Cedar Waxwings, Oil Pulling and Sanctification

These three things have pretty much nothing to do with one another. They were just a few new things I learned about so far this week and I wanted to share.

First, on the Cedar Waxwings

DSC_6053 (500x295)

This picture is on the back of Xplor, a free children’s magazine for kids in Missouri.

Here is a close-up of the “wax” on their wings (from the same magazine):

DSC_6059 (328x500)

What most endears cedar waxwings to me is their habit of communal and cooperative eating. Instead of fighting for access to berry-laden branches, half a dozen waxwings perch side by side, daintily passing berries from beak to beak as the bird nearest the tip of the branch plucks them. It’s enough to make you reconsider standard notions about which species are most evolved.

The quote above is from an article by Jim Low, “Waxwing Birds Mean Waning Winter” (had to include the title because I love a good alliteration!) (click here to open the article in a new window)

We have several large cedar trees loaded with berries, so I really hope to catch a glimpse of these striking birds at some point this winter, or in spring when they migrate north. Mostly, I gravitate toward photographing plants. They stay nice and still and you can move in really close without scaring them away. Every once in awhile a spider or snake will stay still long enough for me to get some good shots: but I’ve never had much luck photographing birds, so just seeing a waxwing would do just fine.

On Oil Pulling

I am not a hippie. I believe the words “green” and “natural” are thrown around FAR too often and I rarely believe packaging (honestly, if it’s IN a package/made in a factory, how “green” or “natural” is it really?)

The Spy Garden Gold Standard:


Green (+!). Organic. Natural. Local (as in 50 feet from my front door).

But of course, also, seasonal! But I digress…

I’m a skeptic and no matter what I hear or see or read, I usually believe it is false first (or at least contains some untruths) and then investigate further to see if there is any value. I usually estimate that anything being sold is 97% advertising and 3% truth hahaha. So I am often drawn to trying cheap/easy things that are not advertised at all.

A few days ago I came across designmom’s post about Oil Pulling.

Oil Pulling?! I’d never heard the term.
So basically it is taking a tablespoon of raw coconut oil, putting in your mouth and chewing it up until it dissolves (it’s a solid at room temperature). Then swishing it around for 20 minutes. TWENTY whole minutes. From the two posts I read (including this one) I’ve learned that oil pulling will: cure cavities and halitosis, replace brushing and flossing and may or may not turn you into a mermaid. Hahah

So again, I RARELY believe what I read (I mean I know you can trust everything on the internet but…;) However, I love to try something new (especially something as benign as swishing oil around your mouth) . It’s kind of like a risk-free adventure.

So the first time I did it, I thought it was weird. And basically thought “Yeah, not for me.” But then the next day I felt like doing it again. And I’ve done it twice a day ever since! So I’ve tried it before brushing or flossing and after flossed my teeth to see what was left and was really surprised to see that there was barely any plaque/stuff in between my teeth! Crazy! So on some level it does appear to work because my teeth feel awesome. And also appears to be a fun activity as the Spy, Smoochie and Spy Sister are all still doing it regularly too!

If you think about it, most toothpastes have glycerin. Glycerin is soap. Soap is made of fat.  And coconut oil is, indeed, fat. You’re just taking out the middle man. Or something like that.

Anyways, try it if you want a risk free adventure. We’re all still brushing and flossing in addition so its REALLY risk free;)

And the final “new exciting thing” this week…


We talked about the meaning of this word in (grown up) bible class after church this past Sunday. I found the meaning to be so hard to pin down.

It seems simple.

Sanctify means to “make holy” (so sanctification is the act/process of becoming holy).

Here is what I do understand:

As a sinner, I am quite imperfect. I am “freed” of sin because (and ONLY because) of the sacrifice of Christ.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Since I am so humbled by this sacrifice I am compelled and eager to do “good works”. So I’m not doing them because they “count” for anything.

Where I suppose it gets complex is the idea of “becoming holy”. I certainly don’t feel holy, I feel humbled.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:17-19)

What does the term “sanctification” mean to you?

Unrelated to the waxwings, oil pulling or sanctification, here are some snow day pictures from today (taken by Aunt Spy):

Hitting the slopes in our backyard

Hitting the slopes in our backyard





Important dog meeting under the fence

Important dog meeting under the fence

Water color design by the Spy

Water color design by the Spy

11 thoughts on “Cedar Waxwings, Oil Pulling and Sanctification

  1. Alan @ It's Not Work, It's Gardening!

    Glad to have found you (after you found me)! Cedar waxwings — some of the most beautiful birds around — visit the mulberry trees here in suburban St. Louis. They’re surprisingly quiet as they fly from tree to tree, hanging around for several minutes at a time. This is one of the main reasons I don’t cut down that tree that stains my driveway every year. :)

  2. narf77

    That crest would look good on a military uniform ;). Gotta say sanctification is a little bit too far for me to explore mentally at 5.29am. I might ruminate about it when I am cutting zucchini leaves off my prolific leafy plants later in the day. I am ever cynical about “Latest greatest” trends. I am SO over people jumping from one bandwagon to the next and pronouncing it “THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME” whilst keeping their eyes out for the next band wagon to jump on. Most of the time these amazing trends are started by a zealous producer or salesman with their finger on the pulse of social media and just how far some poor third world people can be pushed to strip them of their endemic foodstuffs so that rich first worlders can feel “special”. NOT my idea of clean, local or “green”. Green is a colour not an ethos. OVER IT! Oil pulling…latest trend…whatever ;).

    1. Spy Garden Post author

      Yeah maybe I will tackle sanctification once I get a good night sleep (has it been 8 years since? hahahaha (I had a nightmare/I peed/etc/WAAAHHHHetc.) ha. I am super cynical of the latest “GREEN” (UGH!!! SHare your disdain for the misuse of this word). This post was a bit more RANTy on the topic, but I deleted it because really it should be its own thoughful, not ranty, post (at least to fit the style of Spy Garden). But yeah, agree on your points and think we should be made to feel UNSPECIAL on all accounts (i.e. we’re lowly sinners who should always humbled). Certainly not exaulted for buying some handmade basket from 50000 miles away that took more fuel to get it to Whole Foods than it did to gas up a Prius (which by the way are not made of sunshine and sparkles) for a year!! The oil pulling is strangely addictive but I have certainly not jumped on a bandwagon of any kind HAHAHA I SWEAR;)

  3. Eliza Waters

    What a informative and varied post! I love cedar waxwings, they are so beautiful. I didn’t know they were associated with waning winter, we get them occasionally in Jan. like the robins, then they disappear until spring. Tell Spy his “steaze’ is lookin’ good! ;-)

    1. Spy Garden Post author

      I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a waxwing so I hope I spot one! (Or a flock!) Ill let the Spy know…snow shouldn’t be melting for next few days so he should get in more practice!

      1. Eliza Waters

        They usually flock. We get them by the river in summer, where they perch on dead limbs and swoop out to catch bugs, then fly back. Their call sounds like reedy “zee-zee”. I have a story about one I encountered that I may post some time.

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