The world that lives in me – and us.

Pippin once upon a time.


“I wish you many years — but not for them to be too happy, because happiness in the world isn’t really so healthy. When a man is too happy in this world, he forgets God and forgets death.” 

— Elder Paisios 

It is customary in the Orthodox Church to wish people “Many years!” or to sing the whole hymn, “God grant you many years…” (x3 of course) on any happy occasion such as an anniversary or birthday. Three birthdays of my children and grandchildren are coming up this week and next, so the quote is timely.

We visited our favorite apple ranch.



In the last ten days Soldier’s family and I did not think much about death, we were so happy together. Still, we didn’t forget God for long periods, because we know to Whom to be thankful. The children and their liveliness was the focus of our attention. When fear grips our hearts over what deathliness they will have to encounter in the future, we try to pray….

They departed yesterday, and I don’t know when I’ll see them again. Kate and Tom are in Panama, very securely quarantined there for their jobs, I’m afraid. I see their family on FaceTime. I don’t plan to visit Pearl in Wisconsin in the next months, because I already went there in fall and winter, and would like to experience that part of the country in a different season next time.

Pathfinder is in the middle of smoke; no one would want to go there unnecessarily. It’s kinda smoky where Pippin is, too, but I hope to go next week anyway, to be with Ivy for her birthday; I missed it last year.

Picking raspberries in Mr. and Mrs. Bread’s garden.

Pippin brought her three down last weekend to see their cousins.
The kids gathered around the Lego bin right away.

We went to the beach again,
a different one with lots of marine plants to identify.

The sky was not orange that time.

Turkish Towel on the right.
Grape Tongue kelp
Chain Bladder Kelp and Ostrich Plume Hydroid

One of those nights at bedtime Ivy asked me to fasten her nightgown in the back — the one I originally made for Aunt Kate decades ago — but only one of the three buttons could reach its buttonhole. Next morning we agreed that I would sew her a new nightgown, and we sat browsing flannel prints at my desktop; she started with the idea of a pink flowered nightie, but when she saw the cats, she changed her mind. I ordered the cat fabric.

“The Socialist saw plainly the rights of the Society; the Anarchist saw the rights of the Individual. How therefore were these to be reconciled? The Church stepped in at that crucial point and answered, By the Family—whether domestic or Religious. For in the Family you have both claims recognized: there is authority and yet there is liberty. For the union of the Family lies in Love; and Love is the only reconciliation of authority and liberty.” — Robert Hugh Benson

Liam found a California Sister butterfly (some might know it as “Arizona Sister”!) and when Ivy said, “Can I have it?” he let it crawl onto her hand.

“One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the marketplace.  One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.”

— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Also while six grandchildren were on the premises, four of them helped Soldier to stack a cord of oak firewood. I had on hand children’s gloves for such a time as this. Even four-year-old Brodie was a willing worker who did not tire easily; he lugged logs for quite a while before he even interrupted his flow to put shoes on.

My son shopped all over town with me, considering which wood stove I should buy to replace my current one that is dying. It was so helpful to have help in choosing such a big item. It’s scheduled to be installed before winter.

“The family is the test of freedom;
because the family is the only thing that the free man makes
for himself and by himself.”

— G.K. Chesterton

Recently I got the bright idea to do as my grandfather had done when I was in my teens: Once when we were visiting him he told us four children, of whom I was the oldest, that we might take home and keep any four books from his vast shelves. I still own my four books. My own shelves are loaded with titles that I know my grandchildren of various ages would enjoy, but they aren’t ever around long enough to think of perusing  the shelves.

Previously gifted.

So I told them the same this week, Please take as many as four books home with you. Two immediately wanted Socks for Supper.

The younger children who aren’t fluent readers needed some help to choose books that they didn’t already have at home, but in the end everyone took at least one. No one took four, which was interesting; maybe they aren’t developing their grandmother’s book gluttony. Does it surprise you that I just ordered replacements for two of the books they took?

Jamie’s pick.

Scout carried off dog stories by Albert Payson Terhune, and a cookbook. Liam took Finn Family Moomintroll, Rockinghorse Secret, and The Five Sisters, which I recently bought but hadn’t read. Laddie settled on The Pig in the Spigot, even though the illustrations are weird, we all agree.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”  -C.S. Lewis

One of the last jobs we worked on together was dehydrating a few of the apples that we’d bought at the farm. I cored them, two boys sliced, and one arranged the slices on the trays. The fruit dried all through the night and the rings were packed into bags to take on their journey home. Good-bye! Good-bye! and Godspeed!

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye
and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you
in your heart, your mind, your stomach,
because you do not just live in a world
but a world lives in you.”

Frederick Buechner

15 thoughts on “The world that lives in me – and us.

  1. This has been a beautifully slow read as I savoured the joy you describe at having your children and grandchildren with you for a few days. The Lego box, the books — that echoes my home, along with picking up interesting things and helping with stacking wood and preparing the apples. Your thoughtful quotations are worth reading again – I especially enjoy the last one, which seems particularly pertinent at a time when coming together as a family still seems a remote possibility: I must open myself more and pay attention to the world that lives within me.


    1. Thank you, Anne! I really did like that way of thinking about our communion with other people; the stomach part is unusual, but not without historic cultural precedent.

      Your thoughtful comments are always so welcome.


  2. Such good quotes today, GJ! Oh, you are all full of all the love of your family and your love for them. I would replace the books, too! Ha! I am also a glutton for books.

    I want a wood stove. Bill says he is finished doing the wood thing, but I am not. We’ll see.

    Send me a photo of the one you chose?

    Sending heaps upon heaps of love to you, dear one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this. I feel like I’m there with you (and I do wish I could share those experiences with my boys right now). Your family is lovely in every way and the chlldren so beautiful. I love the idea of giving them the choice to pick out books to take home. I will remember that for the one day when they can read — I don’t have many (any?) that are just picture books or easy stories for young ones. But one day they will take my Albert Payson Terhune, too. I hope so. I so want them to read! I love your beach walks and all you shared. And the quotes are lovely. Indeed, my friend. You are blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes…joy is something a bit other than what is most often meant as happiness. Joy has room for the spectrum of tender feelings and stalwart hopes that bind our love. Joy to the birthday babes in your family and joy to you stalwart matriarch.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Those times with the grandchildren are precious times. You gave them memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.

    I like your selected quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:”One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.”

    Have a great week Gretchen Joanna.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad you all had such a good time together! I’m always trying to get my grands to take some books home from my children’s book collection, but their mom (my daughter) is trying to declutter their shelves simultaneously, lol. Good thing we’re neighbors, so the books can stay here ’til they’re ready for them. That’s one of my favorite Lewis quotes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Three family birthdays in a week! That’s wonderful. We have that happening in October.

    You made so many memories again with your family in these past days.

    The butterfly is so lovely ( as almost all butterflies are).
    That last quote touched my heart the most. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a wonderful post this is, full of your love of your family. Wonderful quotes. I like the one about affection perhaps the best of all…Be well, Gretchen Joanna.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Young Brodie is cute, working so hard. 🙂 The Solzhenitsyn quote in interesting; I’ve been listening to a podcast group who were discussing real community vs. networking “communities”. They were quoting excerpts from John Taylor Gatto’s writings.


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