Friday, August 28, 2015

getting ready

Two notable details about this day: the rains came and I did not see Snowdrop. I know what you're thinking -- a gloomy post will follow!

Not so. I have a weekend of activities and I needed the day to get ready for them. We will have weekend house guests and, too, we will host a dinner for 15 tomorrow (though two of those are, at best, sampling mush right now). This means that the farmhouse gets its most detailed cleaning job.

Right after breakfast...

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... Ed takes off for "the office" and I set to work on housecleaning. I have my gradations. On a scale of one to ten, where one is a mere wiping down of a few surfaces and ten is everything (including throw rugs) is laundered, polished and spiffed up, I'd say I aimed for a 9.5 today. (I did not wash windows.)

I had hoped to put in a couple of hours in the yard -- it looks fine, but I know there are places that could use a manicure (actually, if you stand back, it can look quite wild!)...

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...but the rain, a nice, steady shower that is so very good for growing things, keeps me indoors. For the most part.

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(admiring the day lilies that will not stop!)

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(loving the lavender)

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(Scotch strains her neck to see if I have any bread for her)

You wonder why I'm not fussing in the kitchen. Shouldn't I be cooking right now?

When I first offered to host the dinner, I wasn't sure how much time I would have to get things ready and so you're looking at a cook who has abdicated her responsibilities and handed over the job to caterers -- very favorite caterers, actually, and so the guests will only benefit.

It's important to note the occasion that triggers all this hustle and activity. On Sunday, Snowdrop is being baptized in the church her parents belong to. It's a small ceremony, but family that lives in the Midwest is driving up and down and if you tally up the group, we have ourselves a count of fifteen, including the babe herself (and also a baby of one of the atendees).

And so the photo count for this post paltry. But I'm happy as can be to be seeing my younger girl and her husband tomorrow and I'm delighted that Snowdrop will have the attention of many. Like all children, she adores the watchful, loving gaze of a family member. A jiggle on the knee is alright by her as well.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


When I talked to Ed about expanding the flower fields, he asked -- who's going to maintain them?
I responded -- oh, once they're established, they wont need much care.

Of course, that's only partly true. You can neglect perennials once the season draws to a close, but you'll be a happier garden gawker if you do a thorough trimming right about now. Some plants will reward you with a light rebloom, but really, that's not the point. Your goal is to have a deliberate slide into autumn, rather than the mess of a spent flower bed.

Typically, this is a miserable job here, at the farmette, because we do get the mosquitoes and they don't go away until the first hard frost, but this year, we have had a very insignificant bug population and so I put on my gardening gloves today and set to work.

All day long.

From before breakfast (when setting the cheepers free)...

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(a commenter asked about goldenrod -- it's here, growing somewhat wildly beside clumps of lilies.

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(to the north of the farmette)

... and breakfast is on the porch today!

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... through late afternoon. I'm not done, but I made great inroads! If I neglect the rest, the garden will still look presentable.

You may not notice the difference, but I sure do!

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Much later in the day, Ed and I have a lovely game of tennis and, too, we visit our local farmers market. These evening rides on the motorcycle along rural roads, when the breeze is just right and there's a faint dryness in the air are heavenly! And the produce at the market? We're the tail end of the fantastic corn season. Supper is going to be very local: tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden, corn from up the road. Okay, the fish is from distant waters.

In the evening, we have a very special visitor!

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We play indoors mostly,  but we don't neglect the porch!

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And yes, this girl changes with the wind. Yes, even her face shape looks somehow transformed. I left a baby, I returned to a near toddler...

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... though like before,  she still is drawn toward that bearded guy!

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... and she still adores her jumparoo.

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Though she is not only all giggles and grins. There is a more serious side to her.

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... as if first day of school is around the corner and she is taking in her last minutes of play.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


It continues to be cold outside. I don't mind and I know summer will return next week, but it is a reminder that time moves forward. We can't be stuck in our season of porch breakfasts and sunny strolls through fields of perpetually blooming flowers. We're not California. We're not even Georgia). (I'm guessing things bloom constantly in Georgia. What do I know though: I am not a person who fully understands southern climates.)

So I take it as it comes: I bundle up in a sweatshirt to let the cheepers out. They, of course, love the cooler weather. The flowers continue their march toward autumn.

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The breakfast? In the kitchen again.

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The afternoon? Snowdrop care!

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It's a brief account of a rather long day (if you count the hours I am up and about). The one sure sign that I've been traveling is that my eyes close even earlier in the evening. They're closing now as I put up the handful of photos for you, including of a Snowdrop meal. Yes, some things transform themselves, some things stay the same!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

if it's Tuesday...

It was a wonderful trip home!

First of all, for all the complaints that float around about air travel, I have to say, this trip put me on ten flights and all were comfortable and on time.

On my transatlantic return, I made a friend. That's rare. Typically, my idea of a good flight is one where I tune out and doze off. But this time, my seat mate was someone who traveled to France just to race on her bike from Paris to Brest. Now that's not a story I want to sleep my way through.

I arrived in Madison at a good, afternoon hour ...

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And Ed was there and we drove straight to Snowdrop's home just so I could hug the little one.

And guess what!!?! In the two weeks I was away, she moved right into fast paced crawling and her sweet parents put her on the floor so that she could crawl to me with her great big wonderful grin and Ed and I just sat there and beamed and beamed! (Well, he tried to hide it. Unsuccessfully.)

At the farmette, that buzz of the end of summer was in the air.

Ed had done magnificent work on the porch steps and, too, he maintained the pots of flowers during the hot hot days of August. And here's something that I didn't want to write about until now: just when I left, he discovered that Dirty B., our lovely (if dirty) white hen, was actually quite ill. He tried hard to help her overcome her issues, but she was too far gone and so she died sometime while I was traveling from St. Petersburg to Paris. I know to an Ocean reader she is just a hen, but to Ed she was a hen who brought not a small amount of cheeper chipperness to a day. I paid my respects to her. And I am happy to report that Butter and Scotch remain best buddies, though as our flock diminishes, it is definitely quieter here at the farmette.

I snipped spent flowers well into the dark evening.

It was good to be home.

This morning, the clouds roll in and the air feels downright autumnal. I walk the yard, inspecting the fading flower beds...

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They're transitioning now to their restful stage, even though a few of them stubbornly throw down blooms, creating pockets of color across the yard.

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It's so cool that we eat breakfast in the kitchen.

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That's okay -- we have had our good porch meals and I'm sure we'll have some more as the weather see-saws between the two seasons.

It's a day of the usual post-return stuff. You guessed it -- unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping.

But hey, if it's Tuesday, it must be Snowdrop at the farmhouse day!

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Oh, how the girl has grown! Her movements, her expressions -- they're of a different kind. She surely is a toddler already, no?

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Still undecided about the foods out there...

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But happy as a little clam when placed on the floor to romp and to chase down any item within reach.

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In the late afternoon, her mom and I go out for a long walk with the sweet girl (who has retained at least some of her former habits!)...

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It's easy to settle back into old routines when you like your routines as much as I do.
The trip remains memorable and grand, but it very quickly recedes -- as if it happened a very long time ago and not just yesterday.

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Yes, I am so very happy to be home.

Monday, August 24, 2015

the last day

 The last day of a trip is always, even for a frequent traveler, just a little quirky. You don't want to waste it, at the same time one foot is already moving toward home and the other one is dragging a bit -- perhaps overused in the preceding days.

You'll notice this in my post as well -- it meanders, moves this way, that way, without themes, just a wistful smile and a nod to the spots that I have tagged as somehow my own.

I begin, as always, as every single day here, on Ocean, with breakfast. On this trip, my friends and I have a nice routine going: we use this time to talk about the day before and the day ahead.


I'm not in a rush to go out, especially since when I looked outside my window, I saw wet sidewalks.


But eventually I rouse myself to get going. Whatever rain there was, is no more.  I head in the direction of the river.

(texting on a red light)

I pass the market, where I look for fraises de bois (those little berries that resemble strawberries but only a little). No, not there this time. But the other fruits are lovely!


I pass a gallery with a familiar name...


And then I'm by the river. Not the Neva River of course, but a river that is equally grand and beautiful, even on this cloudy day.


I don't quite cross it. I walk to the middle of a bridge, look out toward the Place de la Concorde (who knew that from here, you can even see the towers of the Sacre Coeur! Every time I'm here, I pick up something new about Paris)...


... and then I turn right back to the Left Bank.

Back on my side (what makes it "mine"?), I cross the Place des Invalides. And I break my rule of trying to photograph only native speaking folks (well, insofar as I can hear them talk). This young woman is Italian, but she certainly was photographable on her "walk" across the square.


You can't be in Paris and not notice the Eiffel Tower, but here, my attention is actually on the couple: her brilliant coat could be seen at a great distance and up close, she is equally striking.


My one venture into the world of Parisian museums is half hearted at best. I go to the Rodin Museum, just for the garden. It counts! It has his sculptures throughout!



Ah, the Tower again...


Out on the street once more, I am reminded that rains come and go in Paris and even a wet forecast can turn out to be a false alarm. Today, I never needed an umbrella, which is a good thing, because I didn't have one. I also want to note that for me, the skies are very much part of the Parisian landscape. Because the buildings don't reach great heights, you're aware of the sky and it adds elements of the ephemeral to the grand structures along the boulevards.


Shouldn't I break for lunch? Everyone eats something on a Sunday afternoon! But I can only handle one big meal and that's already set for the evening. My inspired choice for a midday pause is the cafe I often use for my breakfasts when they are not included in the price of the room -- Les Editeurs.

colorful attire

my spry waiter

Here's an odd thing! The grandma I saw yesterday? She's back and this time she is marching her little enfant right past my table! She looks formidable once again, but the enfant looks none the worse for it.


A French person would look at my cafe food selection and scoff at the label "lunch," but the waiter treats it seriously, placing crisp linens on my table and providing ever the attentive service -- all for a piece of camembert and a glass of rose.


Well, not only that. I break down and order dessert, which has to be my very favorite combination: lots of red berries with a boule of ice cream and meringue.


A cup of espresso and I am satisfied! I walk past numerous other cafes of course -- they're all bustling. In this next one, I have to wonder: did the man with the dog drive up on a motorcycle as well?


At the Odeon Square, the atmosphere is a little calmer. Nevertheless, it's lovely to walk this way. I take it in, one last time I take it all in...


And now I'm in the Luxembourg Gardens. My quintessential Parisian Sunday will always include this park. And today, of course, the flower beds are at their prime.




A time for reflection. For thinking about those you love. (I do a lot of both.)


Evening. I am so happy to take my friends to my very favorite dining spot in the city.

At Pouic Pouic, a dinner is always exciting and very fresh and very honest.


Anissa, the affable manager, confirms that they indeed have a new chef in charge of the kitchen. Benjamin has impeccable credentials, but will the dining experience change? Will it tilt in a different direction?


No, it's all great. His innovations are terrific and we enjoy every last bite -- from appetizer to dessert.

sardines, leek, chorizo

cherries, mascarpone

And that's it.

Diane and I spend a few more hours chatting in the hotel lobby, over a glass of rose wine. But it really is just a dusting of reflection on a trip that had plenty of good solid blocks of talk throughout.

And the next morning, I'm out by 6:30. Stepping onto the sidewalk, I feel the wetness of a light drizzle. It's the first time this entire trip that I'm feeling the need to walk briskly to avoid getting wet. I've had plenty of bad weather days during my years of travel and I tell myself I don't care when the rains or snows come down, but of course, it is so very comfortable to have the winds of good weather on your back. We had those winds this time every single day.

And yet, the wetness looks beautiful here, by the Luxembourg Gardens. Or is it that a summer morning in Paris looks good? This is the week when many (most?) come back from vacation. But the day is still light, the air is still warm and the rain merely freshens up the streets and sidewalks for us.


The commuter train comes, everything is on time, I eat my airport breakfast...


And I'm off. To Detroit then Madison. Home. I'm going home.