Author Archives: Melody


Galen got his driver’s license this morning.  It feels nothing short of miraculous as he is as far from a morning person as one can get and he had to be at the testing site hours before he’s usually awake.  He’s going through a Green Day phase right now.  There must be something about boys this age!  I remember Iain and Elijah very briefly going through a similar phase.  It was all very déjà vu.  I told them it had been a long time since I was spending my days driving around in cars with teenage boys while listening to Green Day!

My Aunt Sue’s birthday letter came this morning.  This is always the highlight of my birthday.  It was sent out in plenty of time, but they don’t deliver mail on our road and trips to the post office are generally only once or twice a week.  It’s handwritten this year, which somehow makes it all the more special.

This is us, the last time that we saw each other, seven years ago now.

I’ve read it now.  She hand wrote it as a rough draft with plans to type it up to send later, but ended up sending the rough draft instead.  I’m so glad she did!  It makes her feel closer somehow.


1/31/2023- My Birthday

8:00- I’ve been up for hours, but Sera seemed to have her heart set on bringing me breakfast in bed, so I’m just reading and resting.  I just heard a pileated woodpecker calling outside my window.

8:20- I continue to dream of visiting Sissinghurst.  I heard the tea kettle a while ago.  Not sure how much longer I can wait it out up here!

8:40-ish- Sun snow showers.  Steve brought me up a mug of English Breakfast tea with cream and maple syrup.  Then a very excited little cream lace clad figure bounded in.  Several years ago Steve got me an Edwardian dressing gown for my birthday.  I love it,  but I live in fear of damaging it.  I wear it once a year, for my birthday.  She desperately wants to be able to match me and did the best she could when picking out her own nightie.

More of the morning….

Breakfast in bed seemed unrealistic, so for Seraphina’s sake we compromised with breakfast on the couch.  The tray was the most important part for her.  Steve play sous chef to Mairi in the making of eggs Benedict/Florentine.  If it has both bacon and spinach is it both??  Seraphine reminisced about how she used to think it was called “holiday sauce”.

The place where I buy essential oils sent me a voucher for a birthday “gift” (to be claimed with another purchase, of course) of a blend called tiramisu, which made us laugh because that is my traditional birthday dessert.

After breakfast our neighbor stopped by.  I offered her “first dibs” on the books I’m decluttering.  As the time arranged for her arrival drew closer, Seraphina was near to bursting with excitement, she had that I’m-trying-really-hard-to-keep-a-surprise-secret look about her.  Dandy arrived with a cutting from her gigantic ‘Angel Wing’ begonia.  Apparently, this was all arranged during Seraphina’s visit yesterday.

When Dandy walked in, she immediately accosted me, “You must say something positive about yourself!  It can’t have anything to do with the kids or anyone else.  Every year on your birthday you must list the positive things about yourself.”  I held her hand and thought for a while.  I told her that I am compassionate.  That I’m loving and romantic and that I see the beauty in things.  She noted that it took me quite a while to answer.  I was caught off guard!  Seraphina raised an eyebrow over “romantic”.  I told her I meant it in the same sense that Anne is romantic, because I’ve been reading Anne of Green Gables to her at bedtime, but she still seemed skeptical!

Halfheartedly trying to recreate a photo from years ago.

Trying to take pictures of my cuffs again

Lovely gifts this year; alpaca socks with a pretty scalloped cuff, 2 picture frames, French violet mints, the next books in the Poldark series (which I can’t wait to read!), and an antique hair pin.  I’m resting now, but I’ll be sure to do up my hair with it later.

Steve convinced a bakery out east to send him a box of gluten-free cannoli shells!  So darling.  We’ll save them for a later date because it’s tiramisu tonight!  I’m quite Irish in many respects, but I’m Italian in desserts! (Actual breakdown: Mostly from the British Isles, Ireland particularly, but Scotland as well, with a whisper of Wales.  A bit Polish and a bit Italian).

I just got off the phone with my father.  Flurries started while we were talking.  He says it’s the first time that the Philadelphia area has seen snow in 325 days.  Unreal.  There are those few degrees making a huge difference again…

I’ve had to lay down and close my eyes.  Meadow was on my back the whole time.  Forcing myself back out of bed was really difficult.  So tired.

Don’t worry.  Darcy took my place once I left.

Trying to capture my hair pin while I waited for them to join.

4:00- Zoom with my sisters.  Lovely to see their faces. (Note: you are not seeing their faces because I took a screen shot, but forgot to ask their permission to post it)

While dinner was cooking (compliments of Galen), Steve and I had a dance, just the two of us, in the living room.  I put on the first song that we ever danced to, Magnolia Wind, sung by Emmylou Harris & John Prine.

Iain and his girlfriend came for dinner.  He brought me rose colored roses.  They are striking.  I’ve never quite seen this color in a rose before.

Closer to their actual color, but still not quite right.



Thoughts on the eve of my 42nd birthday…

I’ve been sad and rather anxious in the weeks leading up to the actual day of my birthday, just the culmination of past issues messing with my mind.  But there is also a deeper more pressing weight that’s harder to describe.  The fact is that I have a great deal of trouble seeing a future for myself.  I feel like I just don’t have enough life-force left in me to make it through the second 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 of my life, whatever it ends up being.  A lifetime of chronic illness and often extreme fatigue have sucked me dry.  And the truth is that for however beautiful it has been, it’s not been an easy life.  When I was younger I had hope that I would turn a corner some day.  That I would find some miraculous solution that would make everything easier, but it never materialized.  And I recovered.  I bounced back so much quicker and fuller in those days.  Now I don’t feel like I ever fully bounce back.  I have a flare or something challenges my funky immune system and it knocks me out, knocks me down, makes living any semblance of a “normal” life impossible.  In time I improve.  I go back to living as best I can, but each time I feel weaker than the time before.  I come back to living life, but never to anything that could be described as wellness.

I used to have hopes and dreams, but now it mostly comes down to just trying to get through the day as best as I can.  How can you plan for a future like that?  How can you see the rest of your life when you can visualize making it through tomorrow?

I was reading a book where a Zen priest gave someone a wooden sword and told them to go fight the ocean waves…with obvious results.  No matter how much you struggle and how hard you try, the ocean will always win the battle.  When you struggle it’s really only you who gets hurt.  Going with the flow and letting the waves carry you would be wiser.  But it almost seems to go against human nature.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot…giving in to the ocean…letting everything that is out of my control just be and happen.  And feeling that almost everything is out of my control.  It’s sort of hopeless, but somehow comforting in it’s hopelessness.  What will be will be.


Where’s Galen?

Find the Galen. It’s like Where’s Waldo?, but without the stripes. Hint: be on the look out for a Phillies cap.

More clues: he shows up several times. There is a green wall with several guitars on it behind him (Elijah’s room). The first time, after the montage of the worker that ends in the grave yard, he is close to centered. Most of the other times when there is a bigger shot of him it’s somewhere in the upper left quadrant. In the teeny-tiny ones with everyone he could be anywhere!


Of a Weekend

1/27/2023: Seraphina had a friend over today.  While they played I ran around like a madwoman, trying gain some traction with housework and projects.

In the afternoon we took dinner over to a dear friend who has been unwell.  I’ve been fussing and worrying because I do love him so!  Galen made chili (he’s working on perfecting his recipe), Mairi baked banana bread, and I made roasted brussel sprouts.  He later wrote to me calling the sprouts “a revelation”, which made me laugh, because who else would say such a thing about brussel sprouts?!?

A weird and humorous outing this evening.  Elijah has a photo shoot tomorrow and he needs to do his own make up for the first time.  His schedule and disposition lead to him waiting until the very last moment to even buy said make up.  So, the two of us were out tonight, holding bottles and jars and tubes up to his face, and generally causing old ladies to raise their eyebrows.  It reminded me of when I was young.  Some friends talked me into going to my junior prom at the last minute and my mother and I went on a late night whirlwind shopping trip the night before- dress, make-up, jewelry.  I always loved that about her…her being who she was that night.


Date night at home can be an uninspired affair, but we made a lovely time of it this week.  We had a walk to begin with.  So many trees are down or drooping!  It’s shocking.  We paused now and then for Steve to clear branches out of the road as we went.  The road itself is like walking on rock candy, with broken up chunks of ice all about, some of it colored by the trees that it fell from.

The children were discussed and plans for sugaring off were made and I slipped my arm through his as if we were promenading for show down a public walk in the 1800′s.

A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch just arrived from the library that morning, so we paged through the whole thing together while I ate some of the heart shaped cereal that I bought as a treat to make Seraphina smile.  This is what I want to do: travel to all of the same places and, also, separately and together; record my life this way, thoughtfully, in words, drawings, photos, recipes, quotes.  Both.  I want both of those things.  It includes a recipe for roasted shallots which is just the thing to make my birthday dinner more festive.  I’ve placed an order for them to be picked up tomorrow.

I tried to take a picture of my fancy bell sleeves.

Then Steve tried.

I was treated to a delightful massage, the oil laced with sandalwood, ylang ylang, vanilla, cinnamon, and jasmine.  The scent makes me feel like spring is near, that it’s even possible, which I sometimes question at this time of year.  It’s that sensation mingled with the luxurious feeling of being well cared for, which is a great comfort to me, and delectable to be able to carry it with me through the night.

I want to learn to paint flowers. Roses in particular. I’m always trying to convince my sons to paint me flowers, but they are kindred spirits of Bob Ross and only wish to paint mountains.

There is a great deal to be said for adding some cream and pesto to regular tomato sauce.


“This water bottle is perfect for drinking tea. You can take it with you, swing it around…” -Seraphina, swinging said bottle about in big dramatic circles.

I set myself a goal of over-hauling the entire living room by the end of January.  While massive changes have been wrought, I’m not going to finish all I set out to do this week.  There is a question of perfectionism and am I asking too much?

I’ve been sorting through books this weekend.  Two boxes are ready to donate.  I’m starting to let go of a lot of my early childhood volumes.  You are Your Child’s First Teacher, Seven Times the Sun, and the like.  They are all touted as being for children to the age of six or seven and my youngest is nearly nine.  It is a strange, strange feeling.  Very final.  There are some books that I simply can’t let go of, and don’t plan to.  I’m thinking of devoting a shelf specifically to books that I wish to share with my future grandchildren.

Meanwhile the room is going backwards as there are piles of books everywhere.  People keep walking in and asking what on earth happened in here, with shocked expressions on their faces.  It was really a mess for a while. 

After 45 minutes of diligent work categorizing and trying to pile things up in a thoughtful way I asked Steve if it was any better.  He looked and laughed.



There is a thing going around Instagram right now of people posting pictures of themselves at 23 for the year 2023.  Curiosity made me look back.  Here is me.  I also came across this sweet photo of Steve and Elijah from that same year.




On one hand, we’ve spent much of the winter looking like Narnia. It’s stunning, albeit blinding at times, but also treacherous. There are at least three trees lying across the power lines on our road as I type this. There are downed trees everywhere just now and our little dead-end, dirt road isn’t exactly I high priority. We had a tree crash down on top of our cars last month and a second large one fell across the path that the kids use for sledding. Two nights ago I was periodically startled awake by the sound of crunching crashing trees and branches that could no longer take the strain of their heavy burden of snow and ice. Thankfully, only small trees fell near the house. Iain’s elderberry was smashed by a tree from behind. Seraphina’s apricot tree is nearly flat on the ground. I don’t know if it broken or if it’s roots were ripped out of the earth or what. And there is really no way to know until everything thaws in the spring. If you look 30′ or so up above our chicken coop, you will find three large branches, dangling precariously. Just a few degrees means the difference between fluffy snow, safely on the ground, and heavy snow and ice pulling every thing down. A lot of the lower elevations had a rainy winter. For us it’s been heavy, heavy snow. The kind of snow that snow blowers can’t throw, that makes one uneasy with the looming threat of heart attacks, that packs down turning driveways and paths alarmingly slick and perilous.

Different days, different moods.