Monday, July 27, 2015

a new week

A new week of new habits, which are quickly becoming old habits. Up early, check on flowers,

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... eat breakfast,

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... shoo Ed off to work.

And of course, play time with Snowdrop.

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True, I am now thinking ahead more carefully -- as if I were going to an office myself: make sure I have dinners in mind, make sure there's a recipe in my head for all those tomatoes we picked yesterday, make sure the flower tubs are watered -- it's going to be hot hot hot this week! Make sure, make sure, keep a list going, check things off, write in new details, don't mess it up -- others are counting on you!

Retirement is what you make of it and many of my insane days are that way by choice -- my choice, no less. I offer no complaints. But please do not be surprised if for the next few days, my posts will read like notes scribbled on a paper dinner napkin -- you know, a little rough and hastily drawn around the edges. With spills. Think: Snowdrop eating carrots (as she did today, when I fed her, this time in her own home).

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And while I'm bragging about Snowdrop's great accomplishments, let me show you what that little girl is up to right now.

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Yep, she's swaying on all fours, ready to take off. I feel great trepidation. Are we all ready for this?!

And still, I know that this crazy busy time -- it's all transitional. Ed applies himself fully to his new commitments, but they will either recede with time or become part of our everyday. There will come a day when he'll be late coming home in the evening and I'll yawn, because of the sheer regularity of it all. [I don't feel that way tonight, as I'm still used to him being here for dinner pronto, because really, you cannot be late walking from the sheep shed to the farmhouse. Today, when the dinner hour comes and goes and he is not here, I despair with the freshly made pizza, then vow to myself to talk him into finally, finally getting a cell phone. A person who goes to work needs a cell phone, so that he or she may be called and asked to pick up a bag of mozzarella on the way home from the office, or to be yelled at by their partner for being late for dinner.]

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By the end of the day, Ed and I return to a steady and solid equilibrium. We take a walk into the fields farmed by truck farmers to the east of the farmette. Crops are doing well this year. The harvest will be rock solid. At home, too, our flowers are bursting with enthusiasm.

It's contagious.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015


If you were a guest at the farmhouse, sleeping in the lemon room (and you would have to sleep there as the farmhouse has only two bedrooms and we're in the other one), one of the views from your window would be this:

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I thought about it as I was doing my usual Sunday housecleaning which included refreshing the lemon room. (Unfortunately, Snowdrop was not there to help me.)

Views are important to me. They connect me to outside spaces, even in the dead of winter. They let my mind rest on something unique. They take me outside of myself. It's very useful to step out of a preoccupation with your immediate space every once in a while.

Ed and I eat breakfast on the porch...

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... and then we falter a bit. Over the last weeks, our various to-do lists of routine and even pleasant tasks have grown. (Case in point: unfinished patio door installation.) And so on the one day where neither Ed or I have to be anywhere at all, we lose all ambition to do much of anything.
Want to take the boats out on the Yahara River?
Maybe... Or maybe we should walk?
Or play tennis?
Yes, we should...
And the vegetable garden -- we really should take a look to see how the tomatoes are doing.

We talk like this for a while. Finally, that view onto the garden pulls me outside. I can pull out the creeping never-bearing strawberry plants from the garden paths. (They really are supposed to be ever-bearing, but the animals are so quick to eat the fruits that we never see any.)

I get to work.

And once I start getting my hands dirty, you can't stop me. I attack the path, the beds -- a wide swath of land and Ed comes out and helps by loading cartfuls of wood chips to spread on the cleared spaces.

We work so well together! This is what we needed -- a day of hard physical work. There, too, you can step outside of your own preoccupations and focus on the job at hand.

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The flower fields are still peaking, still throwing abundant new blooms...

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Working in their midst is humbling.

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We don't stop there. We go over to the tomato field and pull out some bindweed, but more importantly, we do our first bigger harvest.

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And life feels normal again.

After that -- tennis, yes we do get to the courts and though our games aren't good today, we keep at it for quite a while.

Normal, too, is our Sunday dinner: the young family comes with Snowdrop and suddenly the farmhouse bounces with her energy. Snowdrop is almost ready to help me in the kitchen. Almost.

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To the fish main course, I add grilled summer veggies. (Yes, they're our tomatoes. We already have too many!)

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On the porch, Snowdrop jumps in her jumparoo with total gusto.

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We sit back and let the evening seep in. Ed tells me -- you're all like an image from a Norman Rockwell painting... Couple, grandma, with enthusiastic baby... 

Are we?


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Saturday, July 25, 2015


And now the weekend is upon us and even though it isn't entirely the same as other summer weekends (it's not every Saturday that I wake up with Snowdrop and my daughter in the farmhouse), it surely feels familiar.

The little girl is up at a very respectable 8:30 and as always, is delighted to be greeted in the crib.

Okay, okay, time to get up. And hey, I'm smart about her eating habits: she is one messy baby when it comes to high chair foods and so I take her out of her pajamas and sit her right down with a bib and diaper, nothing more. Banana and squash quickly appear on all possible surfaces.

And then it's bath time, and more feedings -- all those wonderful things you do in the morning with a baby that's just happy to be out facing the day with you.

Eventually we all come together on the porch for the adult breakfast. Well, let's just say that it's the adults now that do the eating.

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And then I get Snowdrop ready for her big outing: grandma, mommy and baby will be taking a walk by the lake, all the way to the farmers market.

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Snowdrop is in grand spirits (you may not be able to tell this just looking at the photos...).

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She has that magical playfulness about her, even though the walk is long and very warm.

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The market itself is like my garden: it peaks with abundance right about now. I see the first ears of local corn, the sour cherries from Door County, all forms of root and leafy vegetables. Heaven.

Time to return. The sky is cloudless, the air is still. I get back to my car and head home.

This is when I catch up on my contemplative time. In the garden, yes that...

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And in the farmhouse too. It's been such a good day -- from its earliest minutes to the time when the sun once again leaves marks of gold on the flower fields.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

thank goodness it's this day

 When do you decompress, let go, muse, breathe?

Lately, I haven't big chunks of time to use for a soul detox, but I do have wee breaks and intervals and I use them for this, oh, do I use them!

You'll have guessed that a walk through the gardens is good for the heart and mind.

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As a commenter noted yesterday, there is a conversation that takes place between the flowers and their gardener and though it is a quiet conversation, it's full of meaning.

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For me, of course, breakfast always puts me on a good path. Take your spa day, your massage, your retreat into the Himalayas! I'll stay with my meal on the porch (or sun room in winter) anytime.

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After that, well, there's a lot of stuff that needs to be accomplished on a Friday. Ed, of course, goes to his work meetings. Me -- I take care of prosaic stuff. Haircut. I'm back on a four month hair care schedule. Indulgent, I know. Ed did a good job with the scissors, but the young woman at her own small Bang salon does it better.

And there is grocery shopping.

And after -- Snowdrop play.

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Today, we mess with the camera. She really quite enjoys this, for a few minutes anyway. The best part -- looking together at the resulting photo.

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And now comes another set of meditative minutes: a walk with Snowdrop. I do understand her expression, her retreat behind some secret door.

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I feel the same way.

In the evening, I take her to the farmette...

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I feed her. Is there a grandma out there who does not enjoy feeding her grandchild the freshest of fresh fruits and veggies? And today the little girl is on board! Bananas and squash!

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Evening. Ed comes home from the office, my daughter comes over as well. She and Snowdrop will be spending the night with us -- call it a farmhouse retreat of sorts (Snowdrop's daddy is away at a conference).

Snowdrop naps (so considerate of her!) while the three of us eat dinner...

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But then she joins us for our porch moment.

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Here I have to tell you about this crazy love I had for a movie when I was a young ten year old (title: Summer Magic). You'd think I'd be too old for fantasies about making do with very little when your life crashes -- a parent dies, income disappears, there's just you and the frightening world out there (this is the general theme of this Disney movie with Haley Mills). But no! I loved it. And of course, I sang all the songs to my girls as they were growing up and  now here I am, feeling very much like this evening fits well into that vision of cricket sounds and rocking chairs -- all a part of that improbable movie fantasy. 

There is a special song that I am quite fond of --  about sitting on the porch of an old farmhouse. And watching the fireflies.

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We have a huge number of fireflies outside.

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I sang this song to my daughters for many many years as they struggled to fall asleep.

All I want to do
When the day is through
Is linger here on the front porch
With you
From the wicker swing
While the night birds sing
We'll watch the fireflies sparkin'
Do some sparkin' too
How the hours fly
As the moon drifts by...


Thursday, July 23, 2015

onto Thursday

We're establishing new rhythms. They start early. Our usual breakfast around 9 has shifted: today it is around 7:30, as Ed has meetings to attend.

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It's the last meal with our house guests. They pack up and leave shortly after. You might nod sympathetically and say -- good to have your house back, what with all the tumult. I suppose. Establishing new rhythms requires a time of a meditative quiet. At the same time, I look around and notice that the lawn is mowed. The chicken coop is cleaned, the dishes are washed, Snowdrop's jumparoo is assembled. Our house guests saw us through a tough week, using a huge amount of tact and elbow grease. On top of it all, Ed had sympathetic listeners. I had an enthusiastic pal to help me uncork and sample an Islay whisky.  These guys helped move us from square one to square two. We were so very fortunate to have them here.

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Afternoon? Snowdrop time!

I must proudly report that the girl received her first certificate of accomplishment today: she completed her swimming course! I don't know that much was required of her -- showing up was plenty sufficient -- but still, the certificate hangs on the young family's refrigerator door: a congratulatory note attesting to her "swimming" progress.

Snowdrop wakes from her nap just as I arrive...

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She and I play, though if you watched her, you could hardly call it play. She is intense and she works hard at perfecting her finger grasp. Too, she rolls so adeptly and without regard to any obstacles that I have to carefully steer her away from potential collisions with furniture.

A few hours of this and she needs a pause. The three of us (her mommy joins us) take a walk around the lake and yes, do note that this is her downtime. Her expression tells us as much. (The "tatoo" on her arm is her swimming badge of honor.)

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And now I'm home. I spend an evening hour deadheading day lilies. You don't have to do that: eventually the spent flowers fall off of their own accord. But there is something deeply satisfying in tidying a yard in full bloom. You're not the designer, the developer, the digger and planter anymore. You're the gentle hand that adds a touch of appreciation to what's before you. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

a quiet Wednesday

Today is the day to put up a simple post -- reflective, but with few words. Just a handful of photos to carry us along.

Farmette flowers...

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(looking out from the porch)

Breakfast with our farmhouse guests...

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The midsection of the day is then handed over to a memorial service for Ed's friend and business partner, Greg.

I then go to look after Snowdrop...

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And this includes a walk for us. Around the small lake...

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And in the evening, my daughter and I go with the little one to the Capitol Square for a lovely evening concert.

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That's all for today. I'll be back tomorrow.

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