My Haven Is Home

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My haven is home.  So blessed during this stay-at-home order Dean and I have been given opportunity to care for our home and yard.  Our home gives back so much more.  And spring has been so pleasant this year, very much like spring should be.  Sunshine, rains, a random storm brews up, cool mornings, and warmer afternoons.  We had a couple of days it felt more like summer, but it cooled down after the rains.  And then a few frost warning mornings, but it never came.  Better safe than sorry, we covered our annuals and perennials.  Kind of like the corona virus for us.  We take the precautions: masks, social distancing, and extra sanitation in our home and when we are out.

These mild temperatures and regular watering from the rains has provided such a green haven of leaves, grasses, mosses, and foliage.  Mid-spring the dogwood, azalea, clematis, irises and the flowering trees, bushes, and stemmed blooms are clothed in white or more showy colors of fuchsia, paler pinks, purples, blues, oranges, yellows, and reds.  The peonies are exceptional this year.  The song birds are plentiful.  Their songs divine.  The morning doves, robins, finches of purple and yellow, grosbeaks, cardinals, indigo buntings, nuthatches, and sparrows of many species come to our feeders and reside in the birdhouses or bushes.  Hawks and owls call out throughout the day and night as their homes are nearby.  Of course, families of squirrels and rabbits in the neighborhood are for the taking by these birds of prey.  Occasionally, it is a morning dove for a meal.

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
       To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
       To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O’er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
       To stay at home is best.

Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Cottage Projects And Purposes

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Dean and I have been living in this WWII era small home in historic St. Charles, Missouri for just under 2 years.  It is Dean’s dream home, and becoming mine. Deanna’s Cottage is the name we give this home.  In 2019 the cottage had been rented out via Airbnb for 7 festival weekends.  It has such an ideal location, just 6 blocks from Historic Main Street. Each of our cottage guests have rated our little place 5-stars.  Thus far this year, the pandemic has kept us from renting Deanna’s Cottage.  It will be the second half of 2020 before we will accept reservations again on Airbnb, provided the threat of COVID-19 has subsided significantly.  Those weekends when the guests come stay at Deanna’s Cottage, we stay at our previous residence.  Our old house is rented to my daughter and son-in-law, a family of four.  There is our old bedroom we invade for 2 nights at a time with our feline friend, Celine who has taken permanent residence there.

With the social distancing for 6 weeks now in the state of Missouri, we have more time on our hands. We would rather be visiting with our kids, grandkids, parents, siblings, and friends on the weekends.  Sure understand why, and respect the rules set in order for this invasive virus to die down, but it is hard not to be with everyone.  Our two youngest grandkids have April birthdays.  We left the fixings for a birthday party on the porch and did a drive-by birthday greeting for the 10-year grandson earlier this month.  But our 4-year granddaughter will not understand why Grandpa and Grandma cannot stop to visit.  So birthday presents were sent in the mail to the other side of Missouri for our granddaughter to open on her birthday this Sunday.  May be able a Facetime event.

So what else to do with all this time, especially on the weekends?  We gained 2 hours every weekday with telecommuting, and little prep for work.  So one project after another runs in Dean and I’s heads separately and collectively with conversations and plans to follow.  We have plans to take out the carpeting in the living room, hallway, and master bedroom to get to the bare wooden floors.  We are not sure what we will find, so we have put that off for awhile.  We think it will take old-fashion time and elbow-grease with refinishing the floors.  And what to do with the furniture while we work on it?  With the lovely spring weather, outdoor projects have taken priority.  Off and on since last autumn Dean has worked on the windows, scrapping, glazing, priming, and painting.  That project is weather dependent. The awning over the front porch needs repainting.  The back awnings just need to be removed.  The back porch/deck needs to be replaced.  Fencing replaced, too.  And then there is the landscaping.  This includes a huge tree removal, resetting a small retention wall on one side of the house, and putting in a pebble patio in the front with a small fountain.  I love this project as it means a lawn chair to sit in at the end of a long day to relax under the dogwood tree sipping on iced tea or a cup of hot tea.  The weather temperature tells me which.

I have many longer-term plans in my mind for Deanna’s Cottage.  Did you ever hear of the book A Place Of My Own: The Architecture Of Daydreams by healthy food activist and author, Michael Pollan?  He dreams of a small structure, then he builds it himself, and uses as his writing studio.  A quiet space, purposeful place.  I found this cute place online used as a small venue for parties, showers, rehearsal dinner, and luncheons.  I could see Deanna’s Cottage used as a small gathering place such as this.  I can also see a quainter dwelling, maybe about 500 square-foot to be built in the big back yard within the next 5 years used as an atelier for reading, writing and art projects, but also for periodic guests and gatherings.  My flower, herb, and vegetable gardens surrounding the dwelling. But what does God purpose for Dean and I at Deanna’s Cottage, and this smaller structure I dream about?

 

April Evening At Boone Hollow Farm

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The vivid beauty of this spring season is present at Boone Hollow Farm near Defiance, Missouri.  In our attempt to get away from the urban or should I say “world” troubles, this farm became our mid-week oasis. It is almost magical at the farm where Dean and I’s greenhouse seats.  The lowering sun illuminated the purples and greens in the fields and groves of trees, the grass plush.  Birds singing their evening tunes, frogs peeping in unison, sheep in the neighbor farmyard baaing.  A serene symphony of countryside calm.  My country garden is a dwelling place for me, a bed to lay my cares aside.  Our sowed seedlings in the screenhouse side of the greenhouse are coming up well.  We are hopeful the leafy greens will be ready to provide the base for our salads by the end of April or early May.  In the mist of viral chaos there is a dwelling place for each of us, even if it is just in the mind.

 

White Fluff In This Green Season

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Over the course of the winter and this early spring the busy red and gray squirrels in our neighborhood have managed to empty the two patio cushions on our next door neighbors’ patio furniture.  I suppose the amount of leaves and branches in the neighborhood is not enough for these rascals.  Hoarders and self-absorbed.  Sound familiar?  The synthetic stuffing that I call “white fluff” has been scattered about in the immediate neighborhood found in the green grass, bushes, trees, leaves, and the huge squirrels’ nest in our cherry tree.  This has been going on over the past 5 months, with maybe the final unloading last night.  We don’t see another cushion laying in the yard or patio furniture, thank God. The neighbor who owns the patio cushions appears clueless or could give a darn.  Dean and I spent a few Saturday afternoons cleaning up the “white fluff” from our yard, and the next door church’s yard. A couple of months ago Dean fully emptied the one cushion the squirrels chewed a hole in and threw the remaining contents in the trash bin.  The squirrels found the other cushion, and chewed a hole in that one.  So a repeat with the second cushion, we have spent a good hour here and there cleaning up.  Rather comical at times, but mostly aggravating.

On a more serious note, this “white fluff” illustrates to me the novel corona virus and the community’s responses.  The squirrels are those people who carry the virus, and share their germs while out and about with their busy, careless activities like hoarding the toilet paper and taking their  children to the grocery store for a “social hour”.  The clueless neighbor is the person who refuses to self-educate with reputable, accurate, up-to-date COVID-19 information and seems to hide from life.  Dean and I are the millions of people trying to keep our world cleaned-up and safe for ourselves and others around us.  How about you?  Are you watching after yourself and those people placed immediately around you?  Surely you are not one of the squirrels making more of mess for the rest of us!  Let’s get this “white fluff “cleaned up, obey the social distancing rules, and pray we have a vaccine before the next season arrives.

Sanity Strolls

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The song birds at our feeders keep us entertained with their thankful chirps and chatter.  The robins bob up and down listening for the worms. The cardinals’ color brighten Dean’s and I’s day.  The yellow, purple, and house finches share and then bicker over perches.  The word co-exist is familiar to many of us this present day.  We are home together all day seven days a week now with these mandatory remote work settings. After a whole day of staying indoors that first day, Dean and I knew we needed to change it up.  Fresh air and daily walks were needed to keep our sanity.  Our bodies, minds, and spirits thanked us.  We now take a stroll twice a day everyday.  We see neighbors about, too.  If we get into a spring rain, the drops are harmless. A cup of hot coffee for Dean and hot tea for me takes any chill out immediately.  The spring season is in bloom every direction we walk.  First the jonquils, daffodils, hyacinths, wild violets, and now tulips take bloom.  The tulip and plum trees opened with the crab apple and pear trees closely after.  Soon the cherry, red bud, and dogwood trees will be in full display.  Nature’s canvas and neighbors’ garden art to admire.  Our feathered and flowery friends, God’s creations teach us to take note, be present moment, co-exist, and share joy.

 

 

Then There Is Gardening

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This COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing mandates have everyone’s routines turned upside down.  Offices, schools, businesses, and now restaurant closings.  Remote work and make-shift offices and classrooms at home.  Priorities change, refocus on what is paramount, safety.  As we as a world make improvising arrangements with our employment, schooling, medical care, dental care, traveling, vacationing, shopping, dining, banking, faith-based activities, entertainment, and list goes on.  Cyberhackers take advantage, and magic potion con artists try their tactics.  But such heart-warming people and their actions shine brighter.  Did you see the California choir and their remote, online rendition of Over the Rainbow?   How about those Christmas lights and décor shining bright, and the Christmas carols over the radio?  The celebrities’ videos that keep us singing, laughing and smiling.  Hotels opening their empty rooms to paramedics and medical staff for COVID-19 testing and quarantine stations.  Neighbors helping each other with meals and errands.  Have you sat quietly and prayed?  I hope so. The world could use your prayers.

So after all the readjustments and new routines established, what are you doing with all the free time with no commutes or engagements?  Cannot go out to the movies, ball game, concert, winery, coffee shop, or vacation destination.  Please don’t turn to binge eating, drinking, or drugs. Keep yourself healthy and safe.  Projects like deep cleaning, decluttering, home repairs, and yardwork are suggestions, maybe not so appealing to some.  Indoor hobbies like scrapbooking, journaling, reading, painting, building a model, cooking, baking, making a music video, and blogging might be of interests. FaceTime, telephone, or do the old-fashion writing a letter to your friend or loved ones.  How about going outdoors, while keeping your distance from others?  Long walks on the paved sidewalk or trail in the woods, bird watch, shoot some hoops in your driveway court, or paint your front door a fresh color.  Then there is gardening!  I purchased my organic greens and herbs seeds, and will sow them in the warming organic soil at the screenhouse this week.  My office plants came home with me, and I will attend to them under the plant lights of our basement.  The Spring Equinox came yesterday evening, so perennial plants are closer to going outdoors each day.  This season we will always remember.  Make it a lemonade-out-of-lemons season.  Just sweeten it up with your love, God’s love.

 

 

Impromptu Sunday Drive

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What a lovely day, so much like Spring.  The daffodils started to bloom at our cottage this week.  The gold finches are molting more each day in preparation for their spring and summer survival colors.  Scripture reminds us not to worry about what to wear and what to eat as God supplies.  “Look at the birds of the air…”  I think Dean and I supply plenty of seeds for the song birds in our neighborhood besides what naturally exists.  Not that God doesn’t supply adequately enough, we just enjoy the entertainment of the songbirds outside our living room window at the feeders.

The mild temperatures warranted an impromptu drive this Sunday afternoon to the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.  We packed a picnic lunch and stopped in the little historic river village, Elsah. We relished the quiet park and tiny town while munching on our sandwiches.  Then we made our way to the river hubbub of Grafton, IL.  Bikers, antique cars, and convertibles seem to take over the town.  We managed to park the car and found a few little antique and gift shops to peruse.  Such lovely art pieces.  I found a garden sign with spring-like embellishments for my arrowhead planter.  Just a matter of another 6 weeks before the houseplants go outside, and Easter 5 weeks away.  Spring-like rains and weather continue this week with a winter return next week.  Well, today I cherished this early taste of spring.

 

Feathery Life

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My mother and I went to the movies this afternoon.  The young man scanning our purchased tickets was quite friendly, shared what day it was. National Margarita Day and Sweet Potato Day!  He subscribes to the DailyHolidayBlog and says everyday is a holiday and celebration.  The movie we saw said the same.  We viewed the new movie version of Little Women, Louisa M Alcott’s book. What a wonderful movie.  A reminder of the simpler things in life.   “The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely,” Louisa M Alcott shared in one of her books. I love that era when this book was written, the late 1800’s as well as into early 1900’s.  The photo with the mother holding the baby is my grandmother with her firstborn, my father taken in 1936 at the former farm and estate of a prominent businessman in the St. Louis area where my grandfather worked.

So Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Nicks tunes played while I prepared dinner this evening at Deanna’s Cottage.  I had the fixins for cranberry mimosas, not margaritas in the house.  No sweet potatoes either, but made an egg casserole.  I played around with my new craft supplies.  I bought a couple of 75% discounted journals to embellish with collage art.  Repurposed items will be used.  This will be another creative outlet for me using words, color, and textures to express my heart.  Feathery words and designs plague my mind all the time.  Paisley prints and feathers swirl in my head while birds sing and nests perch on branches of leaves.  I will share my new art form with friends and family and post photos on this blog as I come along in the collage crafting.  Look for a new page coming soon.

 

Waste Not Want Not and the Hydrangea Tumbleweed

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My Sunday morning pancake making came with a comic note from any neighbor’s perspective, I am sure.  While Dean slept in I made my from-scratch pancakes using an overripe banana left in the fruit bowl.  You know the saying, “waste not want not”.  While cooking the pancakes, I checked the bird feeder.  The song birds and squirrels  have managed to empty the feeders in a matter of two days. It didn’t snow overnight, just cold and rainy this February morning.  Well, those pesky squirrels are hanging all over the bird feeders and has the big one twisted open.  I got our ammo out, the spray bottle of water and open the door to shoot at the squirrels.  They hate it, yet will feed on the bird seeds in the rain!  Maybe a BB gun would more effective, but may scare the neighbors.

As I spray a stream of water their way, the squirrels scatter. One goes around to the hide on the other side of the house and the other runs towards the street. In the corner of my eye I see a tumbleweed going into the street between our car and the neighbor’s car. That tumbleweed is the bloom I clipped yesterday and added to a red wire basket setting on the front porch.  I try not to waste anything, including the dried blooms left on our hydrangea bushes.  They make great fill-ins for floral baskets.  The wind must have blown it out of the basket.  Oh, I smell burnt pancake and run back into the kitchen!  Just a little too charred to suit me, but Dean will eat it. Waste not want not, you eat what is served, right?

I bundled myself with a warm robe before going out into the elements to rescue the hydrangea tumbleweed from the wind and rain.  The rescue was a success!  I shoved it back into the wire basket with a little more force and returned to more pancake making.  Dean awakes to the aroma of semi-burnt pancakes and sausage.  No, the smoke alarm did not go off to awaken him.  As I tell him my morning adventures he selects the YouTube playlist of Gene Autry as well as Sons Of The Pioneers version singing Tumbling Tumbleweeds

See them tumbling down,
Pledging their love to the ground!
Lonely, but free, I’ll be found,
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds…

We talk of our childhood memories of burnt meals.  This morning pancakes came close to the charred pancakes Grandpa and Great-Uncle Lloyd made for the whole family when going to the family farm in Franklin County.  Dean recalled similar stories of his childhood.

 

A February Welcome

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We got through January with bouts of snow, ice, and cold rains.  But the first two days in February softened up to temps in the 70’s by Super Bowl Sunday.   What a gorgeous and glorious weekend.  On Saturday I opened my eyes in the wee hours like a work day while the first February sunrise greeted me in its pink hues, flirting the Valentine’s Day’s colors.  I had plans to get the house thoroughly cleaned after being away for the 2 weekends previous.  I accomplished that but made the time to pull out the Valentine decorations.  The big Valentine red heart wreath went on the turquoise door.  An adorable welcome!

The neighborhood outdoor grills fired up on Sunday in celebration of the grand weather and football game.  After church, Dean and I went outside for some outdoor chores.  Dean washed layers of salt and junk off the car.  It is spiffy and shiny now!  I sanded a couple of outdoor furniture pieces.  The old metal-framed glider that came with the house and carport finally had a sander workout.  Down to some pretty smooth cedar planks.  A coat of stain and varnish will go on the cedar planks after I finish sanding the metal frame and a coat of enamel on the frame.  Most likely an early spring project after the frame color choice is decided on and more warm weekends.

A little child’s chair used as a perch on the front porch was a less than $10 purchase at a  French Town antique shop last spring.  It apparently had a layer of paint quickly brushed on it before I bought it.  The paint peeled terribly when the cold weather arrived this past autumn.  So I set the poor thing in the basement and waited for a break in the weather to sand and repaint it.  Sunday was the day to get it started.  A coat of white primer after the sanding.  And then for artistic impression, “nifty turquoise” to match the front door.  My mid-week artist’s project, painting will be a great diversion from this crazy world.

February is obviously a red month.  Why look at the KC Chiefs, the Super Bowl champions!  A sea of red confetti at the game and parades. Oh, we cannot forget Red Dress Day this Friday.  Always the first Friday in February.  Wear that red and be good to your heart.  So the gray winter gets a splash or two of color, and I love it.  The red and turquoise palette suits you well, February!