Saturday, June 1, 2013

Newsletter - 6/1/13

The Nature In Us Newsletter

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"What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, 
and this is what defiles [a man]." --  Jesus  (Matthew 15:18)

Hello Sweet Friends!

Donna L. Watkins
We have a lot of family and friends in Oklahoma and are very blessed to report that none of them sustained any damage or injury during last month's tornadoes and that includes the ones that went through the area last night.  Although there was a tornado that went through the town where our son lived, there were no houses reported hit.  There were so many going on last night it was quite nerve-wracking waiting for a return call from our son.  I hope this is the last of the season since ....

Randal will soon be leaving for his annual visit to Oklahoma to celebrate Father's Day and spend three weeks enjoying Father/Son activities with Benjamin, spending some time with his brother and niece, visiting with high school and college friends, and doing a lot of labor since he will be helping his parents clean out the attic and begin the process of ridding themselves of too much stuff so they can sell their large home and move into something smaller.

I get to have three weeks alone with my favorite roommate, Jesus! The first week is always glorious since there's the silence created with no business activity going on in the house. I can spend hours at a time with my "invisible roommate" without anybody else to consider. I call this my Self-Absorbed Week [grin].

My Honey and Me - Crabtree Falls - 2012
As time edges into the second week, the nights seem to be a bit too quiet. I miss our nightly game which replaced television many years ago and I begin to feel a little left out from all the fun things Randal and Ben are doing outdoors. Since Ben doesn't have any friends who enjoy the outdoors, they do a lot of it while Randal is there. By the third week I'm definitely ready for him to get back and sit with me on the chaise chairs on the screened porch and get started on my then growing list of garden tasks that are waiting for his return. Of course, by then I've also got a very long list of "things that I love about Randal" to rejoice in as he arrives back home. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband.

In the May 1st issue of this newsletter, I promised a link to the photo album of our visit to Maymont Estate in Richmond, VA. There's been so much going on here with the cicadas and wildlife that I forgot all about working on those pictures to get them up to the gallery in an album. I apologize. 

The event was titled, At Home, which included free admission to the mansion. Sadly they did not allow photographs inside the home which belonged to James and Sallie Dooley. There were a lot of beautiful things and the decorating style was quite amazing, but all I could think about was "too much stuff."

Outside they had historical period costume performers which was really nice. Walking the grounds with elegant Victorian ladies and distinguished gentlemen with those huge top hats was fun. Mrs. Dooley loved flowers, so they built a lot of gardens that were quite opulent. We learned a lot about architecture during that time, the late 1800's, and how much hard work it was for the servants to keep a Gilded Age mansion running.

View the entire Maymont photo album of all of our visits, which has parts of the estate that we didn't visit this time, like the Carriage House, Japanese Gardens and Wildlife and Farm Animals Area.

View Maymont Photo Album
Period Costume Performers at Maymont Estate
View Enlarged Image
If you want to see the photos of our most recent visit, you can begin with this photo and click the arrows at the top to proceed.

In another part of Virginia ... something else is going on this summer.  Many people across the country are familiar with the famed wild ponies of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, which draw large crowds every summer. A friend told me that there is a book or series of books about these ponies.  The herd is now a tourist attraction and the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim is the highlight of summer for visitors.

We've been to Chincoteague since we moved to Virginia a dozen years ago, but never to the Pony Swim.  It would make me nervous.  I'm always too overly concerned when it comes to animals.  What we didn't know was that the Virginia mountains also have wild ponies.  Now that sounds much better to me!  Nestled in the majestic, rolling slopes of the Appalachians lives a remote colony that half a century has forgotten. In the far reaches of southwestern Virginia, wild ponies playfully scamper across the pristine meadows and enjoy a freedom few animals now experience. Read the whole story!

The excitement in our own backyard for the past month has been the progressive stages of the 17-year cicadas that have emerged.  The choruses of cicadas has been ongoing during the daytime hours. Strange that they don't sing at night. The singing is solely to attract females to the chorus trees where the males are for mating. This orchestra can be so loud that it affects human behavior. I read that Indiana University nearly cancelled one of its graduation ceremonies because the cicadas were so loud that the speakers could not be heard. I've been enjoying the sound as I think of their short-lived lives after waiting 17 years in the ground to emerge and reproduce. Another creation of God doing what it was designed to do.

View All Cicada Images (begin here and click arrows)
Cicadas Mating on Our Deck
View Enlarged Image
Some folks get cicadas mixed up with locusts. They are not of the same family and cicadas do not eat crops. My neighbor sent me a beautiful video of the life story of these amazing insects. Instead of fearing the creepy crawlers, appreciate the miraculous act of another one of God's creatures. The time-lapse video being made since 2007 was made by Samuel Orr who is determined to change the bad rep these bugs get. He became interested in them as a child when he found them "scary and mysterious," but changed his perspective after learning more about their lives. Watch the cicada time-lapse video and give yourself a chance to find something truly amazing about God.

After about 6 to 8 weeks, the eggs hatch within the twigs where they were deposited and the minute cicadas fall to the ground and dig into the soil. There they'll spend the next 17 years feeding from tree roots. I read something written in Eastern Virginia, back in 1920, by entomologist H.A. Allard, it resonated with my own feelings about when this experience will end:

"I felt a positive sadness when I realized that the great visitation was over, and there was silence in the world again, and all were dead that had so recently lived and filled the world with noise and movement. It was almost a painful silence, and I could not but feel that I had lived to witness one of the great events of existence, comparable to the occurrence of a notable eclipse or the invasion of a great comet."

The birds dropped in a couple of Black Locust trees not so long ago and they have really grown, especially the one that gets the most sun. The one along the driveway was beginning to bloom in early May when I took the photo. Drooping clusters of white blossoms soon swung from every twig, from her crown to the lowest limb. I've read that an average full-sized tree produces a few hundred pounds of flowers. Amazing!

View Our 2013 Garden Photo Album
Flowering Black Locust Tree
View Enlarged Image

So lovely to see, smell and to know all of those flowers are going to turn into seed pods filled with yummy wildlife food, unless you're going to cut them off to eat. 

Yep! These blossoms are considered a wild food for humans. It is said that black locust blossoms taste like sweet peas with a hint of vanilla. We don't take advantage of this since we want to see all those flowers turn into seed pods filled with yummy wildlife food. Most people don't like them because the seed pods are messy, but we have not had a problem with them since the deer clean them up during the winter. Seeds also provide food for turkeys, quail, grouse, pheasant and song birds from Autumn to early Spring. We rarely see the turkeys around here, but as you know we have a lot of songbirds.

It seems the weather went from the 40's to the 80's overnight, so it's t-shirt time again here in Central Virginia .... FINALLY! Again I have to decide which t-shirts really need to be converted to rags. Not using paper towels for cleaning makes it a bit easier to cut something up into rags that you really liked since our rag drawer would be empty without them.

There's nothing like an old comfy t-shirt to snuggle into as you prepare for the day. I wanted to share what I've been doing for the past few years when it comes to rag time for my t-shirts. It's not only the comfy feel of the t-shirt, but sometimes there's something really special about what's on the t-shirt, so I decided about four years ago to cut that part out and keep it. I have these cut-outs in my nightstand in a small box so I can still enjoy the memories of the shirt. It's made it a lot easier to "let go."

Summer is surely on its way and although I love the warmer seasons, Summer always reminds me of memories of the beach. I used to be part fish is what my Daddy used to say. When I was growing up I was at the YMCA for every swimming class they had.

We moved when I was a teenager and the city pool was within walking distance and that's where I spent the summer days in Pennsylvania.

However, in 1976 I was diagnosed with vitiligo and that put a stop to loving the sunshine and water. Fortunately I'm very light-skinned so it's not as obvious as on somebody dark-skinned.

Donna's 30+ Years Old Swimsuit
Since I lived down south that put a stop to much outdoor time and I remember praying for cloudy days so I could be outside. One of the things I have loved about Bluebird Cove is that we have lots of woods on the property that shade the gardens for part of the day so I've not been restricted to staying inside.

Since I've learned that God Wants You Well (video series),  I've been motivated to know and experience more and more about our Abba Daddy's love for us, so that I can have the healing that has already been provided by Jesus in the spirit realm, manifest and come forth in the physical realm. Vitiligo has no physical pain associated with it so all the years that I've dealt with rheumatoid arthritis that did come with pain, was much more of a focus than the vitiligo.

But now! I wanted a visual reminder of being at the beach again so I can meditate on that and see myself there, so I got out my bathing suit and strung it up on the chest in the bedroom. Granted it's more than 30 years old, but that only means it's had enough time for it to come back in style. Maybe not ... my friend, Elva, tells me you don't see much of any clothing on bodies at the beach. When I get to go play in the sand and run in the surf, it will not be at peak season for sure. I will probably choose a piece of beach that is part of a wildlife preserve or park. I just want the experience in the sunshine to check it off on my long list of what I'm going to do as I become more and more healed. Dreaming is a good thing! God wants us to dream. What we picture and think about becomes who we are.

My friend Louise who died years ago always talked about and did "dream boards." She encouraged people to cut out pictures of things they wanted to do and put them on poster board with words and Scripture and then hanging them in a very visible spot. She had many dreams come true from doing dream boards. She was an inspiration to so many. One of those people you didn't know you'd have a hard time living without until they were gone.

I Simply Love This Picture!
I've already got a long list of physical symptoms that are healed and I continue to offer praise and thanksgiving and look ahead to more. What earthly father would want his child sick and diseased? How much more does our Heavenly Father want for us? He doesn't ask us as humans to do more than He would do. In Matthew 7:9, Jesus asks, "what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" God has been blamed for so much of the evil that goes on in this world.

So many people don't believe that God loves them. Maybe Jesus, but not God, but Jesus said many times that He was here to show us the Father. I John 4:8 tells us that "God is love." Jesus told Philip in John 14:9, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." The whole New Testament is filled with actions of love and compassion. Jesus healed everywhere He went. He didn't have to pray over them to know whether it was the Father's will. He knew it was His will and healed in many different ways, but never by prayer because He already knew the will of the Father was that God Wants You Well [the book that rocked my beliefs about healing].

We have the Creator of the Universe as our Abba Daddy and He can hold the entire universe in the span of His hand.  That should take your mind off of any troubles you're having, to know that He is always with you directing and guiding you to make the right choices so you can walk in the abundant life that Jesus died to give us.  Renewing the mind ... sometimes it seems like a lifelong journey ... it is!  :-)

Until next issue ....

May You Receive An Abundance of Blessings!

P.S.  Know somebody who needs to see something in this newsletter?   You can share this post from the website at the bottom of the post.  Look for the little white envelope. Thanks for sharing!  

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