Hummer at Work

I wasn’t able to get a shot of the hummer in my yard,  but found this lovely image at  The blog Robin’s Robins has some amazing pictures of birds. Go check it out!

It was mid-morning and the sun had finally dissolved the fog from the cool damp night. I saw that some of the leaves still glistened with dampness.

Making the bed I pulled the white and periwinkle quilt up and over the pillows and glanced out the upstairs window. The blue Rose-of-Sharon grows just below. Moving about the blossoms was a Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

He seemed to be moving a bit slower—maybe the cool night slowed him down. During the summer the hummers tend to dart about the gardens, frenetic in their search for food. On this morning the little guy was more systematic, feeding steadily from one group of blossoms before moving on to the next. I suspected he was laboring to build up reserves for his migratory journey south.

Labor, lavoro, arbeit, labeur, trabajo, no matter what language, it is to toil, to strive towards a goal, to work for gain. Like most people, I associate labor with something tangible. The little hummer was acquiring food.

Lately I have been reflecting on soulful laboring. It too is for gain…of peace in love.

I work daily to accept changes in my life. Aging is normal, premature aging is annoying. What I gain in working to accept, is a drawing closer to Our Lord. In moving nearer I’ve discovered he has blessed me with the gift of blessing others who come to my aid.

We’ve all heard that it is better to give than to receive, and I have adjusted my views of being a recipient. To willingly accept someone’s gift of assistance is to double the blessing for the giver. It kind of goes like this: The essence of kindness and generosity, which are two Fruits of the Spirit, are expressed through a great desire to do good for others. It is in the fulfilling as well as in the desiring to give that these fruits grow. This virtue runs throughout the Bible and we first read of it in Genesis 18 when Abraham saw three men in the hot sun and “ran from his tent” begging them for the favor to serve them—for them to bless him in his ability to come to their aid. We see this same yearning to assist when Mary “goes in great haste” to the pregnant Elizabeth to assist the aged woman, and Elizabeth blesses her.

What I have found happening in my little corner of the world is that by being blessed with someone’s help—they being first blessed by the Holy Spirit to act—I bless them secondly for their loving deed. They grow in holiness and I grow as well by letting go of self deprecating thoughts. To be generous with myself, as my abilities are redefined, can be a chore. To be kind and gentle applies not only to our words and deeds with others, but to our interior dialog as well.

There are those who unexpectedly assist me—reaching for products over my head, carrying heavy boxes of kitty-litter, lifting cumbersome bags of groceries into the back of the car. Of course I thank them, but I go one step further and ask their name. There are few things sweeter to the soul than to hear one’s name spoken in a blessing or prayer. For a moment in time those words, wrapped safely around someone’s name, infuse peace and the purest joy.

To be acknowledged is to feel purposeful in your work. To be blessed for your blessing of help is to acquire a piece of heaven on earth…and gain nourishment for the journey ahead.

A Walk through the Garden

Golden Bleeding Heart resting on variegated Solomon’s Seal

We’ve had a lot of rain in the past 24 hours…not much to see in the gardens but a lot of leaf debris.

The storms last nights were intense! Lightening strikes and strong winds broke a lot of trees. My Jonagold apple tree took a beating…the canopy collapsed under the storm (kind of hard to see the broken limbs in this picture). Some severe pruning will take place this winter.

The sturdy Royal Standard Hosta, one of the few perennials still remaining in my yard, stood up well through it all.

(Images by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB. All Rights Reserved.)



Quote, 8/27, Equus Passage

A sweet little prayer, this comes from the Roman Breviary.  It is one of those shooter-prayers that I carry in my heart and offer for those encountered throughout my day…and God knows, you may have been one of them.

I hope you’ll memorize it, too, and pray it often.


May it please you Oh Lord,

to reward with eternal life

all those who do good to us for your name sake.




Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong

This is a fun post by Gabby Noone over at Buzz Feed! I am a bit suspicious about how sanitary the spoon would be in #3.

Never knew about the Chinese take-out containers.

And built in coasters?!

Here are just of few of my favorites:

1. You’ve probably been ignoring this feature.

Most aluminum foil boxes have press-in tabs that secure the roll in place, so you don’t have worry about it flying out every time you rip off a sheet.

2. You’ve been dispensing Tic Tacs the hard way.

You know how when you violently shake a container of Tic Tacs into your palm it seems as though you always end up with zero or seven? Avoid that altogether by letting a mint gently glide into the tiny lid crevice.

4. You’ve been storing peanut butter the wrong way.

Never arm wrestle with a jar of peanut butter, just to make sure it’s not oily on top and crumby on the bottom, again. Store it upside down, so the oils distribute evenly.

5. You haven’t been using ketchup cups to their full potential.

Instead of grabbing multiple cups of ketchup, simply pull apart at the edges for twice the space.

7. Chinese takeout containers are actually made to fold out into plates.

The containers actually are meant to unfold into a makeshift plate, which you can easily reassemble into a box for storing leftovers.

More info here.

9. Greek yogurt containers are meant to be folded in half.

Chances are you’ve been scooping the toppings with your spoon onto the yogurt.

But, have you realized, the topping holder folds over, so you can pour the toppings DIRECTLY ON TOP?

11. Soda tabs double as straw holders.

Turn the tab around so that it acts as holder that can stop the straw from raising out of the can as the soda fizzes.

14. You’ve been serving juice boxes the wrong way.

Pull the sides out so you child has something to grasp onto, stopping them from spilling.

16. You probably don’t realize it, but your pots come with built-in spoon rests.

That hanging hole doubles as a spoon rest, in a pinch.

17. There’s a much easier way to floss.

Tie floss into a loop and never strangle your fingers again.

18. Soft-drink lids can double as coasters.

Take the lid from the top of cup (or grab an extra) and use it as a perfectly sized coaster.

Thanks Gabby, now go to her  fun post  over at Buzz Feed and see the rest!



Cardinal at My Window

Earlier in the spring I was blessed with two nests of cardinals in my yard. Cardinals are very territorial birds but for some reason these two families shared the space congenially. The two nests of fledglings gave way to a small flock darting about the Locust tree and flowering shrubs.

One late-summer morning a flash of red streaked close to the upstairs window. My prayers sputtered to a stop as my morning gaze was suddenly altered from a distant sky to the male cardinal that had rocketed across my view. He landed on the apple tree branch nearest the house.

I watched the cardinal as his tail ticked nervously. He hopped within a cluster of branches, turning himself to get a better look at the reflection coming from the glass. What he saw did not register as his own image. Agitated he dove at the window, pecking and flapping his wings, angry at the uninvited intruder disrupting his peace. “Cht, cht, cht” he spat as he banged against the dark reflection of himself. I was troubled by the sound as he struck the window with force…it had to hurt.

Finally he stopped and crouched on the sill. He appeared dazed or maybe tired of assaulting the bird-in-the-glass that wouldn’t surrender. Seconds later he darted into flight.

I settled back to restart my prayers when I saw him land on the dwarf pear tree further back in the yard. Once more he leapt among the branches with short harsh chirps matched to his tail’s nervous flicking. He slowed his frenetic movements and finally came to rest on an upper branch.

Exposed against the crisp blue sky he began to sing the signature song of a cardinal. Tentatively he released a partial high-low call—chipika, chipika, chipika. Fluffing his wings he shook his head and let out a few more notes, then a trill. From a distant tree I heard another male cardinal answer back. He, hearing the response from the neighboring yard, began singing more boldly. The call-and-response song between the two male birds restored the morning’s peace previously lost to the war-at-the-window.

It didn’t take long until a female cardinal appeared, and landing on a lower limb of the pear tree, hopped closer to the singer. The other male cardinal had also come into the yard and bobbed about in the airy Honeylocust. The three of them appeared delighted with each other’s company as they flitted from limbs to fence to clothes line.

The cardinal who was alone only a moment ago was now less interested in attacking the image of himself—an imaginary foe. In the company of others his true self was evident.

I recognize a grain of truth in this early morning drama. That who I think I am is not what I imagine mirrored back to me in my solitude. My true self—my song—is brought to life with others.