Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Newsletter - 1/15/13

The Nature In Us Newsletter

Hope-filled New Year!

Over the years my list of resolutions have been shorter and shorter as I realize that it's only what you focus on for a period of time that you retain and maintain.  This year I've been wanting to focus on the love of God.  However, that's a deep subject.  I think we've made God complicated in many ways.  Or we have simply believed a lie that the Bible can't be understood by common man.  That's a lie from the devil.  He's a master deceiver as we know from the account of his deception with Adam and Eve.

The Bible was written for common man!  It's God's instruction manual to us.  We have been making it a real priority in our lives for the past year by giving it a lot of quantity time.  Life is a journey of sowing and reaping and right now I want to be sowing of Word seeds by planting the Word in my heart until it brings forth a harvest.

Although my mind is always filled with things I'd like to get done, I am more and more denying my flesh's desire to DO and making the choice to choose a journey of BEING.  God maintains His original desire of wanting to walk and talk with us in the "garden of life" just like He did with Adam and Eve.  That's why we were created and that's why He didn't give up on us when sin entered the world.  He loved us too much to scrap that project and begin again.

© Donna L. Watkins - Eastern Bluebird
Eating Mealworms From the Rabbit's Basket
View Enlarged Photo
With the colder weather the bluebirds have been visiting more often for the dehydrated mealworms and also the suet feeders. Since we named our place "Bluebird Cove" when we certified it as an NWF Backyard Wildlife Habitat, we definitely enjoy seeing them.

We moved here to Virginia from Alabama where we lived in pretty dense forest, so we rarely saw a bluebird since they like open areas to forage. The first week we were in our house we began seeing a lot of bluebirds and were very excited. Hence the word Bluebird. The Cove portion of the name was added since our lot was the last one before the cul-de-sac. In a visual sort of way, a cul-de-sac is a cove so it seemed to fit.

You may think this bluebird is saying, "where's the worms" but they're in there. It's just no longer full to the top. Maybe he doesn't like standing on his head to eat them.

The cast iron rabbit is from my friend, Dotty, a previous neighbor who moved to Roanoke. It makes me and the birds feel like she's still here. I love heavy things that I can paint for the garden. Easy to maintain with a bit of paint and the squirrels can't drag it away. 

Yes! The squirrels do take things from our porch and gardens. Brushes I place beside the birdbaths to make cleaning easy is one of them. One squirrel tried to carry off a large ceramic snail given to me by my friend, Carolyn. It hangs over a pot that was on the front porch and I happened to pass the window while the squirrel was trying to carry it away. What is it with these squirrels? Do they get bragging rights or some kind of point system for bringing home the most unusual item?

© Donna L. Watkins - Squirrel Trying to Carry
Away a Ceramic Snail That Hung on the Side of
a Large Planter on Front Porch
View Enlarged Photo
We set up the front porch buffet to provide a squirrel-free area for the birds. The way that works is that we use seed that squirrels won't eat. We have thistle feeders, safflower seeds, suet and mealworms. They would eat the suet, but the two feeders are hanging where they don't have any hopes of jumping to.

We ran out of safflower seeds and weren't scheduled for a trip to town yet, so we put black-oil sunflower seeds in a feeder and it didn't take but a few hours for the squirrels to notice the droppings and realize there was something of interest up there. The holly tree by the feeder was an easy "trail" to the feeder, but it still wasn't easy since the branches weren't hard enough for them to jump from.

I took the funniest video of one squirrel stretching so high and actually losing his footing on the little branch he was stretching from. They are so cute and such entertainment!

Enjoy the 38 second squirrel video!

We love our birds and that includes the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers which are winter visitors here at Bluebird Cove. This pair seems to have a fondness for holly trees this year. That's all they've been working on. Fortunately we have 6 of them so they are alternating, but a favorite has been the one by the breakfast window where the most human activity is. Strange.

© Donna L. Watkins - Results of the
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Couple
Feasting on Our Holly Tree
View Enlarged Image
For awhile I was able to open the window which was only 3' from it and take pictures. But Randal tapped the glass a few times to chase it away to another tree and it became more skittish when I lifted the window. I guess they're not as good as crows remembering the faces of people who are safe.

As you can see on the photo, they've sucked quite a bit of sap out of this tree. The patterns they make are quite amazing. The tree that is on the other side of the bay window has the same pattern. It was a favorite of a previous year. Seems they do rotate and give trees a chance to recover and grow before they come back again. Although one year we lost a Firethorn bush from girdling. It had such a small trunk that it didn't take much to girdle it and that year they circled it many times.

This photo was taken ten (10) days ago and they are now working on the branches hanging under them and tapping away.  We are beginning to get a bit concerned.  Having one holly tree on one side of a bay window would not be the most pleasant thing to tolerate.

January is tax time for us. So we've been gathering up files and figures to give the accountant for the Corporate return - that meeting was on the 8th - checkmark! We should be hearing back from him pretty soon which means I get to do our personal return before the end of January. I want it over with ASAP. I can't imagine using even an hour of Springtime on tax returns. I love having it done and over with long before that.

With so much information being accessible to us online, it's easy to get end of year statements and forms we need. Now I have to get to the library to pick up forms. I still like doing it on paper and not electronically. I'm sure there's a lot of you with the same mindset. Amazing how I like so many things simple and yet can magnify details and thoughts into complicated things. The simplicity that is in Christ is a big thing to grasp to a mind filled with details and the need to know all.

© Donna L. Watkins - Sculptured Purple Flower Pouch
Perfect Fit for My Pocket Camera
My sweet friend, Maggie, sent me a beautiful pouch with a flower on it and of course, it's purple! I wasn't sure what I would use it for and then realized that my pocket camera was the perfect size. I like having the little camera with me when I don't want to take my larger camera, so I will sometimes toss it into my purse, but with the screen on the back always made me nervous about it getting scratched. Now it won't be a problem at all! Maggie knows I love purple and love flowers. She's one special woman who spends a lot of time helping others.

Our precious kitty, Squeek (aka Kitty Girl), is getting so spoiled this winter. She likes to be in cozy baskets so I make places for her to change things up. In good weather she's got plenty of excitement and stimulation from spending her days, and nights many times, out on the screened porch, but neither of us consider this good weather.  Although my friend, Genevieve in Canada, would certainly disagree with me.

© Donna L. Watkins - Is There a Kitty on That Shelf?
Squeek, aka Kitty Girl, in the bottom shelf of my desk.
View Enlarged Photo
Having been a cross-country skier at one time, she requested snowshoes for Christmas to use for exercise.  She now realizes she has more muscles than she thought she had because they're screaming at her.  The last time she mentioned them she said she wasn't going out that day since it was minus 14 degrees.  That's beyond my imagination!

Back to Squeek ... she had been lying in a basket by my desk that is currently in the dining room.  It's a small closeup type of desk so it gets moved around for the best views of the season.  This year it's in the dining room so I can watch the "front porch bird buffet."  The front porch sometimes looks like it's Grand Central Station with various species of birds on the feeders, on the porch itself (ground feeders), on the heated bird bath, on the suet feeders, or waiting in line on the two tall holly trees there.  The only ones that seem to fuss are the House Finches.  Every body else is quite peaceable, at least until one of the large woodpeckers flies in.  They then take flight to the bushes.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Donna's Close-up Desk
Amazing how much this little thing holds and now
it even has room for my kitty.
Since the basket by the desk was really in my way when we did puzzles on the weekends, I decided to make the bottom shelf of my desk a cozy spot for Squeek by adding a cushion and a towel over it. She has really liked it. And I like knowing she's a bit warmer in there also. We don't like keeping the heat very high since it dries everything out so much, so I know it's a bit chilly at floor level. My feet tell me so if I don't have heavy socks and winter slippers on.

The desk photo is from a previous year when I had my winter location at the deck bird buffet. We discovered that the deck buffet which we placed on an outdoor table with an umbrella over it was more of a mess since it was exposed to the elements of the weather and all of the "results" of birds eating. 

Those results are quite the mess to clean up but with a gallon jug of warm water and a scrub brush, the railings turn back to white and the floor loses it's polka dots of bird poop.  It's worth it to enjoy birds at your window all day long!  In the Spring Randal gives it a once-over with the power washer and I get the paint brush to put another coat on the railing and all looks like new again.

We've done two more puzzles (shown here) since my last newsletter but now we're working on one that has 1500 pieces.  It's taking longer than a weekend for that one!

It's called World Traveler, so it's interesting with scenes and names of places all around the world.  Just thinking about some of the warmer ones makes me smile.

Puzzle of American Lighthouses
Randal likes the puzzles that have pictures inside squares or circles, etc. Like this lighthouse puzzle and the one we're working on now.  With the names of the lighthouses and locations, it makes it easy to match up the words and colors. The lighthouse puzzle has 1000 pieces, but goes together a lot quicker than you would think.

Quite the opposite is the small puzzle of 250 pieces.  For me it went very quickly since I love doing flowers and seeing the various colors of the blooms.  Cottages have always been a pleasant image to me also.  I believe my home in heaven will be a cottage in the middle of the woods.  I guess it will have paths of gold instead of streets.

Puzzle:  Carnation Cottage
For those who love the country or woods we can't imagine living in an actual city, but then our Father knows our hearts and all that we love, so He is preparing a place that will be simply perfect for each of us.  Hoping I'll have lots of you nearby!

Last, but not least, thank you so much for your prayers for my breathing problem.  The day after the post went out I noticed a peace about me much heavier than I had before.  I just smiled and sent love out to every one of you.  Many wrote emails that I enjoyed responding to.  It's truly a blessing to be in touch with you and to be "one" with you as Jesus would desire us to be.  The internet provides unique ways to building relationships.

I wish I could report that the breathing problem was gone, but not yet.  It hasn't limited what I can do, the energy I have, nor affected my sleep at all, but I don't like getting out of breath.  I am noticing that I am beginning to cough some stuff up from my lungs, so whatever is blocking the path must be coming out!  I am not at peace with having it dwell in my body, but I know it's only a matter of time.

Anybody else seem to make spiritual things too complicated?  I've been noticing I do.  The spiritual realm cannot be managed like the physical realm.  Most things have to be received by faith and that can't always be explained.  I have been meditating on Paul's prayer for the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:3) who seem to have had the same problem.  Maybe you're one of "us" also.  We who are more independent, organized, capable, etc. have a harder time just receiving what The Cross has given us.  Maybe you'd like to ponder this Scripture also:

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).

Love, Hugs & New Year Blessings!


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Send them the link to the website:  www.TheNatureInUs.com.  
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