All the Johnsons in the world. Or so it might seem. This is my dad's side of the family - 55 first cousins on this side. So many. Johnsons. Do you see us?
Then the immediate Johnsons (Paul is missing because he is in Miami serving a Mormon mission. In his absence we all longed-for his cracked-wheat humor). What people. Together = regalement for all.
Marc is a gypsy. If you look in the back of his car, it is an olio of randomness: a can of age-old lemonade my grandma gave him, a faded atlas, an old i-pod robot arm, a couple of those tools you use to get off bike wheels with, an oversize sketchbook, a box of screws, hinges and doorpins. Don't dream of sitting there. But do dream about sitting next to Marc. Gypsy dreams.
Lately Andrew has been composing songs on his violin. He starts playing a gig and commands: "Mom, write this down." Luckily, my mom totally can. He likes to wear his tuxedo on every possible occasion, along with aviator sunglasses. Andrew is 12.
Most people who meet my mom aren't persuaded that she is the mother of eight kids until they see all of us. She is beautiful and young, usually laughing or smiling. She took Marguerite right in her arms from the very beginning and won her over by the end -when Marguerite gave her her doudou to hold, my Mom knew she had made it. And then while reading the story of Corduroy the bear in English, she found a little French girl giggling away next to her.
Julie is my older sister. Julie is brilliant. You can see it in her eyes when she scans a room or when she converses. Julie is crazy about Joyce. When she walks with Joyce, she asks her what she smells and what she hears and what she feels - all the senses, not just what she sees.
That's my dad in the yellow jersey. All the obsessive genes in our family (and there are a lot going around) stem from him. He is 53 years old and his best friends hover around the age of 25, since 25 year olds can keep up with him on bike rides (they gut their way through it). In the next month, he has 3 trips planned and Marc is going because he can keep up: Bamff Canada (hiking, biking), Yosemite (hiking, climbing), and he is coming to see me (read: to bike the passes in the alps of France). "It is a slow month," he says. Fanatical.
Here is the missing boy, Paul, in Miami. He is evidently a very serious missionary. He is featured here wearing a certain tie for which Xavier and I carefully combed through a glimmering tourist shop in Montmartre. It looks phenomenal. Paul recently sent home news that he caught a turtle on the way to church and during the service, he hid it in the utility closet until he got out of church.
Here is Rebekah. She is joyous. Even when she was recently angry at my mom because she wouldn't let her go somewhere, she was giggling in between her heaves of annoyance. She measures only 5'2" but she has the confidence of a girl twice her height.
This is Stephen. On the way home from picking him up at the airport, Stephen announced that he was mainly excited for the food. He cooked the whole time he was here: rhubarb syrup, grilled pizzas, smoked salmon pasta, he baked bread - delectables straight from Martha and my mom.
John is Julie's husband and Joyce's dad. I would want him for a dad. He will do anything for Joyce. He is the kind of guy you want to hang around because he is like a balmy day - you feel like sauntering along slowly, enjoying the warmth.
Here is Melanie and her four-legged friend, Tuffy. Strange name for a horse? It gets stranger, for Tuffy is just the 'acronym' for the horse's real name: Too Tough to Dream (we are still sorting through all the layers of such a name). The point though, is that she is a horse-gal. Her favorite slogans include, "Horses are very stable people," and "My best days are spent with horses." And she isn't joking - at all.
Joyce, dreamy Joyce. And she just keeps getting dreamier.
Xavier and Marguerite.
These two characters get featured all the time here...wondrous creatures.