Monday, August 13, 2018


As us three girls are spending the night at the farmhouse (Snowdrop, mom, and grandmom), three sailing boys (Ed et al) spend the day moving a boat along to its destination. (Their wives are taking a day on the shore, and this one sweetie is, of course, tending to farmette matters.)

Snowdrop has spent nights here since she was a wee one, but with a new brother and all the spring and summer hoopla, it has been a while. Plus, Ed, who is her official pancake/waffle pal, is not here right now (did I mention this already?) and, too, on this visit she is waking up to a school day. Everything is a little off.

Nonetheless, I find mornings here really special. And there is plenty of time for stellar moments, including, of course, breakfast on the porch.

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The girl does love bacon and cherries, even more than whatever item she is dunking in maple syrup.

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Perhaps the most precious moments for me are ones where I do farmette chores. Whereas when I am alone, many of the chores surrounding plant and beast weigh me down, Snowdrop is so excited by them (especially the animal-related stuff), that it just makes me smile endlessly when she tags along.

(Running to help me with the cheepers)

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(Dishing out corn...)

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(May I pick some flowers?)

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(I can never say no...)

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(Flowers and smiles go hand in hand)

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Eventually, we do drop her off at school and I proceed to take my daughter home. I pause there to spend time with the little Sparrow boy.

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My girl, Sparrow and I take a long walk in the neighborhood and I see that he, too, is a stellar stroller baby. He and Primrose are alike in this regard. You probably think he is a serious little boy. Maybe. But I wouldn't put any money on it. He is, after all, only two months old.

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And in the afternoon I pick up Snowdrop. She isn't with me long -- she has an appointment with her parents later in the day, but it is a terrific little spell of reading and rehashing the day's events.

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Evening: a subdued time in a subdued garden.

One last study of the irrepressible effervescent lilies...

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Ed's boat is likely full right now. They may well be playing cards. Or recalling yet again who did what way back when (the guys were once at the UW together), but at the farmhouse the evening is very, very quiet.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

what if

What if I got up very very early, even before the cheepers are set loose by their automatic door opening mechanism, and what if I plunged into farmhouse cleaning and yard maintenance and animal care, with only a brief pause to answer a call from the sailing Ed -- what if I did all that before breakfast? Wouldn't that be splendid?

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Splendid -- maybe. But it would also mean that I would not eat breakfast until after the noon hour. Even working at a brisk pace, it takes well over five hours to do all that and I must admit that I cut some corners.

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And 12:30 is just too late for your first cup of coffee.

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(There have been times when Ed and I have worked hard on some outdoor project and we would be so determined to get it done that indeed the morning meal would be equally late. However, working together on a project feels good. Working alone on house cleaning, window washing, yard maintenance and animal care feels ... like work.)

Determined to make the now no longer morning meal a calming and lovely experience, I pick up the New Yorker and read an article about the indie filmmaker, Nicole Holofcener. There are many good things about the piece, but what sticks in my mind are pairings of words used to describe some of her characters: "alternating strains of wickedness and remorse..." where her protagonists "try to be good, (even as) they often find unnerving evidence that they're actually bad..." And finally, there are the "intricacies of relationships -- what makes them both maddening and indispensable."

I think about Ed's call this morning. It was later than usual. I thought nothing of it -- he may well be sailing through an area of no cell service. Just before the call came, I got a text from one of his sailing pals, with a photo of an old lighthouse that they were about to visit. It was pretty. They must have been passing it just as I was furiously pulling out weeds in a futile attempt to control the overgrowth in areas of the farmette. Ed's call came shortly after.

We sailed out in dense fog -- he tells me. I couldn't call. I was completely focused on navigating with radar and GPS coordinates.

I gave this a few seconds' thought. Finally I asked -- why did you sail in morning fog, when you knew it would lift in an hour or so?

I don't know why I asked. I'm as sure as anything of the answer: they sailed in dense fog just because of the challenge.

And now the sun was out and they are about to explore the lighthouse that I was looking at on my smart phone.

When you spend so many hours working physically in the house, then in the yard, you have plenty of time for meditative, calming thoughts. But in your efforts to be that good person -- one who tends to the hearth and home and makes sure good meals are offered, along with kind and loving words meant only for your sweetie whom you adore to pieces -- you sometimes notice yourself slipping, because unfortunately, that bad side that lurks in all of us, comes to the surface every now and then.

Suffice it to say, Ed heard no sweet and tender words from me on the phone this morning. Were I near that boat, I might have been tempted to push him into the water and make him swim to shore, though I dare say, he would have regarded that to be an equally good challenge. (I do have good moments when I'm not recalling that Ed finds my form of travel too comfortable and therefore too dull. Those moments were not present this morning.)

In the evening, the young family comes for Sunday dinner and this very special meal comes with a twist today: after dinner, the dad takes little Sparrow home, while Snowdrop and her mom stay for a girls' night at the farmhouse. In other words -- a sleepover.

First, dinner.

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The sleepover is something Snowdrop has been asking for and, too, it is special for my daughter, who thinks (as well she should!) that an evening on the porch watching fireflies flicker as the sky fills with stars to be somewhat magical.

We all three put away the cheepers. There's the shower -- a farmhouse first. And books, one after the next, night time favorites and old comfy ones...

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And now we're out on the porch. Look, Snowdrop! The fireflies are dancing their crazy dance to the tune of the cricket song!

The child falls asleep instantly. Her mom and I stay out on the porch, listening to Italian music.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Predictably perhaps, I did not succumb to total inertia. I did not do nothing.

But it was a quiet day. No rush. Not here and not where Ed is sailing. (He tells me this morning: we're heading out soon, but there is no wind. Absolutely zero. We have to use the motor. He does not like to have to use the motor.)

Every now and then thoughts that began with the words "I must" or "I should" would tumble around in my head, but I dismiss them. I have instead a "why bother" attitude about anything requiring effort.

Oh sure, I do have to do the morning farmette chores and it always surprises me how long it all takes!  Two hours tending to plants and beasts. I mean, really, two hours!

(the tail end of the lily blooms...)

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(a climbing clematis flower: just a handful of blooms this year; I'm hoping for gazillions next year)

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(in late summer, the annual cosmos can hold a garden together, but they're vulnerable to winds and often topple under the weight of their own fowers)

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(a huge and bushy cosmos fell during the recent rain storm... it decorates this morning's breakfast table)

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It's Saturday and so I meet up with my daughter and Snowdrop to walk over to the farmers market. Since I've succumbed to cooking, even in Ed's absence, I have a lot to stock up on. The obvious stuff: baby potatoes, corn, beans, greens, pretty little tomatoes -- you know, August loveliness.

(there's Gaga!!)

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Grandma, I want you to take a picture of me!

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After our walk around the square, past all the market stalls, we pause on the green grass, sitting quietly. No one wants to run, romp or frolic with abandon. We sit. And do... well, pretty much nothing.

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(We do admire August market flowers. I over-buy. They're irrisistable!)

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And I do have to grocery shop in the afternoon. I couldn't fit it into the week, so it has to be today.

(carrying the groceries into the house, I pause to admire the last of the porch-side lilies...)

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And too, I have to fiddle with my computer to get it to spark up and perform. Yes, there is that.

But I do not rush. I make no effort to make a dent in my to-do list. I do not clean the house, weed the yard (much), and I eat left-overs for dinner.

(the late summer garden is no less beautiful than the emergent garden...)

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The day is warm. The breezes have died down. The air is still. And so am I. For a little while anyway.

Friday, August 10, 2018


There is a book that I recently read to Snowdrop that's called "Let's Do Nothing." In it, two boys, brothers as I recall, attempt to do nothing and fail miserably at it. At the very least, they wind up blinking their eyelids which, of course, is doing something.

It's kid humor of the best kind, to be taken with a grain of salt, of course, because I want to assure you that I am perfectly capable of doing nothing. Looking back, there have been years when I seem to have done not all that much. Oh, I plodded through school routines and I took out my skateboard or later on, my guitar, but honestly, I may as well have been twiddling my thumbs.

Simply put -- I know I am quite good at engaging in the art of far niente. And I swear, tomorrow afternoon, I am going to twiddle my thumbs until they blister. I am going to do nothing!

Today, however, was a little more stressful.

It starts with an early Ed call, infuriating in its utter leisureliness. Oh, we wont be sailing much today. Maybe 25 miles. We're taking it easy.

Honestly, I would have tilted the boat over and dumped them all into the water were I within reach.

But I am not within reach. Instead, I hear the chickens kvetching and the cat meowing and so I begin my morning farmette chores.

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(The last of the day lilies in the roadside flower bed.)

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The flower fields are still lovely and they will always be lovely and as long as I am here, I will tend to them with great affection, but as I walk to the barn, I see how much of the farmette that is not a flower field has been neglected lately. So many weeds in so many places! The path to the barn is hardly a path. The creeping charlie has crept where it shouldn't have crept. Branches hang too low, raspberry canes have spread again, shrubs have emerged out of nowhere.

I think the farmette has finally managed to overwhelm my capabilities, especially this month when the big guy has gone a sailin'. Slowly, leisurely.

After farmette chores comes farmette breakfast, but it's a fast one (albeit ever so pretty).

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I am having computer issues again (this time with my little travel computer which is only 5.5 years old but is acting like an old lady without functional mental capacities).

Not surprisingly, working through this takes forever.

Now comes the sweet part: a brief visit with Sparrow whom I may as well call Big Sparrow (though perhaps I shouldn't use such labels) because at his two month appointment, he formally weighs in to be now larger than his four month old cousin who herself is no little peanut.

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(Sparrow is actually very good at doing not much of anything. Most two month olds share this skill.)

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And as always, in the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop.

We start off adventuring, but the heat becomes rather oppressive, so we side step into a cafe and stay there. For a while at least.

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It's the kind of August day that makes you think that autumn isn't such a bad thing after all.

For today, we stick with indoor play.

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(On our way out, she is puzzled and perhaps a bit intimidated by all that chicken attention: cheepers, what do you want??? What do they ever want -- love, attention, bread... especially bread.)

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I take her home, pausing to visit for a little while with the whole lot of them.

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No, not done yet! I'm at the farmhouse now and I need to eat. I had big plans to cut back on cooking while Ed was gone, but it turns out I am incapable of cutting back when it is August and the markets are so abundant! Of course I'm going to stir fry shrimp with garlic, corn, bok choy and cauliflower! Of course I am!

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And I'm still not done with the day: the chicken sitter plus boyfriend (he's tall! he can reach! may he remain her boyfriend at least through next week!) arrive after dusk so that we can walk through some of the evening chicken care routines for the few days that I'll be away.

And now it's dark and I am done for the day. What's that you say? A post to write still? I'm on it! Just let me open a bottle of rosé wine first.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

I have no words

What conclusions might you draw from seeing a post that has almost no text? Well, you might hope that I had a photographic awakening. A day of inspired genius. And now I just want to give away all my Ocean space to the resulting gallery of images. Or, you might conclude that I want to indicate a more peaceful day. Words aren't needed. We can just all take deep breaths together... then exhale. In... Out...

Or, if you know me well (on Ocean or otherwise), you'll think that I've had one of those days. I didn't plan out my post early enough and by the time I sat down to write it, the sun had long set and the cheepers needed my attention and there was still this accommodation I had to find or else...

Yes, it was like that. The day was too full.

It began early, with an Ed call. He didn't want to wake his sailor friends and so we whispered back and forth for a few minutes. It was almost like breakfast together, only without the food.

Then came the usual farmette chores...

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Only today I was in a hurry. I needed to fix a problem with my getaway weekend (which comes not now, but next week). I'd found a cheap airfare. I purchased it. I was happy. And then I couldn't find a place to stay. For 48 hours I have been searching my brains out for a place to stay. It's August. It's a weekend. That says it all, no?

And so my day looks like this:

Finish call with Ed. Look for place to stay. Oh darn it. Cheepers and Stop Sign are meowing and chirping. Must attend to them. As long as I'm out, let me do a half-assed clipping of the garden.

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Oh but it does still look so nice!

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Go back inside, find place to stay, fire off email, get a "sorry, all booked" response, fire off another.

Eat breakfast. Boom-beedee-boom! Done!

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Head out to meet lovely friend for coffee. It's such a rare treat, as she is not in town for long.

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After, I hurry back to the farmhouse, check on places to stay, get discouraging emails, read horrible reviews of dirt, noise, odors, bleh! This wont do.

Go back downtown, pick up Mom for a shopping trip to Trader Joe's.

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And after it's almost time to pick up Snowdrop. But wait, I have only until 6 pm to cancel a place that I'm sure should be cancelled (for my place to stay). How am I going to swing that if I'm with Snowdrop this afternoon? I take out my phone, cancel everything that I've booked thus far (except the airfare, which is nonrefundable), pick up the sweet child and bring her to the farmette. Where she helps me pick ripe tomatoes.

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All hell explodes as a storm passes through.

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We play. She wants a change of clothing. Who knows why. Still, it's lovely to be thinking about her rather than about my weekend getaway, which so far has a flight to nowhere.

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Dance. There's always dance.

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She does flipsee-doo-dahs with her dancing Rosie doll.

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What's that? Don't ask. If you're my grandchild, you'll eventually know about flipsee-doo-dahs and loop-dee-loops and yeppers peppers and nopers popers.

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The little one leaves. I do a quick dash to the farmers market where I gift a favorite vendor with lots and lots of eggs (the girls are producing way too many for us), pick up some corn, and come home. But I don't eat dinner. I look for a place to stay.

Do you see where this day went?

And here's an ironic twist: when at last I sit down to do an Ocean post, with the intention of saying nothing (see first paragraphs above), I usually end up saying way too much.

Toward the end of the day, I take a plunge: I write to a place that has an Air BnB type accommodation. It's brand new and has no reviews. It could be so awful that no self respecting person would ever set foot there. Or it could be grand. I give them my credit card number, hit "send" and now I really do exhale. What will be will be. Time for me to eat supper: corn and cheeper eggs of course. Exhale. What a day!