Unless a Grain of Wheat

"Why are we clapping?" she asked, confused, as we all sat together clapping and clapping, while our lips twisted to hold back the grief.

This verse ran through my head and into my bones at that moment as it had for the previous month, as I sowed seeds and pinned my hopes on dirt, as my oldest brother and his family made the last of their preparations before moving to Alaska, and as we helped in what small ways we could.  They sold and gave away a lifetime of belongings-- vehicles, farm machinery, appliances, cats, dog, horses, years of accumulation-- they emptied the house they've spent 20 years laboring to transform from a ramshackle shell to a beautiful, unique home, and they wept along with us when the time they'd spent so much work preparing for finally arrived.  Deep roots, strong roots, are hardest to pull up.  Being Light and Salt is not always easy.

Their new home is an isolated town in the Alaskan bush and is accessible only by small plane-- a town populated by about 80 people, mostly native Alaskans, to whom they will be the only human manifestation of Good News.  It will be cold and dark, at times it will be lonely, but God has gone before them.
This is our heart's ease and theirs.

We waved them off on Saturday, not knowing when we'll next see one another, and each time I look out the kitchen window and see their empty house poking up just past the row of maples, a fresh wave of missing hits, sharp and pointed. I pray that God blesses their sacrifice-- all those small and large deaths they've freely offered-- and uses it to bring forth great harvest.

I wrote the post above because I'm finding it hard to think about anything else at the moment, but below you can find hundreds of silly pictures that I've slipped in the cracks over the last few weeks.  They're in a bit of a jumble, and it'll probably take the average reader a lifetime or two to slog through them all. Enjoy!

It Tasted Good, Though. I Had Two Bowls.

Andy and Wendy gave so many of their belongings away, including much that could have brought them cash in return, and buckets of it fell on our steps (including a fancy stove to replace our two-working-burners one).

Not only did they freely give large items, but my family was also the recipient of many edible goodies as they cleaned out their cupboards.  The backdrop to these two pictures is a brief conversation I had 2 weeks ago with Wendy and my niece about why my girls don't usually eat boxed cereal more than once or twice a month, the chiefest reasons being cost and mess.

One: Cereal costs way more than something I can make from scratch
Two: When I give it to them unattended (i.e. go pour yourselves some bowls of cereal, girlies!), Piper and Luci usually manage to make the ease of boxed food so much less easy.

This is even more apparent when the cereal is SUGAR CEREAL, a luxury usually reserved only for Christmas morning, and when I make the girls wait for ONE WHOLE DAY before they're allowed to eat it.  When Sunday morning finally arrived, they tore into it like street rats, and when I came downstairs with Ezekiel later, this was the scene.

Thanks for nothing, Wendy.  :)

He Ate Through One Nice Green Leaf

And after that he felt much better.

I've said it before (Titi!), but there's no harm in saying it again:
It pays to have crafty chums.

Now, I'm not saying one should seek out talented people for friends simply because someday, if one is patient, one will be rewarded with cool stuff...
but it's true.

(Not that I would be shallow enough to do that, though.)

The birth of a baby boy after a string of beautiful girls has garnered us (him) more outfits for this summer than ten baby boys could reasonably use, but who needs clothes when he was also given a crisp, green leaf to wear, a la Adam and Eve.

Is this not the most clever baby blanket you've ever seen?  You're not allowed to answer with anything less than a resounding "Why, yes!  It surely is!"   (It's my blog, after all, and I'm a dictator.)

Good thing Ezekiel loves dictators.

He especially loves it when dictators wrap him as snug as sushi.


My friend Rebecca made this and paired it with some green snail pants that will be featured once Ezekiel properly fits into them, although, like I said already, who needs clothes when one looks this great in a leaf.

 Yes, Ezekiel, you're wearing a leaf for the indefinite future.


Closing up the Coop

Mister Sunshine

Debbie kindly obliged me when I asked her to make Zeke smile. What a glorious chin grin my boy's got!

Beside the Pear Tree

in evening light.

Mildred: Lollipop: Steps

This is my lovely daughter Mildred eating a lollipop on the steps.

She turns ten in August.  Ulp.

This is my daughter Mildred in the living room.

She turns TEN in AUGUST.

Fahrenheit 451

Homeschoolers no more!  My brother will count his own children among his students this fall, so my sister-in-law had a culminating bonfire.

S'mores become brain food when you roast the marshmallows over homeschool papers, so I ate several because my brain was ravenous.

Andy's got my grandpa's blood and never sits still, but I caught him for a rare second.

And this one, too, when Pip conned him into doing her dirty work.


Undulatus Asperatus?

I've read about them before.  Immediately after my brother and his family drove off, this narrow strip of clouds rolled in to distract us. We marveled at them for the few minutes they were overhead, and I took these pictures that are bad representations of what we saw. They were entirely new to all of us.


Twenty Points!

...to the person who provides the best explanation/caption for this picture. (Don't you like these willy-nilly promises of meaningless points?)


Quickly Now!

Ten points to the first person who can identify this bug without having to look it up in the field guide like I did.

Apparently, they're fairly common, but this is the first one I remember seeing.  (Millie's hand provided free of charge for perspective.)

Early Morning Hieroglyphs

Going Out with a Bang

The city fireworks couldn't compete to the best Mount Hunger had to offer, though.  My brother Andy went all out this year and bought the Big Pack of fireworks to set off on the fourth of July.  Despite having been gone all day and with only three days and many hours of work before their departure, Wendy invited us over for a last show, and we shouted until we made ourselves hoarse.

Take that, ballpark fireworks.  

If You Don't Have Photoshop...

paint your walls blue and stand by a window.

And, then, because you'll need an antidote for self-portrait vanity, take a picture of yourself with floofsy hair directly upon waking the next morning.

Include the floofsy-haired daughter who's sitting on your lap, too.

Wendy's Dishes in the Light

It seems silly to add in-law when she's really a sister.

My friend-neighbor-sister(in-law) Wendy is a kind and gracious woman who does more than she should, and after Zeke was born, she brought us a feast in some of the bowls she collects.  She has good style, too, as her taste in dishes suggests. Soon, she'll live four time zones away, and a benign picture of bowls turns bittersweet.

By the Window

Bear with me.

I like these pictures of Bird reading comics so much that I'm posting all three. 

Three Views of the Last Peony




I knew you'd be interested.  You're mighty welcome.

We Are the 1%

Millie on the phone with Owen family:


Annie and Lu in our outdoor gymnasium:

Wealth beyond measure.