Tuesday, May 12, 2015


You get used to sudden dips in spring temperatures here, in the upper Midwest. Talk of May snows up north, late frost advisories -- all that is as common here as rains are in the UK, storms in Kansas and dry spells in California. Still, I am not pleased with the weather bulletin that comes to my mailbox, reminding me that tonight, vulnerable plants may be in trouble, especially since I assured Ed that we could not possibly get a frost warning after the warm, even hot days we've been having thus far.

If we have a failed tomato crop, it will be my fault.

Needless to say, it is a chilly day. I tell myself that it is all relative and mid fifties should inspire no complaints. But it feels cool and any ambitious work outside has to be done in a zipped up fleece.

In the alternative, one can postpone ambitious work outside.

It strikes me that I've been dawdling with my days. I have writing and editing that await my attention and I've not given them a thought, using my granddaughter and garden work as my go-to excuses. (In reality, even lumped together, they do not fill my waking hours.) When I was still teaching, I used to say that my brain was too stuck in legal texts to allow for concentrated writing in the off hours. That cannot be my excuse now, unless I think that practicing vowels with Snowdrop and protecting myself from Oreo, the rooster, requires a cerebral workout. If it does, it's easy to shut it off when I am not around them.

The greater truth is that I am stuck with my Great Writing Project -- I haven't sent it out (beyond the first stab at contacting a dozen agents back last fall) and I am wondering if this is because I've recently thought of a way I can make it even better -- that dangerous game that writers play of improving their work over and over and over again, because once you let it go, it's gone and any thoughts that you should have maybe worked harder on it must be shelved.

That's just an update for you and a reminder to myself to move forward. And I will. Truly I will.

But not today.

This morning, I cut a few lilac branches for the kitchen jar -- the bush is in its fullest regalia!


...then have a rather rushed breakfast with Ed.


Immediately after, I have a meeting with a long time Ocean reader whom I do not know, but who is in town and who suggested a coffee. Thinking myself to be rather a recluse in recent months (perhaps years?), I push myself out of the house and set out for Paul's -- that old favorite place up the road where Ed and I used to hang out every single day when I first moved to his farmette.


The meeting is, for me, a turning point. I have quite a bit in common with this reader (if I may be presumptuous to suggest this, as she is an accomplished woman, with many impressive successes behind her and even more just ahead) and we could have spent a very long time talking about projects and goals, but she is in town only fleetingly and, like me, her number of free hours is limited.

I walk away inspired to set some projects in motion. I should get out more, I tell myself. Right up there with "I must write more."

And then I have a meeting with a construction guy. You may remember -- it's about the possible installation of a door between the kitchen and the porch. I had said to Ed -- if you will absolutely refuse to approve the installation, please tell me, so that I can cancel and not waist the guy's time. He didn't pounce at the  chance to say NO. I took it to be a good sign.

To listen to Ed banter with construction contractors about building, rebuilding and remodeling is painful. Most any job is one that Ed could do himself, but time, access to materials and lack of motivation usually stand in the way and so some jobs we have handed over to others. But Ed cannot just hand over something to an outsider. He becomes involved in the details. I don't know if his participation in the minutia of a project are welcome. Maybe they are. More likely, the contractor just wants to do it his way and move on.

And now we await the bid. I'm sure it will make my eyes bulge -- putting a door  into a century old house is a big deal! I can but hope that it will come to pass.

Ah, now the day brightens considerably (in a cold, windy fashion and still without a hint of sunshine!). It's Tuesday and therefore Snowdrop is a visitor to the farmhouse.

You know what photos I'll post: her sitting, kicking, and today -- flipping again. Her reading with me. Her messin' with Ed. Upright, lying down, bouncing. Her smile, her coos, her bright face, her spark. Yes, I'll try for that as well! Here's the run. I'll end the post with her most trusting smile. It stays with you when you see it, really it does.

look, Snowdrop! the book is about the penguin you're holding!

it's all about owls today

a stretch and a smile

so much more to see from an upright position!

"monkey and me"


  1. Had to smile at the idea of Nina the Traveler being a recluse. Between family, friends, associates, and travel, you're probably one of the least reclusive people I've ever known.

    Your lilacs are beautiful! I'm thinking that your gardens will be okay, tonight. DH and I are weather fiends and from what I can see it looks like your temps shouldn't make freezing, unless being away from the city center ends up making it a lot cooler. Hopefully, no frost.

    I remember what it's like, making changes over and over again when writing - and finally having to let it all go and say "Enough." I do that to some extent even now, with designing. It's different but still similar. Hope you can easily get back into your writing mode.

    1. What do you design?
      I suppose recluse is the wrong term. I do not seek out a social life these days. I am content with just a handful of special people in my life. So, not a recluse, but not very conversational either. Hmm -- maybe it's more accurate to say I've become quieter? I make up for it here!:)

    2. Oh, I am the same way. I am so happy with Husband, Home, Garden & Books that I could very well not stir from this house.

      So your entry gave me a nudge - a noooge- and I just texted three favorite teacher friends to set up a happy hour & Thai dinner next week. By then we will be SO deserving of a treat!

    3. Nina, I'm a graphic designer. I make clipart and digital papers that are used in everything from web backgrounds to scrapbooks to invitations to photography props to printed t-shirts to the graphics on veggie shopping bags. I'm constantly improving my skills and there's always something new to do, so I really love it. :)

  2. The lilacs and that smile make me melt. But I really love the one of you and Snowdrop on the floor together; it is so lovely. I miss our little one, but the visit last week gave me good moments to muse on each day. ox

    1. Yes, you had a high intensity visit. Those a worth a million!

  3. I've been thinking that Snowdrop looks like her daddy. Is that what you all think too?

    1. She sort of does, especially now that she's looking more "grown up" every day. The smiles are more connected, observing, responding, impish even... not just instinctive or imitating. That last monkey and me one isn't the smile of an infant!

    2. Yes, but she looked more like him when she was just born. Now I see features of her aunts: she definitely looks (in my eyes) like her daddy's sister and her mommy's sister!

    3. I was also thinking that she looks like her dad! Or maybe some of her expressions look like his. That smile and the twinkle in her eyes are adorable.

  4. Oh hello little Sweetface! Miss Personality!

    And hello kitchen door! You'll be surprised how easy it is. On the first day of our kitchen remodel, they simply cut two giant holes in the house. The noise was horrendous. It was a moment of doom...no going back now! but now we enjoy our wide windows and sliding doors.

    As I've told you, those doors still lead nowhere, I just think of them as a really big window :) but we are talking, still talking, about what to build on the back. I'm the one who's reluctant, because currently we have lovely light and reflections in the kitchen and a view of the treetops. I know if there's a little sunroom we'll have a view of..its ceiling. :( Pros and cons, pros and cons, I'm running myself on a hamster wheel.
    I'm not typically a poor decision maker. Maybe that means - put that idea on the shelf for a bit?

    1. When I moved into the farmhouse, there was a porch framework in place and so we worked around that. It's northern exposure and even with a half dozen windows in the kitchen, the shade from the porch roof really dimmed the kitchen light. But when two years ago we replaced the porch roof with seventeen long glass panels (fitted on top of the rafters), everything changed: the kitchen is awash with light and the porch is a beautiful place of blue skies and visible tree tops. I suppose you could not do that in a southern exposure -- you might bring in too much sun. Right now we just get a little from the east and west. It's really quite perfect. Except that it doesn't have a door from the kitchen! :) The funny thing is -- a large window in the kitchen is exactly the right size for a door opening. So the project isn't necessarily huge. I'm hopeful!

    2. Our back yard has a northern exposure. I'll tell my husband about the glass roof. I'm NOT getting up there like you do! And he would do it in a heartbeat but I'm trying to wean him from his ladders :) I'm wondering if the large bedroom window above could give access for cleaning? Or maybe a steeper slope? An exciting idea!


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