As promised, here are a few photos from my weekend trip to Illinois:


Mom has a bunch of birdfeeders that she keeps filled all winter. Her efforts are rewarded with visits from every imaginable kind of seed-eating bird: grackles (like the gorgeous creature above), cardinals, bluejays, titmice, wrens, juncos, and I don’t know what all else. At our old house, Dad built Mom a birdfeeder and put it right outside our dining-room windows so we could watch the birds all winter. When we were kids, we’d sit there and try to keep still and watch the birds until one of us got fidgety and moved too fast and scared them off.


Mom wouldn’t mind scaring these sticky-fingered visitors. Some of the pictures aren’t terribly clear, because I was shooting through a window and didn’t have a zoom lens, but I couldn’t resist getting a few images of Mom’s little thieves.


Look closely and you’ll see the squirrel on the side of the tree, stretching out his little paw to reach into the so-called “squirrel-proof” feeder and swipe a handful of seed. Mom said half the time, the squirrels just climb on top of the feeder, pull the lid off, and take what they want.


The cardinals don’t seem to mind sharing their seed with the squirrels.


Here we have a fuzzy but nonetheless endearing shot of a cardinal and a young squirrel (notice the short tail) sharing a meal under an arbor near the west window.


Here’s the real reason I spent 18 hours on the road this weekend. ‘Scuse the blurriness — the lighting was a bit dicey, so we had to slow the shutter waaaaaaaay down.


Love the newsboy hat — and the thoughtful expression.


Here’s Dezi, giving me the skunk eye to make sure I understand that I had better behave myself if I want to be permitted to play with his baby. Grace said Dezi will patrol the house, checking all the baby monitors to make sure Jamie is OK, and if he has to leave the room while Jamie is sleeping, he will bring his favorite stuffed dog toy, “Moocow,” into the nursery and leave it next to the crib. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to offer Jamie a companion or assigning Moocow to keep an eye on his baby while he’s out.


Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man….

The next three pictures are part of the Magic of Willie collection. Jamie absolutely adores Willie Nelson’s Stardust album. He can be screaming his head off, but as soon as he realizes Grandpa has put Willie on the turntable, he calms down and begins conducting with his arms and doing a funny little cradle dance with his legs. It’s beyond cute.




You have no idea how proud I am of this child. Two months old, and already he’s got a healthy appreciation for Willie on vinyl. We’re going to see Willie in concert in a couple of weeks. If they make infant-sized concert T-shirts, I know a young fan who will be getting one.

Speaking of baby fashion, I would like to direct your attention to the hilarious onesie Jamie is wearing in the above photos. Also notice the little friend he is holding in the last two pictures. That’s “Bog,” a very soft blankie/stuffed animal hybrid who got his name from the fact that he has the ears of a bear and the face of a puppy. No one is sure what he is, so Geoff and Grace just call him Bog. (And no, Jamie doesn’t have jaundice. For some reason, every time I shut off the strobe and rely on ambient light from CFLs, the camera picks up a lot of yellow. I was too lazy to adjust the color in Photoshop this evening.)

Incidentally, there is a lot of love — and a lot of family history — in those three pictures. Jamie is lying in a cradle that his grandpa built for me before I was born, on top of a sheet his grandma made, under an afghan his Great-Aunt Jean crocheted for him for Christmas … which is exactly what you’d expect of a kid who’s part of the fourth generation to be born while a doting daddy used my great-grandma’s watch to time a young mother’s contractions.


This is my four-legged nephew Clyde, a miniature doxie, demonstrating his latest trick. Ashley has taught him to shake hands, roll over, and sit up and beg. Clyde is a ridiculous animal who seems to be every bit as smart and as ornery as Scout. Earthdogs are amazing creatures: smart, independent, tenacious, and way too clever for their own good.


Oliver cooked lunch for everybody on Sunday. I have no idea when, where, or why he acquired this skill, but he cooks better than I do … and he doesn’t cheat and stick to easy stuff like lasagna or stroganoff, either. On Sunday, he fixed fried chicken and real mashed potatoes, with homemade lemon ice cream and strawberry pie for dessert. (I think Ashley might have made the pie, but I’m not entirely sure. In any case, it was stellar.) I wish he and Ashley would move to Tulsa and open a restaurant. I’d eat there twice a day.

Hope your weekend was full of unbelievable cuteness and wonderful food.