We are very lucky to have several berry bushes near our house. They are yummy for us of course, but they also draw in neighbors and hoards of children. Here you see Michele and her daughter Kessy lured in and eating from the gooseberry bush:We have mountain berries (my personal favorite) blackberries, raspberries, and gooseberries. We have had this particular gooseberry at the head of our garden entrance for 3 years now. The first two years it did not bear ANY fruit. Last summer it had a total of 3 berries. Alex gave this thorny bush an ultimatum last year that if it didn't start producing, it would be dug up. And behold all of this fruit! This is about 1/4 of what it gave off this year. Alex turned these into a tart and buttery gooseberry pie.

dramatic dusk sky tonight...

Because our land faces southeast, and because the mountain is behind and to the west of our home, we don't see sunsets. (beautiful sunrises) Tonight though, was a wonderful bright rainbow against a dark backdrop (in the picture notice the silhouettes of our echinacea flowers!), and some brilliant clouds drifting to the east. I included a photo of Alex posing with the laundry that wasn't drying very fast with this weather...

It would have been dry already if I had remembered to hang it before I drove into town this morning- but alas, it slipped my mind. I had a lovely stroll through the botanical gardens with my friend Livia who was down from NY for a visit and my friend Liz (who is 39 weeks pregnant) and her son Elijah while I was in town. It is nice to have a bit of fun on a town day as it is usually all business for
Lili and me.

Just as I was driving the last stretch home tonight, a big white and red suburban came barreling over the crest of the hill almost completely on my side of the road. I had to swerve off the road, and luckily he also swerved back towards his lane. It was so close. Before I even had time to act I felt that mama-bear instinct and thought "
Lili!" and my adrenaline kicked in.

Afterwards I felt very shaken and angry at the suburban. These roads we live on are so curvy and people drive so crazy. Ever since my friend Lucas died on our road from being hit by a van while he was riding his bike 3 years ago, I feel very sensitive to reckless drivers. But the reckless ones are whizzing by to fast to ask them to be more careful...


upwards and onwards

Although she has mastered the skill of crawling, crawling is second best to pulling up on anything she can get her chubby fingers on. This feat came within days of crawling. She pulls herself up and then excitedly and unsteadily rocks back and forth- a cross between a surfer riding a wave and Elvis rocking out. She just loves being vertical...
This is a picture from the first time she pulled herself to standing in the crib. I was getting dressed and turned around to see her grinning at me like this. I ran to get the camera hoping she wouldn't take a giant tumble while I was getting it. I got back and she was still gripping on. She was quite the ham while I took the photos, but I picked this one because I think it captures both her uncertainty and the success of what she did.



The story of this garlic is one of neglect and ignorance:
(However, it has a happy ending) A year and a half ago I planted some garlic in a little row in our garden just as the summer was truly winding down. It sprouted before it got too cold, and it overwintered very nicely. At which point I got pregnant and forgot about it. Until fall, when I checked on it for the first time in a long time. Poor garlic- it was not good as far as I could tell. Mushy. I just left it in the ground. But then, this winter I realized that all that abandoned mushy garlic was growing more garlic! I didn't do anything to it at all (not even thin it which would have been nice) and then yesterday we went out to the garden and harvested some of the plants. They are small because they were overcrowded, but they are a nice bunch of garlics eh?
So I cut the garlic tops off and set the garlic bulbs out to dry...
and then I roasted the garlic tops with potatoes and olive oil and some herbs for dinner tonight- Alex made some yummy chicken salad atop a bed of spinach from our garden as well, and we had some wine, and the baby was sleeping. Perfect!
(excepting the fruit fly who drown in my wine and I couldn't scoop it out for the life of me- not very dignified...)


Handmade Birth Flag

Yesterday I got together with some girlfriends to craft for a couple hours. We all made "flags" for a mutual friend who is pregnant- The idea being that she can look at the flags when in a time of challenge (such as birth) and feel the support and love from her friends. For my birth a bunch of friends did something similar for me. The labor went too fast to think of getting out the art to look at during, but after the birth we set up all the little paintings around our recovery room. All of the nurses kept telling us they just wanted to hang out in our room it felt so nice!

I started out thinking I would hand stitch the whole flag in an intricate pattern, but, quickly moved onto the wondrous glue-gun (an impatient or time-crunched girl's savior!) It was great to get together with friends and create something, even if it was small. Maybe I should initiate this stitch-and-bitch sort of thing more often. That would be one more avenue for motivation...


Saturday morning ~ Saturday afternoon

Cornmeal pancakes, local sausage, NH maple syrup, yogurt, and Coffee...Becca drove up in her car for an afternoon visit, while Dave rode his bike here!


Fancy Schmancy.

Last night we drove 1 1/2 hours to Madison county to attend a party. The invite said the dress was "business casual we got dressed up and made the trek (me in my black boots, and Alex in a borrowed shirt of Dave's). The party I am speaking of was the grand showing of Southern Living Magazine's Idea house in Whisper Mountain. Whisper Mountain is one of the many gated communities popping up in the high hills of western NC (they don't seem be affected by the housing crisis for some reason).
Each issue of Southern Living they showcase a different house or two. They have pictures of the interior, exterior and the gardens, and it is all decorated and made to look lived in, but in truth the houses are brand spankin' new.
The reason we were invited to this particular idea house gala is because I have a few small paintings decorating the wall in an upstairs bathroom. This isn't the type of party I am usually jumping at the bit to go... lots of people I don't know, uncomfortable shoes, long drive, etc. But because it is an honor to have work in the house I felt like I should at least show up and try to enjoy it. As we drove in the ornate gateway we noticed the hood of our car was smoking (we must have a little oil leak). We parked as far away from the house as we could since our car was smoking, and sloppy with tools and baby stuff... not exactly a business casual ride.
Overall, the party was a good time. The beginning was a little rocky- Alex suggested that we leave before we had even seen 1/3 of the house (not even my paintings) I reminded him we drove forever to get there, and that it hurt he didn't want to see my night's claim to fame. He apologized saying that he was just reading my grim face... So we drank some wine and toured the rest of the house. I went back up later to take some photos of my work as proof they were there. (I doubt this particular bathroom will make it inside the magazine) Alas, in the end, I did not schmooze with any rich or famous people, but I had had some good laughs with Alex, ate some fancy appetizers and felt encouraged to keep at my artwork.

Asheville painter Wendy Whitson and potter Josh Copus's vessels in the living room.
Here I am in the lime green bathroom with my paintings.



Erin and Adam had their baby this morning! I just found out and I don't know all the details and it is killing me. I know the birth stats and saw a picture which pacified my thirst to hear every little detail. But mostly, I want to hear Erin's voice to hear how it sounds post labor. I want to hear how the labor went. My dear childhood friend is a MOTHER! ... We have been friends for 20 years and today something happened that changes her drastically. I really want to call, but I am blogging about it instead. Best to leave them to some peace. Right? Well, okay then.

Ironically, I just sent out a care package to them today in preparation for their birth. The note inside said lots of encouraging things that I thought may help her through her labor. Things like "trust your body" and that sort of thing. Now in hindsight it seems pretty silly that I didn't take into account that she could have already birthed the baby. She will probably have a good laugh for her tardy friend when she gets it. Although, I am only half-way tardy, as the package will arrive on her "official" due date.

Look how beautiful he is. He really is so beautiful... I have been tearing up for hours. It feels good to be full of so much joy.Corbin _?_ Shaffer
Born Tuesday, June 17, 5:15am
8 pounds 2 ounces 20.5 inches


you all mean the world...

Happy Father's Day!


The kids are on summer break and have moments of boredom already. It is hard for me to fathom being bored, but somewhere deep down in my memory I think remember saying those words to my parents on a long hot summer day...
So...Noah came and visited about 8 times today. On the seventh visit Alex took a break from our big weekend project of rearranging the upstairs to listen to some rock-n-roll and punk music with Noah. Our house was A-BLASTING with noise. The boys showed off some mean air guitar, and Noah did Lilikoi's hair in a faux-hawk for the occasion.
I will tell you: I was not bored.


Elusive Sweet Sleep

I have the night owl gene in me, and it is hard to go to bed early. Even at a time when sleep is like gold. Many a night I look up from some little project or book and the clock is rounding midnight- and then I get this pit in my stomach. I should have gone to bed hours ago is what I am thinking....Because you just never know what kind of sleep you will get in the next 7 hours.

Some nights would have the stranger in the grocery store who asks me "is she sleeping through the night?" tut-tutting in dismay. Other nights when she wakes me up only once to nurse have a sweetness about them (in a delirious sort of way). By the glow of the pink nightlight I have a rare quiet moment to appreciate this miracle that is my daughter. I soothe her back to sleep with a hushed voice after nursing and a diaper change. It is these nights of more sleep that I often stay awake to just stare at her for a moment or two more before I click off the light.

Our petering singing Cicada colony

"This was a big run for Cicada Bug this year in many Eastern States and now Bugs buzz dying down in many parts of the USA. Experts say the historical pattern of the Cicada Bug has been proved once more. Cicada mate during 4 week period and then male Cicada dies falling to the ground or still being attached to a tree branch with its sharp legs. Females on the other hand are busy laying eggs by simply dropping them to earth underneath and die after all eggs are gone. However, Cicada nymphs continue cycle and borrowing several inches underground where they will hide for next 17 or so years. Should we say “I’ll be back!” for Cicada or Zzzzzz Zzzz Zzzzz! In its own language.

Cicadas in translation from German - Singing Insect. We name so because mail issues the sounds as a mixture of chirring, chirping, and singing. Under the poetic legend of ancient Greeks two musicians Evnom and Ariston have arranged competition. Cicada was also invited to this competition. When musician started to play instruments, Cicada sat on one place and started to produce sounds similar to the sounds of Arpha . As you may guess Cicada won this competition and was proclaimed the best musician. Since then the cicada sitting on arpha, is considered to be a Greek emblem of music. On the contrary female Cicadas do not sing. They are listeners of their male counterpart. They main task of female Cicada is to determine which male Cicada is the best performer on the block. This male Cicada is then picked for mating. From early ages men was fascinated by the sounds and songs of Cicadas. Cicada fans in Asia capture them and contain within a wooden box. Captured Cicadas then divided according their tune and sounds and appreciated by large crowds of fans for both loudness and variety if their songs. The musical secret of Cicadas is in their chamber on its breast. There are special membranes which are actuated by a strong muscle. This muscle is reduced with huge speed - twenty thousand times per one second. As a result, membranes issue a sharp sound. The sound then passes through complex system of resonators and amplifiers producing stunning sounds that can be heard for miles." - from newscicadayear.com
I personally think it sounds like a troop of aliens touching down. Rather than the Zzzzz Zzzzz Zzzzz it sounds more like a Wooooo Wooooooz Wooooooo to me. In researching some cicada info I came across these unique cicada things
  1. a cicada receipe: http://recipe.cicadayear.com/
  2. a place to buy a cicada ringtone: http://www.ringringers.com/?id=3921285
  3. and best of all, this T-shirt: (it says, "What did one cicada say to the other? I can't believe George Bush is still president!")


I believe this picture says it all

As you can see, David & Ema, and Alex & I have practically matching cars. As unlikely as it sounds this was not intentional. They got theirs in Utah. And when my Mom and Paul offered for us to buy their white Subaru station wagon at a great price we couldn't say no (despite the fact that we were buying the same car as David and Ema)
But the matching car thing is truly just the beginning. matching silverware sets, houses just 25 feet apart with matching siding, brothers who sometimes sport matching hairdos, matching kitchen chairs, matching upstairs ceilings... well that might be it. However our lives are very intertwined, and sometimes it feels like we are all married in a way.

Lucky for us, D & E are a perfect match for us. I can't imagine living this close to anyone else. (I amend this, we have lived quite successfully with other family before) We are similar but not too similar. We get along, but are able to communicate with relative ease when we don't see eye to eye. (and more often than not it's Ema and I together not seeing eye to eye with the guys or vis versa.)

I like that we are a living example of family that loves each other and is able to co-exist. You know that saying that time spent with family is like fish? Family and fish are good for about a three day max before it starts to go bad? I guess we are (gratefully) breaking that mold.



Lili got to eat her first whole blueberries this evening.
As you can see, she made quite the mess. Her hands are still purple even after a bath.this is the artwork she left me on her plastic tray. I think a huge part of art is being there to witness a movement or pattern left in a wake. This here would be a prime example.


Home Sweet Home

Exactly two weeks since we packed up and headed north to visit my home state we returned home to our little abode in the jungle. From the looks of it we could have been gone a long time: a lot can grow in two weeks in June in this temperate climate. The snapdragons in front of our house grew a foot easily.

We were very road weary when we finally pulled into our driveway after a long and crabby second day of travel. We buzzed around settling in, unpacking, airing out the house, loving on the cats, and cooking a late dinner. When we sat down to eat our spaghetti dinner we opened the stack of mail that had piled up. Alas, lots of bills including a whopper from Alex's thumb ER visit- but then at the bottom of the pile was an intriguing envelope. We saved it until after dinner. It was our wedding invite to Christine's wedding in Nicaragua this fall. I felt the need to post a picture of it here because it is all handmade and by far the most amazing invite I will probably ever receive. It came in a see-through silver envelope, then in unwrap some raffia and open a thin silver tin, then inside is a make-believe passport with all of the wedding information in it. I will admit that I saw a mock up when Christine visited so I was not completely surprised. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall watching someone open it for the first time.
And yes, we will be going this November!!! For now though, we are glad we had such a nice time in New England, and we are very glad to be home in our home sweet home.



For the last month or so Lili has this new habit of scrunching up her nose and snorting in and out really fast when she thinks something is funny. Amy pointed out that perhaps it is the precursor to her being a snorter-laugher (I sincerely hope not). When she does it though, you can't help but giggle and feel honored if it was done in your direction...


Adam & Elizabeth's Wedding

This past weekend was my dear friend Adam's wedding to his love, Elizabeth...We drove up to Burlington (2 1/2 hour drive Northwest) the night before the wedding to a camp we rented for the weekend. The house was straight from the seventies and was right on the water. From inside you could look across Lake Champlain to NY state and you could hear the waves lapping at the shore. Mom, Paul, Becca, Dave, Alex, Lili, and I (Dad and Amy joined us the next night) all huddled around eating some killer burritos we whipped up in the kitchen- we were huddling because it was only in the 50's inside. We decided to light a fire and somehow got the flu all backwards and filled the house up with smoke- (aside from this public admittance we will not tell...) However, once the house aired and we were a little warmer from all of the exercise of fanning out the smoke, and the adrenaline of the alarm going off, we sat around the now working fire, and had some good laughs.


The wedding ceremony was on a balcony overlooking the lake, and it was classic, touching, and short and sweet. It took place a little before sunset and the light was glowing and glistening off the water. Lili was wearing a purple sparkly dress and tights that were bunchy around the ankles, and was so happy during the ceremony we had to keep hushing her shrieks of glee.

Adam looked very handsome, and Elizabeth looked very beautiful. It was obvious that they had put a lot of time and energy into the little details to make the whole event special. The big twist and great surprise to me was that the whole affair took place at a small science museum/aquarium. (www.echovermont.org/) It was very unique and fun to party amongst giant fish and science exhibits.
There is this little part of me (and a very selfish part at that) that is mourning the loss of the friendship that Adam and I have had all these years while he has been single. Being single he always seemed to find so much time and energy to be one of the most proactive and dedicated of friends. Ultimately though, I have been praying for years that he would fall in love with someone who would appreciate all of his quirky beauty, and now he has. It felt like a letting go for me to see him waiting for Elizabeth to show up in her wedding dress and take their vows. In what feels like a completely different lifetime (high school to be exact) Adam was my first true love. Our love has morphed over the last 12 years into a deep friendship that has been a source of steadiness for me. It was 95% very beautiful and heartwarming to see my dear old friend fall in love and get married, and 5% a little bittersweet feeling like our friendship will take a new direction as he is starting a new family. I guess I always feel this at weddings of close friends and now that I am saying it out loud it seems a little weird. But, that's the sentiment. Mostly happy for them, laced with a twinge of sadness for what will be left behind. Of course, now there is a new opportunity for a whole new aspect of our friendship to blossom.