Choir birds


Corrie is old enough to sing with a choir at school and wear robes, which is a bigger deal than you would think. She and her friends talked about it and anticipated it, only to find that the reality was like attending a church service in costumes. You expect theater and get responsibility. With liturgy.

Being the fun-loving girls these two are, they found things to enjoy. I think there was a certain amount of wing-flapping.

Corrie has a couple of special friends who are youngest children in their families, and I’m grateful when she gets to spend time with them because she basks in the shared glow of love. As a middle child, she fights the timeless battle to be seen and heard between responsible oldests and charming youngests. But with these friends, she comes home zingy with attention, allowed to be her mysterious, girly, deep-eyed self unchecked. Many people go through life wishing they could find true friends and Corrie flies into friendships with the freedom of a bird. Sometimes I wish I could be like her. – Katie

Cutting Loose

Cutting Loose

For James Dickey

Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose from
all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell where it is, and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path—but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be
lost, learning how real it is
here on the earth, again and again.


Good words in that poem about being lost. Being sad and sometimes, for no reason, singing. Someone told James today, semi-joking, that one of the reasons for believing in God was that spiders didn’t have wings. Can you imagine, he said, flying Black Widows? No one would have the energy to worry about anything else!

I took two little 3-year-olds to a plant nursery today and there was a tabby kitten named Fig wending among the giant clay pots. He was the mascot of the gardeners there, who had adorned him with a tiny collar and a bottle cap tag, and he bounced playfully around the girls. They shrieked and chased each him underneath things: he lashed his tiny tail and scratched their prying fingers from his hidey-holes. Little lives sparking off each other.  – Katie

My Wife

It’s my turn to post a Birthday Wish for Katie. It is one of the blessings of our friendship that our birthdays are just 2 days apart. We’re just a couple of Old Souls who get to see life together. Life being the good the bad and the ugly in the mud the blood and the beer. (HT Clint Eastwood and Johnny Cash.)

But today, Robert Louis Stevenson speaks of her the best…

My Wife

Trusty, dusky, vivid, true,
With eyes of gold and bramble-dew,
Steel-true and blade-straight,
The great artificer
Made my mate.

Honour, anger, valour, fire;
A love that life could never tire,
Death quench or evil stir,
The mighty master
Gave to her.

Teacher, tender, comrade, wife,
A fellow-farer true through life,
Heart-whole and soul-free
The august father
Gave to me.

Robert Louis Stevenson

God is always good, and we are in his hands. +james

Plain love

Today is the day between James and my birthdays. Sometimes I like this day best, the zenith of birthday season. It is true that it gets better.

This poem is found for my husband, the best man I know. – Katie


by the Brazilian Adelia Prado, translated generously by Ellen Watson

Plain Love

I just want plain love

With plain love they don’t look at each other.

Once found, like faith,

there’s an end to theologizing.

Tough as old boots, plain love is scrawny, sex-mad,

and has as many children as you can imagine.

It makes up for not speaking by doing.

It plants three-colored kisses all around the house,

purple and white longings,

both the simple and the intense.

Plain love is good because it doesn’t grow old.

It concentrates on the essential, what glitters in its eyes

is what it is:


I am man you are woman.

Plain love has no illusions,

what it does have is hope:

I want that plain love.

This. Is. Totally. Us.

My friend sent me a forward – and I never read forwards but it was about LAUNDRY so I had to.

There are five true things about laundry around here.

1. It is never done.

2. There is some clean, unfolded, un-put-away laundry around this house at all times. You may not see it. We may have stuffed it in the closet or the bathtub or the top bunk so you won’t see it when you visit. But it is there.

3. In spite of the constant presence of this kind of laundry, no one except me has ANY IDEA of where to find clean things. Which obviously means I am rearing blind, deaf offspring, just as the article below describes.

4. Shrink happens. Suck in that gut and button those suckers.

5. People around here change clothes five times a day and get them dirty for fun. Again, see below.

And now that I have, Dragnet-like, given you the facts, the poetical version is below. – Katie


lamentations of the laundress

When the laundry is made clean, then the people are blinded. “Where are my socks?” they ask, even though their very socks are before them, in the basket or even in a designated sock drawer. “Where is my shirt?” the people ask, because they are unwilling to turn their faces, even to turn their faces to the left and see where their shirts have been placed. And when I say to you, “Right there” and I point, you do not incline your eyes to where I am pointing but look wildly at the ceiling.

When the laundry is made dirty, I, the mom, merciful unless I’m annoyed, wise and faithful, carry the ketchup-laden clothing down 2 flights of stairs and make great mounds of filthy garments, and then I wash those garments, because I am altogether wonderful, although I smell like pee-clothes, and then I dry those clothes and then I carry the clothes up 2 flights of stairs and fold them and put them in baskets, for your drawers are full of clothes you won’t wear and I am too tired from answering questions to sort them. And when I have done this thing and I should find favor in your sight, then you decide that every sort of evil should be done. And you upend the baskets and use them for a cat cage or wear them as a robot head and you take the towels and wear them as capes and all your folded clothes are utterly downcast. And though I chide you, you hear me not, you are as the deaf.
And though you have done much evil, I would forgive it all if you would not then wear the clean clothes outside for a challenge involving spraying an entire can of sunscreen on your brother and then after you have emptied the can, then his anger rages against you and he then pushes you into the dirt and then, indeed, you come inside and sit on the couch and mourn and use 4 towels to dry yourself. And when your father comes home and his weeping is heard in all the land because he cannot find a towel to use one time and then throw on the bathroom floor, then my own rage burns against your father.

I, the mom, hungry and only relatively sane, am going to throw away all of your clothes and make you go to school naked. Or maybe I’ll just wash them again.

Magic fingers


James suffers from Back Issues and uses a handy massager from time to time. It jiggles violently and pounds muscles into submission. The children and animals find this machine fascinating. It thrums! It pounds! It makes an alarming sound like a full-throated food processor!


These three turned it on one day just to feel the interesting vibrations WITHOUT Dad around to hog them all.


They took turns pressing various bits of themselves against it to see what THAT was like. (Lip-jiggling! You’ve gotta love it!)


All the thrills of the $.50 Magic Fingers at cheap hotels without actually having to pay the $.50. What is not to love about that. – Katie

Cloak and dagger


Do you see that slightly guilty but still hopeful face? That is the face of a creature who KNOWS it is not supposed to be on the furniture and is trying to convince the picture-taker not to shoo it by using the soulful, pleading eyes.


And the other face? THAT one is supremely indifferent to the existence of humans, let alone concerned with keeping the stupid rules. It jerked toward me at the last minute and blurred up, but that grey one on top of the chair believes he owns all of us, the house, and everything in it.

Technically, no animals are allowed on the furniture, but no one enforces this rule except me. So the minute I leave the room the kids happily pat the spot beside them and both beasts leap eagerly into the forbidden zone.

The rules may be a losing battle. – Katie

Garden blues and purples


The garden is just about done. A lonely cantaloupe or two is still trying to eek nourishment out of the parched ground. I water occasionally, but we’re in water restriction season, so it’s watering done furtively and without much conviction.


And in the blithe triumph of beauty over practicality, the Morning Glory vines have grown up and strangled every little plant still alive. They bloom with predatory abandon. I should water them just out of subservience.


It’s the tiny jungle-garden.


And there may yet be figs…can you see them googling out like eyes between the Homer-Simpson-hand-shaped leaves of the fig tree. I love figs. With deep irrational passion.

This is the desperate season of the year growing-wise. It’s so hot you wonder how the earth holds anything in reserve. I saw two butterflies float erratically between rows of stopped traffic on the highway last Friday, and marveled at their tolerance. I, too, would love to float above the heat like that. – Katie