One of the goals of our Botany block is to explore the range of plant categories we find in our immediate surroundings, wherever we happen to be, from fungus and seaweed to flowering plants and trees. This was our first study of lichen, discovered growing on a fallen twig, and it was quite small. But the more closely we looked, the more we saw.

Lichen is actually two plants, a fungus and an alga, working symbiotically: the fungus provides housing for the alga, and the alga provides food for the fungus. Like many traditional marriages.


The Secret of the New Jersey Town


This spring we visited Maplewood, New Jersey, where my husband grew up. In exploring his old haunts, like the town library, we discovered that Maplewood, New Jersey is the Home of Nancy Drew! (The library carries the entire collection.) Not to mention the Bobbsey Twins, and the Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift! I don’t see how my husband could have lived there all those years without realizing he was sharing his home town with so many celebrities. (Actually, with the publisher of their series.) I think he was busy reading the Horatio Hornblower stories.

Well, with a daughter making her way through the Nancy Drew books, he now has total Nancy Drew Awareness. Here they are having some father-daughter-dog time. I’m fairly sure he’s awake. My husband, not the dog.


This hope-colored sky


My Aunt Bett, who lives on Orcas Island in Washington State, has fallen and broken her hip, and probably will not be able to go home again. Ninety-three years old, still spunky and bright, still living in her house (with much help from her gentle and patient son and daughter-in-law), surrounded by beloved books and photographs, accustomed to feeding the songbirds and the stray cats that come to her door, she is taken aback by transplantation.

Formerly fiercely sociable and independent, she has found it very hard to grow old, to lose family and friends, to give up her dog, her car, and now her nest. We call, we send our loving thoughts, we hope it makes a dent in the sorrow.

Here is a sketch of Aunt Bett I made on our last visit. I post with it a poem she shared with me that I love. Thanks to Jason for finding its author for me.

With Caleb Age Two on the Porch

My weatherglass does not lie;
This hope-colored sky
Will again be gray with rain,
But while the sunlight flows
Honey-warm and honey-slow
It is enough and more
To simply sit and rock
With this small and sleeping
Grandson in my arms.

—Ken Wood

CakeWeddingDoug & Krissy


CakeDaisiesAnne’s Aunt KT

Hidden Stars

Some of these summer days have been too hot and mosquito-laden for sketching outside, even early in the morning. So, for our Botany block, my daughter and I have been indoors slicing through some of the fruits of the season, to find the surprises within. Circles! Triangles! Stars! (I’m hoping this will lead very naturally into 6th grade Geometry…)



Today’s post is in honor of dear and lovely Seska, married to Walter, one of my husband’s oldest friends (they were young adventurous guys together). She just had truly major surgery for ovarian cancer and will soon begin chemo.

Seska is many things—kind and sensitive social worker, artist and art lover, spiritual pilgrim, and determined optimist in the face of adversity. Most recently she has been working in post-earthquake Haiti, having accumulated a collection of musical instruments with which she has been helping children and adults to launch and re-launch music programs in schools and communities. Please keep her in your blessings, and think of her in your music-making.

This drawing is from Walter and Seska’s wedding invitation and seemed suitably hopeful. Their 14th wedding anniversary is later this month.


Yahrzeit2Rob’s Dad