It’s been a long while since I’ve been here, y’all.

Oliver graduated from 4th grade, and we enjoyed our eighth annual family trip to Wrightsville Beach with Tom’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their darling girls.
Children are dying under pathetically inattentive, cruel “protective” custody on our southern border.
Trump is flirting with bombing Iran. His base is enabling his insane idiocy and excusing his many assaults.
Yet another has credibly accused Trump of assault -this time of RAPE.
I leave on Thursday to move the boys to summer camp, and I fly home on Saturday to commence six weeks without them.
Tom is soon to start a new job so we’re not traveling this summer.
Instead we are renovating our dining and family rooms and relearning how to rest and relax.
Nutmeg still doesn’t like Ruthie, but she is holding her own, and things are slightly better between them.
I have wonderful new writing students and last week taught a fun, energetic Canning 101 class.
I am deeply worried about and appalled by much of America.
Tom and I are driving to Brooklyn on Sunday in further pursuit of my passion for midcentury modern, Scandinavian-inspired design.
The fireflies are out, and my blackberry bush is thriving, and the orange calla lily I planted with hope two Junes ago is blooming magnificently.
It is PRIDE month, and love is love, and let’s just cheer that!
Today is Bourdain Day, and I miss the light that Anthony Bourdain was in the world, and I hate that depression lies so believably to so many.
I am so very tired, so very worried, and have so many books I hope I get through this summer.

In the meantime, I am thinking about connection and trust, relationships and self-protection. I am thinking of how wonderfully connective vulnerability and gratitude can be, and yet how exposed such porous borders can render us.

Here’s to peace and goodness, faith and the best of the unknown. Here’s to six weeks unplugged and in nature, to New York City and loving cats, to friends and also boundaries, and to the ways that appreciation and trust can make life richer.

Stream of consciousness catch-up/catchall

Taught another class today - Canning 101 - which was great fun. 

Went to dinner with girlfriends- also great fun.

Mulched and tended the now-two blackberry bushes from Papa that comprise my "blackberry patch." I love them. Number 1 is thriving. So are my tomatoes.

Blackberry 1

Blackberry 1

He thinks he's totally hidden

He thinks he's totally hidden

Spent another 90 minutes sorting and building Legos with Jack. We spent a marathon 6 hours yesterday sorting and free-building an X-wing. It was the weirdest sort of sedentary fun. 

Took a run this afternoon, and boy did it feel good to sweat. I haven't exercised in weeks; this is not a good trend, not good for my psyche at all. Pounding the pavement today, making that soft-clop contact with the earth felt so good.

On Saturday, we are heading to NC for our annual family vacation at the beach. It is always wonderful to see the boys with their cousins, and to have no concerns greater than the amount of sand we are or are not tracking inside. We will also get to spend three days with one of my dearest-ever friends and her family. #giftsallaround

Brexit looks like it will happen. This is not, in my opinion, a good thing at all. The Pound is already plummeting. The EU has been beset with problems from the get-go, but I still find this probably departure sad, and if the UK splits afterwards, well, I find that even sadder. Nothing is permanent. That, in many ways, is sad too.

One of my dear friend's parents were just in Louisiana. Her mother, a very talented photographer, took this photo of Lake Martin, a gorgeous swampy area. This picture captures it perfectly, and I am grateful she shared it with me. #myhome

As always, I am hopeful that things feel slower soon. At least my core feels calmer. Baby steps, I guess.

The blackberry bush

The morning after Mom arrived, she shyly brought out a gift. It was wrapped in damp paper towels, newspaper, and a plastic bag.

“What do you think it is?” she asked as I carefully peeled back the layers, my hands trembling slightly.

“Well, it’s a plant. It has thorns. Oh, I know! It’s a cutting from your Dr. Van Fleet" (a climbing rose that’s been in our family for generations).

“No, not that. Try again.”

I guessed several times but never could figure out what the spindly, spiky plant was. Really, it was little more than two slender stalks and a dirty root ball.

“It’s one of Papa’s original blackberry bushes. It’s about 60 years old. I called the new owner of their house and asked if I could dig it up and bring it to you. I have another one, too, but it was too big for my suitcase. I’ll bring it next time.” (Papa was Mom's father, my grandfather).

Tears rolled down my cheeks, and I hugged Mom tight. “Thank you, Mom. Thank you so much.”

I looked at the treasure in my hands and noticed a lone earthworm still nestled among the tangle of roots. Its presence seemed auspicious, as if it loved the plant too, and didn't want to leave; so it stayed, amidst uprooting, wrapping, and two plane rides.

“The new owner and I agreed that you’re the one who’ll treasure it most, Em,” Mom replied, hugging me back. “Someday, the blackberries for your pies will come from this.”

I grew up eating Nanny’s blackberry pies. Nanny, Mom’s mom, was the grandparent with whom I was closest. She was one of my dearest friends. She died two years ago, and, as y'all likely know, I still miss her almost daily. She (and also Mom) taught me to make her pie crust and pie, and I now make them all the time, for blackberry is also Jack's favorite.

I have written frequently about Nanny and her pies. I have made blackberry pie more times than I can count. It’s a simple pie- just four ingredients in the crust and three in the filling. It’s the sort of dish that proves that the little things matter, that god is in the details and they needn’t be fancy.

That Papa planted some blackberry bushes in a sunny spot by a storage shed on his Lake Charles land sixty years ago changed the course of our family in a way. Those bushes spread and grew and fed not only my grandparents and their children, but also their grandchildren and friends, sons- and daughters-in-law, neighbors and great grandchildren.

Now, one of those plants sits humbly in a sunny spot by a storage shed in Maryland, planted carefully and with love by Papa’s daughter and granddaughter. It is leafing out with happy abandon, and each day, when I visit it to water and check on its progress, I see family and history and love. I am reminded of the value of falling and letting yourself be picked up, of valuing the little bits of life that make it glow and shine.