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Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)I would love to hear from you, if you don't have a blog you can still comment, join google it's free. I appreciate hearing from you.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lottery Fever................

It occurred to me that we have been blessed because we did NOT win the lottery. I think that our thoughts should be on other things. While it would be nice to have enough money to pay off everything God blesses us with enough to pay our bills. Would life be the same if we did not have to rely on God quite so much.? Why then do I want more? I really only want it to give it away and to do good things with. However God knows best, He knows what would really happen if such wealth were to come to us. I really do not want that.........to be outside of God's will for me. I was watching a movie about St Francis of Assisi this evening. I was only watching it because Mickey Rourke was in it to be honest. It was very tedious to begin with and dragged out I was getting bored. We didn't switch it off though and I was on here working on a blog. Then the scene came where he was quoting from the beatitudes. I was enthralled. Mickey Rourke for all of his mistakes in his own life is one heck of an actor and was why I was watching to begin with. Well............it really brought it home to me how lucky we are not to be among the rich. As Jesus says "they have their own reward" that is not what I want. Jesus tells us to give and then give more. I really thought about that when St Francis was telling the people the words of Jesus..........and sometimes we need to be reminded. We need to listen to what Jesus said. Sometimes even church leaders need to be reminded and certainly politicians do, at least those who profess to be Christians. I am not judging. Just saying that often I do not hear much love coming from those who try to lead us and most of them are wealthy. They have no idea what a regular persons life is like and they certainly have no empathy.

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"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10


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St Francis preached to man and beast the universal ability and duty of all creatures to praise God (a common theme in the Psalms) and the duty of men to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God's creation and as creatures ourselves.Legend has it that on his deathbed, St. Francis thanked his donkey for carrying and helping him throughout his life, and his donkey wept. He preached to the birds and they listened. He blessed a wolf. I love that about him.
I am not a Catholic but I can relate to St Francis and how he wanted to live his life. It had to have been so difficult back in his day. So..........no I do not want to win the lottery. It would separate me from God and I would not have to be dependent upon His will for my life. So I have to say thank you Lord...........and if I do buy the occasional lottery ticket now and then, its tongue in cheek because I know I will never win, but would hate to miss out on a small gift (smile)
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jerusalem.....................

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Jerusalem, from "Milton" by William Blake (1757 - 1827).



And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land


Some believe this well loved hymn is too nationalistic. I put it here without apology. Some say it has nothing to do with God and so it is not really a hymn and so should not be played in church.
To me it is symbolic. There are legends that Joseph of Aramathea brought the young boy Jesus to England. That they stayed somewhere around Glastonbury. It could have happened during those years that are missing from the bible story of Jesus. Somewhere between the Roman times and King Arthur it is possible that Jesus graced our shores. Joseph was a tin merchant owning mines in England and would have been one reason that he would have gone there. Joseph was the one who was given charge of Jesus body after his death and so there was a relationship there before His death at Calvery.
Writings dated around A.D. 550 by Taliesin, the Prince-Bard Druid may suggest Jesus began an early teaching ministry: “Christ, the Word from the beginning, was from the beginning our teacher, and we never lost His teaching.” Though these words could imply something more spiritual than the earthbound boy Jesus imparting Knowledge to the Druids, Jesus Christ, nevertheless, had a profound impact on the future of Druidism. Druids also believed in a Trinity.
After the death of Jesus Joseph and his group settled on the Isle of Glastonbury and built huts to include a church for themselves, probably made of the same sort of material the indigenous people used— mud plastered over a framework of sticks woven with branches(called wattle). They preached and taught the local people the true faith and laid the foundation for what Saint Augustine found 500 years later. So it is to me that this beautiful hymn is not just "nationalistic" but has it's root in legend, if not fact. Something we can not at this time prove. Or disprove.
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Visit to Alex in March................

We went to visit today. A nice sunny and very brisk day. We took Tristen and Reina who were cooped up in the house and it was a last minute descision when the temperature went up a couple of degees. They were driving us up the wall they were so noisy. So.........off we went.
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Gerry is showing the picture to Tristen, he always points it out. Tristen is saying "mama's house". He know's his mama lives there. I know he does not yet understand but at this point he accepts and is happy with this. Reina knows more, she is 6 now and Alexandra's youngest sister. Tristen is still only 2 1/2. We feel that if he grows up knowing all this it will fall into place for him as time goes on. Reina said "I wish Alex was still with us" and we said that we did too.
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Then they were off and running, happy to play in a place they are comfortable being. We think that its great that childish laughter rings out among the graves of mostly children in the area that Alex is buried. Her step family are close by too. Across the way is her Grandmother Schaub. So she is not here alone. Some day I hope to join her.
Till then her son and young sister play by her and spend some happy time with her..............
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How can it be? the sun still shines but she is gone.
How can it be? that the birds still sing, don't they know that she's not here?
How can everything still be the same?
The garbage man came today, didn't he know? How can he not know?
There is an empty space in the world, can you not see?
It seems so obvious to me.
Nothing is the same and it never will be again.
Yet the world continues on as before oblivious, insensitive to her loss.
JKS (an old poem I wrote that seems to fit in here)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Daffodils.............

Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Church Bells..............

I do so miss the sound of church bells. They ring out on a Sunday morning all over Britain, calling worshiper's to church. They ring out the news when people are married. Change ringing is a particular facet of English bellringing where bells are rung in mathematical sequence. Wedding cards commonly show bells: this is founded on the tradition of ringing changes as the wedding couple leave the church.
They toll at funerals far differently than the joyful peel at a wedding, one can almost feel it in the soul, that sadness that is unmistakable.

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Houghton Regis Parish Church.

In World War II in Great Britain, all church bells were silenced, to ring only to inform of an invasion by enemy troops. They have been used since ancient times for similar reasons. For centuries, church bells have summoned, celebrated, reminded and commemorated. Originally, they served communities as a tool of mass communication for both spiritual and secular matters. Not needed so much these days with all our modern technology but still they are something wonderful that is an art, the bell ringers skill must not be lost in the bustle of modern life. I know I miss waking to the sound on a Sunday morning.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

" A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures......and that is the basis of human morality"
J.F. Kennedy.

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I do not often admire a politician. I realize now that JFK may not have been exactly the man we thought he was. History is not always kind. However, much like Bill Clinton his faults were on a personal level. In my opinion. I remember how much JFK was admired at the time. He was young (although at the time I did not understand that, I was young, to me he was old) and good looking with a beautiful family. He was idealistic and stood for things I admired then and now. I really loved his brother Bobby for the same reasons. Together they were a great team. They tried to change things in a time that was much in need of change. Just coming out of a time when race was a huge issue he stood up for those who could not speak for themselves. He promoted the idea of country before self..... Of service to people, of personal sacrifice and involvement.
We need to get back to that. We seem to have come to the point where "what's in it for me" over rides what is good for the whole. Our laws are even geared towards the rights of the individual rather than the rights of the majority.
How do we get back to personal accountability?
I believe it begins with individuals saying this is enough and I will make a change in my own life and family. I will do an honest days work for an honest days wage. If you don't like your employer get another one. We need leaders who will bring out the best in us. I won't get into politics here because that is not what my blogs are about.
I find it ironic though, that certain individuals persecuted Bill Clinton for his lack of morals while doing the exact same thing themselves. Yet people ignore the one and hold the other up to ridicule. I do not defend either man but we need to maybe condemn less and look to our own selves. That is not to say we shouldn't try to get individuals into office who are moral family people and who can lead by example. It can not be impossible.
A person who has a certain religion can not impose his religious belief on others. That is not to say that we can make wrong right, or right wrong. Certain things are a question of morality no matter the religion. Those morals need to be taught at home and in church. To some degree also in school. Right and wrong is not a question of religion but ethics. The golden rule.............Do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you. That seems to say it all.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mothers Day UK.................

My friend Roger was so kind and sweet. He went and put flowers on my parents grave for Mothers Day.
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Mothers Day in the USA is sometime in May. In the UK it is always the fourth Sunday of Lent. It's not just a Hallmark holiday. Mothering Sunday has been celebrated from ancient times and on the 4th Sunday of Lent since the 16th century. So we can not blame Hallmark for making up this one.
As a young person I remember going to Luton Market to buy mum some flowers. I would choose Dutch Iris and Mimosa. The lovely Blue and yellow flowers together were beautiful.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

I am Excited...............

I am excited about life. I feel good for a change. It has to be the weather. Not that I felt bad before but did not have this enthusiasm for things. I know that during the winter months it seems so endless, even though this has been probably the mildest winter since we came to Michigan. (1971) We also had one of the worst storms ever a couple of weeks ago and now its in the 80s. That's Michigan for you.
Tristen is off to his Auntie Laura's for the weekend. As I stood with my daughter Laura watching him leave holding his auntie's hand,he was wearing his new fireman yellow rain coat.His Aunt Carrie and Uncle Justin just bought it for him. I reflected on how much he is loved. I always think of his mother Alexandra. We went to the cemetery the other day to make her marker ready for Spring. Its not too bright yet but once the violets grow out and we can put some real flowers there........I want to put some snowdrops and Spring flowers in the ground this Fall.
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I am excited too about my new diet. I feel so much better seeing the scale go down if only very slowly. I will see how much I have lost on Monday (when I started) but right now I have gone down about 4 1/2 pounds. That little bit makes me feel good...........such a long way to go though. This is a diet I can live with so if it works I will stick with it. I do crave the bread and potatoes but can reward myself when I have lost 20 pounds and not till then. I think it helps being able to get outside and rake. I have a feeling my garden this year will be a disaster. The little one does not get the idea (or maybe like the idea) of staying off the garden. I have a play area but of course he wants to be where we are and so he and Sylvie (a friends baby) were digging holes in my lawn. Lawn is rather pretentious its not a lawn by any stretch of the imagination. Grass, sort of.......
We are painting the kitchen this weekend. Well the husband is. I am making cushions for the front porch. So I better get back to that.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm On A Diet...........Again.............

It seems that I have been on a diet my entire adult life. Looking back I see that it was a waste of time because I was not consistent. I remember When I was in my 30s thinking I was fat. I am 5'3 and at that time I was nearing 120 pounds so shed about 5 pounds and tried to reach 110.I know I got to 112...........well. I was size 4/5 at that time. Back then counting calories was the way to do it. It worked and was efficient and I didn't starve. You can eat a lot for 1200 calories.
Move on to when I turned 40 and it seems everything just fell apart. I think by then I was 135 pounds and heading for 140....back to the diet. I never got down to where I had been but was happy if I could stay at 125. It seemed each year after that I put on 10 pounds. I gave up I figured I could not go up much higher. Then I would get on the scale and panic and go on a crash diet and try so hard to get down again. Winter was the worst. I never liked salads, and I could not manage them in winter when I wanted stews. I wanted bread and butter, potatoes and those lovely filling winter foods. By the time I turned 50 I decided I would try to be the best I could be..........and was determined to loose weight. I tried the Atkins diet at some point and it worked really well. I was very encouraged.I got down to 145 and for my age I looked good enough at size 8. I did not really want to be much slimmer than that. The Atkins diet is not something one can live on forever. Two weeks of strict adherence to it brought immediate results, loosing a pound a day for a time. Getting back to regular eating though just did not work and one can not live forever on meat,eggs, cheese and fatty foods....no carbs. So bit by bit it came right back.
By the year 2000 I was at my highest ever at 180 pounds. I would loose a few and got down to 165 pounds but as soon as winter came .....back came the pounds. Every time I said I would not let it come back but it did. So now I find myself this week, I started on Monday on yet another diet. I began at 182.7 and have lost 4.2 pounds. That gives me hope. If I can keep a steady loss I can stick to the diet.
What have I learned?
1. Its not a diet, it's a way of life.
2. Diet is simply what you eat.
3. If is a lifestyle then it has to be sustainable.
4. I need results right away to encourage me.
5. When you mess up get right back to it and do not be discouraged.
6. It is a matter of will power.
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What does this mean for me? I must choose an eating style that allows me to cheat now and then.If I want to go out to eat, or a birthday or something else that is a part of normal life, then I can not be obsessed with food. I will set goals.Go slowly. When reaching a certain goal I can reward myself with something I like to eat that is not in my "diet" like a baked potato with butter. Or something else I enjoy. Or maybe go out to eat. I know that we should not reward ourselves with food but that's what I choose to call it. In order to keep "on a diet" one has to be allowed to splurge once in awhile. The trap is when we do not get back on track right away and throw it all away when we gain the inevitable pound or two. It is critical to get right back to the diet the very next day or if possible to make it up the same day as best we can.
What is my diet? Well I am eating fruit, vegetables (fresh when possible) and lean meat or fish.
I have a scrambled egg cooked in butter one day, then the next I eat fruit. I alternate like that through the week.
Lunch consists of salad and if I had fruit for breakfast then I have some meat with it. If I ate egg then I just have salad. I am not a big breakfast person so if I can wait and eat breakfast late I can have the egg with the salad.
For supper it will be (for example) meat and vegetables. Maybe a small steak and asparagus, or other fresh produce. Maybe fish with some frozen stir fry. Chicken with stewed tomatoes and green beans. Anything but carbs...........oh no!!!!!. No potatoes, no rice, no pasta, no French frys (ack!!!) No bread. I can have canned soup though, there are some great vegetable soups or vegetables and beef so those I have had for lunch or supper with a salad. Its not the same without the bread and butter but that's what got me in to this mess. I could live on bread and butter. My preference for breakfast is toast and butter, or should I say butter with some toast to hold it. I love baked potatoes, face it I like potatoes any way they come. Mashed with loads of butter. All off this diet I am afraid.
I will see how I do on this regime and report back in a week or so. I need to loose the weight for my health now, not vanity so much, although that too. I love clothes and they just do not look good on me any more. I have issues with my knees and cholesterol, blood pressure ETC. Even though that is under control it would be nice to get off the meds.
My goal is to get back to 145 pounds and see how I look then. I should try for 135 after that but more slowly. I have to be careful not to end up wrinkled and fragile. At my age I can not afford to weaken my bones they are good so far. I can at last get out and walk again after the winter of being sedentary. So here goes. Mild exercise until I loose a bit more, then maybe the walking will kick in some more weight loss.
I have written this down and so I am accountable. My last ditch effort to get back into some sort of shape.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nekkid Babies..............

Oh how much fun it is. Little ones just glory in being naked. Tristen will undress and run through the house with nothing but a smile. As he runs he is patting his tummy and squealing in delight. Last night he undressed for his bath and ran off and up the stairs. Gerry found him admiring his little body in the full length bathroom mirror. Very proud he was.

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We are born comfortable in our own skins.........why does it change? As toddlers we are so proud of our body and love to show it off. That is not the case for most of us as we mature. Society I am sure is responsible for that. To a degree its a defensive mechanism especially in today's world of pedophiles. What a shame that is. The loss of innocence.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hedgerows....................

This is a difficult subject because its so vast. I think that the hedgerow is unique to the British Isles in many ways. Yes other countries have hedges but not quite the same as there. Its a complex system that at one time covered the entire country with an intricate system of byways for the birds and animals of Great Britain. Its more complicated than just a hedge or fence to keep in livestock. It binds the land from one end to the other giving homes to hundreds of creatures that could not exist without them. It gives them a sort of highway system that they can live in and travel in with some sort of safety. As a child I fell in love with them. I did not live on a farm but I spent enough time on one to know how important the upkeep was. In the non growing seasons, when daily chores sort of wound down, the babies were all grown and the crops all in...........then the farmer would tend the ditches and hedges and make sure all was still in order.
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Some hedgerows are hundreds of years old. Maybe more. They are not just willy nilly either they are created. At some point someone put thought into the construction of most of them. They consist of a base of earth and usually a ditch or bank depending upon the lay of the land. The ditches drained the fields and often joined up streams and ponds so that the fresh water creatures had habitat. Frogs and newts and other pond creatures could move around from pond to pond within the safety of the hedgerows. The banks would be a place for wildflowers to grow and thrive while the hedges provided nesting places for song birds and mice. They are full of brambles and wild fruits. They also contain trees that provide shade for cattle or deer.
The rabbits burrow and so will the voles. Hedgehogs live within the dense undergrowth and foxes too.
The structure of the hedge protects the fields from erosion. No dust bowls here.
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Repairs are made to fill holes in the base so that cattle can not get out. Its a skill that can not be lost. Much like thatching a roof, once the skills are lost then life will never be the same.
Some creatures just will not survive if the hedgerows are lost

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There is a vast variety of shrubs and trees that make up a typical hedge. Hawthorn is one, when constructing and maintaining the use of the field needs to be considered. You do not want to put your cows in a field where they will eat their way out. Hawthorn and Blackthorn are as they say, thorny. In May they are beautiful to behold when in bloom. Hazel is another common hedgerow staple.Holly, Beech, Oak, Ash and Elm were all traditional. The hedges have to also be kept at a certain height and the cutting serves to strengthen them. Pollarding is a technique that is useful. You will also find vines, Ivy, Blackberry,nut and fruit trees and wild roses. That is to say nothing of the beautiful flowers like Violets and Primroses that grow on the banks. I could go on and on, it was a childhood pleasure looking for nests among the hedges in our countryside. Back then I guess I thought that it all came naturally and I suppose to some extent a lot of the hedgerows are so old that they have taken on an existence of their own.