Not Quite Needful, but Worth Your While

Because you all crave distractions, I've thoughtfully posted two proven techniques to build your belly.

Oh, and, if you're going to cut paper, at least make it breathtakingly beautiful.

I just sporadically posted a million pictures. Click on September archives to see them all. And would you believe that I didn't even post pictures of our September Easter egg hunt yet? Those are next on the dock.

"With You, It's Always Feast or Famine," She Says.


As a stay-at-homer, I'm privy to all of their circular conversations...

Millie, speaking with the bartering tones of a gypsy: Annie, if you give me twenty-one packs of bubblegum, I'll give you a piece of gold.

Annika: Um. Otay. 'Ere is dum bubbledum. (Extends a fist clenching 21 packs of invisible gum.)

Millie: No, Annika, I mean real gum when you can grow up and buy some. Then I'll give you a piece of gold.

Annika: Oh! 'Ere is da bubbledum onna floor! (Points to 21 packs of invisible gum stacked on the rug.)

Suffice it to say, Millie didn't make the trade.

Annie: Winter iz 'ere. Winter will be tummin' soon.

Millie: Yes, child, in several more years.

Backdrop: I helped Annika into heart jammies that Mildred has outgrown.

Millie: I want my heart jammies.
Me: They are too small for you now.
Millie: Yeeeeah, because I am sooooooo FAT! (Declared with much emphasis in grinning pride.) My feet are even bigger than Tandida's!

While in the bedroom, I hear Annika slip and clunk in the tub. (She was supposed to be using the bathroom.)

Annie, comes whimpering to me: I fell inna bathtub.
Me: What were you doing in the bathtub?
Annie: Um. Fallin' inna bathtub...

While at my mom's, Debbie was doing math homework while Millie sat beside her. Debbie was reading the problems out loud.

Millie: Firty feet? Whoah! Firty feet is a lot of feet! If an octopus had firty feet he would be taller than a tree.

Hopefully Debbie didn't write that answer down on her paper. (That would be cheating.)

Overheard a few days ago...

Millie: No, our mother is dead. We can make blueberry lime sandwiches now because our mother is dead. (Then explaining to attentive Annika.) Our mother said we were big enough to make them.........(a thinking pause).........
back when she was almost dead.


And, lastly, the latest surefire way to know that the Nixie is engaging in a filthy habit. Out of the blue, sometimes even coming in from another room, she will seriously announce to me, "Me not pickin' my nose, Mama. Me not pickin' my nose."

If only we were all so unknowingly forthright about our vices.



good measure. (If you look at the war zone debris surrounding these sweeties, you'll know that the picture was taken on I Hate Switching Summer Clothes to Winter Clothes Day.)

Needful Things

Autumn fills me like a bellows.
It swells my chest and threatens to burst the seams.
Seething with tumult and tumble, it paradoxically stills me within.

Its bright days couple with lengthening nights and shadows, deepening the landscape for winter while at the same time setting it aflame. It pulls at all the senses and catches my throat. A season without peer, a jumble of dark and light, knowledge and abandon, the embodiment of life before death before life.

Even autumn storms have a distinct voice. Last night, sitting on the floor with my legs curled under me, I heard notes of exultant rage in the thunder and pelting rain. Raging against the dying of the light.

My heart heavy with an unsharable care, the girls and I set aside our Wednesday afternoon to walk in the Big Woods. My town girls need to dip their toes in country every so often so that it's not a stranger when we eventually move, John left us the van expressly so that we could have an adventure, and Wednesday was a beauty.

The girls took delight in opening milkweed pods and orchestrating miniature explosions of touch-me-nots. They picked wild asters and goldenrod and stuffed my back pockets full of brittle leaves. We walked along the old logging trail, which ends quickly, and then bushwacked our way through rust, green, and gold toward the ravine and beaver dam. Moody, napless Annika was sure that every root, twig, and pricker assaulted her with a personal vengeance. Her muster expired about 45 minutes later, so, barely into the woods and still far from the dam, we headed homeward through a hayfield rife with crickets, who, staring in the face of impending doom, still sang steadily and leapt around our footfalls. Countless crows rose as one, like a blanket being shaken, and their harsh, raspy cries drowned out all else for that moment.

Even with the walk ending before the intended destination, we four took in much good, and heady with warm sun and sharp gusts, we walked back to the house through dry timothy grass, past sumac now decidedly scarlet, by gnarly crabapple trees and the future homesite, to be greeted by four loads of clean laundry (that had been dirty when we'd left) and to eat chili and cornbread.

What a mom I've got.

This is what met me when we pulled in the driveway at my mom's. Over the phone, she'd asked me if I wanted a few more tomatoes to can, and I said yes. Silly me.

After our walk (I know, the pictures are out of order), we went up Mount Hunger to visit my sister-in-law Wendy and Aponi, Ethan, Jacy, and Dakota, tuzzins whom the girls have not seen in some time. They have a glorious yard, but the trampoline blinded the girls to anything else.

She looks bored, huh. But look how many boots we gave her to chew on!

Dakota showed them his trick jump. One- hop on one foot. Two- throw your body down. Three- jump up to applause.

Ethan and Dakota and a Pixie's head.



Before we left Wendy's, the girls saw that Unka Scott's cows had been put out to pasture.

So we went to visit them.

Bird and Mama on Cow.

Curious Jerseys.

Mopsy's hydrangeas. She urged me to clip some for me and Becky to dry, so I did.

When we went to Nanticoke, who should greet us but good ol' Patch! The man who was supposed to pick him up two weeks ago called and said he couldn't make it until today, so we got to see him again while he munched grass. He's filled out so much just in the past month, and I was glad the girls got a chance to ride him before he left.

She was content with Grandma.

But Millie got to ride (i.e. sit while he munched).

So Annika joined her.

removing burdocks.

Happy as clams on that swayed back.

Loath to leave.


Even Susannah got a turn.

Huckleberry and a ragamuffin.


We showed Millie the joys of milkweed on the way to the woods.

And on the way home, their siren song lured her again.

I caught Mopsy making a makeshift halter out of balertwine for Apache to wear when he leaves (that way, a good one isn't irretrievably lost).

Debbie didn't go with us due to an ankle she sprained in a soccer game the night before, but she did help us find plump, touch-me-not pods (which we, of course, touched).

I had to empty out so many smushed things from my pockets at the end of the walk, including asters.

Although Millie shows great, leaping enthusiasm, it took us forever to make it through this field. Once we reached the tall grass, the girls kept falling asleep in their "haybeds."



Finally, almost nearing the entrance to the old logging trail.




Almost as good as Apache.


Not sleepy but very refreshed in spirit.

Sleepy. The steady, soft noises in woods work better as 'white noise' than a fan at home.


Our friend Winnie Finbar came to visit this past Friday and left on Monday, reeking of garlic. Winnie is a member of the Niagara Reformed Presbyterian Church, of which we were members while in Buffalo, and she's the one who first filled our heads with visions of the great Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. Her husband Dave, who died several months after we became members, took her there about five years ago, and they regaled us with its wonders. So, long story short, we invited her to join us in attendence this year, along with Pastor Jones and his wife Mitzi, good people all.

Thousands of people were there, milling around too many booths to visit in one day, all eating garlic or garlic-infused foods. I'm sure that even the zydeco band, bluegrass pluckers, and puppet show masters were garlic-related in some way.

We had a wonderful time.

John took this picture of Winnie and me with Millie and Annika as we left the garlic festival. In backwards form, I post it first.

John on the midway, overloaded with girls.

John took this picture of the Bird. She's edible.

This is my beloved. He loves me and garlic, too.

This was funny. There was a booth with beautiful, hand-made, wooden furniture, and people filled nearly every seat with hands dripping grease, despite these polite signs.

The best part of the garlic festival, and the activity at which we spent nearly all our time, was eating the free samples. Free samples of dozens of varieties of raw garlic slices, vegetable dips and sauces, pretzel dips, barbeque sauces, vinegars, flavored oils, cheeses, and did I mention the raw garlic slices? We discovered that Annika loves raw garlic, even though after each bite, she puckers her mouth and says, "Dis make my teeth spicy..." before asking for more.