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[Ed: This is something I helped Caleb write a while ago, but we didn’t post because Caleb wanted to leave it unfinished so that we could add more inventions to it if he thought of more. But since he hasn’t been thinking of anymore we agreed to post it now.]

One day, me and Owen were washing dishes and bored. And we started thinking up technology things. First, I said, “Why is there the sprayer? Why don’t you just use the faucet to rinse?” And Owen said, “The sprayer is for, is like a longer faucet” and he demonstrated for me, if a pot was on a chair next to you—because it couldn’t fit on your counter—you could use a sprayer to fill it up and soak it. And then I started thinking about an extendable faucet. Then Owen started thinking about a car with jet-packs under it, so it could fly over lakes, and there could be roads going straight into lakes. And I thought of invisible glass bridges that when you stepped on them they transported you to the other side. Now I’ll just start talking about some other inventions, because I’m losing track of which order we thought them up in.

There was also an automatic greenhouse, we called it—you just needed to set a time of day and set dials and tell the machine if you wanted some things or not. And then in would automatically, if you told it that you wanted it, give your plants some plant food and water it at a set time of time. Owen also made up a freezer, that you put something like, for example, pie filling into it, and you hear it powering up very loud, and then it conveyor-belts it out, completely frozen. I made up an oven, that cook things in 2 seconds. So you set the dial of how hot you want to cook it, and you can just put a slab of defrosted meat in without any dish, and then like I said, set it to how hot you want it to be, get your hot mitts, and then when you turn back, it’s already done cooking. If you’re not fast enough to get your hot mitts it just goes “Ding!” when it’s done. And it automatically puts dishes under it, because it has dishes stored in the back, so you have to re-fill it sometimes.

Well, there was also just one that everyone makes up, which was a jetpack that goes on yourself, so if you’re taking walks on the road, and you reach a lake that the road goes into, you can just jet-pack over it like the cars would. There was another one which was an air vent that was strong enough to blow a person like, 90 feet in the air. And then you’d put a trampoline under it, and then you’d turn it on and then it would slowly be powering up. So you’d jump on the trampoline, and the trampoline would bounce you up, and then when you were falling down the other thing wouldn’t be all the powered up so it wouldn’t be strong enough to keep you from falling down, and then you’d hit the trampoline (which was above it), and it’d blow you so you’d bounce extra high, about 100 feet up.

(Dictated to Cadie by Caleb, age 7)

The annoying chicken

(Dictated to Cadie)

I was carving something when I saw a chicken flying up on top of the gate and flying down again to the other side. Certain chickens always get out of the fence, but this one was a different one that the ones that normally get out of the fence. At first I just ignored it and went inside for a while. But when it went on for a while, I decided to get the chicken back in the fence myself.

The chicken was walking around on the patio. I started walking towards the chicken, but it saw me coming and flew up onto the gate and then down to the other side. I walked away a little bit surprised. While I was walking away, the chicken flew up onto the gate again and flew down again! The same thing happened as before. This time, when I went away, the chicken flew up onto the gate, but I picked up a stick and ran toward it and tried to beat at it with the stick! (Owen starts laughing crazily.) I really just swung at it a little bit, I didn’t beat at it with the stick. The chicken got very surprised and flew back into the chicken yard.

The same thing happened again and again. It kept doing it faster and faster, like the chicken thought it was a game or something. At this time, the chicken was back in the fence and I saw it looking up to get ready to jump again. So I banged the gate with my stick to scare it away. Then I started walking away, but the minute I took a few steps the chicken was already back up onto the gate again! It was kind of funny how the chicken kept getting out non-stop. I RAN back as FAST as I could, but the chicken was too fast for me! It flew down off the fence! I was getting kind of excited at that point and I picked up a bigger stick and started whacking wildly! The chicken started squawking a little bit and flew up onto the fence. The chicken ran off into the chickenyard and didn’t look like it was going to come back again, so I went inside.


Planting and harvest and graduation

My feet are soaked. I just got back from picking strawberries at a local U-Pick place. We (Rundy, me, Justin, and Owen) picked about 80 pounds today.Yesterday Rundy and I picked about 40 pounds. So I’m going to be busy making jam and freezing strawberries this afternoon! Hopefully I’ll get help washing and hulling.

The garden is finally all in. Rundy planted corn, squash and cucumbers. I put in tomatoes, pototatoes broccolli, lettuce, spinach, leeks, basil, parsley, organo, carrots, and peas (though some of the younger boys helped me with the peas, and Teman helped with the potatoes). The potatoes are starting to bloom which means the new potatoes are almost ready. The tomatoes are all blooming, and some varieties even have small green tomatoes (I planted 6 different varieties). The peas are almost ready for picking, and we have been eating salad quite regularly from the garden. I started a new garden for the herbs, closer to the house, by Rundy’s cherry tree.

We don’t usually make a big deal out of graduations around here. But it was my night to cook when Lachlan finished his computer repair course, so I decided to make it a celebration. We had marinated chicken, fresh baked bread, and a chocolate trifle for desert. Oh, and it was also Lachlan’s night wash dishes, so he got to clean up the whole mess.

 Like I said, we don’t make a big deal out of graduations.

Two times I want to tell you about

This is one time when it looked like our room was opposited.

 It was the morning, but still dark, and I was going to check if anyone was awake. And my brothers,  Evan and Collin, are the latest sleepers. My brother Owen’s bunk bed was next to my top bunk bed, so there was a crack between them both, and I could look down onto Collin on the bottom bunk. I tried to look through the crack, but I was going the wrong direction.

 It looked like there was an alarm clock on my bed that showed red, but in real life it was not on my bed but on clothes-shelves and it showed the time in green. I thought I was going back to my pillow, but really I was going toward the edge of my bed. I kept on going and I fell off my bed. Then my older brother Rundy asked me if I was all right, and I said "Yes," but I was kind of scared, but I didn’t say that.

Then  I got back up onto my bed, and everything looked like how it was in real life, and I went back to my pillow, and laid down again.

One day, I got up and I ate breakfast, and it is my chore to dry breakfast dishes.  And we got a call inviting us to our aunt and uncle Nate and Sharon’s to go swimming. And I started to dry dishes.  But for a little while I thought none of the people in our family who could drive would want to drive, because it was such a long way. But then I found out that Lachlan and Rundy and everyone except Teman, Dad and Mom would go. Even my younger sister Deirdre.

I went into the bathroom to change into my swimming suit. Then I got sunblock on and put my clothes on over that. And I was excited about going to Nate and Sharon’s, but I thought it would be a long way. But when we were going, it didn’t seem like a long way. 

Once we were there and in the swimming pool, and I had my swimming suit on, I got in the life jacket and I got into a floating tubes and got into the shallow end. I felt kind of scared because I couldn’t feel the bottom of the shallow end, like I could last time. Then I pushed myself down, and I could feel it with my tiptoes.

Then I got out of the pool, and took off my floating tube, and went in again. I could walk on the bottom without getting on my tiptoes! And then I started walking around. Then I get bored of that and walked out and got in my floating tube. Then I went into the deep end with my floating tube, because I couldn’t swim. So I needed a floating tube. How I got onto the deep end, is Justin got me there, by dragging me by the floating tube. He went onto the end of the shallow end and dragged me out. And I kicked my feet and started moving.

Then I  got bored of that and went out of the pool and dried off and went into the bathroom and changed back into my clothes and started having Popsicles that Sharon gave us. Then I gave some to some of my brothers and sisters, but some of them didn’t want any.  

Then I decided I wanted more, so we kept having more and more, ’cause Sharon offered us more, till I decided I was done having them.  

Then I went down in their basement to play. Their basement is like a playroom. I couldn’t play the games I wanted to, but Sharon was going to put on some cartoons for me, but then I had to go. But I did see some good cartoons.

I went out, waiting for my brothers and sisters to come out, too. And while I was waiting,  I swung on the swing sets that they had out there. It was fun but I didn’t get to do it very long.  

A little while later, I got in the car, ’cause everyone else was in there, and we started off towards home. Overall, it was a fun visit.

Dictated by Caleb (age 6) 

Got him

Rundy set a trap out for an animal who has been eating eggs and killing ducks .The next morning he found out it caught an opossum! Deirdre called it cute and said "I want to cuddle it" but everybody else said it was gross. Rundy shot him after that.

News flash!

Caleb lost his first tooth!!

Lost a tooth!


Deirdre is the only one who still has all her baby teeth!


The first batch of baby chicks has arrived!!

They will quickly turn into meat chickens for the freezer, but right now they’re fluffly little balls that scurry around.


Dad and Teman are taking a week off!!

Since both of them are home all week, it’s easy to confuse one’s self into thinking it’s the weekend. Teman just finished two weeks of working over-time, so he’s particularly glad to get his time off.


Lachlan survived his presentation for his computer repair class!!

He wasn’t looking foward to it, and was very happy when it was over. He was surprised at how well it went over with the class. (His topic was PNG as the superior file format for photo hobbiests.)


Frost predicted for tonight!!

 I usually predict our last frost as coming in the first week of June, but this may well be our last frost of the winter. I do have cold weather plant already in the ground and growing (peas, lettuce, spinach), as well as a bunch more waiting to go in (lots of broccoli and leeks). Meanwhile, the light stand is all ready full to over flowing with tomatoes, basil, and other tender plants.


Fairly often, I’m asked what our family usually does for lunch. Here’s the run down of this past week:

Monday: Caleb (age 6) makes macaroni and cheese, from scratch. He needs only a little help from me.

Tuesday: Cadie made Chicken and Spaghetti for supper last night. I boil another three pounds of spaghetti for lunch, and stretch last nights sauce–slice up 4 onions, cook them in hot olive oil and a lot of pepper, put in the rest of last nights sauce, thin it out with a can of chopped tomatoes with roasted red peppers (Dad gets them from Giant) and a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, add a little more oregano and rosemary, chop up the remaining chicken and toss that in too. It was good.

Wednesday: I talk Justin into making tuna salad. We eat sandwiches on homemade bread fresh from the oven. (I made the dough Tuesday night, let it rise all night, put it into loaves first thing in the morning, and bake it shortly thereafter.)

Thursday: Collin made Cornflake Chicken and Mashed potatoes for supper last night. I stretch it into Chicken Gravy on Potatoes–I talk Owen, Caleb and Deirdre into peeling another 4 lbs. of potatoes. I boil them, and mash them into the leftover potatoes (with more butter and milk). The gravy is made by chopping up several cloves of garlic (5?), cooking them in a stick of melted butter, adding a fairly heaping 2/3 cup of flour, and cooking until the flour is browned. Then I added a can of condensed milk, two cans of concentrated chicken broth (Campbell’s), two cans of water, and a little rosemary. I chopped the remaining chicken into the gravy. Caleb also helped by stirring the gravy while I chopped chicken.

Friday: What I call a "coyote" day. We scrounge. Some have sandwiches, some have leftovers. Some don’t eat. First come, first served, and some people don’t wind up very satisfied.

Saturday: Oops! I accidentally defrosted too much ground beef when making supper last night. (I didn’t see that Mom and already pulled out two pounds for me, so I pulled out another two pounds.) Since the meat was already defrosted, we couldn’t put it back in the freezer. Evan (12) makes spaghetti and meat sauce (his specialty).

Sunday: Leftovers. A bunch of kids make themselves spaghetti pancake with the leftover spaghetti from last night. Some of us eat the leftover Sausage and Rice casserole from last night.

When I mention the types of things we make for lunch, the most common response is, "Oh, I’d use that as a supper!" Well, what would you do for lunch? 11 people aren’t going to consist off of thin air from breakfast till supper, and especially not when 7 of those 11 are either boys growing at a frightful rate or grown men. Justin (10, almost 11) and Owen (9) in particular seem to be on growth spurts of sorts. I think they’re trying to get taller than me before my next birthday, or something. They’re making good head-way.

For Deirdre’s birthday, we made ravioli. Well, we boiled store-bought ravioli. 12 pounds of it. Even while using our three-gallon pot and our 5 gallon pot, we didn’t have enough pots to boil it all at once. So Evan and I put our spaghetti strainer into our big bread bowl, and we poured the ravioli into that. Then we pulled the strainer out and dumped the ravioli into serving bowls and the hot water back into the pot for another batch. It was kind of a project. In the end, we didn’t have much in the way of leftovers, either.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to cook for only two people, or even just four. I imagine it would take a lot less time. Ever since I began cooking, it has always been for a crowd. Sometimes, I’ve cooked for other (smaller) families, when I know they’re having a tough time. I get a little panicky when I see how little food there is, certain there won’t be enough to feed everyone. More often than not, I get back a response that there was tons of food, and that they had plenty of leftovers. How peculiar.

Deirdre's Birthday


Deirdre struck this pose, and declared, "Today is the bestest day!" It’s her on her birthday, and she is wearing the present I gave her, a fancy dress. She perfectly accessorized the outfit later on in the evening with her chicken hat (which I made her last year) and my pair of uber-cool sunglasses. Unfortunately, no picture of that–I was busy putting her birthday cake together.

castle cake 

This cake is from a Betty Crocker Kid’s cookbook. As kids, we coveted this cake. Rundy claims Mom actually even made it for him–twice–but I don’t remember it, so it doesn’t count.  

 She huffed, and she puffed. . .

And she finally blew them all out! 

Hi-yah! Got you! 

Us older kids were hanging around in the yard talking and laying about. Rundy found the bench as a very comfortable bed, and Arlie was trying to relax. But Deirdre needed someone to whack, and he was handy.

Deirdre’s birthday always seems extra significant to me, because it was such a monumental time in my life. While Mom was pregnant with Deirdre (the first incredible thing was that she was predicted to be a girl, and after 5 boys straight in a row, that was pretty unbelievable), we started renovating our bathroom and laundry room. I was contacted by some neighbor’s to throw Mom a surprise baby shower, complete with a group gift.

babies, babies 

I made and embroidered the block with Cadie’s name, but much more difficult was trying to co-ordinate the whole project–and keep it secret from Mom. 

Then Mom was put on bed rest due to complications with the pregnancy, and it quickly moved to requiring her to stay at the hospital. Although we all shared the work–we took turns cooking supper, and putting the kids to bed and such–I think it was probably more emoitionally straining on me than on many of the other older kids, as I felt responsible to be "Mom" in her stead. Besides Mom not being there, it also meant frequent trips to the hospital (and the flurry and hustle of getting everyone together and in the car). On top of all of this was the emotional stress that something wouldn’t go right for either Mom or the baby.

Deirdre Jael Purdy was delivered by c-section May first, four years ago, and it was amazing when she came home.

It's alive!!

Unfortunately, all was not over yet. Deirdre’s billiruben levels were much too high, and she had to be put on the billi-belt, as well as going in for many routine blood checks. (This is how they draw a blood sample. The prick the baby in the heel, and then squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. If they can’t get enough blood that way, then they go and get a blade, and make a small slice in the heel, and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. In the meantime, the baby screams bloody murder loud enough to be heard in the waiting room, where all waiting people try hard not to think about what on earth they are doing to that poor baby.)

On the bili-belt

Nonetheless, Deirdre was a cheerful baby, and she smiled early and often. In this shot she is about 2 months old.

I like to smile! 

As soon as she learned to crawl, she was in motion non-stop, and almost always with a big grin on her face, and making excited shrieks and exclaimations.

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed! 

Things haven’t changed too much–she’s still always moving, usually smiling, and very vocal. She makes up songs on the spot (long, long songs), tells stories to herself or whoever will listen, examines things intently, and informs me that someday she’s going to grow up to be big.

"Oh, really?" I say.

 "Yep! Even as big as. . .as big as. . .even as big as you Titi!"

 (She sets her goals low. I’m barely 5′ 1". Everyone is taller than me!)

Garden stuff

I planted three bachelor’s buttons today. Collin doesn’t want a garden this year and we will probably plant the water melons there (evan is going to do water melons to).The peas are sprouting.I helped titi move the tomatoes to bigger pots today

Haircuts (Don't be Chicken!)

Boys don't like haircuts or picture takings. 

Boys don’t like haircuts or picture takings.

One of my many tasks around here is that of the town Barber. Once upon a time, a long time ago, Grandma Purdy used to cut the boys’ hair. Between her declining health, and the ever increasing amount of boys (and their hair), she was forced to drop the task, and I was nominated to fill it. The first couple of times were difficult–meaning, time consuming; I don’t believe the boys wound up looking any more dreadful than they usually do–but it took me a long time to do each hair cut. Nowadays, I think my average time for a haircut is about 7 minutes. Still, 7 minutes x 9 boys = 63 minutes, and that’s more than an hour, not even counting the time it takes to play musical chairs and/or drag people kicking and screaming to their fate.


I generally cut everyone’s hair at the same time, or as close to that as possible (sometimes peoples’ schedules make it inconvenient or impossible to get everyone lined up), and do it about once a month or whenever I feel guilty noticing the shaggy heads about me. Last Tuesday was such an occasion, so everyone got scalped.

Although the general theory of my haircutting remains the same, everyone has their own quirks, like this:

 Dad, alas, is getting older. The main trick to cutting his hair is not cutting off too much of it. It shouldn’t hang into his eyes or ears (not that he cares, mind you), but it also shouldn’t reveal the fact that his hairline is, indeed, receding (which I think he might mind, at least a bit).

 Teman has very thick hair, which is prone to making the hair clippers choke. He has a mostly straight-forward haircut; the trickiest part is trimming his beard to match. He, as all of the boys, would love to grow a waist-length beard (and they tell me if they ever manage it, they will let me fork it and braid it). Sadly, his only grows so long, and then breaks off. Mostly it just gets bushier and bushier, to the end that when I cut all the hair on top of his head, he looks completely lopsided. I wouldn’t care if he didn’t care, but he’s decided they ought to stay rather proportionate. The tricky part is that, like all the boys, he twizzles his beard when he thinks, and he thinks quite a bit. That leaves a rather twisted, ratty mess which I’m supposed to straighten out and make match the rest of his head. I’m getting better at it every time, I think, but it’s still a bit tricky.

 Rundy’s quirk is that he has what I believe is called "widow’s peaks"–although the front of his hairline comes out as far as expected, it dips back quite far on the sides. This makes trimming the front a bit trickier for me. He doesn’t have a beard enough to ever warrant trimming (he tortures it so while thinking and writing, he shall be lucky if the poor thing even survives). Rundy likes efficiency, and a bit shorter of a haircut than some of the others. He keeps wondering if it would be better to use the cheap plastic guides that come with the clippers. I’ve never tried, and I confess to say I don’t see much reason to bother trying when I’m already quick and comfortable with my comb and clipper routine.

Arlie, of course, has curly hair, and that really used to put me in knots. I think I’ve got it down pat now, but sometimes it still looks odd to me. He was the first one to ask for beard trimming, mostly because he didn’t much care for his spotty, fluffy beard, and preferred that, if the whole thing wasn’t going to fill in properly, it be close trimmed. My only real claim to fame here is that, even though he’s currently living with Grandma Purdy, he still prefers my haircuts to hers. So I must be doing something right.

 Lachlan’s hair stands straight up on top. It’s very peculiar. No amount of combing or water could ever get it to lie flat, and no amount of water or styling is necessary to get it to stand up. I cut the sides and back as normal, but when I cut the top I always feel more as though I’m trimming a hedge than cutting hair. After I cut the top, I peer at it to see if I’ve managed to get to, at the very least, a close approximation of a regular shape. It never fails that every time I’m standing there scrutinizing my work he says something along the lines of "Face it, Titi, you just can’t make me any better looking than I already am," or some variation thereof.

 Collin’s hair is very easy to cut, except for the fact it is the thickest, the most wiry hair in the universe. It makes the hair trimmers want to cry. Cutting a brillo pad would probably be easier.

 Evan’s hair grows faster than the grass. Especially during the summer. I can hack it all off down to a scant 1/4 of an inch, and by the time he gets up the next morning, he’s verging on an afro again. I cut his hair the shortest of anyone’s, but you can hardly ever tell.

 Justin’s hair is pretty easy to cut, but he has a very annoying cowlick on the right side of his forehead, so his bangs are always crooked, despite my best efforts.

 Owen is the most worried about how his hair will come out, hence, the most fun to cut. I can always get a good reaction out of him just by saying, "Oops" or "Oh, well, hopefully no one will notice." He has the softest hair, and it seems he has widows peaks like Rundy. His hair used be quite blond, but it is getting more brown by the year.

 Caleb has nice, cooperative hair; the rest of him has a bit more trouble. He says the hairclippers tickle terribly when I trim the hair on his neck, and I used to have to get Lachlan to pry Caleb’s head up out of his shoulders (he’d pull his head in like a turtle) just to get at his neck. He’s much better now; he only shivers convulsively and giggles like crazy.

 Anyway, this Tuesday while cutting Evan’s hair, I realized that his hair was standing up. Not all over the top of his head, as Lachlan’s does. Just one strip down the center of his head, much like a mohawk, or a rooster comb. I told Evan I was going to cut off all his hair except for that one strip. He said "Ok. Go ahead." (He likes playing with fire.)

Unfortunately, when we ran this idea past Mom, she wasn’t too thrilled.

 "Hey, Mom, I’m going to give Evan a mohawk!" Silence.

 "She said no!" Evan laughs.

 "She did not! She didn’t say anything!"

"She made a face!" Evan is still laughing. Apparently, he could see her face and it was amusing; but my back was to her as I cut his hair. I took a peek to see if it really was that amusing.

 "I don’t want any of my children to have mohawks," she said.

Bummer. So I just cut the sides and back as usual, and then took a picture of him with his chicken comb. This was less appreciated than the threat of a mohawk. He scowled; he made faces. This amused me endlessly, and I giggled at him from behind the camera. Then he would grin, and then shortly there after get mad at me, because he most certainly did not want to get caught on film (digital or otherwise) with a smile on his face, for pete’s sake. Nonetheless, I got my pictures, and finished the hair cut. (And I did manage to get him on film with a smile, too.)

Evan's mohawk Oh, no! I'm almost smiling!Proper finish to the joke. And I did steal his smile!

Next I was cutting Caleb’s hair, and out of the blue he asked if I could give him a chicken comb as well. This took me by surprise, but I suppose it’s the same as making horns out of hair when you’re getting your hair shampooed. (Alas, I haven’t been able to do that for a very long time as it only works on short hair.) I was game to give it a try, but his hair wasn’t as much. His hair isn’t inclined to stand up as much as Evan’s, but Caleb had had the good luck of sleeping funny on his hair that night, and it did stand up funny a bit in the back. But it still needed a good deal of coaxing from the water and comb. He was tickled pink, and apparently drove the others to jealousy. Justin wished he hadn’t already had his hair cut, so he could have had one, but I nipped that in the bud. Justin’s hair lies totally flat; in fact, his hair clings to his head with both hands. I’d have better luck getting him to fly than to get his hair stand straight up.

Civilized again, though I'm still having trouble getting the hair to lie down in the back.Caleb's best imitation of a chickenSee, it only properly stands up in the back.I like my haircut! 

 So next time you come through Purdyville, be sure to ask for a hair-cut. I may even be able to make you look like a chicken!