Tuesday, July 30, 2013


San Antonio has a beautiful duck feeding option. 
The river is all green and cool and murky.
And around the various bends sit beautiful old settling houses and other kinds of interesting structures.
And a sparkling water fall.
And a bridge.
And a beautiful view.
Besides so many interesting varieties of ducks and other birds, most of whose photo likenesses did not prove fabulous enough to post here, though in person they were so interesting Elphine took about 200 pictures.
Also, no one really stood still for me.
And there was this amazing tree full of cattle egrets. 
Exactly the right kind of activity for a holidaying moment.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

one luxury and another

Romulus turned seven yesterday.

And so I worked on a contribution for cake wrecks. This is called The Wave.
And then we trundled heavily out to the beach one last time to say goodbye to the spectacular view.
And then we went swiftly to bed so as to be able to be in the car by 4:30am for the 12 hour drive to San Antonio. So here I am, in a really cool and lovely hotel room with a massive tv which has stopped the agonized crying of the children dead in their throats. After this mug of tea I am going to have a glass of wine and ponder the interesting week ahead of me. As for Romulus, he is going to be drinking coffee in the morning because now he is a man. Happy Birthday to him!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

lap of luxury

I have been groping towards my former mind over the past few days, feeling that I could, if I tried very hard, put some words together in a string for the everlasting gratification of the Internet. But the trouble of it has been much much too great. I'm trying to read The Fellowship of the Ring (because I promised myself I would, as a New Years resolution) and I feel like Frodo, lugging my wretched blogging mind through the wilds of the US, trying to keep all my various children from perishing in the fire or the water or because they are whining so much. It's just been exhausting--but in the right vacationing kind of way where you spend inordinate amounts of time trying to cook your food, or the time, time and time and a half it takes to lather sun screen on screaming angry sand scared toddlers. Maybe next week I'll lightly and effortlessly chronicle the mountains of food we've been wading through. Or not. Who can say what tomorrow shall bring.

Monday, July 08, 2013

suitable attire

After a great deal of puzzling (Elphine's word), I'm pretty sure this 
is what will be worn to the upcoming wedding that kicks off The Kennedy Grand Holiday on Saturday. Or maybe it should be the Kennedy Grand Tour. Hmm. I am open to suggestions for the name of this much longed for adventure. Actually, here's us all hoping for very little venture and a whole lot of placid boredom.
A month solid of no whining.
No disobedience.
No car trouble.
No hurricanes.
No lost books or bears or shoes or iPods.
Just solidly placid if slightly boring fun.
And sunshine.
And food. Lots and lots and lots of food. Without having to do any dishes.
AGH!!! I have got to stop this and go keep packing! And cleaning! 

Saturday, July 06, 2013

for a Saturday evening

OMW I'm so tired. And so is everyone else. I swear, if we have to clean the kitchen even one more time we will all die. 
We are up to our ears in packing and junk but mostly just fatigue. Maybe it was the stupidity of going to Walmart on a Saturday to look for impossible items like a "flashlight". They do have them, but they don't really want you to find and buy them. Anyway, I really do want to go away on a holiday but also, Whatever. 

So, in light of that discouraging word, here is a more encouraging one from someone who had sense enough to know Jesus much better even than I do. 

His thoughts said, My work is not important. Would it matter very much if a floor were left unswept or a room untie died? Or if I forgot to put flowers for a guest, or omitted some tiny unimportant courtesy?
His Father said, Would it have mattered very much if a few people had been left without wine at a feast? But thy Lord turned water into wine for them.
And the son remembered the words, Jesus took a towel.
--His Thoughts Said...The Father Said
       Amy Carmichael

Friday, July 05, 2013

a garden of ignorance

I have a lot of interesting plants in my garden. Whether plunked there by me, or inherited, or discovered to be growing even though I don't recall bothering myself about them, the great variety of flowers and whatnot making a go of it is a source of fascination and wonderment to me for the simple fact of my own ignorance. I don't know what any of them are and I have no idea how to go about finding out and honestly I don't really have time anyway.

For example, all year long this strange tropical spiky thing sits there, it's lower element being run over and over by the car as it is driven in and out, candy wrappers blowing gently up from the road on garbage collection day to stick in its spikes. When you walk by, it reaches out and pricks you. But, for the end of the month of June, every year, it sends up these amazing spires and then bursts abundantly into bloom. It's so beautiful. I stand in my back garden and stare at it instead of weeding. And then, just as suddenly, the blooms give up and die and we return to our old discouragements.
Last year I bought these orange and yellow flowers in the clearance section of a garden shop. The tag had come out. They and the purple things--the deep purple not the light purple (probably weed?) growing behind it--I extravagantly purchased for a whole dollar. I had no idea they would come up again, but there they are, robust and bright as ever. 
This I carefully cut from its much larger parent growing out front. Someone (see, who needs a memory, you wouldn't remember if I told you) told me if I cut it low by the root, with some root still on, it would grow in another location. And it is! The large spotty leaved thing behind it was a present and the name of it was included as part of its being given, but I didn't write it down and so I have no idea what it is.
I could go on photographing nearly every plant but I think you get the idea. The thing is, what would be the point of my knowing? I wouldn't remember. Probably I wouldn't remember. And in this way, everything is such a happy surprise. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013


Alouicious finally finished his school work last night. I was pretty sure the effort would be the death of us all; certainly he himself believed that he would perish if he had to write or read one single word more. But miraculously we lived through and today the sun is out and the thunder and lightning are momentarily away somewhere else and summer freedom hangs in the air.

I've been thinking a lot about Freedom lately, and its lovely relation, Independence. The two little girls gaining continence, for instance, and the great freeing gift of language, and many freedoms resulting from self control. I gain so much by their increased independence. I don't have to lug them around, plus all their stuff. My arms are free and clear. With each new skill, each gained ability everyone's life becomes more interesting and, for the most part, easier.

And Yet, as I push them forward into independence and its reward, freedom, the other side of the lesson is constant, unceasing, real Dependence--utter and total dependence--on God. You can do it! You did it! We say in one moment. Only God can. We say the next. Pray and ask God to do it because you can't really. He will do it in you and for you. 

It feels to me, on this fine summer day, that America collectively, and the American Church even more so, have got stuck on the We Can Do It, and are not so interested in the Only God Can bit. There are so many solutions and ideas and ready hands to make things better, but because we're the ones doing it, it's getting more and more messy and less and less free. At this point, as at every other, only God can do it, and he will do it, after we have ruined it so badly we will finally be forced to stop saying We Can Do It and begin to ask for mercy and help. What a great and freeing day that will be!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

don't judge me, as usual

This has been the Wall of Shame. It is the length of the Long Wall in Sheol (or the basement for those desirous of a more prosaic life). Many of you, when I have offhandedly mentioned The Wall of Shame, have looked at me with quiet and amused disbelief. 'It can't be that bad,' I have seen in your eyes, 'she's just being hyperbolic as usual.' And yet, all you unbelievers, you haven't accounted for the profound and robust smell of mold, the sense of despair lived out moment by moment in florecent and yet still dim lighting, the pile of chairs jumbled so perfectly as to make the person who walks innocently in want to run frantically out.
Honestly, I never wanted to cope with it. I never wanted to sort it out. I never wanted to discover whether or not my BA Senior Thesis was buried in it's filthy mire (it's not). I never wanted to actually sort through every single shoe worn by every single child inhabiting this house ever (I can say that because only single Catholic priests lived here before us).

And yet, because of the unending, unrelenting rain, on Monday, after damply plunking some old and uninteresting seeds in ground
there was nothing else to do but finally deal with Reality.
And do a little laundry. And start to put a few things in a bag because we really are going to indulge in a proper holiday this year. Because of which, the holiday I mean, rather than blogging and praying I've been doing the stupid Thirty Day Shred recommended by other crazed bloggers like Jen and Jessica. Except that for me, I hate it. H A T E I T. Really really hate it. Except that for the first time in my life I have one little muscle in each arm and I can now walk up a short flight of stairs without whining to anyone about it. It may be that I will actually be able to literally, not luridly and metaphorically, hike the Appalachian Trail in something like a week and a half.
'I'll need new hiking boots,' said Matt, 'for when we hike The Appalachian Trail (snigger).'
'What' reposted I, 'do you mean by Hiking. Because with six children it probably does not mean what it meant before. As soon as we set off, this
is what the children will insist they need to do. You don't need hiking boots, you need a good pair of slippers.'
'Fa' he said.
To which I replied, 'That's what everyone says about Sheol, and look how wrong they have all been.'