My Wonderful Weeds!

"Sears Tower" daylily
“Sears Tower” daylily

I was released from the hospital late Thursday night, after six days to treat an infection in the suture line in my chest a month after open heart surgery.  I got home close to midnight because we had to wait for the delivery of the wound vac, which the nurse then had to attach to my chest.

Friday morning, I finally was able to walk in our little yard. I have not been able to weed or do any yard work this year. The crownvetch and the Queen Ann’s Lace are everywhere run amok. Yet I planted so many daylilies and native flowers over the years that they are holding their own pretty well! The Sears Tower bloomed for the first time! Gorgeous! It is so stately right next to the huge, gangly Purple Suspenders. The Coneflowers and the Buttonwood Bush are putting on quite a show out front, next to the hyssop and liatris and brown-eyed Susans.

DSC04745The tulip poplar sapling that was poisoned by something, survived and has put out new leaves. The Florida Tetrapetal St. John’s Wort has surprised us once again. It never comes up where I scatter its seeds, but we always manage to have some in our yard. (The birds have been kind.) We just had one blooming in front of the house. While I was in the hospital a couple popped up in our Monarch Garden in front of the back shed and one is peeking up through the ‘weeds’ on the wildflower hill on the other corner of the backyard.

FL tetrapetal St. John's Wort is pale yellow, upper middle
FL tetrapetal St. John’s Wort is pale yellow, upper middle

There are little surprises on the wildflower hill: tiny false sunflowers, nearly hidden daylilies, native beebalm, a tiny holly bush. The rabbits scurrying through. It has an untamed beauty. I even appreciated the invasive, Queen Ann’s Lace as it just floated above. I wept as I beheld my wonderful, wonderful weeds!

Stoplight daylily at the end of the driveway
Stoplight daylily
at the end of the driveway

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Yin & Yang

"Yin"
“Yin”
yang
“Yang”

I decided to just have some fun with the paint today and paint a lighter subject, so I painted two daylilies. I used a limited number of colors. “Yin” is based on a Hilltown Pride Daylily, with a Kelly Green and Green Apple split background. On the “Yang” the colors are reversed. I think they make a fun, colorful set. They are each 12″x12″.

What a Wonderful Daylily Season!

lilies by the driveOur first daylily bloomed on Mother’s Day, May 9. There were daylilies blooming in our yard every day except two from then until September 15. The Bitsy daylily rebloomed twice and is blooming today, November 4. I am always amazed by daylilies, but this was an exceptional season, with the extreme heat and dry spells, and still no hard frost.

One day in late Spring, I was doing a little weeding in front of our house. An old lady was walking slowly along the sidewalk. She stopped to admire the flowers. She said, “You know that God loves you, don’t you? When you see flowers like that you have to know that there is a God and that He loves us!”

New Icon Corner

Bright CornerI finally finished our new icon corner. The two things in a house that a man should make himself, even if he makes nothing else, are the front door and a proper bright corner. A bright corner is a special place for prayer for the family. It is called the bright corner because it faces the rising sun and because it is where the icons are. Icons are windows to heaven, hence “bright”. It is either in a corner or along a wall, if possible toward the East. As Orthodox Christians, we face East to pray, because Christ was called the Sun of Righteousness in Malachi 4:2. We orient (face East) toward the rising sun as we anticipate Christ’s second coming in glory.

The bright corner is where morning, noon and evening prayers are said. There are many variations on the bright corner. Ours is not to be taken as typical or normative, but it works for us. Our bright corner is in the East corner of our den. There is a Cross on the wall near the corner. To its left is an icon of the Theotokos. To its right is an icon of Christ. This is the same basic arrangement as the iconostasis at church. This immediately connects us to church. Next to the Theotokos is an icon of the Conception of the Theotokos showing Ss. Joachim and Ann embracing. My wife, Bethann, has St. Ann for her patron. To the right Christ is the Epitaphios, because St. Joseph of Arimathea is my patron and it was the Burial Service and Lamentation Matins that really converted everyone in our family. Around this central cluster are arranged, in no particular order, icons of the patron Saints of our children, grandchildren, godparents, parents, godchildren, a couple of good friends, nieces, great nieces & great nephews. Some icons do double or triple duty as multiple people share the same patron. We chose to do it this way so our bright corner forms a very visual, permanent prayer list. As we see each person’s patron Saint we are reminded to pray for him or her and ask for their Saint’s intercession as well.

A vigil lamp is hanging from the ceiling, in front of the Cross and the icons of Christ and the Theotokos. This is to honor them. It also calls us to prayer. Our lamp was made by Nick Papas. The icon of St. Nicholas is on our wall as it his his patron and one of Fr. Bonifaces’s patrons, as well.

What I just made, was the cabinet below the icons and lamp. It is made of no VOC melamine from recycled materials, no VOC wheatstraw board, locally harvested and milled poplar bead board and stone tile. This was my first attempt at stone tile installation. Some of the tiles are partly upended. This is to form a plate rail to hold festal icons and prayer cards. The back boards are engraved with daylilies. I took a photograph of one of our daylily blooms and my neighbor and I used his Shopbot to carve it into these boards. There are open spaces around the daylily medallions so we can use 12 Gospels ribbons to tie palms and willows to the icon corner during Great Week.

I chose the daylily motif, because it is especially meaningful to us. This is an excerpt from an entry that I wrote on shoutforjoy.net:

Daylilies are amazing. They put forth a beautiful bloom and it is gone in a day, only to be replaced the next day with another glorious bloom. Jesus told us to consider the lilies of the field in order to encourage us to have faith in God’s provision for us. This in turn is to encourage us to share what God blessed us with today with others, knowing that God will have new blessings for us tomorrow.

Daylily Detail

To be reminded of this as we say our daily prayers is encouraging.

On top of the icon corner are a candlestick, an incense burner, a prayer book, a box containing charcoal and matches. In the top compartment of the cabinet is a box of incense, a lighter, a New Testament, a Festal Menaion (hymns and prayers for the 12 major feasts), a service book and a supply of wicks for the oil lamp. We burn incense in our home as this also calls us to prayer. Incense is present in every prophetic vision of Heaven and was used in the Tabernacle and the Temple and has always been used in the Church. It is always associated with prayer. Using all of our senses in worship and prayer helps us to focus on eternal priorities.

The lower shelves of the cabinet holds other spiritual books and festal icons.

Of course, it does not matter how beautiful or well appointed a bright corner is, if no one stands before it to pray. Lord, teach us to pray!

“Consider the Lilies of” Our Yard

Creative Art
Creative Art daylily

Bethann and I just walked the lilies. Today, there are twenty varieties of daylilies blooming, plus the Easter lilies. We have them in our tiny front yard and on both sides of the driveway next to the house. The list will be different tomorrow. Here’s today’s list:

  • Backdraft
  • Fair Isabelle
  • Stella d’Oro
  • Red Volunteer
  • One Step Away
  • Palladian Pink
  • Creative Art
  • Indian Giver
  • Big Time Happy
  • Siloam Double Plum
  • Double Cream Parfait
  • Spiderman
  • Outrageous
  • Rainbow Candy
  • Miss Jessie
  • Miss Jessie
    Miss Jessie daylily
  • Strawberry Candy
  • Siloam Double Classic
  • Flamenco Queen
  • “ditch” daylilies
  • Chicago Apache