Wildlife At The Lake

Armadillos and squirrels and woodchucks, oh my! You never know what might show up at the lake.

(Actually we have two woodchucks, but “Mrs. Woody” is a tad camera shy.)

Our above-ground friends add to the entertainment.

Recently The Man Of Few Words captured a photo of Oklahoma’s elusive state bird, the Scissortail Fly Catcher, too. So proud of ’em both…

Most days we sit on the deck minus the camera intent on watching the world go by. Ahhhh…

But, every once in awhile we get lucky. Tickled to share our glimpses with you!

In between we’ve also spied bluebirds, orioles, cardinals, hummingbirds, bald eagles, Great Blue Herons, cranes, geese, wood ducks, blue jays, gray jays, robins, thrashers, wrens, and assorted other “little birds” but they’ve been too fast to capture on film. (Or we’ve been too slow.)

However, life’s been good. Nope, make that wild!

Enjoying Nature at the lake,

~ Kim

Still Waters Run Deep

Still Waters

Sometimes this space doesn’t accurately reflect the amount (or variety) of “writing, music, and photography” I actually do. (Or my love for long sentences…) My clipboard, college-ruled notebook paper, and favorite pen are constant companions — not to mention my camera — along with a stash of notebooks dedicated to ideas, to-do lists, poetry, musings, letter-writing, scribbling, and attempts at journaling. (My piano is also mere steps away.) Not so coincidentally, the aforementioned notebooks are color-coordinated and/or have hand-picked covers to match my wordy moods… writers are entitled to their quirks.

Currently I’m editing an amazing cookbook (more on that in a future post); last week I jammed with my fiddle-playin’ buddy, Joe, twice (we’re also playing for a cancer fund-raiser this weekend); and I was recently humbled and honored to have one of my photos published in an esteemed international literary journal. There’s often more going on in my life than meets the eye — or blog — and I apologize for my frequent lapses.

One of my ongoing writing projects — my “Dear Friends” letters — began over a decade ago. I was employed as a church secretary and each week I’d mail copies of Sunday’s sermon to ten or twelve elderly ‘shut-ins’ or folks who couldn’t attend church. (I’d also include a handwritten note of encouragement, but a sentence or two quickly became a paragraph or two, and finally a page — or two.)

When my tenure was done, I couldn’t help but keep writing to my Dear Friends (some of them tell me it’s the only letter they receive) and through the years my ‘list’ has grown from the original dozen to over 50 folks around the U.S. — often at the request of loved ones: “Mother so enjoys your letters… would you please keep sending them… and could you send one to my Aunt?”

What began as a simple act of kindness through ‘writing’ evolved into a passion for keeping the art of correspondence alive and well.

I used to write my Dear Friends letters by hand (back when I only wrote 10 or 12), but due to the increased volume I finally had to resort to a computerized version — which turned out to be easier for everybody over age 70 to read — my penmanship is nearly microscopic. Did you know it’s easier for the aging eye to discern Sans Serif fonts than Times New Roman? (I do my research.) That aside, I still insist on addressing every envelope by hand and signing each letter personally… and, I often include a handwritten note of encouragement.

Frequency-wise, my letter writing has slowed down a lil’ since moving to the lake, not counting the ones I regularly pen to my family (gotta have ‘deck time,’ not that I need an excuse!) — it’s just that I don’t have as much to write about as I did during the “trucking years.” What used to be an every-other-week travelogue gradually reduced itself to a life-on-the-lake update once a month — then every other month — and now four or five times a year.

Rather than regale you with further ‘hows’ and whys, here’s a (slightly revised) version of the latest edition:

Canoe 2

“God blesses us with His presence in so many ways, from the tiniest miraculous garden sprout to a sky-full of majestic panorama…”

In between, it’s the ordinary moments that bless us: simple things like food on the table, a roof over our heads, a better-than-usual cup of coffee, and the comforts of home. Day to day ‘ordinary’ gives us a deeper appreciation for the extraordinary.

This past Fourth of July, Russ and I opted to stay ‘home for the holidays.’ (Our usual modus operandi involves packing up the Jeep with a week’s worth of clothing and food, driving 24 hours up & back, and shuttling between our families in southern Minnesota.) This year our plan — or rather God’s plan — was to stay put! After the years we spent over-the-road (a transient ‘home’ at best), it was glorious to wake up in our own bed.

Ironically, we both woke up at 3:30 a.m. — don’t ask me why. But, it wasn’t too far off from our usual 4:30 a.m. start to the day, and the coffee and companionship made up for our lack of sleep. Of course, we were missing our families! Sometimes you have to make ‘the hard decision,’ but we knew in our hearts God meant this one just for ‘us.’

Once the sun got up over the hill, it became apparent that it was an ideal morning for canoeing. Earlier this year we’d acquired an ol’ ancient canoe full of dents and patches (still seaworthy in spite of its forlorn appearance) and this was the first time we’d ever taken it out on the lake together. It didn’t take long for us to resume our mutual cadence — Russ at the stern, me at the bow — slicing our oars through the water as though we’d been canoeing every day, instead of for the first time in almost a decade.

We paddled about two-thirds of the way across the lake, then let a light breeze turn the canoe so it drifted slowly back toward the bluff, and Russ spent the entire time casting and ‘trolling’ (of sorts) while I alternately closed my eyes and basked in the sun or scanned the scenic shoreline. (“Don’t ask me why” #2 — I didn’t get my fishing license this year, so I didn’t have my pole along.) Somehow I suspect we might have fared better fish-wise with two hooks in the water instead of one, yet I was content to observe — and he caught a keeper.

Russ has such a natural grace about him when he’s fishing. The way he holds his fishing rod and the rhythmic way he reels in or ‘jigs’ borders on art! I derived more satisfaction out of watching him ‘at work’ than if I’d been handling a pole myself. (My attempts at fishing usually involve hooking every ‘snag,’ tipping over the tackle box, and spending more time with my hook out of the water than in to replace lost lures…)

After we reached the ‘driftwood trees’ in front of the bluff, we paddled between those massive petrified ‘ghosts of a forest’ from days gone by. Their weathered trunks and branches are much larger than they appear from our deck and I enjoyed getting ‘up close and personal’ with them. They must have hundreds of stories to tell — in fact, they do! Dozens of fishing line remnants dangle from their gnarled, silver-gray grip where anglers have lost their lures. (Made me smile; at least “I’m not the only one.”)

An added bonus was seeing the Great Blue Herons perched on random stumps. Slipping by in the canoe with no motor to startle them, we got close enough to see just how large those majestic birds truly are. Numerous cranes also glided back and forth to wherever a beak-sized breakfast could be found as their white wings blazed in the sun against a backdrop of aquamarine lake and azure sky.

Not quite ready to go in, we paddled westward along the rugged shoreline. The wind picked up a bit (not enough to swamp the canoe) so we paddled to the next bay and back — about an hour ‘by water.’ Just then, a bald eagle suddenly took flight, soaring above the treetops in singular, spectacular glory. Moments like those make your senses come alive… seeing that regal bird leading the way overhead, feeling the steady strokes of our paddles, hearing the rippling water caressing the canoe. It wasn’t just a blessing, it was a hug from God!

Our other senses were blessed, too — following this adventure, I grilled some mighty-good-smelling burgers and topped ’em with tomatoes right out of the garden. (You just can’t beat that ‘fresh tomato taste’ on a sizzling burger!) It was a wonderful holiday for both of us.

Sometimes I think Jeremiah 29:11 has become ‘popular’ because of the “implied” blessings in the NIV translation (no disrespect intended) and our inflated expectations of what they might be. Per the King James version (vs. 11-13), there’s more involved than God simply doling out His goodness and grace. He does intend to bless us, and He will — when we seek Him with all our heart.

I’ve come to believe that God’s greatest blessings are His peace and presence. They turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.

Enjoying doing what I do,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Flowergram VIII

Dogwood blossoms

(Hover over the photos for the full effect…)

Spring is in full bloom and it’s time for another Flowergram!

(Can’t tell you how good it felt to wander about at will again, ahhhhh…)

I feel like I’ve been playing catch up here forever and a day, but the truth is: there’s no catching up with right now. You’re either in it or you’re not.

Lavender

Lately I’ve been re-prioritizing things, or at least re-scheduling them. Sometimes my creative soul doesn’t want to be confined to a time slot, but it’s necessary for me to discern measurable progress. (Plus I don’t get a dang thing done — or at least the important ones — if I don’t!)

That means making time for regular exercise (did I just admit that in public?!!), enjoying the beauty & benefits of “small plates” (more on that in an upcoming post), getting back to writing on a regular schedule, and practicing the piano like I just got booked at Carnegie Hall! I’m giving another concert in less than a week, I had a dual speaking & musical engagement yesterday, and life has been an all around profusion of activity.

Last month, The Man of Few Word’s son (my step-son) moved in with us temporarily, and with two fellas needing to get to work at different times and places (with one vehicle), guess who’s been designated taxi driver? I run TMOFW to work at 5:30 a.m. (10 mile round trip), take my step-son to work at 7:30 a.m. (20 mile round trip), pick up TMOFW between noon and 4:00 (such fun not knowing “for sure” what time) and, as things turned out last week, had to make the final pick-up of the day at 4:00 (four days in a row) to get my step-son, too. (Whew!) Thankfully, all of that will change soon (if Mama ain’t happy… tee hee!) and normal life will resume shortly.

Please.

Speaking of “profusions”… here’s one of my favorites:

As for the writing part, I’m thrilled beyond words to have an official part-time, work-at-home job as an editorial assistant/copywriter on a BIG project. (Details are confidential as of yet, but I’m doin’ the happy dance!)

If a picture could describe my elation, it would be this “homegrown” contribution to my Flowergram…

Color me tickled pink — with a lil’ bit of purple for fun. ;)

Flowerbox

How will you spend the hours you’ve been given today… backtracking or living?

It’s a delicate balance sometimes, and as fragile and fleeting as Spring blossoms.

Never be “too busy” to do the things that make you happy!

Dogwood Tree

Enjoying re-prioritizing,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Lunchtime at the Lake

Salt & Pepper Birds

A kettle bubbles above a blue flame on the stove and the salt I add roils the water’s surface, reminding me of the lake. I turn to look out the window at an ever-changing canvas of surf and sky. Today it is alive with gulls and cormorants, kingfishers and mergansers. Salt and pepper birds.

Reducing the heat, I toss in quartered onions, chopped parsley, freshly squeezed lemon juice, peppercorns, and a bay leaf, marveling at how this curious brew can render bass into something better. Slipping the fillets into the broth, I walk to the window to wait while they poach. The aroma follows me into the living room, mingling with the lingering scent of lemon on my hands.

Cormorants numbering in the hundreds have begun their day-long shuffle, attempting awkward landings and vying for pecking order on the silver-gray branches of a driftwood tree farther out in the lake, dotting it like autumn leaves too stubborn to fall in season. Leaning into the wind, they wait, too. Fishing requires patience and they’re in no hurry with the prospect of a buffet below.

Overhead, seagulls and kingfishers flutter in a stiff southwest breeze, eyeing the swells for the silver flash of a shad. One by one they drop with a frothy splash that rivals the white caps, returning to flight with a swoop and a gulp.

Closer to shore, a flock of mergansers bobs in unison as the wind and waves buffet them — a battleship of birds. One dives, then the next, and the next, like torpedoes firing in sequence. Mission accomplished, they break the surface again, resuming formation with beaks and bellies full.

Surprise! A bald eagle zips by, chased by his shadow on the matted grass. He hovers near the bluff and his shadow hesitates, then darts to race over the water in an ongoing game of tag. A long, descending arc brings them to the water’s edge where the eagle promptly meets a carp, as though they’d made an appointment to discuss business over lunch. Seconds later, he ascends with the carp secured in a talon-ed handshake — a binding contract. Protesting his powerful presence, the cormorants squawk and scatter. Once again the sky is filled with salt and pepper birds.

When the timer on the kitchen counter concludes its countdown, I follow the intensified aroma back to the stove. Within minutes, I’ve witnessed the cycle of life and how fleeting moments truly are. I intend to savor this one. Scooping the fillets from the steaming stock, I smile.

Fish.

Lunchtime at the lake.

Enjoying sharing what I “see” with you,

~ Kim

Fall Cleaning and How Food Imitates Nature

Dear Friends,

I’m such a letter-writer that it felt right this evening to pen one to you.  (Or as close as one can get to approximating “pen and paper” via computer…)

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about blogging (yes, I know… “Don’t blog about blogging…”) — but you know me better than to believe I follow the rules. ;)

In my quest to be a writer, musician, haus frau, artist, yada yada, I need to make the most of my time, as do you!  (I’m so easily sidetracked…)

Anyway… between all of the above, I found myself asking, “What is the point of blogging, eh?”  (Had to throw a lil’ Minnesotan at you, yah sure, you betcha.)  There are so many bloggers out there who do it so well and whose blogs I enjoy reading and whose recipes I enjoy cooking and eating!  Do I really need to write one of my own?

In a nutshell:  I found myself wondering whether or not I’d be better off spending time on “more important matters.”  (Funny how your brain emphasizes thoughts like that, only to come up short when it’s prompted to produce an actual list of said important matters.)

Surprisingly, a conclusion came out of the blue today (better known as an answer from God…) and it was: “Blogging gives you more people to care about.”

Say what?!  (An Okie-ism.) ;)

Truth be told, it took me by surprise.  Sometimes I feel self-centered blogging about “the life and times of moi,” but lo and behold, the purpose isn’t “me” — it’s you!  Woohoo!

I can live with that.

No… I enjoy that idea tremendously!!!

What I’m trying to say is that my blog was (and is) a means to find you… folks I’d never in a million years meet (or even know existed) were it not for this unique, fun, fabulous forum that opened up my world beyond Oklahoma, USA.

For that, I’m entirely grateful.  (Actually, I’m doing the happy dance!)

While I don’t intend to spend 24/7 commenting on your blogs, when I do, it’ll be with reckless, guilt-free abandon (hallelujah!) — because the whole point is furthering human relationships (even cyber ones) — and I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend my time.

Except cooking your recipes and eating… well, never mind.

There will be time for all of the above… including today’s thoughts on How Food Imitates Nature.  (The segue is short, I promise.) :)

Sincerely, Kimby

Yesterday I posted my Teriyaki steak stir fry on FB and G+ and today it struck me how similar it was to the photos I’ve snapped recently…

 

Gotta love it!

Now, off to see what you’re up to!  (And thanks for being here.)

Enjoying the blessings of friendship — and blogging,

~ Kim

Lessons From the Lightning Tree

Trees have a way of teaching, by virtue of their existence.

They adapt to life’s storms with stalwart resilience.

They stand… until they can’t.

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A recent TV commercial defined smooth as the “new young”  (which was followed by a momentary twinge… and a hearty laugh.)

Not knocking it… not scoffing, either.  It all depends on the source of your definitions.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been smooth since I was a baby.  (Even with a liberal dose of spackling compound, I’d be hard-pressed…)

A visit to the Lightning Tree confirmed my reality.

As I admired its gnarled presence, my “old” friend reminded me that aging is an inevitable process.

The truth is: aging can’t be reversed.  It happens whether you acknowledge it or not.  It occurs in spite of attempts to delay it.

(Note:  The disclaimer at the end of the ad stated that the product reduces the appearance of aging.)  Nothing to get hysterical about.

Simply the truth.

There’s nothing wrong with a few crunches or throwing a little paint on the ol’ barn.  I’m a firm believer in taking care of what you’ve got.

But, I also know life’s lightning bolts eventually take their toll… and, sometimes they leave a mess.

(I’m learning to live with the mess.)

The idea of being weathered has grown on me.

It’s comforting.

Appealing…

When I got back to the house, I consulted another “old friend” for the definition of young.  (One who went to college with me almost forty years ago… my favorite dictionary.)  It said:

“Recently come into being.”

Which can happen at any age.

Hallelujah.

Granted, I’ll take care of what I’ve got, but I refuse to fret about it.

Thank you, my wise, beautiful, young/”old” friend.

I’m resolved to stand… until I can’t.

Enjoying stalwart resilience,

~ Kim

What lessons have you learned about aging?

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