Unexpected Beauty

Sometimes, beauty takes you by surprise and makes you gasp and smile. I took the first two pictures this morning: something unexpected but delightful.

The sun had come up and it illuminated this tree at a perfect angle because it looked as if the raindrops were dangling and glistening like tinsel. A magical sight from my favorite chair. I had to run and grab the camera before it was over. This oak tree is on my closest neighbor’s property. It keeps its dry leaves until the spring. What a lovely sight.
This is just the reflection of a drop of water that is on the outer side of the window glass. As I was going down the stairs, I noticed what I thought were shards of glass on the window. As I got closer and attempted to grab them, I realized it was just a reflection. I thought these were beautiful to look at, and I had never noticed them before. I went downstairs quickly and grabbed the camera once more. What a treat. I know, the window needs cleaning on the outside, but it is winter.
I took this picture the other day. The garden has gone to sleep, and we have had temperatures on and off in the 20s at night and even hit 6 degrees one time, but this plant refuses to go to sleep and keeps flowering. It is the only one in the garden that is still offering its colorful beauty, that is, besides the forsythia plant next door that always blooms in December. A lovely sight.
Every winter, I look forward to seeing this Forsythia bloom in December. So far, this plant seems to prefer winter blooms and not blooming in the spring. For the past four years, I have noticed her early blooms and enjoy it.

Hope you enjoy these pictures.

A New Outlook Must Follow Leaving Behind

Photo by M.A.D.

As a new year starts, a time for reflection continues, and new beginnings, new goals emerge. New plans are taken into consideration, and a new array of possibilities. For many of us the start of a new year represents a new slate, an exciting journey. We plan, we dream, we ponder, reconsider, and evaluate. We measure ourselves throughout the year left behind. Sometimes, we chastise our self, and other times, we are very pleased with our performance. It is also a time to reflect and leave behind that which does not fit us anymore – the old self that we have been carrying around for years for whatever reason, sometimes, even unaware of its presence. The shadow that once was but remains in our subconscious.

The old self manifests in old habits that don’t serve us anymore, dislikes that we force ourselves to like because we once did, old hobbies that we do not seem to enjoy anymore but think we do, objects that are meaningless to us but we keep, and even beliefs and frame of thought that does not serve us and that we have outgrown by time and experience but seem to have lingered in our lives and mind. Whatever it may be, material or unmaterial, it is better to leave it behind, and make room for new experiences. Sometimes Old Self is heavy and tiresome, even adding mental and emotional weight and clutter that we certainly do not need if we want to live a good life.

As I have pondered and evaluated over the past few weeks, I have found many things that are just not fit for me anymore, material and not, even just present in my life by habit through the years, but not serving the person I am today.

Your life, your space, your mind, should reflect the person you are, not the one you were or even the one you aspired to be once but are not. Life is ever changing, evolving, and sometimes, it turns out better than what we planned for that Old Self. Other times, we might feel that we have not measured up to our expectations, and regret might set in. When that happens, I am reminded and uplifted by this beautiful scripture. It is not critical, judgmental, or demanding. It is simple, sweet, and full of hope and possibilities.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Mathew 5:16

The Warmth of Wood

This is the perfect time of the year to tackle some final projects around the farmhouse. There’s a chill in the air but it is not too cold and most of the insects have gone to rest. We have been busy cleaning up the premises and cutting out some trees. My husband decided he wanted to tackle the Monster Tree and the remainders of The Old Tree. Those were two projects that had been waiting for a while. The cleaned good wood from those trees will be put at the entrance of our driveway so people who need it can use it this winter. Free wood is always on demand around here. It will do good for sure, especially now that the price of a cord of wood is going up. My husband cut it down to a good size so it can be cut into pieces much easier. I am glad these projects are almost done, just a few more big logs left to downsize. The warmth of wood is the best heat. I am not a fan of forced air heating, although this type of heating is very convenient. A pellet stove is the closest thing to a warm fire, and that is what we use; however, we are planning to install a small wood stove in the near future. At this time of the year, things seem to slow down around here. It is a good time for reflection and planning. One looks towards the next year with renewed strength, hope, and certainly faith. In the meantime, we will continue to catch up with some outdoor projects before the coldest weather arrives, and plan for other projects next year.

Getting rid of the Monster Tree is bittersweet. Many birds landed here, and I was able to see them through the kitchen window; however, the tree was dead, covered in honeysuckle, which I loved to look at, and I also enjoyed its scent through the kitchen window. It also had poison ivy growing through it. I knew it had to go, but it was here where I saw my first mixed flock of birds, a wonderful experience and sight.

The Old Tree was downsized at the beginning of this year by a professional crew. It was a threat to the house due to its proximity, and it was showing signs of decay. It is a very old tree, an old giant that refused to give up. I thought of it as a beautiful tree; however, it was bringing too many insects to the side entrance, and it was showing signs of disease and root damage. After we downsized it, the tree sprouted new branches right away, which by now were reaching new heights, so my husband decided to cut it down. I will miss it.

The cleaned-up wood from those trees is up for grabs. Their last contribution.

As this year’s projects wrap up, so does this year, and I want to take the opportunity to thank you for visiting this blog, as this will be my last blogpost for the season.

I wish you all a beautiful Holiday Season and a Merry Christmas full of love, joy, and many blessings. May the New Year be one of the best for you and yours. May God bless you.


On Being Thankful

Thankful Squirrel – Photo by M.A.D.

As I sit here, I think about the upcoming Thanksgiving Day and what this holiday means. For some, it is an opportunity to share a big meal with family and friends. For other people, a “turkey day” of fun, while others look at it as the official start of the Holiday Season. For many, it is all of the above and a day for reflection, for counting and recounting all the blessings that the Lord has given and be grateful to Him for those. For other people, the day comes and goes just like another ordinary day, due to different circumstances.

There is so much to be thankful for, from the moment one opens the eyes to receive another day, another opportunity unique to each person to do better than the day before. No one is perfect, but to each one of us another day is given to do as we may, as we should, and ultimately as we want, with it the gift of free will, another precious gift to be grateful for.

On Thanksgiving Day, here in the USA, people will be eating and celebrating with family and friends, knowing or unknowingly aware of the deeper meaning and significance of this day. As many seconds the day has, each second is a reason to be thankful, but knowing that the seconds before then counted as well, and hoping that the seconds after will be unnumbered and plenty, because these can never be unlimited. Each second of life, a second of gratitude. Tomorrow comes and goes, and what remains are memories of that day, and when the memories fade over time, a grateful heart lives on forever.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all who celebrate the day, and many blessings to all of you.

Maria Antonia Diaz

Disconnecting From the Story

Photo by M.A.D.

Call it writer’s block, a dry spell, or anything else, it happens to many writers. It is the dreaded ailment of the pen, the disheartenment of a writer’s soul, without notice, unexpectedly and untimely. It is that break in the connection with the story, like a broken bridge that is hard to repair. Whatever prompts the disruption is unique to the writer, as it is the healing process, the timing when writer and story will be in communion once more.

Writer’s block might feel as falling out of love with the story, or not finding the right angle to continue writing. It might come in the form of disillusion with the story or even the craft, a broken heart of sorts that refuses to pump ink. Waiting and longing for the magic moment only seems to make this disease of the inkwell more acute and prolonged. Ironically, its only cure seems to be time. Drip, drip, drip … the ink flows again.

An Unusual Partnership

2021- Falcon hanging out with Crow friends Photo by M.A.D.

Last year, I shared this picture of a falcon that seemed to be friends with the crows. On occasion, I saw the bird hanging around with the crows, and none of them seemed to be afraid. This year, a falcon has been hanging around with the crows. I don’t think it is the same one; the colors of its plumage seem a bit different. I looked it up and it seems to be a Common Kestrel, a type of falcon, but I am not sure. This seems to be an unusual and unexpected partnership, and none of the crows seem to be afraid of the falcon. Here are the photos I took the other day.

Photo by M.A.D.

Birds of a feather flock together?

Mind and Fun

Herbert presents The Sherlock Holmes Puzzle Collection – The Lost Cases

I was looking for some winter entertainment, specifically mind puzzles that where not the usual word games, numbers … and came across The Sherlock Holmes Puzzle Collection. This volume picked my interest, and I decided to try it. There are other books in the collection, but The Lost Cases seemed to be interesting enough for me to check it out. I have to say that I am not disappointed. This hardcover is just art in itself, with beautiful illustrations, typography, and section presentation. The overall presentation is gorgeous. The book is divided into cases (140 puzzles) that go from relatively easy to more difficult. However, the easy ones can be tricky. It is written in the voice of John Watson, Holmes’ assistant. I am enjoying this book so far and might try others in the collection. If you are looking for something a bit different to exercise your brain, this one is a good choice.

Farmhouse Project Update – That Old Tree

As usual, there are plenty of things to do around here. Yesterday, my husband finished clearing up the mess from a previous storm, tons of branches that have been around for a while. Then, he decided to tackle the old tree that fell during the same time. We had estimates done, but he decided to do it himself, especially during this economy. He tackled the job in a couple of weekends. We will save the money for the trees that are too large and require professional handling. In the meantime, we will stop all projects until next year, because you never know. As for the veggie garden, it is done for the season. I picked the last of the tomatoes yesterday. The garden is starting to prepare for a deep sleep during winter. All the work from now on will be clean ups, mostly, not new projects.

The old tree and brush from a previous storm.

The old tree when it fell.
Debris and branches left from a storm.

The wood from the large tree is good wood that we gave to someone. It will be picked up sometime this week to be used as heat for the winter. Especially now that a cord of wood has gone up in price, I think in the range of $300, and many people are installing wood stoves because electricity will go up more, most likely, hence it will probably go up more with demand. We are happy that the tree will be used in a good way. Eventually, we will install a small wood stove in the kitchen.

Plenty of wood for heat.

Many critters that used to perch on that fallen tree will certainly miss it, and I will miss looking at them.

Nature recycles itself; maybe we should learn from it.

Holiday Selection

Herbert presents The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens (Photo by M.A.D.)

I try to select a special book that I can enjoy during the holiday season. This year’s selection is The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. I did not own this particular book but has been on my list for some time, so I decided to treat myself this year. I always try to buy a vintage or antique copy (when possible) of a book that I know I will have for many years. This time, it was a bit challenging because of the many variations online of this particular book, many publications, range in price, and condition. I knew I wanted a hardcopy, and after many moments of indecision between so many tempting years of publication, I ended up with this one, called The Oxford Illustrated Dickens by the Oxford University Press, 1966. I was torn between this one and a much older publication of this book, early 1900’s, also a hardcopy. I decided on this one mainly because of the excellent condition, including the jacket, and that it included the original illustrations throughout the book, 76 early engravings. I especially loved the cover presentation. Am I still thinking about that older copy? You bet I am. I hope to finish Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales soon, so I can indulge on this lovely book.

The Old Curiosity Shop was first published in two volumes (1840-41). This particular edition includes both, which is something I like. However, if you would like to find separate vintage volumes, they are available online, either separate or as a set, which was something I struggled with when making my final decision. The works of Dickens are widely known. His life had a rough start, and sadly, he died in 1870 at the age of 58 before he could finish his last work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. For those of you who are fond of older books and would like to own this particular story, the good news is that there is plenty to choose from online, and at a variety of prices, from the most expensive and rare to the most humble and recent publications. There is truly a generous selection.

The story is about Little Nell and her grandfather being pursued by an evil dwarf, and they end up meeting a series of interesting characters. That’s the short version, 555 pages. I have to admit that I am in for a treat because I have not read this story of Dickens, so I am now wanting to finish Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales in order to enjoy this book.