Crown and Bough

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Chasing the Sun, pt. 1

This is the story: we had to go to Bangor anyway to pick up official paperwork for my immigration, and I always look ahead of time at the weather to see how we should dress.  Without the luxury of a car, getting caught in the rain or cold temperatures without coats is a worst-case scenario.  I saw that the sun would be out for the early afternoon, but as the day wore on, it would be overtaken by clouds.  So I looked up all the surrounding areas to see if there were any different forecast.  Turned out that over the sound on Anglesey the sun was to shine all the day long.

(The bus takes us through Conwy, also known (by me) as the walled castle town.)

So after we did our errand in Bangor, we hung about for a bit.  That's the clock tower on the high street where John and I met on our first date-that-wasn't-a-date.  We got some lunch (very stressful).  Then when it began to get dark, we hopped the bus to Beaumaris.

The holiday town was almost a ghost-town in the late afternoon at this time of year.  It was too late to check out the castle, but we played in the park just outside.

Then we sought out this house that I used to daydream about on our walks back from the lighthouse across the countryside.  All it's missing is a garden, but across from it, where I'm standing with my camera, is a little country lane unfurling into fenced meadows and green hills; so that when you step out your door each day, an open road greets you, wide and waiting.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

St. Martin's Summer

Called after a brave, good man who could be the patron saint of anyone who has made a mistake, it contains the ingredients for a wonderful season. Summer has not spurned us, merely divided its bright cloak, saving some of itself for later – for the Summer of Saint Martin.

-- Horatio Clare

Saint Martin never fails to usher the last breath of summer our way before the start of Advent.  With temperatures in the mid to high 50's Fahrenheit, we are running about without coats and extra layers; and I insisted we take the boys to the seashore last night, while the weather is still mild, so the ocean air doesn't cut to the bone.  My feet were hurting from walking all day, so I sent John down with the boys, and it was a moment of pure, undiluted contentment--watching the little ones run about with joy, being chased by their dad, with the great, magnanimous Irish Sea looking on.

Sunday, 13 November 2016


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

Roan:  playing at the park.  He is getting willful and refuses to hold hands when we are walking.  He wants to be in charge of his own fork and cup.  Despite his newfound independence, he is still very attached to his mama!

Afon:  in his bath, part of his nightly routine.  We are trying to keep things as normal as possible for him, but there have been some melt-downs here and there as he adjusts to having me and his baby brother around again for good.

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Seeing //  these vibrant non-blooms I bought from the flower shop.

Smelling //  mulled wine scented candles.

Tasting //  cheese with mango and apricot chutney.

Hearing //  the clanking of dishes as I wash up, with Roan scuttling around in the background.

Feeling //  pleasantly tired.

Watching //  a Netflix mystery series called Shetland: takes place on the Shetland Islands where the lead detective solves murders with limited staff and resources.  Detective Perez doesn't have anything particularly special about him, but he is a good man, and passionate, and I really like that about him.  He shares custody of his adoptive daughter with her birth father (her mother and his wife passed away) which is an uncharacteristic open-heartedness for modern television.

Reading //  my November copy of Real Simple I brought over on the plane with me.  There are some lovely recipes, tips for cleaning tough kitchen spots, and holiday makeup guide stories!

Loving //  our parish here, which has made us so welcome!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Queen's Park

After the Saint Joseph's toddler group on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me . . . there is this gap.  For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good.  It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.  But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.  And your taste is why your work disappoints you.  A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.  Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.  We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.  We all go through this.  And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.  Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.  It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.  And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met.  It’s gonna take awhile.  It’s normal to take awhile.  You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

-- Ira Glass

Monday, 7 November 2016


To step outside on Halloween dressed as someone—or some thing—other than yourself is to step into a narrative that acknowledges that the membrane between our workaday, material world and the unseen realm of spirits is far thinner and more permeable than many of us like to think.


What their costumes are is less important than the fact that, for a night, my children will be people other than themselves: each of them will be someone who, regardless of real-life fears about the dark, is not afraid to step out into the night.  Armored inside their personae, they can laugh at the shadows, as well they should.  On the one hand, the powers of darkness are no joke; on the other hand, although Christians have no traffic with these powers, we do not fear them.

-- from "The Drama of Hallowmas," by Sally Thomas

The above article was written by the selfsame author of the poem I shared here.  I thought the name sounded familiar, and lo!--no such thing as coincidences.  ;)

Roan enjoyed his Halloween immensely.  He never did learn to say trick-or-treat, but he grasped the concept of going up to the candy bowl and getting goodies.  He usually reached to receive the candy, and it took some convincing to get him to drop it in his pumpkin pail.  He picked out some things himself, and by the end of the night, he was even trading the candy he was handed for the ones that looked more appealing to him.

Sunday, 6 November 2016


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

Roan:  invigorated to be set free on his two little legs!

Afon:  with Jesus looking closely on.

Saturday, 5 November 2016


I'm waiting with the other parents to pick up Afon after school.  The bus driver says, "Does Afon belong to you?  Oh, boy!"  But in an affectionate sort of way.  His teacher leads him out to me, and the aids say "Goodbye, Afon!"

A package arrives in the mail.  Inside, a hand-painted icon carefully wrapped in green fabric and tied with a ribbon.  John, Roan, and I all breath an exclamation, like a prodigious cue.  (Well, Roan just copies "Wow!" after John and me.)

Today is Bonfire Day.  This evening we hear the sound of firecrackers going off high above in the winter sky, and see the red and blue sparks over the rooftops, with the calm stretch of sea beyond.  Afterwards, we close the curtains, put the music on, and dance in the living room.

Thursday, 3 November 2016


To the Child Who Asks
Sally Thomas

Am I your favorite? you want to know.
And I say yes: As every breath I take’s
My favorite breath.  If, say, you’re eight, that makes
You my favorite eight-year-old.  Ditto
Ten, nine, seven, six, five, yada, zero.
You were my favorite series of summer earthquakes,
My favorite live-weight centered on the cervix,
My favorite sight unseen that year.  And so
You are my favorite child right now, because
You stand before me, asking that my heart
Declare, You first, you always.  And it’s true.
It works this way.  Love’s strange, elastic laws
Grant each child its undiluted part,
And that, my love, is what I offer you.

Dappled Things, Mary Queen of Angels 2012