Sunday, September 30, 2012


Sunday morning. When I think that last week at this time I was breathing deep sighs of relief, knowing that my daughter had just survived (with great joy and merriment) her wedding ceremonies, I want to say -- my, how time changes things. Today, by comparison, was so placid. Like a day with only a muted breeze and no fires raging. A fall day, where you had to look hard to find blooms that are still going strong.

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Sunday afternoon. I know that you sign up for yoga to practice the exercise of yoga (and I did sign up -- after a trial month, for a whole year of it), but I have to say, I do like this about my new yoga studio: the woman who owns and runs it strives for community. In the same way that her neighbor down the block -- Paul at the Oasis Cafe -- strives for the same. And I like that. Oh, go ahead and tell me that I'm a sap for community because I do not belong to a church and that I'm merely looking for ways to fill a void.  Yes, tell me that we all function in a spiritless world and it's our own fault.

Eh, I won't agree. for the most part, I like my world of quiet at the farmette. I like interrupting it occasionally with people, but if that doesn't happen for a period of time (daughters excepted), I'll be okay with it. But, whatever my own needs are in this regard, I do like it when people try to create a space for the local souls to crawl to, a space where someone will at the very least remember their name. 

So, after the usual house cleaning and garden admiration and adoration spell…

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…I go to my Sunday yoga class and I sink deeply into the idea that I am not just stretching this way and that, but I am also reaching out to some form of humanity that is there for all of us to share.

After class, a fellow classmate says -- I wish I had had yoga when my kids were younger… I would have been a calmer parent… I nod in what I hope is a supportive gesture, but I don't really think she  is correct. We are who we are. Impatience does not erase itself in yoga classes.

Nonetheless, it surely feels good to stretch, strain and balance and think about something other than the tasks that await you in the week ahead.

In other news, Ed is truly almost healed. Not only did he join me for a modicum of breakfast…

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…but, too, we went out to play tennis together: nothing grand, just twenty minutes of back and forth at the local park, but we hadn't done it since before he was stricken with the Mystery Fever and it was grand to hear him making fun of my game again.

Sunday evening. When I return from yoga, I find him up on the ladder, working bravely to replace the rotted wood over the dormer window. This project has been excruciatingly difficult -- he hasn't the equipment nor the neck muscles to do it quickly and to his satisfaction. But, he is back at it. If he doesn't topple and crack his spine then I will truly believe that he is with us again, well and moving forward -- though in a somewhat thinner frame.

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Supper? Well now, if you had the last tomatoes ripening still on your mudroom floor, what would you do? Of course! Cook up more chili, add it to the old chili and serve it again and again and again. Including, in a fortified version, tonight.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Yoga in the morning. (To my commenter -- I wouldn't do it nearly as well if I were to do it alone. Being with a good teacher is really motivating. I hope that this will remain true for the year.)

The ride on Rosie is brilliant. A stunning warm breeze, a prairie to the west, to the north…


Then, after yoga, I glance at my computer. Email, then the NY Times. Ohhhhh...

A pause for reflection.

I came to live in the States as an adult (if you can call 18 adult) because of the goodness of a person who died today. I was an au pair to his little girl. I learned through him and his wife how to transition from Warsaw to New York again. I came with barely a flight bag full of clothes and possessions and joined a household that had a staff of helpers and an extended family of cousins, aunts, nephews -- all intensely close, bonded in ways that history sometimes bonds people because of unusual circumstances. That I was treated kindly is such an understatement that I can't even quite say it. The father of my charge will always in my mind be the person who liked nothing better than to drive away from the city, to the country home, fire up the grill and throw some meats for an evening supper with just his little girl, his wife and the aupair from Poland. After dinner, he and I would clean up in the kitchen and if I learned how to wipe down every last inch of counterspace it was because he taught me well. He was too kind for words and his little girl was just like him, making my au pair duties about the easiest that could be.

So, my thoughts are very much with the kids he leaves behind. Kids… How oddly stated! Kids. We were that once.

In the afternoon, Ed and I had an appointment with our village version of the Antiques Roadshow. Ed inherited a bit of folk art from his parents. Wooden garden statues that he finds quirky fun and I find kind of scary. Ed once suggested we put them in the mudroom, but the marble eyes just don't inspire trust and friendliness, so they lie buried in the basement collecting dust.

At the Roadshow, the wooden statues were a hit. Of course they were! Compare them to the standard piece of jewelry your aunt gave you for your graduation or the crystal bowl you found in your grandma's attic. There's color in the busty pose and the spiked heels of the girl and the crooked teeth and broken toes of the guy doll. I told the audience I wasn't a fan of either, Ed said he was and the appraiser sided with him and though we weren't holding a fortune in our arms, we certainly were told that we should be good and proud of the old yard dolls. Okay. We're proud. Back to the basement they go after their moment of glory.

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Still later, my girl, the one who is married now (!), took her old mom and, too, the traveling companion of mom to one of our favorite places  -- Indian Lake.

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If you know this county park...

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... you'll understand how beautiful it is right now.

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Utterly beautiful.

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Wistfully, sometimes very wistfully so.

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Friday, September 28, 2012


Friday. Breakfast alone. (Ed has his tech design meeting too early for us to linger in the nook together.)

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Work at home. With Isis showing off his sweet side.

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...and with occasional moments outdoors. Because it really is beautiful out there.

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Evening watering. It's easy to neglect plants when you think they're almost at the end of their blooming period. And yet, you can't. Feeding and watering them now will make for a happier spring. Spring! Oh my, only six months away!

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Just before dusk, I go to a yoga class. I don't like to do this at the end of the day, but I so want to resume the routine of it, before my "unlimited yoga" month runs out. So that I can decide this weekend if I want to commit to a whole year of opening my heart to the heavens above (think: fish pose).

The sun has set by the time I ride home. The sky still holds on to the pink hues -- as if it can't quite move on.

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We're two days short of a full moon, but hey! it surely looks radiantly full!

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At home, I make soup. Yes, tomato. With beans. So I suppose you could call it a chili.

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And there you have it. That was the day. It was quiet and familiar -- as if we never took a break from the calmness of our life here, at the farmette. (There are plenty of smiles when we click into that gentle sail through the day) As if I can almost believe that Ed is well again, albeit a good many pounds leaner. A day when we again can talk about maybe doing this, maybe that in future months. A good day.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

might there come a day...

...when I wont have even a photo from the day to offer you here?

No, impossible. There is always breakfast.

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(Yes, one reason for taking breakfast photos is because some day the buck may stop there. Like today?)

And still, this day was awfully full. On campus from 9 until 8 and this after a night of Isis movements. The darn cat was supposed to stay out of my hair (or more accurately, his hair was to stay out of my bedroom) on nights before heavy teaching days, but somehow that rule mutated into something that doesn't resemble much of a rule anymore. Last night, frustrated with finding a cat exactly in the place where I was about to plunk down and exhale, I went to the guest Lemon Room and closed the door behind me. Until Ed came over and threatened to stay there with me all night. That didn't seem right: Isis gets the queen bed and we get the little double? And then I'll have to launder the sheets in the Lemon Room? So, more work, while the cat gently sleeps?

After that, the night was fairly calm. Isis went out once or twice, Ed was downstairs and upstairs once or twice and the chipmunks played crazy games just outside the front door (they're digging up holes close to the house, presumably because it's warmer there) until Ed put a big pillow over the doorbell chimes to mute their annoying call.

And then it was morning.

Ed tells me that I don't smile nearly enough and I try hard to consider the truthfulness of  this from his perspective. And here's my conclusion: our periods of overlap aren't smiling times. In the morning, when I am in a hurry. In the evening where I am either cooking or working or watching something on the screen while he is sleeping by me. In the middle of the night when Isis fusses. I tell you -- they're not guffaw moments. I promise him I'll do better on the weekend.

In the meantime, I rev up Rosie for the return ride home -- so much calmer than the mad dash this morning when I was running late. I thoroughly enjoy the breeze in the still of the darkening evening. Just enough wind to clear the mind and relax that muscle, so that the grin has an easier time making its way to the surface. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Since Ed hasn't been up for tennis following his bout of whatever it is that he was bouting with and since I haven't the proper hours to scoot to yoga, that recent feeling of strength and flexibility from past weeks has receded. Lethargy is like an invasive plant that you can't control: it spreads quickly, to every muscle, every pore, so that before you know it, you are the quintessential baked Idaho on the sofa, the sloth that dangles but never goes anywhere, the bear that's just discovered it's favorite lair.

Fearing a rapid decline into nothingness, I forced myself this morning to get out of the house much earlier so that I could bike to work. Only the second time this school year. (I do offer this excuse: biking is an hour each way. Rosie is less than half that.)

It was a gorgeous day for it. From the very first sunny minute (at the breakfast table of course).


It's not porch eating weather anymore, but had we been out on the porch, we would have been assailed by the brilliance of the day.


On the ride in, I had to pause. I mean, the spent golden world looks mighty good against that richly blue sky.


The lakes are ripply, the wind picks up here and there -- all in all, I feel strong and able out on the bike again.


After work, I pedal home. Leisurely. You can't rush at the end of a day. For one thing, you haven't the oomph to rush anything.


Ed had been working on the rotted wood in the overhang in the west dormer. After, he hides under a quilt that I keep on the couch for the likes of him. And under Isis.


He has enough strength for one last Wednesday night bike ride for the year, but not a penny more. At home, he leans back in tired half sleep. We'll see how bouncy he is in the days ahead. I'll settle for a wimpy bounce. So that I quit worrying about that lovely but tired face of his.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

then there's Tuesday

How does a day become so terribly unremarkable so quickly? And maybe 'unremarkable' isn't such a good word here anyway, because it is also true that I am absolutely swamped. Smothered in tasks. So that, for example, the goal I had set for myself this summer -- of editing my book project at least one day each week -- seems kind of funny. I'll be lucky if I get to throw in laundry into the washer one day each week.

Of course, some of the unremarkable routines are priceless. Like the breakfast one, now in the new breakfast nook.

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And here's a good bit of luck: the weather is on the upswing again. Today it was sunny and, by afternoon, 80 degrees outside. (I know, I know -- a tiny bit off schedule.) I ride Rosie to work and back twice today and each ride is spectacular.

But hey, when did the cornfields turn yellow? Was it when I was preoccupied with thoughts of the wedding?

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I come back to the farmhouse for lunch. I have a window of time and I want the quiet of our farmette for that.

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I promptly fall asleep. I never nap in the afternoon. Never. Today I napped.

Later, I am back on campus and in the evening I continue in my string of meals away from home -- this time it's pizza with my students.

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By the time I ride Rosie back to the farmette, it's dark. Which simply reminds me that it sure gets dark early now. Unlike, say in June…

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There are swarms of box elder bugs flying around now, somewhat madly it seems. There is always a certain madness to life in the last warm days of the year. I know that. And I'm fine with it. Just as soon as I get used to this different set of routines -- at once busier and yet less intense.

As a post scriptum, I just wanted to say thank you so very much for all the beautiful comments and notes I received from you on the occasion of my daughter's wedding. It's hard to express gratitude well. I always feel like I'm using words that have been spoken a million times and non too cleverly at that, but just know that it was so sweetly uplifting to hear from you all. So thank you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

the days after

Wherever I look, I see signs of this past weekend.

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I couldn't bear to abandon the wedding flowers and so I grabbed a bunch to take home.

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Oh, and my absolutely sweet nosegay of prairie flowers that I wore Saturday. Placed now by the market honey bears. And one of the postcards adorning the table.

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And since I did get a comment here saying that there's no photo of me in my Mother of the Bride dress, I asked Diane to share hers on Ocean. So, here's me, walking down the aisle with the New York film director (wink inserted here) who shuns formal wear. My glittery Zappos shoes you will have seen in an earlier post. They match the antiqued stones on the Crew dress (coincidentally). Hours of shopping cut back to a fifteen minute session on the Internet.

photo by dianalouisa

Events don't usually linger with me in this way. But of course, this is so different. You could say not much changes after a marriage (if you've already shared a residence, or vacation, or trauma, or even a boring afternoon with not much going on). And yet, because of the way we've organized our social world, our family lives, the way we go about structuring our future -- the act of marriage does make things feel very different. I can see this even more now, with my daughter's wedding,  than when I myself married. I was twenty-three then -- an age that doesn't predispose one (certainly me) to think much about, say, setting up a retirement account. Of course, people don't need marriage to feel intimately connected to their partner, but for those who can and do choose to go the marriage route, I think the 'after' stands in stark contrast to the 'before.'

There is, too, a more practical reason why things are still lingering in my head. They say a Polish wedding lasts forever -- well, now, this American one has spanned three days: from rehearsal celebrations on Friday to the full day of festivities on Saturday, culminating with the post wedding Sunday brunch that her dad and I threw for the out-of-town guests and the wedding party. So yes, today you get more pictures of people, faces of loved ones, against the backdrop of the downtown Merchant -- an eatery that opened its doors for our group and prepared market omelets to order, brioche french toast, machaca burritos, pastries and who knows what else. Oh, I know what else -- mean bloody marys and some of the best secret recipe mimosas ever. With sunshine, yes, sunshine streaming in the lovely old room.

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And so here we go again, this time we're enjoying a post-wedding brunch:

First, let's take a look at the bloody marys -- the drink of choice for much of the younger set.

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To the omelet station next. Protein!

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And then a blur of other foods.

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It's easy to move between tables. For a while, my girl's college friends (everyone of them now living either very east or very west of Madison) convened with her for what must be a familiar routine of chatting around a table.

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Others sat, moved around, refilled plates of food...

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... or just lingered in one place or another -- and by the way, isn't it curious that if one person stands in a certain pose, others will follow? May I present the crossed-arm threesome:

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It was, for me, a time to sit back a little with my out-of-town friends.

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These are easily the most tranquil times. Nothing can go wrong anymore. Not here, not now...

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...because there's always a hug waiting for you if things get to be a bit hectic. Here are Mr. & Mrs.:

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I asked my friend to take this next photo -- of my girls and their guys, towering over me on the path of life  (which is as it should be).

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And it's over. After? -- you ask. Well, we have just a wedding trickle left. Sunday evening, my own out-of-town friends and I gather with the family of one of them and I slowly unwind. Someone else is worrying about food, about presentations, not me, not me.  Heirlooms… plum cobbler…

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And, too, my older girl's friend from New York is still in town, so that on Monday evening I'm downtown again, eating with her (and, too, the Mr. and Mrs.):

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But, work is again starting to dominate. Even at the farmette, though here, the routines are always charming and always with an eye toward where the sunshine can help us along. (Consider Ed's latest project  -- of creating a roaming breakfast nook that takes maximal advantage of the position of the sun, especially in wintertime. For the next few months, for instance, we'll be eating our morning meal here and do notice the two bridesmaid bouquets hung out to dry.)

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So, this morning's breakfast:

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And, too, I have to return today to some modest amount of garden watering. It has to be done. The flowers -- they need someone to care for the roots, so that the plants will  bloom repeatedly in years to come.  (While Farmer Lee, in the meantime,  plants garlic out back.)

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But I struggle in getting myself to think forward rather than back. I force myself to remember that really, weddings are there to set the stage for the future and it seems like cheating to be so wrapped up in the recollections that are so much about the merriment of it all. 

And still, it was a hell of a good bit of merriment! No question -- one color-filled weekend of great moments that stick with you, wel,l really --  forever.