Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Red Admiral Butterfly

A few days ago as I was hanging laundry I noticed this butterfly flitting around the scented geranium bush. It took quite a few snaps of the shutter to get a clear photo of this beauty, but I was helped by the fact that it really liked the scented geranium--it kept returning to the same bush for nearly two hours. Today, Younger Son found a picture of a Red Admiral Butterfly in one of his nature books--a perfect match. We have officially identified our first butterfly.

Monday, May 21, 2007


to the Whitman Academy class of 2007! This evening, in a beautiful Jordanian desert setting which overlooks the Dead Sea, Whitman Academy graduated 13 graduates, it's largest class ever. Though I had no family involved in the ceremony (except Oldest Daughter who arranged a string trio to play at the graduation) it seemed very much a family affair as we have known many of the graduates and many of the families in attendence since our earliest days in Jordan.

The venue, a newly developed panoramic viewpoint overlooking the Dead Sea was perfect:

The breeze, cool,

the sunset beautiful as always,

and the sky clear enough that we could make out the skyline of downtown Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives on the other side of the sea.

May God bless you, Whitman Academy Class of 2007, as you step forward into the next chapter of your lives.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The nectar of the salvia in my garden must be very sweet this morning as this butterfly keeps returning for more, even when bothered by my lurking and picture taking. And, there must be something about the flower of the salvia which makes it easier to extract nectar from if the butterfly is positioned side-ways or upside-down on the flower as this butterfly was unwilling to pose for me in the upright position.

Our urban locale does not encourage a large or varied population of butterflies, but I have done what I can to attract butterflies by planting flowers that butterflies like; the lantana, lavender and Jupiter's beard are blooming and the buddelia and bee balm will soon follow.

Monday, May 07, 2007

May Blitz and thoughts about community

It happens every May. Thus, I am no longer surprised when our family schedule goes into overdrive for the month of May (and, really, April as well). Besides trying to finish the school year well, we are enjoying baseball, music exams, spring recitals and plays for our own children and the children of friends, graduations, swing dance parties, birthday parties, going away parties, welcome back dinners, picnics with friends before the hot summer weather sets in, and ..."can't we get together with ______--it will be the last time that we see them before they travel!"

And while I do miss the slower pace of a quieter life ( I have had to crawl in bed on an afternoon or two and pull the covers up over my head for a survival nap) I realized this week why the temporary busyness was necessary and, even desirable and enjoyable: community. In the fullness of our daily schedule it is easy for me to view extra trips out of the home as merely added spring activity, however the reality is that each of these "activities" is connected with relationships that are dear to us and/or relationships that we are building in the community. How I thank God for his faithfulness to our children and to the children of friends when I see them receive the honor of Eagle Scout or graduate from high school. What a joy it is to visit with friends, old and new, at the ball-field on Fridays. We truly have much to be thankful for as we enjoy the communities of people in which God has placed us.

Of course, we couldn't possibly keep up this pace all year round, but we will enjoy it for now. As for June, I do look forward to some quieter days. In my house. Maybe with the shutters closed--just for a day or two.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Acanthus~A flower immortalized in stone

Acanthus spinosus and a Corinthian capital at the ancient decapolis city of Gadara

Upon visiting the ruins of the ancient decapolis cities of Jerash or Gadara, one can not help but admire the stately Roman columns, many of them still intact and upright, and the delicately carved Corinthian capitals which they boast. The flowering plant immortalized in these stone capitals is Acanthus spinosus, or Spiny Acanthus.

Botanist Lytton Musselman explains, "The origin of the leafy capitals of Corinthian columns apparently goes back to an acanthus growing by a vase for offerings on a tomb in Corinth. It inspired the 5th century BC sculptor Callimachus, famed for the perfection and technique of his art, who reproduced its leaves in stone on Corinthian capitals. The genral shape links the column and what it supports and, because it presents the same shape from all aspects, its use has been widespread. The Romans were so fond of the beauty and symmetry of the leaves that virtually any Roman ruin in the country will have them." (from Jordan in Bloom)