The story of a poncho family.

Designing and sewing ponchos for my family causes me to see ponchos everywhere. Suddenly, the poncho has become an object of my not-so-discreet fascination. When Max inquired about the origins of the poncho, I realized I needed to study a…

The secret life of pine trees.

There is a tall, stately conifer in our backyard whose branches begin above the treeline; it’s as if they are hungry for direct sunlight. Max and I have been arguing over what type of pine this might be, and today…

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The Romania hit list.

Romania through the lens of Betuel Hreniuc. More here. The countdown to our Romania trip has officially begun. In less than two weeks, Patrick, the munchkins, myself, and my beautiful mother will be flying to Romania to introduce Pat and…

The recent memory of camping with cool people.

The weekend before the last, we went camping with Matt and Sarah. A week later, the camping gear sits in the garage, still unsorted and unattended. I’m don’t report this out of guilt- merely amusement that we managed to find…

The process for helping out a friend.

Our dogwood friends have started blooming, and a few on the backyard tree still had their eyes closed this morning- a great opportunity to really savor each step of their development. Unfortunately, I am focusing on this tree today because…

The postcard as political protest.

John Heartfield did everything he could to avoid serving in the German military during World War I. He and his friends, dabblers in Dada like Georg Groszt, believed that people liked the black-and-white agitprop of war and companies liked the…

The poetic life of the egg tooth.

Three eggs discovered at a rest area in Kentucky. The last few lines from Gail Mazur’s poem, “Evening”, come to mind. The lines in which the elderly woman insists that she wants the blue eggs more than the promise of…

The playlist you’ve been waiting for.

Funny how I find myself missing those friends who love the CDs you burn for them because you just know they need to hear those songs. I did actually name a playlist after a friend- Wendy’s Whistle- who lives out…

The perfect day that made no promise.

It didn’t have to be a perfect day. One might even say that I began the day by jinxing it. We drove to Alabaster for an herb co-op only to discover that I had mixed up the times. Suddenly, we…

The ones that got away.

Micah at Hurricane Creek. Fly fishing is one of those things I hope to carve into a few spaces in my life as the kids get older. And reading books like Howell Raines’ The One That Got Away, a memoir…

The mysteries of the Mississippi River.

James B. Eads, lover of the Mississippi. Reading Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry introduced me to a fascinating character by the name of James Buchanan Eads. In his…

The Mona Lisa: An investigation.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, Oil on poplar, 77 × 53 cm, 30 × 21 No discussion of portraits is complete without reference to the most famous (and, in my opinion, overrated) portrait of all time. I remember the…

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The midwife bill gets a hearing in Alabama.

Micah at the March for Midwives last year. And it needs your support. Mark your calendars and support a female’s right to choose the way in which she welcomes her little ones into this world. The Public Hearing for SB…

The men under the pecan tree.

Mrs. Liddell knew how to tell a good tale. Here is a historical ditty about how the Presbyterian church put an end to the practice of “telephoning for catfish”: The men under the pecan tree never tire of talking about…

The March for Midwives.

Micah and I spent some together this morning just the two of us at the March for Midwives, put together by the Alabama Birth Coalition. She is such a sweet, tough little creature who always leaves me with reason to…

The magic of nocturnal life.

Image source: Mental Floss with “10 fun firefly facts” This weekend, the King cut the backyard grass for the first time in the spring season. At my begging request, he left a small patch of grass and wildflowers uncut under…

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The lyrics and life of Alabama poet, John Finlay.

Thanks to his article in the Alabama Literary Review, Jeffrey Goodman brought a new Alabama author to my attention. The author is John Finlay, whose brief-by-modern-standards life begins in Ozark, Alabama, where he was born. His father had a farm…

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The Lost Ladybug Project.

More on that citizen science bug thats been nibbling at our time. The Lost Ladybug Project (LLP) is a wonderful citizen science project for all age groups and it is especially appealing to parents and teachers of children in grades…

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The liberating habits of compassionate men.

During my first pregnancy over ten years ago, I devoured books on the topic of raising boys. As with every new terrain, it made sense to cross-reference the maps made by those who came before me. The most important conclusion…

The kids you see.

It was one of those mornings when everything went just as planned. I even remembered to pack extra snacks and refill the water bottles for everyone. But the perfect plan didn’t quite buy me time to sit back and savor…

The joys of slacking in Colorado.

Max licks his lips and ups the chapping ante. Off to ski school we went, all three little people outfitted and overheated in the backseat of the spaceship that rode like a hockey puck over a vaseline-smothered slip-and-slide. The King…

The home of Hudson Strode.

There is a very special house in our neighborhood– a house that belonged to a literary scholar who endowed the home and surrounding property to the University of Alabama. This man was known to most as Professor Hudson Strode. Prone…

The heart of the matter.

It’s the generic reasoning offered by even the most open-minded of my friends and acquaintances- School is very important because it “socializes” children. Without it, socialization of this particular sort just doesn’t occur. And while many express concern and dismay…

The guys who give Walker Percy.

(Photo credit: The End of Irony) A few years back, I saw Lee Bains in his former costume as a Dexateen or something in-between. Bains’ pulsating stage presence reminded me of how Bruce Springsteen used to fill out his jeans…

The Great Backyard Bird Hunt.

In case I haven’t mentioned how much fun unschooling Max has become, let me rave about it right here right now. Case in point: The Great Backyard Bird Hunt from February 16th-19th is a “textbook” example of how we learn…

The first taste of fall.

It came as a more of a scent than a taste, though the feeling of it lingered on my tongue as I climbed into bed last night. That first chill in the evening air- the one that signals the end…

The first day at the farm.

Milla chases a kitty towards the herb and vegetable gardens at Koinonia. Having been raised in a home where the basement often served as temporary residence for an Eastern Orthodox monks, nuns, and artists, my heart holds a special fondness…

The face of courage when losing a child.

The first time I met Bethany, she was managing to joke and make light of the challenging early months with a high-needs baby. Having been one of those mothers and having failed to remain as calm as Bethany during the…

The Ezzos come over for dinner with my family.

Who knows what I’m saying in this photo, but my stellar eye infection really brings out the chatty Cathy in me. Clearly, not an Ezzo moment. Reading Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards’ Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future illuminates…

The end of summer playlist.

LA ISLA BONITA – Laura Barrett (via Cover Lay Down, original by Madonna) For my niece, Isla, who is as bonita as life gets. BLOOD LOSS – Horrible Crowes (via More Cowbelle) For all the elderly who have captivated me…

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The Doo Nanny is on my calendar for next year.

Thanks to Shannon Eileen’s blog post, I have discovered something else to get excited about. Because I’m not already overly-excited about so many happenings and happynings. Begun as a roadside folk art show in 1996, inspired by the Burning Man…

The day ends with play.

The children are hard at play in the backyard which, fortunately, got fenced in last year. Max is in his underwear while Micah is running around naked as a jaybird, her diaper and clothing long ago deemed too cumbersome for…