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Friday, September 21, 2012

Why I pick up Thorn Locust Seed Pods

Why I pick up Thorn Locust Seed Pods

September 21, 2012

By Julie Kay Smithson

While there are perhaps a dozen thorn locust trees in my rural west-central Ohio neighborhood, only one directly impacts my September yardwork. It is located two yards over in an empty lot, and when its prolific annual seed pod production is ready to fall to earth -- depending on the prevailing winds -- the pods fall in my yard, flowerbeds, or the street out front. On days when the weather is changeable, the pods rattle down in all three!

Photo Caption: October 7, 2008, beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler and some of the thorn locust seed pods gathered that autumn day.

Photo Caption: Good Boy ACD (Australian Cattle Dog) with a few of the thorn locust seed pods)

Good Boy is a petite cattle dog whose nose and ears are very keen, but he relies on me to be his vision, so keeping his world as hazard-free as possible is my blessing (as it was when beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler trod these same places). The seed pods number enough to have filled seventeen large lawn/leaf bags (crammed full) last year; they're not as numerous this year, but this week alone, I've filled four such bags!

Photo Caption: Thorn Locust Seed Pods, which can grow as large as sixteen inches in length and can be almost straight (uncommon) to corkscrew-shaped.

This is great exercise, especially considering that the curvy, twisty, hook-on-end pods are a nightmare to rake, so most of the pod pickup is done by hand -- a lot of bending and twisting, and surely a great cardiac workout! The time involved is usually 60-90 minutes, the results, a green-again lawn and/or a fresh sweep of asphalt, and last, but not least, a happy Good Boy! The photo of him represents the few pods that fell in the past five hours with no wind at all. 
Photo Caption: Not something desired for a bracelet, thorn locust seed pod.

Happy autumn, we welcome its arrival!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Always a blessing, always blessing

Always a blessing, always blessing

God brought you into my life, Wiggles, for many reasons, all of them good and kind and miraculous, not all yet known, but all so much appreciated.

So often, people will call me or Good Boy "lucky." They'll praise me for saving Good Boy, as though I had anything to do with it! At those times, I'm quick to explain to them that God and you are the ones deserving of credit, and that it's all about blessings.

When you and I met, Wiggles, and traded hearts, I learned about love, trust, faith, and hope in ways heretofore unknown. You were a joyful, yet quiet, soul, your eyes filled with love for me through both the first six years of normal eyesight, and the second six years, when you saw with your heart. You brought home to me the knowledge that love is so much more powerful and all-encompassing than I'd ever known. There is so much that I miss about your physical presence, but also so much that you gave me to celebrate, including the blessing of Good Boy.

This lil pup -- he's a senior cattle dog / blue heeler of unknown vintage, but shedding years of dread and trading it for trust and the surety of having a real home -- is alive and thriving thanks to you and God. That blessing is one I share; you knew it wasn't my time to grieve to death. You found just the right furry soul to pair me with, though I was not able to give Good Boy much at first but the roof over his head, food and water and much-needed veterinary care. You know that neither he nor I realized the breadth and depth of our blessings for the first six months; it was more than a year before we really got to a place where we were able to feel the happiness coming through where before there had been ... unsurety. We've both been so tired, so filled with a riot of feelings ranging from dread to hope and from sadness to happiness.

When we go for walks, we walk in the same places where you and I walked, and even though the seasons and years pass, your presence is still strong and steadying, letting me know that it's all right to smile, to hug and pat and love Good Boy. The love we have for each other is safe, secure, and stronger than ever. Good Boy has joined us, sharing a place that you and God helped make for him, blessing us.

So, whenever someone that doesn't know, mentions 'luck' or focuses their gratitude for Good Boy's saving, on me, I tell them about how you and God love me so much that that love reached out and took Good Boy in, too!

Thank you for all you've done and continue to do, sweet Wiggles! You are always the child of my soul, still teaching me about love and faithfulness. You and God are a perfect pair!

So much love,

Your mommy-me, Julie

Friday, August 17, 2012

Neighbors, no matter what

Neighbors, no matter what



August 17, 2012





Thanks to the blessing of Facebook, a dear Oregon friend shared one of Stephanie Falck's photos of the 500-ton, 17-semi truck hay donation.



Here in Ohio, thirty years ago, a dear Amish friend -- himself a farmer with Limousin beef cattle -- had a bumper crop of top-notch alfalfa hay. That same summer, farmers in the Carolinas experienced a terrible drought. Jonas shipped a railcar load of hay to those farmers, with the stipulation that the recipients only know it came from "a friend."



This is how neighbors are. It does not matter the distance from their driveway to yours. It might be a half-hour from your kitchen table to theirs, or it could take two or three days' travel to put your feet under their table -- you're still neighbors.



During this summer of drought, wildfires and other trials & tribulations, please know that people all over our great country (and beyond) hold you close in prayer. We are grateful beyond words for the kindness that is inherent in good people to simply do good things. Recognition is not sought. Heroes don't view themselves thusly. Anyone would do it, they say.



God is alive and well in the hearts of such people -- the donors, transporters and recipients of such kindnesses. Let's let that take center stage in our lives and push the 'gristle' to the back of our plates. Good still prevails in the face of adversity!






Julie Kay Smithson is a property rights / natural resources researcher in west-central Ohio's Amish and Mennonite farming country. She lives with Good Boy, a blue heeler who depends on her to be his 'seeing eye person' -- and the sweetest memories of Wiggles Blue Heeler, who was at her side for more than a dozen years of rural living.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Now it's your Birthday

You and me, dear heart, on your eleventh birthday, July 19th, 2009. I had a birthday party for you on the lawn, and you were so happy! You knew it was your special day, and you were a most gracious host to your visitors.

July 19, 2012

Fourteen years ago this day, you were born, and though I didn't yet know you (we didn't meet until Tuesday, September 22nd, 1998), God had been working for a long time to put you and me on the same earthly life path. As are all His miracles, this one meant that all things that had happened to me to bring me to that day at the Farm Science Review, had to happen, and I'm glad they happened.

Our first Christmas together, 1998.

You loved me the first time you saw me, sweet Wiggles Blue Heeler, and I loved you. The bond between us strengthened over time and through adversity. For more than a dozen years, we were a team. We shared so much, so many travels, some trials, losses, gains -- but through it all, no one could have ever been so quietly devoted to another as you were to me.

Us at the A Canal Headgates, Klamath Falls, Oregon, August 2001.

My gratitude to you continues, stronger than ever, and certain I am that we are still together, though different (because earthly bodies wear out, as mine will, too).

January 28, 2006. Ours was such a precious, quiet but joyful love and life! No matter what, we were there for each other, through thick & thin.

Happy Birthday, sweet Littlefoot! I am Always your mommy, your best friend, and you are always the child of my soul.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A New Post Is Coming Soon ... It's Percolating

A New Post Is Coming Soon ... It's Percolating

June 24, 2012

By Julie Kay Smithson, always Wiggles' Mommy (and now Good Boy's mommy, too) propertyrights@earthlink.net

For the past few weeks, a new post has been in the formative stages in my heart and mind. It's not quite ready, but will be soon. Beloved Wiggles, you are faithfully with me always, and reminders of you abound all around, but most of all, in my heart and soul.

It is so clear, so undeniable, that you and God arranged for Good Boy's path in life to merge with my own, and he and I are most grateful. Though your earthly body simply wore out -- and I know you're here in a perfect way now, right here with me at all times in all places -- I still long for you in that visible, tangible form that spent all those blessed years with his mommy-me. You understand that, Wiggles, and so does Good Boy as he keeps just enough space between us for you to stay beside your mommy, even as he has become more comfortable here and knows it's his home for the rest of his earthly life.

Good Boy and I are a team born of desperation, loneliness, great need and all the ingredients that you and God put together and mixed, but we could not exist without either you or our Heavenly Father. Thank you more than there are words to describe, on this day, and every day: I love you more than ever, sweet Many Kisses, Little Boo, Punky Brewster, Wigglety Woo!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday, May 5th, at home

Saturday, May 5th, at home
May 5, 2012
By Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net

May 22, 2008. Lovely & fragrant iris!
Wow!!! Just saw two male Baltimore Orioles! Hadn't seen one since I was a youngster in the late 1950s, but these two were unmistakable, & if there are 2 males, surely there are 2 females somewhere nearby! How beautiful these birds are, strikingly marked with orange, black, yellow & white! Ah!!! I looked at Google Images, & found some photos. This one is from MacGardens "A gardener's world from the hill on Ball Road ... About (from 2008): This blog is meant to capture my observations as an itinerant gardener on 7 acres of stony hillside in mid-Maryland (Frederick County to be precise). We have a mixture of fields, overgrown orchard, & natural forest which has grown up over the last 30 years. In addition we spend a fair amount of time tending to perennials around the yard & a 5000 sq.ft. vegetable garden. Retirement has given me time to photograph the surroundings & to observe the healthy bird population that visits our mulberry & cherry trees. I continue to be fascinated by the things which have always been here (apparently) & are newly observed (like the orchard orioles this past year) and the things which are harvests from many years in one place (like the large clumps of daffodils in the woods that were planted decades ago & then forgotten until recently). Both my wife Beth & our offspring share our passion for gardening & nature, & I'm sure that our new granddaughter will be another convert. I began this blog two years ago & then got sidetracked. I hope this time to follow through with some of the photos & discoveries that the new year will bring. For a gardener at least, every year is a new beginning!" http://macgardens.org/?page_id=30

C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger has asked, "What do you think makes a good leader?" Here is my response: My belief, carefully formed from 6 decades of living, is that the best "leaders" are those that give God the glory, those that are humble in their gifts/skills/talents, those that do not seek to 'get rich quick' from sharing their knowledge, those that do not hold wisdom hostage, & those who are keenly aware that much can be learned each & ev'ry day, i.e., they do not 'know it all.' Sully and/or friends, you are free to disagree, because either of us could be right ... or wrong ... or most likely, some of both!
Hmmm ... no one drove by to see the workings going on in the yard this afternoon, but the result is: OVDM (one very dirty me). However, much weeding has been done, 2 bales of compressed sphagnum peat moss incorporated into flower beds ... and yours truly grew to resemble the little fellow from the Peanuts comic strip who had the cloud of dirt encircling him! Ah, but Good Boy still loves me!!! Perks to working in the flower beds: birds serenade you, the feral cats leave the birds alone, the iris put forth their heady fragrances -- each distinctive, from the 'grape' iris that actually smell like purple grapes to the more delicate perfumes of the reddish bearded and the violet & gold bearded iris -- and the workout is done with the breezes of spring to keep the brow dry! There's nothing like such measured & deliberate cardiovascular exercise to bring an appreciation to flowers that can come no other way. Thank you, God, for giving me this love of the soil & the miracles You call on it to bring forth! What a blessing!
It is my prayer that you each had a wonderful day, one that brings you to your bed with the nicest kind of tired, and that you are given pause to consider the multitude of blessings all 'round. It is a humbling thing, but one that brings such serenity of the heart and soul. I missed Wiggles Blue Heeler today; Good Boy stayed inside and enjoyed the air conditioning -- but so admired them both, each a sweetheart in his own way. Wiggles would have lain beside me as I worked, or perhaps breathed in the fragrance of the flowers he so loved. Good Boy is not at that point in his life -- perhaps that is not a place he will know, but we still expect miracles! -- though he is glad to have me nearby, and to enjoy our times together in the same room. So, I love them both, and both have special places in my heart.

Wiggles Blue Heeler with Red Flag daylilies, July 8th, 2007.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Read to me, Mom, Please?

Read to me, Mom, Please?

May 8, 2008

By Julie Kay Smithson, Wiggles' mommy-me forever

"Okay, Wiggles! Once upon a time there was this lady whose very nice, loving pet died of old age. She was heartbroken (blue heart) and looking for another angel dog like Too. She searched high & low, all over Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, & Pennsylvania -- & the weeks went by, from July to September.

She was so sad, but one day she decided to attend the Farm Science Review, a neat farm show near London, Ohio, & near her home in the country.

What to her wondering eyes should appear but 14 Australian Blue Heeler puppies in a nice outdoor pen with a tarp for shade & some nice pully-pully toys like socks to play with!

There were two litters, & all looked healthy & happy, but this one particular puppy really got the lady's attention. He was one of the two biggest puppies & he was lying in the shade, apparently oblivious to two of his fellow puppies, who were playing tug o' war with a sock -- but he was actually watching them out of the corner of his eye! When the two tuggers tired of their game & dropped the sock, trundling away in search of other entertainment, this special pup got up & ever-so-casually GOT THE SOCK!

Well, the lady reached in & picked him up, & he fixed her with the age-old mongoose-to-the-cobra look.

What could she do? She put him back, with her stomach in knots, & went on to walk the entire Review grounds. She was thinking about the grumpy-grouchy, very food-aggressive old Siberian husky at her home, scared to death that, if she brought home this puppy, he'd "have it for dinner."

She walked & she walked, kind of in a daze, until 7 hours later, when she came walking back up the same street toward the place with the Blue Heeler puppies. Over half of them were gone, but even from a distance, she could clearly see one pup, reared up on its hind legs, looking intently: IN THE DIRECTION WHERE HE'D LAST SEEN HER!

She quickened her pace, lest someone in the crowd see him & take him before she could get to him! Oh, he was so tired, & more than a little dusty from the thousands of feet that had trod past him that day & the many reaching hands that had [tried to pick him up]. When the lady got into his field of vision, he began wiggling & smiling at her, SO HAPPY that she was back! She reached down and picked him up & he sighed, wrapt himself around her neck like a muff & WENT STRAIGHT TO SLEEP!

What could she do? She asked the sellers if she could take him home, on the condition that she could bring him back if the crotchety husky wouldn't accept him. Long story short, all worked out fine. It's almost ten years later, & the lady & her BLUE HEART HEALER, Wiggles Blue Heeler, are still best of friends and buddies!"

March 25, 2012

Beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler, my precious soul-child, I never tired of reading to you, singing to you, and loving you, and you never tired of loving me and listening to me, and you always looked straight into my eyes and heart, all those years, including the years that your physical eyesight let you down and you saw entirely with your heart. We still commune, you and I; we share our love with Good Boy now, stronger than ever.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I miss you so much, sweetest one, Wiggles!

I miss you so much, sweetest one, Wiggles!

March 6, 2012

By AWM (Always Wiggles' Mommy) propertyrights@earthlink.net

An old country song says something about only missing someone twice: once a day, all day long, and once a night, from dusk 'til dawn. I know how that feels now, dearest Littlefoot! Yes, Good Boy is doing fine and we're okay and having good times, but that does not diminish how much I miss you. Oh, if only there were a way I could just touch you again, hug your dear self, know you'd be there on the other side of the bed each morning ...

You ARE with me still, now and forever, just in a different form, so my missing you is the missing of your physical self, but dear, sweet Wiggles, I wouldn't ask you to be here one second longer than you were. You stayed so much longer than I knew, and when you gave me that last forty-eight hours, you had already gifted me with months that were precious to me, though you were so sick. Whatever was growing inside you (whether it was or was not cancer doesn't matter), was something you held at bay for so long, and you did it so bravely. You were mortified when you leaked urine or vomited, and you used your big green play ball and 'roughed it up' so ferociously in order to keep things from shutting down your ability to eat, urinate and poop ... though I didn't know it at the time.

Oh, how much you are loved, Wiggles, Many Kisses, my Sweetest One!

This photo I took of you the evening of December 1st, 2010, just a little more than three days before you put your fourth foot into Heaven. You loved me so much -- you Love Me So Much, now and forever! -- that you gave it all you had, trying to stay as long as you could.

If I could tell you again, whispering in one of your dear silken ears, how much you are loved, I would do so in a heartbeat, but you know ... you always knew ...  you will always know!

Here's another photo from that same evening, as you sought to do something, anything, so you could stay longer with your mommy-me.

You, sweet Wiggles Blue Heeler, on your/our first Christmas together, in 1998. You always only had eyes for me, and me, for you!

Always, you know ... not for just an hour

not for just a day

not for just a year

but always