Monday, February 19, 2018

wet Monday

On the one hand, it feels like any other Monday: morning work at home, afternoon spent with Snowdrop.

But in so many ways, it's different.

For one thing, I was tossing a little at night and to move myself toward a more restful sleep, I picked up my phone to read a little of this and that. I usually reach for a book, but I didn't want to get sucked into the story, so I chose the phone.

What's this? A message from my credit card company. Suspicious activity. Sure enough, my card was hacked. Well, by chance, I caught it within minutes of the event. I put a block on the card and then of course reviewed into the early morning all the ways I have to reconfigure life onto a new card number. So much for restful night (though on the upside, I surely avoided a lot of accounting headaches by catching things early).

We eat a late breakfast...

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And only then do I allow myself a look outside. I knew the snow was melting. I knew today there would be rain. I knew there would be bare patches. Still, it is a bit of a shock to go from a snowy landscape to the wet patchy puddly stuff we have now. The cheepers are rejoicing. There is earth underneath their scratchy claws again.

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By the time I pick up Snowdrop, the rain is coming down consistently. Without pause. I learn that the girl has missed an outdoor play period for some inconsequential reason. Not surprisingly, she wants to make up for it now. When I tell her we may do some puddle hopping, she is ready to head out in a snap.

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At the farmette she plunges in.

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With a beautiful smile and a spirited splash...

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Within minutes we are making boats out of seed pods and fish out of wood chips...

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... and I swear we would still be there now, except quite suddenly (and I'm not clear if it was intentional), she sits down in the puddle and of course, that is the end of outdoor time.

Inside, I put on her pajamas and I spread out her soaked clothes on the heating vents.

And the rain continues.

In digging around her stuff, Snowdrop finds her sunglasses and perhaps hoping for a bit of bright sunshine, she puts them on.
Is the sun out, grandma?
No... all hidden behind clouds of rain.
Maybe a little of it is out?
Well, maybe in some corner of the sky (far far from where we are).

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Playful girl...
Maybe a bit too playful, considering how little rest she has had in recent times.

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Grandma, am I wearing you out? Am I? (She got this from an Olivia book.)

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... no, sweet one. Never.

Well, at least, not tonight.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

one more day

One more day of family gatherings. Maybe we'll never have enough of each other! I hope we'll never have enough of each other!

Today, we are to come together for a post-shower family brunch at the younger couple's home.

I am to get myself ready and available so that I can help my girl bake an old favorite dessert -- Maida Heatter's Black and White cake, or what I referred to for many years (under my breath) as the pain in the ass cake. It's not hard, but it does have many (and I mean many) piddly steps! But it is delicious. I remember sending it in a care package to my girl one summer when she went away to camp.

She and I are to begin work on it at 8 a.m., but when I come up to the kitchen, she is already there, with a full mis en place before her! That's my cooking buddy for you!


The cake is (finally) in the oven. She fusses about other brunch components. And like my grandma, she is not satisfied until the bounty is there on the table, beautiful and abundant, waiting for the arrival of family.


Well now, here comes family!


For now, Snowdrop is the sole little one.  She likes having all these lovely people to talk to, of course she does.


But I think she is so ready for some new younger additions. Yesterday at the shower, she was awed by the youngest guest (photo, where I'm holding a three month old, taken by my older daughter):

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And today, she loves luring me to the baby room so we can talk about who'll be sleeping there one day soon.


Upstairs again, time for cake. (And here, I must insert a quick comment on how utterly awesome this little girl has been during a challenging set of days. Her warm smile was never far. Her patience with errands, trips, set ups, lack of rest, rooms full of strangers, followed by a dinner out that lasted many hours -- she not only was at her very best, but this morning, she was once more the accommodating perfect guest. Oh, we'll have chaos at family gatherings in the months to come, but this weekend, Snowdrop reminded us that eventually children grow up and and give back all the effort you invest in their care.)


We were all so tired last night that the young couple never finished opening their gifts. Snowdrop is ready to assist them once more today!


Ah, my three sweet girls (and one son in law)!


Next time we're all together, I expect to say -- my four sweet girls!

For now, I have to take off.

I rejoin the neighborhood strollers on a lovely Sunday afternoon...


... and make my way to the "L" train, then the bus, and finally car. As I turn toward home, the great big Wisconsin sky turns a fiery orange.

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As I approach the farmhouse, I have to smile at this welcoming display of our state's great beauty.

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A minute later, I am home.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Family Album

If you were to describe a day that brought people together in the most beautiful way -- family and friends, to celebrate, rejoice, convey the warmest wishes for the family that is about to take on a new member -- well, you would describe my Saturday.

You may think that I am backing away from a long post because it is so very late, but in truth, I just don't think my words here would treat this day well. And I don't think you would want details anyway. You're better off just catching the flavor, the feel of the day. For this, photos work well.

Here they are -- glance at them if you want. Enjoy them, puzzle over them. I hope they tell a story. Or at least give vignettes of a full day, well spent!

First, brunch with my younger daughter. Just she and I. To catch up.


Meanwhile, preparations for the shower honoring the soon to be born child are in full swing. My older girl has coordinated nearly everything. When I pull in to their dad's place, most of the work has already been done.


Young couple arrives...


They take in everything...


My two pregnant girls...


Snowdrop wakes up from her nap...


Family and friends...


(Some friends date back all the way to young school years...)


So many treats to sample!


Pictures to draw...


Pictures to take and have taken...


And in the end, when nearly all have left, presents to open.


Snowdrop rejoices: she will loooove that!

Yes, she will. And even more, the little babe and her parents will surely love having such a wide circle of people who care deeply about their well being.

Outside, the snow begins to fall. Wet, mushy city snow. It will all melt shortly. And spring will come and with it -- new life.

Friday, February 16, 2018

to Chicago

One consequence of travel for me is that during long connections (flight or bus, it doesn't matter), I often read things that I wouldn't otherwise read. I had already enjoyed a morning look at Prof. Tim Wu's  The Tyranny of Convenience in the New York Times and now, during the ride to Chicago, I am riveted by the New Yorker article, The White Darkness, A Solitary Journey Across Antarctica. Perhaps predictably, the NYT article is up my alley: breezy, mildly provocative, it describes something I'm all too familiar with -- the seductiveness of comfort.

If I may go back to the theme of how Ed and I are different, I can tell you that these articles spell it out right there: he is not at all seduced by the easy path. He, much as the hero of the New Yorker story, is seduced by challenge. It may be easier to call someone to fix the furnace, or to travel comfortably to a room with a view of the Gulf in Cuba. But that would be me. He, instead, will research, look for spare parts and toil over the damn machine himself. And he'll sail a small boat to Cuba solo and once there, sleep on someone's floor. Otherwise, what's the point?

And yet, at another level, are we that different? I like a clean room with a good view, and don't look to me to mess with furnaces, and yes, yes, yes, I am seduced by an easy path, but oh, I do love me my challenges! If a day doesn't have something in it that requires a huge push to get to the end, well then it feels like I've let it slip by, wastefully.

Still, there is that temptation of the easy path: the feet up, a glass of wine and a bite of chocolate, a browse through today's listings of dining tables, a quick laugh over a Seinfeld rerun, that tenth mystery in a series of French tales from the Dordogne... It's just so alluring! Fine, I tell myself. Indulge. So long as it is the reward after a day of struggle and learning.

Well, never mind. The weekend before me will place me in the thick of family life as seen from a perspective other than the farmhouse.  Time with beloveds is never time wasted.

The morning is brilliant! It's cold again, but the sun is out. Much of the snow cover has melted, but it's still very pretty out there.

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We eat breakfast in the sun room.

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And then Ed goes his way (to his techie meetings) and I go my way (grocery shopping) and eventually I pack my bag and catch that bus to Chicago. Several hours later, I get off the L train...


... and walk the few steps to La Colombe, a cafe in the neighborhood where the younger couple lives. A cup of coffee, a financier...


...a few minutes to scribble something here and then I'm off to their place!

(My, she's looking rounded!)


All of us (except for Ed, who is excused by virtue of cheeper duty) are gathering for a baby shower tomorrow. Actually big sister, their dad and I are hosting the event, but I have to admit that the organizational effort is hardly mine. I just say "yes" a lot, which is easy, because the ideas, mostly my older girl's ideas, are all good.

But all that comes tomorrow. Tonight is the easy comfy stuff of eating dinner with the younger guys and too, the in laws, who flew up for the event. We eat at Le Bouchon -- a local French bistro that serves the classics. And I love that, because a great French bistro with traditional foods is actually tough to find in cities like Paris. There are too many there that are tired, catering to people who don't know or don't care. Not so Le Bouchon -- it's fantastically, nostalgically, deliciously traditional French bistro food!

And now is the time to rest up. Tomorrow is one big spin of activity. The challenge will definitely be the one I face all too often when traveling -- to find the time to write it all down before we all slip into the next day.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

right side left side

Sometimes your right side just doesn't know what's out there on your left. You are so used to following established paths and protocols that you don't notice a whole new landscape out there, beckoning for your attention. I suppose this may well describe our morning.

It is a March kind of day. The air is almost balmy: temperatures hover just above freezing. Clouds roll in but offer nothing in the form of precipitation (thank goodness). And still, the snow is really melting fast. Cheepers are pleased. They broaden their path of navigation.

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It's a slushy, wet world out there! We eat breakfast in the front room. Looking out, we see puddles and lots of very slushy snow.

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Skiing will not work. It could be that we did our last (beautiful) run of the season yesterday.

Ed suggests we slosh on foot through a piece of land we recently examined on google maps. It borders Lake Waubesa and it connects the lakeside residential community with the county park where he and I typically ski. We had assumed it's private property (isn't most everything private property?), but closer inspection revealed it's a chunk of Department of Natural Resources land.

I have good winter boots. I'm agreeable.

As we plunge into the strip that is obviously frozen wetland, I consider turning back. It's rough going!

But then the terrain opens up.

(Lovely white oaks, scattered throughout...)

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And some fifteen minutes into our slog, we come across trails. And signs, marking snowshoe paths.

We're now in a park!

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We eventually reach the formal entrance to it: The Capitol Springs State Park! Here? Who knew?!

I imagine it's especially beautiful when the grasslands are in full bloom.

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Well now, a whole "new" set of trails, less than two miles from where we live! A shocking and pleasant discovery!

We drive back to the farmette, passing empty cornfields now being picked over by scores of wild turkeys and a handful of deer.

Look, the turkeys scratch the soil! Just like the cheepers!
Yes, same family...

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When I pick up Snowdrop, I remind her that we have a haircut appointment just in the neighborhood of her school. She hasn't had a trim since early spring (except for bangs, which I routinely chop down at home) and she hesitates for just a minute...

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But, she is happy to scramble up and watch the hair fly every which way...

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Close your eyes now, little girl!
She does as requested.

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And now we're home and back in the world of play.

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Snowdrop uses the farmhouse space well. She doesn't just stay in her play area. She'll take her games to the sun room. To the living room. To the kitchen.

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She adds props...

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She is spirited! In a short while, her hair no longer looks well tended. It looks crazy wild!

As usual, she is full of directives:
Grandma, don't poke Daffodil (that's her baby). You'll hurt her and she will break and she will be all over the floor, broken!
In a million pieces? Scattered everywhere?

I smile at her choice of words.

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Ed comes in. She asks for a ride. Duck under the door! -- he warns her.

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We finish at the table. With (play) food. Of course.

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And I think -- she doesn't really need her high chair anymore...

Evening. Ed has a working dinner out. I eat leftovers and think ahead to the weekend. I'm heading out to Chicago tomorrow. We all are, for a family gathering to celebrate the soon to be born grandbabe number two.