A Tale of Two Flowers

I trudged across the parking lot toward the one permitted door of the grocery store.  Anxious, heavy of heart, trying to keep my chin up. Despair, wrestling with gratitude for the task and the means.  Masked I was, with foggy lenses, and little looking for grace.  But grace was looking for me. On the sidewalk outside the store, rows of black plastic pots containing little wooden trellises, on which grew mandevilla vines. All looked healthy, and half-price didn’t hurt! So I put one in my cart.  Planted the vine in our flower bed, in a sunny spot, was quickly rewarded with vigorous growth, then the unfolding of snow white flowers.


During my inspection some days later I noticed a bud with a rosy cast to it. As it happens, ten dollars had bought me not one vine but two!


The white-bearing vine is more prolific.  But oh the heart-lift of pink, with contrasting margin!



Amelia at 2 1/2

The name Amelia comes to us from the Germanic word amal, which means ‘work.’  
Hence the name Amelia means industrious.
Our darling Amelia’s work, in part, is to delight and educate her grandmother.
I don’t want to impute too much maturity to a person of two and a half years, but yesterday I saw Amelia take a moment to master herself.  She had just received from her Grandpa a mild verbal limit on her desired course of action.  Her grandpa–whom she adores, and it’s mutual.  On hearing this directive, this thwarting of her plans and desires, her little face clouded.  Just for a moment, she turned her clouded face to the wall. And here’s the thing: Grandpa on the opposite side of the room could not see this.  It was not for him she did it, but seemingly for herself.  Having managed her reaction, she chose her response: to re-engage the sunshine and go on with her morning.
This morning when I all immersed in a creative project felt outrage at the husbandly assumption that he having presented himself in the kitchen was to immediately receive some breakfast, my face clouded.  But then I chose the Amelia-response.
I lift my eyes to heaven, from whence cometh my help…

Crime and Punishment

She swept in, piercing his calf with scissor-like mandibles, spreading the blades to sever capillaries. At the same instant, a quick injection of burning saliva, to make the blood flow. Her plan, to zoom away with the prize before he knew what hit him.


Sadly for her, she was dealing with the lightning reflexes of my husband.  Which is how she ended up under my magnifying glass.  A greenhead was she, horse fly of coastal marshes.


Her pain is over, and my husband’s is abating.


Reminds me of the time something flew into our son’s blond hair. Instinct bade him grab it, whereupon it unrolled its sucking mouthpart and gave his finger such pain as to light up the neighborhood with his screams.  They don’t call it assassin bug for nothing.


As with the greenhead, the encounter ended badly for the bug. Which is how it came to be under a magnifying glass.  Which is how we know what it was.


I will say this: the burning agent of an assassin bug is meant to liquefy its hard-shelled insect prey, for ease of consumption.  It didn’t intend to liquefy David. It was simply defending itself.


Whereas, the greenhead acted with malice. At least from the perspective of a human leg.


She would say on the stand that she needed that blood, just a few drops, to make more greenheads.

Keep Watch. Take Heart.

On my way to the kitchen through the dark house I caught a glimpse of brightness in the southern sky. Heading to the Keurig, anticipating coffee/planet research, I walked into the open door of the dishwasher. Undeterred, I started the coffee and looked up morning sky for May 23.  Then to the patio where I sat on the concrete with brick wall at my back and trained binoculars upward.  I framed Jupiter and Saturn between two power lines and listened for a while, not least to retrograde Phoebe of Saturn, who reflected on my shin:  “You know that June prayer calendar you’re working on? I believe it’s called “Keep Watch. Take Heart.”?


Scanning to the east, I found red Mars, shining through the branches of the Chinese elm.


When the sun’s up I’ll close the dishwasher and check on mama robin outside the kitchen window.

Mid-May, Evangeline West

“Active but secretive.”


Good description of the behavior of the Carolina wren.


His song is another matter.


5:45 this morning I was at my computer trying to edit a newsletter when suddenly there arose from the dark outside a merrymaking so loud as to make further editing impossible:








This curiously timed exuberance went on for ten minutes or so.


Finally a mockingbird at the other end of the yard had enough and began one-upping him.








It was still slap dark.


The wren rollicked, the mocker retorted, a top-volume airing of expertise.


A yellow-crowned night heron emitted one KOWK.


At last they all fell silent. For now.


As the sky lightened I heard a nestful of unidentified babies cheeping for their breakfast.


The wren cranked up again.


Pretty soon the chickadee family rolled out of bed – two parents and four trainees:




Then the blue jay, the REAL blue jay, raised his merry BEEDLYOOP!


Later at the kitchen sink I spied Mama Robin starting a new nest in the magnolia tree.  Sticks she brought and shreds of plastic.  Round and round the cavity she ooched, making the perfect circle she’s known for.  A squirrel crept too close.  She erupted into a brick-breasted ball of fury.


Now it’s early afternoon. The cardinals are caroling.  A redbellied woodpecker is tentatively tapping the gutter. The wren has resumed.


By some miracle I’ve finished my editing.


New Phoebe

When my niece was born, her paternal grandfather decided to call her New Phoebe.

This he did to distinguish her from another Phoebe, born some time ago. Which is to say, his daughter Phoebe.  Which is to say, me!

Today is New Phoebe’s birthday.  I pay tribute:


Phoebe turns 26

By Aunt Phoebe


Lore from my bird books:

Eastern Phoebe, found in open areas, usually near water




They choose low, conspicuous perches

and dip their tails in a characteristic motion.

Persistent tail-wagging is a sure call.




From their perch they dart out to snag a tasty insect, then return.


Eastern phoebe.jpg


Nest:  A cup of mud, moss, grass, on ledge, bridge, building.

Eggs, 4-5, white



Song of two rough, whistled phrases usually alternated

Seeeriddip, seebrrr, seeriddip, seebrr…;

also gives clear, whistled weewor tiboo

and abrupt wijik


Common call a distinctive simple chip: high, clear, and descending.


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I have a niece named Phoebe

Near the Pacific she doth dwell

Dipping and wagging her tail

What she’s thinking, who can tell?


I imagine she’s living her life

Though perhaps the days seem long

Doing her very best

To sing her special song


Bright eye, white throat, dear head

Dreaming of purpose divine

Tuning her voice to what’s hers to sing

As surely she doth shine


So Seeeriddip, weew and tiboo

and a chip for punctuation

A happy birthday to you

With lots of jubilation!



Aunt Phoebe




What Rhymes with Purple?

Answer:  Not Much


Our color-tour continues.

Photo on 9-21-18 at 4.58 PM.jpg

Part of the mystic lure of purple:

It has no rhyme except for hirple.

‘Walk with a limp’ is hirple, defined,

So let’s hirple along and see what we find.




When Hubble revealed this scene of purple,

My heart did verily sing and burble.




Closer to home, I turn to my sink—

With such fine gloves, why should I shrink?




Bumbling bee upon my duranda

Found more pollen than he planned ta.




Catalogs are full of purple—

With all my soul I want this myrtle.




Image by Katy Hambright

Purple persuasion, tightly it clings—

tiny Spring Vetch–affection it brings.




Image by Katy Hambright

A Prairie Nymph blooms just one day—

One blink of an eye, then goes away.



94655F26-7F03-4995-9951-3BC8B0CC9842.jpgImage by Katy Hambright

Pinewood Lily, or Purple Pleat—

The flair of this one’s hard to beat!




Image by Katy Hambright

Here I stand on Blazing Star—

A Katydid is what I are.




Image by Katy Hambright

Birdfoot Violet, gentle and small

Arms wide open to bless you all.





Purple cow upon the lea,

A few more rhymes and then you’re free!


Violet shrinks while lavender twinkles,

Magenta inks and periwinkles,


Likeable lilac, quiet mauve,

Orchid blooming ever suave,


Thistle-cones by country gate,

Tasty grapes upon a plate–


May our hearts be lifted by myriad purples,

May our steps be strong, with minimum hirples.IMG_1525.jpg

Scarlet and Crimson and Ravishing Rose


Breath-taking surge of rich and bright

Red on my windowsill catches the light

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Wondrous show of Nature’s art

Red on my patio catches my heart


Dapper fellow knows it’s true

A dash of red can work for you


Red can cheer the chilliest scene

With red on a tree, who needs green?

a165 christmas '88.jpg

Festive red my sons did wear

What handsome lads! What savoir-faire!


Lads grew up, and who could have known?

One has a red-wearing child of his own


A rousing color, glowing so true

One grandbaby, and now there are two


As for cars, I was happy with gray

But then I saw Ruby, and hey hey hey!


Scarlet and crimson and ravishing rose

And one more thought before I close:


When days are long and hope has fled

Try a sparkle of sprightly red!


A Prayer for Good Health

April 24, 2020 – All but one of these images are from my little corner of the world.


No better news than this I think

To hear that you are in the pink


The pink of health a rosy glow

Is what we all would like to know


Pink azalea in the spring

Blooming, fresh as anything

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Glory lily on the vine

Glowing bright and feeling fine


Pink caladium by the door

Smiling, cheerful evermore

mystery bulb.jpg

Pink curcuma in the ground

Hale and hearty, safe and sound


Like a grandma with her first

Tickled pink, and fit to burst


Roseate spoonbill in fine feather

In the pink, whatever the weather


And when to slumber down we sink

What better friend than a friend who’s pink


Balm to Wounded Hearts

April 18, 2020

In today’s paper I read an editorial by Wendy Paulson titled “Nature helps us heal and cope.”  Her words were beautifully crafted.  One sentence in particular spoke to me:  “Nature offers balm to wounded hearts, peace to troubled thoughts, light and life that outshine the darkness and the gloom of the daily news.”

Balm, peace, light and life.  Three families of my acquaintance could use some of that.  But only time can fully bring it.  Three families in pain.  Worlds shattered, lives turned strange, ground beneath them fragile.  One person lost his wife, one person lost her husband, one family lost a beloved son.  (None to the virus, not that it matters.)

And so, the vigil continues.  Nursing a slightly pulled back — I moved something I shouldn’t have — I reach for my best stationery and write some sympathy notes. My portion today of balm, peace, light and life.

In the meantime, the robin family outside my kitchen window is thriving. Two hard working parents. Three little fuzz-tops, beaks sticking hopefully skyward.  Each day they take up more room, and they’ve begun jostling and elbowing each other.

We’ve had a couple of windy days.  I was a little worried about the babies.  But then I remembered that robin nests are fortified with mud. “A mighty fortress is our nest, a bulwark never failing!  One day we’ll grow up and go forth and build our own.  No one will have to teach us, either — we’ll just know what to do.”

Long years ago I wrote an essay about robins.  It seems worth repeating!

American Robin


Just at first light, or a little before,

comes a caroling.


Sweet notes, simple and pure.


Not the ardent “cheer!” of the cardinal.


Not the jubilation of the jay, that blue bandit.


Not the mocker, whose repertoire this year

includes an especially fine “chickadee-dee-dee.”



No, here is the robin,

“a very familiar bird;

recognized by its gray back

and brick-red breast.”


American robin, sturdy fellow.

Commonly seen on grassy lawns.

Not too forward, not too shy.


In song, just a few short phrases, rising and falling.

Just a few sweet notes, simple and pure—

and robin has delivered his message.


Beyond that, he has little to say.


But all day long, his hard work speaks for him.

“Work, for the night is falling!”


I take his message, and try to apply it.