Wednesday Brought The Thunder

This post is going to be super-fast because my computer battery is almost dead and I’m at my parents’ house and there’s a ten year-old asleep in the room where my power cord is, but I just wanted to thank y’all so much for your sweet comments and emails and general words-o-encouragement about the book being released and all the accompanying hubbub.

(Is “hubbub” spelled like that?)

(I don’t think I’ve ever typed it before.)

(And in the irony department, I feel like I’m making a hubbub about “hubbub.”)

Tuesday turned out to be a really good day – once I got past my initial nervousness and texted Melanie the most neurotic series of sentences you have ever seen in your life. At one point I wrote something along the lines of, “THIS HAS ALL BEEN A TERRIBLE MISTAKE,” and then I fell sideways on a chaise lounge and rested my hand on my forehead and grabbed a nearby container of smelling salts since I was feeling very faint.

Listen. It was a very dramatic 30-35 minutes. But I don’t always handle New Life Events very well.

That afternoon my Bible study friends hosted a little get-together to celebrate the book, and by that point I was so wound up that I TALKED FOR MANY MINUTES IN A ROW WITHOUT STOPPING AND ALSO I WAS VERY LOUD BECAUSE I WAS VERY RELIEVED TO BE AROUND SOME PEOPLE.

Please let me show you this cake.

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Isn’t that adorable?

Eventually I will make some sort of collage something-or-other with my pictures from the shindig, but there’s no time for that right now because, well, COMPUTER BATTERY IN THE RED. Just know that it was very fun and I am so grateful for friends who treat me like family and please remind me to tell you about these pretzel and M&M cookie-type things that could very well lead to my earthly demise.

Also, Tuesday night we ate supper at Chuy’s. I can’t imagine that even a single one of you is surprised.

This morning I took the little guy to VBS, and we had big plans to leave for Mississippi just as soon as I picked him up. But one thing led to another thing and another thing and another thing, and the bottom line is that it was almost 4:30 before we got on the road. I just couldn’t get my act together – I would fold a pair of jeans and then put my hairspray in a bag and then scrub the kitchen sink and then dig through a pile of socks and it just took me forever to get our stuff packed. I also took a brief nap about midway through the packing process because suddenly I was very tired and just needed to shut my eyes for a minute.

(My sleeping habits of late are a whole ‘nother post. But apparently I was operating on a significant sleep deficiency at the end of the school year, and OH, HAVE I EVER BEEN TRYING TO MAKE UP FOR IT.)

Anyway, it was a little cloudy when we pulled out of our driveway, but by the time we got to the interstate, it was starting to get really dark. And after we’d been on the road about 15 minutes, it started to rain with such force and fury that I wondered if I shouldn’t just turn around and go home. It eventually let up a little bit, and we kept moving, but somewhere around Tuscaloosa the bottom fell completely out of the sky and we ended up swimming to Mississippi.

I am kidding, of course. But OH, THE RAIN.

I ended up staying in the right lane with my hazards on for the next 30 or so miles, but after about the sixth round of torrential downpours, my nerves were shot. So I pulled off the interstate at a McDonald’s, parked the car, texted my husband, and said something along the lines of, “It is raining so loudly that you could not hear me if I called. So we are going to go in McDonald’s now. I think I have had enough of the weather.”

And do you know that we stayed in that McDonald’s for over an hour? Yes we did. We ate supper there, enjoyed the free wifi, refilled our drinks a couple of times, and basically could’ve camped out there all night if necessary because driving in all that rain was no longer an option for me. Mama’s nerves = DONE.

Finally, though, the worst of the rain passed us. D texted me and said it looked like we were free and clear from the storm system (that thing must have been GINORMOUS), and we bid farewell to our Mickey D’s haven. We made it to my parents’ house way later than we planned, but yay for not driving in, you know, A SQUALL.

(I’m not entirely sure that we experienced an actual squall.)

(But make no mistake. That weather was squall-ish.)

But wait! There’s a silver lining! When we were almost to my parents’ house, we caught the tail-end of the most gorgeous sunset. I even pulled off the road (again) and stopped the car (again) because LOOK AT THIS, MY WORD.

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See?

I’d say that all worked out.

Happy Thursday, y’all.

Well Hello There, Yosemite

Over the years I’ve made no bones about the fact that I mostly prefer to enjoy the nature from the comfort of, say, a moving car. Or while relaxing on a couch in our living room. My preference for the great indoors has nothing to do with a lack of appreciation for the nature; it’s mainly because – in this part of the country, at least – being one-on-one with the nature means there’s a better than average chance that I’m going to be burning slap up. And people, I am no fan of the heat.

The older I get, though, the more God gets my attention in and through the nature. I don’t know why that is, exactly, but I will say that it’s some sweet, sweet irony for a girl who has spent years avoiding any sort of camping-related activity. I’ve actually turned into one of those people who TAKES PICTURES OF SUNSETS, for crying out loud. Not to mention that when I was in Ecuador back in November, I was moved to tears when I realized that the round rocks along the riverbank provided the perfect place for our canoes to anchor, followed shortly by another realization that OH MY WORD IT’S LIKE I DON’T EVEN KNOW MYSELF ANYMORE.

I suspect that my increasing wonder where the nature is concerned has something to do with a deeper sense of gratitude for how majestic and creative God is – and how kind He is to share that creation with us. The consistency of His character is evident in all of His creation, and I love that I can remember that by doing nothing more than looking out a window. Or by walking outside and taking in the scenery. Or maybe even by hiking while surrounded by all sorts of nature. But only if I’m feeling particularly crazy, of course.

Yesterday I ran across a video that proved to me all over again that the nature, it really is something else (EVEN WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING IT ON THE COMPUTER), and oh my goodness – it was mighty sweet of God to give us such a spectacular gift.

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Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

“For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies: Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.” – Pierpoint

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17

Sometimes I Understand The Animals

So about a month ago, on a total whim, we decided to buy a squirrel feeder and a bag of dried corn at the Walmarts. We have SQUIRRELS APLENTY in our yard, and we figured that if we fed them, then maybe they’d stay out of the bird feeder and quit digging up the bulbs and stop chewing on the deck chairs.

Oh, we’re very strategic.

It only took a couple of hours for the squirrels to spread the word about corn (and, apparently, for the duck hawks to overhear them). What I never, expected, though, is how entertaining the squirrels would be.

I also never expected how they would THROW DOWN on some corn.

Or the gymnastic moves they would employ to get it.

Or that the ear of corn would look like this within thirty minutes of setting it outside.

Today, though, I got a whole new surprise when I looked out the window and saw Guard Dog Squirrel. And I mean to tell you that Guard Dog Squirrel had no intention of sharing the corn with ANYBODY. In fact, I’m pretty sure that he barked.

And you know what? I feel like I can relate to Guard Dog Squirrel. Because I’ve probably had that same possessive look in my eyes when I’ve been sitting near a fresh bucket of Popeye’s.

The Internet Can Solve Anything

Listen.

Your comments about the mystery bird on our deck made me laugh and clap my hands. I just hooted. And not because there was an owl outside. Because I think if I learned anything from this whole experience, I learned that THE BIRD WAS NOT AN OWL.

Based on the the links y’all left in the comments, I do think we were dealing with some sort of peregrine falcon, aka the “duck hawk.” And it makes total sense, because about three weeks ago we put a squirrel feeder on our deck. The squirrel feeder has been a source of endless entertainment for us (I had no idea that squirrels were so limber! or that they loved corn!), and it has also attracted a fair share of chipmunks. The chipmunks don’t try to get food from the feeder; they just hide behind flower pots and wait for the squirrels to drop something.

ANYWAY, the bird on the deck looked almost identical to a picture of a juvenile peregrine falcon. I guess that maybe the falcon was doing a test run from the nest, or maybe he/she was after a chipmunk. Regardless, about thirty minutes after I posted the picture, the falcon plunged off of our deck, and there was a great deal of high-pitched squawking afterwards (one less chipmunk in the neighborhood, maybe?). But what really cracked me up was that as soon as the falcon flew away, a squirrel popped his head out from behind the closest tree, and his eyes were like saucers. I think he may have sighed.

And here’s what fascinated me more than anything else: did y’all know that the peregrine falcon is THE FASTEST ANIMAL ON EARTH? That it can fly at speeds up to 200 miles per hour?

I just had no idea. It’s like my whole backyard is a classroom, and I’ve been skipping school for years.

And quite frankly if I had known that the fastest animal on earth was going to show up on our deck on a random Tuesday morning, I would have, at the very least, offered him some Gatorade and perhaps even an energy bar of some sort.

While wearing a flower pot on my head, of course. Not to mention protective arm gear.

Edited to add: here’s a bit of news that has absolutely nothing to do with really fast birds: I posted my final Tropicana Juicy Rewards post yesterday, and if you’d like to enter to win a $50 Visa gift card courtesy of BlogHer, just click on over.

Various Thoughts And An Unexpected Bird

The last few days have been a little on the hectic-but-good side, what with getting home from the beach, driving to my hometown for all the wedding festivities, then coming back here and having some time to hang out with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews (much to our delight). Honestly, when I got out of bed yesterday morning it felt a little weird to not have anywhere to be / anything to do / anyone to see, but I’m grateful for a couple of days to recharge before the next wave of summertime crazy starts.

But none of that is the point, really, because internets, I need your help solving a nature-related mystery. A couple of minutes after I sat down to type this post, some sort of eagle-esque creature swooped down and landed on our deck (and I mean that very literally). I’m not very strong with the birds, which is why the first thing I did when I spotted the ginormous wing span angling for the deck railing was to say, “Alex! Come look! It’s an owl!”

Please don’t mock me.

Anyway, it keeps cleaning its feathers and calling other birds (it’s kind of a high-pitched call – definitely not a “hoot”), and now I’m wondering if it’s hurt or sick because it’s just sitting on the deck and not going anywhere. So basically I’ve now transferred all manner of co-dependency TO A BIRD. Is it lonely? Is it missing its bird people? Does it need medical attention? Should I alert the nature authorities?

Here’s what it looks like.

Thoughts? Advice? Ornithology tips?

The bird is still squawking, by the way. And sitting on the railing.

I’m terribly concerned.

Breaking The Gray

For the last few days I’ve had a touch of the winter blues. I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly affected by the absence of sunlight, but let me just tell you: two weeks of dreary, muggy, rainy weather? Two weeks of nothing but gray outside?

Oh my word. If my disposition has been any indication, all that gray takes a toll.

Friday morning I was running errands, looking Gray Day #13 dead in the eye, and I found myself thinking that a bright turquoise sky and a bright yellow sun and some bright green leaves would be a welcome change from all the wet-leaf dreariness that has enveloped us lately. Several minutes later, when a brief little patch of sunlight peeked through the clouds for all of two minutes, I stood in the dead center of that little patch and looked up at the sky.

I couldn’t get over how much I’ve missed the sun.

I couldn’t get over how much I’ve missed color.

I told my husband that I think the gray days would be easier if it had at least been cold enough for us to build some fires (fires are orange! and red! and blue!). But since last week was about seventy four kinds of muggy, fires weren’t really an option.

Late Friday afternoon the boy and I hopped in the car for a quick road trip, and about ten minutes before the sun was supposed to set, it popped out from behind the clouds in one of the most glorious displays I’ve ever witnessed. Even the five year-old piped up from the backseat and said, “Mama! THE SUN!,” and we oooohed and ahhhhed as we made our way down the interstate.

Then I pulled out my phone (WITH BOTH EYES ON THE ROAD, OF COURSE) and snapped away.

You wouldn’t believe what those colors did for my mood.

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There was pink! And red! And turquoise! IN THE SKY!

And I thought: funny how the gray days make you more appreciative of the colorful ones.

I think there just might be a metaphor in there somewhere.