Quarterly Disclaimer that No One Cares About but that I Always Need to Give in Order to Feel Honest (Plus, It's My Excuse to Type a Super-long Title)

I feel compelled to again remind viewers that for every snapshot here that shows life all awash with sunshine and roses, there's one I didn't take that features grumps and bumps. (Yes, friend, it was your use of the word "idyllic" in that email I just read!) Not that we don't have a good life-- we do!-- but it looks more idyllic than the reality because I don't impartially take pictures like a photojournalist.

Give Norman Rockwell a week with us, and he just might run screaming for the hills.

That's okay, right? This is a blog, after all, not a shockingly uncensored documentary of the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Weeeell, sometimes the ugly...)

I give you all license to imagine the other half yourselves because, quite often, it's very unflattering to a certain Mama Bear.


With A Handshake

Just minutes ago, the air was perfectly still-- hot and heavy with the layered scent of summer. When the house grew sudden shadows, I glanced out the window to be caught in the face with a crack and a boom. The air is gray and silver-dark as heavy rains fall behind rain behind rain. I've unplugged the computer and type this sitting on the couch between two little girls who jump like twins at the sounds that shake our bones and split the steadiness of falling water.

Like many do, I love storms. They fill dark empty wells inside that need flash and rain, rumble and noise, things large and wild.
The world is so much bigger than this house.

Millie just spoke, "It's hard to believe lightning can hurt us because it is so beautiful...Isn't it, Mom." I nod a silent assent.

Before the storm swept in, I thought I'd write about the garden, which shoots up green tendrils and the hope of fresh food and enough weeds to disarm the patience of a Buddhist monk. I thought I'd write about the moments that are scattered through the trying times with just enough regularity to make me thankful for the whole.

I thought I'd write about the goodness of life as a family of six here, of the sweetness the girls show Piper when they don't know I'm watching, of the Pipsqueak herself, growing so impressively that she might overtake her next door cousin, who's a month and a half older, in weight before the summer's out. About that same babe who now fits into newborn outfits and whose cries in the dark rouse me with bleary eyes. I thought I'd write about the birds I hear in the earliest hours of morning before even the sun rolls out of bed, about the peace of those mornings as the birds sing the darkness away and Piper molds herself close, and I fall asleep with the flutter of her heart near the solid beat of mine.

I thought to write about my other Heart, who turned 29 last week, whose company has become so much a part of me that it's hard to imagine that we haven't known each other since we were 2 years old. So much to write, but nothing, really, about the last four weeks and the life that moves us through the past and carries us further along.

The storm ends, the sun shines, and I'll write more than a jumble another day. It's good to see you.


One sunny day, we had a picnic on my sister (in-law) Wendy's deck.

Inside, Susannah befriended woodland creatures.

Outside, Annie swatted the apple tree.

We headed back down Mt. Hunger, and Mopsy held Piper.

Before supper, Deb and I took the girls on a walk to the horse pasture crick, where, immediately inside the fence, they were briefly distracted by this patch of daisies.

This picture looks idyllic, yes? Deb and I were dying of laughter because as Annie raced to show me a flower, Millie ran around behind her shouting, "You stupid butterflies!" The fact that she couldn't catch any irked her beyond measure.

But I caught one...

Smush & Elven Groves

The pasture has been completely overrun by multiflora rose (whose name I know only because Debbie used it and whose name Debbie knows only from listening to my mother curse their invasive thorns with blight and everlasting torment). Anyway, the wrath of multiflora rose made our walk a little less pleasant, and when we finally reached the crick, nap-hungry Susannah had about had it with daisies and cricks and butterflies and mulitflora rose.

Sandwiched in between a bad beginning and a weepy ending, though, was a wonderful block of time at one of my favorite childhood haunts.

There was more algae at the crick than I've ever seen there before, and in the deep end, it carpeted the bottom over ankle-deep. "Smush," Annie called it, as she fished it with a stick.

Here Annie tried in vain to lead Millie out because the Smush enveloping her legs lost its appeal.

Millie remained in love with Smush and murky water both.

I've always loved this little elven grove of hardwood, and Deb must, too, because she shared it with Millie. Before we left, Millie showed it to Annie, and we walked through its hush and rustle, all shot through with sunlight and blue.


We walked upstream to the fenceline, and Huck joined Annie.

She played in a hollow of shady moss until her lips turned purple

so I found her a patch of spillover sun.

Susannah all dappled with gold and green.


Before we walked home, we went downstream a bit because I wanted to find some mint to bring home. Instead, we found a hideaway

with dead moths inside.

Ripe blackcaps and wild raspberries that we scrambled to pick first but were forced to share, anyway.

And a huge crayfish, of which I have no picture.

The End.


Whose delicate lines in the sun are worth more than these three pictures.

Just Friends

On the walk home, I disturbed these two.
I'm sure they were only talking, anyway...

In Closing

After supper, Mom held Piper as the sun set

and a little Wren tormented my Dad.


While they did this, I took pictures of curly things.

Grapevine dwarfs a tiny speck of moon.

More vine.

And more.

And a ring of garlic planted in Mom's flower garden, going to seed and descended from these. Who knew garlic was so curly?


I should probably only post flattering pictures of Piper.

Nah. This one's too funny.

Piper's First Picnic

Bright streams electric enlivened our limbs, thanks to the packs that Grandma O. left behind. Annika justified it by saying, "Soda is kind of healthy, right, Mom?"

Nope, but it made our picnic fancy!

The Great Butterfly Chase begins.

And then it ends.

Millie thinks the common sulfur butterflies like these patches of grass because they're disguised perfectly within them. See the white spot on the fence? "That's no spot," she says, "it's a butterfly!"

That's no Millie. It's a bear in the bushes!

Just like before.

Except now, she rides like a pro.

Before we walked over to the crick, they tried their best to be swingers of birches with the apple tree on hand.

And Susannah honored me with gnarly globes too early and tart to eat.

As Far As Can Be

Annika was very excited when I told them they could explore as far as they wanted to.

She was even more excited when this exploration yielded fruit in the form of a handmade bridge, suspended by letters over our heads.

Skeered, My Foot!

Susannah is a strange child. She plays the drama queen so fully that she ends up convincing herself. Here, she sits "skeered." She was so skeered to step into inches of water that she sat on the bank and looked pitiful in an attempt to soften my heart.

I played the sucker and lifted her over, only to watch her happily splash through the next half dozen puddles.

And again, she's so skeered as her sisters throw stones.

But two seconds later, she was lobbing rocks at their heads.