The baby is now around the size of a sesame seed. S/he grows!

Breakfast schedule this week:

Monday: leftover eggplant curry and naan + leftover ice cream from Millie's party
Tuesday: leftover Asian-inspired slaw with somen + leftover ice cream from Millie's party
Wednesday: delicious garden omelette prepared by my loving husband + ice cream leftover from Millie's party
Thursday: wild elderberry muffins with flaxseed, lemon, and cinnamon + ???

The ice cream's gone! What do I do?


Poppy Seed

Two weeks ago, I contemplated entering the 5k race that my brother and sister-friend-in-law are running on September 1st. I felt up to it because I've been slogging somewhat regularly all summer, lately for almost 3 and 1/2 miles each night, but I may have ruined things by inexplicably crashing for the last week and a half.

I haven't run in over a week. (A few days were cold and rainy. Pitiful excuse.)
I've been eating SO MUCH junk food. (Seriously, truckloads of candy.)
I've been mad at myself for wasting sinful amounts of time on the computer and on the couch and on the chair staring into space, during what are the busiest weeks of the year! Waiting for me are cannerloads of garden bounty to preserve, homeschooling preparations, house de-cluttering, chicken coop shoveling, more basement junk hauling, and house painting yet unfinished, for Pete's sake.

I've just been so very tired.

So yesterday afternoon, with a foolish grin splitting my face and joy leaping in my chest, a very small slothful part of me stood apart, simply thankful for justification.

Guess Who's Pregnant?

Smoky is. Now she believes she has the right to tread on the comfrey leaves I was stringing up for drying and to sleep anywhere she darn well pleases.

Cheeky cat.

p.s. I love this picture because her tail looks like a periscope.

There's a Door in My Mouth!

At almost seven and a half years of age, the Nixie lost her first tooth. Momentous!

I took this picture a few minutes after she tugged it out.

She couldn't stop laughing

or sticking her tongue in the empty space.

This last picture is here because it's only fair that the world enjoy it as much as we did. Taken at face value, it's nothing special, but if you pretend that the arm belongs to an otherwise invisible man who's accosting her, then it's a pretty great snapshot.

Very Lightly Step Around

In the small woods by our house are many treasures, including Twisted Tree, future Treehouse/zipline tree, young trees to shimmy, and Faerie Fallen Down Tree.

Oodles of toadstools festoon Faerie Fallen Down Tree. (The name lacks clarity, so let it be known that the Tree itself does not make faeries fall down, nor do fallen-down faeries litter the ground beneath it. Rather, the Tree Itself has fallen down and lies decomposing on the forest floor, which makes it just the spot for faerie-sightings.)

Fungi are lovely in the light.

'Pillar crosses the mountain.

In the shade, their color dulls, but I still like them...

pressed together and all lined up with nowhere to go.

I Heart Mildred

She's nine now. It really happened, and young girlhood is beginning to slide by into young ladyhood-- not quite yet, thank goodness!-- but it glimmers and sparks around the corner, and I pray God grants us sufficient grace and wisdom as our Baby Bumpkin grows into bigger bones, bigger questions, bigger thoughts, and bigger dreams.

We love you, Miss Millie. You are a precious gift.

The Trimmings

This past spring, thinking ahead, Millie made a birthday list. For her birthday she wanted
-a horse, a REAL one (unsurprisingly, this is a monthly request)
-a pair of gardening gloves
- a small sewing machine ("if you can find one cheep at a yard sale")*
-some chapstick
-some books
-a cherry pie

Each request was spelled atrociously, but, with the exception of the horse and the sewing machine, she's pretty easy to please.

*I feel the need to insert this small truth. If "Someone" reads this post, and "Someone" thinks that would make a perfect gift for Millie, let that loving and big-hearted "Someone" know that Millie doesn't need a little machine because she is learning to properly use the big machine and is doing well. That's all. :)

Anyway, the afternoon of her birthday, I told her to read a book in the library and forbade her from entering the kitchen. She thought I was decorating her cake, and I let her think this because, in fact, I was making the cherry pie about which she'd forgotten. Mildred has a history of passionate cherry pie love and talks year-round about the piece(s) of cherry pie she gets to eat at Thanksgiving.

I'd canned some sour cherries specifically for her pie, and it was fun to imagine her delight when she saw it.

(When in doubt regarding sugar, sprinkle a pound on top.)

Then, because I had made a pie and the house was a wreck, I piped a scary horse onto her cake instead of failing at something more elaborate. SCARY!

And then I hid her pie on my bed, leaving it to cool and promptly forgetting about it until later that evening when I took this lousy picture.

I asked Debbie to take some pictures of me bringing it in, lit candle on top, after we had cut her birthday cake, and my favorite picture was this one.

As soon as she blew out the candle on the pie, she turned to my mother and sweetly said, "THANK YOU, Grandma!"

This picture shows her expression when I retorted, "HEY! I made that pie!"

Here is her response to the sweater my mom made for her. (Her reaction to the stylish apron my mom also made for her was about the same.)

Here is her response to Annika's gift.

I took no pictures of Millie opening her super-fabulous gifts from McGamma, Dude, and Aunt Sarah earlier that afternoon because my ears were ringing from all the delighted screams of four girls jumping up and down. (Seriously, Dudette, they were SO exited and SO loud. I'll post pictures of them playing with the gifts later...)

And here is my Dad after the party, telling jokes. Andy thought he was masquerading as an Amish gangsta.

Maybe he was.

One Morning

Piper woke up.

And she made a funny face.

One Afternoon

Su reflected on great and mighty things.

Kuplink, Kuplank, Kuplunk

We picked blueberries again, and I took two bad pictures.


Year of the Zucchini

But isn't every year?

Skip on by buildabelly, all you cooking folks.

I've idled away some time during the last two weeks putting up recipes and haven't even touched the backlog. What I have done, though, is post a bowlful of recipes that use zucchini. I even made zucchini and yellow squash-topped pizza last night (though I haven't put up the recipe yet). Good golly. What a summer!


Wish You Were Here!

Um. Could the same person who found my new glasses also return the lens cap to my camera?

It's been missing since the church retreat, and, for the sake of efficiency, I choose to believe the glasses and lens cap are together.

Maybe they're vacationing by the lake. Lazy laze-abouts.

p.s. While I'm begging, for a month and a half I've also been missing the small, smooth, gray piece of magic cloth with which I cleaned the camera lens. I stole it from my husband's computer case, though, so I guess it serves me right.

p.p.s. It's the strangest thing, but I also have been missing my favorite $100, 000.00 bill for a looong time now. Baffling, really...


While Someone Drew the Bath

That someone was me, but since I was in the hall taking these pictures while the water ran, I think that someone was actually Nobody.

Retreat and a Half-hearted Surmise

I mentioned several posts back that we were pulling out of the driveway for a lakeside retreat, right? All expenses save gas were covered by the church, and we had a wonderful time worshiping together, sharing the Lord's Supper, singing psalms, splashing and boating in the lake, eating three greasy meals each day that we did not have to cook on dishes that we did not have to wash, acting extraordinarily silly late at night (one of my greatest talents), and enjoying the company of good people. Now we're back, and after deleting half a dozen blurry pictures, this is all I have left from the four super days we spent with friends old and new.

Surprisingly, given my blog title and the sheer glut of pictures I post, I remain conflicted about camera use to chronicle family members and the moments that one strings together to make a life. Of necessity, the photographer must step outside of the moment in order to capture it. Some may disagree with this, but I believe that one cannot be wholly present in a moment that one is capturing. There is an inevitable disconnect that occurs as one steps back to frame the shot, consider lighting, mood, and expression, and choose when to press the shutter. Even when the photographer has no awareness of the technical aspects of photography, there is that moment when they remove themselves from something in order to "capture" it. This consideration is less relevant when one is photographing landscapes, objects, or people and events not as immediate to oneself as, say, one's children on their lakeside retreat, but when one steps back to capture personal memories, I believe sometimes the gaining of the photograph comes at the expense of the true memory itself. This is why I find it easier to photograph the girls when they're playing and unaware of me than I do in activities of which I am a part. One example is swimming. I can't swim with them if I take pictures of them swimming, and I like swimming.

If the logic of that last brilliant sentence didn't convince you of the pitfalls inherent in today's technology, then nothing will.

The End.

I ran across this poem by Wendell Berry the other day. While not fully revealing the detriments of today's age of photographing EVERYTHING, or, to be sure, not giving a fair shake to the benefits of the ease at which we can now photograph EVERYTHING, it still gave me pause, and I think it's worth a read even if you disagree with the conclusion if only for Berry's use of spare poetics.


The Vacation

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.

He went flying down the river in his boat

with his video camera to his eye, making

a moving picture of the moving river

upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly

toward the end of his vacation. He showed

his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,

preserving it forever: the river, the trees,

the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat

behind which he stood with his camera

preserving his vacation even as he was having it

so that after he had had it he would still

have it. It would be there. With a flick

of a switch, there it would be. But he

would not be in it. He would never be in it.

–Wendell Berry


And, so, here are the rest of the vacation pictures for which I was not present! :)

There were late-night folk songs, hymns, and spontaneous jigs accompanied by guitar-strumming Michael and an authentic Alabaman banjoist whose high melodies were a true pleasure to hear. Yes, we did sing "Oh! Susanna," and I fully appreciated that he had a banjo on his knee.

Brown-eyed girls.

Secrets for sharing.

Small beauties.

Early morning runs and hidden sunrises.

The modern marvel of whirling glowsticks.

and the ageless marvel of sleeping children.

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

We came home to cucumbers in need of pickling,

vacation laundry to hang as the sun set,

and a salamander in the basement.


You know your baby's rapidly becoming a little girl when she prefers her occasional Toasty Oats with milk.

By "with milk," I of course mean "swimming like round, cardboard fish in Milk Lake on the table."

That cheesy grin is worth hours of clean-up.

A Row of Ribbons

While John was at work, the girls and I went the county fair before the free gate closed, and we immediately rushed to the exhibitor's building to see how many ribbons we won. This is important for much greater reasons than mere self-worth and vanity. Each blue and red ribbon we win translates into MONEY, which, in turn, translates into ELEPHANT EARS and TAFFY and a FERRIS WHEEL RIDE at the state fair come September. (This year, the ribbons also translated into a pair of cherry red heels on clearance for a foolish mama, but that's neither here nor there.)

I have a few gripes with the exhibits, mostly the fact that there aren't many classes in which children can enter and that the only two sections in the photography class are "color" and "black and white," but it's still a fun whirl every summer. And, as I've mentioned, the elephant ears and taffy are dependent on those ribbons.

I only lasted about three hours. The bigger girls could have chugged along, but Luci and Pip and Abigail were becoming cranky, and since we had already shared our elephant ear

while watching the miniature horse pull,

after hand-picking sixteen 8-inch long sticks of taffy (You read that right. Sixteen sticks. So what? The unsurpassed taffy of Fowler's is a treasured tradition from my childhood, and I ate four the first day)...

and watching barrel-racing and walking the midway six times and turning down the carnies who thought we were a traveling daycare and looking at the chicks and the roosters and the bunnies and the cows and the goats and choosing which rides we'd hop on if we'd won twenty times as many ribbons and scoring a free bottle of water from a kind woman and seeing a flood of hundreds of youthful, yarmulke-decked heads illogically descend on the most red-necked of bumpkin fairs and bumping into my brother and his family and using the restroom with its bowl of candy for generous tippers at the door,

it was time to go.

I didn't plan this, but Piper's dress has taffy on it. Perfection.

I include the obligatory stairstep picture of fair-going girls, but that's all I've got. Sorry, but lugging both a baby and a camera around is tiring.