Sunday, January 22, 2017


When Snowdrop sleeps over at the farmhouse, I am faced with the matter of giving her a morning bath. She is not interested in a shower and so the only available option is her baby bathtub, fitted into the kitchen sink. Given that Snowdrop is tall for her age, it makes for an interesting set of bathing moments.

And yet, she loves that routine! I give her just two plastic cups (with holes in them, so that she can create a fountain of water) and a rubber duckie -- same bath toys that she's had since she was a newborn -- and she'll play endlessly with them and protest to high heaven when I've had enough and lift her out of the wee tub.

Of course, when I announce breakfast with gaga and ahah, she forgets about the bath and focuses her attention on the pleasures before her.

These days I give her a choice for breakfast and today she proclaims that she wants what I'm having: oatmeal with fruit and honey and yogurt.
Ahah open this honey!
Ask him nicely...

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She sees that my fruit bowl has mango in it. Mango and more mango becomes a repeated theme today.

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But most of all, like me, Snowdrop loves just that touch of honey on a clump of oatmeal.

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Loves it, too, because it's special. Whatever she has at home, it's not this. Mmmm -- that last drop of Wisconsin honey!

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There isn't much time for play -- I have to return her home by 10, but she gives it a good try!

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Toy macaron cookies!

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And now it's time to put on your jacket. Race you to the car!

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In the afternoon, Ed and I want to walk. But where? Our own courtyard and driveway are so muddy that it's almost impossible to make it from the car to the door without sinking into dark wet soil. The wood chips we dutifully lay down each year are no match for springlike thaws. It's likely that all trails will be equally wet.

We head out to the Picnic Point and pick up a rather well traveled and partly graveled path that takes you out on a slip of land that juts out into our largest lake.

It's muddy, but more or less walkable. It feels good to be outside, even though the views right now are rather somber.

The sky remains gray. I mean, everything remains gray!

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The lake appears to be melting, at least around the edges. I suppose there's an artsy feel to the ice bricks...

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...but honestly, the walk is more memorable for the good air and the limbering up that we get, rather than for the views around us.

In the evening, Snowdrop and her mommy are at the farmhouse for dinner.

At first, the little girl is full of bounce and her usual radiant happiness.

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But slowly, a bug takes hold and by the end of the evening, Snowdrop just needs to snuggle.

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To a good next week! For Snowdrop. For you. For all of us.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


I'm quiet, I don't like crowds. I'm not a marcher. I'm a watcher, I'm a writer, an observer. I wont shout, I hate to impose, create a ruckus. It's just not me.

Still, after breakfast and with Ed's encouragement...

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... I brave the drizzle, the insanity of clogged streets and diverted traffic and I join the Madison women's march on the Capitol.

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To lend my presence, to up the count.

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You know me. I wont engage in political banter here. Besides, I haven't much to add to what has been said elsewhere by wiser people who have done the analysis, studied the facts, engaged with science. But I do feel I cannot stay silent when leaders, the highest ranking leaders of my adopted country speak and lead with venom and impunity. Fear-mongering, exclusion -- these I cannot ignore. I've seen it elsewhere. I've lived through it. I know what's at stake.

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And so I march.

For several hours State Street is a sea of marching humankind (close to 100,000 claims one local news source), with hand painted signs and the ubiquitous pink caps, moving mostly quietly, sometimes taking up a chant about democracy, about inclusion.

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I am with them.

It's a foggy, wet day. I haven't seen sunshine since my day in the Polish mountains and looking at the forecast, I wont see it for another week at least. On the upside, calendar pages are turning, moving winter on its merry way forward so that the next season can slowly emerge.

In the evening, my granddaughter comes over for pizza and a sleepover. It's a routine she knows: Ed and I catch the evening news, I make up a fresh mushroom and garlic pizza.

Tonight's news is all about the marches around the globe in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington. Snowdrop lends her cheerful support!

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We eat pizza...

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We play.

And I offer her a new addition to her toy foods -- macarons. I mean, you don't need to go to Paris these days to find macarons!

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Snowdrop, it's bedtime!
No, gaga! Not bedtime!
Aren't you tired?
No, not tired!
Sleepy, just a little?
Well I am! Goodnight dear one, goodnight farmette birds and animals. Goodnight hidden moon and cloud covered skies. Good night, good night...

Friday, January 20, 2017


Foggy Friday. Life is full of tradeoffs. With warmer temps come slate gray skies and heavy mists. Our cold crisp brilliantly blue winters have turned into something altogether different. What do you prefer -- cold and crisp or warm-ish and bleak?

Impossible questions. I think of many such pairings today: who will you pay attention to -- your enemies or your friends? Would you help one neighbor or ten strangers? What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

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(I see that Snowdrop is also contemplative: what lies beyond the rail -- adventure or danger? Who's around the corner -- a friendly face or a grumpy soul?)

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Snowdrop chooses optimism. Nearly always, she trusts that the adult next to her will give a hand when the going gets tough. She is not shy about announcing "I need help."  And with the assurance that someone will be there for her, she can run freely, with joy.

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At the farmette, she wants to splash in puddles again. I suggest a bagel inside instead. She caves.

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There must have been an art project at school because her dress is caked in stuff you'd normally want to see on an art table. I use this moment to change her into her Polish dress.

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It's a tad small on her so I doubt she'll use it much and, too, it just doesn't fit into the picture of where she is right now. Nothing in her life is Polish except for me, gaga. Perhaps it reminds me a little of the day in my Polish nursery school when they dressed me in a mock kimono.

Here's Snowdrop:

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Here I am about twice her age, with my sister. She's wearing a Polish costume, I'm in the kimono that I neither understood nor found especially comfortable:

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This afternoon, Snowdrop continues to take on art projects.

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I am impressed that she is now perfectly capable of coloring within a border. I never once suggested that she contain her coloring in any way and indeed, I tend to scribble randomly alongside so that she understands that there are many ways to draw. And still, with utmost concentration she now chooses to be deliberate rather than random.

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Alright. Let's not get too serious with this day. There's plenty of room for hilarity. Here, Snowdrop is showing me how she can walk on her knees. When she tumbles, peels of laughter follow.

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In the evening, I take her back to her home and linger there to catch up a bit with her mommy. Of course, Snowdrop steels the stage and however much you may want to ignore her when she is in the room, chatting about this or that, you just cannot. Her smile becomes your smile.

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Winter drizzle, Snowdrop smiles. I'll take them!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I am more than a little confused as to which day of the week it is, so perhaps I'll stick with reminders in the post title to help me get back on track. (I mean, I do not shop on Wednesday but I did shop yesterday, Ed doesn't go to work on Thursdays but he did go today, and so on.)

A foggy mind comes, perhaps, from the densely foggy weather outside. Perhaps you'll not appreciate the rich color of our morning breakfasts, but on these misty gray days, I surely do.

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In my free morning hours, I go to the post office to mail in my passport with an application for a new one. That means for sure I will not be going anywhere, even if the airlines were to be giving me free airline tickets in the weeks ahead.

It is a nostalgic moment because the old passport had ten years of travel stamped into it and there is this slightly archaic thought that every stamp represents a grand adventure. I say archaic because I am convinced that passports will soon become obsolete and even now, stamps do not match the countries you'll have visited. One stamp upon entering the EU is all you'll get in your European travels (well, I suppose if you also go to the UK you'll now get two) and when you return to the U.S., the immigration officer wont bother stamping your book announcing your return unless you ask her or him to do it.

Then I go to pick up Snowdrop.

Passing the lesser lake, I look out at the ice fisher people (I've never seen a woman out there, but of course, I could have missed one or two in my informal gazing). The fog and the coldness from the (one hopes) iced over lake makes this such an odd place to hang out for hours on end! You have to give people credit for loving every conceivable form of adventure -- distant travel, sitting still on a cold lake -- we really are an unusual species.

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Snowdrop and I have been reading a book about a little boy, Alfie, who loves to stomp his feet in puddles and I don't know if this is behind the little one's recent love of puddles or if it's just a developmental thing where all two year olds love puddles, but Snowdrop has grown really fond of splashing her way to wherever she's going. I'm a bit apprehensive, not only because her rubbers are at home, but also because there is still a thin layer of ice underneath that puddle formation and I can just see her landing on her rear end in that muddy, icy water, but I try not to appear to be the kind of grandma who minds, so I hide behind my camera and watch her do her thing.

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On the way in, she picks up the pinwheel that once clung to the side of the snowman. She wants to take it inside, but it's muddy and a bit wet. I tell her there are others in the house. Okay, she'll take this and play with it along with the others!

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And play she does!

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After she tires of running back and forth, I give her something I had purchased in Poland -- two little magnets of girls dressed in traditional costumes. Not that anyone but a Pole would notice, but one (top) is from the highland region and the other (bottom) is from the Warsaw region so I think I covered my travel route by including both.

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She is delighted by them! (Honestly, I'd seek out a Polish outfit for her -- I know she would love it -- but she grows like a torpedo and opportunities for showing off a glittery vest and a colorful skirt and apron are rare indeed if your days are filled with school, then afternoons spent at gaga's house.)

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After her nap, I bring out another Polish gift -- this one from her great aunt (my sister). She is just at the age when this is just fascinating for her! (Too, the Polish model is delicate in sound -- lovely to the ear.)

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Ed is home now and she wants him to try. They play together.

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Then she goes back to playing alone.

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Together again!

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Music! May it fill her days!

If I have trouble with remembering the day of the week, I have no trouble whatsoever remembering that it is January 19th -- my youngest daughter's birthday. Let me post a picture of her from when she was close to three times Snowdrop's age. Scroll up to Snowdrop photos... You can't doubt that they are related!

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Happy birthday my sweet sweet child! I wish I could bake your favorite cake for you... Snowdrop would help, I know she would!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

spring is in the air, part 1

When do you change your way of thinking -- from "well, winter is finally upon us," to  "hey, it's not that long until spring?" For me, it happened today. True, some would regard it as a tad early and possibly too optimistic given that I live in Wisconsin -- a place notoriously stingy with warm early spring days, but still, I felt that we are on our way!

The cheepers would agree. It's just a degree or two above freezing, but they are, at least for a short while, out and about!

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Of course, it's the weather that has me spinning into the next season. Looking ahead for the remainder of January -- well, it's just not going to be that cold. And yes, February can really dump on us severe winter weather, but February is so short! And the days are getting longer and plant catalogues are starting to make their annual appearance in our mailbox. I tell you -- spring is in the air!

On the return from Europe, jet lag is rarely much of a problem, though I do usually wake up a tad earlier. All the more time to catch up on home stuff!

It's great to be eating breakfast with Ed again...

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... after which I scoot off to pick up food. Ed nicely finished up every last bit of everything while I was away. I rely on my absence for us to clear out our refrigerator.

And of course, by noon, I'm off to pick up Snowdrop.

Spring is in the air and the girl knows it! She runs to gaga's car...

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And runs to her toys...

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(So many things to play with, what's a girl to do??)

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I have a slice of fresh baguette for her and she is thrilled of course, but she also wants to continue playing, moving from one thing to the next, even as it really is hard to imagine how one can chomp on bread and play baseball at the same time.

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(She still insists on holding the bat with one hand. Ed, of course, is all about letting her do it her way.)

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She cooks...

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She dances...

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Spinning in circles...

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Until I ask her -- are you dizzy? And she responds laughing -- yes, I'm dizzy!

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And here's something new: she tells me -- I'm snapping fingers! And she does that cutest of kid things -- clenching her fists back and forth, back and forth, hoping to reproduce a snap that clearly someone has been demonstrating for her.

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All this within the first hour.

And then she remembers the thrill of visiting Ed's sheep shed. Like a bullet, she is at the door wanting to go there. I ask -- shouldn't we feed the chickens in the barn?
She hesitates, then accepts that responsibility, breaking off a piece of stale brioche for herself.

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But she really wants the sheep shed. There is a huge puddle in front of it (there are puddles everywhere, as the ground is quite frozen and so the melting ice just stands still, waiting for a miracle) and Ed tries to shovel it away. Snowdrop watches, fascinated.

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I know what she is thinking: let me in that pond of water! She loves puddles but no good would come of it: despite my spring thoughts, it's too cold to play in melting water, especially when she is scantily clothed. I whisk her into the shed.

For me, Ed's shed is filled with things that are part of his world mechanical and not anything I want to really delve into. Too, when I used to visit him (before moving here) and we hung out in the shed, he'd keep it approximately ordered. Those were days when he'd send a robotic floor washer on an orbit to buff up the place for me. Those days have long passed. I see that Snowdrop recognizes the need for some tidying!

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(Where do you even begin??)

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But the real attraction is in the tools.

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Picking them up, examining them, placing them back and yes, wondering about their usefulness.

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Ed is happy to show her what's what.

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As we walk back to the farmhouse, I point to the robins in the tree. There are so many!

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Yep, spring is in the air!

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Meanwhile, after her nap, Snowdrop settles her penguins and her cow in for a reading session. Not so much about the coming of spring, but about the love of cookies. Clearly she doesn't yet appreciate that the budding of crocuses is nearly upon us. Maybe.

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