This Footstep's Crunch is Not from Leaves

Here's a new post to inform anyone checking for a new post that I won't post a new post (apart from this new post to inform about new posts) until next week. Wot?

John the computer-napper is due for a strike in about 20 minutes, and the house will be laptop-free for most of the weekend.

Pressing news of Depew?
I don't know if I've told Blogdom, but our apartment building has been for sale for several months now. The realtor called yesterday to let me know that he'd like to drop by for tea again tomorrow afternoon. Yep, you all know what that means.

I must squeech and squish the kitchen floor to unveil its blinding glory and scrub the tub until I faint from fumes.

Sigh. Hope you all enjoy your weekend. The girls and I will spend tomorrow morning cleaning before skipping off down the street to hide from the realtor and potential buyer. (The realtor seems like a nice man and has never been anything but graciously polite, but when he and The Potential Buyer walk into the bedroom, I always feel like I should defend the rightness of four of us- with attendant books and much stuff- living in this smallish space.)

We're happy! We're a family! By gum, we like this little apartment!
And, yes, I'm pregnant! What's it to you?!

I never have the nerve to even stay in the house, though.
So much for that.


X Marks the Spot.

Tuesday was beautiful-- the cream of fall's crop. It gave us leaves to crunch through, late blooming flowers to pick, bright sun, and rough wind. Fall is the life for me; living seems larger when it's laced through with warmth and chill, an errant wind, and the flurry of red and orange.

Tuesday afternoon, the girls and I took our should-be-daily walk, heading for the cemetery for the first time in months. The cemetery is one of my favorite places within a reasonable walking distance, partly because it holds quiet and privacy, along with birdsong, night-flitting bats, and, now that fall is here, an absence of mosquitoes. More than these, I love cemeteries for the same reasons that most cemetery seekers do, I guess. Drawn to an interaction with the past, with memories and emotions-- ours or another's-- the visual reminder of human frailty and loss, the hope of Life, and all other reasons (not the least of which is searching out interesting names).

When I walk alone, I visit a few favorite graves before heading up the hillside to the far back corner of the grounds. Here lie the headstones, some makeshift, of newborns and infants. A large rock with black paint scrawling out spidery letters of loss; a cross fashioned from metal bars of a crib base, festooned with a teething ring faded and worn by time, wind, and weather; bright toys for a baby who only lived a few days; painted, jolly pumpkins to mark the season; flowers fake and faded, fresh and living. The tokens, whether costly or tawdry, express the exact same thing. After, I like to walk past this into a woodsy area on the hill that is filled with older graves and heavy with quiet before heading homeward.

When the girls are with me, we tread roughly the same route, only with the spontaneous weaving in and out of headstones, the running up the hill and down again, and the stream of questions. This is the first time that Millie hasn't been entirely satisfied with easy answers, and, in her stage of incessant questioning, she struggled to understand the difference between body and soul, and why it was that people's heads weren't still alive even though the stones were called "headstones."

Ten minutes after we arrived home, I discovered Ignatz's stiff body and ran through my helpless answers all over again. Millie's too young to understand death, and I don't know how much I understand of it myself sometimes; I think part of her expects to see Ignatz running through the garden next spring, sprouted anew from the dirt in which John placed him. I am grateful that she's young enough to be resilient, but I'm much more glad that she's not yet faced a loss greater than that of a squeaking mouse. When that time does inevitably come, may she have the true hope that the one she's lost will rise again, sprouted anew from the ground of which God fashioned man.

With its latter place in the cycle of endings and beginnings, fall is the best of times for cemetery visits, and the victory of our Lord over Death and its sting seems that much more palpable.

Fall is also a good time to replace mice.

Seven Snaps for the Fairy Godmother...

In a high state of excitement, Millie and Annika opened a package from Grandma Owen. Costumes! Hasty stripping of normalcy and hastier donning of faerie ensued, and John was met by two gauzy girls when he arrived home from work. Thank goodness the day was abnormally warm, otherwise all this delight would have strained the limits of our apartment. Thank you!

Same old dimples, wings and all.

A brief lull in Millie's madcapping.

Has anyone else tried to take pictures of a girl as she streaks around exclaiming, "I'm a wild, wild fairy!"

She wanted our neighbor's dandelion puffs so badly.

I tell you, she was flying just before my camara distracted her earthward.

Annika wisely chose to mow the lawn (being a technologically-friendly faerie).

And Millie finally took a split-second rest.


Hullo from Mexico! (Wish you were here...)

The day of our four-year mark was almost entirely dull. John went to work, came home for a few minutes, then left for school to do work before his class, which ends at quarter of ten.

A day entirely dull, except for the command he gave in the few afternoon minutes that we spent together- "Gather our birth certificates together and get warm outfits ready for the girls for tomorrow...."

I'd never been to Mexico before and was sizzling with excitement! What a surprise!

The second surprise was that when we left on Friday morning, we went to Canada instead of Mexico. The third surprise of a day packed with many was our first stop. MARINELAND! MarineLand is an aquarium and theme park in Ontario, and, according to their theme song, "Everyone loves MarineLand." And we did! Even a chilling rain that soaked our bones couldn't snuff out the sizzle, tho' it did turn the girls' lips blue. A classmate of John's (a certain sister-in-law of a certain shotsnaps reader) had given him four free tickets a few weeks ago, and he kept mum about them until we drove into the parking lot. Wahoo! Thanks to the rain, we were the only people on most of the rides, the only people in a deer park with well over a hundred European fallow deer, and the whales were ours and ours alone! This was my, Millie's, and Annie's first visit to an aquarium, and we gaped at the whales-- my favorite part-- while John grinned.

I have mixed feelings on animals kept for paying humans to gawk at, but, even so, I'm glad they're there for us to gawk at. I valued the chance to see our Creator's limitless creativity in the works of His hands, with all of their grace, strength, and humorous quirks. (I couldn't stop laughing at the racks balanced on the head of some smaller Red deer who seemed barely big enough to hold them).

After we finished, we gave away the remaining two free tickets and drove to Toronto. We walked city streets and visited The Beguiling (best comics shop), The Bakka-Phoenix (Canada's oldest science fiction bookstore), Honest Ed's(the strangest and largest department store known to man), and a little deli (to buy a hearty pastry) before the dark ride homeward, punctuated by a break to fill the rumbles in our bellies. And the best part of the day? Spending it with the most beloved of beloveds, of course.

All in all, it was the most outrageous celebration of our anniversary yet. There's no way John can top this one.....until he drives us to Mexico next year.

John and Millie on their rocket ship. Annie and I were right behind. We could use the joystick controls to skim the tree tops.

Now Where's Little John Gone with His New Gun...?

We were the only people in this massive space. The deer were pleasingly skittish, as they should be.

They kept leaping away from Millie (small wonder, that), but she managed to graze this one before loudly exclaiming her triumph.


There are Only Three Types of Black Bear...

The first type are real bears who scorn the weakling bears in the other categories. These bears are foraging for fresh meat, hoping against all hope that some stupid tourist falls into their territory.

Wistful bears, sitting on the sidelines and wishing they had the gumption to do what the third category does...

The third type holds just one member-- one very greedy, well-endowed bear who plunged neck-deep in water to scoop up the peanut-sized snacks people threw in.

The dophins were so cool, and they're not a bit blurry in real life.

Millie is now much enamoured with sea lions.

Beluga whale below. They are some of the most interesting creatures I've ever seen. They glide through the water, constantly grinning and more often than not curving over to swim on their backs. Their lumpy bodies (compared to streamlined killer whales) belie assumptions. They move with an easy and languid grace through the water and exhude peacefulness. (Of course, no predators to worry about here...) More than anything else, they just seem to be enjoying themselves immensely.

Killer whale above. We were allowed to pet them if they swam near enough.

Killer whale below. They were sleekly beautiful. Black and white slicing through water.

Friends of the Sea and Terrors of the Sea. Who decides which is which?

This picture flatters falsely. I don't look this slim.

Who can pick out Ignatz Mouse in the comic shop window?

We saw this immediately after entering Honest Ed's. They sold a pot big enough to stew a pregnant lady. Honest. It was big.

Mr. T or Honest Ed? Who'd win in a fair fight?

So he says... (the store was covered- inside and out- with silly slogans like this one)


Four Years Ago, In the Autumn Mid-morning...

We whistled while we worked,

made mouth-wiping look like the cover of a romance novel,

squeezed the stuffing,

and gaped like mannequins.

Here's hopin' the next four bring more of the same,
along with heaping portions of key lime pie.


Scattered Thoughts Begin with Baby

I had to have an ultrasound last Wednesday. Our Blueberry Baby was hunkered down, curled up, and drowsy, but we roused him (or her) enough for us to see his (or her) sweet, little profile.

View Two: a face shot of Baby Apple Berry, all decked out for Hallowe'en.

..........The Stark Raving Mad Mouse .................. ..........(or Ignatz the Brave's Escape)..........

Our Mouse has gone batty. (But at least he's keeping within mammalian lines.) He thinks he's the Great Mousini, Escape Artist.

This morning, John roused me from a sound sleep with a "HEY! COME HERE!" I hey'd; I came here'd, and I saw John crouched next to the bookshelf, trying to coax Ignatz out of hiding.

After John left, Mouse escaped no fewer than 6 times (4 times from his cage and 2 times from an exercise ball designed expressly to enclose mice). After the last escape, during which he roamed the apartment unseen for about half an hour, I put him in the bathtub.

For those who've never set foot in our apartment, let it be known that it is very, very small and very, very stuffed. If he hadn't been foolish enough to lounge nonchalantly outside the bathroom door, he could have roamed for years without us finding him.

Before John left, he told Ignatz that he'd banish him outside if he escaped one more time. Well, he escaped 6 times, so I suppose he didn't exactly disobey. Still....

Great Mousini here... Must be quick. I've just escaped from the bathtub. Someone- ANYONE- rescue me! Gone mad...pshaw! She "neglected" to mention that my cage is only cleaned sporadically, water and food are less fresh than fresh, and two little girls leer into my cage and giggle, "Mouse! Hee, Hee! Mouse!" I've had it. Up to here! If none of you are plucky enough to save my skin, at least hope with me that I be banished outdoors. Oh, glorious freedom!

For you, Pete. I've been meaning to mail this for months, but I only recently uncovered it again. To you, Polish heritage, and Sunday afternoon polka music.

In Millie's words, "I made Anka into a sandwich, Mom!" Apparently, the Nixie likes her new look.

Millie loves this boulder. She's feeling the names of men from our area who died in The World War. (It was erected before the Second World War was smoke on the horizon.)

John's been teaching Millie chess in hopes that someday she'll do what I won't (that is, to play him without knocking pieces over in frustration).

After successfully setting up the whites, she moves on to the blacks.

Of Pears, Covetousness, and Crack Cocaine

I suppose "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's pear tree" is included in the "...or anything that is thy neighbor's," huh.

Down the street, next to a rather disheveled apartment building and smack dab next to the sidewalk, is a beautiful pear tree loaded down with almost perfectly ripe pears. The girls and I take one or two each from the ground and sidewalk each time we walk past. Lately, I've become brassy enough to take mine from lower-hanging branches. I've seen no one outside the building lately, or I'd ask permission to pick a few bushels, but I'm not yet brassy enough to knock on one of the doors to do the same.

Time's a'wastin'. I fantasize about dressing in black and climbing the tree at two in the morning to lighten its load, but I won't do it. Permission, permission, I need permission.

Any advice? (And don't dare call me coward for not knocking on an apartment door. I'm a sensitive soul, is all....)

p.s. An apartment a few houses down from ours was the scene for a drug bust a week ago. Crack cocaine and marijuana! This bit of misleading news makes our neighborhood sound far more exciting than it really is, though. It's a nice street in a nice town, and, usually, trains passing and pears ripening are the most noteworthy news to share.

Pear tree today (I could just pretend I was getting the blue streamer out of the tree if they found me in the middle of the night)

Too much information....

When I asked Millie what she'd like for lunch today, she replied, "A snake. A whole one."

The current heat wave allows me to wear tank tops! Today Millie poked my arm and asked (in all sincerity), "What's that fat spot, Mom?"

"That what?" I responded, only to have her repeat, "What's that fat spot?"

When I burst into uncontrollable laughter, she joined in, even though she didn't know what was so funny. (I don't look quite as chubby in the elongated shadow shot, but trust me, there are fat spots!)

RIght after a raid at dusk...

leaf in midair

True Indian Summer.

One Last Thing.

I've posted cream puff and eclair recipes on BuildaBelly, per Rebecca's request. (Remember, you're munching for two.) UPDATE: I just modified the chocolate frosting recipe so it doesn't need to be doubled and added a new cream filling recipe for eclairs.

And, Titi, I picked most of my basil and made a few batches of pesto. Then I mindlessly raved about it to my mom. (This was my test year planting basil, so I only planted one bunch. Next year, I'd like to have bunches upon bunches, in part thanks to the deliciousness of pesto.)