Wednesday, July 30, 2008


"Somewhere is better than anywhere..."
- Flannery.

We've been driving a lot these past few weeks, catching up, saying goodbyes, some with a more lasting sting than others. Here are some more pictures from our summer. We're glad to be here, in one place, back in Charlottesville for a few weeks at the very least.

The Curbys , who moved a few weeks ago, will be missed dearly. Mary and Tim have been sources of wisdom and laughter for us these past couple of years, Benjamin is quite possibly one of the most delightful little kids ever, and baby Katherine is just awesome. We're glad they're just up the road in DC.

Here are some more from our trip to FL:

Michael and Alex on the pier in Cocoa Beach.

Heather Diaz, in a modified choke hold:

Heather returned from the teepee (also "tipi", "tepee"; a word more generally spoken, les generally typed, I suppose) on the Wobbly Cart Farm in Washington State to join us for the week in Miami.

She's doing something awesome. Again. She is spending these months until November in a very real teepee as part of her adventure participating in a workers' collective at a farm along the Chehalis River in Rochester Washington. Heather is learning how to farm, sell farm shares, practice food preservation and maybe even beekeeping! And it really is at the Wobbly Cart Farm. Dirt roads, nice neighbors. When the food crisis hits, at least one of the Diaz family will be eating. We caught her only with the most cunning of camera skills and the snap of the new iphone camera...
which Ashley was tired of after a while

(well. not really).

Here's the whole family, including cousins Ramon and Maria, in Miami at the restaurant where they dine nightly.

And the following week, Ashley and Beth tackled humpback (the last time Ashley did this, it was in flat form -- see earlier post entitled "Worth it").

While Nelson and Alex worked on turning the armoir that had been sitting in the back for the past six months from this:

to this:

Ashley spent this past weekend with her closest friends from college and their growing families, while Alex played shows in Charlottesville and Richmond and got to see some of his closest college friends and their kids, as well . Here are some shots from those

John and Sam, who both are incredibly talented and play with Alex. The third photo below shows Sam and Kate, who is a dear friend, gifted visual artist, and precious to our church.

The close-up of the mike-eater:

In Richmond:

Luke. We. Love. Luke.

And I (ashley) love these precious, precious girls...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Kite Running

We've spent the past week on a pilgrimage of sorts through Florida. Many friends may already know that my dear abuela passed away this April, on her 88th birthday. Alex and I left this past Thursday morning and drove all the way from Charlottesville to Melbourne, Florida, where we spent three days exploring the beaches of St. Augustine, Cocoa Beach, and Melbourne itself.
In Melbourne, we bought a parafoil kite at a small kite shop. In my family, we listed kites in with the other things you would need at the beach. Shovels, plastic buckets and sifters were your instruments for the beach earth, your swimsuit and goggles for the water, and the kite, you used to conduct the business of beach play in the sky. My dad, of course, acted as our kite sensei of sorts, running with the kite as we held the spool and string, and shouting to us "more slack!" and "pulluppulluppullup!" And somehow, even when the air seemed impossibly still, Dad could make a kite fly. There still, to me, seems to be something uncommonly wonderful about flying a kite that's too high for you to see - the tugging and dipping on the string is every bit as strong but comes from something that you can no longer see. It was Alex's first encounter with a kite. Our trip was a real gift. After this year of loss and redemption, on our vacation, we flew kites every day.

From Melbourne, we drove to Miami. Our time in Miami will be revisited later, but has been spent with family, searching out more of the story of my family's immigration from Cuba, and standing alongside my father as he continues the process of grieving my grandmother and closing the house we all knew as Abuela's for 50 years. We spend time with my dad's cousin, Ramon, and his wife, Maria. Once we told my dad that we'd bought the parafoil kite, of course, he made sure we found more time to fly kites again on the beach in Miami. Cubans love kites. We're driving to Tallahassee tomorrow to visit my other grandmother and will return to Charlottesville after spending a couple of days with her.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"It's's Beard-fa-say, d*%n it!"

A few weeks ago, I got to go home for a long weekend of much-needed family and friend time. When I get to Memphis, my usual first, middle, and last stop is my best friend Grace's home, where her two (now three!) kids are always ready with something brilliantly hilarious to do or say. Bill Cosby was right. Kids say (and do) the darndest things.

This last visit was especially sweet as Addie and Caroline were preparing for the arrival of their newest sibling, and were doing so with characteristically Addie and Caroline flair. But that's another post. When not busy darting in and out of the new baby's room, Addie, 3, had been cultivating and refining her attentions to beards.

That's right. Beards.

Not necessarily beards-already-on-people, per say. This is no "Let me see what that scraggled-y hair is on your face, sir" sort of research initiative. This appeared to be more of an evangelistic effort, based in her creative energies that surfaced most proudly as she carefully ripped and colored beard-ish shaped pieces of papers and handed them out, inviting the recipient to the "Beard Show" (which sounded like the "Beer Show" until her mom clarified by saying "we're not talking hops here."). What's more, Addie's beard distribution transcended both age and gender. Beards for all humankind.
Caroline? She's 5? Give her a beard.
Mommy? No beards for girls? No way -- one for her, as well.
Alex? Has his own beard? He's never had one of mine -- take this back to Charlottesville.

This post is for Addie. There's a world of bearded culture out there, apparently. Here are some pictures and a growing guide.

Here's a beard or two:


And of course, a style guide (Addie's beards are available in a few of these variations):

And finally, a picture of us modeling our very own beards, for the Beard Show: