I’m reading the girls a book I discovered at age ten or eleven and read with immense relish several times over the next few years. I’m enjoying it just as much this time around. And it’s one of those “oh please, just ONE more chapter” books for the kids.
The Firelings are a halfling people who live in the shadow of a volcano they call Belcher. The village legends tell of Belcher’s former life as a Sky Creature who danced a little too energetically one day and stomped a hole in the floor of the sky, through which he tumbled into a sea of his own brine. This misfortune, as far as the Firelings can tell, left Belcher in rather an irascible state. From time to time—dark times in Fireling history—he has required a tasty Morsel to prevent his crotchety temper from erupting with disastrous effect. And once, long ago (so the legends tell), a group of Firelings actually dared to attempt to leave Belcher’s sprawling body, seeking exit through the fabled Way of the Goat. Belcher punished them with a terrible Spewing, and ever since, the survivors have tiptoed very carefully, attempting to interpret Belcher’s wishes in the bubblings of mud near his Throat.
Now Belcher’s belly has once more begun to emit ominous rumblings, and his fiery tongue has been seen darting out of his mouth as if to suggest he is craving another Morsel…and in the whispers around the village, a certain name pops up with an alarming frequency. What will this mean for young Tacky-obbie and his friends Life, Trueline, Milk, and Mole Star? My kids are desperate to find out. I know, but I’m not telling.
My wonderful friend Shelli, who is adopting a little girl from China>, sent me a link to the blog of a group of American doctors who are spending their vacations performing cleft palate repairs for children in China. The group, Love Without Boundaries, is a nonprofit volunteer organization that raises funds for medical procedures needed by children who could otherwise never afford them. This year’s Cleft Mission has already provided new smiles for over a hundred children, at no cost to their families. Many of the children, in fact, are growing up in orphanages, for children with cleft palates are often ostracized in their villages, and great pressure is put upon the parents to abandon the children.
The stories on this blog are heartbreaking and heartwarming. What these doctors, nurses, and support volunteers are doing is unbelievably beautiful. They spend their own money to travel around the world and change the lives of these children. The surgeries are paid for through donations and sponsors. I am overwhelmed by the pictures and stories.
Like this one: “The grandmother came today to help her daughter get the baby home, and when she walked into the post op ward, she began to cry. She was overwhelmed at how her grandson looked. After we discharged them, they walked down the six flights of stairs and then a few moments later I saw the grandmother making her way back up. She had a small bag in her hand, and she pressed it into mine and said “thank you”. Inside were four small cherry tomatoes…….it was all she could give, and it was such a precious gift to me.”
The Love Without Boundaries site includes a newsletter for children, full of inspiring stories about ways individual kids have raised money to provide a heart surgery or cleft palate repair for children in China.
August was not a month for blogging; not for me, at least. And here we are well into September, and I’m looking around feeling dazed, wondering how our summer slipped by without a chronicle. I suppose we were too busy doing to do much reflecting. Or perhaps it is simply that sunscreen-slick hands can’t stay on the keyboard.
But this past week seems to have tipped us into fall. The pool is closed; the wooded trails around our neighborhood are cool and inviting; the kids are wanting to paint and ride bikes, things they haven’t bothered about since spring. And I’m wanting slow down and capture the moments that whisked past me these past few months.
Wonderboy had his surgery in early August and has made a good recovery. At last he can sit again, though he still seems uncomfortable in the car if the ride is more than a few minutes. He continues to explode with new signs: I lost count at fifty, and he adds new ones every day. When Scott was away this past weekend, the boy stalked the house signing “Want Daddy” until I thought his thumb was going to bore a hole in his forehead. I have to keep his thumbnail cut short or else he scratches himself something awful.
Beanie has announced that she hates her curly hair. She has the most gorgeous head of golden sausage-curls, really unbelievable hair of the sort that makes people happy just to see it. I expected it would torment her as a teenager but I certainly never imagined her hair woes would begin at age four. “I don’t WANT to be a curly girl!” she wails. This is the only gloomy note in her sun-drenched disposition. When she is not pining for straight hair, she bounces around singing, constantly singing. Sometimes the songs are her own made-up ramblings, surprisingly lyrical. Other times she amuses me with the Beatles or folk songs.
The other day she was stuck in a loop of “The Old Gray Mare.” After about forty repetitions, she turned to me and said, “What’s ain’t?”
I explained. She experimented with the synonym: “The old gray mare just isn’t what she used to be, isn’t what she used to be…nope, ain’t sounds better.”
Ain’t that the truth.