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To Ireland

Dear Ireland,

Many of your children’s children live in the US. We cherish our Irish roots.

You’ve known terrible suffering – we hear it in your poetry and song. You’ve known terrible physical poverty – but never poverty of spirit.



Margaret Coaina Reilly, approx. 1909

“It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” This is a poverty you have never known. Please, Ireland. Please vote to keep your babies.



I love the dogwood tree in front of our house. It is a petite tree and everything about it is pretty – even the rugged bark. Its leaves branch out uniformly, making graceful little ascending canopies. The last week or two we’ve had spring rain. One cloudy day, while I looked up over my head, the tree seemed to say, “Don’t worry – I will cover you.”

When will I ever learn?

When will I ever learn

To live in God? When will I ever learn?

He gives me everything I need and more

When will I ever learn?

Very often I recall those lines from a song by Van Morrison. The bruised reed he will not break; the smoldering wick he will not put out. These are comforting words to consider afterward.

Days in the life

Some parenting vignettes:

(Wailing from upstairs)

PARENT: What happened?

CHILD 1: (Wails) He hit me!

PARENT, to CHILD 2: Did you hit him?

CHILD 2: (In a scandalized voice) I did not hit him! (In normal tones) I sat on him.

PARENT, to CHILD 3: Where are your pants?

CHILD 3: In the kitchen.

PARENT: Why are they in the kitchen?

CHILD 3: Ummmm.  I don’t know.

On a different day,

PARENT, to CHILD 3: Where are your pants??

CHILD 3: Ummmm. Over dere.

PARENT: Why are they not on?

CHILD 3: Ummmm. (Picks up pants.) Can you help me?

On a recent birthday

PARENT: Well, how does it feel to be another year older?

CHILD: (Considers) Some of my fingers are hot. These four, on my left hand.

Oh my, if only I could remember the many similar vignettes. They say that parenting keeps you young – maybe it’s because it keeps you laughing.

The saga of the sofa-stander

scan02082017204032_001Little Man got the third of three casts removed this week, and had his broken arm pronounced thoroughly healed. Happily the three casts were all for the same injury, not separate ones.

It all began not quite a week before Christmas. I turned around one day and was shocked to see Little Man not seated, but standing on the back of the sofa. He was shocked to see me see him, and before he could make a concerted move, his feet suddenly slipped from under him, his bottom hit the back of the sofa, and he fell straight backwards as if he were falling off the side of a boat. I heard a yelp and little cry and he bounded to his feet with an expression of pain, holding his wrist.

If you are a parent, you probably have experienced anxious concern replaced by deep irritation, once you find that your child has not, thank heavens, seriously injured himself, after he put himself in the way of injury by goofing off. Also you can imagine the lecture that followed: “Why do you think we tell you not to stand on furniture?!”

Little Man seemed to be in real pain, although his arm looked fine. I iced it and told him to rest it for a bit. Both the next day and the day following the pain didn’t seem to diminish, so I took him to the doctor.

Little Man cheerily got himself weighed and measured and temperatured. He is three feet high and possessed of a cheery self-confidence and curiosity, and he and the physician’s assistant hit it off at once. She asked him what had happened, and he replied that he had fallen off of the sofa onto his wrist. When? she asked.

“Oh,” he said lightly, his eyes traveling along the ceiling, “it was years ago.”

I coughed. “Tuesday.”

The physician’s assistant laughed, and examined his arm. “Can you wiggle your fingers? Squeeze my hand. Does it hurt here? Here? How about here?” Little Man looked her in the eye and responded confidently to each query; but as she inched down toward his wrist his face got a little tight, and his “No” s turned to shaky “Y-es!” s.

She said she would send us out for an x-ray. While she was away telephoning, Little Man and I pulled out an anatomy book that was in the examining room. Little Man was fascinated by the skeletons.

The physician’s assistant came back with a few more instructions. Little Man put his stockinged feet companionably on her knees and looked at her shyly. If course this melted her even further. “They asked me if I thought you could stay still on an examining table,” she confided to Little Man,”and I said that I was quite sure that you could!”

On to the imaging clinic. We waited a bit and finally an x-ray tech came to fetch us. He was pretty surly. I didn’t know whether this was his normal disposition, or whether he was having a bad day, or what. At any rate, he fetched Little Man and he and another tech took him into the x-ray room.

A short time later they came back, and this time the tech’s face was all smiles. “That doctor’s name is Bruce,” Little Man told me in a stage whisper. I guess Little Man’s sunny disposition rubbed off on him.

We waited a bit to get the x-ray analysis from the doctor’s office and soon heard back. Little Man’s arm was broken – one bone near the wrist was clearly fractured, and the other appeared to have hair line crack. Goodness gracious.

On to the bone and joint clinic. Little Man was cheerful as ever.  The receptionists at the bone and joint clinic were very taken with him. (“He’s so cute!” Little Man never reacts much to this statement. He hears it so often, he may think it is just something grown-ups say.) They asked him his name. He told it, and spelled it for good measure, which caused them to melt into puddles.

The doctor asked Little Man to tell him what had happened. Little Man had it down pat now. “On Tuesday,” he said precisely, “I fell off the back of the sofa onto my arm, and broke it.”

As we sat in the examining room waiting for the cast to be put on, Little Man performed some break-dance-like moves on the examining table, giving me some anxiety lest he break another bone.

“Mom,” he said, “how do people float in the air?”

I considered for a bit, then mentioned hang gliding, and parasailing, and also hot-air balloons.

Later Little Man caught sight of a poster depicting several views of a skeleton, and was absorbed in that for a while. “What if all a person’s bones fell off?” he asked, looking at the skeleton. I said that I didn’t think that could happen very easily.

Soon a young man in scrubs came to fetch Little Man to put his cast on for him.

“I know a lot about bones,” Little Man said as he trotted beside him.

“Is that right?” the young man said. “Tell me what you know about bones.”

“I know,” said Little Man,”that they could all fall off!”

Maybe it was a slow day at the bone clinic, but soon, Little Man and the young man were surrounded by a little crowd of young ladies in scrubs, looking on (“Oh, he’s so cute!” they whispered to one another. They gave him candy.)

“Have you been good? Is Santa going to bring you lots of presents?” asked the young man working on his cast.

“W-e-ll,” Little Man hesitated, shooting a look in his mother’s direction. The scrubs-clad crowd burst into laughter at this, and Little Man grinned.

On our way out, we met a doctor in a shirt and tie, who put his hands on his hips and looked at Little Man.

“Well, little man,” he said. “Is Santa Claus coming?”

Little Man looked at him in silence for a moment.

“On Christmas,” he replied at last, in the tone of one who thought it behooved him to clarify a small but important point. Everyone knows that in the week before Christmas Santa is quite busy at the North Pole.

To condense the rest of the story, after that came three more visits- two to get new casts, and finally one to get the last one off – and Little Man heard many more times how cute he is, and got stickers, and candy, and a Valentine.

So what is the moral of the story? If you climb on furniture and break your arm you will get lots of candy? Well – let’s hope that’s not the one Little Man learned but rather that people are good-hearted and kind to children; and that breaking one’s arm hurts like the dickens, and is not worth idly doing again!

Sitting and knitting


The Artist’s Wife Knitting, by William James Glackens (image source)

No drawing during free time today, just knitting – with a loom, because that’s the only way I know. I was visited by a little Halyomorpha halys. They come indoors in great numbers when cold weather comes. This one crawled across the bedspread, then climbed up the loom. It stepped carefully from peg to peg, and I found myself admiring its antics and enjoying its company, not something I’ve ever experienced before with a stink bug! When it meandered onto my shirt I was less enthused. I gave it a pencil box to walk on and transferred it to the floor to go wandering elsewhere.

Windy night

Last night the winds chased each other round and round the house throughout the night. I was up long past midnight, listening. I felt like a little creature hidden in a fastness, listening to the winds playing.

I wasn’t afraid  – I had been earlier, as darkness fell and the winds rose, connecting the outer conditions to a state of darkness my mind had fallen into in the evening. But I prayed. And I jumped out of bed and went downstairs and had two digestive biscuits, then went back to bed and read a bit from a novel.  And I then I felt better. I couldn’t sleep but I was glad because I got to hear the winds.