Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Wild Week...

This has been a wild week, in more ways than one.  This past Monday night, Roger and Annie were attacked by a wild animal.  I didn't realize it until the next morning.  Roger's wound was more severe, and in fact, I didn't notice Annie's wound until several days later. 

We are not sure what it was that got the dogs, but it was something with claws, able to rip into the skin. We think possibly a raccoon, but other possibilities exist too.  At any rate, a trip to the vet with Roger resulted in surgery for him.  His wound had to be sutured, and then...

 ... the cone! Oh my.  Roger has NOT done well with the collar at all.  He came home, and just stood in the corner, and wouldn't move.  We couldn't get him to eat, drink or potty with the cone on.  So we had to take the cone off for short periods to let him take care of business, and then  try to get it back on.  He is just NOT a good patient!  I did not see the animal that attacked them, but we have been more cautious since the incident, to not let the dogs out alone at night.  Whatever it was, I hope it has moved on!

In happier news... the maple leaves this week became bright red... oh how I love the brilliance of this tree's leaves!

Snow on the mountains in September!  It was more than a dusting too!

Maple leaves are just starting to turn everywhere.  I am hopeful they will turn slowly, and stay with us for a while!

I attended a Stampin Up! shoebox gathering and this was the card that I brought to share with the other ladies.

I put together this natural bouquet out of my garden.  I picked a sunflower that was a late bloomer, some marigolds, and alyssum, then added some turkey feathers, a dried cornstalk and pine needles to create a little fall vignette in our home with pumpkins from our garden, and fallen blazing red maple leaves.

These trees have just started to turn colors, how wonderful it is to watch the beautiful colors emerge on the trees.

The shrubs are beginning to burst with color too...

You can see the top of the maple tree beginning to turn red... I hope they turn slowly and last for several weeks... one can hope!

Our little maple in the yard starting to turn red.  This picture was a couple of days ago, and it is now completely red.

Tea held out on the back deck as I gathered some of the red fallen leaves for my fall vignette inside.  I was drinking raspberry tea from the raspberry leaves gathered in my garden.  It is wonderful to drink... with great health benefits.

A closeup of the gorgeously colored maple leaves.

I saw this barn that had seen better days one evening, with the glorious evening light overhead, creating a beautiful pastoral scene.

Love the brilliant autumn colors that can be seen this time of year.

And then today, I had to take Annie to the vet, and she needed a collar too!  She got hit on her back leg as well, by the wild animal and while her wound wasn't as bad as Roger's, because she kept licking it so much, it was just not healing, and needed protection... hence the collar.  Now we have two wounded dogs running around with their collars of shame, knocking things over, and just generally being very difficult to have inside.  They have both learned to tolerate their collars, but we are all counting the days until they come off!

With this week being rather wild with our injured dogs, it turn an even greater turn for the worse when my Dad suffered an acute heart attack on Saturday morning.  It has been a very difficult process for all of us, because of the lack of forthcoming information about his condition.  After being taken to the ER, with all his blood work coming back normal, and because his condition was felt to be stable, and it being the weekend, we were told that he would have a heart catheterization sometime this week, and that a further decision for treatment would be made after the cath.   Meanwhile, his blood pressure kept rising, his sugars were rising as well, and we all continued in the "limbo" mode, not really sure what was going to happen.  We all felt he suffered a heart attack, but because the blood work, x-rays and EKG were completely negative and normal, it seemed the hospital was taking a very laid back approach to his care.

Today he finally was taken in to have the cath done, and was back out in short order.  They could not do the cath because of the complete blockages in ALL of his main vessels and arteries, and the only option now was open heart surgery.  As of tonight, a surgeon still has not been scheduled to do his open heart surgery, we are awaiting word on that, but his condition remains serious with the complete blockages in all of his heart vessels, blood pressure that remains high, and sugars high as well.  With all of this happening, after talking with my husband and family, we decided I needed to fly to Texas to be with the family for when he undergoes the open heart surgery hopefully Wednesday or at the latest Thursday.  Right now we are just waiting on a surgeon that is willing and able to do the surgery.

So I would covet your prayers for this situation, that the Lord would touch my Dad and help him get through the surgery and ongoing recovery process afterwards, prayer for other family members who are traveling, including myself to be here with him over the weekend.  One never knows what a day holds, a phone call, a text, or the next breath we take.  Our life is in the Lord's hands, and so thankful we can trust the Lord in times like this when our loved ones very lives are hanging in the balance.  And I am reminded once again of this scripture that has come to mean so much to me...

Psalms 91:1-2  
He that dwelleth 
in the secret place of the most High 
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  
I will say of the LORD, 
He is my refuge and my fortress: 
my God; in him will I trust.

In Him Will I Trust! Amen and amen!

Appreciate your prayers dear friends, and I will try to post an update when I can.

Update Thursday 9/28:  I had a great flight in to San Antonio and went straight to the hospital to see my dad. Within 20 minutes of my arrival there the two surgeons who had agreed to take Dad's case came to the room and explained their treatment plan, which was to have open heart surgery Friday morning with them hoping to do a quadruple bypass.

I continue to ask for your prayers for him and the team doing the surgery..in fact the surgeon said to us that with the good Lord's help things were anticipated to go well. So it was wonderful that I got to meet the surgeons doing the surgery and we can all prepare for the big day Friday. Thanks again so much for praying! I will post here again on Friday after he has the surgery.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fall Garden Tea Party

My dear friend and neighbor A, her mother and another friend who accompanied them to pick up the vintage chairs for my garden were treated to a garden tea party this past Friday at high noon.  How thankful I was that the day before the cold front and freeze blew in, that I was able to host my friends for a tea party in the garden, on the very last day of summer in my garden!

It was a simply delightful time.  We sipped on hot tea and chatted for a good while.  You know when women of like-minded faith get together, conversation is uplifting and amazing.

It seemed I had refilled everyone's tea cups several times, before it was time to bless the food and eat.

Everyone enjoyed drinking hot tea in the garden!  My teapots keep the water very hot for about an hour or more.  I used a Homer Laughlin teapot (the red one), and my Ellgreave ironstone teapot for the party.

 While the ladies were filling their plates, I got this shot.

The bees and wasps invited themselves to our party, as I knew they would.  I set up the food table inside my garden shed/gazebo, and it was perfect to keep *most* of the bees away.  There were a few very persistent ones!

Our high noon tea menu included:

Peach Upside Down Cake (brought by my friend A's mother)
Cranberry Butterscotch Scones
Tuna Salad with almond crackers
Fresh Fruit with Whipped Cream Dip
Spicy Pretzels
Turkey Cream Cheese Pinwheels
Sliced Apple & Chicken Salad
Caprese Salad (Tomatoes from my garden with fresh mozzarella & basil)

Lots of goodies on our plates... as we laughed, chatted and shared our life stories with each other.  It was a wonderful time that we enjoyed.

Too soon, our time together ended, as A's mother was tiring and needed to go.  After the table was cleaned up, I managed to get this last picture of the setting.

The little tray "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord" is one that I made many years ago, having rescued the sad tray from a thrift store, repainting it, and adding the words to it.

The tea themed pot holders/coasters I made earlier this year after finding the fabric at our local craft store.  The flowers I found at the dollar store. I used a combination of old tablecloths, and fabric to dress the table with.

Another glimpse of the lovely bistro set that set this tea party in motion... if you want to read how it all came to be.... you can find it here

Again, I just used a variety of old tablecloths and fabric to cover the table. I made the fabric banner much like the hanging banner in the garden, however I cut the pieces longer.  It added the perfect touch to the table, and brought all the vibrant colors around the table setting together.

It was a lovely wonderful day... and it made me so happy to do something so special for these ladies. They were thrilled to come to tea at high noon, and I was delighted to bless them in this way.

My beautiful garden came to an end that night, with a freeze down into the low 20s.  The next morning, as I came to the garden, fearing what I might find... my heart rejoiced when I saw my sunflowers had survived ... and not only survived but were ecstatically blowing in the breeze with the bright blue skies... and warming my heart with their vibrancy.

I might just get sunflower seeds out of them yet... we shall see! 

I let the chickens in the garden to aid with the cleanup... happy girls and boys they were!  It was sad to see the end of most of the garden.  My broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, potatoes and strawberries were unaffected, and will continue to be harvested... but the squash and tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, pumpkins and peppers are done.  Such are the seasons of life!  They come and go, and we enjoy each one, and now we are looking forward to the beauties around us that fall offers up, the cooler weather, north breezes, and vibrant colors.

But I'm thankful for the wonderful memories made this summer in my garden, the produce gleaned from it, and the special times we've had.

Until the snow comes, I will continue to enjoy my time in the garden, when it will be closed for the winter :)

~~~~  I also wanted to mention that I have joined Instagram, and would love to see any of my readers there... You can find me there as MountainTopSpice ~~~~

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Garden Friends & Our Lord Reigns

Oh the times in my garden these last few days of summer have been times of refreshing, quietness and joy.... 

Watching the bees buzz happily and busily around.  I've planted multitudes of marigolds around the garden, which bees simply love.  I've seen them just spend hours on one flower.

My neighbor was out of town for a few days and I fed her horse and donkey for her.  Now... they think I need to feed them at all times of the day... which translates to mean every time I come to the garden, lol! Their fence is catty-corner to mine, and so they can watch me as I water and work.  The donkey, Johnny, has gotten especially vocal lately, lol!

I planted Mammoth Russian Sunflowers this year, and I probably won't plant that variety again (they take too long to grow), as they are just now blooming, which is probably too late for any sunflower seeds to grow, but still, they are pretty when they bloom!

Speaking of friends in the garden... I found this handsome toad hiding out in one of my plant boxes.  I wondered why all summer I couldn't get anything to grow in this container... now I know!

The smoke and haze has been horrible here for the past week.  When the smoke first arrived had smoke so bad here that at first we were concerned there was a fire close by, but we learned that the wind had simply brought the smoke from fires burning in nearby states and Canada.

Picture taken on Labor Day in the middle of the afternoon.
 In fact, the smoke was so hazardous that even though it was the first week of school, all outdoor recesses were canceled, as were all outdoor games and practices.

Normally I can see our neighbor's place and the mountains off in the distance,
but with the smoke so dense, visibility was low. 
 It hurt just to breathe in the air.  It really made us understand just how horrible it must be for the firefighters fighting the fires, and the air that they have to breathe.

I found another friend in my garden... do you spot him?

He was very quiet, watching me as I watered, and never moved.  Quite a handsome fellow, don't you think? And the perfect little home for him! This is a little birdhouse I found at a yardsale that I painted and set on a shelf in my garden. He seems quite content in his new home. I imagine any wasps coming in for a visit... wouldn't be leaving, ha!

These Mammoth Russian sunflowers are over 10' in size, and are just now blooming.

My husband and I upgraded to "smartphones" Labor Day weekend, as both our phones went on the blink.  My screen wouldn't work, and his phone wouldn't charge.  We have kept our simple phones for many years, but decided to give smartphones a try.

Having a camera in my pocket at all times is certainly a lot of fun!  I do notice a difference in the quality of the pictures as compared to my DSLR, but the ability to have the camera in my pocket to take pictures on the spur of the moment is really nice.

However, I notice the clarity of the pictures are diminished.  It is a trade-off... having a camera in your pocket, or a big camera to carry around.  I know I will continue to do both, but I do find that having a camera to use when the moment is right has become a very fun thing :)

I really love this pose of Miss Riley, however, as you can see the quality of the picture is grainy.  But still... a fun moment to capture... she LOVES to come into the garden with me and chase grasshoppers, birds, and probably my toad and chameleon friends... lol.

Oh, I do so love the happy faces of the sunflowers!

My garden is still going strong, and it is going on the middle of September!  Most years we have a frost towards the end of August, but definitely by Labor Day weekend.  This is unusual, but I am enjoying it!

The bees love the clover I have growing next to the garden. It really needs mowed, but I hate to mow down their happy place.  So for now... the clover is staying.

This is a fun picture! I used a 360-degree panorama shot here to completely capture my garden... of course everything is skewed, but you kind of get an idea of my entire garden area.

Ha! Here is another one of my little garden-within-a-garden area, and I realized the camera captured a part of me while I filmed the 360-degree panorama shot, lol.

Oh how I love my little garden area!

Did you know I was a songwriter? No... well, I'm really not.  But, while I was in the garden this past Saturday afternoon, there was such joy with quiet peace in my heart while the storm was raging in Florida.  My heart was so burdened as I went to the garden to pray, because Hurricane Irma was hitting Florida, and the devastation predicted and the people in its path were weighing heavily on my heart.  I carried it to the Lord there in my garden and as I sat there, I prayed and prayed for so many things.  I looked up and around me, and as I drank in the beauty of the world around me, I felt that the Lord was calming my heart with the beauty of His presence, and this little simple song came to me as I sat there.

The words...

Softly the wind blows
In my garden green
Simple joys of seeing
Sunflowers faces beam
My heart is raised
In glorious symphony
Our Lord reigns, He reigns, 
He reigns in Majesty!

Oh the beauty, oh the joy
Of the wind that sings this song
Glory, glory, Glorious
To you My Lord Supreme
You reign in majesty
Glorious, Holy,Our God
Our Lord reigns, He reigns, 
He reigns in majesty.

It is just a simple song, but I can’t help but keep singing… He reigns, He reigns, He reigns in majesty. I feel so comforted in knowing that our Lord reigns over all that is happening in the world right now, and while most of it makes no sense to me… He is still the King, and my heart is raised in glorious symphony to worship the Lord for all of who He is. 

While I was praying and singing, Riley jumped into my lap, and wanted to share it with me.  Having a smartphone... well, I just wouldn't have captured this moment without it, priceless!  Together, we felt the peace of the Lord in His creation around us, as we prayed for those in need of the protecting hand of the Lord as Hurricane Irma barreled down the coastline of Florida.

Do you find comfort in the simple things, the lovely things around you?

Simple beauties of these flowers fill my heart with joy.

Riley felt the comfort and peace of the Lord... rested her head on my journal, and went to sleep.  And I knew...  the Lord had heard us, and we could rest in the comfort of His presence.  This verse was made quite real to me in that moment...

Psalms 91:1-2
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High 
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the LORD, 
He is my refuge and my fortress: 
my God; in him will I trust.

Again, another moment captured with the smartphone... my sweet little girl and I just praising, worshiping, and talking with the Lord.

The peace and quiet didn't last real long... we had another visitor, that immediately captured Riley's attention... and soon mine too.

This little squirrel and I have become quite good friends.  She will come and just sit on the garden fence post and watch me, only becoming vocal when Riley comes into view.

Riley and I weren't going anywhere as we prayed, and so... the squirrel decided to stretch out and hang out for the long haul, lol!

The squirrel began to sass Riley, and it quite offended her.  It would me too, I guess, if I understood, lol!

Whatever was being communicated between Riley and Miss Sassy (that's what I'm going to call her, ha!) it was quite entertaining to listen to.

 I do believe animals understand and know far more than we give them credit for.  It seemed even the squirrel knew that our prayer time was something special to hang around for.


Soon enough, it was time to get back to the business of life, but I was thankful for time spent with the Lord, and for the visits with my animal friends, and just knowing that Our Lord Reigns... no matter what disasters and calamities come upon us, we can find peace and calm in the midst of the storm, In Him.