Organist Uncut.

John showed me this very cool site. The artwork makes my brain whirl. I can't imagine the mathematics that goes into each creation, and I'd rather not! My older sister is the math whiz, not me.

Our garden grows, as gardens are wont to do. A pair of scissors, some borrowed rocks from the riverbed, and one box of Aldi black plastic garbage bags fulfil the same basic role as the pricier garden plastic, as I discovered last year. I laid most of the black plastic yesterday and put up some of the tomato cages. Last year, I didn't use cages and tried to stake the tomatoes instead. The sturdy stakes were too expensive, though, and the flimsy ones I used didn't help a bit! Many tomatoes suffered from resting on damp ground with no sunlight, but this year, I anticipate fewer rotting tomatoes. Serves me right for being such a cheapskate. (Thanks for the loan of some cages, Mopsy and Popsy.)

On Saturday, we attended a delightful wedding and watched our friends Fred and Elizabeth clasp hands and covenant with one another in the eyes of God and man. She is a talented artist and a kind person, and he is a talented musician and composer who is also a kind person. They complement each other well, and it is good to know they are a joined force until death parts.

They love Trekkies. Several months ago, we gave them Trekkies 2 to celebrate their engagement, and they plan to watch it at our home this Thursday night.

Their costume party wedding reception spilled over with pirates, astronauts, fur traders, peacocks, washing machines, robots, flappers, and more, most fashioned from scraps of cloth, cardboard, and color. It began at 6 o'clock in the evening, and we didn't leave until 11 o'clock at night. By that time, the Nixie had lost interest in the lights and sound, although Millie was still twirling to the tune-- a perfect blend of background melody and fitful bursts from her own high-pitched harmonica.

Today as I was dumping out the diaper pail water into the toilet (after removing the diapers, of course), Millie frantically said, "Oh, JACY'S in there!" Apparently, Jacy (her favorite invisible friend who also happens to be her rarely seen cousin) had been using the bathroom, and I knocked her into the toilet bowl with a waterfall of diaper water. Before you call Social Services to ask them to stick their Pinnochio noses into my bathroom, let me defend myself by stating once again that Jacy is invisible. Plus, I fished her out immediately for a rinse in the tub. (I love kites, whether or not Pinnochio.)

Ebay is a strange and wonderful place. I rarely buy anything, but where else could I possibly make money on things that most garage-salers would only sniff at? Our latest Ebay feats? A memory card we found in a ten cent box at a rummage sale sold for $18.00, and a pile of Needlecraft for Today back issues found at a library book sale fetched us enough to pay for the 5 bags of books we bought. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Three cheers for Ebay bidders! May they live long with abundant money burning holes in their pockets. (And may we find a place for our stacks of books....)

This Friday we leave for our Dear Family Vacation. We'll visit my family (and our friends Scott & Leah and Matt & Rebecca) in Nanticoke before travelling to Scranton to visit with Brother Pete & Sarah and for John (& Pete, probably) to attend the annual synod of our church denomination, which is held near Scranton this year. Then we're off to Speonk, Long Island, to spend time with John's family (and to see the ocean!). I'm looking forward to seeing all of these wonderful kin, especially because we don't get to see any of them nearly as much as we'd like.

Oh, yes, a baby grows within me. Please pray that God gives the wee one health and growth in the right place and join us in praise of the Creator who has knit a new life!

p.s. I'm due in the middle of February, close to my brother Pete's February 15th birthday.

The fire hall with a heaven of hearts. Posted by Hello

Some of our costumed friends. The robot and the Fried Chicken Princess are getting married in August. Posted by Hello

Closeup of Jared and his light-up costume Posted by Hello

The Nixie Pixie. What a belly! Posted by Hello

Millie Cowboy at the candy table. Filled with glee and sugar all evening long. Posted by Hello

Why do I mourn? Read John's t-shirt... Posted by Hello

Life is not fair. Posted by Hello

I haven't seen pants this tight around the ankles since I was in grade school--stone washed, no less. Dave said that it took him several minutes to take them off after he tried them on at the thrift store. He thought he was stuck. Posted by Hello

Millie LOVES Elizabeth and was fascinated with her gown. Whenever Elizabeth walked by, Millie would touch it, but this time, Elizabeth paused to say hullo to her and suffered the consequences. Posted by Hello

I told Millie to pick up her library books so I could vacuum. A few minutes later, I walked into the living room, and this precarious stack of borrowed books greeted me. Posted by Hello

Annie had a rash that I thought was due to heat, hence the wet towel. She still has remnants of it, though, so I don't think it was heat-related. Posted by Hello

She loved it, and kept it draped somewhere on her body for at least an hour. Posted by Hello

She must have been dehydrated, too. Posted by Hello

I've recently helped Millie discover the joys of tree-climbing (tree-sitting, rather) Posted by Hello

Millie in her perch. Posted by Hello

We are bordered on either side by train tracks, and when Millie and I are outside and hear a choo! choo!, we run down to the track to watch the train roll on by. This time, though, we ran to the track to realize that the train was passing by on the other track. Oops. Posted by Hello

Plentiful flowers next to the tracks Posted by Hello

Millie really wants to be a tomato. Posted by Hello


Recycled All.

Buckets of rain,
Buckets of tears,
Got all them buckets comin' out of my ears.
Buckets of moonbeams in my hand...

(Well, he got the buckets of rain part right, but I'm still waitin' on the moonbeams.)

I listened to Bob Dylan's music pretty consistently my junior year of college. I was only an occasional e-mailer, but I sent John this journal scrap via email one day:

th' fancied hair, th' beer-man's lair, th' frowner's stare, th' electric glare of tangerine lights on desperate nights when all y' need is a little fresh air....
and just one leftover cowboy from a lost time.

And people say the music they listen to doesn't influence them....pfffft.
As anyone can deduce, that particular night the cowboy's life called, and I longed for the engulfing darkness of a country night. (Houghton was beautiful country, but even if you walked until your legs ached, you couldn't escape the orange umbrella of distant college lights.)

Back to rain...
God has given our garden the ideal weather the past week-- not the most pleasant for heat-sensitive humans, but ideal for plants. I've never seen green shoot up so fast. Three and a half days after sowing seeds, all the beans, yellow squash, zucchini, and pumpkins have not only poked their wee heads out of the ground but many have also tossed their little, seedshell caps and are stretching over three inches high! Now, those of you who coaxed indoor seedlings during snowfall and those who sowed seed a month ago may not be impressed by three inch heights, but remember, this occurred in three and a half days!
I've looked at the plants several times already today, almost heady with their growth.

A 2' x 2' section of sweet peppers is also home to Ant Suburbia. They've erected at least eleven neat, tidy, identical homes in the last few days. I suppose John felled their skyscraper when he tilled, and now they dutifully work from scratch.

Well, I've nothing to write, I just needed to drain some excitement over this gift of green and growing in order to unwind enough for a walk to Morpheus. (And here's a version for all you hipsters-- all two of you...)

Give thanks to the Giver of rain and heat and sweet, sound sleep.


And all manner of things shall be well...

...when this hot wind returns to the desert and my husband returns to his home.

The girls are in bed, sleeping away the ill effects of a harrowing ride home. To be honest, though, a normal driver my age with a decent amount of self-sufficiency wouldn't have even blinked. I had to drive home in unfamiliar territory after dropping John off at the airport. I weaved my way across two lanes, cut off others (even with a police car to my right), all to remedy my nearly disastrous wrong turn onto a foreign highway, and all the while holding my breath until my face turned purple. To some, this all would have been laughably easy, but I felt more like Psyche facing impossible tasks. (This analogy is due to the fact that I just finished Til We Have Faces a few weeks ago, and Psyche's plight is fresh in my mind.) Anyway, we're safe at home, and all of the car's fluid has leaked out, and we will let it sit until John returns home on Sunday night.

Til We Have Faces
remains a favorite. Lewis uses language sparingly, and the beauty of the writing in this book is one reason why I hold it so close (the story itself is the other). Here's my blog, spilling over with excessive vocabulary, praising the power of sparse words in Til We Have Faces. Humph.

The temperature here is oppressive. (And likely is there, there, and there, too.) I am heavy with heat. Last night, a spectacular thunderstorm arrived, the first of our spring. Its rumbling song and finger flashes, along with the steady sound of rain, more than made up for my skin's stickiness. A balm. Nothing more need be said.

Our vegetable hopes are finally in the dirt. John tilled, and the next day Millie and I quickly planted. The swiftness with which we were able to finish reveals the size of our garden. At my request, John extended it a few yards this year, but, even so, it barely garners modest size status (See Figure 1 below). The tree in our yard is a blessing, but its ever-reaching roots and great arms limit the area within which we can work. That's okay. I'd rather have the tree than a bare square. We found fistfuls of glass shards and age-eroded, metal mysteries again this year, reaping a mighty harvest for the garbage can's belly. We also found buried treasure (See Fig. 2 below). Millie helped me plant the beans and tomatoes, and she planted her own little plot and some "puppins," to boot (Fig. 3). I want the pumpkins to flourish, but I also don't want them hogging earth belonging to the other plants. We placed them next to the chain link fence in hopes that we can conserve some space through their mountaineering (Fig. 4).

I realized, in the middle, that planting the garden was the first exercise, apart from sissy housework, that I've had in too long to remember. And planting a garden is only light exercise. I miss it, though-- my body sweating because it's accomplishing something, not because of the deadly combination of the couch's orange plaid wool with the rising sun. It will be good someday to have outside tasks again. (On a related note, there sure are a lot of benefits to not owning a scale.)

I love children's books (which doesn't diminish my love of adult books, of course), and every time we go to the library, I pick out ten or so. After sifting through all the dross that somehow gets published, I usually find several books to feast on that I never knew existed. Although they're known to the far reaches, I think Frog and Toad are two creatures who deserve their fame and acclaim, and it's fitting to combine my love of children's books with my newly planted garden. Arnold Lobel, the man who put them on paper, described them this way:

Somehow in the writing of the manuscript for Frog and Toad Are Friends I was, for the first time, able to write about myself. Frog and Toad are really two aspects of myself.
Well, Mr. Lobel, I am Toad, through and through....(See Figures 5 and 6)

A blind woman in a bright orange shirt just walked by my window. Sometimes at college, when I was late for class and the walks were clear of bodies, I would close my eyes and try to navigate confidently in darkness. I walked in darkness but was never truly confident, and within minutes I usually opened my eyes to see where I had wandered. I'm always struck by the confidence that blind people must have in order to walk the streets so swift and sure.

Town living in the heat means that the ice cream truck stops outside our house. We don't buy overpriced, iced treats, but the boy downstairs does. Millie has keen ears for the truck's tune. She always hears its music before we do, and rushes to the window in high excitement. A few days ago, we were eating pizza at one of our downstairs neighbor's apartments, and Millie inexplicably bolted out the door. John ran after her and found her already outside, nearly to the sidewalk, waiting for the truck that had made its way halfway down the street. None of us had heard a thing. (I think all ice cream truck men are relatives of the Pied Piper of Hamlin.)

This obsession with all things ice cream has Millie driving invisible ice cream trucks, handing John, Nixie, and I cones all the livelong day. Let me tell you, it gets a little tiring to lick a dozen invisible cones a day. The past few days, thankfully, she's been giving them to her invisible friends, too, which gives my weary tongue some relief.

Right now, though, she's not driving an ice cream truck. She's flying a plane high in the sky--"My plane is pink, Mom, and yours is blue and Anka's is black." (I suppose mine is blue because I told her John was flying on a Jet Blue plane...)

So I spent the day making birthday cards, hemming pants, watering skin, taking leave of my beloved friend, and tensely journeying through the Wide Unknown to our little apartment. Home again, home again.

And now the girls are up, and it's time to dip them in the tub to wash away heat rash before feeding them macaroni salad. Ah, macaroni.

Beloveds. Posted by Hello

Wild girl with a  Posted by Hello

satisfied mind Posted by Hello

Watching the ice cream man drive by. Posted by Hello

Squeaky clean. Posted by Hello

Figure 2

The treasure. One and a half sky blue marbles. Posted by Hello

Figure 1

finished garden Posted by Hello