Archives for April 2011

Paw Prints in the Sand

Paw prints on the beach! Yes, writer-gurrl and I are visiting Gulf Shores-Orange Beach for a couple of days, while Mr. Writer-gurrl keeps things going at home. The weather is purr-fect (to borrow an old cat joke). We’re here to soak up some rays and gather info for a magazine story W-G is working on.

I’m chasing waves and digging for crabs (although they have a most annoying habit of trying to bite your nose–if you go after them nose-first, which is what dogs do, right?).

But while we’re here, we haven’t forgotten those who have been affected by the terrible storms throughout the Southeast, and as soon as we’re home, we’ll be checking to see how we can help. We’ve heard our church is already organizing a team of volunteers to travel to northwest Georgia. If you can donate funds, supplies, or even your time to help with the clean-up, please contact the Red Cross at or the Salvation Army at Prayers going out!

wags and love ~ Miss Paws

Lulu’s Fountain for Youth

I snapped a photo of this little boy last night at Lulu’s, a restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Turns out Lulu is owned and operated by Jimmy Buffet’s sister, which explains the beach-fun atmosphere and live music. I love that Lulu’s offers lots of things for kids to do and play with while their parents wait to be called to a table.

Love this New World translation of Matthew 18:3, too: “…Truly I say to you, Unless You turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.”

Isn’t it sad that when we grow up, we start feeling guilty about taking any time to play? We can worship God in our play as well as in our work, as long as we honor His creation and love each other.

Hope you will do something fun for yourself today, and revel in the joy that comes from remembering how to play!

Brave Seeds

We had a fierce storm last night–I mean, fierce. The winds were so strong, they blew rain right through the window screens, into the house and all over the floor, which made me hop up out of bed, when I realized what was happening, and grab a mob.

But before I rescued our floors, I ran out to the porch, where I’d left a couple of trays of seedlings. I knew that our gutters were packed with the last of autumn’s leaves, and soon rain would be pouring onto the railings where the seed trays sat. I saved them in time, although they took a bit of a beating from all that water.

When I got up this morning, I made the picture you see above. Not very impressive, is it? Just a plastic tray with a few tiny green shoots coming up. Or maybe that’s all you see at first glance. Squint a little, please, and use your imagination, and maybe you’ll see more.

To me, these are brave little seedlings. They’re still small and fragile. One hungry bird could take them out in a quick peck, or they could collapse from a fungal disease, since this spring has been cool and wet. But they haven’t.  At least, not yet. They’re still standing, just growing their tiny hearts out.

Maybe it sounds silly, but I love that. Isn’t that what we are called to do, everyday? Sometimes we get pounded by the storms, and they can hit in our darker hours, when we’re feeling weak and defenseless. But you know something? We’re stronger than we guess, because we have have a living Spirit in us, just as these little plants have a life-spirit in them.

My seedlings made it through a bad-weather night, and now I’m looking forward to seeing them grow and bear fruit (tomatoes and peppers, in case you’re wondering). So, too, the Father waits for us to grow and bear fruit, and we can do this, because we know that the storms are not bigger or stronger than His love.

“…I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last….This is my command: love one another.” John 15:1-6-17, NIV

grace and peace,


Think Pink

petunias pink

I was looking through some of my photos from last year when I noticed these petunias, on the right, and the just-opened rose, on the left. Both are pink, but they really are different colors, aren’t they? (Maybe your monitor looks different. Colors on computers can be deceiving, but the petunias definitely have a blue or lavender cast, to my eyes.)

Yesterday I visited my friend Lucy, who writes a wonderful cooking blog. We had a yummy lunch (she made chicken salad with red grapes on croissants, pimento cheese sandwiches, and served strawberries. And did I mention we had a homemade chocolate pie with real cream topping and an apple pie? I am currently pestering her for recipes.)

After lunch, Lucy showed me the pink lady slipper orchids popping up in her woods. I’ll post the pictures here tomorrow, I hope, but right now, the cord that connects my camera to the computer is  missing. (Does anyone else ever have this problem? Where do things go??)

Anyway, pink lady slippers are wildflowers, and they’re Georgia’s native orchids, but you can also find them in other parts of the country and particularly in the southeast. They pop up every spring in shaded woodlands or wetlands, but please, don’t disturb them. They dislike transplanting, so even if you are tempted to dig them up and take them home with you, they’d probably turn up their toes and die. Better to leave them in the wild for everyone to enjoy. They’re finicky about getting the perfect balance of soil, moisture, and light, and few of us can duplicate their natural conditions in our home gardens.

If you’re a wildflower fan, check out Celebrating Wildflowers, a site maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. Click around, and you’ll find photos to help you identify what’s growing in your area, as well as lists of wildflower hikes, artistic events, and more.

Check back here soon. I’m headed into my woods later this week, armed with my camera. I’m looking for a tiny dwarf iris that I’ve seen in the past, but because I forgot to write down when I spotted it in years past, I’m having to watch for it very carefully right now. More to come!

Nasty as You Wanna Be

I read once that you should be nasty to nasturtiums.  Unfortunately, I can no longer put my grubby little gardener’s hands on the article that said this, and I haven’t seen exactly the same advice anywhere else.

Turns out you shouldn’t be downright mean to these pretty flowers with lily-pad shaped leaves. They don’t like to be transplanted, so it’s best to sow their seeds directly into the garden or containers, or in hanging baskets, as I’ve done this year. They need regular water and prefer lots of sun.

So I think the notion of treating them badly probably got started simply because they can grow just fine in poor to ordinary garden soil. If you give them extra nitrogen, you’ll wind up with more foliage than flowers–so okay, you can be stingy when it comes to feeding them.

I haven’t had great luck with nasturtiums in the past, and maybe it’s because I planted them late, and when the hot, humid weather set in, they turned up their toes and died on me. This year, I started the seeds in March, and so far they haven’t minded a few cold snaps and cloudy days. I’m hoping I get some nice hanging baskets filled with trailing vines and lipstick-red flowers to enjoy.

And hey–if I get tired of looking at my nasturtiums, I can just eat ’em! Nasturtiums, as long as you don’t treat them with any chemicals, are edible and the colorful blooms are snazzy looking in green salads. The blossoms have a peppery bite that I’m not overly fond of, but you can tone down the taste by mixing in some of the buttery, milder lettuces.

I’m growing a variety called Cherries Jubilee this year, but I sure wish I could grow the nasturtiums that Swedish taxonomist Carl Linaeus reportedly saw growing in the late 1880s. Linnaeus (if the name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the one who gave us our Latin system of botanical names) claimed to have  seen a nasturtium that flashed and sparkled under certain atmospheric conditions. He wasn’t the only one seeing sparks. There’s a report in an 1887 dictionary of gardening published by George Nicholson, too, that says, “The whole (nasturtium) leaf seemed to twinkle with points of light.”

Awesome, yes?

Sadly, nasturtiums like that aren’t around anymore. That’s why we should grow heirlooms, to keep the old varieties going.

If you’re looking for nasturtiums to grow this year, better get started soon if you’re in the South, or wait until fall returns. You can plant then and expect your nasturtiums to flower the following spring.

Try this site Renees Garden for a great selection of nasturtiums. ‘Empress of India’ is a gorgeous heirloom with bright red flowers.