Thursday, April 28, 2011

Goodbye butterflies ...

I'm dangerously close to becoming a butterfly "nerd" ... I've visited the exhibit at Meijer Gardens five times now. This morning, I arrived exactly at 9:00 so that I could hopefully beat the crowds. I snapped this somewhat blurry picture (above) of the only monarch I saw today.
The butterfly exhibit began March 1 and ends in two days. There were thousands of butterflies to see immediately after you walked through the airlock in early March. Today, I had to really search them out ... and hunt them down to find them! For the first 25 minutes or so, I had the conservatory to myself! JOY!
Spring has been VERY slow in coming to West Michigan this year. I'm STILL dressing in layers ... just to survive! A walk in the conservatory is SO therapeutic for me. The colors, the humid HEAT, the allusive butterflies ... just exactly what I need!
Last year, for the first time ever, I actually saw and photographed the clearwing butterfly. He is SO cool. But this year, I didn't even SEE one single clearwing! I was a little bit disappointed about that.
This gorgeous Julie Longwing ... isn't the COLOR amazing ... was very cooperative with my camera today!
It was very nice to be able to photograph today without stepping over people or worrying about getting in someone's way ...
And this Blue Morpho was the ONLY one of it's kind anywhere to be seen this morning. When I was here last week, there were dozens of them flying everywhere!

Over at the butterfly bungalow, I finally saw the Atlas Moth that I've been wanting to see for so long! The span of its wings is wider than my open hand! Isn't he amazingly beautiful?
There was an official butterfly lady (complete with name tag) standing next to the bungalow, available to answer any questions. So of course my question was: "I don't suppose you'd let me go inside the bungalow and get a decent picture of the moths ... would you? ... Please?! There is SUCH a glare on the glass ..." She didn't even flinch with her denial of my request. I told her I regularly ignored "No Tresspass Signs", fences, railings, etc. if it meant I could get a better picture. She was completely unimpressed. Sigh. Goodbye butterflies ... and moths!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Thoughts from Isaiah 52:13 through Isaiah 53 ~ a reverie for Good Friday.

Anguished agony
so abused
appalling in his appearance
bruised and bloodied
he hardly looked like a man
it takes my breath away

A tender green plant
in a vast dry desert
without beauty
no majesty
no honor
Not a single thing about him
to attract us
not charmed
or fascinated by him

This man of deep sadness
and grief
close to
our sicknesses, weakness and pain
we viewed
with contempt
hated and disdained
we were disgusted
we hid our faces
we simply DID NOT CARE

Like stupid sheep
all of us
turned 180 degrees
did an about-face
walked away in our rebellion
and all of our perversion
was heaped upon him
crushing weight

wrongly accused
sentenced by cruel abuse of power
unjust judicial opinion
stripped and tortured
exposed and tormented
severed from the living
undressed of life and soul
cut off

submissive sacrifice
perfect flawless holy
lamb of God
This was the plan
all along
He was pleased and delighted
the agent of his suffering
who crushed and broke his heart

overcome with happiness
he paid what was due
every requirement was met
he answered and discharged every claim
against us IN FULL
Now he judges us
from guilt or blame or shame
his children
He lives now to
make prayers of petition
in favor of rebels

grace too costly
that’s my

Monday, April 18, 2011

It could be worse ...

It's not like we had a 9.0 earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami... nor have we had terrible floods along the Grand or the Rogue Rivers ... no tornadoes either ... or damaging straight-line winds ...

Just S N O W ... on April 18 ... when Spring was officially declared FOUR FULL WEEKS ago! Last Sunday it was 84 degrees in Grand Rapids! People were wearing shorts and tank tops!
I watched this forlorn little robin for quite awhile this morning. I bet he's wondering if he came back too early. He was carefully walking in the road, avoiding stepping in the snow. I hope his nest is sheltered, deep in a bush somewhere. Sigh. I'm yearning for green lush grass, wildflowers, bumble bees, heat and humidity!

PLEASE ... be spring soon!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All the pretty butterflies ...

It's been great to have a membership to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park this year! This is the third time I have been to visit the butterflies, and there are still two more weeks before the exhibit closes. I hope to get there a few more times ~ it is so much fun! I could honestly spend hours there just walking around with my camera, 100% happy the whole time!
Yesterday, I showed up at about 3:30 in the afternoon ... a time when bus loads of school children were LONG gone. Not that I mind children ... but it's difficult to get a good photograph when there are 100's of small children ... and you do NOT want to block their view!
The favorite (always) is the Common Morpho, a brush-footed butterfly from Central/South America. It is the most alluring and allusive creature! It's beautiful wings are iridescent blue that change color as it glides effortlessly through the foliage. But the sun was so bright yesterday, I think it made them sleepy, so I was able to get some really nice photographs of them!
I can never decide whether they are more beautiful with their wings closed or open! I love the many shades of brown and the beautiful patterns on their wings when closed ... but that BLUE is so incredible too, isn't it?

I have a whole collection of butterfly photos from prior years, but I've never gotten such nice pictures as this of the Common Morpho. I was hoping very much to see some swallowtail butterflies or some magnificent moths again this year ... but yesterday ... not a one!
This is a small Postman butterfly and there are 100's of them ... everywhere ... they are not my favorite, but I was able to get some nice photos of them too.

This was a good time of day to visit the butterfly exhibit. It wasn't one bit crowded. It's wonderfully warm and tropical inside, the humidity makes my whole body happy!
This gorgeous orange butterfly is called a Julia Longwing, also from Central/South America.

The design and intricate detail on these butterflies is so awesome. I never get tired watching them!

"O Sovereign LORD! You have made the heavens and earth by your great power. Nothing is too hard for you ... You are the great and powerful God, the LORD Almighty. You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles." Jeremiah 32:17-18

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Matthew is SIX today!

Since I celebrated Matthew's SIXTH birthday early with him about three weeks ago when I was in El Paso, I almost forgot to post this HAPPY BIRTHDAY greeting to him today! It was like my brain was telling me that his birthday was already over ... when it's really just happening now!
It's hard to pick a word that would define MATTHEW ... because he is ... so many different things all rolled together as one. He is VERY silly sometimes. He is ALWAYS cuddly and ready for hugs. He is enthusiastic about almost any activity ... except perhaps when it involves having to wake up early ... he's definitely NOT a morning person!
But once he's had his breakfast, he is ready to go ...
And can even have a little bit of an ATTITUDE to boot! Look at that face! Actually, this picture says a lot about Matthew. Being the youngest of three, who are all spaced quite close together in age, he does NOT take any guff from his older siblings ~ he totally holds his own and does NOT like to be bossed about!
We love you so much, dear grandson, and hope your birthday is a happy celebration today!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A new place to walk!

I was meeting a friend this morning for a "coke" over at Red Hot and decided that instead of taking my usual route there, I would take four mile road and drive past Robinette's Orchard ... just in case there was anything growing that I might want to see! I'm longing to see some COLOR ... even a very tiny flower would suffice! But ... it's been mighty cold, wet and windy around here for the longest time ... the kind of cold that gets right down to your bones! Absolutely NOTHING was blooming over at Robinette's! But just before getting to the orchard, I spotted a park that I had never noticed before ~ Provin Trails Park ~ with hiking trails!
So after my friend and I were finished chatting at Red Hot, I drove back to the park and took a little hike today. What a pretty place!I searched high and low for spring ... and instead actually ran into a patch of snow out there in the woods! Yikes ... NOT what I was hoping for! I refused to take its picture even!
But you know what? Even though there were no flowers sprouting yet, the trees were just so lovely ... it's difficult to be down in the dumps when surrounded by lovely trees, isn't it?
I'm glad I now have a new place to hike. In a few short weeks, these trails will be bursting with color and all kinds of wonderful things ... I am SO ready for that!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birthday wishes for Emily ...

It's Emily's birthday today ... one day after Andrew's! This picture of Emily was taken in Winona, Minnesota (August 2010) where we were celebrating an extra wedding reception for Dylan and Kelly with Kelly's family and friends in Winona who couldn't make it to their wedding. Adam and Emily traveled all the way from the Twin Cities to join in on the happiness of that day ~ I thought it was so nice of them to drive all that way to be there for Dylan and Kelly.

This is such a pretty picture of Emily ~ but it's pretty impossible to take a bad picture of her.
We love you, Emily, and hope you have a great time celebrating your birthday today!

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Andrew's Birthday!

To the gentle man who loves our daughter, coaches T-ball, reads bedtime Bible stories, cooks a pretty amazing Parmesan chicken dish (and others), has father-daughter dates, brings his wife pretty flowers (even when it's NOT Valentine's Day), reaches out to his neighbors, goes out of his way to help friend or stranger (and if needed would give you the shirt off his back), loves the Lord intensely, is a Texan through and through (yikes!) ... we say HAPPY BIRTHDAY! We love you, Andrew, and are so glad you are part of our family.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Christmas in April for Nana and Roy!

Christmas in April?! What?!

Well, you see ... Olivia, Jackson and Karis made a present for Nana and Roy for Christmas ~ but do you remember how Nana had fallen and broken her sacrum the week before Christmas?
Thankfully, Nana has fully recovered from her injuries and is back to her usual self! I didn't want to deliver these beautiful little bird houses until Nana was well enough to appreciate them. She was so delighted with them and thought they were beautiful. "Wow, the children really painted these?" Roy kept asking! He was VERY impressed!
There is a tree just outside their kitchen window with a perfect branch to hang Nana's birdhouse ... but Roy declared that he was keeping his birdhouse INSIDE where none of the sparrows or squirrels could mess with it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A few of our favorite stories ...

"The Man Who Walked Between the Towers" by Mordicai Gerstein is a true story. It tells of a New York City street performer, Philippe Petit, and about his wire-walk between the trade towers (yes! those VERY towers) when they were being constructed back in the 1970's. It's a well-written story with great illustrations, several pages of the book opening up and spreading out to VERY wide pictures of the trade towers ~ the story builds, along with the towers, and there is a lot of anticipation about what will happen to this daring young man! Emma, Chris and Matthew were SO engaged with the events of this story! At the end, there is a small mention about the World Trade Towers not being part of the skyline anymore ... but it's handled really tastefully. I always love a true story! I purchased this book in the Used Book section over at Schuler Books back in early March.
I have always loved anything written by Rosemary Wells. She writes and illustrates her own books. This is just a cute book about going to school and being accepted by other children, making friends, and some of Timothy's frustrations. I found that Emma, Chris and Matthew wanted to talk about their own experiences after we were finished reading ~ and it was interesting to hear their own stories about school and about some of their friends too.
"Pig and Crow" (Kay Chorao) was definitely my favorite of the books I brought to El Paso for my March trip. I'd never heard of the book or the author before! I had driven over to Discount Books over on 29th street the week before I left for El Paso, searching for some soft-cover books to add to my story collection. I had several hours that day and sat down and read through dozens of books. Our Emma continues to LOVE pigs to this day; so I always try to find a story or two that includes pigs for her. This books was delightful from cover to cover. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story was so much fun to read! Here is a rather succinct review of the story by Booklist ~ "A lonely pig learns the value of hard work and patience in this delightful modern-day fable."

I find what's really fun to do is to open each page of the book and talk about the illustrations first ~ to see if the children can figure the story out just by looking at the pictures. It's also fun to ask a lot of questions: "Wow ... what's happening now?" "What do you see?" "Oh, no! Now what?!" And the kids just love trying to figure the story out before it has even been read. But after we do read it, it's also fun to ask questions and see what details they can remember about the story. Children have amazing memories and minds! I'm always pleased to see how much they have learned from just a simple story.

We read many other enjoyable books, but these were the favorites. I left "Pig and Crow" with Emma (she has a small book shelf and takes care of the books) so that she could read it and share it with her brothers. A few days after I was back home, I drove back over to Discount Books and picked up another copy for my house! I loved this little story. I also found quite a few more titles that I purchased to bring with me when I go back to El Paso in June ... I'm counting the days!