when it’s ridiculous to hold out hope

They have built another nest, my precious bluebird couple, in the bluebird box on our brick column. But just as last summer, she laid the eggs, incubated them only briefly, and now seems to have abandoned them.

nest

 

It’s just about more than my heart can take.

I’ve studied up on the issue and don’t really know what is happening. It could be that a wren has gotten into the nest and punctured the eggs, although I can’t see evidence of that without removing them. I don’t dare touch as I still hold out hope she will return and by some miracle find them to be viable. It has been 10 days, which I know makes that virtually impossible.

I have seen her about on two or three occasions, poking for creepie crawlies down by the lake or clinging to the big tree on the side of our yard. I’ve seen a lot more of him, hanging out at the bird feeder in the early evening.

 

sideways

 

It’s a surprise to see him there because he doesn’t dine on the seed. He just sits on the crook and surveys the big back yard, then turns to face the house.

 

PapaBlue

 

Perhaps he notices me there in the window. He seems to always take a moment to look me in the eye.

 

straighton

Hey there friend, I say. I’m here, cheering you on.

 

 

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the mighty azalea

It is a risk, I know, to reveal I am not a devotee of the South’s beloved Azalea.

May I tell you why? I find the plant to be rather homely, all in all, 364 days of the year.

Still I must admit on its one glory day–when the shrub bursts forth with color, and every bloom is perfection–the mighty Azalea puts on a show like no other.

 

azalea
Tiger’s Azaleas

Today is that day!

 

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The Family Tree

ZINNIAS

ZINNIAS

It’s true you often can’t recognize grace until weeks or months or even years after it takes root in your life. I think this is the case most particularly with the GIANT variety. Like the Zinnia seeds I planted this afternoon that will end the summer as three-foot plants with large, showy blossoms — some grand blessings take their time coming to glory.

The best example I know is my beautiful, broad family. I have been married two times, you see, and that road brought me not only a precious daughter, but two remarkable sons and a gorgeous Monetti branch on my expanding family tree. How blessed I am to be a part of that clan, a group that loves big, in a very Italian way.

Still the point I want to make is that I have had the incredible fortune to keep all the family I collected along the way.

Just yesterday my husband, Tim, and I spent the day with my cousins Sarah and Jean, two woman I adore with such fervor I wish they were my sisters. They are sisters, and over the many years I have known them they have touched me in ways deep and lasting. These women know what it is to live whole-heartedly, and the force of that generosity reshapes my soul just a little each time I am with them. But here’s the thing. Sarah and Jean came into my life as part of my first marriage family. Instead of letting me go as that changed shape, they held on. When I remarried, they simply broadened the circle.

jeansfeast
Lunch at Jean’s. Perfection.

 

This collecting is a grace that blooms in a thousand ways: the continuing friendship I have with Eliza’s Dad, Bill, the man who brought to my life the gracious, loving, Ellis branch; his father and sister, whom Tim and I also visited on Saturday and who, with love in their eyes reminded me There are all kinds of families ; my precious and beautiful niece, Emma.

I think about those people and realize, here at this middle-aged point in my journey, how profound it all is. Relationships function like a kind of gravity that keeps us centered, grounded, connected, a force that mercifully keeps us from too much haphazard drifting — something we are wildly capable of as individuals. And the greater miracle, I think, is how God intends for a family tree to change, linking and splitting and growing all through life, the canopy spreading and becoming more diverse.

 

family-tree

 

I do know this. God has blessed me with a husband with a heart big enough to let all that light shine in our lives.

And so we spent this past Saturday driving South Carolina’s soulful backroads together, Tim and I, our eyes filled with the green-gold of new Spring leaves, our hearts filled with the love of our broad, beautiful family.

 

 

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The Prize

I have the distinct privilege of working in a great company in a cool building with people who are oh-so-swell. I told you a bit about this in March Madness, where I brought you a quick glimpse via the magnificent Bracket Challenge entry by our own Jillian Owens.

Now there’s a just-as-fun Part II to the story. Because the 2015 WECO Bracket Challenge was won by my office mate and college basketball fan Katy Miller!

How fun is that?
Katy and Marcus, at the official ceremony

But wait. There’s more. LOOK WHAT SHE WON!

It's made of brackets.
It’s a WECO sign. Made of brackets.

 

I love these people.

 

 

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March Madness

There’s been a grand competition the past couple of weeks at the WECO building–the space our firm, Riggs Partners, shares with our friends from Truematter. It’s the 2015 WECO Bracket Challenge with predictions on this year’s college basketball championship.

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Serious competition

 

I know nothing about college basketball and did not participate. (This didn’t stop many of my co-workers, and may I just say I applaud their aplomb.) But my favorite, by far, came from the newest member of the RP family. There’s a good chance you are already familiar as she is the brains and brawn behind the wildly popular blog Refashionista. I didn’t have to work with her for long to learn Jillian Owens has a beautiful way of looking at things that turns them upside down–and in the best way possible.

Check out her entry in the Bracket Challenge.

ice cream

It made me giggle. And for that I say thank you, Jillian!

the moon, the stars, and the sunrise

 

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It’s all coming so fast: the push to college graduation, the pollen dive into Spring, the walk through this Holy Week. Today’s Maundy Thursday leads inevitably to the solemness of tomorrow’s Good Friday. But even in that darkness we rush to Easter, our sights trained squarely on the coming joy. We know how the story ends, we Christians, and it’s somehow less awful if we somehow skip straight there.

(Is there any other explanation for the misnomer Good Friday?)

There’s an extra detail to mind this time around. Saturday night we’ll also see a full moon–the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. It’s called the Paschal Moon, and it tells us Easter will fall on the next Sunday. How fabulous that this year it just happens to be the very next day.

I’m fascinated by the earth and sky, the moon and stars and how they keep us in time. I’ll be watching.

And I’ll say a little prayer of Thanksgiving for the appearance of the Paschal Moon that comes to signal this sunrise–the one that brings our joy as the light of lights shines bright over the Earth, and once again, we receive the grace of the greatest miracle of them all.

 

 

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Count it all joy

http://instagram.com/thedailygrace

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve loved dandelions. But do let me say this: I’ve never been in charge of lawn management. Nor have I had much to do with weed control, unless you count the teenage years when my mother paid me $2.50 an hour to “manage” her flower beds.

Just this week I looked at our greening lawn and saw this beauty.

http://instagram.com/thedailygrace

Do you look at this and think What a miracle?

Oh, nature. Thank you for beauty, everywhere.

 

 

The Promise

Did I happen to mention it’s cray-cray season around here in bird land?

It’s something we confirmed this weekend when Tim and I spent a couple of hours in the backyard doing the difficult Spring work of SITTING AROUND WATCHING while the entire animal kingdom struts, preens and prods in an effort to find romantic, even if temporary, love. I haven’t seen so much chasing, and running from, and then just happening to show back up activity since college! The finches were so aggressive they came within a foot of my head on multiple occasions, not one bit concerned that I was a human minding my own business there under the shelter of the walkout porch. Next thing I know the two males are fretting like crazy, flying from the gutter to the screen, and screen to gutter, their little wings flapping furiously.

help

finch-1

I go to investigate and discover the two females have somehow squeezed themselves through the tiny opening where the screen porch door is off-kilter, and with them on the inside, and the males on the outside, you’ve never heard such carrying on!

feathers

looking-out

2,1

2,2

It took some time and some engineering that involved a bit of birdseed, but I did eventually manage to get all four of them on the same side–the outside–of the screen porch. A couple of hours later I walked down to my studio, looked out the window and caught sight of this.

feeding-2

It was my favorite moment of Spring, this sweet scene during which reunited, the male fed the female beak-to-beak, his sign of love, a demonstration of his commitment to their family, his promise to her.

Thank you, Spring. You bring so many gorgeous reminders that in spite of it all, the world is still a very beautiful place.