Visit from Kelsey and Alex

Love my sister and bro: Kels and Alex came to stay with us this weekend, with the intention of camping, which was downgraded to hiking, which was further downgraded to just “a walk on the Rivanna Trail.” Not complaining: We had the perfect peaceful weekend with them, and we even got to eat the first meal from the long-awaited cob oven. As you can see, they are an exquisite couple, and we were so pleased to have them. It is so nice to have such beloved family so close by.

So in love, these two. #younglove #siblings

Weekend with Kelsey and Alex

Stumbled on a herd of deer
Young deer, seen from the trail.
Watching the deer
Pyrrha contemplates running after the deer.

Weekend with Kelsey and Alex

Intrepid "hikers"
Intrepid “hikers.”
Firing up the cob oven for the first time. #coboven #backyardliving
Firing up the oven.

Looking for her lover

Crazy sky tonight. #lazydog #summersky #backyardliving

Sky after the rain. #backyardliving #summersky

Outdoor summer

Visiting Andrew and Tara at "Montana"
“Montana,” with Tara and Andrew.

Friday night, we trekked out to “Montana”–the Hill’s cabin in Waynesboro–to have a peaceful, happy dinner with Andrew and Tara. (Well, mostly happy. We were all a little sad that Baby Leah wasn’t there.) Tara made heirloom tomato soup. We talked about creationism and mommy culture on Facebook. Pyrrha found a baby snake under my shoe. We laughed. We were loath to leave.

I mean, look at this place.

Visiting Andrew and Tara at "Montana"
Soy fields at “Montana.”

The following day, we took Pyr on a little hike through Pen Park.

Pen Park visit
Pyrrha and Guion at Pen Park.

While on our way back down, we had a thrilling wildlife encounter. Pyrrha and the doe (featured below) squared off with each other for a solid three minutes–neither one blinking, twitching, breathing. Guion and I were getting bored. “OK, which one of you is going to make a move?”

Pyrrha vs. Doe.

Finally, the doe flicked her ear. And took off. And so did Pyrrha. And so did Guion.

Pyr may have frantically lost this hunt, but the encounter at least whetted her appetite for big, wild creatures.

“Did you see that?” Guion said, walking back to me with Pyrrha in tow, breathless. “She acted like a DOG!”

It’s always something we celebrate around here.

In other news, I am thrilled by the prospect of two weekends in a row in which we do not have any travel, weddings, or house guests. This is something of a summer miracle. I have been doing lots of chores, taking the shepherd on lots of walks, and reading lots of novels and letters. Saturday, I even took a NAP–something I haven’t done in many years. It felt profligate.

How have you been spending your summer?

Calligraphy and nature

Guion, tending to his hop “tree.”

Exhibit A: Guion vs. Cat

The photograph above shows Guion tending to his deeply beloved hops. As you can see, he’s constructed a makeshift hop maypole running up the dead evergreen tree. Every time he climbs up there, I expect one of those branches to break, but he assures me that it’s very sturdy. He’s very adept and quick up there and the hops have been thriving, thanks to his ramshackle fence.

The fence keeps the deer out, but it hasn’t been successful in prohibiting a more malevolent animal: The domestic cat. We have noticed a tabby cat prowling around the tree and the hop plants and we didn’t think too much of it. But the other day, Guion comes in, huffy and disgruntled. “Cats are evil,” he says. The cat, apparently, dug up one of his precious hop seedlings, pooped in this hole, and then covered it back up, leaving Guion a special little present when he went to check on that lingering seedling. This made me LOL all over the place, but yes, it’s also proof positive that cats are evil. And that they potentially share my father’s sense of humor.

Exhibit B: Escaping calligraphy

I was positively exhausted this weekend by demanding calligraphy jobs. I shouldn’t complain–I am so grateful for the extra cash–but spending one’s entire weekend hunched over a desk, slave to the pen, is not necessarily my idea of a good time.

I was desperate to get out of the house, so we took a brief hike through Pen Park for my Saturday reprieve. A hot day, but the trails are so shaded. We met an equally shy German shepherd puppy, saw three deer crashing through the woods, and lost Pyrrha for a few minutes (turns out her recall is not as good as I thought it was). And then we came home, tired dog in tow, and ate and… did some more calligraphy.

Pen Park walk.

Even though I get easily stressed by these little things, at the core, I feel very peaceful. We have a good life.