Sunday, May 31, 2015


If you read yesterday's post, you may as well take that text, click the "opposite" button and you'll have my Sunday before you.

Yes, the weather is the culprit again and yet I cannot just point a finger at the skies. It's like blaming forever a bad social studies teacher in eighth grade for your not knowing about the Gettysburg Address. At some point you understand that ultimately, you're steering your own ship.

It was a bit nippy this morning, but the sky is blue, the sun is radiant and so, of course, we eat breakfast on the porch. In jackets, to be sure, but enjoying every moment of it.


After, I complain loudly and repeatedly how hard it is to do major outdoor work with an eye constantly focused on Oreo. Ed thinks the best solution is to lock the rooster in the fenced enclosure that surrounds the coop. The girls can fly out of it, but he cannot. Off off and away!

It is glorious to work without constantly looking over my shoulder! (The hens are, by contrast, totally delightful!)


And work I did. We both did. Major weeding of the raspberries, spot mowing for me and heavy duty mowing for Ed, and, too, a herculean effort to divide and conquer the hostas that had filled in too abundantly in some of my shady flower fields. This is something that is far easier to do when the plants are small, but I hadn't the time then and so I dig them out in their fully extended form and move some dozen or more to the front, under the maples that shade the house along the southern roadside edge of the farmette.

I'm not going to show you photos of hostas. I like them fine, but hostas are hostas and though ours are impressive in size, I have too many of the common variety and too few of the spectacular ones that come in shades of deep green and even blue (and cost a bundle).

You can admire other flowers instead, including the potted annuals...


And, too, the dainty dianthus that cascades down the rock wall.


Or how about the siberian iris? Delicate and proud.


And now we really are in a peony extravaganza -- one after the next is experiencing her best moment.


Our day is exclusively outdoors and the farmette is the better for it.

In the evening -- well that's predictable and wonderful all at the same time: Snowdrop and her parents are here for dinner.



There isn't a better way to end a day.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

a flipped Saturday

Something about this day is skewed in an odd direction.

I blame the weather.

My daughter, granddaughter and I did not go to the downtown market (rain, cold) and so, in fact the entire day passes and I do not see Snowdrop. Oh, I've traveled and missed seeing her then, but when in town, something or other usually puts me at her doorstep. But, today, the parents had plenty on their plate and so a playdate with grandma would have been difficult to fit in and not at all helpful.

Now, an entire day without a scheduled event this year has been so rare that you would think I'd revel in the free time that came with it.

But I come back to the weather (rain, cold).

I don't know if others have had this experience, but once I reached real adulthood (meaning -- turned 50), the last fibers of procrastination (which festered and grew exponantionally during my adolescence and early adulthood) disappeared. Boom! Gone! If it's distasteful, I want to cross it off my list asap. The dreadfulness of something hanging over me became as dreadful as a boozy hangover -- neither was worth the indulgent behavior that lead up to it.

All this to say that by 7:30 a.m., I was up washing the bathroom floor. Some 2.5 hours later, the farmhouse sparkled.

Tomorrow, as the sun comes back for a prolonged visit in the upper Midwest, I will have this chore behind me.

Breakfast -- well, again, it feels oddly flipped. Not only is it too cold for the porch, but Ed has convinced me that with the addition of a patio door, we should slant the table at a slight angle to the wall. He sometimes has clever decorating ideas and so I am willing to give this one a try (even though we don't yet have the much coveted and talked about patio door - it's being custom made to fit the rather high opening that we'll have once we take the window out).

If for years you've eaten around a table standing parallel to the wall, try positioning it at an angle. As Ed commented at breakfast -- it makes you feel a bit seasick, doesn't it?


Outside, the rain continues, in various gradations of strength. I do take a photo of a perennial and you may fault me for the repetition -- it's the blue false indigo -- but the flowers are now richer and fuller and so I cannot resist it.


Less open is the lupine -- but I will post a photo of it as well, because the survival rate of my lupines is at around 50%. I never know if the following morning, a rabbit/deer/groundhog will have discovered this sweet, delicate morsel and have feasted on it for a midnight snack. So, love it now, in its infant stage, because tomorrow it may be gone.


I should have devoted the rest of the day to my Great Writing Project, but I am waiting for a famous author person (Ed's favorite description of someone who regularly publishes) to get back to me about some moving and shifting of the text that we both think would be a good idea and so for now, I am off my writing schedule.

Out of the million and one things I could choose to do on a rainy and cold Saturday afternoon, I surprise myself (and Ed, who chooses not to accompany me) by deciding to go outside to weed our vegetable patch of the ever emergent bindweed. (We must stay on top of it, or else!)

Perhaps it's not everyone's idea of a pleasant time, but our vegetable patch is a special place of calm and quiet. The cheepers never go that far and so Oreo poses no threat. As the rain gently falls, I dig and pull and dig and pull. It is immensely satisfying to cleanse this field of hearty tomatoes and emergent peas and beans! (The melons are doing just fine too!)

It surely is an outlier of a day. But this is, of course, why it is quite special.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Well, Oreo and I are in fight mode again. I come outside, the whole brood of cheepers charges, only with differing intentions. The girls want bread. The rooster wants bread, too, but he would like it to drop out of the heavens rather than from my hand. He doesn't trust me, I don't trust him. Sometimes I fire off a stream of water from my water pistol, as a warning, so that he wont charge at me. He no longer is afraid of it, but it does keep him a comfortable few feet away. But I have to have that pistol poised and ready. Or else? Well, it's hard to predict. And in his unpredictability lies the problem. I always have to be prepared.

I know, I know, I've been down this path before, but each time, the path grows shorter and the conclusion more obvious: the rooster should not free range in a yard where I also tend to free range, or at least freely roam. Ed says I must have been mean to a rooster in my previous life. I tell him I distinctly remember always being kind to chickens and roosters!


We eat breakfast on the porch -- this should be a given by now, the very last days of May, except that tomorrow promises to be cold and wet so I am grateful for this lovely morning of dry and warm.


From the porch, the view onto one of the flower fields is stunning. Here, let me get a bit closer to it:


We linger, but it's Friday, so it isn't as leisurely as I would like. We both have pressing chores to do. Though there's always enough time for a photos of a perennial of the moment! Dianthus. Cottage pinks, though in this case, not very pink!


My visit with Snowdrop today is not ordinary. First of all, because of today's tasks, I go to her later in the afternoon, when she is out walking with her mom. I catch up to them halfway round the lake.


And we play only briefly at her home.


The plan is for me to bring her to the farmhouse and later, much later in the evening, the parents will pick her up from there.

It's a good plan, but just as I settle in to feed her, Ed comes home and she is straining and straining to see him and this (or whatever other baby foible) just doesn't settle well with her tummy and before you know it, we have a number of puddles and messes around us.

Ed cleans up, I give the little one a spontaneous bath and we start again.

And now we pick up a smoother pace and she plays...


... and laughs as if nothing had happened.


Now, you may be tempted to tell me that Snowdrop is changing outfits at the rate of a speed demon. Several things contribute to this: we changed seasons. Then, as if to laugh at our attempts to keep up with her, she changes sizes. She is a tall girl and she no longer conforms to the standard fit. Tonight, of course, the change of clothing was out of baby necessity!


At dusk, the cheepers have retreated to the coop area. Whatever threat of storms there was, has long moved on and the air is warm and deliciously summer-like. I pick up the little one and along with Ed, we visit the veggie bed. All's well there, which is a relief because I came across these visitors in our strawberry patch when I came home with Snowdrop in the afternoon:


Snowdrop really seems to love the few minutes of standing (supported) in the grass now, in the fading light and I'm sure she, too, is impressed with the progress of the peas and tomatoes.

Back at the farmhouse, she dozes off before her parents come. It's not completely dark and yet I still believe she picks up the rhythm of the farmette perfectly: this is the time when we slow down, take in a few deep, sweet breaths, then retire.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thursday: cosmetics

In large scale operations here, at the farmette, I get help from Ed. Tree pruning, heavy duty digging, laying on the wood chips -- he's right there if I need him. Cosmetic changes are my domain. And then there's the stuff in-between.

On this beautiful and warm May day, we eat breakfast on the porch... (Ed! It's ready!)



I admire the exploding peonies...


... and I marvel at how different this landscape is right now as compared to, say, February or March.


And then I do my spot weeding and digging and moving and pruning. One big challenge is containing the tiger lilies by the farmhouse.

Now, I would not have planted them there. Ever. There's a reason we call them the ditch lily -- they grow explosively and not too prettily (though I suppose it's a matter of taste) and they threaten to take over the flower field. They are so devious that they will throw their runners under our brick path and appear on the other side of it -- like a baby who has outsmarted you and gotten into a room that was locked and off limits.

But, they take up about a fourth of the field in front of the farmhouse and, like the rhubarb -- also planted there by the farm family that lived here -- I feel they are part of the history of the place.

(the first rhubarb harvest)

Besides, Ed Is not big on gratuitous plant removal. I've dug out the lilies that have tested their boundaries (and my patience), but the rest remain -- a reminder of the humble beginnings of this place.

However, my sense of garden aesthetics got the better of me today and I got to be rather aggressive in digging out the sprawling lily roots.

And it was heavy work.


He helps, but I know I'm pulling him into what are really cosmetic decisions.

Similarly, it has become my task to mow with the hand mower the difficult areas at the edge of the driveway, around the hydrangeas, by the flower fields, etc etc. As I take on that chore this morning, I'm thinking -- it was really nice when we had mowing help when I first moved in (a local fellow did the front of the property so that however overgrown it was in the back, at least we put on a clean shaven face to the world).

Cosmetics, all of it, even if they are tough projects to work through.

On the upside, once I'm done, I'm done for a while.  The good thing about powering through them all is that they don't come back to haunt you again very quickly. I can go back to delicate jobs of watering my flower pots, pulling up a few weeds and attending to the damaged plants (cheepers! rabbits! chipmunks! groundhogs!) or the drooping ones -- a stake here, a new covering of exposed roots -- chores that aren't chores at all but pleasant acts of kindness toward my fields of blooms.

And here's another reward for the day: a visit with Snowdrop!


Because I've neglected showing off her tummy time here, you get a photo of that!


But there are no specific achievements otherwise that I want to highlight for you. The greatest thing about Snowdrop today is that she is her wonderful self-- a bag of smiles, giggles, coos, movements, struggles, so full of personality and giddy excitement that I haven't the words or photos to do her justice.


We walk around the lake again -- Snowdrop perfectly ensconced in her stroller, taking a nap, then looking out at the world, then finally succumbing to blissful sleep again...


What can I say -- it is a perfect afternoon.

As it's Thursday, Ed and I take off for the local farmers market in the evening. We bring our eggs and, too, our rhubarb, in case anyone wants to barter and they do -- our cheese curds guy happily takes both in exchange for a week's supply of cheese curds.

Back on the motorbike and zipping home on the seat behind Ed I think how good these days are for the both of us! No make-up or touch ups needed, no cosmetic changes -- they stand on their own, beautiful and proud.

It's been one heck of a gorgeous spring season.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Well, believe it or not, we are door owners! After an early breakfast on the porch...


... we drove to Home Depot, chose the hardware (you really think the more expensive handle looks better? Of course! They lure you with the cheap one knowing damn well we'll reject it!), Ed went over the measurements one last time (88 and 3/4 inches tall? you sure?) and said the final "okay."

I exhale.

True, it remains a mystery as to who will install it. I'm hoping it will be the door guy who came over to give his estimate today. Regardless. Whoever does it, it will be done. There will be a door.

You happy? -- Ed asks and I explain to him one more time that I do not regard this as an exquisite treat, a pleasure item. It's not like a trip together, it's a door, a necessity, a sigh of relief rather than cause for exaltation.

But let's celebrate anyway, with a review of the blooms today. The yellows have it!

the first daylily of the year!

a yellow false indigo is heavenly!

you gotta love the yellow heart of the tradescantia (spiderwort)

The noon hour brings out the sunshine! And the smile of Snowdrop!


If there is a theme to her day today, it is this: she wants to be upright! On the couch...



...or on the floor. Upright!


And when her mom comes into the room, she just wants to stand and smile with such great pride! Look at me, mommy, look at me!

Snowdrop seems to thrive on mastering a new skill.

And then she rests.

It's a good day for us to take her for a long round-the-lake walk. Yes, she has her stroller pouty face, but it's a fake out. The little one adores her stroller.


The walk is wonderful! We track the movement of a heron...



Snowdrop does too, for a while, but then she dozes off, to gain strength for more work ahead. Standing. Today, she is all about standing tall!

Tomorrow? Who can tell! She is full of surprises.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I am up very early today. I want to go back to writing, beyond what I do here, on Ocean and the early morning offers up the best hours. The evening fog has lifted from the brain, the phone is quiet, I've read the headlines, nothing beckons.

I sit at my computer at the kitchen table and watch the steady rain outside. I see Isie boy coming up the path despite the wetness. He is still banished from the farmhouse, but he retains a great desire to consider and reject food about ten times a day and so if Ed is not in the sheep shed with him, he comes calling. I hide under the kitchen table so that he can't see me and continue to type.

Since it's Tuesday, Snowdrop will be coming to the farmhouse just around noon and so any farmette work must be done before that. Outdoor jobs are out of the question, but we do want to go to a lumber company to consider yet another door for the porch, this one possibly installed by someone other than us. Ed, having figured out how to do this job, having taken apart the window that's to be replaced, is willing to hand over the work to someone else. Maybe.

And so immediately after breakfast (which is rushed and therefore inside the farmhouse)...


And right after I take my flower photos of the day (an unusually peachy tinted penstemon, and a flowering shrub --  the weigela florida wine)...



...after those morning essentials, we take off in Lily (my gray mazda) to look again at patio doors. You'd think there was great variation there, but in our price range (the bottom), there really isn't. Still,  we must go back and make a final decision.

Unfortunately, the "specialists" at the lumber company that features these doors give Ed a lot of incorrect information about them  (an ever doubting Ed calls the manufacturer to confirm his own reading of the specs) and now he is back to thinking that the job wont be done right unless he does it himself.

Doesn't it seem like we're going around in circles with this? I'm used to it. Ed is a careful type in both construction and design and he has the patience of an alligator, waiting until everything is just so before opening those jaws for the final move.

Right when we return, Snowdrop comes over and now the afternoon turns from drippy wet and discouragingly inconclusive to cheerful and golden.

(by Ed)

(by Ed)

As always, a very active set of hours will lead to tiredness. The best remedy for this is a sweet short nap...


And after, wake up time!


And of course,  mealtime!


 Her energies restored, Snowdrop bounces around from sitting to standing to swaying to rocking. I'm thinking -- perhaps we could channel all that energy to the outdoor world. The skies have (provisionally and not too certainly) cleared and the air is gusty warm.

We feed the chickens bread and as always, she stares at the brood with utter disbelief: how is it that they don't look like you and me, she seems to be thinking...

I'm guessing that the weather is stable enough for us to go out for a rural walk. I place her into the stroller and as I get ready to set out, Ed brings Oreo for a closer inspection.


Snowdrop still has this air of disbelief about her.  Oreo, of course, when cradled in Ed's big hands, is as docile as the morning dove that has taken to resting on our porch glass roof. I whisper to Snowdrop -- there's more to this bird than meets the eye and I push the stroller forward to take advantage of the window of good weather.


Toward evening, back at the farmhouse, Snowdrop and I play ball, and stand up-sit down, and bite the giraffe. Something about that last game causes her great anguish (teething is the usual suspect). As she sobs her heart out to let me know the full extent of her tribulations, I note that quite suddenly, a heavy shower is starting to pound the farmhouse windows. I had left the stroller on the path outside and I tell Snowdrop that we must go out and rescue it.

We come out to a very wet landscape and the minute the first drops of rain hit her sweet fluffy head, she grows quiet, curious and indeed, blissfully content again.

Her parents come to pick her up and I tell them that they have a child who loves rain. Who knew?!