Pleasing sounds on a spring night

I love the sounds of a spring night. I turn off my TV and sit in the quiet listening to song birds, crickets and the occasional dog as they lift their voices to the sky. Throw in a couple of frogs and I’m in heaven. Lately, the lead singers of my outdoor concerts have been the birds. There are times when the crickets and cicadas rule the night, and in the summer, after a rain, the frogs take the lead and sing their parts. But right now, it’s the birds. I’ve actually pulled out my computer and launched investigations to determine which birds are making the sounds that please me so.  My current suspects are mockingbirds, the whippoorwillblack birds or robins, but I’m not an ornithologist so I’m not completely sure. It could be another species completely. Whoever it is, I find their songs delightful, and thank goodness. If not, I’d be losing my mind trying to rest as they pretty much dominate the acoustics of the sky.  Instead, their songs lull me to sleep.

I’m a girl who digs the sounds of nature. I find them comforting. When birds are singing, crickets are chirping and frogs are croaking, it feels like, at least for the moment, all is right in my world. As long as they don’t sound panicked, I kind of assume that a catastrophe is not immediately at hand. If it was, the animals wouldn’t be singing. They’d either be hunkering down or let’s face it, hauling ass. That’s a bit morbid, but you have to admit, there is usually more peace in chatter when it comes to nature than quiet. Chatter means everything is still operating as usual.

I do have other nocturnal sound makers in my yard besides the birds. There is a feral cat that lets himself into my yard every night. I know because I hear the cling when he squeezes himself through the gate which is always ajar in the morning. His visits are both exciting and antagonizing for my cats who race to the back porch and scan the yard to determine his location.  Every now and then, one of them will spot him in the darkness or he’ll come right up to the porch, and I hear them hiss or spit. Interesting that they challenge him because I feel like he could probably take either of my cats, but perhaps I do not give them enough credit. There is also the fact that they are separated by the screen. I know the feral cat is a he because I’ve seen him out there spraying everything. Otherwise, I’m not sure what he does in my yard , but he comes regularly. Might be trying to catch those birds.

And then there are my neighbor’s roosters, who do not simply crow at dawn, but rather anytime, day or night, whenever they feel the urge; although I have to say that as I write this, they are quiet as little baby mice.

I don’t know why I am so pleased by these sounds. I guess it is because they fill me with peace and a sense of connectedness. I don’t mind them at all whether they be wake-up calls in the mornings or lullabies at night.

Pause

I’ve been a little anxious lately. Nothing serious. It will pass. As you know, life ebbs and flows. At some point, probably soon, this anxious little river I’ve been sailing down will turn a corner and flow into a happy place once again. It is spring, after all.

It’s not one thing in particular that gets me down, rather just the piling up of life. The house isn’t clean enough. The lawn is starting to need maintenance. It’s hard to find the time to write. The list goes on. It becomes overwhelming at times, even paralyzing. Maybe it is because I want a lot from life?

I bet you know the feeling. It’s a challenge to squeeze in the cleaning, hobbies and relationships on the weekends before you have to go back to work on Monday and commit 40 hours of waking time to someone else who, thank goodness, is willing to pay for it. But that is almost everyone’s plight.

Sometimes I forget to pause and regroup mindfully. That is ironic because when I get overwhelmed I always end up pausing one way or the other, anyway, whether it be with purpose or just by sitting on the couch and watching Hulu marathons. The difference is that one pause has purpose and the other is a waste of time (If you take it too far, that is. ..nothing wrong with a Hulu marathon from time to time).

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I’m listening to a book right now called, “Why Time Flies” by Alan Burdick. In the book, the author examines time: its origin, our relationship to it, our comprehension of it and scientific methods of measuring time.  I think sometimes that my comprehension of time, simple and limited as it is, produces anxiety. It puts me in a position to worry about time. I try to bargain with it and stretch it out, all the while wasting it. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person who does this. That is a paradox, isn’t it? It’s as if we need time to create structure, but then some of us turn around and rebel against it as if it is an authority figure. It’s a love/hate relationship. I love the days when I’m able to accomplish a lot with my time, but I hate feeling bound to accomplish too much with my time. I hate it when lazy days drag on too long and I have nothing to show for them, but on the other hand, the most joyful moments in my life have occurred when I was oblivious to time and completely in a moment. In a moment when I paused and found purpose.

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I  googled the term “pause with purpose”. Not surprisingly, I’m not the only person who has thought of this phrase.  My google feed was filled with businesses, yogis and life coaches who were all trying to push their plans to pause with purpose. Everyone is looking for the sweet spot.
I think I feel myself starting to turn that corner now. Maybe all I needed was to pause and write it out 🙂

Eating (drinking) up the stash

So today, which is almost yesterday (it’s 11:56 pm), I cleaned out my cooler to prepare for my delivery from The Produce Box. I mentioned previously that I subscribe to a service called The Produce Box which delivers fresh local produce to my door every Thursday. This morning, while wiping down my cooler, I decided to take inventory of what I already had. When I did, I realized that I still had quite a bit of produce left over from the delivery last week. I needed to eat it so that it would not go bad and before I received another full box. This led me to look into some creative ways to use the old produce before digging into the new batch. Fortunately, until Easter, I am eating a strong vegetarian diet supplemented by fish and eggs so if I have to eat a lot of veggies to clean out my refrigerator, this is the season to do it.

 

One of the best ways to consume large quantities of fruits and veggies is to make smoothies. I love smoothies and have found that you can dump a large variety of items into a blender and still create a yummy smoothie. Today, I created a smoothie, which I actually named, using some items in my refrigerator that desperately needed to be eaten.  I figured I would share it with you. Here it is:

 

Wendy’s Mint Chocolate Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

Blend:

Chocolate almond milk (about a cup…or so 🙂

5 strawberries (that’s how many were still good)

A banana

About 5 little mint leaves

A few leaves of collards

Ice cubes

 

It was delicious. I looked up the ingredients on My Fitness Pal and found that my little concoction is about 250 calories, has no cholesterol and is packed with vitamin C.

 

I still have quite a bit of mint left over. I definitely do not want that to go bad so I started looking for creative ways to use my mint. I found that I can dry it in the oven and use it for teas and also for, get this, insect repellent. Apparently, ants and flies do not like mint. So tomorrow, I will pull out the freshest mint leaves and make some mint water with them. Then I think I’m going to dry the leaves that look to be in peril, use some of them for tea and sprinkle the rest around as a repellent. Why not? Below are some links that offer creative ways to use mint in case anyone is interested. And below that is a picture of my delicious smoothie.

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/21-ways-to-use-mint/

http://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/10-amazing-things-you-can-do-with-mint/

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Well, it’s Friday now so Happy Friday y’all! I hope to post on my 2nd of seven churches this weekend. 

 

Everyday Adventure

Recently, I started subscribing to a service called “The Produce Box”. Each Thursday, I place a cooler on my front porch and a representative, who I have yet to see, delivers fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers right to my front door. Sometimes, I work from home on Thursday. When I am home, I usually find myself checking the front porch a couple of times before she actually delivers my food. Last Thursday was no different. Around 1:00 pm, I decided to check the front porch for my stash. I opened the door and stepped out to pick up my cooler, which was tucked into a corner right by the front door. I could tell by the feel of it that she had not yet come so I stepped back inside. I closed the screen and was about to close the front door when one of my cats, Mia, jumped onto the back of the couch; she craned her head to see out the front door and to smell the smells of the front yard. I have a screened porch on the back, and my two cats stay out there a lot; but the front door is usually closed so the front yard is a mystery to them.

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Like most people, I have two sides. One side, creative Wendy, is my soul, my freedom. The other side, practical Wendy, is the one who holds down a full-time job and pays the bills. Now, at the moment that Mia climbed onto the back of the couch, practical Wendy felt like she needed to close the door and go back to work; but creative Wendy was empathetic to Mia’s desire to look outside so I decided to leave the door open for a moment. I stood there and looked out the door myself. It was a bright, glorious day with a brilliant blue sky. It was rather windy. A gentle gust of wind found its way to the front door and I breathed it in. It was a contradictory wind, crisp and cool like a soft winter but warm, as well, as if it were wrapped in the sun. A wind enveloped by the sun. Practical Wendy suddenly decided that I was getting a little doughy so it would be good to take a break and go for a short walk down the road. I stroked Mia’s little head, closed the door and put on my shoes.

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I live on a gravel road that is nestled between two areas that are quickly being developed. Developers are foaming at the mouth to get their hands on my road, but the residents have put up a fight. For now there is a moratorium on annexing our road into the city. I kind of like walking down the gravel road. It’s dustier, there are potholes, but when I walk down my road, I feel like I’ve put a little extra effort into my walk. It’s also different than the roads around me. The neighborhoods on either side are very cookie cutter, but my road is a little slice of  country. It is a mixture of double-wides and houses and everyone has a large yard. There are times when my large yard is a bit too much for me to handle. If the developers win, I will greet it with a mix of emotions. On the one hand, I probably should live somewhere that is easier for me to manage. On the other hand, this much space is hard to come by in today’s world.

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You see things on my road that you don’t always see in other neighborhoods. One of my neighbors has a couple of roosters and several chickens. Frequently, I look into the yard to see what I call “the chicken posse” wandering around, pecking for bugs and seeds. They act very entitled to my space and provide no end of entertainment for the cats, who sit crouched and watching them with interest.

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As I made my way down the road, I remembered a couple of houses with un-fenced yards where the people let their dogs run free. This drove me crazy when I had my own dogs-God rest their canine souls-a German Shepard mix and a lab mix. Best dogs ever. They spent over a decade with me. Sometimes, it was like dodging bullets walking them down this road. I never knew if one of the neighbors’ dogs would dart out to greet us and whether it would get along with my dog, who was on a leash. Once I had to let my lab off the leash so that she could run home because two jack russells came tearing out of their yard, nipping at her. I didn’t want her to get mad and strike back.

When I got halfway down the road, sure enough, a barking dog ran to the corner of his yard, not so much in an aggressive way but not entirely in a friendly way, either. It was more of a “Hey! Hey! What are you doing here?!” kind of way. I glanced up and regarded him. The thing about dogs is there is a way to handle them. You have to hold your own without challenging them. “Hello, doggie,” I said, glancing over, but I kept my pace and continued walking. His owner called him from the yard. I passed another house with a goat fenced in the back yard. All of the noise from the barking dog had gotten him worked up and he was back there bleating. Two houses down, another dog. This yard was fenced but the gate was open. Geez, people. This one approached me in a little more of a badass fashion. Same thing. I regarded him. “Hello, doggie,” I said and kept on going. He stood in the road and barked after me as I continued my trek.

I walked to the end of the street. There was a large yard at the end of the street that for years housed only a shed. “Suspicious”, one of my friends had commented when we had walked the road together. But now the shed had expanded. It had become a tiny house with a second story. I could see an air conditioner protruding from the window on the second floor and two adirondack chairs in the yard. Maybe not so suspicious, after all, I thought. Maybe just a person with limited funds who needed time.

I turned around and started back. Within minutes, I saw the second dog standing in the road, waiting and looking my way. As I walked towards him, he started barking, “Hey! Hey! What, are you comin back?!” I stayed the route. For a long time, he didn’t move. I wondered how this game of chicken was going to play out, but eventually he moved out of the center of the road toward his house. His movements were slow and subtle so as not to not lose face, but he never stopped grumbling.

Then past the goat again and the first dog, whose owner had gone inside. He/she stood on the edge of his yard with a friend, a little white terrier mix. Reinforcements, I guessed. “Hey! Hey!” they barked as I walked by, “Didn’t I tell you last time? Where are you going?” These two actually came out into the road and sniffed at my legs in between barks. Eventually, I left them behind.

I wandered back into my own yard. I wondered if my produce had arrived.  I didn’t know what time it was, but I knew my break was over. Practical Wendy had let creative Wendy out for a while to decompress, but now it was time to go back to work.