A Wren Story

Wren
One of the wrens last winter

Feeding birds is a love I inherited from my parents and grandparents. We love the the birds — and especially the little wrens. They have such spunk, such personality. We wanted to make a home for them, so we bought them a little wren house and put it on the lower deck. Isn’t this a great home for a wren family?

house
The wren box

 
This is their new bird bath — it’s heated. The birds sat around on the edge of the bird bath all winter. I imagined that they were wrapped in little towels pretending they were at the spa.

bird bath
Bird bath (heated)

 
The wrens love the suet. They are so cute when they hang on the feeder.

Suet
Suet feeder

 
We feed, exclusively, hot pepper suet (because the squirrels don’t like hot peppers). We get this at Home Depot.

Hot Pepper suet
Hot pepper suet

 
Check out another new addition — a covered bird feeder. We got this to feed the bluebirds, but the wrens eat there too. (Actually, the bluebirds never came, so the wrens had it all to themselves.

Covered bird feeder
Covered bird feeder

 
Here’s what goes into the covered feeder — mealworms!! (Woo Hoo!!)

Mealworms
Mealworms

 
Yes, these are actually mealworms — here’s the bag they came in. They are dried mealworms, but you can make them look alive by putting oil on them. (Eeew!)

Mealworm bag
Mealworm bag

 
So, it’s the perfect place for a wren family to settle in — Right?

Nesting season came, and there was no wren nest in the box. Not the first week. Not the second week. Not the third week. 😦

I went over to Neighbor Deen’s house — and what did I find? I found my wrens had built next door at Deen’s house.

Nest
The wren's choice for a nest

And not only had they built next door at Neighbor Deen’s house and not at our house. They built their nest on top of a string mop. (Ouch!! Rejection!!) Oh, well. That’s life.

We kept providing them food and water — because we love the birds — even if they rejected our beautiful, perfect little wren house on the lower deck.

After a few weeks, the eggs hatched. The nest fell apart as the little birds grew. Here they are all hunkered down just a couple of days before they fledged. You can see their dark feathers and little yellow beaks.

Baby birds
Baby birds

Thank God for the birds … especially the wrens. Do you have wrens nesting at your house? What’s the secret to becoming a wren landlord?

Jack and Friends

JackI love Spring. I love pups. And I love taking pictures. Here are pictures from photo shoots this spring with Jack and his good buddies, Spec and Girlfriend.

It was Jack’s eyes that caught our attention when he was a tiny puppy. And when his eyebrows aren’t too long, you can still see them. Aren’t they the cutest eyes? He’s wearing his St. Patrick’s Day bandana in this photo.

 
 
Here’s Jack again in his lucky Irish bandana. I used one of The Pioneer Woman’s photoshop action to make this photo dramatic. Not that Jack needs any help with drama …Jack

 
 
In the middle of this photo shoot, some people walked by. Jack’s always alert and he jumped up to bark and growl and watch the people until they left “his” street. (See what I mean by drama?)Jack
 
 
Jack’s buddy, Spec, stays with us a couple of days a week. (He stays with us when Sandy, his human, is traveling.) Spec is 13 years old very wise. He’s also nearly deaf and doesn’t seem to mind Jack’s sonic bark. He’s a handsome guy.Spec
 
 
Spec is such a cute “little old man.” Here he is on the back porch. As I said, he can’t really hear. But he loves to be outside on the back porch, keeping watch and randomly barking. Bark! (“I’m in charge here!”) Bark! Bark! (“Is anyone out there?”) Bark! Bark! Bark! (“This is my porch!”)Spec
 
 
Girlfriend is the dog next door. Girlfriend is a miniature Schnoodle (Schnauzer and Poodle mix). She was Jack’s first friend after we brought him home. He has great fun playing with her. I took these pictures of Girlfriend one night when the light was so perfect and the grass so green.Girlfriend
 
 
Girlfriend’s got a hurt knee, so she and Jack don’t get to play together very often. Jack’s pretty sad about it. When Jack arrived, he was smaller than her. She still can’t figure out how he got so big.Girlfriend
 
 

If you are still reading after all this canine photo love, thank you — and here’s one last picture of Jack. Did I mention that I love, love, love the Spring. And pups. And taking pictures.Jack

Italian Lessons

Bells in Italy
Bells in Italy

I loved the church bells in Italy. They reminded me of the Christian tradition of praying the hours. In a tiny village where we stayed, the bells sounded every hour between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. I didn’t need to wear a watch — after a short time, I relaxed into the comfortable rhythm of daily village life. As I heard the bells throughout the day they brought me back to the present moment — of waking, eating, resting, praying, praising, reflecting, preparing for sleep.

The 7:00 a.m. Bells

The village followed the rhythm of these hours. Before 7:00 a.m., the only sounds I could hear were the waves and the swallows. After 7:00, the people of the village began to move around —  sweeping the sidewalks, opening up the cappuccino shops, the baker loading the station wagon with warm brioche (sweet pastries) to drive to the nearby towns. The children started their hikes up the hill to the school. Listen to the 7:00 a.m. bells:

The 5:00 p.m. bells

The village quieted down for a siesta around 2:00 p.m.. Most all of the restaurants and stores closed for a 3-hour rest. During those hours, the bells continued to ring, but quieter. (I settled down for a nap.) Around 4:00 p.m., the men of the village gathered in the square to play cards.

Then at 5:00 p.m. the siesta time came to an end with rousing peal from the bells. By 7:00 p.m., restaurants opened back up to serve dinner. Here is a recording of the 5:00 p.m. bells:

I miss the bells of Italy and their reminders to stay in the present. What are the reminders that bring you back from the future or the past? What helps you stay in the present moment?

Learn More about Praying the Hours

Italia Top 10

Olive grove
The olive grove next to the villa

I just returned home from two weeks in Italy. I’m grateful for the opportunity and still processing everything I saw. Here’s the Top 10 according to me.

10. Olives — From olive oil to antipasto to the olive groves surrounding the places we stayed, olives were everpresent.

9. Clotheslines — Thank goodness for clotheslines — they add so much charm to the scenery of an Italian town.

8. Sculptors, artists, and artisans — Thank goodness for the sculptures and those who made them.

7. Cappuccino — Even I (not a coffee drinker) fell in love with Italian cappuccino. (My favorite bar in Vernazza put a smiley face on my morning drink.)

6. Siestas — Of all the Italian ways of life, this may be the one I’d most like to bring home.

5. Gelato — Of all the Italian ways of life, this may be the one I’d most like to bring home. 🙂

4. Church bells — from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. They reflected the rhythm of life — a rousing peal to wake up creation, quieter during siesta time, another rousing peal at 5:00 p.m., silencing after 10:00.

3. Symbols of faith — Icons, statues, reminders of faith were everywhere I turned. I’m always looking for signs of God’s presence. In Italy, the reminders were everywhere.

2. The evening light — the warm light of evening bathed the buildings with such beautiful color. I stopped each evening to watch the slow, beautiful progression of the sun.

1. Churches and candles — Nearly every church I entered had a place where I could light candles and pray for others.

Life after Advent/Christmas/Epiphany

Ordinary mushroom for Ordinary TimeI’ve been so social, so extroverted(!!!) since the beginning of Advent that today felt a little odd. On this day after Epiphany, I felt sort of like — “Where’d everybody go?”

I asked my Facebook friends about life after Advent and here’s some of their collective wisdom:

Bob: Yes, most certainly!!! I think it is something about discipleship.

Micah: Yeah, it’s called Mardi Gras!!!

Pam: I on the other hand think its about sleeping… until the Annunciation wakes you up.

Debbie: Absolutely, there is life after everything!

Ann: Good question.

Lynda: There are wonderful ordinary days which are relaxing and can be spirit filled. I remember our student preacher, Rachel, say in a sermon that God can come in the ordinary days of January as much as in December when we are overwhelmed with it all. Was comforting to me to hear this since I love the quietness of Jan. and Feb.

What about you? Tell me about your life after Advent.