Category Archives: Bird Photos

A Few (Dozen) of My Favorite (African) Birds (42): A Pictorial Guide to Exotic African Birds

Last fall in Africa, I saw dozens of gorgeous birds. (Okay, some were really ugly too.) Many were familiar, but even more of them seemed exotic and strange. I took photos until I was dizzy from my head spinning ’round, and although our guide was an able ornithologist, after we returned home, I couldn’t remember the names for many of my new-found feathered friends. Worse yet, there’s no Complete Idiot’s Guide for Identifying African Birds, so it took me a long time (too long to admit) to figure out their names. For any of you who’d enjoy a birds’ eye view of African exotics, or for any of you who’ve been to Africa and are trying to figure out what you saw, I’ve catalogued 30+ birds alphabetically by name and where I saw them. Some of them have interesting stories, but that will have to wait for another day… Hope you enjoy!¬† ūüôā

African Fish Eagle (Choebe River, Botswana)

‚ÄúThe first law of success is concentration –¬†to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point,¬†looking neither to the right nor to the left.‚ÄĚ ~William Mathews


African jacuna (Also known as “Jesus Bird.”Choebe River, Botswana)

‚ÄúPerseverance¬†is not a long race: It is many short races, one after another.‚ÄĚ

~Walter Elliot   African openbill stork (Choebe River, Botswana)

“We must accept finite disappointment,
but never lose infinite hope.”~ Martin Luther King, Jr.¬† Black skimmers (Choebe River, Botswana)

“Who, being loved, is poor?”
~Oscar Wilde 
Red-winged starling (Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not what you look at that matters, it‚Äôs what you see.‚ÄĚ

~Henry David Thoreau¬† Blacksmith lapwing (or “Plover.” Choebe River, Botswana)

“I am a leader by default, because nature abhors a vacuum.” ~Desmond TutuCape Glossy starling (Swaziland)

“I remind myself every morning: ‘Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I‚Äôm going to learn, I must do it by listening.'” ~Larry KingCape Weaver (South Africa)

‚ÄúBlessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.‚Ä̬† Egyptian Geese (South Africa)

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.‚ÄĚ~Marcel Proust
Golden-breasted bunting (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
~Ralph Waldo EmersonGoliath heron  (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

‚ÄúBeautiful light is born of darkness, so the faith that springs from conflict¬†is often the strongest and best.‚ÄĚ~R. Turnbull¬† Great heron (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand.
The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”~Alexander Graham Bell¬† Hadada Ibis¬† (aka/Threskiornithidae, Zambezi River, Zimbzbwe)

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid,
but he who conquers that fear.”~Nelson Mandela ¬† Blue Helmeted guinea fowl¬† (Kruger National Park, S.A.)¬†

“Integrity is never being ashamed of our reflections.”~David Cottrell¬† Little bee eater (Very little! Choebe River, Botswana)

“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~John Wooden¬† Marabou stork (Very big! Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)¬†

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” ~Winston Churchill¬† Ostrich (The biggest! Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life’s absurdities by thinking absurdly about them.” ~Lewis Mumford ¬† Spotted Eagle Owl and Owlet
(Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Capetown, S.A.)

¬†“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.”
~Buddha¬† Yellow-billed oxpeckers on a warthog’s back
(hitchhikers! Chobe National Park, Botswana)

“He who assists someone up the hill cannot help but get to the top himself.”
~Chinese Proverb¬† Peacock (most beautiful…as if you didn’t know! South Africa)

“God is a prolific artist. His paintings are everywhere.”¬† Penguins¬† (Boulders Beach, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” ~Margaret Thatcher¬† Pied kingfisher (eating an insect along the Choebe River, Botswana)

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan ¬† Trumpeter hornbill (aka/Zuzu!¬† Chobe National Park, Botswana)

“You’re only given a little spark of madness.
You mustn‚Äôt lose it.‚ÄĚ~Robin Williams¬†
Red-headed weaver bird (Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”
~Chief Tecumseh 
Reddish egret (pair of them! Kruger National Park, South Africa)

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins… not through strength but by perseverance.”
~H. Jackson Brown  Saddle-billed stork (Mbabane, Swaziland)

“I’m far from perfect, but I’ll be perfect for
that imperfect person that’s perfect for me.”¬† ~Amanda Bynes¬† Southern masked weaver bird (Choebe River, Botswana)¬†

‚ÄúIf you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.” ~Normal Vincent Peale¬†¬†Trumpeter Hornbill (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“Why not go out on a limb? Isn‚Äôt that where the fruit is?” ¬† White-backed Vultures (drinking water in Chobe National Park, Botswana)

 “We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse
by the way we choose to see it.‚ÄĚ~Kate Nowak¬† Whydah (Widow?) bird (Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa)

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy.
It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~Sarah Bernhardt¬† Yellow-billed egrets with an openbill stork (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“You can tell the value of a man by the way he treats his wife,
by the way he treats a subordinate,
and by the way he treats someone who can do nothing for him.”~Ken Babcock

Hope you enjoyed the “tour” of African birds. Africa is by far the most exotic place I’ve ever been, and I love being able to share with you a little bit of the blessing wherewith I’ve been blessed.

¬†“I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High” (Psalm 9:1-2).

A Few of My Favorite Birds (37): Would You Rather be a Chicken, a Hen, or a Rooster?

handsome-rooster-kauai-01-2017According to Merriam Webster rooster-on-path-at-waimea-canyon(whose dictionary is the gold standard for literary editors, so I’m told), hens-in-hawaiia chicken can be a type of common domestic fowl used for food…or a coward. colorful-kauai-henA hen can be an older female chicken…or a “fussy, middle-aged woman.”¬†rooster-in-kaloa-kauai Rooster refers an adult male chicken…or a cocky, vain man. chick-hen-roosters-togetherNow I ask you, who wants to be any of those?? rooster-tee-shirt-kaloa-kauaiAnd, how did chickens get such a bad rap, anyway? rooster-in-kaloa-mill-ice-cream-and-coffee-shopAmong my list of favorite birds, chickens never really made the grade…¬† rooster-by-captain-cook-memorial-kauaiuntil I came to Hawaii, but now I have a new fascination for these fine fellows. regal-rooster-reigns-at-kalalau-lookout-kauaiI saw a gorgeous rooster with iridescent green feathers as well as the usual kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows rooster-crossing-road-kauaitrying to cross the highway in Kauai not long ago, and I thought to myself, rooster-waimea-canyon-kauai“If I didn’t know what that was, I’d be agog with its size and brilliant plumage!” kauai-love-chickens-teeshirtIndeed, these cocky specimens of male finery are all the rage in Hawaii. couple-at-waimea-canyonRoosters adorn baseball capsrooster-napkin-holder-kaloa-coffee-shop-hawaii and napkin holders. rooster-walking-through-kaloa-mill-ice-cream-and-coffee-shopThey rule the roost, make themselves at home cleaning up waffle cone scraps in ice cream parlors, and slurp up puddles of shaved ice spilled from kiddie cones. rooster-posing-at-kalalau-lookout-hawaiiThey announce the coming dawn…
sometimes as early at 2:00 am but definitely by 4:00 am hawaiin-cock-rooster(and throughout the day whenever they’re startled). rooster-mating-dance-kauaiI noticed this ad today accompanying the photo of a rooster:
“Diamond Head home for sale with pool and built in alarm clock.” menu-offering-feral-chicken-in-kauaiMenus offer entrees of feral rooster stuffed with cactus. rooster-in-kauai-one-of-hundreds-copy(That one might be a joke; I’m told the reason they’re everywhere
is because they have parasites and aren’t fit to eat.) amazingly-colorful-plumage-on-rooster-in-kauaiDespite being the brunt of jokes and a synonym for a lame-brained coward, rooster-by-wet-cave-kauaiI think chickens are worthy of respect, and here are my reasons:¬† chickens-everywhere-in-kauai*They are the most common bird in the world (50 billion). rooster-near-wailua-falls-kauaiCompare that to the most common wild bird in the world,
sparrows, at 1.5 billion!¬† (Huge difference, huh?)cock-and-hen-feeding-in-grass-by-ocean-kauai* They are historically famous, called the “bird that gives birth every day”¬† (Thutmose III, 1500 BC). regal-rooster-near-a-bush-kauai¬† *They are the most prolific birds: In 2009, an estimated 62.1 million metric tons of eggs were produced worldwide from a total laying flock of approximately 6.4 billion hens. (That’s over a trillion eggs!)¬† gorgeous-plumage-on-rooster-kauai *Besides being beautiful, cocks aren’t afraid to crow!¬† rooster-on-a-fenceJesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow,
till thou hast denied me thrice
” (John 13:38).¬†mother-and-chicks-feeding-in-grass-kauai * Besides being plucky, chickens make wonderful mothers:¬† mother-hen-with-chickens-under-her-wingsO Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together,
even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not
!”
(Matthew 23:37).¬† dont-feed-the-chickens*And last, but most significantly, chickens provide more sacrificial lives for meat than any other animal (even if the feral flock aren’t feed by humans).¬† lovely-hens-mottled-brown-and-white-kauaiIn 2008, 9.08 billion chickens were slaughtered in the United States according to the United States Department of Agriculture data, and that’s just the U.S.! cock-and-hen-looking-for-water-kaloa-kauaiWorld wide, over 40 billion broilers are raised and killed every year. sign-dont-feed-the-chickenOnly the sacrifice of Jesus has provided life-giving food for more people!

rooster-by-sign-for-kings-chapel-in-kauaiFor the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33). Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

(All photos were taken in Hawaii, although the one of the rooster crowing at dawn was taken at my son’s home in Oahu.)

A Few of My Favorite Birds (36): The Vulture Culture Experience…Really?!

zimbabwe-african-christmas-tree-vulturesEver hear of an African Christmas tree? This is what it looks like.vultures-in-african-christmas-treeDozens of vultures roosting in a dead tree,
just waiting for some dead meat for lunch.¬†vultures-fighting-over-food-zimbabwe-africaDoesn’t sound very pretty, does it? And…who likes vultures, anyway? vulture-high-on-a-snag-chobe-national-parkAren’t they sort of the offscourings of the world? the-vulture-culture-experience-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeWell, all that changed for me when we went to Africa
and discovered that vultures have gotten a bad rap. vulture-in-flight-african-birdsThey are so universally considered disreputable that they have been mistreated until they’re the world’s #1 endangered species.the-vulture-culture-experience-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodge-information I had no clue. vultures-in-zimbabwe-11-8-16Furthermore, they are an important part of our ecosystem,
serving as the world’s morticians and garbage collectors.vultures-and-bonesPolishing off carcasses ASAP helps prevent diseases from spreading.vultures-drinking-water-chobe-national-park-11-10-16 So fierce has been their persecution and demise that I’ve had a change of heart toward them, and they’re now on my “favorite birds” list. vultures-gather-in-dead-tree-zimbabwe-afrcian-safari-lodgeLet me tell you about our vulture culture experience.vultures-eating-lunch-at-the-victoria-falls-safari-lodge-zimbabweEver hear of a restaurant that caters to vultures by serving free carcasses?¬† victoria-falls-safari-lodgeWell, neither had I until we stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
in Zimbabwe, victoria-falls-wildlife-trust-vulture-restaurant-11-7-16where they have started working with Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust
to help save vultures from extinction. watching-the-vulture-culture-experience-at-the-african-safari-lodgeEvery day at 1:00 pm they serve up yummy carcasses
at their “Vulture Restaurant.”debris-blowing-in-wind-zimbabwe It was very windy the day we watched, but pretty soon the debris and leaves vultures-gathering-overhead-in-zimbabwegave way to the air being filled with circling vultures, vultures-coming-for-lunchwho knew it was almost time for some claw-licking’ good fine dinin’.vulture-culture-experience-zimbabweA few minutes before 1:00, the waiter arrived with a load of gourmet delights.vultures-wait-for-food-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeI was surprised at how politely the vultures awaited their luncheon party.¬†vultures-getting-ready-for-lunch-zimbabweAs the crowd grew, there was definitely an electric feeling…great expectations!vulture-restaurant-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeGet on your mark, get set…vulture-feeding-frenzy-victoria-falls-lodge-zimbabweGooooooo!!!vultures-eating-meatA feeding frenzy followed for about fifteen minutes,vultures-with-marabou-storks-and-wart-hogs-eatingreplete with party crashers, in particular some gangly marabou storkswart-hogs-join-the-vulture-culture-partyand a couple of Pumba’s cousins…totally muddied warthogs.vulture-culture-experience-africaIf you’ll forgive the comparison…we humans can be a little like vultures.¬†vultures-circling-in-skySometimes it’s easier to live off others
than it is to work hard providing for ourselves.vulturesSome people become very unpopular and develop bad reputations.serving-meat-at-the-vulture-culture-experienceI am thankful that God is a kind Father who provides for all who will come.¬†warthogs-feasting-with-vultures-africaHe doesn’t turn anyone away…no matter how awkward, dirty or ugly we are!vultures-eating-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeFurthermore, He encourages us to do the same for those who need our help.

victoria-falls-safari-lodge-vulture-restaurantBut I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;¬†That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

Swimming with Penguins, Anyone?

penguin-colony-and-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Penguins are nothing short of adorable in any context. swimming-with-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaWe have some at our local zoo, but it was a unique treat to visit the Boulders Beach colony near Simonstown, South Africa, which is the only place in the world where you’re allowed to swim with these perky little playmates. swimming-at-boulders-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaActually, it was November when we toured, and our group wasn’t allotted time to swim, but the beaches‚ÄĒwith their warm sand and turquoise waters‚ÄĒlooked irresistibly inviting. close-up-of-an-african-penguin-at-boulders-south-africaPenguins have razor-sharp beaks, however, so despite their appeal, one should keep a respectable distance from their acrobatic antics. kathi-on-boardwalk-with-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† We visited Foxy Beach, perhaps Africa’s best site for viewing penguins.raised-walkways-through-foxy-beach-african-penguinsIt has raised boardwalks through one of only two nesting sites in South Africa,granite-boulders-and-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa where about 3,000 happy little fellows spend their days sunning on the granite boulders and cavorting in the deep blue sea in search of tasty treats like fish.african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaIn the nineteenth century, there were over three million African penguins, but today there are less than 100,000 penguins left world-wide, and penguins are protected. ¬†information-on-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaAfrican penguins are just under 20 inches tall and weigh about 4.5-8 pounds, about 100 pounds less than the ostriches that roam nearby. Still, they are bigger than the average bird, and their bones are heavier, making them great divers. They’ve been known to go as deep as 115 feet underwater, hold their breath for 1.5 minutes, and zip along at nearly 15 miles per hour, so in the bird world, they don’t have to be early or resort to catching worms to be a success!gorgeous-scenery-at-foxy-beach-boulders-penguin-colony-of-african-penguinsThey dress in tuxedos and dine on seafood at waterfront resorts. Very classy, don’t you think? ūüôā I’ve read that penguins usually live 11-12 years, but some have been known to live almost twice as long. african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa-cute-coupleThey are practically obsessed with finding their way home for nesting (even climbing over fences, which is a trick for these flightless birds) and normally mate for life. They share parenting duties, are social, mild-mannered, and multiply rapidly if protected. (Sound like ideal children to anyone?!)african-penguin-couple-at-boulders-south-africaUnfortunately, they are not always protected, and they don’t always make wise choices. One of the biggest problems at Boulders is that the penguins like to stand in front of warm cars, and several have been run over!
group-of-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaThe worst tragedies in recent years have resulted from tankers spilling oil. In 1994 about 10,000 birds were oiled, and only about half of them were saved. In the 2000 disaster, when the tanker Treasure sank off Robben Island, 18,000 oiled penguins were rescued and cleaned, and another 19,000 unoiled penguins were transported to Port Elizabeth, where they were released. signpost-for-boulders-beach-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaHowever, almost all the penguins returned to their original home with amazing accuracy and speed. Reporters seemed hopeful that most of the penguins would survive, although it made me think of us as humans! african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa-turquoise-waters-of-the-atlantic-oceanMany of us are rescued by Christ‚ÄĒsaved, cleaned, and released in clean waters. What do we naturally do? Head straight for home, whether or not home is a safe place. If you’re a believer and have been delivered from an unsafe environment, please consider prayerfully if and when to return home. I am sure God wants us to love our families, but He doesn’t want us living in an environment that will kill us, like a coat of black slimy oil will kill a penguin.

sheltered-bay-and-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaAre you safe? Please don’t instinctively return home too soon.
Swim in clean water and let the Lord direct your paths.
warm-sand-for-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaThe Lord direct your hearts into the love of God,
and into the patient waiting for Christ
” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

 

ArtPrize 8: Just Where is the Rising of the Sun?

the-more-you-sweat-in-practice-the-less-you-bleed-in-battle-artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongArtPrize 8 is off and running! I’ve had several friends wander into the Holiday Inn without realizing that my mural is there, so let me give you the details in case you’re in GR and planning to go to ArtPrize, because I’d love to see you and I’d hate to miss you! My entry is titled “From the Rising of the Sun” and is being displayed at the Holiday Inn at 310 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

gerald-r-ford-museumIt’s opposite the Gerald Ford Museum, van-andel-museum-center-jpgacross the street from the Van Andel (Grand Rapids Public Museum), devos-learning-centerand kitty corner from Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

grand-riverIt’s just across the river (0.2 miles) from the Amway Grand, so it’s at the cross roads to some of the best art in town. It’s also just 0.4 miles from Grand Rapids Art Museum,¬†0.5 miles from the B.O.B. (Grand Rapids’ “Big Old Building), and 0.6 miles from DeVos Place, so it’s super convenient for the most popular venues! arriving-at-the-holiday-inn¬† ¬† ¬†Whether you go in the front or back entrance, ¬†you’ll see half the mural.artprize-8-front-lobby-mural-at-holiday-inn “January through June” is at the front entrance, and “June through December” is at the back entrance. Using 400 of my favorite¬† photographs from around the world, I’ve created a collage trying to tell the story of life on Planet Earth through the seasons of one year and one lifetime. artprize-mural-summer-to-winterHere’s my “Artist Statement: “The top row reminds us of the universal constants we all experience: the glorious sun and moon, rising and setting with comforting precision. Row two showcases another global experience, the beauty of flowers, which can be found everywhere around the globe. Row three highlights the experience of fauna through the seasons. Row four looks more closely at how the flora and individual homes are affected by seasonal changes, using photographs from our cozy ‚ÄúTanglewood Cottage‚ÄĚ here in Grand Rapids. Row five takes an intimate look into one person and one family (mine) through the seasons of one year and one lifetime, but my hope is that it resonates with the emotions and cultural experiences of everyone who views it: birth, growth, adulthood, marriage (or family life; I know some never marry), new life and enjoying grandchildren, growing older, and finally, in the December of life, walking into a sea of clouds on the mountain top, looking hopefully to a glorious future life after we leave Planet Earth.january-of-the-year-artprize-8The lower half of the mural is arranged in ten collages, each comprised of twenty photographs from around the world on a particular theme that compliments the season above.” ¬†¬†artprize-8-from-the-rising-of-the-sunThis is my hope and prayer for the mural: “From the rising of the sun on the day we take our first breath until we walk into life’s sunset, I hope the beauty of our world lifts our hearts to praise the One who created us and provided such a glorious home.” friends-stopping-by-to-see-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8I have a booklet with notes on each photograph for anybody who comes and would like to know more detail, although if I’m there when you come, I can answer questions! I’d really love to see you if you come, and if you leave me a message in the comment box or on Facebook (message works too), I’ll try to make sure I’m there when you come! I’ve been going about 10:00-5:00 Monday-Friday every day, but I’ll be less regular on weekends due to family responsibilities and fun, although I’ll still be there at times, so please don’t be shy! It’s a real highlight of my day when friends drop by!

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,
the Lord‚Äôs name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).

Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner?

Dan and Brianna celebrating birthdayOne of our sons just moved back to GR and took a new job! Want to guess which one? It can’t be Daniel, because he and Brianna already live here. In fact, Brianna and Alan share a birthday, so last Sunday we had a birthday party together: Brianna’s 33 and Alan’s 66, making her exactly half Alan’s age! Ducklings swimming near shoreThat was super fun…although they might not have been quite so thrilled when I pointed out that they’ve now lived one-third and two-thirds of a century of excellence (respectively). I guess they’re no longer spring ducklings…

Gosling pecking in grassHow time flies!!¬† DeerTo make it a little harder to guess who’s coming for dinner tonight Geese and goslings near shore(and hopefully more fun), Geese and GoslingsI thought I’d add a few pictures of who’s already been coming over to eat Wood duckat our house every day. Racoon in cherry treeRaccy Coon and family come pretty much every dayRacoon eating cherries from tree…although they tend to come for an early-morning breakfast Racoon eating an unripe cherryand prefer fish for dinner (which we’re having tonight). Geese and goslings on shoreBrunch guests include the gaggling geese Geese and goslingsand their gangly goslings, Ducklings on the lawnalthough the ducklings seem to prefer late afternoon luncheons on the lawn.¬† Hairy Woodpecker on logThe woodpecker’s speciale is grubs ala log, Robin feeding babies in nestand the¬† the baby robins are very partial to worms ala mom, Robin in cherry treealthough both their parents love cherries! Robin eating a cherryIn fact, I’d say our black cherry tree has by far the favorite feasting fare Squirrel in treeat the moment, Squirrel harvesting cherriesand the squirrels, Robin in cherry treebirds, Chipmunk eating cherry in treeand chipmunks strip it bare before the cherries have a chance to really ripen. ¬† ūüė¶ Grackle eating cherriesSo, it’s not like we don’t have lots of company for dinner, Chipmunk eating a cherrybut tonight is going to be very special, Alan Joel and Kathi in Italybecause Joel will be dining at our dinner table! Joel playing with Jon's kidsHe finished all his coursework for his PhD, and‚ÄĒenterprising soul that he is‚ÄĒ

Joel walking with Jon's family on lanehe’s moved home from Boston and accepted a job working as an assistant editor at Kregel Publications, the oldest of four Dutch Christian publishing houses based here in Grand Rapids. Visiting Italy¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Their office is just a few miles from our house, and he could bike it, 2009 Honda Fit¬†¬†¬†¬† although he just bought a sporty Honda Fit last night, so he’s ready to travel!Joel out for SUP rideAt first Alan and I were appalled to think he’d leave his full-ride scholarship to take a job, but he can actually write his dissertation in GR if he wants, Joel with his nephewand he pointed out that most publishing companies require three years of experience before they’ll consider you, so we all feel this job is a special blessing and gift from God. Kayaking on LakeNow, instead of sirens and helicopter sounds at night, he’ll have to get used to geese and our frog chorus. Thank you, Lord!¬† Mourning Doves in treeGive praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
” (Psalm 105:1-3, NIV)

(PS‚ÄĒJust in case any of you are wondering, Joel is still single; all the pictures of Joel are with friends and family.)

 

When the Children Grow Up and the Dog Dies

Bleeding Hearts 05.23.16Things were pretty lonely around here after the kids grew up and our dog died. Forget-me-notsAlan suggested making cardboard cutouts of the kids Geraniumsand setting them around¬†our dining room table Squirrel on canoeor placing them in random locations in and outside. Lilac-colored IrisHowever, we slowly adjusted to “just” the two of us after 40 years of children. Two deer by boatAlan had the sensation we were dating again,Turkey on our laneand I felt a little lost, like a newly wed just playing at house.Racoon on our dock However, in the last two weeks since we’ve returned from Europe, Mother Duck and 3 ducklings by dock+10 5.26.16it’s occurred to me that we’re not alone at all! Great blue heron and ducks on dockWe have all sorts of neighbors who come to visit every day, Racoon on dock 5.27.16and they seem particularly taken with our new dock! Racoon in our cherry treeOf course, the coons, birds, and squirrels are pretty partial to our cherry tree too.Woodchuck in grass Our proverbial woodchuck is always busy trying to figure out Woodchuck. How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? 5.26.16just how much wood a woodchuck can chuck, Woodchuck+10 26.16and after he’s done working, he’d like to take a dip in the lake… Woodchuck by swimming poolor in the pool if we’d take that carnsarned cover off so he could get in. Deer in our yardTwo days ago while Alan was mowing, Columbinehe discovered a brand new fawn hiding in the grass just 10 feet in front of him. Squirrel on our deckHe ran into the house to grab “camera woman,”Vinca Minor but the tiny creature managed to wobble off and find another hiding place Deer by dock 5.26.16before we returned. Mink at edge of woodsSo, we’re not really alone!Geese on lake In fact, there’s so much commotion around here Racoon by our canoe 5.26.16that it’s hard to get to sleep at night! Geese squawking in eveningThe geese squawk, Great blue heron on dockand the swamp frogs’ antiphonal chorus is as thunderous as a giant snoring. Robin's nest by tea roomIt’s also hard to sleep in with all the song birds serenading the sun bright & early.MuskratEven better than all this polyphony of sights and sounds outside Chipmunkis that still, small voice inside, Mink on dockreminding me that no matter what happens between now and forever, Purple IrisJesus will always be with me!¬† Duck and ducklings on lake“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)¬† Bi-colored irisI am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Revelation 22:13)

(All photos taken around our house in the last few days. Thank you, Lord!)