Tuesday, June 27, 2017


I've been accused of always chasing the new. Never content to stay in one place, forever reaching for something elusive, speeding my way to the next thing and the one after.

How very inaccurate this is! Listen, a person who eats the same breakfast of oatmeal, kefir and fruit on the porch every single day (much to Ed's amusement) is plenty happy to stay with the tried and true.

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I like repeating things that instill feelings of warmth and contentment. Haven't you noticed how many times I'll go back to the same garden view in my posts, only minutely changed from day to day?

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A person who plants perennials is asking for repeat performances!

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As I warm up in the courtyard sunshine now, looking toward the face of the farmhouse, I smile at the tiered repetitions that I've put in place: always the day lilies at the top (any minute now!), interspersed with a few oddities that give you that needed surprise, followed by the lower tier -- which is varied and colorful, and finally, the lowest level -- the tier of potted annuals with cosmos and nasturtium (soon to bloom!) planted in between.

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None of this do I ever want to change. Oh, I'll put in new flowers in other beds, but the main fields remain firmly in place -- like a Broadway show that keeps on running, season after season. A few cast adjustments as some stars move on, but the essence remains the same.

Snowdrop is not unlike me in this respect. She loves to travel and adapts to the new without any show of discomfort, but in the everyday, she really loves her routines. The stroller, waiting for her after school: she looks for it every single time and on the rare day that it's not there, I better have a good explanation!

We go to the playground and unless there are children claiming space on the structures, she'll want the same swing...

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... the same help with the climb up the pole, the same perch on the life guard chair.

Oh, wait! Today, for the first time, Snowdrop discovers that she can work the bubbly. What good is her newfound skill?? She can't reach the water!

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And though she doesn't require it, Snowdrop surely is happy if I have the same croissant for a snack in the afternoon (followed by maybe a scone bit, but most certainly by the same bowl of fruits).

But we're not just creatures of habit and of course there is the excitement of returning to things you cannot do everyday, but can do on some special days, perfect weather days, summer days. The community swimming pool comes to mind.

It's not so crowded right now, possibly because we're just coming out of a cool spell. But there's plenty of sunshine and Snowdrop is thrilled to be here again.

Oh oh -- that new tankini from Gap? The bottoms are way too big! Snowdrop is a tall girl, but she is slight. I thought size 3 would be great. It's not. The bottoms fall down within a second of being pulled up.

It's good to carry spare panties in your bag. And it's especially good when they match the swim top. Sort of.

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Snowdrop is absolutely ecstatic to be in the water today. I do not know why it strikes her as so perfect right now, but it does and the girl is all squeals and giggles the whole while we are there.

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And she is brave again, "swimming" this way and that way, not minding the splashes and the occasional dunk.

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It is very very hard to get out...

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(Oh, that pool is just so tempting!)

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Afterwards, as I look forward to reading a favorite book with her and then, once she is safely home again  -- to my summer farmhouse Aperol Spritz, to be followed by a supper of those beloved (same old) mushrooms with asparagus and farmette eggs (thanks, Scotch!), I think  perhaps the best days for me are ones that have plenty of beloved repetition. And every once in a while, I break away, just to remind myself that there is a bigger world out there. (And indeed, I'm leaving in a couple of days to do just that.)

Monday, June 26, 2017


Over breakfast, Ed and I have a Very Serious Discussion about tree branches.

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I want to cut back the ones that hang low over our entryway.
We'll get a little light in, which will dry out the walkway and keep down the mosquitoes. (The nasty bugs haven't attacked us yet this year, but I have no doubt they'll be here soon.)
But look at all those lovely leaves! And the nuts!
We never see any of the nuts because the squirrels get to them first. You know that.

In the end, he agrees to climb up on the roof and do some minor trimming. And I mean minor. This then is our morning: mostly talk, little action.

...but with a very pleasant assessment of the garden, as admired on my numerous walks back and forth to the woodpile, where we tend to dispose of cut branches.

(The flowers by our parked cars.)

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(I want the lilium to bloom this week, but the return of cool weather seems to have slowed these trumpets down a bit...)

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One more morning task: throw these two hens off their roosts! Henny has been hanging out in the coop, Java in the garage. They're brooding -- meaning they've stopped laying and they sit without interruption on imagined eggs. Ed will pick them up once a day and plunk them down next to food and water so they wont grow weak. After a few minutes of pecking, they'll both return to their roosts.

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It is a windy day and it is especially nippy when you venture out to the lakeside playground -- which is where Snowdrop wants to go after school. Well okay, just for a few minutes.

But for the little one, it's never "just for a few minutes..." On the upside, she does not object to a pony tail, at least here by the lake, where her hair is constantly blowing over her face.

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A run to the life guard tower...

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A climb up...

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And then (aided by a tiny food bribe), I convince her that it is time to make our way back to the car.

At the farmette, I ask her if she'd like to take a flower walk in the front bed. For some reason, she loves this long stretch of perennials.

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But there's another treat for her today -- the ripening raspberries.

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She is never greedy. Just a few and she is content.

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Once inside, she does remember a different pleasure: can I have some ice cream, gaga? I laugh. She laughs. You can really go back and forth with her like this for a while. She loves to laugh and even more -- to make others laugh.

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This is a child's gift, no? The desire to engage in laughter. Oh, but that we could engage them all, those children of the world... without worry, without indifference.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


As I fiddle around in the kitchen, getting breakfast ready, Ed calls out from the couch -- I'm reading this article about why women tend not to be entrepreneurial...

Are you suggesting I look at it? 
Ed has always laughed at my lack of entrepreneurial spirit. He cannot understand why I don't want to make money off of Ocean, or why I drag my heels with putting out a book, indeed many books, or why I don't buy into the idea that building something for profit can be fun.

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Even though it's a little cool outside, we linger over the morning meal, turning our thoughts to the day ahead. Ed wants to finish clearing the felled tree and, too, he wants to see what damage I did to the tractor-mower. Me -- well, it's time to do a major farmhouse cleaning.
Let me know when you're ready to vacuum - he tells me. And then: Oh, someone's coming by to pick up those motorcycle manuals I put up on Craigslist.

I have two thoughts on this. First, in the matter of vacuuming: though I take responsibility for keeping the house clean (believe me, you would not want to hand over that responsibility to Ed), I have occasionally relinquished the vacuuming to him. Sure, it's not as good as if I did it. So what. It's 30 minutes in my pocket.

My second thought is about those ancient and moldy manuals. Why anyone would want them is beyond me, but Ed was confident that they would sell and months later there is indeed an interested buyer. Ed's success rate in selling stuff on Craigslist hovers at 95% while mine comes in at a dismal below 50%. How does he do it?

As I scrub every corner of the house, Ed pauses in his outdoor work to greet the buyer -- an older guy who has driven here all the way from the Dells (just under two hours) to get the ancient manuals. And I see that this is not going to be a quick pick up. The two of them exchange information about motorcycles, machines, EBay, Craigslist and even when I am done cleaning, I can still hear their voices coming up from the basement. So I vacuum. Thoroughly.

Just when I'm done, Ed comes in from having waved they guy out and down the driveway and asks - why didn't you wait and let me do that?

Because. You'll be wanting to fix yourself lunch now and after, the afternoon will be mostly gone and you wont finish clearing the tree and fixing the mower... But don't worry: vacuuming gave me a chance to think about why women tend not to be entrepreneurial. Maybe I'll read that article after we're done with dinner and I put away the dishes.

He settles in to eat his reheated something or other while I turn my attention to preparing dinner.

And if you picked up from this story the message that I spend too much time on cleaning and tending to meals, well, that's really not so. These days, I don't clean up to my standards of what is a neat and tidy house. It's just one of many many things that I try to get to in the course of the week.

At the end of a day, I am satisfied if I've had time with my family (or sometimes friends) over a good meal in a pleasant setting. And if I've played well with Snowdrop, exhibiting the patience of the calm grandmother. I like thinking ahead to future trips. I'm deeply satisfied if I have had some time to write and yes, Ocean writing does count. I am also happy as a clam (well, more like a butterfly) if the garden is blooming well and if I did something physically demanding. And if Ed and I worked on something together.

Would I be equally satisfied if I put aside much of the above in favor of taking risks and investing time, energy and resources in a venture that might fail?

That's so not me.

Garden walk...

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And on to dinner. Photos will replace text here:

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(Snowdrop, you have a very chocolaty mouth!)

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Dinner done, dishes washed and stacked. The sun has nearly set...

I take Rosie out for a ride.

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Last bit of sun, last minutes of work. Grateful for all that this season delivers.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017


Most of the time, when I go to the farmers market with my daughter and granddaughter, I hardly take any family photos. My mind is on other things: picking foods, maneuvering the stroller, chatting up my girls.

But today is different. I use my camera a lot -- not so much on the foods or vendors, but on Snowdrop and family. Here's why:

It is a brilliant day, though a bit on the cool side. I smile to myself on that one: no need to discuss the terrible harms of wearing a sweater with Snowdrop. (Though even on hot days, it is a pointless discussion. Me: Dear one, it's hot! if you keep the sweater on, you'll feel sweaty and awful! You'll feel ill, I'm sure! Snowdrop: I want my sweater on!) The day is made for little girls who love their sweaters.

Big girls too: Ed and I eat breakfast on the porch and I'm definitely wearing a light cardigan.

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A quick look at the garden...

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And I'm off to the young family's home for our weekly trek to the market.

Snowdrop is out of her bath and ready to go. It appears that baby is coming along with us today!

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(Is it that baby picks up Snowdrop's ready smile, or is it that Snowdrop herself responds to baby's exuberance?)

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We are at the market and out comes my camera. Why? Because we're all here today: Snowdrop, both parents and, too, Snowdrop's other grandma who has arrived for a visit with the little girl. (The four of them are in the photo below.)

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And so once again, my focus at the market changes. Oh, I poke about, picking up the asparagus (last time for the year!) and strawberries (these, too, are nearly done) and onions, mushrooms, and the rest of the market bounty, but mostly, I am enjoying watching Snowdrop's big girl antics.

Pushing the stroller...

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(I can see you upside down, gaga!)

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Resting on a bench, waiting for the rest of us to catch up with her...

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Enjoying this grandma's company...

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And, upon hearing music from a curbside band, dancing.

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Oh, does she dance!

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Want to dance with me, Gaga?

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Listen! The music is starting again! Dance!

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And I do, but honestly, today is a day for watching the little one get just that much older, livelier, attuned to the world around her.

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There are other beautiful aspects to this walk (here's one: the view back to the Capitol)...

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After all, it's never all about grandparenting. On a day like this, the garden beckons.

At this time of the year, the rewards are plentiful. Like all concerned stewards of the land, we work to encourage the monarch butterflies to make this their summer home. Milkweed is a pampered plant at the farmette, sometimes growing in terrifically inappropriate places (typical: in front of the garage where the motorbikes are kept, so that if you want to take one out, you have to wiggle your way around the tall stalks).

But the monarchs don't just look for milkweed. They're enticed by many, many blooms. And today, I am thrilled to see them make numerous forays to our gardens.

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There are other details to admire right now and part of the joy is in catching the expected. I know so many of the pairings too well here! I know that this iris will bloom alongside this achillea. And it does, and when it does -- I'm thrilled.

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And now here's a very welcome surprise: the first raspberries are ripening!  Snowdrop will be thrilled with this seasonal development!

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Toward evening, I do my annual takeover of the plowing/mowing at the farmette. Ed does the month to month maintenance, but I do one massive effort to fill in where I think he has too readily looked the other way.

I don't like working the heavy machinery across the rough terrain and I haven't touched some of the wilder regions of the farmette land since my younger daughter's wedding here three years ago.

But I want to bring back the discussion Ed and I have had about what to do with the overgrown fields out back and one way to do it is to plunge into the thicket of weeds and to take stock.

It is a tough job and (predictably) I break the mower forging through the mess out there. But I've made a dent!

(Working the machine across those fields, I again encounter the butterflies that appear to have settled here. No way will I disturb their homes. Swish! Wiggle and zoom around their favorite flower. Ed! I feel car sick!)

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This is our day then. Of little ones and butterflies. Of dances and ripening raspberries. What's there not to like?