Monday, March 27, 2017


"I don't even know how you're going to BUY dirt," Jane says.

Jane, Jack, and Lu, bent over pony packs of potting soil, they measure out seeds. Like long legged storks, crouched awkward and elbow-ish, they plant sand-like seeds. They nestle the seeds in 5x5 grids by kind and ripening date. Each grid an installment of 25 plants, they plan. Transplanting will take dirt, lots of dirt, a whole compressed bale of it, a whole $40 bale of it.

"I just don't know how you're gonna buy more dirt," she says.

"Jane," Jack says.

"I have some money," she says.

"JANE," he says again.

" I can LEND it to to you," she says.

"Jane, JANE, Mother is going to have me grow her seeds, and she is going to help me out as payment," he says.

"Oh," she says. "Oh, good." All this time they never make eye contact, eyes fixed on placing each seed from palm to soil nest. "I can't wait," she says. "I just can't wait to sell these and bless people with some good plants."

"One hundred twenty-five," Jack says. "ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE, I've already done one hundred twenty-five." Now he's looking around, face resplendent, gleeful even, not withstanding dirt settled past his elbows, up on his shirt. "One sixth. I've already done ONE SIXTH of them!" he says, eyebrows a triumphant arc.

"Plus a hundred here," Lu says.

"And eighty five here," Jane says.

"Two twenty-five, three ten. That makes three ten," Jack says. "We're almost HALF way." He grins, but already his palm has another tiny pile of the next tomato variety and he's plucking seed by seed into another grid in another container.

And so we work. More than ever we work. And I see bonds; irreplicable attachments begin to form.  Loyalty springs up between seedlings. Dependence and gratitude hold hands. We race the clock to tuck in seeds. We time germination to prelude planting. And there in the middle I see them begin to let go of entitlement and look for what they can give to success. The sacrifices draw them together.


6317. A flat tire brings a dear friend and her family to our home for dinner, a spontaneous dinner. "That was so fun, I almost wish they would get a flat tire every time they come to the valley," Jane says.

6318. I can't believe I'm starting to master the art of wrapping George on my back. It's so fun!

6319. Craig and the kids continue construction on our family greenhouse. Jack devotes his free-time as if the greenhouse were recreation.

6320. Jack completes another wrestling season. More tests of character, more strengthening, more pushing himself and encouraging the people around him, we ring in a good season.

6321. George now four months, I find I am feeling more like my good old self.

6322. We begin the process of sprouting seeds. 700+ seeds nestled away for germination, we wait. And we plan. The children begin to author cathedrals of garden dreams.

6323. We begin to plan a neighborhood plant sale. The thought of all of our friends coming together is as fun as all the plants.

6324. The weather gradually orbits into windows of hospitable, even inviting, bits. We eat them up, every last crumb. Spring, it finally feels like it could be on the way.

6325. So many good days, the goodness being a pulpy and nutritious center more than measurable tasks or fancy destinations, we nourish our spirits on these good times.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bouts Of Sun

"There is NO way Dad could build that greenhouse without me," Joe says. I heft armfuls of laundry from washer to dryer. He hops one foot to the other in brown cowboy boots.

"Yeah?" I say.

"Yeah, 'cause I HAD to help him vacuum the cord. He COULDN'T reach it," he says.

"What?" I say.

"Yeah, he had to use the vacuum to suck the cord up," Joe says.

"I had to pull wire down a conduit," Craig says, "so I used the vacuum to suck the cord down the conduit." He tips is head to Joe.

"Oooohhhh," I say.

Laundry transferred I snap the door closed and press start. Joe nods, satisfaction laced between his crossed arms.

Later, dinner come and gone, Dutch blitz cards scattered across the table, Craig, Jack, Lucy, and I snap down cards in bluster and flurry. Joe, slung around Craig's shoulders, watches, his gaze strung down the end of his nose, studious and precise.

"Whelp," he says, "I promise you Dad is gonna WIN." A hiccup from the four competitors, giggles spilt between cards.

"Yup," I say. And what do you know, he does. And there is Joe nodding again in the background.

Finally, the night almost drawn closed, Jane and I transfer more laundry, always more laundry.

"Wait," I say. I pluck a roll-neck brown sweater from the laundry, shake the sleeves free from balled up. "I don't think Joe EVEN wore this," I say.

"He didn't," she says.

"Didn't feel like hanging it up, I guess," I shake my head.

"I'm not saying I'm not guilty of the same sin, but I've SEEN him do this MANY times," she says.

"Hmmm," I say.

Then there's Sunday morning, Joe peeks into my room, me in the middle of a made bed, knees drawn up, Bible open.

"Betsy's breaking a lot of eggs out there," he says.

"What?" I say.

"Yeah," he says.

"What do you mean?" I say.

"She cracked two and then I took them away," he climbs up on the bed as if saddling a horse.

"Is she breaking MORE right now?" I say, my eyebrows raised equal and opposite to his calm.

"No," he says.

"Are you SURE?"

"Yeah. I was cleaning one up and she broke another one so I took-took them away," he says, all the authority of a boardroom there in the tilt of his head.

"GOOD. Can you clean up the rest?"

"I was," he says. "I just get a big-big stack of paper towels and put," he demonstrates on the bed, "put it on it." He presses his hand into the mattress.

"Ooooooh," I say.

"To SOAK it up."

"Oh. Good."

"Yeah," he continues, "She was splattering them everywhere. There were four and she broke two." All drawn up in his nonchalance my words evaporate, and I just watch him retell it again and again. The man that is Joe begins to unfold -- caricatures of wisdom and cartoons of authority.


6304. I get a bonafide silicone toothpaste tube for DIY toothpaste. Yay, ease dispension!

6305. The Illustrated Life Of Jesus Of Nazareth, scripture and classical art, the juxtaposition leaves me thinking about it for hours.

6306. I continue daily to pluck gems out of J. Newton's and O. Chambers' works -- more scripture, principles, and worldview to roll around in my head.

6307. I make a pot of butternut stew. The children love it, say it may be the best stew yet.

6308. I practice wrapping Joe on my back every single day this week. Suddenly desirous to take on a new skill, I find it easier each time, and fun.

6309. A dear friend blesses me with a buttery soft woven wrap.

6310. Dutch Blits. We start the kids on one of my all time favorite card games. Frivolous, fast-paced, and fun, we eat it up.

6311. Unexpected cheddar, tortilla chips, coconut milk, Trader Joe's groceries fill our kitchen.

6312. I disciplined myself to get more sleep this past week and feel the difference.

6313. I play thrifted piano music, and George lulls to sleep.

6314. We had bouts of sun this past week. Simple goodness poured over our skin, we consumed the nourishment.

6315. I ordered seeds for the garden. The children continue to dream, plan, and lay out the garden.

6316. I let myself rest in the knowledge of God's power, perfection, and love.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


"And they were saying this girl was CRAZY for writing a speech there," Lucy says. Circled up at the big brown table we eat bits of leftovers.

"Oh," I say. I chase a piece of cayenne dusted pizza around my plate while other kids eat eggs, oatmeal, or miscellaneous vegetables. Fresh home from a wrestling tournament, we gather for early dinner, early card games, early bedtime.

"Yeah," Jack says around pizza snookered in his cheek, "but the lunch lady said that you COULD work on homework if you wanted."

"Huh," I say, "you can really see the mindset."

"What do you mean?" Jane looks up from a rectangle of bread and butter, blinks at me.

"Like those kids hating work," I say. "It's too bad. They're making it so they're gonna hate a large percentage of their lives if they hate work."

"Huh," she says.

"Or," I say, "you can teach yourself to love work like we are trying to do, and you make a huge percentage of your life pleasure."

"Why don't they do that?" she says.

"It's hard," I say.

"Huh," she says. "I don't know why they don't." She leans on an elbow encircling the side of her plate. Other heads nod as they begin to exodus for the dishwasher and dish duty. "I can see why they would despise someone who loves work," she says, "but I just don't see why they don't."

An open-aired moment, there, wide like the room around us gathers up as the neck of a satchel, and shrinks down into tasks, plates shuttled to the kitchen, go-fish cards dealt in their place. Like bits of shell, glass, and pebbles, some understanding of work lies caught in that small pocket of time.


6293. I have my varicose veins evaluated with good results and a treatment plan.

6294. I pass a headache under the gentle care of Craig and the kids.

6295. The children beg to get up earlier to have their schoolwork done by lunch or as early as possible.

6296. I continue to alter, thrift, and repurpose clothing to our needs.

6297. Craig continues to treasure hunt at local second hand stores. He and Jane come home with $200 boots for $10 (for her) and a grins wide enough to circle the whole house.

6298. I continue to add into each day the sweet, sweet joy of knitting.

6299. I figure out how to wrap George on my back. He grins like I'm his new pony.

6300. We continue to organize our schedule into a more normal configuration. At least it's the most normal since George was born.

6301. Doing fewer things, leaving room for margin, we begin to seamlessly move from task to task. I find the art of responding to many things at once easier, even pleasurable.

6302. Jack continues to wrestle. He relays moves and strategy to me with surgeon-like precision. I watch him discipline his mind and body and without knowing it begin to describe things like self-governance and discipline.

6303. I take note of these many, many moments spinning by, filling my world with spindrift, riches flung across every single day. These are good days. I don't think any part of the rest of life will be quite like this.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


"Careful," I say.

Jane, reclined on the toy box, the last makeshift seat at the table, balances a plate of pizza on her knees. Knees, bumped up to the table's edge, she leans stork-like over the plate, bites through a meniscus of toppings, misses a chunk of hamburger that then lobs off elbow-side.

"Hey, careful," I say.

"What?" she pulls free of sibling conversation.

"You're spilling," I say.

"Whoops," she half-smiles a shrug rolling down her arm.

"What are you doing?" I say. She sits frozen a moment then fishes an offending meat ball off her lap.

"Getting this," she says now between finger and thumb.

"Why are you sitting like that anyway?" I say.

"I don't know," she says a barb of irritation whipped out like a proboscis then reeled back.

"Are you mad?" I say.

"No," she says.

"Then why does it sound like it?" I say.

A sigh draped over her face, the lines around her eyes relax. "I guess you're just hearing that I'm exhausted," she says.

"Oooh," I say.

"Today was a physically and emotionally draining day."

"Yup," I say, "I know what you mean." Suddenly all the million errands of the day coalesce into one thing, a shared thing.

Words evaporate and we let the delicious pizza Jack made nourish our tired bones.


6288. Craig gets two new shirts to update his wardrobe.

6289. For the second week in a row we have Asian salad with soup. Delish!

6290. Craig and the girls oversee the first wrestling tournament this season for the club Jack is in.

6291. I finish knitting a wool cap for George. It's nearly too small, juuuust right.

6292. Jack and I go on a date exploring a local grocery store. We leave with a handful of kumquats and a wedge of jackfruit. I've never tasted anything so delicious as jackfruit.

6293. The long days of March surround us filled with studies and chores made longer with wrestling practice and wrestling tournaments. The tired feeling of full days pulls us together. Choosing a soft and kind answer when we most want to snap blooms in deep, deep affection one other.