Friday, October 20, 2017

a dozen

A dozen years ago today, Ed turned 55. I did not know it then. It was our first time together and I knew very little about him, and all that I learned lead me to think that he and I came from different planets. Perhaps galaxies. But, we spent an afternoon in each others company and it felt right. And so we have continued to stay in each others company, committed to this idea of being together forever, or a day -- so long as our hearts are in the right place and we hold on to that essential respect for who the other person is.

Oh, we sampled each others passions over the years. He traveled with me many times and I did some wild hiking, camping and canoeing. He tried the neat and tidy look and I tried a more casual approach to housekeeping. But not for long. I went back to neurotic tidiness and he went back to a life that rarely takes him away from the farmette (now that I live here too). Some things did stick (his love of my family, my love of the farmette land), but mostly, Ed is Ed and I suppose Nina is still Nina.

So today is our anniversary: a dozen years. Ed doesn't celebrate stuff, but he knows I do and so we have a sweet breakfast, with flowers from our neighbor's field and cards written just so...

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It is the first morning of our newly added hens and so I hurry to the barn to see what Apple and Peach are up to.

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I throw some old bread crumbs down for the whole lot of them and to my astonishment, Apple takes the lead, giving a nudge to chase sweet, gentle Java away. Aren't the newbies supposed to take on subservient positions??

Of course, Java and Henny do have the upper hand. They know the lay of the land and they know our habits. The other two are just learning.

(Java is like Ed: never perturbed by the bullies in life, always calm, moving through the day at her own sweet gentle pace.)

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Alright: so far so good.

In the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop at school. She hasn't napped, but still, she is excited at what this day holds for her: a promised adventure with grandma and mommy.

Are we going to the playground? -- she asks.
No, we're going to pick up mommy at work and then we're all going on a hike to Indian Lake.

She is on board! This way!

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The sun is warm, the breeze is gentle. You want to take off your sweater, Snowdrop? This is likely to be the last day when we can all hang out in short sleeves!

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A passerby takes a generational photo...

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Snowdrop climbs in and out of a tree...

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... and snuggles in her mommy's lap.

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The forest hues are stunning...

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The lake -- probably the loveliest I have ever seen it (and I have been here a huge number of times!)...

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Snowdrop makes up the best stories!

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...and reminds us of how easy it is to find beauty at every turn...

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Later, much later, I say to Ed -- we really don't have to go out for dinner. I know you're worried about the cheepers...
Let's see where they are tonight...

We walk tot he barn and lo! Henny is perched in a tree, but the other three are all snuggled together in a tight little coop spot. We put her in with the rest and head out for a "mussels and fries" dinner at our favorite place -- Brasserie V.

A selfie:

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... and a wish for a good night: to you and to all, today and always. With love.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

what a day!

The title of this post suggests great weather, great happenings and great exhaustion. As in: don't expect much from my report here because I have had "what a day!" and I am tired and it is late and I haven't the talent to produce something literate and worthy of your attention.

You would be right to read all this into the three words.

And yet -- in the calm of the night, I think back to the small details of the day and I know that they require few words. I mean, in the scheme of things, not much really happened. Or did it?

You decide.

Let's start with a safe place: breakfast. The usual!

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And now things begin to stir. I plant just a handful of tulip bulbs. Ed is hovering.
Should we play disc golf? Should we maybe run a few errands together? Maybe pick up a box of chocolates? Or some chicken feed?

Whoaaaa! One thing at a time! I only have a handful of hours before Snowdrop pick up time. Let's play our disc golf and proceed from there.

We are not alone on the course...

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Well, now we are.

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I play a terrible game. My arm is giving out on me. Ed's whole body mass hurls into that swing. My whole body mass teeters by comparison.

And yet, we have such great fun!

Ed, don't you think that if the disc goes to my rear (meaning even further away from the goal than the starting point), I can start again?
Gorgeous, we can make up any rules you want, but honestly....
Okay okay okay...

It's rare that I laugh this hard. Ed (who is overall a far stronger player) bounces his disc gainst a tree. I collapse in mirth.

Let's take a glance at the beauty of the landscape...

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Fields and forests... so many wrong throws, so much to admire anyway!

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The morning does not end here. After the game, in anticipation of a Very Important Day tomorrow, Ed suggests that we drive out to pick up a box of my favorite chocolates.

I'm agreeable.

He knows that I love cards commemorating important milestones. Lucky break for him: the chocolate store also has a rack of cards.

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Mission accomplished.

And now it is time for me to pick up Snowdrop at school.

These heavenly days of sunshine and warm air are a godsend. They allow the little girl to spend hours at play in the great outdoors. No toys, no comfortable spaces, no privacy. Just a park and a playground and a host of interesting situations that may develop.

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Here she is, watching as older kids flood the play structure...

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It's always hard to pull her away from all this.

There's a lot of cajoling begging and insisting that takes place. Eventually, we're in the car and as it is Thursday, we make our way to our local farmers' market. It's the last day for picking out cheap tomatoes off of Natalie's truck. Snowdrop, as always, is in seventh heaven up there.

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I can carry the bag by myself, grandma!

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(Well, sort of.)

The sun is nearly setting. Snowdrop's parents are about to show up to pick up their little girl. Ed turns to me -- So I've found these chickens...

He has been suggesting that two hens (our current brood) is suboptimal. Three, or better yet four!

I've argued the cons: that would mean there would be more claws digging up my flower beds!
He's raised the pros: fewer ticks, greater chicken camaraderie, more eggs.

I cave.

I tell Snowdrop: we're getting two more chickens! You want to give them names?
She doesn't hesitate: Apple! And the second one? Peach!

And that's how it comes to be that after the little girl goes home, Ed and I meet up with a woman who posted on craigslist two adorable hens for sale. Of course, everything that she claims about them (they're friendly! they lay eggs! they're young! they're wonderful!) is suspect, but still, we're won over by their sheer sweetness.

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We bring them home, stick them in the coop for the night with Henny and Java and hope for the best.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

and so it continues...

A string of beautiful autumnal days! This is how I always picture Madison: each season delivers its own multiple days of perfection! And we are in the thick of one now.

But the math doesn't add up! As I work to put the tulip and narcissus bulbs into the ground (thinking all the while how pleasant it is to be digging in the soil in short sleeves, with a warm sun on my back and a gentle breeze kicking around my pony tail), I'm counting it all up: if I put in significantly over 100 bulbs yesterday and I dug in another 100-plus bulbs today, then I should be making a dent in my load of bulbs. And yet the crate remains heavy. How many hundreds do I have here anyway?!

Ed laughs: a big feast for the chipmunks and groundhogs!

I refuse to be discouraged.

Of course, the day starts with a nourishing breakfast in the sunny sun room.

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And then I step outside to do my digging. Don't you think things are looking very Fall-ish out there? You can tell we're not in Kansas anymore (meaning "summer," to all you American culture neophytes).

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I pick up Snowdrop just when the skies are at their brightest and the sun is at its warmest. We have a wonderful stroll through her school neighborhood...

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And we spend several hours playing in the little park by the lesser lake.

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Her stories are complicated and never ending. I can only stand back and listen, offering the occasional comment, watching, grinning and very rarely, holding up my camera.

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It's a beautiful day here in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Totally, completely beautiful.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

it's a beautiful day...

It is as if spring has come to the farmette: suddenly I am outdoors more than I am indoors and I am working hard!

We wake up to sunshine and somewhat warmer temperatures. The kind of weather you dream about in the dead of winter: mild and inviting.

We eat breakfast in a sun drenched room...

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(The two hens eat in a sun drenched courtyard...)

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And shortly after, we drive the two miles to the disc golf course. You know, the place we have just discovered for our frisbee games. (It's a lovely drive today! The rural roads are stunning in their drapes of gold.)

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True, the "disc golf course" closes for the season in ten days, but with a week of brilliant weather, we plan to indulge!

Only we don't really know how to play.

Ed has a solution for every new set of challenges: read the instructions, or, better yet -- watch a youtube tutorial. A tax law clawing at your assets? Google it and read read read! A furnace explodes on you? Search the Internet (and youtube) for fixes. Disc golf stumping you?  We watch a video.

Oh, so that's how you do it!

I can't say we threw the discs (frisbees) perfectly each time, but we played an honest game of 18 "holes" (baskets really), some of it in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings...

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...and I laughed good and hard when the little plastic discs veered into the brush or woodlands!

On the drive home, we passed a lone crane.  Hi crane. You sure you should be here still?

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And in the late afternoon, I am with Snowdrop, but it is a brief moment of play, as I need to get her to an appointment soon after.

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She swings, climbs, plays, eats -- all in the space of an hour.

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Toward evening, I am back at the farmhouse. Ed is busy with one of his engineering projects. The air is getting cooler. I take out my shovel and I haul a crate (really, a huge crate) of bulbs out to my flower fields.

I don't plant them all. But I make a dent. Well over a hundred bulbs went into the ground today. With several hundred more to go.

I'm not in a hurry. I dig and plant. Dig and plant. Dig and plant.

And then I collapse in some Yoga position that should lead to ultimate relaxation but in reality just pushes me to the couch for the rest of the evening. We eat leftovers for dinner. I'm to tired to cook an ambitiously complicated meal.

Monday, October 16, 2017

it only takes three...

If you are lucky enough to have these three in your day: a sunny October sky, a trip to Madison's Arboretum, and a grandchild to bring along for the adventure, then I am sure as anything that you wont be able to put your camera down. There is a promise of sensual beauty in the confluence of the three elements. I don't care what the child's mood or age, or what camera you have with you -- you'll strike photographic gold.

Okay, now let me roll back to the beginning of this gorgeously sunny day: breakfast in the sun room, for real!

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I step outside. It's cool, sure it is. After all, it's mid-October. But who can complain! It's a brilliant day!

The robins are loud as anything, clamoring for the crab apples -- as if there was a limited supply!

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Come on, quit fighting! There's plenty to go around.

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After our morning meal, Ed suggests we try out our frisbees in the nearby frisbee golf range. I've played with a frisbee maybe two times in my life and this would have been perhaps forty years ago. Still, it's a gorgeous day and we have these frisbees and a course nearby. We go for it!

I never once strike par (though I do get close!), but it's shockingly fun. Oh, I suppose I know why: you could do anything outside today and you'd have a grand time. It's your most beautiful October day!

And then I have a protracted dental appointment.

But all is not lost! I have a few minutes to kill after the appointment and before it's time to pick up Snowdrop. I drive over to the Arboretum....

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It's not peak color yet, but it sure is beautiful here!

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I'm determined to coax Snowdrop to come with me here after school!

It turns out to be not such a difficult proposition. When I pick her up, she is in great distress. She had been forced out of a nap (and we know how hard it is for her to fall asleep in school) and she is in a delicate frame of mind. Though we go to the playground and she tries to rally, it is an uphill set of minutes for the tired little girl.

But the prospect of an adventure at the Arboretum excites her. Especially since I have brought along her new baby, some coveted snacks, a towel, a frisbee -- all important components of an adventure in the making.

I'm not going to say much more. I leave you with a trail of photos. Yes, it is a long trail. Remember, everything conspired to make this a most stunning day! I'm just the messenger.

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Run, Snowdrop, run!

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Do you know how to throw a frisbee?

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You do!!

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Late afternoon....

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She so wants to climb a tree...

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It's a beautiful day to be a grandmother in Madison, Wisconsin!