Monday, May 28, 2012

Puppy Visit

Amie & Pup

Here they are: six Irish Terrier puppies, six weeks old, with lovely Mama Red.  The girls were thrilled to be in the middle of a pile of puppies!  At one point, cousin Cora had all six of them crawling over her!  It is amazing how the puppies have grown over the past two weeks since we last visited.  Their little beards are starting to grow and their personalities seem more distinct.  Rosie is still the smallest and Moose is still the biggest, but they all seem closer in size now.  

Zane, Elle, & Pup

Lots of Pups

Pup Play

Sweet Face

Mama Red is quite the patient mother.  Patient but firm.  She let all those pups (with needle sharp teeth) nurse for a few minutes, and then when she was done, she was done!

Six Nursing Pups

More, Mama?

In a few more weeks, if all goes as planned, one of the little boy pups will be coming to live with us.  We may even get to dog sit Mama Red for a few days as well!

Mama Red

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Sun Tea

My happy helper, checking on the sun tea.  Thank you, Meryl, for the inspiration! A little mint, a little lemon, a little honey.  So simple, so delicious!

Sun Tea

Monday, May 21, 2012



The meadow in front of our house was decorated with delicate dots of blue this morning.  Here they are: the first wild flowers of the season that are new to me.  The 'volunteers' that I dreamed about discovering in March; a cluster of beauties that was not written into our garden plan.  

Part of me wants to look up the 'official' name of these flowers—their life cycle, their properties.  Another part of me loves not knowing anything except for how lovely they are, dancing among the tall grass just beyond the fence.  

Blues in the Field

Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow Me


Amabel is our early riser.  Her eyes open wide as soon as she stirs.  And as soon as her eyes are open, she begins to talk.  She has important ideas to share, dreams to recount, questions to ask.  She is ready to play.

Much later, Ellen slips out of bed, rubbing her eyes—her fuzzy hair like a halo around her warm head.  When Ellen wakes up, she listens.  She figures out where everyone is in the house.  Today she slowly pads into her sister's room, guided by Amabel's voice—chatting, singing.  Whatever her beloved Amie is doing, Ellen joins in effortlessly.  

This afternoon, I happen to catch the girls just as they run outside in their bathing suits (five minutes before Ellen decides she would rather wear nothing at all).  The sprinkler is on!  Amabel boldly leads the way into the spray.  Without hesitation, Ellen follows.  As Amabel gives a running commentary on their brave foray into the water, Ellen laughs and laughs, repeating her sister's directions.

Amabel creates a story line.  Ellen listens.  Amabel casts the characters.  Ellen takes her part.  But it isn't always this way.  Ellen has learned, from Amabel, how to be the creative director.  And Amabel has learned, from Ellen, how to follow along too.  

When I reflect on the things I have hoped to teach them, I realize that they have probably learned most from one another.  What an incredible gift.




Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Radish Soup

I thinned the radishes.  She made radish soup.  Then she watered the strawberry plants with the radish soup.  She is wearing a vintage handmade dress that my mom found at a sweet little thrift store.  I think it was meant to be a garden dress, don't you?

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Holding Hands


Three Babies

More family time: cousin love.


On our Walk



A family weekend.

Tait Spray

Saturday, May 12, 2012



This is Moose (affectionately named because he is the biggest in the litter).  He is one of Red's adorable pups.  We've fallen in love with this little big guy.  I promise to stop teasing you with cute photos and inconclusive hints.  Very soon we hope to have many puppy love stories to share.

Friday, May 11, 2012



When we went to pick up our spring veggie share at Meadowlark Farm two weeks ago, I discovered a crate of uprooted fuzzy green plants and a hand-written sign: Chamomile Plants for Your Garden.

I smiled in a quiet sort of way as I pick up two of the modest chamomile babies.  This is one of my very favorite gifts—garden plants with a history, pulled up, roots and all, and transported carefully from one home to another.  We gladly transported those babies back to our house where they found a new home. 

The chamomile now grows within view of our strawberries, which also originated on the beautiful Meadowlark Farm.  Last fall, Jenny and Jon gave us a housewarming gift: strawberry plants propagated from their own lush berry patches.  Eight summers ago, when Jeffrey and I were engaged, I spent a few days a week helping out on Meadowlark Farm.  Perhaps I even ate strawberries from the grandmothers of the strawberry plants we now have growing next to our own house—growing berries that our children will delight in this spring.  Thank you, Meadowlark family, for sharing your abundance.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Liberal Artist


I talked to a writer friend yesterday who asked, "Are you still getting up early to write?"

"Well, no."  I replied and then sort of stammered around, trying to come up with an excuse.  After our conversation, my response started to bother me.  Why haven't I been getting up early to write?  Why haven't I been writing as much over the past two months?  I had some good momentum going this winter—inspired by a few things, including the book: If You Want to Write.  I wrote a short story and submitted it to an online journal.  It was rejected, and since then I've thought about how I might use parts of my story to write something else entirely, and submit the new piece to a beautiful publication you may know about: taproot.  I'm working on that now, but mostly in my head.  

In my head?  Because, well, it's spring!  In the spring I have to go outside and put my hands in the dirt.  Not that gardening and writing are mutually exclusive, of course.  But I'm finding that my spring energy is different.  I am more physically exhausted at the end of the day, more eager to get outside first thing in the morning, and I'm just not as compelled to write.  But upon thinking about it further, this is perhaps my joy and my challenge: by nature I seem to be a liberal artist.  I do a little of this and a little of that: cooking, editing, knitting, gardening, photographing, writing, serving on a local board of directors, reading, and—most of all—mothering.  Gratefully my role as mother offers me ample opportunities every day to be the liberal artist that I love to be.

But at some point, if she is to reach her full potential, must the liberal artist choose to specialize in (at least) one thing?  Although we're all liberal artists to a certain extent, when 'should' our pursuit of knowledge and practice go deeper instead of wider? 

Sunday, May 6, 2012



We found a caterpillar in our garden, munching on carrot tops, last October.  We brought it inside and watched the stripped creature make a chrysalis on a stick in a big glass jar.  I knew it couldn't survive as a butterfly outside in the dwindling autumn temperatures, and I was a bit perplexed about the timing of its transformation.  So we did a bit of research.  What we discovered amazed me: a black swallowtail butterfly can overwinter in northern climates.  A caterpillar hatched in late summer or early autumn produces a type of internal 'antifreeze' that prevents damage to its chrysalis during extended cold months of hibernation.  And yet even after reading about this phenomena in multiple places, I was skeptical.  

I was skeptical but hopeful all winter long when the chrysalis happened to catch my eye, sitting there cold and still on the front porch.

When spring came, I moved the jar out into a sunny, sheltered spot alongside the house.  Every now and then I would peek in and see if I could catch a glimmer of life.  A few times, I had to empty out water collected in the bottom after a night of rain.  Nothing else changed in the jar for six months.

And then, just a few days ago, we went out for a walk before dinner.  Jeffrey spotted it—unwrapping from a long winter's sleep!  Oh the looks of joy when we called the girls over to see!

Come Look!


There it was.  Unbelievably beautiful after emerging from a dusty gray shell.  A little spring miracle.  May we always remember the possibility tucked within the most humble of winter coats.



Thursday, May 3, 2012



O Dandelion
“O Dandelion, yellow as gold,
What do you do all day?”
“I just wait here in the tall green grass
Till the children come to play.”
“O Dandelion, yellow as gold,
What do you do all night?”
“I wait and wait till the cool dews fall
And my hair turns long and white.”
“And what do you do when your hair is white
And the children come to play?”
“They take me up in their dimpled hands
And blow my hair away!”
Author Unknown

On the Hunt

One of my favorite poems at this time of year.  Yellow as gold: the spring sunshine, their hair in the light, and the flowers in their hands.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012



"Ellen, did you tell Little Miss Mitty who is going to join our family in about six weeks?"

In Conversation