Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Breaking Records with the Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond

1. Volume 478. Sounds like a lot. Where were you in 1978? If you weren't born where were you in 2008? 

1978? The first half of the year, I would have been in sixth grade, the end of elementary school. The little kids of just the year before were suddenly listening to News of the World and banging out "We Will Rock You" on their desks. Wearing polyester school clothes from Sears was bad; The Incredible Hulk, Charlie's Angels, and Mork and Mindy were cool (i.e. on your lunchbox). Playing truth or dare at a sleepover was cool, bringing your Barbies or your Nancy Drew books, not so much...although the Hardy Boys were an in-thing, especially Shaun Cassidy. Going to see Grease as many times as your parents would let you was cool. Buying the double album and knowing all the words to the songs, very cool. But most of us were still "good kids," still attached to our families in spite of rattier clothes, more makeup, and louder music. (Mine wasn't much louder. I had Andy Gibb's Flowing Rivers and John Travolta's solo album.)

And then the summer was over and we moved into middle school, with lockers and split gym classes and all the drama. I felt like I had been thrown into a blender with a pile of Judy Blume novels (and maybe a frog or two as well). So typical, I guess, but there's always enough seventh grade angst to go around.

2. Raise your hand if you remember records playing at a speed of 78 rpm? What's a topic that when it comes up you 'sound like a broken record'? 

Oh, sure, I had a pile of 45's and little '78's. Popeye the Sailor Man and all the rest of them.

What am I a broken record on? Probably everything since 1978.

3. What's the last thing you recorded in some way? 

Verbally? Besides a voice mail to somebody? I guess that would count. Maybe a couple of podcasts I spoke on.

Pendelfin bunny and book from an antiques market

4. Thursday is the first day of fall (in the northern hemisphere). How do you feel about the changing seasons? Something you're looking forward to this fall? 

Although things seem to be getting back to "normal" in most ways, the sense of time being kind of mushy over the past two-plus years hasn't entirely gone away, and sometimes the seasons scoot past too quickly, waving from their 1978 roller skates. Fall is good, pumpkins and leaves and blue October skies are nice, but snow comes behind all that.

Thrifted scarf, flea-market necklace found last weekend

5. In what way (or ways) are you like the apple that didn't 'fall far from the tree'? 

Not sure right now.

But here's a poem by Denise Levertov that seems to fit the question.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

My bread sometimes turns out somewhat random-looking, but it tastes all right.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A Fetching Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. Something you've labored over recently? 

A book revision!

2. How will you rest on Labor Day? 

That sounds funny! But no special plans yet.

3. Margaret Mead is quoted as saying, "I learned the value of hard work by working hard." Would you agree? Where and how did you learn the value of hard work? 

All the adults I grew up with worked hard, and if you were working with them they expected you to do the same, even if it was just fetching and carrying. But that didn't mean I never tried to get away with last-minute school projects.

4. It's National Eat Outside Day (August 31st). Will you? Do you enjoy dining 'al fresco' or prefer indoor seating? 

Indoor. Less fetching and carrying.

5. Somehow it's the end of August. What was the best day of the month for you and tell us what made it so? 

I'm not really sure! Mostly it was the little things that made it a good month, rather than any big one. Going to the Kitchener (Ontario) Blues Festival one night was a lot of fun.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

The year goes by, the clock ticks, the pages are filling up. How am I going to finish that 2022 reading list I made almost a year ago?

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Wednesday Hodgepodge: No Schooling Around

From this Side of the Pond

1. August is National Back To School does that make you feel? Share a back-to-school memory. 

Why is it Back to School Month when, where I live, nobody ever went back to school until September? I know some places in the U.S. start in August, though. Or is that just a "National Go Buy Your Back to School Supplies" thing?

First days of school were sometimes strange. In the third grade I started a new school, and since I had almost the same name as another girl in my class, the teacher assumed we were the same person and hadn't set up a desk or a name card or any of those things that are important when you're a kid. When I started middle school, I somehow got into the wrong homeroom the first day and nobody knew who I was or where I was supposed to be. I decided that I must have a special "Who are you again?" goblin following me around. It was actually nice to reach high school and have a little photo card I could whip out if anyone ever doubted my existence.

2. Something you've learned in 'the school of life'? 

Someone tried to scam me over the phone today. Names and places have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

I had just hung up on the usual sort of telemarketer, when the phone rang again, this time showing a number from another part of the province. I picked it up, assuming that it was the same spam company as before, and a deep voice addressed me as "Grandma." I don't have grandchildren, other than the grand-doggies, who aren't too likely to be phoning me. I said, "Who did you think you were calling?" He said, "Ha ha, I was just joking--this is your oldest nephew." Now, I do have a nephew, but I haven't talked to him for several years. "Is this Billy?" I said. "Yes, it's Billy. You wouldn't recognize the number," he said, "because I'm in -- City. One of my buddies is getting married, and I had some time off, so I thought, why not go."

You don't need to know personal details about my nephew, but basically I doubted very much that he would have travelled that far at his age and alone to go to a "buddy's" wedding. Or that he'd even have any "buddies" who were getting married yet.

"Look," I said, "I just need to make sure that I'm really talking to the person you say I'm talking to. Where do you live when you're not in -- City?"

Silence. Bzzzzzzz. I guess he figured, "Oops--busted by Billy's Aunt."

I've had those scam emails before ("This is your friend Mary. I'm travelling and I need gift cards"), but that's the first time someone's been bold enough to try it over the phone. So, whoever you are, stop schooling around with me. You might think some of us are old enough to get taken in by fake grandchildren and nephews, but it's the opposite: we're old enough not to get conned by this nonsense, so stop wasting all of our time.

3. Three words to describe your current mood.

Besides having a few words I'd like to say to people who try to prey on grandmas and aunties?

"Slow down, summer." Good weather is too short here. I do like fall, but it's not summer.

4. A summer food you've eaten too much of/are tired of? A summer food you haven't had enough of?

I haven't had much summer fruit, for various reasons, and that does make me feel like I've missed something. Summer feels like it should be peaches that squish, cherries that endanger your clothes, and too much messy watermelon.

We had one, maybe two good tomatoes and a couple of peppers from our back-deck plants, but that's all. We also have a yellow bean plant in a pot, but the beans we've had from it are tough no matter which way we cook them.

Also, the corn on the cob that we've bought has been disappointing.. 

So no, I can't think of anything we've o.d.'d on.

However, on the subject of things growing on the back deck, we have a surprise Peace Lily that suddenly popped up. It belongs to a couple of plants from a gift basket given to us last winter, that we moved to an outside pot when the weather warmed up. I didn't know what the plant was--it had shiny leaves, but no flowers. Apparently it likes the climate on our deck so much that it decided to send up a blossom. Someone told me that it's technically not a blossom, but you know what I mean. It's very pretty, anyway, and it seems to be doing much better than the tomato plants.

5. What small stuff do you sweat that you know you shouldn't?

If I wrote about it, I'd start sweating about it, so I won't.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Did you know it's National Thrift Shop/Store Day? Here's a mostly-thrifted outfit (except for the boots). The jacket (found yesterday) was a dollar, and the jeans were a dollar. You can see more of my thrifted stuff on the fall clothes post, here.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Designated (Clothes for Fall)

 Here's some colour inspiration for this fall. Yes, you've seen it here before.

Sonatina Per Due, by Rosina Wachtmeister, poster found at a flea market

And there's this:

Vintage scarf and beads, same flea market

And one more:

An orchid which happens to be in full bloom right now.

First Round: Thinking it Through

She blew the clothes budget on one pair of pants. Which she needed, truly. And she decided to buy something Canadian-made and sustainable, that would go with all kinds of things.

Duffield Design Stovepipe Pants in Charcoal

But she won't be buying much else this season! So what's already in the closet? An immediate strikeout: the fleece cardigan that she thought she would match the pants. It's dark, it's heavy, it's got a lot of  ribbing on the collar and cuffs. She might feel differently about it come snow and January, but for now, nope. 

But all is not lost. 

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

If You're Feeling Fried, Read the Wednesday Hodgepodge

 From this Side of the Pond

1. July 6th is National Fried Chicken Day...are you a fan? Do you make your own or have a favorite place to buy from? Do you own chickens? If not chicken what's your favorite fried food?

No to most of that. Sorry, Mitfordians.

Alternative fried food? The easiest answer: French fries.

2.  What's something you're too chicken to try?

Most of the recipes in the Nigella Lawson how-to-cook-everything cookbook I thrifted yesterday. (Most of which aren't chicken.)

3. When did you last find yourself running around like a 'chicken with its head cut off'?

I mostly prefer to keep my head attached.

4. Something you've done recently that makes you think 'I'm no spring chicken'?

Realizing that some of the wedding presents that we've been using for 30+ years are finally wearing out.

5. 'Winner winner chicken dinner'...tell us about something good that's happened in your life lately. 

We had a wedding anniversary recently, and decided to take a little day trip somewhere we'd never been before. Where should we go?. Our place of choice, that we'd never seen much of up close, was Dundas.

Dundas was, originally, an important town in Upper Canada, sort of a transportation hub, and many other towns in Ontario still have a Dundas Street (as in, this is the road you take to get to Dundas). Now it's just a small place on the edge of the city of Hamilton (on Lake Ontario): a funky, artsy little place, with eco stores, bike shops, and even an olive oil boutique. 

The look of the original downtown is much like the place where I grew up, and other Ontario towns too--they all seem to have been designed by the same person, and probably some of them were. The old Carnegie Library (didn't every town have one?) is now quite a good small art gallery, and we spent some time in there. Amazingly, even the children's art they were exhibiting seemed to be above average--something in the water maybe? The town also has a local museum, which has one corner dedicated to something I've never seen in a town museum: a Chinese restaurant that apparently was a local favourite place in the mid 20th century, and then when the husband died, the wife closed the restaurant and continued living upstairs, but kept things in the restaurant just as they were, for years--so when she eventually passed away, they discovered this amazing little time capsule and decided to preserve one booth's worth of it in the museum. (I won't even get into the really good used book store we found on the main street.)

Having the time to wander somewhere like that brought back memories of trips we used to take, like our honeymoon. Maybe we're still spring chickens at heart.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Squeezing in on the Wednesday Hodgepodge

 From this Side of the Pond

1. Something you learned from your father? 

* that neighbours matter
* that flea markets rock
* that you can never plant too many daffodils (if you do, but I don't)
* that you can never have too many Christmas decorations (if you do, but I don't)
* that Lawrence Welk is the man
* the genealogy of the British royal family
* how to be punny

2. Do you like onions? Raw or cooked? How about onion rings? What's something you love to eat that calls for onions? 

Well, not my dad's favourite liver and onions, sorry.

Onion rings, a rare thing, but I do like them. The flea market we used to go to as children (following my dad around looking for royalty teacups) had a food booth that perfumed the whole place with the smell of frying onion rings.

Onions in potato soup: definitely.

3. It's officially summer (in the Northern hemisphere)...your favorite and least favorite things about the season?

The heat and the heat.

4. When you think about the summers of your childhood what are two or three things that come to mind? 

The heat and the heat.

5.  A hot mess, the heat of the moment, beat the heat, if you can't stand the heat, catch heat, in a dead heat...choose a 'hot 'phrase and tell us how it applies to your life right now.

Probably not the most apt phrase, but prices here (and everywhere) are heating up and we're trying to beat them, especially foodwise. Or at least not get apoplexy every time we go to the supermarket. We have a favourite slow cooker beef recipe that combines soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, and honey...but the price of honey has shot way up, so I'm probably going to adulterate the next batch with (cheaper) brown sugar.

We're also experimenting with growing a few veggies on the back deck. Our hamster particularly likes the parsley.

Linked from the Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

It Could Be Here or it Might Be There (Summer Travels)

Over the next day or two or three, she and her spouse might be going to a bigger city to take care of a couple of errands, and if so, they'll use the chance to visit the big art gallery, or do something else fun while they're there.

However, if that trip turns out not to be necessary, they're going to head the other way and spend a day or two in one of their favourite beach towns.

Or maybe they'll figure out a way to do both.

But how should she pack? Just for a short urban road trip? Or a shorts-and-sandals overnighter? Should she worry about which clothes are clean, or just take what's there? What if it turns cold or rainy? She's trying not to get jarred by too much uncertainty.

So she goes back to her Age of Aquarium page, which started with an imaginary road trip. And she looks at some of the Six Pack archives on the Vivienne Files. (That means, generally, three pieces of clothing to wear, and six in the bag.)

The original plan of a white linen pullover, sleeveless white top, and navy shorts is still fine. 

She decides to leave out the blue jeans, though, and add in a navy top and pants. They don't technically match, but they both have the same sort of embroidery, and in a pinch they could pass for a jumpsuit.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

May Be the Wednesday Hodgepodge

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe. See you there-

From this Side of the Pond

1. May Day! May Day!...last time you shouted for help? Or maybe just asked? 

Mr. Fixit! My Overdrive account has gone kerflooey! All my virtual library book holds have disappeared and it seems to think it's four years ago! What's going on?

(My account somehow got shifted over to a seldom-used card for another library. I still don't know how.)

2. What's something you may do this month? 

Take a drive to Lake Huron, just for fun and because the weather's getting better.

3.  'April showers bring May flowers' this true where you live? What's blooming? What's your favorite springtime blossom?

Spring comes slowly here (we were still getting dustings of snow until recently), but the buds are out on our lilac bush, and I've seen some tulips and violets.

4. What's something you learned at your mother's knee?

To share.

5. Share a thought about motherhood. 

     "The Babe,
Nursed in his Mother's arms, who sinks to sleep
Rocked on his Mother's breast; who with his soul
Drinks in the feelings of his Mother's eye!
For him, in one dear Presence, there exists
A virtue which irradiates and exalts
Objects through widest intercourse of sense.
No outcast he, bewildered and depressed:
Along his infant veins are interfused
The gravitation and the filial bond
Of nature that connects him with the world." (William Wordsworth, The Prelude)

Linked from the Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Age of Aquarium: A Warm-Weather Clothes Story (Only Partly True)

Part One: First Try

No, she's not an oceanographer or a photographer. She just happens to love art glass, like millefiori paperweights, and particularly pieces shaped like turtles. 
So when this purse decorated with mosaic-patterned sea turtles appeared at the thrift store, she snapped it up. (Turtle joke.)
Bflairs PU leather purse

She's read that there's an amazing glass paperweight collection at the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah, Wisconsin. And, coincidentally, she sees on their website that they will be having a Glass Festival this August. So she talks her two best friends, who happen to be her parents, into driving to Wisconsin with her. 

But first she has to pull out her box of summer clothes; and if she needs to think out a travelling wardrobe, she might as well stretch it out for the rest of the warm weather. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Turtles all the way down

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to From This Side of the Pond (click the graphic) to add your link to the party.

From this Side of the Pond
1. What's something you wish you had spent more time doing when you were younger? Explain. 

Oh, a lot of things.

Learning how to drive.

Talking to the older people in the family and asking them questions that I will never get the answers to now.

2. Who inspires you to be better? Tell us how. 

To be a better person all-round, or just to be better at something or other? I could say some of my friends who are much better at very serious reading (like actually finishing the books) than I am, but that would be making comparisons.

3. Share a money saving tip with us. 

Don't stew for a week about a purse you saw at the thrift store with turtles on it, that might still be there if you took the trouble to go back and hunt for it. Because you absolutely do not need a purse with turtles on it.

4. It's National Garlic Day...are you a fan? Your favorite dish that includes garlic? 

Garlic's good. Around here we are very fond of store-brand canned stewed tomatoes with onion and garlic. They're very useful for making both spaghetti sauce and chicken paprikash..

5. Would you describe yourself as decisive or indecisive. Elaborate. 

You're asking someone who couldn't decide about a purse with turtles on it?

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Purses with turtles.


Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Five Things I've Learned Recently

That 1960's maternity wards didn't want to see babies leaving without a name, so they suggested a few defaults. Darlene, Dawn, Debra, Jenny...yep, sounds like my 1970's class list. (We won't even discuss what they did to my name.)


That William Morris disapproved of Wagner's turning the Northern Epics into opera--he thought that was entirely too flippant.

"Many thanks for your letter and the translation of Wagner : I have not had time to read it yet : nor to say the truth am I much interested in anything Wagner does, as his theories on musical matters seem to me as an artist and non-musical man perfectly abhominable :  besides I look upon it as nothing short of desecration to bring such a tremendous and world-wide subject: under the gaslights of an opera : the most rococo and degraded of all forms of art the idea of a sandy-haired German tenor tweedledeeing over the unspeakable woes of Sigurd, which even the simplest words are not typical enough to express ! Excuse my heat : but I wish to see Wagner uprooted, however clever he may be, and I don't doubt he is : but he is anti-artistic, don't doubt it."

That you can make Cream of Wheat in the microwave. The directions are on the package. Not that that makes Cream of Wheat taste any better, because it doesn't, but at least you don't have to clean the pot afterwards.

That Charlotte Mason didn't hate Herbart's methods and musings as much as we would like to give her credit for; in fact, she practically pushed them as far as they would go within her educational reality, leaving them behind only when it came to something Herbart never had the chance to hear about, the physiology of habit. One might imagine a leisurely afterlife conversation between them, with Miss Mason explaining to Herbart that he had only known the "baptism of John" in these matters.

That belts are measured from the point where the strap meets the buckle to the middle hole of the belt. Or, if you want to know your belt size, generally add two inches to your waist measurement or pants waistband size. So I feel better about passing up a great 38" purple and teal belt.

And now you know these things too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

In Which I Am Determined to Complete a Wednesday Hodgepodge

Because of various distractions, I keep starting to answer Wednesday Hodgepodges and then not finishing them. I literally have several weeks' worth sitting in my draft file.

Sometimes the questions themselves have hit too close to home. No fault of the Hodgepodge.

But today I'm determined to get through this one and post it before the morning is done.

From this Side of the Pond
1. What puts a spring in your step these days? 

Warm weather...lessening of those things that have made life difficult the past two years...homemade new book...and new finds from the antiques market and the thrift store.

2. April 2nd was National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. Did you celebrate? Do you like PB and J? If so how do you like yours? What's your favorite kind of jelly? 

I had no idea, honestly.

Just jelly, not jam? Um...grape, I guess. 

3. What's a memory you associate with spring flowers?

Planting a garden in the back yard.

4. Three things on your spring bucket list? Do you have a spring bucket list? If not pretend you do. 

1. Completing a Wednesday Hodgepodge.

2. Going to the outdoor flea market when it starts up at the end of this month.

3. Taking walks on the trails around this neighbourhood. They've been too icy/muddy/whatever for the last while. Or it's just been too freaking cold to want to. But I want to go out and find some trilliums to take pictures of.

5. One place you will travel this spring? (It might be Europe or it might be the grocery store)

No specific plans, beyond the grocery store. Maybe the southern end of Lake Huron, for a day or two.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Spring Stripes (Still Doing Project 333)

It's still cold out, but she's done with turtlenecks...

The online auction ad said "silk scarf, purple and grey stripes." Which didn't sound all that spring-like. But she decided to take a chance on it anyway. (OK, technically it's her birthday present, but she found it.)

And she waited a bit...

Finally it arrived.

How did they miss mentioning the cranberry stripes that go with the plum-coloured dress she just found? 

Read the rest of the page here.

Monday, February 07, 2022

A Tribute to the DHM

2005, in my world, was the Year of the Blog.

Several of my friends and educational cronies began family blogs, all under assumed names, because that was what you did then. And because we were trying to keep a bit of privacy about what we did off-blog (like run the AmblesideOnline Curriculum), we blogged about everything and anything else. Books. Food. Faith. Kids (and, later, grandkids and assorted others). Good and bad things. And the Deputy Headmistress (DHM) did all that better than anyone. Rants and Raves. Sunday Hymn Posts. 4 Moms. News and Views. Random Updates.

"Quinoa and Amaranth Crockpot Breakfast:  This was ridiculously simple. It made more than enough to feed 5 people with leftovers (because two of the 8 people here are teenaged boys who rummaged for leftover pizza)." (The Common Room, 2013)

"No Time to Read: Tips for frazzled and busy young mothers: Keep a book stand and a hymnal over the kitchen sink and sing hymns while washing dishes. Or print out a hymn and tape it to the window or wall behind the sink.  If you’re not into hymns, try folk songs." (The Common Room, 2012)

"Random: The dread pirate grinned at me delightfully and said, “I yuv Gran-ma” and it made my heart go all rainbows, heart shaped clouds and unicorns leaving skittle droppings, even if it was totally just because he wanted the dried raspberry in my hand, which, of course, I gave him.  " (The Common Room, 2011) 

We took turns hosting the Festival of Frugality, the Carnival of Homeschooling, and the Charlotte Mason carnival. Some of us took on political and social issues that hit close to home.

"Well, not just the HG [Head Girl, oldest of the Common Room Progeny]. I know others will be interested, too. But this post  over at the Paragraph Farmer is just plum full of things the HG and I have been talking about recently, things that have come up in her civics class. It’s a meaty read on the corruptive influence of abortion, the Supreme Court, activist judges (and why they can’t be conservative), and Justice Thesaurus." (The Common Room, 2005)

I also blogged, often on her coattails, about the things that got our mutual hackles up. Mistreatment of homeschoolers in Europe, and homeschool-haters in general. Ridiculous rulings banning old books (not because of their content, but because children might somehow lick the lead-containing illustrations). During that particular crisis, I wrote an affectionate parody of Miss Suzy, starring the DHM.

"Of all the reasons for or against homeschooling, the supposed "real costs" or "missed-opportunity costs"  argument has to be about the second-oldest after the socialization question, and it's just as misleading. The Deputy Headmistress of The Common Room has posted her current thoughts on this, here and here.  It's also worthwhile to go back to her 2005 post here, because the comments are so interesting.  I originally posted a response to that one here.  (The DHM and I have been friends a long time.)" (Dewey's Treehouse, 2012)

After a few years, the various reasons for closely-guarded blog identities diminished, and we started sharing more freely about the other work we were doing, and places we hung out online.
"I’m tickled to be able to share some exciting Charlotte Mason related news here for the first time as well- that is, that the AO Advisory has at long last opened up a blog to the public.  You can visit the Advisory blog here. You may also spot the Advisory occasionally roaming unchecked about the AO Forums, where you can find hundreds of other very knowledgeable, helpful, people homeschooling CM style and helping each other along the way." (The Common Room, 2013) 

As many people had figured out by that time, the DHM, also called Heartkeeper, was Wendi Capehart, one of the AmblesideOnline Advisory. Wendi and I originally connected on an email list in, I think, 1998, when she and her family were living in the Pacific Northwest. (We found out early on that we had a few things in common:  for one thing, Wendi lived in Canada for part of her childhood.) By the first Year of the Blog, their family had made the move to the Midwest, where they built their real-life Common Room. Wendi wrote most of her original blog from there, and hosted...I was going to say, the AO Advisory and Auxiliary on two occasions, but let's just say everybody. Or at least an awful lot of people, big and small, from many places.

Wendi kept blogging, a few years later, from the Philippines. And, eventually, from back in the Common Room house, only by that time it was just her, her Cherub, and the books. Lots and lots of books. 

And now both Wendi and her daughter are gone. We are all still reeling. I am not a loud or overt reeler. Most of my reeling stays in my own head, with occasional treks down to my heart (which, apparently, does contain its own "little brain"). But I am hurting a great deal for one who befriended me even before the blogs, who taught me in so many different ways that life goes on, that snowstorms end and wildflowers come back in the spring, but that when it's too cold to deal with that, there are always songs and books and forgotten bottles of olives in the fridge.

For some reason, the "Mrs. DHM and the Bad Squirrels" post kept popping up recently in my own most-read posts. I don't know why old posts suddenly appear there, sometimes it's a spam thing, or maybe I had sent it to someone and forgotten. Miss Suzy is an old book I had when I was younger, and something about the squirrel's love of coziness and her hospitality to the toy soldiers reminded me of Wendi. But much more recently, I came across another title from the same publisher, Miss Twiggley's Tree. I hadn't seen a copy of that in years, and I bought it simply out of nostalgia for my own childhood.

When I read through it, my reeling was joined by a barrage of recognition-induced room-rocking. Miss Twiggley lives quite contentedly alone (although she does have a best friend and errand-runner who happens to be a dog, and she regularly plays host to bears). She lives in a treehouse, and is rumoured to sleep in her hat, because, why not. The mayor's wife thinks she's a nuisance and wants somebody to do something about that nonconformist. But when the big storm comes...the whole town climbs up to her house, and they are warmed and fed. Miss Twiggley muses that "When emergencies come, / You don't think about you. / You help all you can. / And you never ask why. / Then the first thing you know / You forget to be shy."

That is what I learned from  the DHM, who knew how to welcome and care for a wet friend or two, or forty; in person, online, or just through a Scripture verse on a postcard.

Godspeed, my friend. Being Mama Squirrel to your DHM was about the most fun I've ever had.

"Bread and milk are plain fare, peasant food, but anybody who has ever baked bread also knows that the humble loaf of bread is a beautiful symbol of hearth and home, a work of patience and attention, a hands on process requiring some attention and feel for when the dough is ‘just right.’ Milk, too, is both an ordinary food, and one of two foods God used to describe the promised land, one flowing with milk and honey. The Proverbs 31 woman is to have the law of kindness on her tongue, and we speak metaphorically of a kind and generous soul as one flowing with the milk of human kindness. Bread is a metaphor, too. It’s a metaphor for our Lord, who is the Bread of Life. He gives us life, and we give it back to Him. Think about that today as you go about your daily tasks and duties. Your praise and your days may be plain as bread and milk, but you, too, can be a preserver of truth and beauty." ("Praise as Plain as Bread and Milk," The Common Room, 2017)

Tennessee, April 2019