April 28, 2010

a parrot attack...that ended well

We were in the midst of a peaceful lunch with friends;
when suddenly I heard the flutter of wings;
parrot wings.

"The bird's loose!"

Just as I got my warning out -
the bird herself appeared;
she made a graceful high speed pass over the lunch table;

-landing gear down-

and began a rapid approach for either the window
or my head.
(Her favorite landing spot of all time...)

Not liking either option -
I offered her my hand.

And she took it.

It was such an odd moment for me -
I don't believe I've held the bird since...
Well - Years.
Joe grabbed the camera and captured the moment.
Of course she started scooting down my arm
(as you can see in the photo)
in an attempt to get Dad to "rescue" her,
but she never bit me...
You wouldn't think a little parrot bite would hurt.
You'd be surprised.

I know that the bird actually sort of likes me;
she knows she does too.
She will almost always talk for me,
(she can be pretty stubborn about talking sometimes)
and over the seven years we've had her,
we've become pretty good friends.

-As long as I don't touch her cage.-

She is known to be nicer if she's away from her
house and other belongings...

She's very possessive about her stuff.

Of course Dad is still her favorite person;
and always will be.

So we awarded her for escaping
with a bite of blueberry muffin...
and then she was escorted back to her house.

We're back to double-checking that all of her doors are secured.

She has an uncanny knack for opening them.

And I have a feeling that those lovely turquoise flight feathers
are going to be getting another trim here shortly...

April 23, 2010


The weekend is already upon us;
and I only have time to share a few snapshots.
Just a few artistic moments that Spring has brought.
The blessing of details.

The sweetness of feline femininity.
Thirteen years old, and her posture is as perfect as ever.

The heavenly fragrance of fresh lilacs.
Wafting in the east windows on a sunny afternoon.

Huck and Buster.
A decade of dog friendship.

Tea with Honey and Cream.
With a nod to my English ancestors.

A smiley dog. Who never stops moving.
The world's greatest challenge in photography. Captured.

A piece of history.
More schoolhouse woodwork, and the beauty of time.

A Favorite cat.
Who has quite the knack for finding masculine backgrounds.
And posing.

Take a moment to thank the Lord for details.
He puts detail into everything He creates;
even the little things that last just a moment.

I'm so thankful for the details.

April 20, 2010

The Forgotten Schoolhouse

I'm not a poet.
But I took a composition class with some fellow homeschoolers at the age of fifteen - and, well - writing a poem suddenly became mandatory. We were encouraged to use as many metaphors and instances of personification as possible... My source of inspiration became the little one hundred year old schoolhouse at the end of our road, the country schoolhouses all over America. The poem was written, graded, forgotten. A few weeks ago, we took some friends down to visit the old place, and get some photos. It made me remember my poem.

Down the road stands a crumbling
brick schoolhouse,
without many days left to spend.

Nothing to keep it company,
but the melancholy sighing of the wind.

The quaint little building has fallen
into hopeless disrepair -

Creaking, and rattling
with every breath of air.

Many years have passed
since all it's children were laid to rest;
some sooner, some later,
but where I can only guess.

Some on the battlefields of France,
some just a mile away.

It's beyond one's imagination
where so many adventurers could stray.

They were born into a generation
when freedom and tyranny would duel,

But the will to protect liberty
was diligently taught in that school.

With only an eighth grade education,
they grew to be patriots and inventors,

Some paid the ultimate price,
others lived to be wizened mentors.

(David Thatcher, one of the last surviving "Doolittle Raiders" - I took this photo Saturday.)

Their legacies live on,
and may for a few years more,
but what has become of the values
they fought so valiantly for?

Their schoolhouse stands forgotten;
a relic of the past,

And the country that has forgotten it,
is crumbling just as fast.

April 16, 2010

Of Violets; and Absurd Cats

Last week,
we searched to find one lonely violet...
This week,
our orchard is literally carpeted with them.

Aren't they lovely?

So tiny and delicate.

Yet so vibrant.

Oh, speaking of vibrant...

Perhaps I should of warned you about that...


One moment I'm getting a nice shot of a violet;
the next moment I see that in the viewfinder...
(It's a yawn by the way.)

Two of my favorite orange kitties;
basking in their new-found (and short-lived)
appreciation for violets.

Photo shoot properly sabotaged...

and they moved on.

April 14, 2010

The bucket of shame

The silence of a relatively peaceful evening; was shattered by the cries of a young sheep in distress... It truly wasn't all that disconcerting of a sound. Kind of normal actually. It doesn't take much to distress a sheep. But something was different, kind of like an echo. Hmm. Kind of like a sheep in a bucket.

No; wait.

It is a sheep in a bucket.

So, being the kind and merciful people that we are;
we all ran outside to laugh.

And take pictures, of course.

Don't ask me how she got that way. She's a sheep; and sheep tend to have these sorts of struggles from time to time. So... Without further ado - we removed said bucket of shame - and she was reunited with the flock.

She's probably forgotten about it already...

April 13, 2010

a heart that breaks

It has almost been three months since I was riding a bus through the streets of Santiago, Dominican Republic with my grandpa. It was one week after the earthquake in Haiti. Our mission trip to the DR had nothing to do with Haiti (it had been planned months in advance), but Haiti was on all of our minds. The very slight tremors of an aftershock woke me up early one morning, and 120 miles really didn't seem so far away.

Being in Santiago for those few days gave me a connection to Haiti, and - Haiti has served as a reminder of Santiago ever since. Santiago; the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. Big, busy - but still hurting.

There's a certain street there that I remember most of all. I can always tell when I'm making a memory that will last forever. It's almost as if it's burning into my brain - and I'm conscious in that second that it is something I will never forget. Time seems to stop, as my mind hurries to pull in all the details, details that will give that moment life in years to come.

As we bounced along that Santiago street, approaching a busier side of town - I noticed a few things. The increased honking of horns, and truck exhaust, the very same fast food restaurants as back home, and the children on the street.

At every stoplight, the children ran and ducked among the cars - throwing wet soapy sponges on car windows - their somewhat forward way of advertising a car wash. Some sold water, some would offer to shine your shoes, some washed windows. Anything for a couple of Pesos. And as they swarmed, racing for time before the light turned green again - I found myself stunned and overwhelmed. The missionaries warned us to watch our belongings. These kids were quick. My camera went back in it's case.

We went another street deeper, another light caught us. We were further back in the line of traffic, it didn't look like the children on this corner would make it back to us this time.

I wasn't the first to see her, someone else pointed her out. I caught a glimpse of her as she ducked behind the car next to us, she spoke a word or two to the man inside - and then moved on. She was frail, tiny. By my American standards I could have guessed her to be six or seven years old - but chances are she was older than that. Her dusty hair was held in place with little pieces of colorful yarn and her stiff denim jumper was dirty and worn. As we watched her leave the shadows of an overpass to our left and come our way, I knew she was different from the children I had been working with that morning. I knew she was one of those moments I would never forget.

I still can't imagine why she chose me, perhaps she could read the pity in my eyes. For whatever reason - it was my window that she chose to approach first. She stopped, and she looked straight into my eyes. I've seen eyes with hurt in them. Pain. But I've never seen a child with eyes like these. I felt that I was actually peering into the depths of darkness itself. It was almost as if her soul was right there - right behind those empty black eyes, and it's lostness, it's ache, all of it's needs - simply poured from them. I was already holding the tears back, stunned, distraught. And then she whispered: Pesos? Pesos? while holding out her hands. Everything hit me full force then. The language barrier, the fact that I had no money to give her (it was a holiday, thus the banks were closed, thus no dollars exchanged for pesos yet) we had actually been instructed to not give money even if we had it - others on the street were watching, and if I had given her anything - it might have put her in danger. I knew all this, and it poured through my head as I looked at her. Pesos? She implored with me - knowing that time was short. There was literally nothing I could do for her - and the weight of that broke my heart. Lo siento, was all I could say. Lo siento; I am sorry, so very sorry. Her eyes flickered - and then she was gone - she ran to a few windows more - desperately trying for what time she had left. None of us had money. The light had turned green, she knew she had to get out of the way before traffic ran her down. But there was one last thing for her to do. Her little face lit up with an evil smirk - a look even more frightening than the hopelessness I had seen before. She walked down the row of bus windows - and at each one she spat a word. A Spanish word I didn't recognize; but the meaning was clear enough. And with that she was gone. She dashed to the guardrail - put one hand on it - threw her little body up in the air - balanced for one moment in a one hand head stand - flipped in the air - landed on her feet - and disappeared.

That's when we spotted the woman waiting for her. Her mother, maybe. It was clear she had been sent for money by her. Money for drugs? Money for what? Others on the bus were more familiar with these types of things then I was. But when I saw her do that little hand stand, that little flip - I knew she had been waiting under that overpass for a long time - this was her life. The bus moved on, life went on, even though it felt as if it shouldn't.

I realized at that moment that my heart had broken; and at that moment that's what I wanted. A heart that breaks. Orphans crying in Haiti, a little girl begging for money in the street, a little boy that I just heard of recently - a little Dominican boy - who was dumped in Haiti by his parents. Parents that wanted to get rid of him, and thought no one would ever notice him amongst all the chaos and confusion. These are the things that should break our hearts. But what about our neighbors? There are truly some in America that are just as hopeless, just as lost. That should break our hearts too.

I'm yet to forget that little girl - somewhere under an overpass in Santiago. As I've shared her story - I've wished for a picture of her; but didn't have one. Just the one in my head.

A few weeks back, another team member sent me a CD of photos from the trip. This one was blurry, I scanned over it, almost deleted it. Didn't even notice who it was, until a couple of days ago. Muted, anonymous, just as I remember her.

Please pray for her,
God knows her name, and where she is.

And ask the Lord to give us hearts that break.

April 10, 2010

Skirt Photos!

This morning, I received photos of some of the very first recipients of "Skirts for Haiti," And I'm sharing them with you. Maybe you'll spot a skirt you sent? I hope it brings a smile to your face too - getting to see these ladies that now have something modest and lovely to wear. If you want to know more about the team that is distributing the skirts - as well as several other items (including several large shelters) check out the Haiti Blog. Thanks to them for the pictures!!!

April 8, 2010

Skirt News!

First of all; I'm writing to let you know that the first delivery of skirts has safely arrived in Haiti. Some of them were passed out today! If you want to read more about it - click here. I don't have any photos yet - but I will definitely share them when I receive them.

Secondly, as you may have noticed - we now have a new Skirts for Haiti logo! Thanks for that goes to my friend Hannah. The Lord laid it on her heart to create us a logo - and this beautiful design is what she came up with! Thank you Hannah!

It looks like Skirts for Haiti is a need that will continue for some time - so I'll hopefully have a page dedicated to it in a few days - with the news and updates on the current vision we have for the project.

Keep praying for those skirts and the lives they're impacting!

April 6, 2010


I don't know where I got it, it must be buried somewhere in my English/Irish heritage - but I'm a wee bit tradition oriented; at least so it seems. Not the kinds of traditions that you find on a calendar, not the obvious ones. Just the little ones; lots and lots of little ones. Little ones all my own.

So on a certain Spring day, when the air smells of warm earth, and green is back in fashion, and the frogs remember their Spring chorus - (day and night, non-stop singing, from their little puddle in the woods. So sweetly pleasant in it's monotony) - Huck and I go violet hunting.

The very same day that the little pink and white beauties shown above appear in the side yard. They are our little indications. Something special is happening. We always make a point of stopping, and admiring them first.

Huck is getting more and more contemplative in his old age.
(Any of you able to identify these little flowers for me? They're yet nameless to us.)

Next, we take the path that goes by our happy little frog pond. It's just a little bit eery to hear them as their shrill little voices do scales in minor keys. They won't sing if they can see us. When Joe and I were small, we used to try to sneak up on them, thinking perhaps we'd catch a glimpse of our mysterious music makers. We gave up on that thought long ago. These frogs are not to be fooled. Mysterious they must always remain. And they're still singing the same songs.

Next stop is a visit to the old hollow tree on the frog pond shore.
Spot anything peculiar?

What about now?

This very dear, very confused mother goose and her faithful husband come to visit us year after year. And each year persist in choosing this tree. They're odd. They're special. And they're very committed. It took several years of attempts to have the success of raising one little gosling in their tree house. Last year they must have finally worked out the last kinks. (ie: how to keep those pesky eggs from --- falling out.) Last summer, we were proud to see them and their seven little balls of fluffy cuteness. And they're back again. They have their traditions too I guess.

(Thank Nikon for a nice powerful zoom. You wouldn't want to get too close to this momma.)

And at last...

Spring's first violet.
At least according to Huck and I.

"Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet left on the heel that has crushed it."
-Mark Twain