Bag Pipes

While walking with Joseph and Willow this morning we got on the topic of ethnicity. “We’re  part Ukrainian, right?” he asked. Well, not really, I explained. Our Mennonite ancestors lived in Ukraine, but they didn’t  intermarry. The family on both sides are fairly pure German until, well, me. I married an English/Scottish guy. Hm. I never really thought about it like that before. Me. It ends at me.

And I just used Grandma Joyce’s  Christmas money to order a practice chanter. That’s  the instrument you learn to play bag pipes on, before you use the actual bags and all. It’s  the pipe without the bag, so to speak. I’m  fascinated with bag pipes. I’d  love to stand on a Scottish hillside overlooking  the sea and play. Would I wear a kilt? I actually looked that up. Do female bag pipers wear kilts? Apparently  opinions differ on that.

But anyway, rather than say that the German Mennonite purity ends with me, let’s say that something else begins with me. To German Mennoniteness I am adding the windswept  Scottish hills and the mournful sound of bag pipes ( perhaps very mournful, since I may not be very good at it if I ever get my hands on real bag pipes).


Back Again?

It’s  been an entire year. I did more or less give up for a while. But apparently I’m  not very good at that. So here I  am again.

News in the Langley household? Most notably, Julia has requested that we go back to Peter, and he has a short haircut now, and the beginnings of a beard. His journey continues to be difficult and fraught with peril.

I’ve  begun writing again, after months of drowning my sorrows in crossword puzzles. At least that doesn’t  damage the kidneys.

Willow is still with us. There are fewer stray pit Bulls in our new neighborhood. And I  have no idea why the computer just capitalized the word bulls. I’ll  leave it that way just for kicks. Isn’t  technology grand.

Well, more later.



15 drops

I almost gave up between this post and the last one. Gave up on what, you ask? Well, I almost gave up on writing any more blog posts, for starters. But that was just a symptom of almost giving up on putting a positive spin on things. Maybe things would just be allowed to stop being spun and sit in resounding silence in all their bare and depressing not-so-greatness.

Maybe I should sink into the role of the frazzled, increasingly older looking mother and wife trying to hold the family together. End of story.

I’m not saying I’m officially not giving up, but I might as well at least attempt another blog. I did feel a little bit tempted to post a picture of our new dog, Willow.



Well, how can one give up when her little black nose is so cute, even if she has a bit of a barking problem.

And it did rain a few beautiful drops from some wonderful clouds, and the air is so cool and refreshing.



August already. A few things distracted me from writing over the last months. There was the whole packing, lugging and unpacking of our possessions. Then Jasmine and I were attacked by pit bulls during our morning walk and she didn’t make it. So there’s been grief and post traumatic stress to deal with. And Joseph has started high school. And Silas started a new job. Basically, not an easy summer.

We miss Jasmine. Joseph and I miss Jasmine at bedtime, when she would curl up and lick her paws peacefully while I read out loud from fantasy novels. Now we have a small tin canister of her ashes, and some pictures, and the chewy toy she liked to hide in Joseph’s blankets. But we don’t have her cheerful presence. And I have a fear of pit bulls.

But sinking down in those thoughts is not an option. Forward we go. Waiting for rain now. Waiting for the coolness of autumn. Getting to know our new neighbors. Hoping for the next things.


Tomorrow, or the next day, it will hit 100 degrees, right in time for the first of June. How organized of the weather.

And we are still here. No disasters have struck. Even MacBeth, the Comedy was not too disastrous, and Joseph is already looking back on it with fond memories.

On our anniversary, over a plate of hummus, Silas and I decided to move ahead with plans to sell our house and hopefully move into a condo at the Fresno cohousing community. We contacted our church friend who is a realtor that evening, and two days later the first people who came to look at our house offered the full asking price and it is now in escrow.

It feels right. The Langley’s, I am coming to accept, are migratory. And once one accepts that, it’s okay. Butterflies are migratory. Canadian geese. Native Americans used to move around a lot. Gypsies. I play lots of instruments, after all, and Joseph is quite good on recorder.

Gypsies probably didn’t own thirty boxes of books, though. I’m sure butterflies don’t. It would be awkward. But that’s something migratory book lovers just have to deal with.

And so on into June, which will be hot and pungent with the smell of cardboard boxes and packaging tape.


As I drove home from work yesterday the public radio station that I was listening to was doing a report about preppers, in this case people who buy secluded million dollar estates in Montana complete with gun lockers and food supplies and all.

Huh, I thought to myself. Who wants to survive a disaster if the only people left afterwards are rich folks who hid out in million dollar estates in Montana while everyone else suffered and died?

There should be a counter movement of preppers, and the check list would simply be :

Are you prepared to die, prepared to share your last bottle of water with the old lady next door? If not, sort out your priorities.

Anyway, its early morning right now and I’m typing this one letter at a time on a tablet. There doesn’t seem to be any other way I’ll get to write anything. It’s been a month that I’m glad to see the end of. Silas’s job search continues, Julia’s anxiety disorder has taken a turn for the worse, etc.

May might be better. It will include Julia’s graduation from high school, our anniversary, Joseph’s birthday, not to mention his classroom production of Macbeth, The Musical which I’m helping with (it’s a comedy, sure to be a comedy of errors).

Or maybe we’ll die in a disaster. Hopefully before that 8th grade performance of Macbeth, The Musical.

Spring Forward

So we moved our clocks ahead.  We sprang forward, as they say.  Another jumping metaphor.  And certainly I’m feeling jumpy these days.  I’m almost embarrassed at how unpredictable the Langleys seem to be.

We might, for instance, move back to Portland, if Silas got a job there.  He’s applying to every job he can find because he’d really like to move back to Portland.

Or we might not.  Silas might not get a job there.  In fact, it doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do, so far.

We might move to the North side of Fresno.  Silas’s current job is there, and Joseph is planning to attend high school on that side of town (if we don’t move to Portland).  And my parents moved to the North side of town.  So why stay here? We’ll just be driving two cars up and down the length of 41 every day in heavy traffic.

Or we might just stay here, I suppose. I did buy a weed wacker recently, and discovered that a weed wacker is a really good thing.  It really wacks those weeds. If only it could wack everything else that’s out-of-wack with everything.  Staying here would be the default plan.

Meanwhile, Julia sprang forward a bit. One day this week she said she was bored and asked if I could drive her to my parents house. It was five minutes before I planned to leave to go teach my next lessons, so I couldn’t drive her there. “You could take the bus,” I said. “Okay,” she said.

Now, Julia has never gone solo in the world, anywhere. Not even for a walk around the block with the dog. She’s usually afraid someone is going to kill her with a chainsaw. But I was careful not to exclaim “You’d really take the bus?! Oh my goodness! You’re not afraid someone is going to kill you with a chainsaw?!”

No, I just said, “Okay, let’s check the bus schedule.” And five minutes later we were at the bus stop, and I watched her get in and sit down and wave at me from the window.

I’ll hold on to that as we spring forward into whatever is going to happen next.