Friday, February 28, 2014


I have heard that when you return to your childhood home as an adult, a part of you slips right into a pattern of thought and feeling that you had while living there. You are, to a degree, a kid again.

Well it's the same for cities, no? If you grew up in Milwaukee and then move elsewhere, surely a return will put you right back into your childhood shoes?

I feel that way about Warsaw. Each time I come back, it's as if I am a teen again, with all the angst and worry and rush that is so characteristic of being, say, fifteen. Because Warsaw is for me my coming of age. My eye opener. My adolescence.

And here's another complicated element to this: Polish people love their Poland. I've said this before: even when they leave, they come back. Again and again They can't let go. The saying goes -- you leave to earn your money elsewhere, you come back to spend it in Poland.

I didn't do that: I never really came back (even though, arguably, I keep returning, but as my sister will point out -- for very very brief spurts). And yet, I am no different. I am, for better, for worse, as deeply rooted in this place as all those who flock back to make their home here again.

Breakfast. Oatmeal! Kefir! Honey! It must be in our genes to like this stuff day in and day out.


Then a morning of walking. Our legal matters aren't until the afternoon. So my sister and I take the metro to city center -- the neighborhood where we grew up -- and we walk. (To the commenter who is, not surprisingly confused -- my sister lives in Poland and in Sweden. Same sister. A year older than me.)

We're not without destination. We have our favorite places -- ones that are so familiar that they scream childhood! at every step. It's a cold morning: misty and damp, just above freezing, but as always -- much colder if you take the perspective of how your bones are taking it in. So very soon, as soon as we get to this short block...


...I suggest a pause for coffee (and apple raspberry cake!).


What's so special about the block? To you -- nothing. But know this -- it's one of the few untouched by the new wave of construction. The cafe guy, half our age...


...tells us -- it's authentically from right after the war! And we smile at that. Meaning from our era. Because we are authentically from right after the war.

The block has a new set of shops and cafes opening and they're all young, in their age and in their scope. They aren't the old Poland, not even the newer old Poland (our Poland). They want something more than just another handful of western imitations. They want it to be edgy. A statement of a Warsaw neighborhood. Of community. A gathering place, the whole block long.

It will help when they make this block totally pedestrian.
They're doing that? -- we ask, surprised. It's rare to have traffic banned on the streets of central Warsaw.
Yes! It turned out a resident here was school friends with the wife of the president and she was complaining that this lovely block is so dead, so in need of revitalization and boom! Next thing we hear is that they're going to do improvements. No more cars, just a space for people!

We continue on our walk. Each block triggers a comment. A comparison. A memory. Take this poster: an English add -- "we love fashion!" -- with a reference to a favorite square (Plac Unii).


And speaking of favorite squares in central Warsaw: this one! Why? Well, it's equidistant (two blocks) from where I lived as a preschooler and where I lived as a high-schooler. Besides, the bold, brazen statement is somehow comforting. This is Warsaw. We can be big. We can grow from ruins.


It continues to be misty cold, but by the time we reach the Stalinist era Palace of Culture, the sun is just beginning to throw us a bit of pale light. Do note the modern stuff that has sprung up, as if to overpower this monument to a not so distant past. My sister tells me there's too little urban planning in Warsaw. I have to say, it surely looks like that here. Go ahead and like the Palace of Culture, or hate it, bulldoze it, leave it, but if you leave it, incorporate it into an entirety! Don't pretend it can stand in the shadows of towering office buildings. It can't. It's not a building that can stand in the shadow of anything. Perhaps Stalin new that when he gifted it to our city.


We have our hearing now and it goes according to plan and now we can check off one more box and get set to face the next one and the one after -- all in an effort to really undo years of neglect with respect to me, my Polishness and my current desire to remain a resident of my second home country -- the States.

But for now -- done. And so we walk to New Town slash Old Town and I wont give you the history of these streets because each time I'm in Warsaw I come here and I give you some history and by now this surely is becoming repetitive and so just relax and think of it as an exceptionally beautiful part of Warsaw, because it is that.


Especially in the fast approaching dusk and especially as you come close to Castle Square.


Further into the belly of the Old Town, on the Market Square we find a winter ice rink! No no no! I do not rent skates! Done that, with poor consequences. This time I just watch.


There's a special folk craft store on the Square that I especially like. I don't buy anything. I just like to look. I'll show you just two  things of note: the Polish folk costume and one of the many many wooden carvings for purchase (hi Isis!).



And now it's getting darker and, therefore, colder. Just at freezing, but it feels like maybe it's more wintry than that. Despite the fact that it is, after all, the last day of February.


We take the subway to my sister's neighborhood and there we stop at a jazz bar with food. It'll be the one day I eat pierogi. With sauerkraut and mushroom, covered in chanterelles and cream. I know. Honestly Polish.


We come home and I plug in her Internet -- on and off, on and off (it's a portable device and I try to use it sparingly). Load photos. Write post. Load post. All the time chatting with my sister about the Warsaw of now. The creative young talent here -- so abundant, more visible than perhaps in other European city. It can't be that Poles are born thinking edgy artsy thoughts. It surely has more to do with the fact that for hundreds of years we have been a history of forced adaptation. Radical change, invasion, destruction, rebirth, destruction, rebirth, rebirth, about face... You can't grow complacent in life when you're forced to recreate life for yourself, your loved ones again and again and again.

I'm tired. Worn out from little sleep and from all the walking, the jumping back and forth between then and now. But it's a healthy tired. Not the tired that comes from standing still --  rather, the one that comes with movement. The one that will surely keep me awake again tonight.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tłusty czwartek

The French do it. Germans do it. Heck, even the Hungarians do it. Certainly the Poles do it: on a cold bleak day in February, they stuff themselves silly with sweet breads, rich pastry, and in Poland -- with pączki (pronounced "pawn-chkee"). Much of northern Europe celebrates this caloric indulgence on the last Thursday (not Tuesday!) before Lent. Hence the name in the title of the post (in Polish) -- Fat Thursday.

People in America look at photos of pączki and say -- ah, doughnuts. Big deal, we do those as well.

Oh no you don't! I have never had pączki in the States that come even close to the real thing. A student once carted some for me all the way from Milwaukee -- a hotbed of Polish tradition. I smiled politely and thanked him for it but the verdict was once again: not even close.

To do pączki right you have to use rich, egg filled batter, you have to insert rose hip jam (plum jam will do, but purists would scoff), and you have to glaze the finished product with a glaze, flavored with bits of orange rind.

Like this:


My sister asked me if I was up for pączki, given that I was arriving in Warsaw on Fat Thursday and you know, I would be up for this even if it was lean Wednesday or skinny Monday. I absolutely love these guys, all the more so because Americans will replicate a mille feuille and they can, these days, put forth a decent pain au chocolat or a baguette, but they can't get pączki right and so you have to travel back to your home country (if your home country is Poland) to eat them.

I'm in Poland.

It was again the kind of trip that you hope for. Every leg was easy, smooth, without delays. The bus ride to Chicago gave me time to float between reading and dreaming. The flight from Chicago to Detroit was quick and beautiful.

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The connection in Detroit -- just the right amount of time. And the long flight, to Paris? A breeze. Quite literally: the tail wind was so strong that I think no fuel was required. We arrived almost an hour ahead of schedule.

Perhaps the biggest glitch was the layover in Paris. At four hours, I have to admit, it felt long. But the food was good, my book (one of your recommendations!) engrossing and honestly, I did enjoy how unhurried it all seemed. Enough time to wash your face and twiddle your thumbs. And sometimes, that's a good thing.

Then to Warsaw where the high is 50 degrees as opposed to Madison's 5.

With my sister steering me, we shuttled over to her Warsaw home. Where we ate (she cooked veggies)...


...then we sat down to the real stuff -- pączki.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

take off

Let me explain the trip that begins for me today. Because it's not one of my usual "I just want so much to travel!" events. There's more to it, so it's best to give some hint to the reasons behind it.

Some of you may remember that my father passed away last March. And, too, maybe you followed my slow progress at clarifying my Polish citizenship status afterwards. Perhaps you thought all these matters were resolved -- that many of the difficulties of last spring fell to the wayside.

Well not entirely. For any number of reasons it is not easy to have a parent die in a country across the ocean from where you live. It is at once an event of such finality and at the same time an event that leads you down a maze of complicated new twists and turns. One such twist takes place in Warsaw this Friday: it's the date set for a court hearing in the matter of my father's various and sundry possessions. Small stuff, yet, as perhaps always in situations of scattered family and allegiances, not easy to reshuffle now.

At first I wasn't going to attend. My sister has been on board with handling all things that require a Polish presence. And yet, quite recently, I decided I should be there.

The hearing is perhaps only a pretext. I haven't been in Poland since my dad died. The annual visits have lapsed. And, as per his wishes, there was no funeral, no commemorative service to attend.

And so I think of this as a time for me to go back and take stock of all of my Polishness as it exists now that I no longer have a parent living there.

I'll be in Warsaw for three days, staying with my sister. And then, she'll return to her home in Sweden and I'll take a little pause, outside of Poland. In places where I can take some good long walks, where I can read books and maybe do some writing. And then I'll be back in Warsaw, for another set of three days -- ones that will be less about transitions and more about just being in Warsaw again. There are friends to see, parks to walk through, solitary moments to be had. That's my book-end stay. My other slice of bread that is this sandwich of a trip.

So that's my next three weeks for you. Poland, then not Poland, then Poland again.

I have, of course, travel today and tomorrow. Right after breakfast. Bye, Ed. Sniff.

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As always -- I apologize in advance for any blogging disruptions. Despite our growing connectedness, it still can be a challenge to find a line to the Internet.

Onwards and upwards! I'm off!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

old habits

It was crowded in bed last night: there were the two of us, then the new bed for Isis (to get him used to it), then quite separately -- Isis (who refused to even step into his new quarters). I felt like we were on a vessel in the middle of a vast sea and no one wanted to abandon ship. We all clung to our old spots and the night hobbled along and eventually it was morning.

This was the day to finish house cleaning. Okay. Done.  So breakfast is late. (It's impossible to imagine doing something so unpleasant as house cleaning after breakfast. Our habit is always to do it before.)

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And since I'm leaving tomorrow, I have a list of things to do, of course, that's always the way it is. But I do none of it. Instead, Ed and I go skiing.

Not our usual cross country skiing. Not that. The trail snow is unpleasant right now -- solid ice in places. And, too, it is the beginning of the next vortex. The high today is only 12 around these parts. And falling.

And yet, despite the frigid air we decide to head out to Tyrol Basin (a 35 minute drive from the farmette) for a downhill skiing experience. The snow base there is solid and on Tuesdays they have a super special -- a mere $12 for all day skiing and as much for rentals.

There was a time (around age 18) that I wanted to be a racer. I loved the thrill of downhill! Loved it! Until one day, the weather was awful, and I was cold all day on the slopes, and I understood that I was, in fact, only a fair weather skier. Not committed enough to ski on days that were in anyway suboptimal.

And then I didn't ski at all. I went back to it once, seven years ago, for old times sake, but it was expensive and I got banged up by someone running into me and I thought -- enough. I'm too old for this.

Until today. Ed's been itching to try it and even though we have this polar thing sweeping down upon us, the sun is out and I am up for it.

And I have this to say: I am so proud of us!

I'm proud of myself because I calmed down on the slopes. I did not speed down at a hellish pace. I took it easy. I was, at all times, in control.

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I'm proud of both of us because (and this is a first for me) we wore helmets.

But I am especially proud of my guy up there on the slope because, well, he is 63 and not many that age would take on downhill skiing. Especially on a polar vortex day, especially on icy snow, especially when the GF is shouting instructions left and right.

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He improved so phenomenally that strangers came up to him to give him a pat on the back.

Of course, it is a regular school day and a cold one at that, so the slopes are empty. Empty lifts, empty runs and sunshine in our faces. I have to say, I remembered why there was a time that I loved skiing so much!

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On the way home, we make a few stops. Wonderful pauses -- first at a local chocolatier and then, finally, we come back to Paul's Cafe, where we have pickles and snacks and it is indeed like old times --  when we used to stop by daily, when we felt that this was nearly our second home.

And now we're home. I look out the kitchen window and I see that the deer herd has come back. They didn't even wait until dusk! They're so used to raiding my flower bed -- this is their fast food place now.

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This time I don't hesitate. Scoot, you guys! 

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Evening. A lovely time at the farmhouse. We talk about planting the spring garden. Ed will be starting his seed bed soon. I look over catalogs in search of new ideas for existing flower beds.

I know Ed is keen to remind me of all the wonderful things that he and I do at home. It's as if he is saying -- see, this is why I don't want to travel! This is what we do and it's grand, isn't it?  Yes. Absolutely. I don't need reminders. I know I love home.

Even as I am heading out again tomorrow.

Monday, February 24, 2014


In an effort to contain Isis at night, I bought him a very soft little cat bed. It arrived today as Ed was napping upstairs with Isis tightly cradled against his leg. I took it upstairs, placed it in an optimal spot and lifted Isis right up and into it. I admit that was a bit heavy handed on my part, but I mean business here!

Isis promptly took himself right out. I got a quizzical look for my efforts - as in: why did you disturb my resting period?

I went downstairs to think up better strategies for getting him into that unattractive piece of brown cushion (it really has the most somber colors). He followed me and meowed until I found a new can of cat food that would please him. Hey, you woke me up, he tells me, now feed me! And it better be good!

Perhaps I haven't quite clicked into cat psychology. But I have to say, I cannot quite understand why Ed says that caring for a cat is easier than caring for chickens. I mean, chickens don't follow you to bed. They don't hop onto your kitchen table if they smell an appetizing entree. They're out there and you're in here and you don't have to teach them to love a new bed that you purchased for $23 off of Amazon.

It was a cold day and were I staying in Wisconsin for the week before me, I'd be a little annoyed already. A third polar vortex coming? Honestly? In March? But, I'm running away from it and so I can only feel empathy for those I leave behind.

And the rest of the day? Well, at least I have breakfast to show you. In tough times, there's always breakfast here, at the farmette.

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And the blooming orchid!

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And there's the  blue sky -- over the fields of corn to the west of us...

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And, too, I had a tea date with a friend downtown. So yes, I get out and see the world, even on quiet, farmette centered days!

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It's evening now. I made a huge pot of chili: enough for today and tomorrow for the two of us, and for many days after just for Ed. I had coaxed Isis into his new bed and he clocked in a full hour there, so I have hope. Ed and I watch our old beloved Grand Design -- we're onto Season 7, episode 11. This is as regular as our winter days get here. Missing is a day on the trails. In all other ways, we are in our own bubble of a farmette winter.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I am grateful for that blue sky! Truly grateful. All other weather issues pale when I see it. We, up here in the Upper Midwest, are somewhat weather obsessed, especially when people elsewhere begin their annual brag about how spring is almost here. For us, it's not almost here. Not even close. But look up at that sky and you have to smile. We've got cornflower blue!

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Sunday means farmhouse cleaning day, but I only do a half job. I want a clean house when I leave later this week. I'll finish things then. Which means that Sunday breakfast is, for once, not too late.

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And the day stretches before me in such a luxurious fashion that I do something that I haven't done in decades: I pack my little suitcase several days in advance.

Now, I have become a fanatically light packer. A change of clothes, camera, kindle, laptop -- it all could fit into a small backpack. But this time I'm charged with carrying things back and forth between Madison and Warsaw and so my carryon is full before I even pack my essentials. So I have to proceed with care. Because at all costs, I will not send a bag through. Will not will not will not. Ever again.

And even after the laundry is done, dried, folded, and the suitcase is packed, the bathroom sponged clean, kindle loaded with some terrific sounding book recommendations from you and you, even after all that -- the day is still young.

Ed suggests we go to Paoli. It's a hamlet of a place just a dozen miles south of us. In the summer, we would bike to it. Not now. It's cold again and the wind kicks it down to even colder.

Paoli is a curious place: it has several art galeries and a handful of shops that are clearly earmarked for visitors.

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Cheese. Ice cream. ceramics. And -- a store with all things chicken.

Though we're not in Paoli for the shops -- we actually want to climb the Observatory hill just west of here -- we do poke into the chicken shop. It's a lovely place -- with lots of hens and roosters on everything from cloths, cards and pottery to more functional items that you would actually give to chickens. Feed, for example. Roosts. Coops.
Are you here for the chicken lecture? -- we're asked as we enter.
Well now, we know the speaker. If you're into the farm to table movement in these parts, you get to know the players. Sure, we'll stay and listen.

It's a fascinating talk on how to get started in raising chickens. Oh, we're not novices to the idea -- we've considered (and rejected) it before. We always remind ourselves that traveling so much makes it difficult to also raise animals. But hey, if Ed's not traveling anymore, shouldn't we reconsider chickens?

After the chicken talk, we climb up the hill to the back of the village. The wind is bitter. But the views... ah, the views!

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We talk about raising chickens. Ed worries that it's too big a commitment. I can't protest that one. I'm the one traveling all the time.

The chicken project, briefly alive today, falls back down into the "maybe someday" category of projects. A category that we're great at filling with all sorts of ideas.

We drive home. I'm in a hurry. My girl and her husband are here for Sunday supper.

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This in between time -- as I prepare to be away -- is never my favorite. People ask if I get excited about leaving. Well yes, of course, but never on the days just before. Because, as much as I know that I will love waking up elsewhere, leaving people and places that I love is tough.

Still, the sky is blue and the days are longer and spring is around the bend. How cool is that!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

what route to take

A surprisingly busy day keeps me away from many of the usual routines. Sure, there was breakfast.

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...but after, things got rather fast paced. Most of the day is spent working with friends on a trip they'll be taking to Europe later this year. (These are well traveled people, but no matter what your starting point is -- selecting a good itinerary can be a challenge.) In doing this, I thought, of course, a lot about trips I myself would still like to take (there are many). Where to? How often? With what goals for myself? For Ocean?

It's safe to say that a day does not pass when I am not in some way spinning itineraries in my head.

It is a sunny day, but the ice outside makes walking or skiing a low priority and so working over a (standing!) desk feels right. And before I know it, it's dusk and the day is nearly behind me.

I look outside and I see the deer gathering in front of the farmhouse. Whereas a few days ago there were five, tonight there are a dozen. A herd -- Ed says.


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I know if I step outside I will spook them. And so I stay in and I look at them and they look at me...

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Their flight is so unpredictable!

Or is it? When I finally reveal my presence, they scamper off in familiar directions. Along a path well traveled.

Isis comes down, complaining that he hasn't eaten anything good for the past hour and a half! Sorry, Isis. No more distractions. I'm back in the real world now. Come have you portion of kittie chicken supreme.

I turn on the TV and for one last night I watch the Olympic games.

Friday, February 21, 2014


The wind howled all night long. I remind myself that the farmhouse has been standing for one hundred years, solid years of storms and hails and tornadoes. And so it shall stand. But then we hear a big slap of something and I think -- mighty trees have crumbled after years of standing. Why should we assume that we're resilient?

But we are resilient. Or at least the farmhouse is. In the morning, we see fallen limbs scattered throughout, but nothing more than that.

And the wind continued to howl.

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And the puddles are now frozen solid so that if you need a place to skate, may I suggest our looooong driveway?

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Given the fact that I slid off of it with the old Ford just last week (my fault: I was searching around for a good radio program and not paying attention) and landed inches away from the ancient apple tree, Ed had little faith that I would manage to glide out without incident today, but after breakfast...

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...he went to his various meetings, and I went grocery shopping, and apart from being whipped around a bit on my way to the car, I was fine.

In the evening, we go out to dinner. Our promise to each other that this should be a weekly event has been a bust. In fact, this will be our only dinner out in Madison, just the two of us, this entire season. (We haven't done it since returning from Turkey and next week, I'm leaving again, for quite a bit actually -- I'll be back only on the day before spring is officially here.)

We go to our local Italian place. It's not intimate, nor inventive and it's far too committed to Alfredo sauce in any number of its preparations, but  it's close by and we're grateful for that.

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Late into the evening I load my kindle with reading stuff for the weeks ahead of me (I deeply appreciate your suggestions!). I'm not leaving until Wednesday, but somehow retirement has pushed me to be more aware of where I'm going and what I may enjoy doing while away.

And that's a good thing.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

for sale

I have been reluctant to get to this for a long time now: the placing of clutter up for sale. Junk is easy to stick in a trash can. More useful stuff -- discarded clothing, household items -- that, too, you can clear away with donations to Goodwill or other nonprofits. But there is this next layer of stuff -- lamps you no longer need, old cameras that once seemed so brilliant and now are merely old technology, a coffee maker because you no longer drink filtered coffee, the fat suitcase because you no longer travel with a big load.

Ed has been hinting and then out and out nagging for me to Craigslist it all and today we sat down to do just that.

It was at once pathetic (you think anyone would buy that?), silly (honestly?), funny (let's call it "minimalist"), tedious (measure that messenger bag carefully!) and most of all --  time consuming. We spend the entire day photographing, describing and finally listing some fifteen items.

And the phone has yet to ring.

Still, if ever we are in agreement, it is over this: the farmhouse is much improved by the elimination of stuff.

Before all this, there was, of course, breakfast. A bit fast and a little edgy.

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Surely the distressing weather of rain, sleet and thunder could have contributed to the tenor of conversation. Just to give you a feel for it:
...Is what you said true?
I wont answer that.
Why not?
Because it's a dumb question.

No it's not. Is it true?

Are you sure?
See? You don't really believe it anyway. No answer is satisfactory.

And so on.

But as we attacked my clutter (two lamps, people, I have two lamps, one backpack, one messenger bag and one suitcase for sale! And more, there's more!) the mood brightened. It feels good to offload stuff. Or at least to begin the process of offloading stuff.
So I have to respond to calls as you go off on your travels?
You could travel with me instead...

I'll just tell them I don't know anything about any of it and they can just look and decide...
That's another way to proceed...

And the outdoors? Did we take it in at all today? Well, the weather stayed on the bad side of awful, to be made worse this weekend as we prepare ourselves for -- guess what? Another polar vortex!

Isis, on the other hand, presented a more chipper story:  that dear boy found a new love -- my smashed tail bone cushion. It's a good thing that I don't need it so much anymore.

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Finally -- the evening meal: I ate it with my work neighbors and friends -- half of them retired, half still chuggin' along. Me, I'm thinking how really lucky I am to have had a whole day with nothing more pressing to do then to post clutter for sale.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

bits and pieces of nostalgia

Ed comes in after an evening of project work at the sheep shed. I'm nearly asleep. He recites: there's freezing rain, a handful of deer are grazing in your flower bed, and we caught another mouse.
Our routine is the same: he places a rubber band around the trap and leaves it in the mud room for release the next day.

Ah, good old days when I could wake up and count on the mouse being there the next morning, waiting for our release! This little guy was apparently a mighty mouse because when I do my morning rounds, I find that he's pushed the panel open and he's gone gone gone. Let's hope outside. I set up the trap afresh, with more nut butter to tempt him back again the next night.

I have an appointment at the other side of town this morning. I'm finally following advice and checking on my shattered (that's my take on it) tail bone. But by the time of the appointment, I know that I've turned the corner. It's like one of those cartoons where you tear a piece of paper to tiny bits and then you reverse the clip and watch it come back together into an entire sheet again. My tail bone is getting close to being an entire sheet.

So yes, after breakfast...

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(Oh, you notice the orchids? Yes! Still going strong!)

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...I do keep my appointment because I do not want the reputation of being a person who cancels at the last minute (Ed: they'd love you for it; me: they'd hate me for it!), but I know I am fine and I tell the doc as much. We then have a lovely conversation about various other parts of the anatomy. As you get older, you can usually find some pesky issue to discuss with your primary physician at any day of the year.

But I am done early and so I drive to La Baguette -- our lovely French bakery which is far too distant to frequent on a regular basis (and that's a good thing!), but which is just super for a treat on a trip to that side of town.

I admire the mille feuille (Napoleon) and think nostalgically to days when Ed would go to pastry shops in France with me and always, always come home with a mille feuille. Sigh...

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Then, so long as I'm dwelling on the past, I notice that I am just across the street from one of our few remaining bookstores (Barnes & Noble) in town. I pull up and go inside.

And I am flooded with nostalgia! I haven't shopped for a book in a physical store in years! I mean, many years! How wonderful it was to spend hours in these stores once, with their tables of temptation, their rows and rows of good titles!

I miss those times.

(To the wonderful commenter who asked what I like to read these days -- wow, that question stopped me short. I'm such a fan of essays and so my New Yorker sits on top of any book pile.  I love autobiography or biography and I'm a sucker for a good mystery. And contemporary fiction, of course, but it has to be really good, because otherwise it'll be pushed out by the rest.)

So I walk the book isles and you'd think I'd be tempted to pick something, but instead I do the unpardonable thing of just taking notes, so that I could consider additions to my Kindle or put a hold through the public library. I am the one who has put bookstores out of business! I am so guilty in this! I used to buy books as readily as some people buy their favorite carbonated beverage and now, here I am, finally in a bookstore, taking notes!

With some degree of guilt I go to the kids book section and I spend at least an hour there, catching up on children's stuff, because it's been so long! I almost buy books for the children of my friends in Poland (I'll be visiting them soon), but then I think-- that's so presumptuous. I am assuming that of course, they should be learning English from birth. I put the books back. Reluctantly. They were such funny, empathetic, beautifully illustrated books! It's as if we want to show kids that anything really is possible, before they find out in their adolescence that it really is not and life sucks for some and not so much for others.

Did I tell you that it was a repeat of a beautiful day today? I mean stellar! Blue skies, temps around forty! Just stellar!

And we went skiing and it was lovely, really outrageously lovely...

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Oh, to lie down and turn my face to the sun!

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Well, I did it, but it was a wet event. (Ed prefers to eat snow. Like a snow cone only without the sugar!)

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In the county park where we ski, we come across two park workers cutting down trees.
Are you making room for another gold course?? I ask, with some degree of panic.
No no, they're ashes.
Well now... My mind immediately flips to my favorite childhood song (The Ash Grove -- a Welsh folk ditty that is beyond delightful).
Haven't you heard? They're all dying. They have The Bug. Not these, but we're taking them down preemptively. Planting something else in their stead.

How sad is that! No more ash groves in our county parks? We are a doomed planet!

But, the sun continues to sparkle on all things around us and Ed and I survey the trees at the farmette and though we did lose some mighty elms (to the elm disease), the rest of our crop is hardy. So far.  If we can keep the deer at bay.

And we're all hardy too, no? We're still spinning in our usual orbit and the sun rises and it sets and cloud or no cloud, I'm pretty sure it will be up tomorrow.

How good is that!

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