Better Things To Do

"If we loved children, we would have a few. If we had them, we would want them as children, and would love the wonder with which they behold the world, and would hope that some of it might open our own eyes a little. We would love their games, and would want to play them once in a while, stirring in ourselves those memories of play that no one regrets, and that are almost the only things an old man can look back on with complete satisfaction. We would want our children tagging along after us, or if not, then only because we would understand that they had better things to do."

Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, xii.

I just encountered the quote above while trying to create this year's NYS IHIPs.  It's rare that I cry, but today, still touched by the sadness of recent events and overwhelmed by all I Must Do, as well as those innumerable things I think I must do, feeling flubbish and utterly inadequate to the tasks at hand, unready for the new school year looming on the near horizon, and, above all, unworthy of the beautiful weight of rearing these little souls, I had a brief cry in the bathroom.  

Thank you, Mister Esolen, for giving a sane word in a sea of frenetic voices. 

(I guess at least one of the girls is eager for formal hlearning to begin...)



Due to the overwhelming response to my last batch of snapshots, I've decided to please the people.  More sunsuits, it is, then!  (Okay.  So zero comments from imaginary readers isn't exactly an overwhelming response, I suppose, but still....sunsuits!)

Luci came downstairs this morning, all dressed for the last day of VBS.  After reading this post's introduction, you can probably guess in what manner she'd dressed herself. Really, you can't?  She was wearing a sunsuit.

After we got home this afternoon, I took a picture of her sunsuit Luci eating sweet clover and wood sorrel on the lawn.

Even though she gets a ribbon for choosing a sunsuit, I'll take credit for doing her hair that morning. 

She's a sweet, little thing.

She's a thoughtful, little thing.

She's a goofy, little thing.

Groucho greeted me as soon as I walked inside.  I only snapped this single picture before he turned back into my son, though.  If only he'd been wearing a sunsuit...


I'll Prove It Another Day

I do have children other than Piper Joy, and they are equally loved and loveable.
(They just don't wear sunsuits as frequently as Pip does.)

Time Waster

After coming home from VBS at a local church,  Pip played with her new punching balloon.

Since I was avoiding a Filthy House and Piled Up Chores, I took pictures. 
(But only because I have a weakness for girls who dress themselves in cowboy boots and sunsuits.)


Her knobby-kneed sister came running a few minutes later, and I took a couple of pictures of her, too, because, as you can see, she's also wearing a sunsuit.

Who Needs Chores, Anyway

Because I really didn't want to face Filthy House and Piled Up Chores, I turned the lens on Luci.

Plus, in case I didn't mention it yet, or on the off chance that you didn't notice,
she's wearing a sunsuit.

She danced around, as she's wont to do, and I took these pictures especially for my sister Becky, who will appreciate the fact that this child belongs to her.  (There's a reason Luci's most recent nickname is Skinny Bones.)


She also hunted for white roses, but only a handful remain for plucking.

Oh, I just love you, Skinny Bones.

Before the Storm Arrived

...I sent Millie to gather the very last of the peonies.   They're practically radioactive in the sunlight.  So bright!

News of the Tiny Kind

The vegetable gardens are as full of weeds as they are full of anything we planted, but the herbs in the raised bed are growing well. The thyme, sage, lemon balm, and oregano I started from seed three years ago are still growing strong, along with chives, basil, parsley, dill, chamomile, calendula, and CILANTRO. (I can't wait for the cilantro to grow.)

I finally cut the garlic scapes today, too, egged on by the thought of grilling up a heap of them tonight for supper and pureeing up a spicy pesto for lunch tomorrow.   I even added a few to the dining room vase again, because they're lovely.

After Pip accidentally spilled a few on the porch,

Zeke happened along for taste-testing.  Good to know that they're not poison.

It Had to Be Done

I asked Pip to carry the garlic scapes inside, but when she made a pit stop to indulge in her and Luci's favorite snack (fistfuls of chives, to which their powerful breath regularly attests), I couldn't resist taking more snapshots.

Because, look!, she's wearing ANOTHER SUNSUIT.

Oooh, chives.

 Let's have another...

 and another...

 How about one more?

At last, loath to leave her patch of stinky heaven, she stood.

She stared me down.

Then, with a heave-ho, she lugged those scapes inside, a stray chive stem tucked between her lips.


Even Poultry Have Heroes

And, clearly, Susie's hen is one.  Not only does she waltz into our house without trepidation (in the last week, we've found her both in the basement and the library) but also she leaps tall buildings in a single bound.

 I think she even knows how to fly for real.  Take that, Batman!

We Mailed Them Straight to Buckingham

I need to update buildabelly someday.

Before the pink rose bush shed all its blooms last week, Millie made rose petal muffins with rosewater glaze.  They were sweet, delicate, and refined, and I pretended I was the Queen of England while I ate them in my stained pajamas.

I bet someone out there in internet land would like the recipe.  (Queen Elizabeth, perhaps?  C'mon, Your Majesty, you know they look good.)


This Great Love to Share

We sat alone by the river when the comet streaked above our heads, a sharp, clear line that burned into the black.  It was a split-second sky-mark, but I can still see it when I pull out the memory.  In those days, we spent minutes and hours in silence.  Words are important, but, right then, it was all too much for words to muddy, and we knew what needed knowing, anyway.

In the middle of the night, we sat on hard stones and watched each other through the bonfire.  He wore the flames like a wreath around his head.  He was sure and certain of his heart; I was timid and bold by turns. Love is often too large to hold quietly, but I did.

We had no long talks late into the night about our future, about the number of children we should have, or about the best colors for a wedding.  We didn't discuss how we'd handle finances nor with what color we'd reupholster our couches when the stuffing spilled through.   Mostly, there were pools of silence, dark and cool.  Shadows and spaces in which to think and feel.

We talked and laughed and muddled a lot, too, forging our way from here to there.  We wrote words, needful ones and nonsense both, filling pages enough to stretch across the ocean, which they did.    We walked and talked for miles that winter, spring, and summer, and we drove for miles more with music and wind snatching words away. 

I suppose the silence stands out because now those pools ring loud and boisterous.   They hold rowdy splashes and rope swings and shouts across the riverbed.  The surface roils with young limbs learning to swim. All this noise and mostly happy chaos sprang forth from pools of silence.
All this love was born of one good friendship. 

Now, again, I hear high-pitched hiccoughs and feel a tiny leg quivering in sleep.  With bony knees drawn to his belly, he's a small, whorled seashell curved into itself.  Little goat grunts and high, squeaky sighs come first, and then his eyes roll back into his head as sleep comes.


Living is knotted and tangled.  It is hard and gritty and ugly in patches.  The earth groans, as it must.  But simplicity waits in the elemental.  Nursing in the middle of the night, half-asleep, a small body lies curled between my friend and I.   The fan spins, the crickets sing, and I find in all the nighttime noises of a family sleeping that here, too, is silence, vast and deep.

And in this silence is great love to share.


There's a Baby Sleeping on the Bed

It's both impossible and foolish to focus on a list of chores when a new baby fills all the crannies of a home.  I was trying to put away laundry when I innocently glanced at the bed.  Then I went to get my camera, and five minutes passed before I came to myself.  Then I just stared at him for a while.  The laundry didn't find its way into drawers until that evening.

For the ultrasound, Aidan's hands covered his face, and he still seeks skin and warmth on his face in order to fall soundly asleep.

I love watching new babies draw themselves tight and close, instinctively forming themselves into the familiar. A womb-shape of comfort out in the openness of a wider world.

Too soon, there was a baby waking on the bed.

This time is eternal yet runs so swiftly past.