Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Newsletter - 7/15/14

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Hello Dear Friends!

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Wild Blueberries in Backyard
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We have been blessed by having a lot of wild blueberries in our back yard near the edge of the woods where the sun gets in.  They don't produce the bigger blueberries that we buy at the market, but they're about half the size and all kinds of wildlife love them.

We see birds eating them, the deer nibbling, the fox and the rabbit eats them but also loves hiding in that area where they can't be seen by the hawk.  Each year the area grows.  We've never had to do anything with the bushes.  They just take care of themselves.

That's what I love about native plants.  They are just there.  Even in a bad year the wildflowers may die off from drought, but they come back stronger the following year.  Native plants cost a bit more initially when you buy them, but all the fuss over them is not required.  Choosing the proper location is the most important decision. Soil enhancements (peat moss, fertilizer, top soil, compost) don't need to be added to the planting hole.

Native plants do not require fertilizer if planted in the right place. They will respond to sunlight, rainfall, soil temperatures, and humidity and grow at a naturally sustainable rate. To encourage faster growth fertilize lightly but only four to six weeks after planting. Keep in mind that new tender growth attracts hungry insects. It's a trade off.  If you choose to fertilize use a slow release organic fertilizer or better yet use your own compost.   
Learn more about native plants here.
Find a native plant nursery near you.

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Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
on Blue-Black Salvia
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Anybody traveling to Maine this summer?  Maine has a statewide birding trail mapped out so you can visit natural areas no matter where you land in the state.  Get more information and event dates at www.mainebirdingtrail.com.  I think Maine is an awesome state in the summer, but I sure can't imagine living there with so much of their year being winter.

Do you have hummingbirds fighting for your feeders?  Why do they have to be so selfish?  You would think they thought that they had something to do with the provision of food for them the way they fight over the feeder.  But then don't we seem to be the same way?  Somehow we imagine we've had a hand in our daily provision when everything good is God's blessings upon us.  We must always expect good from Him so those blessings and promises will flow towards us, not away from us as when we expect bad to come into our lives all the time with negative things we speak over ourselves.

One thing you can do to space your feeders is to put one in the front of the house and one in the back.  If you want them all in the same area, you could use a trellis and grow peas or flowers on the trellis with the feeders spread apart so that the peas hide each of them so more than one bird can feed at a time and not be seen by another.  Wasps are also a problem with hummingbird feeders.  You can dip your finger in cooking oil and rub it around the ports.  No more wasps!

I'm really excited that I am back out in the garden touching leaves and dead-heading flowers and looking for all the little wonders that appear out of nowhere in the garden.  How delightful it is.  My whole body is in smiles when I'm out there.  We've been blessed with plenty of rain so our plants are doing well.

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Pretty Red Mushroom
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The rain also allows fungus food to do well too, so we're seeing all kinds of mushrooms.  We have quite an array of them and I can't believe how beautiful some of them are.  The wildlife love them.  I've seen deer and squirrels eating them and can only assume our skunks, raccoons, possums and fox enjoy them too.  God gave them an instinct to know what's edible unlike humans who have died because what they ate looked like a non-toxic mushroom, but turned out not to be.

Speaking of watering .... anybody need an idea for an old garden hose?  What about repurposing it into a door mat?  I saw the idea in Birds and Blooms and there's a step-by-step how-to video to see how it's done.

How about a few more repurposing tips?  Pantyhose can be used for a variety of things, but they do really great on the bottom of pots so that the water can pass through the overflow holes, but it keeps the dirt in the pot.  Use them in the food garden to stuff melons into them so they are off the ground to eliminate rot, mold and insect invasion.  Waiting for one of your favorite flowers to produce seeds, but the birds are eating them all up?  Slip a toe of pantyhose over a few heads and twist tie to secure and then let the leaves dry and fall inside your little pouch.

What about a sandbox that is no longer being used.  Children too old for it?  It will make a great herb planter.  Just add a few drainage holes to the bottom.  The sides of an old crib makes a great trellis.  Paint it and lean it up against something.  You also use the sides of a crib to cover something unsightly in the garden, like an electrical box or maybe an air conditioner.  Paint in a color that blends with your home.  Here's an article with 30 crib uses.

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Montezuma Oropendulas in Banana Tree
Finca Luna Neuva - Costa Rica Lodge

Thanks to Charlene in California for sending a link to a You Tube video on Harvesting Bananas.  Being a fan of Costa Rica, where this video is taken at one of the Dole banana plantations, made it even more interesting.

My visits to Costa Rica have always been in areas where bananas grow wild.  They provide so much food for the wildlife, and we're not talking just monkeys.  Many species of birds love bananas and there's even a beautiful bird in Costa Rica called a Bananaquit.  Actually there are several varieties of these birds. The link is one that I took while at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica.

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Cultivated Pineapples
Finca Luna Nueva Lodge and
Organic Sustainable Farm
Knowing that Dole also has a pineapple plantation in Costa Rica, I did a search on You Tube and found a video on Growing Pineapples.

There's a science to buying local pineapples in Costa Rica.  The gal that purchased the food for Finca Luna Neuva Lodge would choose pineapples that would successively ripen as each day went by.  Pineapple was on the menu every day and it was so amazingly delicious when picked only a few days before.

Enjoy the videos and be sure to have your children or grandchildren watch also.  These days most kids have no idea that food comes from fields and dirt.  They only know you get it at the grocery store.

Speaking of children ... how many young children have been told that the person they loved that had just died was taken by God?  What does this do to the mind of that child and the view of God?  When I was 9 both of my great grandparents died within hours of each other, so when I came home from school they were both dead.  It was a traumatic time for my grandparents (who raised me) because we had always lived with them or right beside them.

I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country and generations were used to living together and helping to raise the children.  I was very close to my Papa and he was the one who always had me at the parks feeding pigeons, other birds and squirrels.  He loved to bake and I loved to eat bread dipped in hot Hershey's Cocoa.  That's a powerful memory even today.

From Stuff Jesus Never Said
As are the comments from people at the funeral, such as "God needed them in Heaven."  I remember saying my prayers every night, loving my First Bible Picture Book, going to Vacation Bible School and Sunday School ... but after that experience I don't remember ever going back to church.

My image of God had certainly been changed by an idle comment from somebody struggling to help me make sense of death when they never understood it themselves.  The Bible tells us that Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy.  God doesn't have any part in it.  He tells us to choose life.  I used to say that God doesn't kill people or make them sick, but He allows it for our good.  That's before I really knew God.  What Father would put death and disease on His children and call it good?

James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."  God is love.  That never changes.  He doesn't just love ... He IS love. We may try to justify in our minds that being God we don't understand it all, so we can accept disease and early death as some kind of badge to wear, but our minds lose that father-child connection in our hearts.  We may still say we love God, but it's with our minds, not our hearts.

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Squeek aka Kitty Girl
Enjoying Her Cozy Cuddle
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We celebrated our kitty's birthday yesterday.  Squeek (aka Kitty Girl) is now 18 years old which is pretty good for an FIV (similar to HIV in humans) kitty.  She still enjoys playing and purring.  She loves her head rubbies and was happy to have as many as she wanted for her birthday.  She, like me, couldn't think of any "stuff" that she wanted, so that was simply enough.

At the end of last summer Randal discovered we had mold in our crawl space.  After studying online and having a few estimates of what could be done (with a variety of ideas that only served up a bit of confusion), we decided to put a fan down there to circulate the air until we knew what we wanted to do.  One method required you leave the house for 24 hours and it would kill any living creature in the crawl space.  My take on that was could 24 hours really provide safety for something so toxic?  Or was that just to get the smell out of the house without getting the toxic gases out.

Mold and mildew are a concern with summer in humid areas.  You don't want to share your house or crawl space with these spores which will only multiply and cause health problems.  Rather than choosing one of the toxic mold remover products on the market, there are natural ways to kill mold that won't hurt your family and pets.  Here's some simple solutions.

Last but not least, I am excited to report that I have lost 30 pounds in 12 days.  That's the water/stored fluid that has been pouring off my body since July 4th.  What a holiday weekend we had.  I made the choice to go in to the hospital early July 4th at 1:30 AM and was finally moved to a room at 10:30 AM and stayed for 57 hours to move this fluid off.  Had not stayed in a hospital since I delivered our only child, which was 35 years ago next month. What a blessing on the big private room I had with a view.  All rooms were private in this hospital.

View From My Hospital Bed - What a Blessing!
Things were looking pretty grim with that much fluid on my abdomen and I wasn't able to eat or drink anything without pain.  As you know I'm not fond of hospitals and the recent experienced reminded me why.  It's sad how many "mistakes" are made.  For one who is alert and checking behind what is logged on charts you can get it all straight, but most folks don't go to that detail. And most folks don't know you don't have to accept all the tests they want to put you through.  I was blessed with a few great nurses, a not-so-great night nurse, and a nice doc that listened to my input.

Have a blessed time with the Lord this week.  Be still and know Him!

P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?
Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter:  

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written by Donna

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