time has been kind to us. Posted by Hello

This picture of Rapunzel-Debbie (Rapunzebbie?) riding Zephyr was taken last summer. Shamrock-garbed Pete sprouts up from time to time, but open hoods appear even more often at my family's house. And doesn't Debbie look chic? Posted by Hello

hats without shoes. Posted by Hello

On the Beauty of Birds Wearing Hats and Fuzzi Bunz.

Standing in the center of hundreds of seagulls, strong winds forcing those hovering near our heads closer yet, I felt like the still eye of the storm. It aroused a strange wonder even while I knew we were prime territory for whitewashing.

Afterwards, Millie asked where birds go to, and in the middle of my explanation of migration patterns, she said, "Oh! Some birds fly to Florida in a plane?" Her only previous knowledge of Florida is that our neighbor Kristen sometimes flies there in a plane. Hence, if Kristen flies south and some birds fly south, they must fly as seatmates. (If A then B is equal to C then B, then A + 2 = K.7 The logic is irrefutable.)

I stopped at a thrift store for the first time in months and bought 2 wonderful and frivolous hats. In my small way, I work toward that culture Matt writes about. (Plus, while spring cleaning, I discovered that 1/2 of my vintage hats in storage are smushed beyond repair.) To mend this impulsive purchase, I bought a few pairs of designer jeans to sell. My profit will exceed my expense. Yes, I'm counting skinny bidders before they hatch, but all I need is to lure girls to my auctions whose waists are each the size of a carrot.

Yesterday, I again began using cloth diapers with Annika. She wiggles inside three layers and two pins. Oh, Fuzzi Bunz! If only you weren't so shockingly expensive. (I know the name is ridiculous, but my cousin Leah vouches for their superiority, and she can even talk about them without breaking into giggles.) Nothing, though, (even F.B'z.) equals dozens of old-fashioned, cloth diapers, white and sun-dappled, hanging on the clothesline. I'm a diaper purist--none of this primary color, no pins needed, waterproof, stylish, and miraculously absorbant Fuzzi Bunz bosh for me, thanks.

And now that I've dedicated a whole paragraph to the glory of diapers (what is wrong with me?), I admit that I have nothing to write today, for the benefit of any who've read thus far waiting for something of import.

John finishes this semester in 1 week. Joy threatens to engulf!

My mind wouldn't rest last night. I tossed in bed until about 2 o'clock trying to decide, among other things, which class I would first like to audit when I'm 80--drawing, painting, sculpture, or a literature class. Any wisdom to offer? (Perhaps on the perils of drinking 12 oz. of cappuccino?)



on a quilting adventure of epidemic proportions.
And I need your help.

I've reached the point of sew return, where I start cultivating skills I want to teach my daughters. I can stitch here and there, but have never attempted anything required buckets of patience. I've never made a full-size quilt before--when I was young because the thought of sitting so still drove me wild and when I was older for even more foolish reasons.

I've got good timing, though. My mother, an accomplished quilter who's bought $3.00 worth of things for herself in the last 30 years (the same practical and selfless mother who asked for--and recieved--an egg beater for Christmas one year) has recently purchased a BERNINA. (It follows, of course, that she uses it daily to create quilts for everyone but herself.) Available during too-infrequent visits to Nanticoke, it stitches a mighty fine line for those of us whose sturdy machines don't particularly care for applique.

I'm envisioning a summer quilt with a crazy-quilted sun-of-scraps in the center (shades of red, yellow, and orange) and a border with room for illustrative applique. I think parts of the border will be made of twining vines, berry brambles, and branches, but I need some ideas of what to put inside the border. So far, I'm thinking of an odd assortment of long-limbed rabbits, squirrels, maybe a fox....? Color shades....?
I'm also quite sure that my visions are overreaching my talent.

So what should live in the border of our summer quilt?
Share your whimsy.


[I've] read plenty of blogs like that, complete with lists of how many loads of laundry were completed, and just exactly how the family car broke down. Then there are blogs that have a different purpose. The writer has an agenda beyond recording their day. They want their readers to be changed, to learn, to be sanctified. There is, in short, an important teaching element. And of course, there are blogs that seek to teach through telling us about the laundry and the car.

A squib has precious little overlap with the first definition, and rather much with the second. That is, it is not my habit to tell folks what I had for breakfast.

I quote R.C. Sproul, Jr., who spilled a bowl of blogging worms with his squib's conclusions regarding women whose co-ed blogs are devoted chiefly to theological matters. I accidentally stumbled into the furor of response through haphazard hopping, but to regular readers of certain blogs, this is stale news.

However stale, in honor of the above quoted snippet, I offer this.

1. I did two loads of laundry
2. My neighbor told me our car may have a gas leak
3. I had some 10-grain cereal for breakfast

1. I hope to do no laundry
2. I am hopeful of our car's health, but I forgot to tell John about the possible leak
3. I did not eat breakfast, but the girls had scrambled eggs with sharp cheddar & buttered toast

I am involved in important teaching here, people!
Perk those ears! Change! Learn! Be sanctified!

(Do not fear, gentle reader(s), that I will engage myself in the violent fray. My blog may well continue to its dismal end with a dismaying lack of substance and filled with lists of laundry scrubbed, food chewed, and snapshots shot.)



A rare visitor due to his aversion to cameras, here's a repost of an old John picture, but this time in black and white. May it serve as a good example to Mr. and Mrs. Newman. (Don't worry, Rebecca, I know hoarding that picture on your refrigerator is not your doing...) Posted by Hello

it's all sun and games here, but millie longs for puddles. (and, to squeal on her, she's wearing only skivvies under the raincoat and misplaced rubbers.) Posted by Hello

here is her latest creation--an excellent example of her perfect weaving of practicality with aesthetics. Posted by Hello

in addition to creating jewelry, the annika diva has recently discovered her talent for sketching and painting (on anything BUT paper) Posted by Hello

the artist immersed in her genius Posted by Hello

millie was jealous of the camera giving nixie so much attention, and requested--nay, demanded--that i take a picture of us together. (then she pretends she's a horse up for auction...) Posted by Hello

here's a generic one. Posted by Hello

and here's one with all the color sucked out, especially for Rebecca Posted by Hello


For Your Reading Pleasure, Suggested Books

Well, thanks to my occasional lurking around Sora Colvin's blog, I have been reminded of Sigrid Undset and her masterful trilogy of fourteenth century life--Kristin Lavransdatter (for which she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928)--along with four, old, paperback books of her tetralogy of 13th century Norway life, The Master of Hestviken, all of which have been patiently waiting for me on the bookshelf for a few years now. For those of you who never follow my links, here's a biographical snippet from the above Undset one:

In her personal life Undset devoted herself to medieval interests - she restored a house dating from the year 1000 and dressed in the grown of a Norse matron of the Middle Ages. In Lillehammer Undset lived a reclusive life and refused to open the doors of her house to journalists. Undset's emphasis on women's biological nature, and her view that motherhood is the highest duty [to which] a woman can aspire, has been criticized by feminists as reactionary.
Remembering these books, in turn, reminded me of Par Lagerkvist's six works which are their bookshelf neighbors, including his novel Barabbas (for which he won the Nobel prize in 1951). After John introduced me to Lagerkvist, I've read his books twice, and their sparse, almost bleak, beauty is something worth returning to. After my last reading of them, I still hadn't puzzled through all my thoughts, and I would like to have another, probably unsuccessful, try at clarity. (Books such as this can be read for a lifetime and never completely plumbed.)

All this comes, of course, just after John filled my arms with birthday books, which came on the heels of my decision to re-read C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces, which came right after I met the pressing need to mop the floor, which after a few days of honey spills and spaghetti suppers and breakfast juices, is rapidly becoming a pressing need again.

So here I sit, half-buried in books, with letters unpenned and seeds unsown. (Letters will be started today; seeds will be sown when John's semester ends...)

And now the girls are awake, and my time has come to feed, clean, and take a wind-kissed walk to the P.O. (Almost all 30 of the Ebay items are shipped. Hurrah!)

When Hello responds to my "hello's," I'll post a few snapshots.



The girls and I spent the day in a tizzy.
· Doctor's office for still-sick-after-4-weeks Annika
· Social Security office (I decided after 3 1/2 years of marriage that I should spend two hours replacing "Johnson" with "Owen”)
· Pricking Place to get my blood drawn
· P.O. to mail Ebay stuff
· Home to skimp on naps
· Off again to pick up John, then off to Aldi
· Visit to eye doctor to fill out driver's license renewal form
· Looong, blindfolded ride so that John could pick up a birthday present
· Then zipadeedoo on home to unpack
· Zzzzzzzzz

I know that some moms love to ram around every day, but, golly...

I've always loved my TaxbirthDay; it's better than being born on the nondescript 14th or 16th, and it provides a bit of government glamour (tongue stuck to cheek). I was also born on Easter Day, but that skitters around from year to year.

Birthday history: Instead of turning 20 in 1999, I decided in dread and fright to reverse time and became 18 instead. These glorious, Peter Pan celebrations continued until my Sweet 16 birthday party in 2001. I then got married and have partially accepted aging, so it is only weakly that I announce my 12th birthday this year.

I continue to work toward not simply resigning myself to time but celebrating it, trying to develop the good that comes only with age while jointly keeping what adults often discard when focused solely on matters of consequence (like furniture reupholstering and mortgage payments).

Plus, I am a sentimental fool.
The past haunts me. The past quiets me.
By turns, it even comforts me, but it should not be enshrined in a steel-trap mind.

Onward, ho, to birthday #27!

John was gone on my birthday, but he gave me choice gifts the night before, and I enjoyed them in his absence. Gifts aren't better than John, but if he must be gone, they're an acceptable balm.

FOOD & DRINK--dark & light:
· a bar of dark chocolate with a scrap of "Astrophel and Stella" enclosed by the manufacturer
· a glass of Lindeman's framboise

MUSIC--dark, light, & neither:
· Alisdair Robert's newest c.d., composed of darker-toned, traditional songs than Farewell Sorrow is. (There's no "The Whole House is Singing" equivalent on this one.)
· Donovan's greatest hits on vinyl
· Iron + Wine's "Our Endless Numbered Days," also on vinyl

BOOKS of all hues (many thanks to Record Theater’s 70% off section):
- The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, (Joseph Bedier’s edition, translated by Hilaire Belloc and Paul Rosenfield)
- All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (I've never read anything of his, but a lecture I heard about his works piqued my interest.) From the inside jacket cover of All the Pretty Horses:

In the end, seeking a life that in mid-century America no longer exists, John Grady Cole becomes steeped in the sort of wisdom that comes only of belief and loss and excruciating pain. Though Indian bands and horses and cattle are still scattered across the plains, the country itself is bisected by highways and an inevitable future in which all he holds sacred will fade into air. A novel about childhood passing, along with innocence and an American age, this is a grand love story and an education in responsibility and revenge and survival.
- A Cry Like a Bell by Madeleine L’Engle, a collection of sometimes stark poetry on "human struggle and God’s grace” shaped around Biblical stories
- The O. Henry Prize Stories: I’ve loved O. Henry since buying an antique set of his complete works when I was about 14 or so for the (then) staggeringly large sum of $20.00. I spent all summer reading them while basking in the sun. This collection is comprised of the 2003 winners of the O. Henry prize.
- The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, a book I’ve never heard of but which seems to hold great promise (not to stake all on a jacket blurb, but... "...into that world comes Tristan Smith, a malformed, heroically willful, and unforgivingly observant child. Tristan's life includes adventure and loss, political intrigue, and a bizarre stardom in the Voorstand Sirkus, where animals talk and human performers die real deaths. The result is a visionary picaresque, staggering in its inventions, spellbinding in its suspense, and unabashedly moving.")
- The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett, which will undoubtedly be delightful

The unexpectedness of gifts is what I like best, particularly of books that I never knew existed or whose existence I'd forgotten.
John gets a whole line of shiny, silver stars for this year’s pile of gifts.
His perfect and seamless friendship, though, takes the cake.





Posted by Hello

HEY,  Posted by Hello

YOU Posted by Hello

PEEK Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

BOO Posted by Hello



The audible backdrop to these bony letters is the nearby weeping of a mourning dove. If you lack real, live musical mourning, go here and click on the sound link for some of your own. And if you are, as I, displaced from an area in which crows keep up a constant, croaking barrage in every hayfield, then click here for 20 seconds of nostalgic, raspier-toned song. If neither of those strikes your fancy, travel here to choose from a wonderful lot of feathered friends. (I rather liked the Masked Booby, myself. The female just laughs and laughs at the whistling male trying to show rude appreciation.)

These sights and sounds appear courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Their payment for hours of compilation? A fleeting mention on a barely-there blog. (Sags, you can thank them properly for me--perhaps with a home-heated meal...)

And what I planned to write, before the dove opened its beak, starts NOW.

Huh. I forgot it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Several hours have passed; Millie is at her desk (a garbage-picker's dream) with markers spread out before her. I just overheard her reading aloud as she wrote. She said, "Dear Abbydail, I hope you feel better soon, Abbydail." I'm almost over this burdock of a cold, but I guess she thinks I need a little pick-me-up. (And no, she doesn't call me by my first name, but lately she's fascinated by her discovery that John and I have names other than "Mommy" and "Daddy."

Telemarketers are such a nuisance. (One just called.) John's most recent remedy for our pest problem is to put Millie on the phone. After a few minutes of her intermittent chatter and "um's," most of them give up. (Feel free to steal his idea. We'll loan Millie out at peak hours for a nominal fee.)___________________________________________________________________

Today is my laidback, super-talented brother Luke's birthday. He's probably intelligently avoiding schoolwork right now--a boy after my heart of the distant past. If you're reading this, Luke, "Happy Birthday!" I'm going to call you RIGHT NOW!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Luke's changed a lot since we last talked. His voice sounds eerily like an answering machine. So what did I just send him for his birthday? A free invitation to join the g-mail team. It was the lamest gift I could come up with on such short notice; trust me, if I'd started thinking about a gift earlier, I could have given him something much more lame. _________________________________________________________________

A few hours ago, I finished the last of the clothes-sorting marathon. Mountainous heaps jutted forth from every space. Life in a one-bedroom apartment is generally lovely, except when two girls are determined to muss up newly tidied piles, and no room exists into which I can temporarily shipwreck them.

Those piles were a nuisance, but today I was struck afresh by God's bountiful provision. Last fall, John's boss gave us 2 big bags of her granddaughter’s old clothes for Millie. I'd had hardly any warm clothes for her, and no spring and summer clothes for this year, but now Millie's drawers are plump with both! (Adding extra plump are some beautiful outfits recently purchased by Grandma Owen and some lovely, handcrafted items from my mom.)

Our apartment is filled with virtues. For one, its small size, with little room for hiding away things, makes the glut of material wealth we enjoy too apparent to ever ignore. It also underscores the need for a simple lifestyle, especially if God gives us a dozen more children to fill in space, as we hope He does. Wherever we live, John and I will probably always have too many books (if there can even be such a thing), but serious weeding out of other belongings is in order before our next move. (If only for less cluttered minds when we arrive at wherever the new place will be!)

May we be as grateful for God's goodness in sparse times as we are in times of great plenty.



A wreck can be deserted
And a fire can be doused.
A flood can be diverted
And the homeless can be housed.
For almost all disasters
There is something you can do,
But no one ever masters
Warding off the deadly two.
You cannot stop their grand assault
With arrows, swords, or axes.
No, nothing in this world can halt
The curse of death and taxes.

(Many thanks to Sergio Aragones, his silly disaster Groo, and attending fellows for the fitting poem.)

This morning I filed for four month extensions on both the federal and state income tax forms. WAHOO! This year's will be the first birthday in three that I haven't spent frantically double-checking numbers before the post office closed. Last year, I didn't do taxes before Annika's Fool-ish birth, and then was understandably distracted the next two weeks--until the 13th or 14th of the month, that is. Before you shake your heads in disgust at my laziness, let me assure you that THIS year, I have already filled out both forms and am only waiting on a paper coming in the mail that has to be attached to the 1040. Ha! And all of you thought I was a procrastinator....

This year, with crinkled eyes and a crooked grin, I will celebrate the 15th correctly again.

Millie and I are two billy girls glum, eying the sublime weather through the window while Annika sleeps. We'll venture out in between clothes-washing and summer-clothes-sorting and last-minute-checking of Ebay questions, though. I was thoughtless enough to put 30-odd items up for auction at one time, and potential buyers are already pestering me. "Last minute" because John will arrive home shortly and then leave even more shortly for his and the computer's weekly overnighter. (Only one more month until school is put on the shelf and Friday nights become pizza nights again! Be on the lookout for a delicious pizza recipe.)

I always have such grand plans for Friday nights. After the girls skip off to Slumberland, I eagerly plan to sketch and write and sing and play guitar and read. More often than not, though, by the time dishes are done and the house put in halfhearted order, I don't have the energy to do more than read. Tonight I want to begin Till We Have Faces again. It's one of my books for life, and it's about time for another reading.

Tonight's night is the exception. My crazy-cool sister-in-law Sarah and equally such brother Pete mailed up a glorious package last week. Included with all the other delights were songsheets for the guitar, a 12-pack of watercolor tubes, and a big, beautiful pad of quality watercolor paper. She also e-mailed me a link to Gillian Welch guitar chords. HURRAH! So tonight will be different; I eagerly plan to sketch and write and sing and play guitar and read. (Wait a second....that sounds familiar.)

Oh, and soon enough, seed sowing will commence! With the feverish blogging of garden adventures a certain Nantichokian has done, I'm beginning to feel like I'm behind the eight ball! (Threats of frost still loom large in Depew, but I am raring to go, Scott!)





AND MORE Posted by Hello


POPCORN. Posted by Hello