I could always hear the hooting off in the distance usually across the road in the woods. Always it felt like a call and I wanted to go to it, I ached to do so. I had never seen an owl in the wild before.
I love this picture because it’s moody, dark and mysterious. Sarah came to get me. She had been over by the stream when it, like magic, swooped by to land and perch on a tree branch. We were delighted that it was still there. It looked at me as I clicked the shutter of my camera. The stream was flowing cool and steady past us and twilight had come. Sarah was smiling. She was glad I was able to get a good photo and she was the one who searched the bird book to identify it.
“Those who believe in tomorrow can live better today, and those who expect joy to come out of sadness can discover the beginnings of a new life in the center of the old, and those who look forward to the returning Lord can discover Him already in their midst.” ~Henri J.M. Nouwen, Readings and Reflections
On Easter Sunday! We were all together, all but Grace, and we had a rich and full day of family togetherness. After our ham dinner, I went for a walk and when I came back, Rich was leaving the driveway with three boys and Jacob was right behind him in his car with Brittnee, too. Rich rolled down his window to tell me that something was wrong with Parker and they were taking him to the vet. Seth was crying upstairs in his room and Sarah was distraught in the living room. I needed to stay behind with them. A little while later he called us and said that Parker’s heart was failing and there was nothing that could be done……I had a feeling of “fight or flight” panic as I all of a sudden wanted to be there for this faithful dog who had spent so many years with us, but in the end I comforted myself with the thought that he had his boys with him. We adopted him as a puppy and we were the only family he ever had…..for fourteen of the busiest and craziest years of our parenting lives. Caleb was 2 when we got him, Seth and Sarah have never known life without him……the older kids grew up with him…..we have so many memories of every kind…..because our dog (like all loved dogs) was everything to us and our seven children; fun, playful, mischievous, a run-away, pizza lover, sleep mate, explorer, friend, thief, comfort, listening ear, patient, pain-in-the-butt, faithful, naughty, and kind. He inspired songs, dances, stories, and inventions. He was given a house, food, warmth, and love, and he gave it all in return, plus more.
There came a time when he couldn’t get on the couch anymore.
Rich laughed and rolled his eyes when I spent over 200 dollars on the best dog bed on chewy.com. The thing had a tempur-pedic mattress and was big enough for three dogs, or, one dog and several children at once. It came with a removable cover and was brown just like him. Parker came to love his bed and just a few days before he died I noticed he was wandering around acting lost and I realized his bed was blocked by furniture. After I pulled things back where they belonged, he walked over and gently licked his bed and then got in it to scratch and scratch and then turn around and around, and sleep.
Then one day he started peeing on the floor. He couldn’t make it through the night without needing to go.
He started stumbling down the stairs. He followed Ethan up into the garage a couple months ago and Ethan had to carry him back down……
He proudly sported gray fur on his legs and face. He stopped jumping up on people when they came to visit.
Then, he started breathing more laboriously at times. He needed more rest. He didn’t run around as much. But he still followed me for his “daily egg”, a moment which never failed to amuse me. After collecting them from the coop, he would be waiting for me to hand him one, which he would carry to the driveway and let drop. After he cracked it, he would lap it up, with me standing and watching the whole time. It was a good show.
He went outside with us on Easter Sunday and wandered through the family photo I took on self-timer, making us all laugh. I ended up insisting that we keep trying so he could be in the photo. The last picture I got of him alive was after I had “released” the children and they all ran up to the house, Parker with them. “Aren’t you guys glad that mom’s done taking pictures?”
Rich brought him home and the boys dug his grave. Caleb and Ethan had already decided on the location, and it was the same place I had thought of as well. He had a young tree that he would go to with things he liked most (bones, cat food cans stolen from the counter, and stuffed animals he chewed the eyes off), and that is where he is buried now. We are turning it into a place to sit and think about him, with a chair, and now a hanging basket and bird feeder. It’s by the house and the garden and the driveway, and we think about him everyday. When we find one of his personal possessions, we give it to him. His collar is there, and several bones. For two nights after he died, Seth went out to say goodnight before going to bed. Jacob came to visit yesterday and when he came inside the house I noticed he was crying “I was saying hello to Parker.” Oh these children of mine, their hearts are big and strong. A family that includes pets does so much for the growing-up years. Often the silent love of a friend dog or cat is just what a boy or girl needs……
“I grew up in a pretty house and I had space to run and I had the best days with you.”
It began with coffee and journalling in bed with big Bags.
I had in mind that I would relax for a while like a queen. But then, Caleb came in the room and asked me to make a quiche. And the way he asked me was like this:
“You don’t want to make a quiche, do you?”
It’s the only way a teenage boy knows how to ask and I was charmed so I said “Yes!”
I would be delighted.
I was texting with Grace and told her I had made a quiche for Caleb. Being a reader and a writer she immediately replied “I want to write a story called A Quiche for Caleb” and I said, “I already did, with flour and eggs.”
I’m forever exhaling prayers and stories. They come right out of my heart, and out of my fingers. They come out whilst I am in the woods, on walks, in the house, in the car, but most of all, in the kitchen.
The crust is an easy oil crust; 2 1/4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup oil, and 6 tablespoons of milk. I put the ingredients directly in the pan (9 by 13) and mix them with a fork. Then I pat the crust along the bottom and up the sides with my fingers (while listening to music).
For the filling I tend to use leftover bits from the fridge. Today I used up a dozen eggs (the hens lay a doz a day), a bread butt (they don’t get eaten), leftover honey baked chicken from last night’s dinner, basil (leftover from making eggplant parm last week), shredded cheddar cheese, onion powder, pepper, about 1 1/2 cups milk, and 1/4 cup mayonnaise. I whisked them all together (while talking with David, who was making himself a Creative Coffee using an ice cream cone and other things) and poured the egg mixture into the unbaked crust.
I left it in a 375 degree oven until done. Then, a beautiful rectangle was cut neatly and served on a yellow fiesta saucer to Caleb, the Wonderful.
(the kids have homeschool on Thursdays and Fridays). & I love it.
Then things got even more exciting for Yours Truly.
I left the house with a piece of quiche in my hand (yum) and went on a walk. It was cool outside so I wore jeans and a sweatshirt and off I went, listening to a podcast. I saw nothing of note until I turned around and came home. Then, next to the neighbor’s chainlink fence on the ground something caught my eye. I didn’t have anyone with me so I had to come home and draw a picture of myself in this moment of discovery:
Someone left their tail behind!
I reached my hand through the fence and picked it up. So fluffy, so soft that Seth asked me later if I had washed it.
My heart was filled with serendipity. What a beautiful gift from a very unfortunate baby bunny, whom I am sure is missing it rather badly. However, I accepted gratefully for what it was to me, a good luck charm. If a rabbit’s foot is lucky, a tail must be even more so! It was warm in my hand all the way home. It’s sitting right next to me as I type, along with an orange cat.
PS, If you would like the drawing, email me your address at email@example.com
I saw on the news this morning that the shooter in the Boulder grocery store killed ten people. I am 45 years old now, I have grown children, one of whom moved out into his own place this weekend, another of whom is working as a student teacher and going to college in another state. I have close family and friends everywhere. I have seen so much, after years of deep thinking I know more, I have learned and processed new and important things, and so maybe these are some of the reasons why it hit me harder this time, learning of another mass shooting.
Those people were just like you and me, doing what we always do, running errands and getting groceries, but they……. were shot at, traumatized, killed. It doesn’t make any sense to me, how a beautiful spring day can turn so ugly. And yet, if you read the stories you learn that the victims came together in crisis to help each other the best they could. You learn that a police officer sacrificed his life.
Is there nowhere safe anymore? Was there ever any place safe?
When confronted by the confusion of such unanswerable questions, I find myself stripped bare of everything but what I love the most; my people (friends and family), spirituality, nature, and home (my purpose).
So, because I was able, I told my people I loved them, I went outside for a long walk, and I went in the kitchen and made a cake. Cakes are typically for celebrations but today was a day for showing love.
I gathered eggs for the cake; produced for us daily by a flock of feathered hen-friends. I gave one to the dog (who knows that he has to drop it, not on the soft lawn, but on the driveway, so it will crack open and he can eat it) and then put the rest in the house before going for a walk.
I stopped and rested by the stream and thought about the beaver. I wished I could see him. How very industrious he is, chewing down each and every tree that he is able to. This stick was standing up, leaning against a large tree (large trees are safe from beavers), it’s bark entirely removed by the teeth of the beaver who ate it like corn from a cob. (I decided I’m bringing back the handkerchief.)
Then, my feet led me to a spot in the field where some scat lay. I noticed that it appeared to be entirely fur. As I stood there looking down at it, I saw something within the fur that looked otherwise. So I took a stick, knelt down, and started poking around.
Soon I had the fur-poo pulled apart, and the contents that I had discovered, in my pocket.
I headed to the stream to wash my hands over and over in the ice-cold water.
The forest on early spring days is so………gray.
As is the grass.
And what’s this I see so far from home? A spoon.
A spoon from my own kitchen! To have children is to be constantly surprised one way or the other.
Thus, I went home with a spoon in one pocket, a hanky in another, and poo-bits in the third.
But before I got there, I found a green bottle and hung it in a tree.
Every walk I go on is fascinating. And I realized something, although I have a second home in Georgia, I feel like my best self and most inspired self in my dear New England.
I emptied my pocket onto a piece of brown paper bag. Furry teeth and bones. Someone needs to tell that animal that teeth are indigestible.
From that to baking. I was able to use up six eggs on my cake. By the time it had cooled Rich was in the house, the boys were home from school, and Sarah and Brittnee were home from the apartment (where they hung out today, to wait for a couch to be delivered). Therefore, I had an audience watching me frost the cake. “What are you going to write on it, Mom?” they cried.
This morning Rich sent me out of the room. He had a call and told me to go. I was so shocked, that I went. I left the room and said “You guys, Dad just kicked me out of the room,” and they didn’t care. They said, “He has an important call.” Humph. More like, “He has an important call and doesn’t trust my mouth.” It’s always very tempting for me, and I have a very hard time staying quiet. I try so hard that when a sound DOES come out, it’s not good. So he is very smart to send me away………and thus, I am amusing myself here, in a different way; blogging.
I had my stuff with me, the stuff I carry from place to place; my book, my notebook, my pen, and my phone. I met up with Seth. He had a question to ask me; “Mom, is Grace getting married THIS year?” I took a deep breath and when I said, “Yes, Seth,” he quietly and slowly walked out of the back door to the screened in porch. He just stood there, looking at the sea. “What’s wrong with Seth?” asked Sarah. “He’s sad because he’s losing his sister.”
It’s been a very quiet morning, all because my energizer bunny is sad.
Ya know, I spend all this time (24 years) getting the family to bond in tight love, and moments like this are very rewarding. We love each other here. It’s all so clear to me this morning.
Now, David shows his love in another way; bitter sarcasm and pointed disapproval. He also doesn’t want Grace to get married (this year, or ever). No matter how many times I said, “She’s HAPPY, David, she’s VERY HAPPY.” and no matter how many times his father says, “You’ll never think ANYONE is good enough for our Grace, Davy” he still hasn’t come to grips. Of course, it’s only been a few days now…….
Yes, our dear Grace, at the young and tender age of 21, is now engaged to be married to a Most Wonderful young man, who already fits right into this family (and from what I hear, Grace fits into his, as well). I remember years ago, when Grace was small (er), she sighed and said “I just wish I had someone I could talk to as much as I want”.
He’s the someone.
I have observed and seen and noted; they have NO trouble talking to each other….. and talking…. and talking.
She found him.
But, that’s just one of the reasons why.
Because if they both lost their voices, there are always books, and writing, and hiking, and cooking, and playing music and gazing into each others eyes and kissing……….and so on, and so forth.
Grace is so happy she glows, her eyes twinkle, she is exceedingly bright and chipper, everlastingly smiling, and “it is very good”. (Genesis 1:31)
Thank you, Jesus. You did it again.
“Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens. He is always the same and never makes dark shadows by changing.” James 1:17
Rich is working at his desk in the master bedroom, next to windows that overlook the sea.
David and Caleb are schooling in the upstairs living room, each on their own small but cozy couch, with their own laptops and headphones. Every once in a while, I can hear them talk and laugh. I’m glad they have each other.
Seth and Sarah are in Sarah’s room with the door shut playing with animals (those small nice plastic ones from the Schleich company). They have their own world on the floor, their own dialogue, and sometimes even set up the kindle with “jungle sounds” from youtube to *set the scene*. They will also “do school” today, but have a break right now. (Sarah starts at 8:30, an hour later than the boys).
Yours truly went to sleep last night at 9, after taking a photo of the full moon and spending an hour in bed with my phone, watching Netflix. I was exhausted, and slept soundly, waking up “in the middle of the night” just knowing I wouldn’t be getting back to sleep……I felt around in the dark for my book and notebook, and tip toed away……only to discover that it was 6:30. True morning! I was the first one up. I turned on the heat to get the morning chill out of the air, put on some socks, got a blanket, and made coffee for myself.
And thus the day began. A new one, a fresh one, “without any mistakes in it yet”.
“Penny wakes me up every morning. At SEVEN! She’s like an alarm clock…….”
I saw golden light starting to shine through the windows and couldn’t resist running outside for a photo (or 15……) of Sunrise. The air was cool, and the only sound was the waves and morning bird calls. This is Georgia winter, but to me it feels like spring and something new. I feel like a young girl running from the door to the ocean, in my pajamas and with my hair loose, wearing Seth’s canvas shoes on my feet……..
As promised, here is a photo of “fwren” and me. We met online over ten years ago, and she’s been a dear lady whom I have looked up to and drawn encouragement from. We have several of the same most important loves; family, friends, Jesus, photography, nature, and JEKYLL ISLAND. Since we are both here on the Island, we took the opportunity to finally meet face to face. We met at the Sunrise Grille, ordered coffee and avocado toast, and chatted away an hour or so. It was good for my heart and soul to spend time with a friend.
How can I say thank you? The words aren’t enough………..
I woke up last night and went to the bathroom. I never turn on lights, I find great satisfaction in carefully making my way in the dark. When I came back to bed, I nestled right into my husband like we have gotten into the habit of doing, how delightful and cozy, his shirt smelled clean and lightly of bleach, it was up a little bit and my arm was across his soft warm skin. He woke up and I asked him if I was bothering him, ready to move away if I was so he could sleep. “I’m too hot,” he said, taking my arm and putting it back around him. He pressed his nose into my hair contentedly and I fell back to sleep……….
I woke up last night (a second time) and I was alone in the bed. I reached for my phone to check the time, 4:22 am. I couldn’t resist figuring out what he was doing, so like any good & nosy wife, I got out of bed and walked barefoot across the cool wooden floor, out the door to find…….
My husband playing the wii. I was instantly amused. He couldn’t sleep so he decided to get to “pro level” on the golfing game. I woke up just in time to see him take a swing. I laughed, he laughed, we hugged, and I went back to bed and fell sound asleep…… (I’ve been sleeping wonderfully…… and he has not, my sister and I think it’s because he won’t eat carbs, I mean how can anyone relax without baked goods?)……. He’s doing Keto like it’s going to bring about world peace. And as I slept, I dreamed a question; *Did He or Did He Not Make it to Pro?”
I woke up this morning at around 9? I think? Still no husband in bed, so I opened the door and cheerfully announced, “I AM READY FOR MY COFFEE!” He looked up from his chair and said “Good morning!” The boys looked up from their game at the table and said “Good morning mom!” I said “Good morning!” in return, and went back to bed. Wonderful Saturday.
Rich brought my coffee (in a meadow fiesta mug) and then went around on his side to get in bed with me. I thought “Oh this will be cozy, we can be lazy and talk and visit and read.” Our big black cat joined us, the dog flopped on the floor in our room to sleep, I opened my book, my coffee in hand………not even surprised when Rich fell promptly to sleep within seconds. Like, twitching!
My night owl.
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Expery, The Little Prince
My heart is often bursting with seeing. This blog is more than words; it’s my heart.
I came to consciousness this morning as the dog was outside, scratching on the door to be let back in the house. I slowly opened my eyes and saw through a crack in the curtains a very pink sky. Somehow I really needed to see this sky. I took my phone off the nightstand and turned it on, got out of our warm bed, and padded out to the porch to look at it.
Our house faces the rising sun and it’s something I am most thankful for. As I turned to go back inside I noticed the sunrise had been painted across the glass windows.
I went back to bed and fell asleep for two more hours. When I got up I sat in the chair in front of the fire to finish my book and drink coffee. Brittnee came down all dressed and pretty. “I just woke up,” I said. She said she knew because Seth knocked on her door to tell her “‘Sarah won’t let me use her charger and I’m at 2% and she’s at 50’. So I knew you weren’t up yet.” Somehow that really made me laugh and be happy, my children left me alone so I could sleep! Brittnee is a great “second mom” around here…….
Life is good. I have much of the preparations for Christmas Day complete, however I don’t feel like baking cookies. Like, at all.
I have most of the presents wrapped, but I’m not bothering to hide them and they stay in the corner of my room in a pile. If they want to snoop, oh well.
We bought an artificial tree this year, Rich has always admired the white flocked trees. Again; I just don’t care anymore……I used to say “Never! I want a real tree & a real tree ONLY!” I was so uppity about it. I wonder if this “getting older” thing is a blessing in disguise. I find myself letting go of things I clutched so dearly in the past. Our artificial tree looks beautiful, doesn’t shed needles, is prelit with flickering warm lights, and I don’t have to worry about watering it. It can stay up as long as we wish and won’t change from fresh and green to crisp and green.
Ethan and I bought a train to go around the tree, a Harry Potter train set from Costco. It makes me twitchy though because it sounds just like the robot vacuum cleaner that we have. Whenever the vacuum is running I have to be hyper vigilant about keeping the basement door shut. Consequently, whenever the train is running I keep running to shut the basement door. 🙂
Parker showed me how to get a small bit of bacon from Brittnee. Just stand and stare.
Brittnee and I play rummy constantly, sometimes with Jacob or Ethan, rarely with Rich, but the two of us play almost daily. She consistently wins, so that on a rare day that I win, it’s extra exciting for me. Today it was “rummy during breakfast”. She was depressed at the time because not only did she crack one of her egg yolks but we are also out of ketchup. Oh the horror.
Seth went around asking everyone how many mozzarella sticks they wanted for lunch and then after he put them in the oven, he went downstairs to play Rocket League, forgetting all about them. I ended up taking them out of the oven myself, while David ran down to yell to Seth that ” Your cheese sticks were ON FIRE you DUMMY!!!” Seth came running upstairs smiling because he (naturally) didn’t believe David. Caleb observed, “There’s NOTHING in these anymore!” and I said, “Your older siblings called these ‘exploding cheese'”, (eat them anyway). And they did. Even Rich had one, saying dryly, “I just love it when my cheese stick turns into a cheese cracker”.
You know, just family life stuff. It’s busy and fun, and I have time in the afternoons when it’s quiet and calm. The children can all fend for themselves. I tuck into the corner of the couch and read, drinking coffee and tea, with a cat purring on my lap. I’ve been sewing when I feel like it and realized again how calming it is, even if threading a needle is a lot harder than it used to be. I need glasses. I made a potholder and am now making a small wall hanging which I secretly think looks like a slice of ham from a distance.
Ethan gets home from Fed Ex at around 10:30am and he blames his job as a manager in a warehouse for the way he stomps around the kitchen making himself lunch as soon as he arrives. He’s the one who noticed that there were a lot of cups missing. “Where are all the cups? There are literally no cups, where did all the cups go? I don’t understand it. There are no cups.” So……..I stepped in and asked David to “Go around the whole house and find dirty dishes.” He appeared from the basement with this entire box full. He saw me take the photo and asked “Where is that going?” “To social media, tagged with your name!” “You’re low-key proud of this, aren’t you?”
I wouldn’t say proud, but “determined to laugh”, yes.
Brittnee and I realized we prefer Alexa to play “Jazz Christmas music” more than any other genre. But David likes Justin Bieber. He was flat out re-amazed at his talent, he says “bruh!” at every talented note sequence. Everyone’s “Bruh” to him now, and I’m sick of being called Bruh. “No one should call their darling MOTHER Bruh,” is what I say.
Reminds me……a couple weeks ago he was in my room sitting on the bed and I didn’t know it. I ran in to change my pants and as I pulled the old ones off all the way down to the floor I heard someone behind me saying “BRUH!” like his eyes were on fire, and it was David…..I was horrified, “David, David! Run into the bathroom, don’t look, get out!” He was so dry and calm about it, “It’s not like it even matters now Mom,” “I don’t care!!! get out!”
Back to music, there are certain songs I cannot listen to anymore including but not limited to “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, and “All I want for Christmas is You”. I can’t, I just can’t.
Sherlock as taken to sleeping in this deep basket, which I think is the cutest thing in the world. You can’t see him unless you are purposely looking in, and it’s so funny the way Penny the kitten stands up with her front paws on the rim, to look down and see if he’s there.
Rich and I were talking about McRibs a week or so ago and when we googled we saw that they were returning….so today when I dropped David off at work (he’s a cashier at the grocery store, and so awesome at it) I swung around the drive through to get three; one for me, one for Rich, and one for Caleb. Ethan has Crohns now and can’t eat them. The McRibs were very messy with all that sauce, but tasty.
What else? It’s pretty cold outside and today was the first day since the temps dropped into the 30s that I went out for my walk. It was very nice to get some fresh air, I gulped and gulped.
I had the piano tuned yesterday and the old-man piano tuner was very interested in my bird feeders outside the window. He didn’t even know what a blue jay was. Maybe he will go home and put a bird feeder up. It’s never too late to add a small joy to living.
Tomorrow Sarah has a check up and is nervous about shots. Oh, speaking of Sarah, she asks me daily if we can make cookies, including the last time…… which was about 2 hours ago. It sincerely pains me to say no to her, but it would pain me even more to make them (I can’t seem to muster up any desire) so I said, “no”. To which she replied, “I’m so bored……what will I doooooooo”, and wandered away.
Half an hour later I noticed her outside by herself, sitting on a sled sliding down the hill in the cold fading sunshine.
It was the cutest thing I had seen all day. She had figured out what to do.