailed information, here's some links to ASPCA advice:
Disaster Preparedness
Forms for Animal Emergency Preparedness Plans
How To Make a Pet First Aid Kit

Sponsored by Life's Abundance Healthy Pet Foods

Eco Footprint Quiz

Ever wondered how much "nature" your lifestyle requires?

The Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions you'll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Side Effect-Free Pain Relief For Joints

Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) I have been familiar with pain so I worked hard to find alternatives to the drugs. I've been successfully doing that since 1986. I was already into the alternative health realm from previous health issues that the medical world had no answer for, so it was natural to go natural.

However, many people don't feel comfortable making choices for their pain management on their own. The prescription drugs have many side effects and even if you can avoid them with over-the-counter drugs, such as Tylenol and Aleve, there are still horrible side effects.

Tylenol is the number one cause of hospital admissions for liver failure.

Long before it was mainstream research, I was using glucosamine in a joint formula that combined it with other necessary factors and anti-inflammatory ingredients. The glucosamine "discovery" was validated by vets who used it in dogs with arthritis. My friend's mom has used the same product I did for her dog with great success and much increased mobility for the dog.

Dogs frequently suffer from joint pain, especially with hip dysplasia being more common. One thing to think about is that there are no "placebo effects" with dogs. They don't get better because they think they're supposed to. They either feel better or they don't and pet owners know the difference. Read the entire article about glucosamine and other natural remedies for joint pain.

One of the formulas I have used the longest in my RA program is Everflex with glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, hyaluronic acid, and devil's claw.

If you suffer from joint pain or have somebody you love that does, think more about a natural solution. Nobody wants to live with chronic pain, but there are simpler solutions to manage it. Maybe that's the problem ... they just sound too simple.

They've been working for me for over 20 years and I'm so grateful!

Tylenol - Liver and Kidney Damage

Healthy adults who took the maximum dose of Tylenol for two weeks were found to have liver damage, according to a study appearing in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Read the entire article.

Research also shows that long-term use of Tylenol harms the kidneys. This is yet more evidence of the dangers of consuming over-the-counter painkillers on a frequent basis. Read the entire article.

As a whole, over-the-counter painkillers are responsible for killing over 40,000 Americans each year -- that includes aspirin, acetaminophen, and other painkillers.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Superbug Killing More Than AIDS

An antibiotic-resistant strain of the common staph bacteria is now responsible for more deaths in the United States than AIDS, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Because MRSA is resistant to all first-line antibiotics, it is far more dangerous than the easily treated varieties of the bacterium. And according to the CDC, MRSA infection is becoming more common. Read the entire article.

Silver Shield has already been tested with this bacterium and completely destroys it, yet the medical world only looks to more drugs to handle the situation. The patent information on this Aqua Sol forumation of colloidal silver lists many other things that Silver Shield can knock out.

It is being considered by Homeland Security for national plagues.

Some forms of colloidal silver are in the news as dangerous. The process is important, so be sure to learn what to look for in colloidal silver.

I recently returned from nine weeks in Costa Rica and Silver Shield is what I took to prevent malaria since I spent a lot of time in areas listed as having malaria issues. Malaria is one of the things that Silver Shield wipes out. It's being used in Ghana with children who test positive for the malaria parasite and after taking Silver Shield for a number of days, they test clear. It's so exciting to be able to do things naturally ... just feels good!

Living Up To Your Name

by Donna L. Watkins

Titus is a Latin name with Greek origin which means various things depending on where you look. The meanings I found were "defender," "giant," and "honorable."

Titus accompanied Paul or was sent by Paul on important missions (giant). He was of great comfort to Paul while he was imprisoned and also cheered him with good news from other areas (defender). We also see him being sent by Paul to Corinth to collect the contributions of the church there on behalf of the poor saints in Jerusalem (honorable). It seems Titus was living up to his name.

We who are in Christ have new meaning added to our name. Christians are to be like Christ. Life here on earth has many trials and tribulations and they are all to train us to be more like Him. How often do we see them that way? It's a choice to dig your heals in and believe and stand on God's Word when the world is falling apart around you. The devil and the world will tell you that God doesn't care and that you're a fool to think He does. There is no encouragement in that.

As brothers and sisters we are to encourage one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 commands:

"Encourage one another, and build each other up."

Sadly, that's not happening as much as it should, especially with those who are closest to us. When we were raising our son and homeschooling, it was natural to say encouraging things, but our mouths also spouted many rules, directions, commands, and lectures that overshadowed the encouragement. Nobody gets enough encouragement and children growing up in a world of so many expectations surely don't.

Lives are so rushed bringing in the money and running to all the "required" activities that husbands and wives don't have time to think about relationships or encouragement between each other. It is assumed each will fulfill their role and keep on moving on. It ain't so ... and it's not working. We're all being driven to think life is in things, in the money, the toys, and the most recent gadgets.

If we valued each other we wouldn't need all the stuff. Remember when you fell in love? You didn't need anything else. That one person was enough. Richer or poorer, sickness or health, it didn't matter as long as life held that person close to you. The hormones chilled out and life entered with all its distractions and troubles.

We all need encouragement. The load of life is just too heavy to carry on our own. This is why God told us to encourage one another. It lifts us up out of discouragement and despair. For husbands and wives, it doesn't mean you have to have the same 'gooshy' feelings. It just means you can honor each other and the relationship and covenant you have with the same encouragement you would give a brother or sister in Christ.

Maybe you're not encouraging anybody, spouse, friend or Christian sibling. Maybe it's because, like Rodney Dangerfield, "you don't get no respect." Where does it begin? Maybe God's telling you right now that it can begin with you. Which came first? The chicken or the egg. Well, that's real easy! The chicken came first. God created it. He also created you, and within you is the ability to be an encourager. The meaning of the word encourage is "to put courage in" someone.

I've done a lousy job of this. I'm so headstrong, independent, competent and determined. I've automatically thought everybody else should be this way and just "stop whining and get it done" because that's how I've motivated myself to get through life.

So, Randal hasn't received much encouragement from me over the years. And with the traits I've mentioned above being displayed, he hasn't seen any need to encourage me. I've been on a Hell-bent trail of my own, and yes, I have allowed Hell (the devil) into my driven way of life in the years when long lists of tasks were life to me.

Accomplishments should never replace people. I grew up an only child and never thought about having siblings. Being so independent I guess I didn't find a need for them. That's not the way God wants us to live. People were always important to Jesus.

A famous singer was to perform at the Grand Opera House and the place was packed. It was then announced that the scheduled artist would not be able to perform, but an equally great talent would and the audience was asked to give her a warm welcome. The groans were so loud that nobody heard the singer's name. You could feel the disappointment.

The stand-in gave it her best and when it was all over, she got a brief scattered applause followed by uncomfortable silence. Suddenly in the balcony a child stood up and shouted, "Mommy, I think you're wonderful!" (This is where mothers break into tears.) Realizing what happened, the crowd jumped to their feet and gave her a standing ovation that lasted for minutes.

There are people close to you, even in your own home, that are bleeding inside, trying not to crumble in the face of life's difficulties that they silently carry around. Can't we break the habit of keeping it all bottled up? What will it hurt to begin to encourage somebody else. If we truly reap what we sow (and if you believe the Bible you can't deny that basic principle), then we'll eventually get encouragement back ... but that should not be our motivation. Being obedient to God's Word should be the reason we make the choice.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7 that "there was no rest for us ... battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy ... so was the news he brought."

Paul was a strong Christian but he still needed encouragement and God sent somebody to him. It would seem in today's world God doesn't have many to choose from when He wants to send an encourager.

Wikipedia defines the name Christian this way: "A Christian is a person whom adheres to Christianity, a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament.

Let's live up to our name. Join me in saying, like Isaiah, "Here am I, Lord, send me." Find somebody each day to encourage. Remember when you tied a string around your finger in school to remind you of something? It's okay to revert back to childhood ways of remembering. Tie a string or twist-tie around your pinkie until you get used to encouraging at least one person a day. And please, practice with those who live in your home.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Meditations on Gardening

Selections From "Inheriting Paradise" by Vigen Guroian

When the Earth is still damp and cold with melted snow, I kneel at the edge of the perennial bed beseeching the first green blades of crocuses and daffodils to grow. Spring has come slowly .. but there's work to be done.

The vegetable garden needs to be turned and smoothed. The straw blanket that covers the perennial bed should be removed and the remaining old growth cut down. For the gardener the first signs of spring are an irresistible invitation to make the earth a paradise once more.

Gardening and the spiritual life are very much alike. Every experienced Christian gardener knows that there is a spiritual spring which comes just as surely as nature's spring. The Lenten spring is God's invitation to prayer, fasting, and penance. Like the deep-rooted thistle weed, some of our worst habits withstand all but the most persistent, persevering, and strenuous exercise.

I have built a fence around my vegetable garden to keep out the deer and the rabbits. I am the old Adam and a son of Noah whom the beasts of the field fear (Gen. 9:2) and with whom I compete for the fruit of the earth.

My garden is not the walled garden of the new Eden that exuberantly holds every living and breathing thing. The fence that keeps the creatures of the field out of my garden is a reminder instead of my exile and alienation from Paradise.

All of nature suffers for this: the whole creation is covered with the dark mystery of the knowledge of good and evil and aches with an eager longing for light and life (Romans 8:19-23).

Gardening teaches us that we belong to nature and are also responsible for it. Human culture and nature's destiny are inextricably intertwined. What we add to nature can contribute to its well-being as well as our own.

My Yard Counts For Birds!

Make your yard count for birds by becoming part of this simple program of reporting what you see in your yard during Spring and Summer. All it takes is a 20-minute session for 3 days in a row. Reporting begins in April and goes through the end of August.

You'll fill out a one-time, online questionnaire about your yard. You'll also have the option to report pet-wildlife interaction. Data is reported online and your input is valuable. Sign-up now so you can be ready to participate. Get more info.

Natural Pest Control

I spent a few weeks in the rainforest this year and had a gecko at my cabin door that I considered my Gecko Angel. There are some huge roaches in Costa Rica and geckos are known to love them. I had 19 days in that cabin room and never saw a roach, but noticed the gecko (who feeds at night like roaches) around my door and in my room many times.

I'm not in favor of taking geckos from the wild, or having pets that you are not prepared to care for, but there are home-bred geckos that can live happily in your home taking care of more than just roaches. Be sure you learn more about them before you consider this option.

We've lived in the woods for many years and there are times when they think your house is their winter home and begin to arrive like tourists. I try to get them in a jar and put them back outside, but Randal is a little less patient and liked to use a recipe that somebody gave us many years back. It has worked for many that we've shared it with.

Roach Balls
1/2 cup boric acid (purchased at pharmacy)
2 T. granulated sugar
2 T. chopped onion
2T. shortening
1 teaspoon water (if needed for consistency)

Blend in bowl till consistency like dough. Then roll into balls. Put a ball inside a small paper cup and place where you have roach problem. They eat the balls and carry them back to other roaches. The roaches die providing food for other bugs that eat dead bugs. This recipe will make about 25 balls. You can freeze extras. Be sure to keep out of reach of pets and children. We put the ball in small paper cups and tuck them into corners and behind appliances and furniture.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Native Plants Best For Nesting Birds

From Birders World

A friend in southwestern Ohio has a habitat problem. Over the years the old field behind her house has grown into a dense monoculture of exotic Eurasian honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum, L. tatarica). She longs for the American Goldfinches, Eastern Towhees, and Indigo Buntings she remembers from childhood. But the honeysuckle is so unappealing that most birds avoid it. A state wildlife consultant recommended bulldozing the 10 acres and cultivating native grasses, herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees to provide multi-layered nesting cover.

We often grow food plants that attract birds and small wildlife, but well-rounded backyard habitats also need good nest sites. Many birds have very specific nesting requirements. Meadowlarks, as their name implies, inhabit meadows. They use grasses to weave ground-level nests. Chestnut-sided Warblers conceal their nests a couple feet off the ground, usually in tangles of briars. Gray Catbirds weave strips of grapevine bark into their nests, placed head-high in dense thickets, while American Goldfinches build in the upper forks of deciduous trees, and line their nests with thistle down.

Plants from other continents have been imported for the nursery trade or are introduced accidentally when their seeds avoid detection. Some, such as tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) in the East, and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) and Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) in the West, can crowd out natives, turning diverse plant communities into monocultures.

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Health Benefits Of Epsom Salts

Many of us are deficient in magnesium, and by simply soaking in a relaxing bath with magnesium-rich Epsom salt we can boost our levels of this important element.

What's the big deal on magnesium? Read about symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

“Magnesium,” you might wonder, “what’s the big deal?” Find out the importance of magnesium and discover the many surprising health benefits of using Epsom salt in your bath.

If you like taking warm baths, read about the benefits of epsom salts.

Natural Easter Egg Dyes

Certified food dyes approved by the FDA include colors synthesized from petroleum derivatives and even coal tar. while other food dyes may come from things you may not care to ingest:

Have you heard about carminic acid? It is a commonly used red food coloring, which comes from the dried, crushed bodies of pregnant female scale insects called cochineal.

Find out how to make natural dyes and have lots of fun educating yourself and your children in the process. Read the entire article.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bring Peace Into Your Outdoor Space

In partnership with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Animal Planet presents BACKYARD HABITAT. The half-hour show builds on NWF's ongoing Backyard Wildlife Habitat program, which for more than 30 years has inspired people to make a home for wildlife right outside their back door.

Each day, viewers learn how to transform an outdoor space into a haven for local flora and fauna. Whether it's a tiny balcony in midtown Manhattan, a rolling half-acre in Lexington, Kentucky, or a desert oasis in Tucson, Arizona, every backyard has the potential to attract an amazing array of wildlife every day.

Watch clips online and learn how to make a tadpole aquarium, build a purple martin's nest, and more. Check out their site for channels and TV times in your area:
Backyard Habitat on Animal Planet.

Get a fresh start on your own gardening or yard projects with information that will bring entertainment and peace into your home environment.

8 Nature Quotes

"The web of life is fragile. The interconnections vital. Every time a species is lost, the whole web is weakened. When wildlife is in danger, so are we humans." -- Advertisement for Canon USA, 2000

"Me an environmentalist? I am a lover of beauty and a compassionist of life - all life. Things that all humans are - things all environmentalists are." -- Scott Boven, 2001

"In the top of a tussock of grass, on its sunward side, a dark shape, a small bird, feathers wet with dew, sits quietly, observant, incorporating the sun's early warmth. Nearby, there is a faint and tentative song, and the sound is reabsorbed into the morning quiet. It has been suggested that you might not be missed. To think that a necklace would never miss one of its pearls, or a song one of its notes. Neither this spring, nor ever again, will your exuberant performances appear on nature's stage." -- Brian Sharp, USFWS biologist, after the last dusky seaside sparrow was found dead in its cage, June 16, 1987

"Humanity, to put the matter as bluntly as possible, is recklessly ruining the creation." -- Edward O. Wilson, 1999, The Diversity of Life

"Conservation is sometimes perceived as stopping everything cold, as holding whooping cranes inhigher esteem than people... the choice is not between wild places or people, it is a choice between a rich or impoverished existence for mankind." -- Thomas Lovejoy

"Beauty is not something to be taken for granted." -- Terry Tempest Williams, 1999

"Another factor which is rapidly destroying the remnants of native vegetation which still linger in southeastern Virginia is the universal custom of turning rich woodlands into pig-pastures or dumps. So long as man feels as he generally does, that the Earth and its natural products were God-given to man for his personal exploitation and destruction it is perhaps hopeless to expect any of Nature's wonderful gifts to be preserved for later generations." -- M.L. Fernald, from Midsummer Vascular Plants Of Southeastern Virginia, Rhodora, 1935

"The big question before our people today is whether we are to be more material in our thinking, judging administrative success by its economic results entirely and leaving out all other achievements. History shows that a nation interested primarily in material things invariably is on a downward path. Great wealth has ruined every nation since the day that Cheops laid the corner stone of the Great Pyramid, not because of any inherent wrong in wealth, but because it became the ideal and idol of the people. Phonicia, Carthage, Greece, Rome, Spain, all bear witness to this truth." -- Eleanor Roosevelt, 1927

Used with permission from

Monday, March 10, 2008

Communicating Appreciation

From Character Training Institute

Different individuals prefer different types of appreciation. Some feel most encouraged by a gift or an act of service. Others appreciate kind words or a written note. Others enjoy spending quality time together.

One way to discern how a person likes to receive appreciation is to analyze how that person shows appreciation to others. For example, a mother who tends to give gifts probably enjoys receiving gifts. A son who frequently serves others would likely appreciate someone helping him. Some family members might like new clothes; others might want you to fold clothes.

Study how family members like to be appreciated. List the names of each person in your family, and try to match each family member with one of the "Ways to Communicate" below.

Ways to Communicate:

Verbal appreciation
Spending time together
Written notes
Special gifts
Acts of service

The next time someone needs encouragement, try doing what will mean the most.

Get more character information at Character Training Institute.

No Bunnies For Easter, Please!

The American people have spoken: candy rabbits are preferred as Easter gifts over live rabbits by 20 to 1.

Each year, unwanted, former Easter rabbits fill local rabbit rescues and humane societies. It's time to break the cycle of acquisition and relinquishment by educating the public about the responsibilities involved in keeping a companion rabbit before a rabbit is brought home.

Read more and educate your friends now! Forward this post with the link below.
Buy natural candies and healthy chocolate for Easter!

Happiness The Natural Way

Apathetic. High-strung. Enervated. Grouchy. Spacey. Swinging from repressed fear to rage like an angst-ridden green monster.

Do any of these describe you? Before you pop that Prozac into your mouth, ask yourself: could there be any other reason for my unhappiness aside from a bleak past, the economy, the loss of a loved one, constant negative thoughts, my inability to forgive, the ubiquitous presence of negative people in my life, or the weather?

Have I done something to my body that could have led me to feel miserable right now? Or more specifically, did I put something in my mouth that could have caused me to feel so messed up right now?

Aside from fulfilling relationships, a successful career, deep spirituality, and personal or financial abundance, following a healthy lifestyle is one of the biggest keys to achieving happiness.

The most influential lifestyle change that you can adopt right now is eating clean, healthy food. Superior nutrition will incredibly affect your emotional, mental, physical, and even spiritual states. Optimum physical health is so far-reaching it will inevitably lead to mental and emotional well-being.

Read the entire article.

Bird Flu Crosses To Humans

The avian flu has undergone a critical mutation making it easier for the virus to infect humans, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and published in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

The H5N1 strain of influenza, also known as "bird flu," has decimated wild and domestic bird populations across the world since it emerged between 1999 and 2002. This highly virulent variety of the flu has been identified as a public health concern because in the past, varieties of influenza have mutated and crossed the species barrier to humans.

Since 2003, 329 humans have been confirmed infected with H5N1, with 201 fatalities.

Read the entire article.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Under Construction

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - Pileated Woodpecker
When we give our lives to the Lord, He takes it seriously and begins to work within us to bring out our best. In the process you can count on trouble, which God will work for your good if you love Him through it. You'll be provided enough grace to stand through the battle if you reach out and grab it in God's Word every day.

I wasn't a Christian very long before I realized I had no patience at all, so it became my prayer request to God to give me patience. Don't you know God is faithful to listen to our prayers and when they will make us more of who we need to be in Christ, He'll work with us to answer them. Oh boy! I didn't know the classrooms required to acquire patience. It's been a long process and in the building process, He's made improvements on some other character qualities that were lacking.

God has a purpose in everything, but He also has a process. As you come closer to Him, you will begin to recognize how the methods of construction. You ask for patience and God gives you many circumstances that require patience. You ask for strength and He allows times of testing to make you strong in standing. Ask for success and He'll give you plenty of work to do to help you work smarter, rather than harder. If you want wisdom, God will give you many problems that you need solutions for, so you can practice finding wisdom.

It doesn't sound like a fun life, but as you know, the more we overcome the better we feel about life. If we came into it all trying to control the details of the world around us, we'll sooner or later realize that it's a futile goal. We will do better in all aspects of life if we learn to "let go" of all we hold so tightly to and realize that control is a myth and striving for it is insanity.

Does this make God sound like a big ogre waiting to find ways to punish us? No ... when you see God's loving hand guiding us into a better person, we see the world becoming a better place. He's not a mean Papa, He's a Perfect Papa.

Life holds so many distractions. Consider how many flavors of coffee and ice cream there are. We get so used to having it our way. It breeds narrow-mindedness. The more we sink into that the harder it is to show grace and mercy to others. It's not that we have to agree with everybody and never have a mind of our own. You don't have to compromise your values, but it doesn't cost more to be gracious than it does to be critical.

God is full of grace and forgiveness for us while we are growing. Give others space to become who they are to be also. Every perspective has merit. It's not totally a right vs. wrong world. Look at it as "I see it this way, and it's okay for you to see it that way." Look for things that you can agree with. It's more important to connect with people than it is to be correct.

You'll even get to the point where you'll let somebody else be "right" without putting in your own opinion on the matter. The satisfaction gained is much more than winning a good argument. Conflicting opinions help you to grow. Spend some time with teenagers. Their off-the-wall opinions can challenge you to take a wider look at the scene.

We're all under construction so drive slowly down the road of life and make sure you don't run over somebody that's doing the best they can.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Plant For The Birds

Here's an article that will help you think Spring while you plan to attract more types of birds this year.

Although birds eat at feeders, they need variety in their food supply just as we do, so they seek places that have a mixture of feeder food and wild food. You can provide some of those wild foods by choosing plantings that both you and the birds will love.

There's also information on planting for hummingbirds, and birding tips, FAQ and stories also.

Visit site now.

Ivermectin and Collies

Collie owners have long known that ivermectin in the treatment of helminths and mites can result in death of some Collies. Until the mutation and its frequency were discovered, the inconsistency in toxic reaction within the breed caused some confusion. Now we know that approximately 30% of collies are homozygous for the mutation, and these are the Collies particularly at risk.

Here's a blog with several articles referenced and a natural herb solution to heartworms and heartworm prevention. Read articles and natural heartworm options.

Natural Health and Essential Oils

Nature's Essence is a blog with a make-over. Christina Bethke has done a great job of gathering lots of information about essential oils along with 150+ recipes for your essential oils. There's a lot of health topics and information on Nature's Sunshine Products and natural health.

You can search for what you want or access by topic. Be sure to look at the specials topic to find a great deal! Visit Nature's Essence now.

TV Not Good For Babies

A study published in German magazine for doctors, television and DVD that are designed for children do more harm than good to the development of child's brain. Researchers say that the most harm is seen when television learning substitutes grown-up and siblings reading.

In one experiment, babies aged 9 to 12 months old were listening to grown-up reading them in Chinese, while the other group watched the same stories on television. The results showed that children who were read Chinese, could recognize Chinese sounds in two months, while those who watched television stories did not learn anything.

Read the entire article.

Vampire Bats Adapt To Farmland

Vampire bats have adapted to their loss of rainforest habitat. They switched to blood meals from cattle instead of rainforest mammals.

The conversion of rainforests ecosystems into livestock producing farmland resulted in the expansion of vampire bat populations in Latin America. Farmers are observing vampire bats satisfying their need for blood by attacking cattle instead of wild mammals.

The vampire bats do not necessarily prefer cattle blood, but cattle are much easier to find for vampires than rainforest mammals. Converting rainforests into pasture has a large impact on many native mammals of Latin America, usually not to the benefit of the original mammal fauna.

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Costa Rica: Back In The City

by Donna L. Watkins

What a contrast to be in San Jose compared to La Selva. I had culture shock for a couple of days before school began again for my last week of Spanish.

I was awakened by the alarm clock, not the Howler Monkeys. I can see why they call those clocks alarms. It does kinda jolt you out of sleep, whereas the birds singing and the monkeys howling seemed like such a natural way to wake up.

What I missed most were the Collared Peccaries being outside my door each morning. Having them roam around the cabin like old friends, waiting for one of the bread fruits to fall from the tree nearby, made each day have its own rhythm. Now it's only lonely dogs that are left to roam the streets of San Jose since there are no leash laws.

The Montezuma Oropendolas that called and displayed above the peccaries were replaced with car horns and city noise. My morning trail walk has been replaced by trekking the pavement to school each morning and taking the bus back home. There are no bats to watch on the way to dinner at dusk.

Tears come to my eyes as I think of all the birds, the sounds, the critters, the plants, the incredible wonder of life as it evolves all around you in the rainforest. The detail of each living creature and plant and the methods by which they survive are an incredible testimony to a Great Creator. If God has put so much into the animals and plants of the earth, imagine what care He took in creating us humans.

For me, the rainforest is one big hug from my Heavenly Father, showing me in a hundred ways each day how much He loves me, as I watch the amazing biodiversity and interactions of living things. It makes my desire to be more like "the fowls of the air" turn into more of a belief - to be able to trust and depend on Him for my wants and needs.

The scenes that evolve in an ecosystem, from the changing of seasons to the ripening of fruits as flocks of birds and animals arrive to mate and feed their young, shows a Creator who is involved with His Creation. Even death is beneficial for survival .. and there is a reason for every season of life.

View La Selva photo albums and more of Costa Rica.

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