May 12 – How Could I Have Known?

I’m missing my hairdresser and friend of 18 years, who died in May 2021. In our small town, everyone knows everyone, and my former hairdresser’s son is a school teacher in my district. I see her young grandson in one of our buildings, and I see so much of her in him. It reminds me to treasure every single moment. Tomorrow holds no guarantees for any of us. April 30 was National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, and I’m sending up a belated appreciation to Heaven for my friend and miracle-worker Penny.

Be Like Leo 

how could I have known
sitting in front of the mirror
in your swivel chair
as you snipped split ends 
that by the next haircut
you’d be walking
down your hall, laughing,
talking one moment
and fall over and die the next

leaving your husband
your children
your grandchildren
your dog
smiling through their
knotty tears
scattering your ashes 
a mile off shore from 
your favorite spot in Florida
then all getting
GPS tattoos of your
final destination points

how could I have known
that one month shy
of two years later
your husband would suffer
a heart attack and die, too,
leaving two young married sons
their wives 
your grandchildren
and your banana-loving
searching for her people
ferrying out to sea once again
to scatter more ashes

how could I have known
that unexpected tears
out of nowhere would well up
in my eyes when 
your little grandson Leo arrived
for his first day of preschool
hair tousled
half-crooked smile
an image of you
(only not the hair, not the hair)
backpacked-out like a rocket man
his tiny hands clinging tight
to his lunch
something he could hold onto 

and that I let the tears fall for a moment
then took his picture on his first day 
of big school 
sent it to his daddy
in his science classroom 
at the middle school
greeting those who’d 
surely lost grandparents, too
only not this young

Your mama would be so proud
I texted him

I still have that picture
and more like it that I take
whenever I see sweet Leo

like yesterday
when the teacher was 
giving the hero compliment
to the line leader, who stood
with one hand on a hip, 
the other pressing a pointer finger
over his lips
still and quiet
(he knows a lot about that)
telling the others, 
I like how Leo is leading.
He’s quiet.  
He’s not touching anybody.
Let's see if we
can be like Leo.

how could I have known
that would be 
the last time I 
sat in your

It’s Beckham’s Birthday!

Today, the baby of the family, our grandson Beckham, turns 2. It’s the last birthday he’ll celebrate as “the baby of the family” before his newest sibling arrives in July. We celebrate our Beckham today, and all the joy he brings to us!

Beckham sharing his ice cream with his dad
Beckham Cash Meyer 

Baby Beckham,
Everyone's joy!
Carefree days
Kayaking with Dad
Huddling up with Poppy
Appreciating these fleeting
Moments, savoring all the love

Careening on bare feet
Always listening for a blender:
Smoothies!  (His favorite)
Here he comes to claim his own (or yours)!

Making his footprint on the world
Ever the sweet little boy, another
Year older and still, 
Every day, 
Reminding us how blessed we are to be family.
In a tender moment at Christmas, Beckham chose Poppy as his person to snuggle up to in peace and warmth. The magic of his eyes and twinkle-cheeked smiles before he settles in to get sleepy were moments etched in time!

May 10 – Empty Nest

I watched a baby bluebird hatch the night of a poetry reading two weeks ago, and the trio has flown, except for one egg that never hatched. Joy and grief in the same nest. Life is like that. Laughter and tears, joy and despair.

empty nest

that tiny bluebird
I watched hatch two weeks ago
has taken to skies

one little sibling
requiem in eggshell blue
heavenly flight of its own 

May 9 – Put a Lid on It!

Kings and Queens are famous for their hats.

Everyone, it seems, was wearing a hat last weekend – at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and on the opposite side of the pond in England, and all points in between at those smaller parties the commonfolk threw to celebrate these events. I chose a sun hat purchased at Marshall’s for $16.99, designed by the swank San Diego Hat Company to go with my no-frills weekend, just in case anyone is wondering, and although it was tempting, I didn’t adorn it with little hot glued horses running around the brim – or oversized flowers or bows.

A fancy Kentucky Derby hat, perfect for sipping a mint julep and watching a horse race

It got me thinking about all the hats we wear. Last summer, I sent adventure hats to the coastal grandkids – to wear on the boat, at the beach, in the kayaks – anywhere adventure calls! I got the kind with a chin strap so they wouldn’t lose them.

I sent these hats to my grandkids last summer – adventure hats!

Ironically, I lost my son’s borrowed boating hat when my cap caught a breeze on a fishing trip in April. I’d needed my own chin strap.

I recently bought a new sun hat for kayaking and camping to replace the monogrammed one that a student gave me back in 2010 as a teacher gift – I’d given it a hard look and realized its age, like a teacher ready for retirement who has been worn slap down through the years. It was time for a new one!

The hat I lost boating, before it was windswept into the ocean and forever lost at sea
Camping Hat (my Kentucky Derby/Coronation Day replacement hat)

Bartholomew Cubbins knew a thing or two about hats. Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses know that head pieces such as crowns, tiaras, and hats make statements. The most famous crown of all time hung on a cross as a place in Heaven was built for us.

Kate and William sporting a tiara and a cap
Crown of Thorns – a symbol of the greatest sacrificial love of all time
A Kissing Fish hat for all our throw-backs
Golfing hats

Ice Cream Hats
Napping hats
Bicycling picnic hats
Marshmallow Roasting Hats
Swinging Bridge Hats
Stick-Your-Tongue-Out Hats
Ugly Sweater Run hats (with my son acting like a dancing reindeer after a morning run several years ago)
Kite Flying Hats
Birthday Hats
Magical Old Silk Hat that Made a Snowman Dance

I shared a recent post where my dad entered a synagogue in Capernaum and he and his friend had forgotten to remove their Atlanta Braves caps (the monitor smiled and tactfully gestured for them to remove them), and it got me thinking about all our hats. With all the hats we wear, literally and metaphorically, what are your favorite hats? Please share your best hats and hat stories in the comments, and if you have any great hiking hat suggestions, I beg your secrets!

May 8 – Duckgazer Window

We were camping at Dames Ferry in Georgia this weekend when our 3 Schnoodles became captivated with the ducks flitting about in the waters of Lake Juliette.  The stargazer window over the bed of our Little Guy Max never fails to hold wonder - whether stars or ducks, whether night or morning.  There is always an exciting world to behold outside that window!  

Move Over, Stargazers!

duckgazer window
curious schnoodles camping
flop-eared wonderment 

May 7- Holy Ground

My father, Reverend Dr. Felix Haynes, Jr., shares his sermon from a few weeks ago, as he reminisces about Holy Ground and his Holy Land travels with my late mother, Miriam, where they walked the streets of Capernaum. They traveled with members of their church to the Holy Land several times, most recently when they lived on Hilton Head Island, SC in the late 1980s and 1990s.


The setting of today's sermon is Capernaum, a very strategic location for travelers in Jesus’ day, always bustling and busy. It was a well-constructed city built 200 years before Jesus’ birth. The structures were made of unique materials, stone and plaster. Capernaum is situated on the picturesque Sea of Galilee. Just to the north, an easy walk begins the grassy slopes of the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field…” 

I remember well our visit on tour. As you enter, you see tall trellises with Bougainvillea growing in splendid floral beauty. Miriam walked over for a close look at the deep red and purple blooms, her eyes sparkling in complete wonder. Laurie Atkins, a member of our church traveling with us, joined her and pondered the amazing beauty. 

As your walk the cobblestone streets, you observe the archaeological structures and artifacts that tell a story of rich biblical history. Capernaum is an education in the ministry of Jesus. 

The two most striking sites are the synagogue and the ruins of the home of Peter’s mother-in-law, where Jesus healed the palsied man. There is a bench on which Jesus probably sat when he taught at the synagogue on that memorable day. The flat roof was made of a sturdy mud-cement compound. This would be a “patio” where on warm evenings one could catch the sea breeze. 

Holy ground!

Jesus considered Capernaum a “home base.” The house is a three-room structure, one for sleeping, one for cooking and eating, and one for animals. There was also a courtyard. Today, a church has been constructed over the ruins of this house with a centered glass floor area where you can look down and see the interior where Jesus healed the palsied man. When my colleague, Woodrow Hudson, and I entered that church, we had forgotten to take off our Atlanta Braves caps. The monitoring priest smiled and tactfully reminded us to take off our hats. 

Holy ground!

I did a short message on the four friends who brought their friends to Jesus to our tour group. 
We moved about reflecting, remembering, and privately worshipping. I joined my dear wife who said, “This is one of the most beautiful and sacred places I have ever been.” 

Holy ground. 

And I stand there again every time I remember Capernaum.

We got on the bus to travel north toward Mt. Hermon. This scene remains vivid in my mind: Laurie Atkins looked out the window at the flowers in the field on the mount of the beatitudes, still struck by the Bougainvillea of Capernaum and musing.  Mr. Laurie Atkins was the town engineer of Hilton Head, responsible for irrigation and all the lovely landscapes in the main streets of Hilton Head Island in those days. He said to me, “I wish I could get truck loads of dirt from this place to take home with me.” 

Holy ground! 

I have truck loads of memory from Capernaum, …the most beautiful and sacred memories…”
Bougainvillea at the entrance to Capernaum, the Town of Jesus

I do not own the rights to the video below.

Joy Gardner sings Holy Ground in The Holy Land

May 6 – Birdwatching Bliss

Male American Goldfinch at my window feeder on the Johnson Funny Farm – so close you can see his knobby knees!

One of the greatest pleasures in my life here on the Johnson Funny Farm in rural middle Georgia is birdwatching from the comfy chair by the window in my reading room. Each spring, we deep clean our feeders and add a new type to the all-you-can-eat bird garden buffet. Two years ago, I added four clear acrylic window feeders – and now we each have a coveted seat right by the window, with a front-row view.

The American Goldfinch is one of my favorite visitors. We also have Cardinals, House Finches, Pine Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Black-Capped Chickadees. and different varieties of nuthatches. sparrows, and wrens who love these smaller covered feeders. When it rains, they like to sit “inside” like the kids in The Cat in the Hat and look out their “window.”

We can get so close to our birds that we can see if they are missing any feathers or tell if they might have been in a fight. If we had ever wondered whether birds have tiny teeth, we could tell that, too. We ease up to the window and take a mannequin stance, careful not to throw our breath fog on the glass. The reflection from the outside makes it easy to remain undetected for long periods of time, watching our little frequenters blissfully fill their bellies with seeds, nuts, and berries.

A wide variety of birdseed mixes brings the fanciest charms and flocks and hosts and herds (I’m including a fuller list of specific bird group names at the bottom of this post). I found a chart at Pike Nurseries that has been helpful in matching seed, feeder: and bird type to maximize our traffic. For example, I look at the foot perch size, the encased wire openings for smaller birds, and the opening sizes where the seeds come out. All of those, along with location of the feeders, make a difference in all the species we have been able to attract. When Ace Hardware has a Buy One, Get One Free sale on brand-name birdseed in my small town, they know I’ll be there to get a cart full.

And these winged angels sing the most glorious songs of food blessings to their creator that I want to name them all Little Tommy Tucker!

If your mother doesn’t have a window feeder for the birds, it would make a lovely gift next weekend, along with a variety of seeds! I’ll be filling my feeders and remembering my mother, who shared with me the sheer joy of bird watching.

This chart makes attracting birds easy by telling which types of foods they like.

List of bird group names retrieved from:

Aerie of hawks

Band of jays

Bazaar of guillemots

Bevy of larks

Bevy of quail

Bevy of swans (when in flight)

Boil of hawks (when in flight)

Bouquet of pheasants

Brace of grouse

Brace of pheasants (when dead)

Brood of chicks

Building of Rooks

Bunch of ducks (when on water)

Bunch of waterfowl

Cast of falcons

Cast of hawks

Chain of Bobolinks

Charm of finches

Charm of hummingbirds

Cluster of Knots

Colony of gulls

Colony of vultures

Company of parrots
Squadron of pelicans

Company of widgeon

Concentration of kingfishers

Congregation of plovers

Constable of Ravens

Convocation of eagles

Covert of coots

Covey of grouse

Covey of partridge

Covey of ptarmigan

Deceit of Lapwings

Descent of woodpeckers

Desert of Lapwings

Dissimulation of birds

Dole of doves

Drift of quail

Dropping of ducks (when on water)

Exhaltation of larks

Fall of Woodcock

Flamboyance of Flamingos

Flight of cormorants

Flight of doves

Flight of Goshawks

Flight of swallows

Fling of Dunlins

Flock of birds

Flock of birdwatchers

Flush of Mallards

Gaggle of geese (when on ground)

Gathering of birdwatchers

Gulp of Cormorants

Herd of cranes

Herd of Curlews

Herd of wrens

Horde of crows

Host of sparrows

Huddle of penguins

Jubilee of eagles

Kettle of hawks

Kit of pigeons (when in flight)

Knob of waterfowl

Murder of crows

Murmuration of Starlings

Muster of Peacocks

Muster of turkeys

Mustering of storks

Mutation of thrushes

Nye of pheasants

Ostentation of Peacocks

Pack of grouse

Paddling of ducks (when on water)

Parliament of owls

Parliament of Rooks

Peep of chickens
Chattering of Choughs

Pitiousness of doves

Pitying of turtledoves

Plump of waterfowl

Plump of wildfowl

Quarrel of sparrows

Raft of coots

Raft of ducks (when on water)

Raft of loons

Rafter of turkeys

Richness of Purple Martins

Rookery of penguins

Scold of jays

Sedge of Bitterns

Siege of Bitterns

Siege of cranes

Siege of herons

Skein of geese (when in flight)

Sord of Mallards

Spring of teals

Stand of flamingos

Strand of Silky Flycatchers

Sute of Mallards

Team of ducks (when in flight)

Team of geese (when in flight)

Tiding of magpies

Tittering of magpies

Trembling of finches

Trip of Widgeon

Trip of wildfowl

Trouble of hummingbirds

Unkindness of Ravens

Volery of birds

Walk of snipe

Watch of nightingales

Wdge of swans (when in flight)

Wedge of geese (when in flight)

Whisper of snipe

Whiteness of swans (when in flight)

Wing of plovers

Wisdom of owls

May 5 – Purple Martin Mansion Mosquito Control

Assembling the Purple Martin House

One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoors, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I never fully appreciated until I became a little more educated on their roles in this great universe. A couple of days ago, I shared the plans for our bat hollow. Our first bat box has been installed, with more to follow. Today, though, is about another mosquito controller. Purple Martins, like bats, are environmentally-friendly critters who help control mosquito populations.

We weren’t sure how “involved” it would be to assemble a purple martin house. These houses are generally either a string of gourds hanging high, or a house reminiscent of a high-dollar condo situated on one of those tropical islands where the drinks all come with those little umbrellas and everyone wears floppy sun hats and sunglasses with cat-eye bling that sparkles as they sit back and sip in the breeze. Gourdless, we bought the high-dollar condo for them and discovered the pole was the same price as the house (12-20 feet in the air these places must be), AND has to be cemented into the ground.

So we took the unopened box camping with us one weekend, grabbing a multi-tool as an afterthought in case we needed a Phillips Head screwdriver or something. We found it remarkably easy to put the house together, and while we needed more than two hands, much of the structure was tabbed and punched so that it didn’t require a tool except on the roof. We put it together and brought it home. My husband fought mosquitoes with his bare hands while using post-hole diggers to set it deep in the ground, and then dumped a bag of Quikrete in to let it set overnight. We raised it to the heavens the next day, and now we await the migration that has, probably, mostly already happened. The late stragglers will find a vacancy in the inn…..we hope.

Rent-Free Purple Martin Condominiums, Johnson Funny Farm, April 2023

May 4 – Lonesome Bee Haven

Johnson Funny Farm bee haven, April 2023 – baby bees at top right corner and entering bottom left tube

Forget Lonesome Dove. This one’s all about the lonesome bees – and putting food on Earth’s tables. One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoors, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I’ve taken for granted. A couple of summers ago, we bought a bee house to provide safe spots for solitary bees like mason bees and leaf cutter bees to nest. These pollinators help plants like fruits and vegetables thrive. We have enjoyed watching the little bees come and go – they’re so cute – and so helpful! In rural areas like ours where agriculture is the name of the game, bees matter! Help with pollination – NOT PESTICIDES! We are doing one small part to make a difference – and watching it happen thrills our souls!

Lonesome Bee Haven

lonesome bee haven
apiculture hideaway 
pollinator post

baby bees buzzing
busy building businesses~
hungry world feeders

May 3 – Our Bat Hollow ~ ~Free Housing for Chiroptera

Aidan enjoys helping us outdoors when he comes to visit the farm!

One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoor, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I never fully appreciated. Both my mother and grandmother, avid gardeners, died of Parkinson’s Disease, a neurological disease that has been linked to pesticides. If my fish are not wild caught, I don’t buy them (my takeaway from Silent Spring). I’m doing all I can – one small part in a big world – to make a difference where I can.

I was driving along our rural highway last week and felt tears well up when I saw a sign advertising 52 acres for sale. I drove back around the loop, looking at all the trees – all the homes where right now, there are baby birds and deer and foxes and squirrels whose homes will be felled with the blade of an ax when the money changes hands. It hurts my heart for them.

We have been considering ways to control our mosquito population (quite possibly the only critter in the entire universe I would vote to eradicate), and one of our ideas is installing a bat village. So this past Saturday, I raised my husband and grandson up in the tractor bucket to install our first bat house. We’ve seen bats out by our driveway for the past several years, and we hope we can attract them to the bat houses from wherever they are living (we checked the barn and see no signs). We’ll add to the village over the next couple of weeks, even though the boxes should have been up by now since they are more likely to be inhabited over the summer when the bats emerge from hibernation in the spring, according to Google. I read somewhere that the occupancy likelihood is only 35%, but we’re going to give it a go since we know we have them nearby.

Plus, Halloween. It will just feel a little spookier and more seasonally festive when the pumpkins frost over and moon shines through the trees. We’ll enjoy batwatching almost as much as birdwatching!

~~Bat Hollow ~~

house installation
erecting a bat hollow
mosquito control 

spooky October 
Loblolly pine neighborhood 
for night flight critters

vampirish creatures
welcome wagons circled up
upside-down hangout! 
My husband takes direction on the exact placement of the box, which should be at least 12 feet off the ground.
Bat Box #1 being installed