Mistaken identity

While cleaning up the backyard I pulled weeds from the base of a clematis.

In doing so, I came across a seeding.

Assuming it was of a clematis, I dug it and placed it in a small pot.

When working in the garden, I came across two more. I wondered how clematis seeds had managed to blow that far away (about 20 ft), but eager for the opportunity to grow clematis from seeds, I dug them and placed them in small pots as well.

I congratulated myself on the discovery, knowing that finding cultivated clematis seedlings was a rare thing.  The first leaves looked identical to those of the adult clematis.

That should have alerted me to my error. The first leaves rarely resemble the adult leaves that will follow!

What do I have in my little pots?  Vines to be certain.  In the past two days since potting them, they have grown tiny adult leaves…three in each set….

Three. Yes, some clematis sport leaves in groups of three.

But, this grouping and shape of the leaves more closely resembles something else.

Poison Ivy.

Robin Account

April 22 – Sunday – Warm – Eggs are in the nest, how many remains to be seen.  Momma bird sits and flies off to eat, returning to sit again.  She repeats this throughout daylight hours.

April 23 – Monday – Warm – Momma bird off and on nest.

April 24 – Tuesday – Warm upper 70’s – Momma bird off and on the nest, never leaving it more than a few minutes.

April 24 – Wednesday – Rain – Momma bird does not leave the nest from what I could tell.

April 25 – Thursday morning – Momma bird on the nest – cold early.  Temp warmed to mid 60’s late afternoon and I noted both birds foraging for food and eating all they found.  momma bird was on the nest fat and satisfied before dark.

April 26 – Friday a.m. – cool. 6:30 a.m. Momma bird on the nest.  11 a.m. Momma bird off the nest foraging for food.  Papa bird in the tree watching me and the nest. 4 pm both birds searching for food. dark – momma bird on the nest

April 27 – Saturday a.m. – cool rain.  6:30 both birds on the nest attend baby or babies – feeding or cleaning or something.  Action one of the birds took appeared to be “pecking” into the next and I assume it was feeding babies.  9:30 a.m. both birds hunting food in the rain, walking the yard with eye turned toward the grass looking for worms/bugs.

April 30 – Monday – 82 degrees with bright sunshine. Daughter reported seeing 3 baby birds as one of the adults fed them. Didn’t see either bird on the nest during daylight hours.  My guess is feeding the babies is a full time job now for both adults.

May 1 – Tuesday – Both birds are active in caring for babies.  2 pm both adults were on the nest feeding them.

May 2 – Wednesday – 6:45 a.m. One bird was on the nest, then the other flew up and joined him/her. The one that had been sitting on the babies, flew off down to the edge of the road where two doves were pecking around.  The one that arrived fed the babies and then gently wiggled and settled down on them. This one has a big patch of white behind its legs and appears larger than the other.

May 6 – Monday – 6:45 a.m. – Momma bird fed in our front yard and then flew across the street to a tall tree 100 feet or so from our house.  I assume she has a new nest.  She and hubby were “fighting” a few days ago and I’m certain the squabbling I saw was more of a mating dance.  Babies fill the nest – four heads and beaks stick up above the edge of the nest.  I wonder how they can move they are so tightly packed within it.

May 7 – Tuesday – 8 a.m. – Poppa bird is busy hunting for worms and bugs. Momma helps some, but not often.  Baby birds no longer have just gray fuzz and beginnings of flight wings that they had Sunday morning.  Their feathers look more adult.  The babies have grown so large that they can no longer all four sit crammed together within the nest. Two have moved more to the “top” of the bunch and sit somewhat atop the other two.  I wonder how they keep from falling out.  Their movement seems jerky and uncoordinated.  I worry that they will tumble out of the nest too early.  Hubby cut the grass late in the day.  I counted babies to make sure there wasn’t one on the ground.  Do Robin babies do like Mockingbirds?  Do they drop from the nest before they can fly?  Do they screech from the ground for the parents to find and feed them?  If they do, how will we keep from stepping on them?

May 8 – Wednesday – 6:45 a.m.  I had to look twice to make sure what I was seeing were baby birds and not two adult birds.  It’s amazing how quickly the babies are growing now.  Two birds are quite evident as they perch near the edge of the nest.  They are almost the size of their parents.  And, the feathers on their chest have developed a slight rust hue.  It must be exhausting for the dad to continue to feed and satisfy the appetites of these babies.  Four huge baby Robins.  I hope they all live to have babies of their own.

May 9 – Thursday – And, then there were three.  The fourth baby was no where to be seen today.  I’m unsure if he disappeared today or sometime yesterday. Hubby cut grass yesterday evening and I wondered about the babies then. And, hoped they were all safely in their nest.  Not far from the nest is a large clump of Peonies.  Perhaps the little one has taken shelter there.  Wherever it is, the parents are not feeding it – at least I’ve not seen them do so.  They (yes, both) go only to the nest with worms and I’ve not heard a baby bird crying for attention.  In fact, I’ve heard NO noise from the baby birds at all.  Apparently they are not like Mockingbirds who tumble from their nests and run about on scrawny legs and squawk and complain until a parent finds and feeds them.

May 10 – Friday – 6:45 a.m. The three in the nest are huge. Their rusty red breasts are very evident as they sit upon the nest.  Tail feathers are only nubs, but they are growing.  More like adult robins they appear this morning.  I watched both parents feed the birds within minutes of each other and return to hunt for more worms.  Rain is falling today with storms forecast.  I wonder how the remaining three will fare when the wind picks up and the rain blows against them.  There’s no way to hunker down and ride it out now.  I don’t see how the three robins are able to remain in the nest.  Before the day’s end, one will probably tumble out.  I read that only 1 out of 4 baby Robins make it to maturity and raise babies of their own.  That means of the 4 I have watched grow, only 1 will live to be 1 year old.  10:00 a.m. – two babies remain in the nest.  One of them perches on the edge of the nest, awaiting the return of the parents, stretching and fluttering it’s little wings.  Its tail feathers look like they’ve grown a half an inch since earlier this morning.  I look around for the two missing and don’t see them.  1 pm – one baby and only one remains in the nest.  I watched off and on for an hour and a half and didn’t see either parent arrive with food.  The baby watched, too.  Hungry and eager to eat.  His/her movement was erratic and jerky – but it exercised its wings, stretching and fluttering, then preened it’s feathers and settled in for a nap as it tucked its head under its wing. I had not noticed any noise from the babies at all until this bird was alone.  And, I noticed he/she would utter a harsh “CHURP” from time to time as if calling to parents. At times it teetered on the edge of the nest and I held my breath afraid it would topple out.  I left the house about 3.  Daughter sent a text at 3:45 to say the final bird left the nest as she was entering the house.  It fluttered from the nest and into the window, bounced off and fluttered to the ground. It appeared to be okay.  One of the adults flew down and landed beside it and led the baby away.  She captured video of two of the babies.  4:30  pm – Hubby and I headed out to walk and we saw one of the baby robins hop onto the bumper of Daughter’s car.  His/her chest was rusty red with spots and splotches on it.  Legs were long and scrawny – “bird legs” and he seemed lost.  Daughter said that when the last bird left the nest he had seemed confused and afraid to do so but either fell or launched himself and once on the ground looked up toward the nest as if to say, “Oh no!  What do I do?  Why did I do that??”  At least one of the parents was attentive to the two babies we saw – feeding and watching.  And, from time to time, we would hear the harsh “CHURP” of a baby Robin.

May 11 – Saturday – 6:45 a.m. – Daughter saw two baby birds in our side yard, just beyond the fence that separates the front from side yard, only feet from where she videoed them yesterday.  I saw two robins in the front yard searching for worms.  Apparently they continue to care for them fora while after they leave the nest, but when it was time for them to leave, the parents stopped feeding them unless they were OUT of the nest.  Interesting.

May 12 – Sunday – Throughout the day Daughter noted 2 of the baby birds – no longer looking so much like babies. Tail feathers, now long, bobbed along behind them as they hopped. Wings had grown long enough and strong enough to support them in flight.  No longer able to perch low to the ground, they are now able to seek shelter in the trees.  Parents still tend to them and remain close, feeding them occasionally. But, for the most part, Juniors are on their own. Daughter wondered about the other two…what happened to them.  I’ve wondered, too.  Daughter-in-love is awaiting the birth of her daughter.  We are on baby watch.  The doctor said it could be any day now.  Baby birds have left the nest.  It’s time for Grandbaby #1 to leave hers. 🙂

Lights Out

Our day was winding down. The evening was far spent. Hubby and I were watching an episode of LOST and surfing online with our laptops.

Without warning, the TV went blank and the house went dark and completely quiet.  I looked over at Hubby, his face lit by the light of his laptop (as was my own), and asked, “did the house lights just go out?”

Inane question, I know, but it was so unexpected – the shock so great – that I needed verification that the house lights had, indeed, gone off.

Hubby looked stunned…confused.  “I think so…I’m not sure what just happened.”

We shut down our computers, sat in the dark and listened.

Quiet.  Nothing was running.

And, there was no light coming in from outside.  The power was out all around us.

With cell phones in hand we lit our way to the flashlight and lantern. Then, armed with more powerful and longer reaching lights, we headed out the front door to see what, if anything, we could see.

As we stepped off the porch, the sound of sirens prompted a brief discussion on the probability of an accident that resulted in a downed power line/pole or a blown transformer. And, the hope that power would soon be restored.

Outside was as the inside – dark.

The only steady lights we saw flickered and twinkled like stars on the horizon – white, yellow, red, blue.

Occasionally we would see the blue/white light of flashlights sweeping through houses, room to room, window to window, as residents checked on children and made sure their home was secure.

In the middle of the street, Hubby and I stood and looked around us – flashlight and lantern turned off.

The longer we were in the dark, the more we saw.  We were able to discern individual houses, cars, trees, and large objects.

The sky was cloudy.  There was no moon. Though our neighborhood was dark, city light reflected from the clouds above provided just enough light for us to navigate.

After satisfying ourselves that all was well in the neighborhood, and there was nothing we could do to change the darkness of our situation, we said goodnight to the shadowless night without and headed within.

It was darker within than it was without. Blinds had been closed to shut out the dark and keep in the light as evening faded to night. And, now those blinds were shut against what light there was.

In light of all the darkness, we decided to call it a night and head to bed.  What better use is there for darkness than sleep?

Before retiring, we touched the light switches in each room to make sure they were in the “OFF” position – especially the one in the bedroom. (I much prefer a blinking clock alert me to the return of power than to have the overhead light awaken me abruptly.)

Hubby woke me an hour later to say power had been restored. It took me only seconds to reset my clock and pick up my dream where I left it.

I later learned that Mom, who lives a block away and had already gone to bed, discovered the lights were out when she turned over and opened her eyes to look at the clock.  All she saw was blackness and thought she’d gone blind.

It’s one thing to choose darkness – and another to have it forced upon you.

Our brief encounter with darkness prompts me to share what I gleaned from the experience.

  • Darkness can come without warning.
  • It causes confusion.
  • It hides the obvious.
  • Wisdom can be dimmed by it.
  • It creates more darkness.
  • Darkness is silent.
  • It is absence of light.
  • Light pushes it back, but does not drive it away.
  • We automatically look for light when darkness claims us.
  • Darkness moves in when light is extinguished.
  • It can be the result of accidental or intentional acts.
  • It affects inside as well as outside – within as well as without.
  • It doesn’t always affect everyone equally, or at the same time.
  • Distant light can provide balance and bearing in darkness.
  • Light from others around us is reasurring.
  • Darkness hides important things from us.
  • It may not be as dark as it first appears.
  • Eyes and senses adjust to darkness.
  • Darkness has no shadow.
  • It hides in shadows.
  • Darkness turns colors to shades of black and gray.
  • When we have no light within us, we can often find light without us if we look for it.
  • It’s difficult to walk on unlevel ground without a source of light to guide you.
  • Obstacles will trip you when you walk in darkness.
  • Often, we cannot change the darkness – it is a fact we learn to accept.
  • Darkness can become a new normal.
  • Shadows give depth to our perception.
  • Darkness is deep and wide.
  • It’s easy to become lost in familiar surroundings.
  • Our perception of just how dark it is can be far from accurate.
  • Sometimes it’s darker within than it is without.
  • Any light source, no matter how small, is important.
  • We prefer light over darkness.
  • Our actions sometimes backfire on us, causing us to shut out the light and welcome darkness.
  • Darkness invites us to crawl into bed and sleep until it gives way to light.
  • Darkness does not leave on its own.
  • The natural state sans light is darkness.
  • Darkness is frightening.
  • Once accustomed to darkness, we take action to prevent light’s intrusion.
  • Darkness causes us to make false assumptions.
  • We rejoice in the light.
  • Life, health, living, sight – darkness takes them all from us.
  • Light is life.
  • Darkness is sometimes necessary and can be beneficial.
  • It doesn’t change who I am, but can change what I do, or how I do it.
  • It takes courage to venture into the dark unknown and explore what can’t be seen.

What did you take away from our dark experience?  What have you learned from your own?

Mother’s Day 2013

With Mother’s Day approaching, Mom’s thoughts turned to her own mother.

It was decided that on Thursday morning we would visit her grave and place new flowers on it.

When I arrived to pick her up that morning, she met me at the door with a white garbage bag in hand. Within the garbage bag she had placed:

  • pink artificial flowers
  • a roll of paper towels
  • a damp cloth sealed in a ziploc bag
  • a sharp knife – its blade wrapped in a paper towel
  • light green floral styrofoam block

As I placed the garbage bag in the back seat of the car, Mom instructed me, “Look under the front passenger’s seat and see if the little whisk broom is still there.”  I did.  It was.

The drive to the cemetery took 10 minutes at most. I talked, reminiscing as I drove, of things I remembered, from my childhood, of past trips through that part of town (only frequented when we visited Poppy’s grave).  Mom corrected, added to, or confirmed my memories.

I wondered how she would react to visiting Nanny’s grave.  She was almost 100 when she died several years ago.   They had been close.  Mom had never lived farther than a 15 minute drive from her mother – probably 5 miles, or less, as the crow flies. In her later years, Mom visited her every day – caring for her needs and making sure she was okay.

Both of my grandfathers died when I was six. The care of my grandmothers fell to my parents, especially in their later years when they lost their independence and ability to care for themselves. Nanny and MeeMaw were always a part of my childhood family, especially on Sundays. MeeMaw would drive to our house and ride to church with us.  We would stop on the way and pick up Nanny.  Our car would be full of people, conversation, and love as we drove to church. After church, we all would go home for Sunday dinner and enjoy the afternoon together. MeeMaw would head home, usually before we left for the evening service.  Nanny would either accompany us, or we would drop her off at home on our way to church Sunday evening.

Mom’s thoughts were on her mother.  Mine were on my grandmother – and my mother.  And, on my father, who died last Father’s Day.  I’ll admit, I looked forward a month to what it will be like to celebrate my first Father’s Day without him here.  I wondered what Mom was feeling…thinking.

I turned right and we entered the cemetery.  At the first crossroad I asked, “Left?” Mom nodded.

It had been 9 months or more since I had last been to her grave.  The last time, I rode in the backseat as my dad drove us.  Daughter and I had spent a week with my parents in the Fall and we had visited Nanny/Poppy’s grave and MeeMaw/PeePaw’s grave to place Autumn flowers on them. I knew from childhood, that to reach Poppy’s grave, I needed to bear left at every opportunity.

We talked little as I drove past graves.  She pointed out changes and additions, noting where people she had known were buried and that she had never ventured into the older part of the cemetery.

Left, left, left, left…always left until we could go left no more.  I pulled the car onto the shoulder of the road in the spot that felt “right.” To my left there was a field with grass and a border of trees. Ahead of us, the road stretched straight.  To my right, graves stretched as far as I could see, evident only by the vases standing above the flat bronze grave markers.

“Do you remember which one it is?” I asked Mom.  She was silent for a moment.  Her eyesight is not good. Nanny’s and Poppy’s grave sits 75 feet or more from the road. As she gazed out the window, I closed my eyes and saw in my childhood memories the location of the grave site. (Brother and I had played there many times while awaiting the completion of the adults’ graveside work.) When I opened them, it was as if I had placed an overlay of my memory on the image before me – the grave stood out as though highlighted.

“Are you ready?” I asked Mom.  She seemed hesitant…lost in thought.  “I’m not sure which one it is, but I’m sure this is the right place.”

“It is,” I assured her.  “Come on, we will find it – no problem.”

By the time I made it around to her door, she had it open and she was giving orders. (Mothers, don’t you just love ’em?!?)

“Get that white trash bag out of the back seat and look under my seat and get that little whisk broom out.  We will need it to sweep off the marker. Be careful, there’s a sharp knife in the bag. We might need it to cut grass from around the marker. Here, let me take your hand. Let’s see…which marker is it…?”

I asked if she would like me to run ahead and locate the grave. She asked why I would want to do that and when I replied, “to save you a few steps”, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she was fully capable of wandering the cemetery if necessary and locating the marker on her own.”

With her hand in mine (or was it my hand in hers?) we tottered across uneven ground as I lead her toward the grave I felt certain was the one she sought.  When close enough to view the name on the flat marker, I pointed it out to her.  “You can see that from here?” she asked. Her reply to my, “Um, yes, Ma’am. You can’t?” was a stern glare that made me smile.  It was the same one she’d given me countless times over the past 55 years.

Within a few steps, she was upon the grave and stood looking down on the marker bearing the names of her parents…their birth and their death dates.

We fell silent.

I don’t know what thoughts held her captive or what memories flashed through her mind.  I don’t know if she felt regret, sorrow, longing…I just don’t know. It wasn’t my place to ask…or to know.  This was private – personal.  I stood there as long as I could bear it. Emotions flooded me as memories of my grandmothers flowed through my mind.  I was not around in their later years.  Life had called me 400 miles away and given me a family of my own.  I visited when I could. The last time I saw Nanny, she didn’t recognize me.  The last time I spoke with her on the phone, she didn’t know me – it frightened her that a stranger knew so much about her and her family.

When I could stand it no longer, I turned from Mom and walked back to the white garbage bag and began removing items we would need.  Mom (sensing my absence and the reason for it) said “The marker’s not dirty…a good sweeping with the whisk broom is all it needs. Be sure to pull the tags off of the flowers and put them in the garbage bag so they don’t litter the ground.”

We set about the task of cleaning the marker, removing the faded flowers, dumping water from the vase, trimming the floral styrofoam, inserting the flowers and arranging them.

When the task was done, we stepped back and fell silent once again.  Lost in thought and in emotion, we stood looking at the marker.  “Nanny would like the pink flowers,” I softly offered.  “Yes, she would,” was Mom’s reply.

“I miss her so much,” Mom said. “Sometimes at night when I say my prayer, I almost forget and pray for her.” Tears stung my eyes as I allowed emotion to well up within me – the strength of which surprised me. I choked it off before it consumed me.

I asked if she would like to linger.  She shook her head and said there was nothing more to be done there.

We talked quietly as we walked back to the car. My 85 year old white haired mother missed her mother…missed the mothering of her mother…missed the friendship of her mother…missed her mother’s prayers. As I held her hand – or she held mine – I knew that one day I would miss my mother and wondered how I would bear the pain and sorrow of it.

My sister-in-law faces her first Mother’s Day without her mother.  I cannot wrap my mind around the emotions she must feel.  A tear slips from my eye as I type this….

As a child, on Mother’s Day we wore red roses to church.  Dad would pick them from a big rose bush across the street from our house – I can see him now, dressed for church, crossing the street to pluck four small red roses for us all to wear.   My grandmothers wore white roses, not red.  I asked why and was told that children wore red roses in honor of mothers who were living, and white roses in memory of mothers who had died.

It was hard to think of my grandmothers as children.  They had been old forever as far as I knew. Their mothers long dead, I assumed they thought of them only at Mother’s Day when they placed the white rose in memory.

I knew Mother’s Day was difficult for many.  I have friends who wish to be mothers and cannot conceive. Mother’s Day is emotional for them…they have no one to celebrate them as Mother.  For some, Mother’s Day brings up bad memories of a less than perfect mother.  And, others lost their mother to death and still grieve.

Mother’s Day was always a happy day for me.  As a child, I loved my mother.  She was the absolute best in all ways. Mother’s Day was the perfect opportunity to show my love for her.  Even when I lived 400 miles away, I wore a red rose to celebrate her life and impact on my life.

This year is the first Mother’s Day I’ve spend with Mom in many years.  I don’t know how many more there will be. No one knows.  Last year, Father’s Day dawned with me at Dad’s bedside. No one thought that before noon he would take his last breath.

Mother’s Day is more than candy, cards, flowers and dinner out.  Happy Mother’s Day is more than a red rose pinned to a lapel. It’s an emotional basket filled with memories, hopes, dreams, tears, sorrow, laughter, pain, birth, loss, fear, happiness, love, longing….

From childhood, I’ve understood the reason for Mother’s Day and have celebrated my mom and the others who have mothered me. This year I find myself beginning to understand why many find it to be a difficult day and why some choose not to celebrate Mother’s Day at all.

To those of you who see me wearing a red rose, know that beneath that rose beats a heart that weeps for the loss you feel today.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  And, to all the mother’s reading this – God bless you and thank you for all you do for those you love.

(P.S.)The words above were penned yesterday, in anticipation of posting today.  Between the time I wrote them and now (1:31 a.m. Sunday), my mother became ill and was admitted to the hospital for tests.  My family and I will take Mother’s Day dinner to her hospital room and spend the day celebrating her and her love for us.  It’s not quite the day we had planned, but she’s still with us and for that I am grateful!

And, yes, a red rose will be pinned to my shirt.  Be sure to look for it when you see me.

(P.P.S) 7:57 AM Sunday – received a call from the doctor at 6:30.  Mom had an episode during the night…is in ICU on a respirator.  Dr is unsure what is going on. Heading there now.

Writer’s Block

For the past hour, I have done everything I can think of to force my brain to come up with something to write about this morning.

I’ve searched online – looking for news, weird things, odd happenings, ideas – to see if something would trigger my brain and prompt me to begin typing.

But, my hour long search has yielded me little more than information, some of which I could have done without.

  • a man was swallowed by a hippo and lived to tell about it.
  • there were twin UFO encounters over 1000 miles and 2 hours apart
  • a woman was accidentally shot, by her husband, in the mouth with a harpoon
  • this is National C……. Week (sorry, have to keep this G rated)
  • what really happens in women’s restrooms
  • there is a World P…. Size Map (again – sorry, have to keep this G rated)
  • bigfoot sightings are up
  • woman slapped a deputy to go to jail and quit smoking
  • smokejumpers intending to land in hot spot land in illegal pot garden
  • scratch and sniff card prompts natural gas leak scare
  • Houston braces for giant snail invasion
  • man uses spoon to break out of maximum security prison in Russia

Disappointed I didn’t provide links?  Ha ha! Believe me, none of the above will enhance your reading skills, enlighten you, provide information you need, or entertain you.

Writer’s Block is a dreaded (dare I say “hated”?) malady that befalls all writers from time to time. There’s nothing like sitting with fingers on keys and finding nothing within that wishes to flow outward through fingers.  The page on the screen is as blank and wordless as my brain.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing says it well.

For many writers the worst part of the writing experience is the very beginning, when they’re sitting at the kitchen table staring at a blank sheet of paper or in front of that unblinking and perfectly empty computer monitor: “I have nothing to say,” is the only thing that comes to mind. (read more)

I am not articulate in expressing my thoughts well through spoken word.  My brain speaks through my fingertips – writing words I have no idea how to pronounce, giving voice to thoughts and emotions that swirl in my head but cannot exit my mouth in intelligible language.

Writer’s block, for me, is akin to what a loquacious individual feels when struck dumb by laryngitis.

Staring blankly at the computer screen rarely cures a case of writer’s block.  If you are struggling to find the words, check out 13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block and Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block.

Or, you can google “odd news.”   😉


It’s hard to concentrate when every few seconds a hard contraction of my diaphragm causes a sharp intake of air into my lungs and an upward jerk of my body.  The action is so abrupt and harsh that I find it difficult to continue typing when it happens.

Hiccups are rare occurrences for me but when they happen, they aren’t the dainty type many women have. They are full blown and hard, producing a loud “huck” or, “hickuh” that’s embarrassing, irritating, and eventually becomes painful.

For the past 10 minutes I’ve hiccuped my way into this post, through half a cup of hot coffee, and to the front door to peek at the baby birds.

And, would you believe as I typed that last sentence they stopped?

My diaphragm feels tired and my throat tight – and I feel like I could hiccup, but I don’t.

I’m relieved the hiccups stopped on their own.  Had they not, my next paragraph would have provided my remedy for hiccups. 😉

Of course, had Daughter or Son been here they would have take care of my hiccups. They would have scared them out of me!

If you’re like me – an info junkie – you might be wondering, “What are hiccups/what causes them?”

According to Medical News Today, the correct term for hiccups is “synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus. A hiccup occurs when the diaphragm suddenly contracts involuntarily, while at the same time the larynx (voice box) contracts too and the glottis closes, effective blocking the flow of air.”  (The glottis is the opening between the vocal cords.)

What does one do if they have hiccups?  For most, it’s a simple matter of waiting it out. As in my morning bout with them, they run their course and stop on their own. (For some cases, medical conditions/illnesses cause hiccups and medication is required to quiet them. If your hiccups last several hours, contact your doctor.)

Here are some How To Stop Hiccups tips gathered from various online sites. (Feel free to add your own in the comment section below.)

  • Breath in and hold your breath for about ten seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat several times.
  • Squeeze the ball of your left thumb between the thumb and forefinger of the right.
  • Take a deep breath and hold it as long as you can, then exhale slowly.
  • Breathe into a paper bag (do not cover your head with the bag).
  • Bring your knees to your chest and and pull them close.
  • Gargle with iced water (be careful, don’t inhale any).
  • Stick your fingers in your ears for 20 to 30 seconds. Or, put pressure on the soft areas behind your earlobes, just below the base of the skull.
  • Drink from the far side of the glass – stand up, bend over and put your mouth on the opposite side of the glass.
  • Gently compress your chest (best done by leaning forward).
  • Put a few drops of vinegar in your mouth.
  • Place gentle pressure on your nose while you swallow (don’t clamp your nostrils shut).
  • Place granulated sugar in your mouth. Allow it to melt, then swallow it.
  • Stick out your tongue – way out.
  • Sip very cold water slowly.
  • Drink a glass of warm water very slowly, all the way down without taking a breath.
  • Take a thin slice of lemon, place it on your tongue and suck it.
  • Drink a fizzy drink and BURP.
  • Cup your hands over your mouth and nose and continue to breathe normally.
  • Pull your tongue – hold the end of your tongue with your fingers and tug.
  • Take 10 sips of water in a row while holding your breath.
  • Have someone sneak up behind you and scare you.
  • Eat grapes (or raisins).
  • Apply pressure just above the center of both eyebrows for 10 seconds.
  • Eat a spoonful of peanut butter (if you are NOT allergic)

What’s my chosen method for stopping my own hiccups?

Take a deep breath – filling your lungs as much as possible – then while holding it, suck in one more breath. (You may be surprised by the shallow use we give our lungs in normal breathing and how much they can expand.)  Hold your breath for as long as possible (at least 30 seconds) while tightening and pressing “down” with your chest/abdominal muscles (similar to when you’re on the toilet) with the idea of putting pressure on your diaphragm which lies below your lungs and divides your chest from your abdomen.  When you feel you must take a breath, slowly exhale and then slowly breathe in your next. You may feel the urge to hiccup for several seconds, but continue to breathe slowly. This works 99+% of the time for me.

What’s your favorite hiccup remedy?

A Full Nest

As Daughter left for work, a Robin looked down on her from its perch in the nest on our porch.

And, then another did so.

At first I thought it was the Dad on the nest and then I realized what I was seeing were “baby” birds.

There are four.  And, they have grown so large that the nest appears to be coming apart from the weight and wiggles of the growing birds.

They look more adult than they do hatching.  Feathers are no longer gray downy fuzz.  Their beaks are long and full sized.  Their appetites are equal to their size – huge.  Four big babies crammed into the little twig nest.  Two of them have to sit on the edge, or on top of the others, to keep from falling out.

When will they leave the nest?  I don’t know – but it won’t be long.

I wonder if they will be like Mockingbirds and drop from the nest before they can fly, squawking to be fed and hiding under bushes – or if they will tumble out full grown and ready to stretch their wings and catch air beneath them.

As large as they are, there is no way they can remain much longer. The nest will come apart.  They will smother each other. They will topple out.

How will they know when it’s time to leave the nest? Will Poppa stop arriving with a tasty worm? Will the nest become too uncomfortable? Will siblings push each other out? Will they flap their wings and find something awakens within them that yearns for more than the nest can provide? Or, will it be the growth of tail feathers that push them from the nest?

I stop my wondering long enough to walk to the living room window and peek out at them.

Four little birds sitting in the nest.  All face East. Two sit “up front” and two in the back.  Dad arrives with a fat worm dangling from his beak and all four open their mouths hoping to receive it.  The one farthest from me and closest to Dad receives breakfast.  Dad flies away and all four mouths close.  The one nearest me slowly turns it’s head my way and looks me over, then turns back to watch for Dad’s return.

They won’t leave today. I doubt they will tomorrow. But, one morning I will look out and find the nest empty…the babies gone.

An empty nest.  That sounds like a sad thing.  But, really, when you think about it – it’s gloriously exciting!  An empty nest means things went right and according to plan.  Mom and Dad did their part and the babies grew up healthy, happy, and capable of living independent lives. And, one day will build nests of their own.

You Can’t Teach a New Computer Old Tricks

My new laptop arrived yesterday.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Well, I’ve decided you can’t teach a new computer old tricks.

This old dog is open to learning new tricks.  I’m willing and able to learn and incorporate the laptop’s newness into my oldness.

The problem is the laptop is not giving one inch when it comes to allowing for my old habits.

(I’m Windows XP – it’s Windows 7.)

I’ve tried teaching it a few things and as smart as it is, it’s not open to learning anything old from me.

My old laptop has everything in the right place and knows what to do and when to do and how I want it to do. Its cursor behaves itself when I type.

The new laptop has more keys and the “home” keys are in a different location…hunt and peck is my typing style on it as I learn.  It will be some time before I’m up to typing 100 wpm on it.  And, the cursor turns me into a curser, if I’m not careful.  It jumps around when I type and clicks on all sorts of things it has no business clicking on.

I tried chatting online with the new computer last night.  That was such a disaster that I unplugged the new and set back up the old.  I would type and the cursor would cause the letters I typed to appear in the wrong places, or words/sentences to be deleted.  After sending several messages of total gibberish I called it quits.

It’s like a child with a new toy – I think it’s enjoying playing with me.

Daughter said she would check it out and see what can be done to calm it down a bit.  We’re certain the touchpad is too sensitive.

I assured her, “I can tame it.”  I just need time and patience, neither of which I have enough at present.

Her advice as she left this morning was: Don’t use the new laptop for work, or anything serious.  Just use it for playing around on until you get used to it.

She need not worry.  There won’t be any serious work done on it for some time yet.

I can’t even remember how she said to turn it on….

17 year cicada – chance or design?

A news piece about 17 year cicadas caught my eye. I paused to scan the article.

Colossal numbers of cicadas, unhurriedly growing underground since 1996, are about to emerge along much of the U.S. East Coast to begin passionately singing and mating as their remarkable life cycle restarts.

It appears we may be spared the cacophonous evening serenades of this particular cicada (until 2024 and again in 2025 ) but places East of us won’t be so fortunate.

This year heralds the springtime emergence of billions of so-called 17-year periodical cicadas, with their distinctive black bodies, buggy red eyes, and orange-veined wings, along a roughly 900-mile stretch from northern Georgia to upstate New York.

Black bodies? Buggy red eyes?  Orange-veined wings?  Freaky!  It’s good they measure only 1.5-inch (38-mm) – imagine the impact (visual and otherwise) they would make if they were 5.9 inches (15 cm) long like the tropical species Pomponia imperatoria from Malaysia.

It appears, according to the article, that central Connecticut will host “particularly dense concentrations of so-called Brood II cicadas, named Magicicada septendecim.” Expected arrival?  Sometime in late May or June.

Interesting facts about Magicicada septendecim can be found here and below.

  • Their arrival is precisely timed – every 17 years.
  • Juveniles slowly develop underground, emerging as adults.
  • Mature males “sing” to attract mates.
  • They emerge suddenly, as though awakened at the same time.
  • The exoskeletons (hard outer shell) are left behind (on sides of trees, houses, bushes, car tires) when the winged adults emerge through a slit in the back.
  • Population per acre is higher than with any other cicada species – up to 1.5 million per acre.
  • Male cicadas use ribbed tymbal membranes on their abdomens to produce sound – females click or snap their wings.
  • Though a bit freaky to look at, they do not bite or sting.
  • Commonly mislabeled “locusts, they are not harmful to crops.
  • Damage to young/small trees and shrubs (as well as fruit trees) can occur if too many feed on them, or lay eggs on them.
  • Eggs hatch later in the summer and the nymphs drop to the ground, where they dig in to begin the next 17 year cycle.
  • While underground, juvenile cicadas feed on root fluid.
  • Maturing juveniles build tunnels to the surface.
  • When soil temperature rises above 64 degrees F (18 C), they crawl from the tunnels and up the side of whatever is nearby (usually a tree/bush).
  • It is only after they are above ground that they start their final molt which results in their emergence as winged adults.

The final paragraph of the article is what set my wheels in motion and prompted me to write this.

Every 17th year, a few weeks before emerging, the cicadas build exit tunnels to the surface. When the soil temperature exceeds 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius), nymphs leave their burrows usually after sunset, settle on a nearby tree or shrub, and start their final molt to adulthood.

I am amazed by the intricate workings of the life cycle of the simple cicada.

To me, this is proof of the existence of a Creator.  I have tried to look at this from the thought/idea/world view of evolution…that it just happened by chance. But, I cannot.  The more I study…the more I learn…the more I am drawn to evidence of design. And, if there is a design – there must be a Designer.

And, if a Designer…then a purpose as well.


Three days ago, I finished garden prep and planted seeds.

  • pink eye/purple hull peas (105)
  • zucchini squash (15)
  • goose-neck squash (15)

Twelve tomato plants had been placed in the garden three days prior.

Okra, remains to be planted and it will go into the ground before this week is out.  Cucumbers, too, await planting – an afterthought for my sister-in-law.

I hesitated to plant okra because it hesitates to sprout if the ground isn’t warm.  With cool temperatures (Locust Winter) forecast for Saturday and into Sunday, I felt it prudent to await the return of warmer weather.

Before planting, I debated the wisdom of doing so with heavy rain forecast Friday night through Sunday morning. Light to moderate rain would do little more than wet the garden and soak the seeds.  Heavy rain and amounts up to two/three inches would wash the seeds away – and perhaps the soil as well.

I decided to plant and risk the possibility of heavy rain arriving before I could return to cover the seeded portion of the garden with a large tarp.

The garden is a block away from my house, in Dad’s old gardening plot begun when my brother and I were barefoot and shirtless on warm Spring days.

Friday morning, before the wind rose and the sky darkened, I headed down the hill, through the gate and into the backyard that holds so many fond memories for me.  The huge tarp was waiting for me in Dad’s shed.

The seeded portion of the garden was gently watered, then covered with the tarp weighted down with blocks and bricks to keep it from blowing away during the wind, rain and storms.

Sunday afternoon, Hubby helped me remove the heavy, wet tarp.  Light rain continued to fall throughout the day – just what that part of the garden needed.

From planting to first harvest averages around 60 days for the vegetables planted May 2.  Planting season here is a lot later than it was when we lived 400 miles South of here.  By now, plants would be up and maturing with harvest around the first week of June.

But, not here.

60 days takes me to the first week of July – just in time for our Fourth of July cookout.


Maybe our first tomatoes will come in about that time, too!

Fresh home-grown tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, grilled squash…yum!  And, perhaps we will have a few pods of okra to toss onto the grill, too!