Okay, none of us are moving here . . .

La Rochelle, France

or here . . .

Monet’s House and Garden at Giverny, France

or here . . .

Château de la Roche Courbon, France

or here . . .

Forteresse de Largoët, Bretagne, France

or even here . . .

Hill House, John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, North Carolina

. . . although I wouldn’t mind revisiting all of the above. Still, moving seems to be the word of the moment. Chelsea and Brian are moving to a new house next week, fortunately still only about twenty minutes from me. Meanwhile, Brittany is awaiting final approval to head to Australia for a couple months of training. Then if all goes according to plan, she’ll head back to Australia in the fall, with Andy and their dog Bega, for a two-year stint. Even Courtney and her crew are looking for a new house, preferably to buy within the next month or two. So there’s a lot of moving going on.

Chelsea and Brian are crazy busy and buried in packing boxes, since moving day is  nearly here. Beckett goes to the nanny’s, so they can get some packing done, and I’ve been on call to entertain little man Brooks. Brooks 18 March 2022 

Chelsea and/or Brian do all the work and I sit on the couch holding a warm, sleeping baby or darling, cooing, smiling baby. Okay, yes, sometimes enraged or spitting-up baby, but still. Best moving experience of my life.

When I’m not on baby duty, I’m doing a lot of writing. Lots of poetry, but I’m also closing in on the first draft of the memoir I’m writing about my life with David, which is a whole different kind of moving. I’ve reached the point where we’ve just returned from our 2017 trip to France–maybe that’s why I chose all the France photos for this post. But it’s the point where both the news from the medical team and David’s quality of life are beginning to get progressively worse with each passing week. And although I can now think of our many happy memories with  nearly unambiguous joy, the hard times are, well, harder. Still, it feels right to tell this story.

And then there’s the news. I don’t know how any of us could not be moved by the plight of those from Ukraine, forced to leave their beloved homes, and often to leave their country entirely, to avoid violence and destruction. It’s beyond moving. It’s heartbreaking.

So I’m wishing you grace, whether you’re moving or holding babies or reading the news. Whatever you’re doing to try to help anyone, bless you. I’m praying for peace for all of us on this small, troubled, moving planet.

Welcome, Brooks!

Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo  credit:  Amber Hall

Brooks Ellis Johnson was born 2.02.2022 as predicted, weighing 8 lbs. 11.5 oz. and measuring 21 inches long. He was definitely making himself at home in the womb, but it was time to come out and meet the family, so with just a little medical encouragement, he did.

Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo credit: Amber Hall

Beckett suddenly looks so grown up!

Beckett and Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo credit: Amber Hall

Chelsea and Brian have a lot going on right now. In addition to wrangling an active toddler, while managing two full-time busy careers, as well as the round-the-clock care a newborn requires, they just sold their house and are in the middle of building another. Their realtor kindly gifted them with a newborn photo shoot with her niece: Amber Hall of Rustic and Roses Photography. All the best shots in this post are hers, not gonna lie!

Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo credit: Amber Hall

I was on call for Beckett duty, so I stayed over there from the 1st until they came home on the 3rd, and it was a blast. We colored and played with Play-Doh and read piles of books. There was a raging snowstorm and absolutely frigid temperatures, so we didn’t venture outside at all. Beckett got his energy out by jumping on beds and couches and into a foam pit full of pillows and by chasing the dogs around the house. I . . . supervised. My energy, I can assure you, was adequately utilized without jumping on anything at all.

I’ve started teaching Beckett a little French, so we made a few tiny videos. Here’s one where I asked him to say, “Bonjour, Natacha” to send to my French tutor and friend: He actually can pronounce it all better than that now, and we made one to send to Pascale, too, that at least had the “bonjour” part enunciated better. Still,  I adore this video so thought I’d share it with you.

Then when Chelsea sent us a funny, grumpy-face photo of Brooks, less than 24-hours old, we decided to do  our own photo shoot–quick snaps with my phone–of various Beckett expressions:

So, Brooks, welcome! Yes, life can get hard. Even the grumpiest expression may be warranted every now and then. But I promise, sometimes it’s super fun. Either way, you are loved already!



I know I’m not the only one waiting right now. Maybe if you can look at clocks this beautiful, even if only in photos, it won’t be so bad.

Musée d’Orsay – Paris

I imagine we’re all waiting for something — for the days to get longer, the weather to improve, for something long-backordered to finally arrive, for the news to be less depressing, for the pandemic to loosen its grip on our lives. I hope you are also awaiting even better things than those, as I am — new classes to start, a new baby to arrive.

Here’s Beckett then and now. He’s awaiting a baby brother, expected VERY soon. I’ll keep you posted!

Christmas was also a bit of a waiting game. I went over to Chelsea and Brian’s on Christmas morning, which was relaxed and lovely, even though Beckett was not feeling fabulous. We had to delay our full family Christmas until the 31st, to accommodate  scheduling with other parts of everyone’s extended family. It was worth the wait. We ended up with a lovely white “Christmas” and the broken oven mentioned in the poem in last month’s post experienced a Christmas miracle and came back to life just long enough for us to bake Courtney’s delicious cinnamon rolls and later roast the beef tenderloin. Lots of games, lots of laughs, lots of love.

The long-awaited delivery of the new oven was postponed to January 3rd. Ugh. But it’s here now and even provides a little slide show of gorgeous nature photos behind the clock numbers. Not something I ever thought I needed, but it is beautiful, and is about all the nature I’m getting these days. I’m waiting for spring!

Jonquil, La Rochelle, France

If you’d like a bit more spring while you wait, click here and here and here.

Brittany got tired of waiting for her post-chemo hair growth to catch up with the remnants, and had most of it cut off. She now has a sassy new short cut, with healthy, thick, thriving hair, and best of all, her smile is back.

Brittany’s New Do – January 2022

She and I went to a cheese-making class this past Saturday. Super-fun and interesting. We came away with a small waxed cheese, about the size of a hockey puck, which we were ideally to store at 50 to 55  degrees to age for several months. Yes, more waiting. My wine fridge has an adjustable temperature setting, so I  increased it to 53 degrees, a choice the fridge apparently doesn’t like. Occasionally I hear an eerie, moan rising from below, as if something had taken to haunting the place. A bit creepy until I tracked down the source of the sound, not gonna lie! But still, I will wait.

So here’s wishing you patience and all good things in this new year. While you and I wait for . . . well . . .  whatever is to come, here’s a tiny, adorable video created by (granddaughter) Felicity. Thanks, Felicity! 



Advent Peace

Things got away from me at the end of November, when I would ordinarily have posted something, and even the beginning of December was packed. There were fun things, like a quick road trip to Minnesota. We saw this again on the way:

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

We had no Sharpie, but Brittany managed to sign the one designated “signature” car:

We were headed to Shakopee to surprise Courtney (Jay’s idea) with an early 40th birthday celebration, although the big day is not until the 20th.

Courtney and Brittany – 4 December 2021

Chelsea didn’t have as much time off, but of course, she wouldn’t miss it, so flew in to join in the fun:

Chelsea and Courtney – 4 December 2021

So we were all together. Jay pulled it off. Courtney was completely surprised and nearly in tears when she saw us. Worth every mile to see her smile!

Then, both Brittany and Courtney had surgery on the 8th, but I’m happy to report both are recovering nicely, although it takes time.

Meanwhile at my house, all kinds of things were going wrong and needing attention or time or money or all three. Yikes. Here’s a poem I wrote around the time things were going haywire at an alarming pace: 

I’ll Admit I Have a Thing for Snow Globes

And yes, I did just willingly fork
over forty bucks for the privilege
of watching silver glitter flash
and swirl around a cockeyed
scene in ceramic—
a tiny steepled church,
leaning left, as I do,
dwarfed by three tall spruces,
green-painted branches tipped in white.

And yes, the oven needs replacing,
and the HOA is demanding
funds for a road,
and a window was broken
by landscapers who are not
happy to pay, no matter what they say,
and a blind won’t obey
when the button is pushed,
and the heat just kept heating
and blowing and burning,

pulling me from sleep,
waking to summer’s heat
on that cold winter night,
the night of the day where I paid
with funds needed elsewhere, I paid
to smile and stare
and pretend myself there,
in a sparkling, pristine,
beautifully serene,
miniature world.
My new snow globe

Of course, a snow globe can only do so much on the inner peace front, but things are getting done. The landscaper turned out only to be busy, not reluctant, and has paid me. Yay! Several other issues resolved with little or no expense, and suddenly here we are in Advent and it’s nearly Christmas.

Apparently I’m not the only one occasionally feeling a bit frazzled these days. I heard an ad the other day recommending Legos to adults as a source of peace, but if you’ve ever stepped on one barefoot, I doubt peace was the immediate result. 

Which brings us finally to the reason for the title: “Advent Peace.” (I know you were wondering.) I’ve been thinking about the four themes of Advent especially this year, because I was asked to write and present something for one of the four weeks, which include Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace. If you know me at all, you know I’m a pro  worrier, so it may surprise you to hear I chose to write about peace.  Weirdly, wonderfully, supernaturally, I do often feel the peace of God, even in the midst of whatever is going on, even if it’s going wrong. He meets me where I am, if only I pay attention.

I’ll be presenting what I wrote (and lighting the candle–yes, they’re trusting me with fire) this Sunday, the 19th.  But if you won’t be there or watching online, here’s the shorter version–it’s already short:  The very best gift you could receive this Christmas is the transcendent peace of God, which he gives freely to anyone who asks. I hope you will. 

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a glorious New Year!


Adventures in Wanderlust