We are in Vermont today for a visit with Steve's paternal birth family. The one brother lives here, the other drives over from New Hampshire and their Dad and his wife come from Maine.  It's lovely.

Steve's birth brother has all sorts of fascinating things at his house - like a peach tree and a pond with turtles and Lake Champlain with a pebble beach across the road and a vegetable garden with ground cherries (the sweet, lemony little tomato things that grow inside green paper skins? what do you call them?) - and he and his wife are the sort of people who urge you to pick, eat, do, explore. Needless to say - and yet here I am saying it - the children love it there.

Caroline in particular could remain at their house forever; mostly because they have chickens and brother's wife taught her how to catch them a few years ago, so Caroline is an expert chicken wrangler with little opportunity elsewhere to practice her art.


Granted, the chickens never need to be caught for any particular reason but, equally granted, sometimes the means justify the means.

This whole catch-and-release chicken safari in itself would have been enough to keep Caroline happy for hours but then... THEN...

one of their ducks loved not wisely but too well and - as is the inevitable result of these things (see: pretty much every 19th C novel) - there were Consequences.



Quick. Name five things cuter than a duckling.

Can't be done.

Meanwhile Edward and Patrick wanted to create an optical illusion in which they would use the hillside but it would appear as if Edward was jumping over Patrick. After about fifty attempts I said, "Yes, great, perfect."

"Does it look like I am jumping over him?"

I looked at the picture on my phone.

"Sure," I said.

PS I almost forgot entirely: last night Steve took the mattress off the folding cot and wedged it onto the floor between the bed and the radiator (Patrick said it was like sleeping on the bones of all the children who had been previously consumed by said mattress - I told him not to be so fussy; then I sat on the mattress and had to admit it felt like brambles wrapped in burlap.) Steve left the bed part outside our door until morning. We then folded the inflatable mattress up at the edges, squeezed it into the space at the foot of the bed and inflated it as much as possible, which wasn't much.

Caroline slept there.

"She looks like taco filling," Patrick observed.

"I'm fine!" she called.

We put Edward in between us in bed and - with the exception of Patrick, Caroline and Steve who said he was repeatedly kicked by Edward; which I can only assume is a foul lie because my end of Edward was serene and rosy cheeked - we all slept surprisingly well.