Crown and Bough

Sunday, 30 October 2016


"A portrait of my younger child, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Roan:  the most robust skeleton I've seen 'round these parts.  And that hair!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A Ritual

1 // Prepare a pumpkin: must be rotund and vaguely head-shaped. It may be blotchy on one side, but should have a stem long enough to grab like a handle.  Any color will do.

2 // Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and spaghetti innards.  (These may be saved for later purposes.)  Hollow the pumpkin as best you can so that the fleshy parts are all scraped away.

3 // Carve a face on the pumpkin.  The more primitive the representation of the face, the better.  The minimum required for this is two eyes, one nose, and a mouth.  (In some instances, even the nose may be optional.)  Do not overthink it.  Use basic shapes.  Free-hand it.  Don't cheat!

4 // Carefully place a lighted candle inside the hollowed out pumpkin with a grotesque face and set in a significant place in your home.  The glowing grin will scare unwelcome ghouls from your door and usher in the souls of your beloved dead, who beg for prayers.  Keep lit until All Souls' Day.  Repeat next year.

(Optional: You may now roast the pumpkin seeds for eager eating.  Salt liberally.)

Monday, 24 October 2016

A Closing Season

Pumpkins aren't grown in crops in the sub-tropics, so they're shipped in to stores and local farms for people to go pumpkin picking in the spirit of the season.  There were some stunners out at Ergle, let me tell you, and I had no help from Roan, so I chose the first one I touched.  This is not as random as it seems.  I'm drawn instinctively towards things that attract me--in Ireland, every time I enter a tourist shop, I'm a Christie-moth to a shamrock green-flame--my classmates and friends told me as much.  So when I touch/pick up something it is because it is asking to be considered.  It was a good choice, and sits carved here on the dresser as I type: tall, with a heavy bottom that rounds inward at the top and a long stem.  Still, it is not the same as a field of wild-orange pumpkins, which is something in feeling like a field full of daffodils, only the light's different--later and warmer, closing, as the season is a closing season, an ending, a wrapping up . . . which changes everything about it.

Incredible October

Martin knew it was autumn again, for Dog ran into the house bringing wind and frost and a smell of apples turned to cider under trees.  In dark clock-springs of hair, Dog fetched goldenrod, dust of farewell-summer, acorn-husk, hair of squirrel, feather of departed robin, sawdust from fresh-cut cord wood, and leaves like charcoals shaken from a blaze of maple trees.   Dog jumped.  Showers of brittle fern, blackberry vine, marsh-grass sprang over the bed where Martin shouted.  No doubt, no doubt of it at all, this incredible beast was October.

-- from "The Emissary," by Ray Bradbury

Sunday, 23 October 2016


"A portrait of my younger child, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Roan:  my blackberry fool.  <3

Friday, 21 October 2016

Blackberry Fool

Blackberry Fool: A Recipe

2-1/2 cups fresh blackberries (Other berries will do--but the fool won't be such a nice purple color; frozen berries work, though fresh are nicer.)
1/2 cup sugar, divided in two
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Find an adult to cook with you.

Mash the berries with a potato masher or a large fork.  If you've got a food processor, you can use that.  With clean hands, press the crushed berries through a sieve to remove the seeds.  Sprinkle the fruit with 1/4 cup of sugar.  Stir.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, the vanilla and the cream.  Using a whisk or whatever kind of beater you have, whip the mixture until it makes soft peaks, but not stiff ones.

Fold the sugared berries into the whipped cream.  Taste it to see if it's sweet enough.  Add more sugar if you need it.  There should be streaks of white and purple.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or more.

Eat!  And don't forget to lick the bowl.

-- from A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins & Sophie Blackall

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Park Child

At the park one evening...

Person:  Aw, she's so cute!
Me:  Thank you!
Person:  How old is she?
Me:  21 months.

Policeman:  Have you been good, little one?
Roan:  *points at police car*  RoRo.
Me:  I think he thinks the car will take him to his aunt.
Policeman:  What's her name?
Me:  Caroline, or RoRo for short.
Policeman:  *holidng out a teddy bear*  Have you been a good girl, Caroline?

I guess I shouldn't put such a beautiful boy-child in a romper, even if it is blue.

He met some twin girls just his age, and they reached out and touched each others fingers in a point/reach thing and were generally shy by very interested in each other.  Roan wanted to go down the slide so of course the girls did as well.  All three babies were determined to stand right at the bottom of the slide to intercept any on-going slide-traffic.  I don't know what it is about the mouth of a slide that is like a baby fly-catcher.  So their mom and I had to put on one at a time (only halfway up because it was a tall slide!) while the other held the remaining two out of the way.

We moved on to a shorter slide attached to a jungle gym.  Standers-by called to their children, "Look out for the little girl!"

Roan was unimpressed with the free teddy bear, so when another little girl toddler pointed and reached for it, we gave it to her.  He thought the ducks were pretty neat, and to be fair, they were.  There were some really silly ones with silly, flabby red faces, and R. kept skirting close to the waterline making my mama heart palpitate.  Then he started out around the long path around the big pond, got tired halfway through when it was too far to turn back, and made me carry him the rest of the way to the car.

Sunday, 16 October 2016


"A portrait of my younger child, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Roan:  he dumped the baby doll he was strolling and meandered into the neighbors' field where hay bales are rising one by one like the backs of whales out of a golden sea.

We've been practicing trick-or-treating so that by the time Halloween comes, he'll be used to the costume and holding his pumpkin pail.  I just can't get him to say "trick-or-treat" though!

Friday, 14 October 2016

My Spooky Collection

When I see a greeting card I like, I buy it, and I keep it.  Art prints are a kinda new phenomenon, but greeting cards are not, and I think it's funny it's never occurred to anyone else by now to replace the one with the other.  I will mail cards to friends, too, of course, but if they are designs I really enjoy, I will only send them to homes where they won't be thrown away.  What can I say?  I like art!

These are my favorites from this Halloween, and Halloween is my favorite, so I guess you could call these my favorite favorites!  (Christmas and Saint Valentine's Day are runners up.)  My tastes are extremely personal and hinge on design, fonts, color, style (the vintage skeleton hand holding an orange drink in a martini slays me), and wittiness of the message.

Obviously, these are all winners.

Every time we cross paths is a lucky day.  //  All good Halloween wishes heading your way.
We may be far apart...  //  ...but our hearts are as close as always.  Happy Halloween
Here's to raising spirits...  //  ...and to good friends like you!
Full moon.  Black sky.  Winds howl.  Bats fly.  //  Have fun.  Eat sweets.  Enjoy.  Repeat.  Happy Halloween

(If you want one of these cards and are willing to give it a good home--in other words, keep it in a shoebox with all your other miscellany until your grandchildren clean it out after you're dead--send me your address and I'll be happy to mail one to you!)