Brightness After Rain

Even though I nearly used up the last nubbins of white chalk for this one, we have no flowers yet.  I guess indoor chalkboards don't influence outdoor tulips.

We've had buckets of rain and are beginning to spy the first spears of green, however, and on a foggy morning two weeks back, 

mine was the gift of standing outside when a huge company of red-winged blackbirds moved into the neighborhood.

It may be silly, but I grinned seeing a cloud of them whirling around and settling in all the treetops we could spare.  Being present to hear the silence broken with their coarse calls bolstered me as firmly as anything can.

Beautiful Things

 Flowers resting on a table while snow falls outside.

 A baby resting in a comfortable place.

Birthday Morning

While Ezekiel grinned in my bed upstairs, 

the baby waited for me downstairs.

Since the boys were the only ones awake with me, I bided (bode?) my time taking a few picture of Aidan wearing this cute hat his cousin made for him.  (Thank you, Candida!)

He tried to immediately foil my plan.

Lucky for us, he looks cute without a hat, too.

And while I was taking pictures of a hatless baby in the library,

his brother waited for me on the steps.  (That gate is the BEST THING EVER.)

I consoled him by reading books about large machinery.

with a baby at my feet. (Look at those chompers, hm?!)

Sweet boy.

Last one of the morning.  The girls woke up, and Millie made me birthday breakfast.  She asked me to take a picture of a muffin tower, but this moustachioed man just couldn't keep away.

(Double chocolate strawberry  muffins, to come someday to buildabelly.)

Birthday Evening

Millie made my birthday supper, as well as a Mississippi Mud pie (my first) and one of my favorite beverages (eggnog!) for the birthday dessert.  

Annika took 20-odd pictures, as well as a video I didn't know she was taking.  Here are a few of the pictures, so that you can vicariously experience the pleasure of washing down the world's richest pie with the world's richest beverage.

(Oh, and Millie made that striped Where's Waldo hat!  She made it for herself without using a pattern and then didn't like the result, so I snagged it.  I wear it nonstop.  The girls can find me in a crowd any day of the week.)

Even when I'm disguised as a birthday pirate.

Homemade eggnog can't be beat.

NAN!  Here's the part where you come in.  Backstory One.  Lately I've been pretending that I'm Susannah's wicked stepmother when I make her wash the dishes.  In the grand style of fairy tales, I tell her that if she was only my real child, she wouldn't have to do any work at all.  Backstory Two: My friend Nan has a menagerie which includes milk goats, and she sent our family the most delicious goat's milk fudge a few months back.  We all loved it, and the girls think goat's milk fudge is the undisputed king of the fudge world.

So, during the party, we heard a car motor, Susannah rushed to the window and announced that the mailman was here, and then ran outside to get the package.  She brought in a mailing envelope and dumped this fudge out of it onto the table, announcing, "NAN SENT GOAT'S MILK FUDGE!!!!"

I believed her until I noticed the orange envelope was blank on both sides.  That stinker had secretly made fudge and wrapped it to look like yours, Nan.

You also sent an accompanying card.

"Dear Abbie, 
Happy birthday!
I certanly hope you don't throw 
this goat milk fudge in the 
garbage! (on second thought, Why don't

much love, 
you're stepdaghter (Nan hassey)"

p.s. We didn't throw your fudge in the garbage.  We fought over the last scraps of it like ruffians.

Five Years Later

He didn't usually put in personal notes.  He must have felt bad about not getting a funny KARD that year.


Back to Back

First I took a picture of the cactus in morning's first light.

Then I took a picture of Wolfman hanging on the gallows.  (Wolfman was one of my Christmas gifts from John, and  he's joined the ranks of plastic superheroes that hide all over our house.  This macabre version was created by Mildred, who's been anxiously waiting for John to notice it for the last THREE days. It's right next to our bed, John!  C'mon!)

Fingers Crossed

When one starts seeds late (so, so, so, SO late),

 it's always a good idea to enlist capable help,

even if that help is only capable of looking very cute while filling all of the wrong pots.

Small Creatures

A wee redbelly snake,

shared all around,

transferred from a mason jar to a fine new mansion, complete with earthworms for eating, 

and then released, with some mourning, 

thirty-six hours later.

Last fall, a mama bear and cub were a few minutes down the road, which made me wish I hadn't put our compost pile right next to the house.  Thankfully, the only bears we've encountered yet this year are these of the woollier variety.

They Go Hand in Hand

Clothesline Season


and Tea Party Season.

Pinkies up!

From Here On Out

The first warm day insisted that the children play immediately upon arriving home from church.  They obliged.  (It's foolishness to tussle with a warm day.  The day will always win.)

Later, Piper walked up to me and said, "I betcha can't tell what I'VE been eating!"  I replied, "Nope," and then she got an inch away and blew in my face.  "Yup!" I replied.

It's chive season.  There's your warning.  The youngest three will reek of chive-breath for the next five months.

Here she is, uncovering the very first shoots of potent breath.

And the chickens are out and about again!

Which invariably means....CHICKEN RACES!