Friday, July 27, 2012

Nancy One, Nancy Two

Nancy One

This is a doll that came from an art market we visited a couple of weeks ago.  At $7, her polka-dot body and bright red hair combo was very hard for mother and daughter alike to resist.  Amabel immediately named the doll Nancy—after Grandmommy's dog, of course.   


Grandmommy's dog, Nancy—otherwise known as Harry's sister—seems to have taken up residence at our house.  We're calling it camp, but who knows what that really means.  Fortunately, these two furry creatures are best buds, which means that they spend a lot of time chewing on one another.  But does it get confusing to have two Nancies in the house, you may ask?  Yes, indeed. 

Posey & Nancy

To remedy the double Nancy problem, the last time we were at my parent's house, Amabel and Ellen tiptoed up to their favorite place—Grandmommy's sewing room.  When they came back downstairs, Nancy the doll had a new friend: Posy.  (Oh, just a mere 20 minutes of Grandmommy's handiwork.)  And now we have Nancy and Harry and Nancy and Posy: two perfect pairs that are keeping us very busy!   


Harry & Ellen

Handsome Harry: deep in a training session with baby zen master, Ellen.

Harry Head

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Full Circle


"Come see the caterpillars on the dill plants in the garden!"  Jeffrey called up to us this evening.


We immediately knew what they were, without having to look them up in a reference book, because when we poked their heads (gently) the caterpillars put out fierce little orange horns!  Remember our joyful butterfly hatching in early May?  The swallowtails are back again.  Only this time the chrysalis won't need to overwinter.  It is still mid-summer, and we'll hopefully be able to watch them turn into butterflies in just a couple of weeks.


Amie Look!

And so we've come full circle.  

Perhaps the butterfly we watched unfold its tender wings 10 weeks ago laid the eggs that these babies hatched out of?  According to this site, it is estimated that only 1 out of every 100 eggs will make it to a butterfly.  Maybe we can shift the odds and help a few more renter the world on wings?  

These simple cycles are happening all around us, all the time.  Yet, to put our finger on them; to hold them close for a minute; to watch them—for a brief space—it fills us with wonder.  A sense that we are a part of this too.  Even just as observers.  Watching tiny miracles.

Swallowtail Caterpillar

Wednesday, July 18, 2012



And even better is starting off the day by picking flowers with friends!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flower Theory



I'm testing a theory this summer: every day that begins with fresh flowers—picked by the girls—is a good one.



Little Lemon Marigolds

Final Touch

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes

Bloggers know how much behind-the-scenes work goes into creating and maintaining a blog.  Sometimes, though, we forget because we're so in the midst of it.  After getting a few peeks into my sister-in-law Kim's latest project, I was reminded how much time and energy is involved (and her blog is much, much more elaborate that mine will ever be).  Her new site, which is a collaborative effort between Kim and a few of her savvy Northern Michigan friends, is Northern Swag—a place filled with reflections on local people, places, eats, and happenings.

I am continually inspired by Kim's enthusiasm for photography and how she is always getting out to discover the beautiful places and the up-and-coming spots in our area.  And of course, she aways travels with her camera in hand.  Not to mention the fact that her daughter, Cora, might be the best possible travel companion and photography model around!

Sometimes friends in the the blog-o-sphere feel so far away, and so it is especially lovely for me to have a friend and family member blogging close by.  If you're in the area and you happen to be in the same place as Kim—with a camera around her neck—you might just get the honor of finding yourself on her beautiful new site!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Queen Anne

We used to live in the city.  I have to remind myself of this sometimes because it feels so far away now, and yet I don't want to forget what it felt like—at the very beginning—to come home to this land.

It was exactly a year ago.  Queen Anne's Lace flowers were blooming in the meadow in front of our house.  I looked out and saw them, imagined them waiting for us.  A common wild flower, so extraordinarily beautiful in its abundance.  Amabel and Ellen gathered vases and vases full in those first weeks; they were, as I was, overwhelmed with the simple beauty of the natural world, the wild places just outside our doors.  And after seven years in the city, even I—as my grown up self—did not take a single lacy white skirt for granted.  We were home, at last.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Lovin'

Deb's Dock

So grateful for family tonight. . . family near and family far.  We love you. 

We miss you, Debbie!

We are blessed with lots of family—some who live close by and many more who visit during the summer.  Our days are filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and lots of extended family members.  I don't often bring my camera along to family gatherings because it usually doesn't occur to me to take photos during busy get-togethers (or any busy moments, for that matter; I tend to be the type to get out my camera on quiet misty mornings for a trip out to the garden).  However, I've been recently inspired by my sister-in-law, who is starting a northern Michigan blog (which will be live soon), to carry my camera with me when I'm out and about and use it more spontaneously.  And to take more photos of people!  Thankfully, my family is humoring me as I dance around with a camera in front of my face. . .
Who wants Ice Cream?
Who wants ice cream?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Waiting for the Parade

Happy Independence Day!

How much candy do you have in there, Amie?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Zen and the Art of Puppy Training

Harry, Sit

A couple of weeks before Harry arrived, a friend said to me, "Do you know what you are getting into?" — meaning, of course, did I realize how much work it would be to have a puppy again?

Well, yes, I suppose I did have a sense of how much work it was going to be.  And, yes, I was quite nervous about bringing a puppy home because of our experience, four years ago, with a certain dog named Alice (a subject about which I've written a whole essay and therefore won't go into any further detail).  When another friend saw Harry for the first time last week, she said, "I thought you were over dogs."  Well, no.  No, I'm definitely not.  But maybe I did know, this time around, that getting a puppy with young children would be a whole lot of work simply because we wouldn't just have to train the puppy; we'd have to "train" the children too.

So I've been thinking about this training business.  I know that a dog reads my energy and mirrors it back (not unlike a child, in fact).  This is the most basic tenant in establishing a good relationship with a canine: calm, confident energy.  But although I've had years to practice embodying a calm energy that sets a dog at ease, teaching a child to move and speak in this manner is a tricky thing.  Learning to interact this way with dogs—or with people, for that matter—is a bit of an art form.  People may scoff at the seriousness of dog training, but when well done, it is really a beautiful and important thing.  I am of the mind that learning to train a dog with confidence and grace translates into confidence and grace on a much deeper level as well.  

But to return to my first friend's question: did I know what I was getting into?  No, to tell you the truth, I had no idea what I was getting into before we got this puppy, because I had no idea how naturally Amabel would begin to practice this art.  As it turns out, Amabel is our little zen puppy master.

Good Boy


I turn around and there she is, teaching Harry to come, to sit, to shake.  He starts getting rowdy inside and she calmly finds him a toy.  We go outside and there she is, taking him for a romp, talking to him, giving him treats, picking flowers and berries for him, earning his trust and respect. 


How does she do this so effortlessly?  I watch her and I watch him.  And I do not know exactly how to describe her technique.  I'm sure she has been watching me (she always is), but she has her own way with him. 

Leading the Way

To add to my joy as I watch this friendship between girl and dog, there is Ellen—sort of on the sidelines right now but watching Amabel's every move.  I can direct Ellen and encourage her to respond to Harry in certain ways, but when she sees Amabel training Harry, it just makes sense.  Amabel is a little person.  Ellen is a little person.  If Amabel can do it, Ellen can too.  And I'm sure she will, even if it takes our baby zen master just a tiny bit longer to learn the art.

Harry likes flowers too