Thistle, late summer

Does anyone out there know the work of Indiana writer and farm wife Rachel Peden? I came across her by accident, and some of her books, out of print for a while, have recently been re-issued in paperback. I’ll bet our library used to carry her work before they started tossing out everything published before the 21st century.


Purple ironweed is diminishing in the pastures; thistles are down to their last silken tassels; goldenrod pours its heap of raw gold into the general fund.

—Rachel Peden

La Belle Lucie


I believe I have mentioned before that our family is hopelessly addicted to this form of solitaire, so much so that when we go on vacation we now take along FOUR decks of cards, in case we all happen to play simultaneously.

In case you don’t already know the game, this is how it is played:

Shuffle the deck well. Deal out the entire deck in triads of overlapping cards, so that you can read the value and suit of each, until you run out of cards. The last card will stand alone.

The object is to remove all the cards from the tableau one by one into the four suits, beginning with the aces and ending with kings. Only the top card of each set (and any card standing alone) is available for play. Aces are removed as soon as they are available and set aside to form the four foundations. On the top card of any set may be placed the next lower card of the same suit, in order to free up the card trapped beneath it. But only one card may be moved at a time.

When no more moves can be made, the tableau is gathered, reshuffled, and laid out in triads two more times. On the third deal, any one card (called the merci) may be pulled out and played. This is often necessary to win the game, because a king lying above a lower card of the same suit will trap the player.

Although there is obviously chance involved in the way the cards are dealt, there is a great deal of strategy necessary in this game, which is what makes it so much fun. And one can occasionally win—even without the merci. (Not this time, though.)


Live and Learn

Despite my misgivings, my daughter packed sixteen (16!) chapter books for this vacation. I regretted toting any extra unecessary weight in our poor Prius, already stressed with four people and a dog and ten days of their presumably vital supplies. I pictured lugging the books home again mostly unread.

However, in addition to swimming, tubing, badminton and boules, a little Botany sketching, numerous board games, stargazing with her brother’s Star Walk app, and capably starting up and driving an 18-foot power boat (courtesy of the neighbors), here she is finishing book number 16. Now she’ll have to begin on her brother’s stack.


CakeWeddingMary & Brian


Falling down the steps and going to the local ER is NOT the recommended way to begin a lakeside vacation. Unless you are resigned to giving up the hiking and swimming you had planned, in favor of that big sack of work you brought along for evenings and rainy days…

Oh well. The view is beautiful. And I can still paddle the canoe!




Wild Geese

For the anniversary of September 11th, a painting and a poem.


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

— Mary Oliver


This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.